Linear B – KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on

Linear B - KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on 

Click on this graphic to view Keyse’s article:

Linear B - KN Dd1171

Peter J. Keyse provides a thorough analysis of Linear B tablet  KN Dd 1171 in this fascinating article, which is well worth reading for anyone who is familiar with the Linear B syllabary, and certainly for anyone who is studying Linear B in depth. His article is not without errors. For instance, he deciphers PoRo as the name of someone in what he calls the PoMe “worker class” = a shepherd,

Linear B - KN Dd1171 PORO

but his interpretation of of PORO is clearly incorrect, as this word  has 3 distinct meanings, one of which is the Linear B word for “a foal”, as demonstrated by Chris Tselentis in his Linear B Lexicon, here:

Tselentis PORO

(The other 2 meanings of POME offered by Tselentis do not fit the context)

while POME is quite obviously Mycenaean Greek for “shepherd”:

Tselentis POME

Keyse also notes that Michael Ventris identified 3 major styles for incisions - those at Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae. In his own words: The vertical lines are quite faint scratches and not easily seen. The cuts in the clay are ‘under-cut’ i.e. pushed in at an angle . This preoccupation with Linear B scribal hands recurs in a great many articles on Linear B. Keyse also covers the what he ascertains to be the phonetic sounds of the numerics on this tablet. He also emphasizes the nature and particulars characteristics of the scribal hand on this tablet.

But it his conclusion which is most fascinating. He says,

In conclusion: 

What would Dd1171 sound like if read aloud? Po-Ro. 20 OVISm, 72 OVISf. Pa-I-To. Pa 8 OVISm. While it reasonable to say that Linear B was no more the spoken language of its day than ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ speak is for accounting clerks today it is also true to say that accountants do on occasions talk in journals and double-entry (and not only when at dinner parties and down the pub) and they certainly call over inventories to each other. It is clear that Linear B had a sound but perhaps it is unlikely that we can fairly reproduce it today. Considering the importance of numbers within the Linear B archive I find it surprising that no phonic system has been devised to represent them or if devised is not clearly documented in the literature. 

COMMENT by Richard Vallance Janke on the sound, i.e. the general pronunciation of Linear B. In actuality, we probably do have some idea of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. Its closest cousin was Arcado-Cypriot, represented both by its own syllabary, Linear C, and by its own archaic alphabet. The Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects were much closer phonetically than even Ionic and Attic Greek. Phonological details of the archaic Arcado-Cypriot dialect appear in C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, © 1955, 1998. ISBN 1-85399-566-8, on pg. 144. He provides even more information on Arcado-Cypriot on pp. 7-8, and classifies it as an East Greek dialect, pg. 9. This is highly significant, because if Arcado-Cypriot is East Greek, ergo Mycenaean Greek also is. This places both of the archaic East-Greek dialects, Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, firmly in the camp of all East Greek dialects, including Arcadian, Aeolic, Lesbian, Cyprian, Pamphylian, Thessalian, Boeotian, and the much later Ionic and Attic dialects. So it is probably fair to say that we may have at least an idea, even if somewhat inaccurate, of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. And this has huge implications for the further study of Mycenaean Greek phonology.

Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos)

Rita Roberts translation of Linear B tablet KN 911 D e 01 (Knossos):

Linear B KN 911 D e 01

This is one of the most complex Linear B tablets Rita Roberts has ever had to translate. She also provided a running free translation of this tablet, but I have had to omit it for lack of space in the graphics file. In other words, if I had included her free translation, the graphics file would have been much too long to display properly. As it stands, it is already very long. One of the prime characteristics of a small subset of Linear B tablets, mostly from Pylos, but in this case from Knossos, is that they are long lists of names, in this case, shepherds taking care of their sheep. Rita Roberts makes the following observations on this tablet.


This Linear B tablet 911 De 0l (LXX) is a lengthy inventory of hundreds of ewes, billy goats, she goats and rams, I would imagine it is of special interest for Knossos palace. It is difficult to say whether all these animals were brought together at the same time for any specific purpose. If so there are a few reasons to suggest why this could be. The first would be, having to check the stock for health reasons for the possible move to a new pasture. Secondly, it could be that the animals needed to be organized for shearing, also some for slaughter. My final suggestion is, maybe some animals were for possible export. However, these are a few possible reasons for such a large inventory, but on the whole it is a comprehensive inventory for the palace.

I may as well admit that I passed this tablet onto Rita as I am constitutionally lazy when it comes to deciphering long tablets. However, this is not the only reason. It is vital that Rita master (subjunctive) complex tablets that pose a huge challenge. This one certainly does.



Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia) asasumaise = “cattle-driver”

Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia) asasumaise = “cattle-driver”:

Even at first glance, from Minoan Linear A tablet GO Wc 1 (Gournia), sporting the word asasumaise, it appears very much like this word means “cattle-driver” or “shepherd (of cattle)”.  Of course, it is also possible that this is just the cattle-driver’s name. So I have to account for both possibilities. Nevertheless, I am inclined to lean strongly on “cattle-driver” or “shepherd (of cattle), if only for the reason that it is a rather long word, just as are its equivalents in Mycenaean Linear B, qoukoro & qoukota, as illustrated here:

Linear A table GO wc 1 cows

This is the eighty-ninth (89) Minoan Linear A term I have deciphered, more or less accurately.