Tag Archive: statistics



After 117 years, the Linear A vocabulary for 3 major grains (bran, wheat, barley) and for flax is conclusively deciphered:

Although decipherment of Linear A vocabulary for the primary Minoan grains has seemed beyond reach for the past 117 years, I believe that I may have actually cracked the vocabulary for at least 3 major Minoan grain crops, kireta2 (kiretai)/kiretana (attributive) = barley, dideru = einkorn wheat, kunisu = emmer wheat and for sara2 (sarai) = flax, while concurrently tackling 3 more grain crops, rumata(se), pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina (painina) (attributive), which I may or may not have managed to accurately identify. More on this below.

How did I manage to accomplish this feat? My first breakthrough came with the code-breaker, Linear A tablet HT 114 (Haghia Triada), on which appears the word kireta2 (kiretai). It just so happens that this is a match with the ancient Greek word, kritha(i) for barley, here Latinized:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 Haghia Triada

Armed with this invaluable information, I then devised a procedure to extract the names of the other 2 major grains, dideru (Linear B equivalent, didero), and kunisu and for sara2 (sarai) from all of the Haghia Triada tablets. I selected the tablets from Haghia Triada because they mention grains far more often than any other extant Linear A tablets do, regardless of provenance, with the sole exception of Zakros ZA 20, which is a very close match with the many Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada dealing with grains.

The procedure I have adopted is tagged cross-comparative extrapolation (CCE). I scanned every last word related to grain on every last Linear A tablet from Haghia Triada, HT 1 – HT 154K on Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A texts in phonetic transcription HT (Haghia Triada) for the recurrence and numerical frequency of each of these words. It strikes me as very odd that no one in the past 117 years since the first discovery of Linear A tablets at Knossos has ever thought of this or a similar cross-comparative procedure. While it is practically useless to try and extrapolate the meaning of each and every grain merely by examining them in context on any single Linear A tablet, regardless of provenance, because even in single tablet context, and even in the presence of other words apparently describing other type(s) of grain, we get absolutely nowhere, the outcome from cross-correlating every last one of these words on every last tablet from Haghia Triada paints an entirely different picture, a picture which is both comprehensive and all-embracing. Clear and unambiguous patterns emerge for each and every word, including the total incidence of all statistics for them all. The result is astonishing. The table below makes this transparently clear:

Minoan ancient grains

We see right off the top that all of the Haghia put together mention akaru, which means field, the equivalent of Linear B akoro, no fewer than 20 times! Additionally, the generic word for wheat, situ, corresponding to Linear B sito, surfaces 5 times. But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Cross-comparative extrapolation of the next 4 grains has proven to be much more fruitful. The first of these is of course kireta2 (kiretai) kiretana (attributive) for “barley”, which appears 149 times (!) on all of the Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada. I was definitely on to something big.

But the preliminary step I needed to take, before I actually attempted to identify the next 2 most common grains cultivated in the pre-Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan era, was to conduct a Google search on the 2 most common grains after barley grown in Minoan Crete. These are einkorn and emmer respectively. Returning to my cross-comparative extrapolative scan, I discovered the words dideru and kunisu recurring 40 times each. It just so happens that one previous researcher (whose name unfortunately escapes me for the time being, but whom I shall fully acknowledge when I publish my summary data on academia.edu) has accurately identified both of these types of wheat. As can be seen from the table above, these are dideru for “einkorn” and kunisu for “emmer” wheat respectively.

Moving on, fully realizing that sara2 (sarai) runs rampant on the Haghia Triada Linear A tablets, I discovered that this word recurs no less than 1321 times. Astonishing! But what does it mean? The answer was not long coming. The next most common crop the Minoans cultivated was flax, for the production of linen. Flax is not a grain, but is derived from flax flowers and seeds. This fully explains why sara2 (sarai) recurs with such astonishing frequency. Unlike the aforementioned grains, which would have been grown on a relatively restricted number of plots, in this case not exceeding 4o each, the number of flax flowers required to produce a sufficient flax harvest would have had to be very high… hence 1321. These stunning frescoes illustrate a male Minoan flax flower and a female flax seed gatherer:

Minoan flax gatherers

Even from these 2 frescoes, we can easily see that the flax gatherers were kept busy picking what was required, a large flax crop, in this case running to 1321 flax seeds and flowers. No surprise here.

As a result of my exhaustive cross-comparative extrapolation of the first four Minoan crops, I have been able to define 3 of them for certain as grains, kireta2 (kiretai), dideru and kunisu, and one of them, sara2 (sarai) as flax. It is practically certain that all 4 definitions are correct. Hence, I have managed to isolate for the first time in 117 years the actual names of 4 major Minoan crops, barley, einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and flax.

However, when it comes to the next 5 crops, we run up against inescapable semiotic problems. What does each of these signifiers signify? There is no easy answer. On the other hand, I would have been remiss were I not to make a stab at extrapolating the names of these crops as well. It just so happens that the next most common grains after barley, einkorn and emmer cultivated by the Minoans were millet and spelt. And the next two words I extrapolated were rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). But if one of them appears to be millet, the other is spelt, or vice versa. That is the conundrum. But the problem is compounded by the mystifying cumulative total statistics for each of these words, 1039 for rumata(se) and 1021 for pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). Why on earth are there so many recurrences of these 2 crops, when there are only 40 instances of dideru and kunisu? It does not seem to make any sense at all. Yet there is a possible explanation. While dideru and kunisu reference einkorn and emmer crops as crops per se, it would appear that rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive) refer to the seeds derived from the crops. It is the only way out of this impasse. However, it is not necessarily a satisfying answer, and so I have to reserve judgement on these definitions, which are interchangeable at any rate.

Next we have the ligatured logograms dare and kasaru, either of which might refer to the next most common crops, durum and lentils. But there is no way for us to corroborate this conclusion with any certainty. The verdict is out. Finally, the last word, kuzuni, might refer to 2 other, less common Minoan crops, either sesame or vetch for fodder. But once again, which one is which? Your guess is as good as mine.

Conclusions:

Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Every last one of these words identifies a Minoan crop. While most of them are grains, three of them are certainly not. One of them is clearly flax (sara2/sarai) The other two may or may not be lentils or sesame. But they probably are one or the other, if they are not on the other hand durum or vetch. In short, there several permutations and combinations for the last 5. Yet the circumstantial evidence for the first 4 appears quite solid enough to justify the definitions we have assigned, barley, einkorn, emmer and flax. So at least this constitutes a major breakthrough in the identification of these 4 for the first time in 117 years.

I shall eventually be publishing a much more comprehensive draft paper on this very subject on my academia.edu account, either this summer or autumn. I shall keep you posted.


Our Twitter account, KO NO SO has earned almost 18,000 impressions in 28 days: CLICK to visit:

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In view of the fact that Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C are definitively arcane focus points in diachronic historical linguistics this is quite an astounding figure.  It amounts to a total of almost 4,000 impressions per week. It also attests to the far-reaching international influence of our site, Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, which is the premier diachronic linguistic site of its kind in the entire world.


Table of the distribution of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector:

Following is the Table of the 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector. It is clear from this table that the majority of supersyllabograms (12) in Minoan Linear A fall in the olive trees, olives and olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan economy, primarily in Haghia Triada, but also in Khania (Chania). The next most common sector is grains (barley & wheat) with 7, the third are vases and pottery and also wine with 5, the fourth is figs with 2 and the fifth are military (men as attendants to the king) and textiles with 1 SSYL each.

table-of-24-supersyllabograms-in-minoan-linear-a-640

The distribution of supersyllabograms in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B by economic sector is of the utmost importance. I shall need to cross-correlate the key economic sector-by-sector distribution of supersyllabograms in both syllabaries to verify whether or not the distribution of SSYLs in the one syllabary (Linear A) and the other (Linear B) is closely aligned or not. The alignment of supersyllabograms in each syllabary relative to the other will determine with greater accuracy which economic sectors are the most and which the least important in each language, Minoan and Mycenaean. This way, we can get a much better idea of how the key economic sectors are distributed, from most to least important, in each of the two societies, Minoan and post-Minoan Mycenaean. It is of the utmost important to understand that all of the supersyllabograms in both of these syllabaries must refer only to major economic terms in each sector and sub-sector. 

I shall explicitly compare the relative economic distribution of each society, the Minoan and Mycenaean in my upcoming article, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada, in Vol. 16 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. The Table of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector is to appear in this article.

I have deciphered the following 8 supersyllabograms more or less successfully in Minoan Linear A:

DA = dadumata = grain/wheat measurer? = Linear B sitokowo
KA = kapa = follower or foot soldier, attendant to the king 
KI = kidata = to be accepted for delivery = Linear B dekesato
OR
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto
AND
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket
AND
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed
NI = nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza. But Mycenaean Linear B shares NI with Minoan Linear A, in spite of the fact that the Mycenaean word for figs is suza.   
PA = pa3ni (amphora for storing grain) + pa3nina = grain or wheat stored in an amphora
RA ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine) 
SA sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre
TE = tereza = standard unit of usually liquid measurement, sometimes of dry measurement


Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae reaches the threshold of 100,000 visitors: (Click the banner to visit)

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Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae reaches the threshold of 100,000 visitors after 3 1/2 years in existence. This may not sound very impressive to a lot of people, but when we pause  consider, even for a moment, that our blog deals specifically and almost solely with Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the statistics look much more healthy. No-one on earth, apart from myself, can read any Minoan Linear A at all, and very very few can read Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. So in this light, the statistics are all the more impressive. After all, even most of our our most loyal visitors cannot read at least 2 of these three syllabaries, even though several are adept with Homer and Classical Greek, as am I. By the way, our blog also features my own translation of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, which has a direct bearing on the features of Homeric vocabulary and syntax inherited directly from Mycenaean Linear B.

In this period, we have posted well over 1,300 posts, with translations of hundreds of Mycenaean Linear B tablets, scores of Minoan Linear A tablets and even a few Arcado-Cypriot tablets. Our media library consists of 10s of thousands of photos, images and frescoes & paintings.

We are, in a word, the largest Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C site on the internet. Even omitting Linear A and Linear C, we rank in the top 3 of official Mycenaean Linear B sites.


Before we can decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because... PART A: delivery of olive oil

Before we can plausibly (and frequently tentatively) decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because there are so many facets to be taken fully into consideration in the olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy related to the production of olive oil which on an adequate number of Linear B tablets (at least 10), mostly from Knossos, dealing with harvesting from olive oil trees and the production and delivery of olive oil that we must account for every single term related to olive oil on the Linear B tablets, and then compile a list of all of these terms in order to cross-correlate these with equivalent terms on the Linear A tablets, mostly from Haghia Triada.

Another vital factor which just occurred to me is that the Minoan economy appears to have been primarily centred in Haghia Triada, while the Mycenaean primarily in Knossos, with valuable contributions from Pylos as well. In other words, the economic centre or power house, if you will, of the Minoan economy appears to have been Haghia Triada and not Knossos. I am somewhat baffled by the fact that researchers to date have not taken this important factor adequately into account. It appears to reveal that Knossos had not yet risen to prominence in the Minoan economy in the Middle Minoan Period (ca. 2100-1600 BCE):

the three Periods of Minoan Civilization

The gravest challenge confronting us in the cross-correlation of the several economic terms related to olive oil production in the late Minoan III 3a period under Mycenaean suzerainty (ca. 1500-1450 BCE)  with potentially equivalent terms in Minoan Linear A arises from the mathematical theoretical constructs of combinations and permutations. Given, for instance, that there are potentially a dozen (12) terms related to olive oil production on an adequate number (10-12)  Linear B tablets to afford effectual cross-correlation, how on earth are we to know which terms in Mycenaean Linear B correspond to apparently similar terms in Minoan Linear A? In other words, if we for instance extrapolate a total of 12 terms from Mycenaean Linear B tablets, how are we to line or match up the Mycenaean Linear B terms in a “Column A” construct with those in Minoan Linear B in “Column B”? There is no practical way that we can safely assert that term A (let us say, for the sake of expediency, that this word is apudosi = “delivery”) in Mycenaean Greek corresponds to term A in Minoan Linear  A, rather than any of B-L, in any permutation and/or in any combination. This leads us straight into the trap of having to assign ALL of the signified (terms) in Mycenaean Linear A to all of the signified in Minoan Linear B. I shall only be able to definitively demonstrate this quandary after I have deciphered as many Linear B tablets on olive oil as I possibly can.

340 APUDOSI

349 APUDOSI


379 APUDOSI

For the time being, we have no choice but to set out on our search with these 3 tablets, all of which prepend the first term apudosi = “delivery” to the ideogram for olive oil. In closing, I wish to emphatically stress that this is precisely the signified I expected to turn up in the list of terms potentially related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear B. It is also the most important of all Mycenaean Linear B terms prepended to the ideogram for “olive oil on the Linear B tablets. When we come to making the fateful decision to assign the the correct Minoan Linear A term meaning just that, delivery” on the Linear A tablets dealing with olive oil, how are we to know which Linear A signified corresponds to Linear B apudosi = “delivery”? Still the situation is not as bad as you might think, at least for this term. Why so? Because if it appears (much) more often on the Linear B tablets (say, theoretically, 5 times versus less than 5 for all the other terms in Linear B related to olive oil), then the term appearing the most frequently on Minoan Linear A tablets related to olive oil is more likely than not to be the equivalent of apudosi, i.e. to mean  “delivery”.

The less frequent the occurrence of any particular term relative to olive oil on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, the greater the room there is for error, to the point that where a term appears only once on all of the Linear B tablets we can manage to muster up for translation, it becomes next to impossible to properly align that term with any of the terms occurring only once on the Minoan Linear A tablets, especially where more than one signified occurs on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets. If for example, 3 terms occur only once on the Linear B tablets, which one(s) aligns with which one(s) on the Linear A? A messy scenario. But we must make the best of the situation, bite the bullet, and cross-correlate these 3 terms in all permutations and combinations (= 9!) from the Linear B to the Linear A tablets containing them. This I shall definitively illustrate in a Chart once I have translated all terms related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear A.


PART B: The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B

Introduction:

I propose to demonstrate how geometric co-ordinate analysis of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B can confirm, isolate and identify with precision the X Y co-ordinates of single syllabograms, homophones and ideograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from the invariable on the X Y axis, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y plane, and how it can additionally parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any of the cursive scribal hands in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively epitomizes the “style” of any scribe’s hand, just as we would nowadays characterize any individual’s handwriting style. This hypothesis is at the cutting edge in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy exclusively based on the scientific procedure of artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis.

If supercomputer or ultra high speed Internet generated artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform is a relatively straightforward matter, as I have summarized it in my first article [1], that of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, both of which share more complex additional geometric constructs in common, appears to be somewhat more of a challenge, at least at first glance. When we come to apply this technique to more complex geometric forms, the procedure appears to be significantly more difficult to apply. Or does it? The answer to that question lies embedded in the question itself. The question is neither closed nor open, but simply rhetorical. It contains its own answer.

It is in fact the hi-tech approach which decisively and instantaneously resolves any and all difficulties in every last case of geometric co-ordinate analysis of any script, syllabary or indeed any alphabet, ancient or modern. It is neatly summed up by the phrase, “computer-based analysis”, which effectively and entirely dispenses with the necessity of having to parse scribal hands or handwriting by manual visual means or analysis at all. Prior to the advent of the Internet, modern supercomputers and artificial intelligence(AI), geometric co-ordinate analysis of any phenomenon, let alone scribal hands, or handwriting post AD (anno domini), would have been a tedious mathematical process hugely consuming of time and human resources, which is why it was never attempted then.

The groundbreaking historical epigraphic studies of Emmett L. Bennet Jr. and Prof. John Chadwick (1966):

All this is not to say that some truly remarkable analyses of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B were not realized in the twentieth century. Although such studies have been few and far between, one in particular stands out as pioneering. I refer of course to Emmett L. Bennet Jr.’s remarkable paper, “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” (1966) [2], in which he single-handedly undertook a convincing epigraphic analysis of Mycenaean Linear B through manual visual observation alone, without the benefit of supercomputers or the ultra-high speed internet which we have at our fingertips in the twenty-first century. His study centred on the ideograms for wine (*131), (olive) oil (*130), *100 (man), *101 (man) & *102 (woman) rather than on any of the Linear B syllabograms as such. The second, by John Chadwick in the same volume, focused on the ideogram for (olive) oil. As contributors to the same Colloquium, they essentially shared the same objectives in their epigraphic analyses. Observations which apply to Bennett’s study of scribal hands are by and large reflected by Chadwick’s. Just as we find in modern handwriting analysis, both Bennett and Chadwick concentrated squarely on the primary characteristics of the scribal hands of a considerable number of scribes. Both researchers were able to identify, isolate and classify the defining characteristics of the various scribal hands and the attributes common to each and every scribe, accomplishing this remarkable feat without the benefit of super high speed computer programming.

Although Prof. Bennett Jr. did not systematically enumerate his observations on the defining characteristics of particular scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, we shall do so now, in order to cast further light on his epigraphic observations of Linear B ideograms, and to situate these in the context of the twenty-first century hi tech process of geometric co-ordinate analysis to scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B. 

I have endeavoured to extrapolate the rather numerous variables Bennett assigned determining the defining characteristics of various scribal hands in Linear B. They run as follows (though they do not transpire in this order in his paper):

(a) The number of strokes (vertical, horizontal and diagonal – right or left – vary significantly from one scribal hand to the next. This particular trait overrides most others, and must be kept uppermost in mind. Bennett characterizes this phenomenon as “opposition between varieties”. For more on the concept of  ‘oppositions’, see my observations on the signal theoretical contribution by Prof.  L. R. Palmer below. 

(b) According to Bennet, while some scribes prefer to print their ideograms, others use a cursive hand. But the very notion of “printing” as a phenomenon per se cannot possibly be ascribed to the Linear B tablets. Bennet’s so-called analysis of  scribal “printing” styles I do not consider as printing at all, but rather as the less common scribal practice of precise incision, as opposed to the more free-form cursive style adopted by most Linear B scribes. Incision of characters, i.e. Linear B, syllabograms, logograms and ideograms, predates the invention of printing in the Western world by at least two millennia, and as such cannot be attributed to printing as we understand the term. Bennett was observing the more strictly geometric scribal hands among those scribes who were more meticulous than others in adhering more or less strictly to the dictates of linear, circular and other normalized attributes of geometry, as outlined in the economy of geometric characteristics of Linear B in Figure 1: Click to ENLARGE

a figure 1 geometric economy of Linear B

But even the more punctilious scribes were ineluctably bound to deviate from what we have established as the formal modern Linear B font, the standard upon which geometric co-ordinate analysis depends, and from which all scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, the so-called “printed” or cursive, must necessarily derive or deviate.

(c) as a corollary of Bennet’s observation (b), some cursive hands are sans serif, others serif.

(d) similarly, the length of any one or any combination of strokes, sans serif or serif, can clearly differentiate one scribal hand from another.
    
(e) as a corollary of (c), some serif hands are left-oriented, while the majority are right-oriented, as illustrated here in Figure 2: Click to ENLARGE

b figure 2 o cursive

(f) As a function of (d) above, the “slant of the strokes” Bennett refers to is the determinant factor in the comparison between one scribal hand and any number of others, and as such constitutes one of the primary variables in his manual visual analytic approach to scribal hands.

(g) In some instances, some strokes are entirely absent, whether or not accidentally or (un)intentionally.

(h) Sometimes, elements of each ideogram under discussion (wine, olive oil and man, woman or human) touch, just barely touch, retouch, cross, just cross, recross or fully (re)cross one another. According to Bennet, these sub-variables can often securely identify the exact scribal hand attributed to them.

(i) Some strokes internal to each of the aforementioned ideograms appear to be partially unconnected to others, in the guise of a deviance from the “norm” as defined by Bennett in particular, although I myself am unable to ascertain which style of ideogram is the “norm”, whatever it may be, as opposed to those styles which diverge from it, i.e. which I characterize as mathematically deviant from the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y co-ordinate axis on the two-dimensional Cartesian plane. Without the benefit of AIGCA, Bennett could not possibly have made this distinction. Whereas any partially objective determination of what constitutes the “norm” in any manual scientific study not finessed by high speed computers was pretty much bound to be arbitrary, the point of origin (0,0) on the X Y axis of the Cartesian two-dimensional plane functions as a sound scientific invariable from which we define the geometrically pixelized points of departure by means of ultra high speed computer computational analysis (AIGCA).

(j) The number of strokes assigned to any ideogram in Linear B can play a determinant role. One variation in particular of the ideogram for wine contains only half the number of diagonal strokes as the others. This Bennett takes to be the deviant ideogram for must, rather than wine itself, and he has reasonably good grounds to make this assertion. Likewise, any noticeable variation in the number of strokes in other ideograms (such as those for olive oil and humans) may also be indicators of specific deviant meanings possibly assigned to each of them, whatever these might be. But we shall never know. With reference to the many variants for “man” or human (*101), I refer you to Bennett’s highly detailed chart on page 22 [3]. It must be conceded that AI geometric co-ordinate analysis is incapable of making a distinction between the implicit meanings of variants of the same ideogram, where the number of strokes comprising said ideogram vary, as in the case of the ideogram for wine. But this caveat only applies if Bennet’s assumption that the ideogram for wine with fewer strokes than the standard actually means (wine) must. Otherwise, the distinction is irrelevant to the parsing by means of AIGCA of this ideogram in particular or of any other ideogram in Linear B for which the number of strokes vary, unless corroborating evidence can be found to establish variant meanings for each and every ideogram on a case by case basis. Such a determination can only be made by human analysis.   

(k) As Bennett has it, the spatial disposition of the ideograms, in other words, how much space each ideogram takes up on the various tablets, some of them consuming more space than others, is a determinant factor. He makes a point of stressing that some ideograms are incised within a very “cramped and confined space”.  The practice of cramming as much text as possible into an allotted minimum of remaining space on tablets was commonplace. Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is an excellent example of this ploy so many scribes resorted to when they discovered that they had used up practically all of the space remaining on any particular tablet, such as we see here on Pylos tablet 641-1952 (Figure 3): Click to ENLARGE

c figure3 Pylos tablet TA 641-1952

Yet cross comparative geometric analysis of the relative size of the “font” or cursive scribal hand of this tablet and all others in any ancient script, hieroglyphic, syllabary, alphabetical or otherwise, distinctly reveals that neither the “font” nor cursive scribal hand size have any effect whatsoever on the defining set of AIGCA co-ordinates — however minuscule (as in Linear B) or enormous (as in cuneiform) —  of any character, syllabogram or ideogram in any script whatsoever. It simply is not a factor.

(l) Some ideograms appear to Bennett “almost rudimentary” because of the damaged state of certain tablets. It is of course not possible to determine which of these two factors, cramped space or damage, impinge on the rudimentary outlines of some of the same ideograms, be these for wine (must), (olive) oil or humans, although it is quite possible that both factors, at least according to Bennet, play a determinant rôle in this regard. But in fact they cannot and do not, for the following reasons:
1. So-called “rudimentary” incisions may simply be the result of end-of-workday exhaustion or carelessness or alternatively of remaining cramped space;
2. As such, they necessarily detract from an accurate determination of which scribe’s hand scribbled one or more rudimentary incisions on different tablets, even by means of AIGCA;
3. On the other hand, the intact incisions of the same scribe (if they are present) may obviate the necessity of having to depend on rudimentary scratchings. But the operative word here is if they are present. Not only that, even in the presence of intact incisions by said scribe, it all depends on the total number of discrete incisions made, i.e. on the number of different syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, word dividers (the vertical line in Linear B), numerics and other doodles. We shall more closely address this phenomenon below.

(m) Finally, some scribes resort to more elaborate cursive penning of syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, the Linear B word dividers, numerics and other marks, although it is open to serious question whether or not the same scribe sometimes indulges in such embellishments, and sometimes does not. This throws another wrench into the accurate identification of unique scribal hands, even with AIGCA.

The aforementioned variables as noted though not explicitly enumerated by Bennett summarize how he and Chadwick alike envisioned the prime characteristics or attributes, if you like, the variables, of various scribal hands. Each and every one of these attributes constitutes of course a variable or a variant of an arbitrary norm, whatever it is supposed to be. The primary problem is that, if we are to lend credence to the numerous distinctions Bennet ascribes to scribal hands, there are simply far too many of these variables. When one is left with no alternative than to parse scribal hands by manual visual means, as were Bennet and Chadwick, there is just no way to dispense with a plethora of variations or with the arbitrary nature of them. And so the whole procedure (manual visual inspection) is largely invalidated from a strictly scientific point of view.

In light of my observations above, as a prelude to our thesis, the application of artificial geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) to scribal hands in Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B, I wish to draw your undivided attention to the solid theoretical foundation laid for research into Linear B graphology or epigraphy by Prof. L.R. Palmer, one of the truly exceptional pioneers in Linear B linguistic research, who set the tone in the field to this very day, by bringing into sharp focus the single theoretical premise — and he was astute enough to isolate one and one only — upon which any and all research into all aspects of Mycenaean Linear B must be firmly based. 

I find myself compelled to quote a considerable portion of Palmer’s singularly sound foundational scientific hypothesis underpinning the ongoing study of Linear which he laid in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts [4]. (All italics below mine). Palmer contends that....

The importance of the observation of a series of ‘oppositions’ at a given place in the formulaic structure may be further illustrated... passim... A study of handwriting confirms this conclusion. The analysis removes the basis for a contention that the tablets of these sets were written at different times and list given herdsmen at different stations. It invalidates the conclusion that the texts reflect a system of transhumance (see p. 169 ff.).

We may insist further on the principle of economy of theses in interpretation... passim... See pp. 114 ff. for the application of this principle, with a reduction in the number of occupational categories.

New texts offer an opportunity for the most rigorous application of the principle of economy. Here the categories set up for the interpretation of existing materials will stand in the relation of ‘predictions’ to the new texts, and the new material provides a welcome opportunity for testing not only the decipherment but also interpretational methods. The first step will be to interpret the new data within the categorical framework already set up. Verificatory procedures will then be devised to test the results which emerge. If they prove satisfactory, no furthers categories will be added.   

The number of hypotheses set up to explain a given set of facts is an objective measure of the ‘arbitrary’, and explanations can be graded on a numerical scale. A completely ‘arbitrary’ explanation is one which requires x hypotheses for y facts. It follows that the most ‘economical’ explanation is the least ‘arbitrary’.

I could not have put it better myself. The more economical the explanation, in other words, the underlying hypothesis, the less arbitrary it must necessarily be. In light of the fact that AIGCA reduces the hypothetical construct for the identification of scribal style to a single invariable, the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional Cartesian X Y plane, we can reasonably assert that this scientific procedure practically eliminates such arbitrariness. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s supremely elegant equation E = Mc2 in the general theory of relatively, which reduces all variables to a single constant.
     
Yet, what truly astounds is the fact that Palmer was able to reach such conclusions in an age prior to the advent of supercomputers and the ultra high speed Internet, an age when the only means of verifying any such hypothesis was the manual visual. In light of Palmer’s incisive observations and the pinpoint precision with which he draws his conclusion, it should become apparent to any researcher in graphology or epigraphy delving into scribal hands in our day and age that all of Bennet’s factors are variables of geometric patterns, all of which in turn are mathematical deviations from the point of origin (0,0) on the two-dimensional X Y Cartesian axis. As such Bennet’s factors or variables, established as they were by the now utterly outdated process of manual visual parsing of the differing styles of scribal hands, may be reduced to one variable and one only through the much more finely tuned fully automated computer-generated procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis. When we apply the technique of AI geometric co-ordinate analysis to the identification, isolation and classification of scribal hands in Linear B, we discover, perhaps not to our surprise, that all of Bennet’s factors (a to m) can be reduced to geometric departures from a single constant, namely, the point of  origin (0,0) on the  X Y axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian plane, which alone delineates the “style” of any single scribe, irrespective of the script under analysis, where style is defined as a function of said analysis, and nothing more.

It just so happens that another researcher has chosen to take a similar, yet unusually revealing, approach to manual visual analysis of scribal hands in 2015. I refer to Mrs. Rita Robert’s eminently insightful overview of scribal hands at Pylos, a review of which I shall undertake in light of geometric co-ordinate analysis in my next article.

Geometric co-ordinate analysis via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet:

Nowadays, geometric co-ordinate analysis can be finessed by any supercomputer plotting CGA co-ordinates down to the very last pixel at lightning speed. The end result is that any of a number of unique scribal hands or of handwriting styles using ink, ancient on papyrus or modern on paper, can be identified, isolated and classified in the blink of an eye, usually beyond a reasonable doubt. However strange as it may seem prima facie, I leave to the very last the application of this practically unimpeachable procedure to the analysis and the precise isolation of the unique style of the single scribal hand responsible for the Edwin Smith papyrus, as that case in particular yields the most astonishing outcome of all.

Geometric co-ordinate analysis: Comparison between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B: 

Researchers and linguists who delve into the syllabaries of Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B are cognizant of the fact that the syllabograms in each of these syllabaries considerably overlap, the majority of them (almost) identical in both, as attested by Figures 4 & 5: Click to ENLARGE

d figure 4 CF Linear A Linear B symmetric

e figure 5 circular Linear A & Linear B
By means of supercomputers and/or through the medium of the ultra-high speed Internet, geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of all syllabograms (nearly) identical in both of syllabaries can be simultaneously applied with proximate equal validity to both.

Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B share a geometric economy which ensures that they both are readily susceptible to AI geometric co-ordinate analysis, as previously illustrated in Figure 1, especially in the application of said procedure to the standardized font of Linear B, as seen here in Figure 6: Click to ENLARGE

f figure 6 ccomplex co-ordinate analysis

And what applies to the modern standard Linear B font inevitably applies to the strictly mathematical deviations of the cursive hands of any number of scribes composing tablets in either syllabary (Linear A or Linear B). Even more convincingly, AIGCA via supercomputer or the ultra high speed Internet is ideally suited to effecting a comparative analysis and of parsing scribal hands in both syllabaries, with the potential of demonstrating a gradual drift from the cursive styles of scribes composing tablets in the earlier syllabary, Minoan Linear A to the potentially more evolved cursive hands of scribes writing in the latter-day Mycenaean Linear B. AICGA could be ideally poised to reveal a rougher or more maladroit style in Minoan Linear A common to the earlier scribes, thus potentially revealing a tendency towards more streamlined cursive hands in Mycenaean Linear B, if it ever should prove to be the case. AIGCA could also prove the contrary. Either way, the procedure yields persuasive results.

This hypothetical must of course be put squarely to the test, even according to the dictates of L.R. Palmer, let alone my own, and confirmed by recursive AICGA of numerous (re-)iterations of scribal hands in each of these syllabaries. Unfortunately, the corpus of Linear A tablets is much smaller than that of the Mycenaean, such that cross-comparative AIGCA between the two syllabaries will more than likely prove inconclusive at best. This however does not mean that cross-comparative GCA should not be adventured for these two significantly similar scripts.   

Geometric co-ordinate analysis of Mycenaean Linear B:

A propos of Mycenaean Linear B, geometric co-ordinate analysis is eminently suited to accurately parsing its much wider range of scribal hands. An analysis of the syllabogram for the vowel O reveals significant variations of scribal hands in Mycenaean Linear B, as illustrated in Figure 2 above, repeated here for convenience:

b figure 2 o cursive

Yet the most conspicuous problem with computerized geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA) of a single syllabogram, such as the vowel O, is that even this procedure is bound to fall far short of confirming the subtle or marked differences in the individual styles of the scores and scores of scribal hands at Knossos alone, where some 3,000 largely intact tablets have been unearthed and the various styles of numerous other scribes at Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes and other sites where hundreds more tablets in Linear B have been discovered.

So what is the solution? It all comes down to the application of ultra-high speed GCA to every last one of the syllabograms on each and every one of some 5,500+ tablets in Linear B, as illustrated in the table of several Linear B syllabograms in Figures 7 and 8, through which we instantly ascertain those points where mathematical deviations on all of the more complex geometric forms put together utilized by any Linear B scribe in particular leap to the fore. Here, the prime characteristics of any number of mathematical deviations of scribal hands for all geometric forms, from the simple linear and (semi-)circular, to the more complex such as the oblong, wave form, teardrop and tomahawk, serve as much more precise markers or indicators highly susceptible of revealing the subtle or significant differences among any number of scribal hands. Click to ENLARGE Figures 7 & 8:

g figure7 cmplex
h figure8 cursive scribal hands me no ri we

By zeroing in on Knossos tablet KN 935 G d 02 (Figure 9) we ascertain that the impact of the complexities of alternate geometric forms on AIGCA is all the more patently obvious: Click to ENLARGE

i figure 9 KN 935 G d 02 TW

When applied to the parsing of every last syllabogram, homophone, logogram, ideogram, numeric, Linear B word divider and any other marking of any kind on any series of Linear B tablets, ultra high speed geometric co-ordinate analysis can swiftly extrapolate a single scribe’s style from tablet KN 935 G d 02 in Figure 9, revealing with relative ease which (largely) intact tablets from Knossos share the same scribal hand with this one in particular, which serves as our template sample. We can be sure that there are several tablets for which the scribal hand is in common with KN 935 G d 02. What’s more, extrapolating from this tablet as template all other tablets which share the same scribal hand attests to the fact that AIGCA can perform the precise same operation on any other tablet whatsoever serving in its turn as the template for another scribal hand, and so on and so on. 

Take any other (largely) intact tablet of the same provenance (Knossos), for which the scribal hand has previously been determined by AIGCA to be different from that of KN 935 G d 02, and use that tablet as your new template for the same cross-comparative AICGA procedure. And voilà, you discover that the procedure has extrapolated yet another set of tablets for which there is another scribal hand, in other words, a different scribal style, in the sense that we have already defined style. But can what works like a charm for tablets from Knossos be applied with relative success to Linear B tablets of another provenance, notably Pylos? The difficulty here lies in the size of the corpus of Linear B tablets of a specific provenance. While AIGCA is bound to yield its most impressive results with the enormous trove of some 3,000 + (largely) intact Linear B tablets from Knossos, the procedure is susceptible of greater statistical error when applied to a smaller corpus of tablets, such as from Pylos. It all comes down to the principle of inverse ratios. And where the number of extant tablets from other sources is very small, as is the case with Mycenae and Thebes, the whole procedure of AIGCA is seriously open to doubt.

Still, AIGCA is eminently suited to clustering in one geometric set all tablets sharing the same scribal hand, irrespective of the number of tablets and of the subset of all scribal hands parsed through this purely scientific procedure.

Conclusion:

We can therefore safely conclude that ultra high speed artificial intelligence geometric co-ordinate analysis (AIGCA), through the medium of the supercomputer or on the ultra high speed Internet, is well suited to identifying, isolating and classifying the various styles of scribal hands in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B.

In Part C, we shall move on to the parsing of scribal hands in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, of the early hieratic handwriting of the scribe responsible for the Edwin Smith Papyrus (1600 BCE) and ultimately of the vast number of handwriting styles and fonts of today.
  
References and Notes:

[1] The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform
https://www.academia.edu/17257438/The_application_of_geometric_co-ordinate_analysis_GCA_to_parsing_scribal_hands_Part_A_Cuneiform
[2]  “Miscellaneous Observations on the Forms and Identities of Linear B Ideograms” pp. 11-25 in, Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, © 1966. Palmer, L.R. & Chadwick, John, eds.  First paperback edition 2011. ISBN 978-1-107-40246-1 (pbk.)
[3] Op. Cit.,  pg. 22
[4] pp. 33-34 in Introduction. Palmer, L.R. The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts. Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press, © 1963. Special edition for Sandpiper Book Ltd., 1998. ix, 488 pp. ISBN 0-19-813144-5



Dry Measurement of Wheat, Barley & Grain Seeds in Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Linear B tablet  KN 819 A j 0 wheat barley & seed

Because this tablet is largely intact, it is fairly easy to translate. But there are still a few small problems in the second line. First of all, the total wheat production for 1 month (or does this mean, the average monthly wheat total for 1 year?) is given as approx. 3 kilograms, if we are to trust the measurement table established by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog- and there is no reason why we should not under the circumstances, namely, that we really have no idea what the actual total (represented by the Linear B logogram which looks like a T) for dry measurement was. So kilograms will do as well as anything. Still, at least the system appears to have been metric. This is followed by a much larger output for barley of 3 x 9 = 27 kilograms, which strikes me as a little bit odd, given that wheat was probably the staple crop, followed by barley. On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that this is a monthly total for barley. In fact, the total of approx. 27 kilograms is immediately followed by the number 7. My interpretation of this apparently stray number is that it may represent 7 months (the ideogram for month being conveniently omitted), yielding a total of a little less than 4 kilograms per month, which would align the barley production total with the wheat. But this still strikes me as really odd. Why would the scribe assign the total for only 1 month’s production of wheat, and follow it up with the total production of barley for 7 months? This does not make much sense. We then have a total production of about 3 x 3 = approx. 9 kilograms of seed, if I am interpreting this right. The reason I assign 3 x 3 = about 9 kilograms of seed is this: I believe the scribe deliberately omitted the T logogram (which is equal to about 3 kilograms), hence 3 (x 3) = 9.

Why would he do that? It is really quite simple. He has apparently omitted the ideogram for “month” right after the number 7. He has already used the T logogram twice on this line, and so – again to save valuable space on a very small tablet - he simply omits it the third time (as he did for the second occurrence for “month”), since he knows that all of the other scribes clearly understand that it is implicit. Just another shortcut. More shorthand. Big surprise. Still, the statistics do not seem to square. Our translation of the inventory totals just does not “feel right”. For this reason, I have to reserve judgement on the translation, given that there appears to be something the scribes all implicitly understood - I am not quite sure what – but which we do not at a remove of some 32 centuries. And I fear I may have taken the scribal practice of omitting what was “obvious” to the scribes a little too far.
  
Richard


A Mind Blower! Monthly Statistics on Wheat & Barley at Knossos, Amnisos & Phaistos in Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Linear A tablet KN 777a K b 01 wheat monthly Knossos Amnisos Phaistos

Ambiguities pop up as a matter of course in any attempt to translate all too many tablets in Mycenaean Linear B. These ambiguities arise for a number of reasons, such as:

(a.1) The scribes routinely omitted any word(s) or phrase(s) which they as a guild implicitly understood, since after all no-one but themselves and the palace administration would ever have to read the tablets in the first place. The regular formulae involved in the production of Linear B accounting, inventory or statistical texts of whatever length were commonly understood by all, and shared (or not, as the case may be) by all the scribes.

Formulaic text, including the same Linear B stock phrases, the same logograms & the same ideograms appearing over and over again, are routine. But even that does not give us the whole picture. Some text, which would have otherwise explicitly appeared as per the criteria just mentioned, was deliberately omitted. This bothers us today, in the twenty-first century, because we expect all text to be there, right on the tablet. Sorry. No can do. The scribes merely wrote what were routine annual accounts only, and nothing more (to be summarily erased at the end of the current fiscal year and replaced by the next fiscal year’s inventories). That was their job, or as we would call it today, their job description, as demanded by the palace administration. Nothing more or less. It would never have entered the minds of the scribes or the palace administrations of any Mycenaean city, trade centre, harbour or citadel to preserve inventories beyond one fiscal year, because they never did. Routine is routine.

So if we take it upon ourselves to complain that “vital information is missing”, we mislead ourselves grossly. That information was never “missing” to the personnel concerned. It is only absent to us. It is up to use to try and put ourselves into the mindset of the palace administration(s) and of the scribes, and not the other way around. Tough challenge? You bet it is. But we have no other choice.

(a.2) In the case of this tablet specifically, the text which is annoyingly “missing” is that in the independent nominative variable upon which the phrase in the dative, “for barley-by-month” (kiritiwetiyai) directly depends. The “whatever” (nominative) ... “for barley-by-month” (dative) has to be something.  But what? I translated the missing nominative independent variable as “ration” on the illustration of the tablet above, but this is a very rough translation.

(b) What is the semantic value of the implicit independent nominative variable?

If we stop even for a second and ask ourselves the really vital question, to what step or element or procedure in barley production do our average monthly statistics refer, then we are on the right track. Note that the word “average” is also absent, since it is obvious to all (us scribes) that monthly statistics for any commodity are average, after all. It is impossible for these monthly statistics for Knossos, Amnisos & Phaistos to refer to the barley crop or harvest, because that happens only once a year. The scribes all knew this, and anyway it is perfectly obvious even to us, if we just stop and consider the thing logically. So to what does the dependent dative variable refer?

There are a few cogent alternatives, but here are the most likely candidates, at least to my mind. First, we have (a) ration. Fair enough. But what about (b) consumption of barley -or- (c) monthly metropolitan (market) sales of barley for the city of Knossos alone -or- (d) routine monthly trade in barley, by which I mean, international trade?  All of these make sense. In fact, more than one of these alternatives may apply, depending on the site locale. Line 1 refers to the independent variable in the nominative for Knossos. That could easily be the monthly metropolitan market (akora) sales of barley. However, line 2 refers to Amnisos, which is the international harbour of Knossos, and the major hub of all international trade and commerce between Knossos and the rest of the Mycenaean Empire, and between Knossos and the rest of the then-known maritime world, i.e. all empires, nations and city states surrounding at least the mid-Eastern & South Mediterranean, especially Egypt, Knossos’s most wealthy, hence, primary trading partner. So in the case of Amnisos (line 2), the independent variable in the nominative is much more likely to be the average monthly figure for international trade in or for barley-by-month. As for Phaistos, it is probably a toss-up, although I prefer international trade. 

(c) Hundreds of Units of Barley or is it Wheat? But how many Hundreds?

(c.1) Before we go any further, it is best to clear one thing up. While line item 1 on this tablet refers specifically to barley, and not to wheat, I find it really peculiar that, in the first place, the ideogram used in line 1 (Knossos) is the ideogram for wheat and not for barley. This appears to be a contradiction in terms. The only explanations I can come up with are that (a) the scribe used the ideogram for wheat in line item 1, because he used it in both line items 2 & 3 (for Amnisos and Phaistos), where he actually did intend to reference wheat specifically, and not barley, or (b) the other way around, that he meant to reference barley in all 3 line items, but did not bother to repeat the phrase kiritiwetiyai = “for barley-by-month”, because (as he perceived it) he did not have to. Wasn’t it obvious to all concerned, himself and his fellow scribes, and their overseers, the palace administration, that is exactly what he meant? Of course it was. But which alternative was obvious (a) or (b)? We shall never know.
       
(c.2) Since the right hand side of this tablet is sharply truncated immediately after the appearance of the numeric syllabogram for 100, we are left high and dry as to the value of the total number of units for each of lines 1 to 3. The number must be somewhere between 100 & 999. Ostensibly, it cannot possibly be the same for Knossos, Amnisos & Phaistos. The problem compounds itself if we are referring to sales or consumption of barley at Knossos versus international trade for Amnisos and Phaistos or, for that matter, any combination or permutation of any of these formulae for each of these line items in the inventory. This being the case, there is obviously no point wasting our breath trying to figure out which is which (consumption, sales or international trade) because it will get us nowhere. One thing is certain, however. The scribes themselves knew perfectly well what the figures in each of lines 1 to 3 referred to. We are the ones who are the poorer, not the wiser.

(d) You will have noticed that, whatever the semantic value of the implicit nominative independent variable is in lines 1 & 2, which reference Knossos and Amnisos respectively, I mentioned on the illustration of the tablet above that the line item figure for Amnisos could either be lower than or higher than that for Knossos. And that is a correct observation. Assuming that the figure for Knossos probably refers to either average monthly consumption or metropolitan market sales of barley in the city itself, with a population estimated at some 55,000 at its height, the average monthly figure for consumption or sales alone would probably have been quite high, ranging well into the multiple hundreds. But how high? I wouldn’t dare hazard a guess.

Likewise, the average monthly volume in international trade of barley (let alone wheat and all other major commodities such as wool, olive oil, spices, crafts and fine Minoan/Mycenaean jewelry) would have been very significant, probably at least as great if not greater than the the average monthly figure for consumption or sales of barley, wheat etc. etc. in the city market (akora) of Knossos. Regardless, the monthly figures for Amnisos and Knossos almost certainly do not reference the same economic activity, so we are comparing apples with oranges.

As for Amnisos and Phaistos, the average monthly figures are more likely to reference the same economic phenomenon, namely, international trade. If this is the case, the monthly figures would have been far greater for Amnisos, the primary port of the entire Mycenaean Empire, for international commerce and trade, than for Phaistos, which was an important centre for commerce, but certainly not the hub. However, once again, we have no idea of the average ratio for monthly international trade and commerce between Amnisos and Phaistos, although I surmise it was probably in the order of at least 4:1. 

Richard


Mycenaean Linear B Units of Dry Measure, Knossos Tablet KN 406 L c 02: Click to ENLARGE

KN 416 L c 02 akareu paito spice total

The translation of this tablet from Knossos into English is relatively straightforward. The problem is that no one really knows what exactly the unit of measure designated by the Linear B symbol that looks like a T means. My best guess is that the 9 shakers of coriander (I say, shakers, because the ideogram looks like a shaker & it is most likely folks used shakers back in the good old days in Knossos, just as we do nowadays). However, the problem remains, how do 9 shakers of coriander add up to only 2 units. My best guess is that the shakers were boxed, 5 units per box. So 9 shakers would have filled one box and most of another... something along those lines.

Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog gives a value of approx. 3 kilograms per unit, meaning we would end up with about 5 kg. or so for 9 shakers of coriander. They would have had to be really huge shakers! No one could have held them. So it is quite apparent that the measured value Andras Zeke has assigned to our wee little T is in fact way off the mark, if we are to believe our eyes. On the other hand, that T might very well have been divisible by 10 or even 100, given that the Mycenaean numeric system is based on units of 10, just like our own. So it is conceivable that we are dealing with some kind of metric system here. Given that the Mycenaean numeric is base 10, that would make sense. So we could be dealing with something like 50 grams and not 5 kilograms of coriander... that would make a hell of a lot of sense.  But since we were not there to see how the scribes allocated the spice jars into so-called units, we shall never really know. Still, there is no harm in speculating.

Now, as for my translation of the ideogram for a spice container (spice shaker), I have translated it specifically as a “a coriander spice shaker”, since on every single every tablet, bar none, from Knossos mentioning spice containers, it is always coriander that is spelled out. The folks at Knossos must have been crazy about coriander!  Since there are only 2 or 3 tablets which do not mention coriander outright, that leaves us with around 95 % of all tablets referring to spices which do spell it out. Linear B scribes were very fussy about having to spell out the names of spices, or for that matter, anything on Linear B tablets which could be easily represented, i.e. symbolized by an ideogram. The ideogram appears on this tablet, but the word does not. This is practically beside the point. It appears that the scribe simply did not bother writing it, for some reason or another. The practice of spelling out the name of any item on a Linear B tablet which can easily be illustrated with an ideogram is very unusual. The scribes were sticklers for saving space at all costs on what is admittedly a very small medium, rarely more than 30 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep, and more often than not, even smaller than that!  So the fact that the scribes generally did spell out coriander as the spice of choice for Minoan Knossos seems to imply that the king, queen, princes and the palace attendants prized it very highly. 

Another point: almost all of the tablets mentioning koriyadana = coriander also use the word apudosi = delivery, i.e. they tabulate the actual delivery of so many units of coriander to the palace. So this tablet can be translated any of these ways:

Achareus delivers to Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units
or
Achareus delivers for deposit at Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units.
or even
Achareus delivers for deposit at the palace of Phaistos 9 shakers of coriander for a total of 2 units.

These are all valid translations, since after all everyone who was anyone, meaning the scribes, the nobility and the wealthy businessmen) knew perfectly well that such precious commodities as coriander could only be consumed by the well-to-do, and that these folks all lived – you guessed it – in the palace! There was absolutely no need in the minds of the scribes, meaning, in practice, for them to write out what was obvious to everyone. This is precisely why nowadays we need to learn to read out of the tablets what the scribes were actually inventorying, rather than trying to read into them. If this sounds like a tough slog, you bet it is. But it is far better to aim at getting the actual gist of the message on the tablet (whether or not spelled out in text, or simply with logograms and ideograms) than to strip down your translation to the point where it becomes unintelligible.

This is all the more true in light of the fact that at least 800 of 3,000 tablets I meticulously consulted from the Scripta Minoa from Knossos contain very little if any text at all, and rather a lot of supersyllabograms (single syllabograms), ideograms and logograms. The reason for this is obvious: in order to save as much space as humanly possible, the Linear B accountants (scribes) never wrote out what was obvious to them all as a guild. In other words, Mycenaean Linear B, as an inventory and statistical accounting language – which is what it basically is – combines two notable features: (a) the language is highly formulaic & (b) the greater part of it is shorthand for Mycenaean Greek text inferred but rarely explicitly spelled out. If this sounds peculiar to us nowadays, we need only recall that this is exactly how modern shorthand functions. All too many Linear B translators have completely overlooked this fundamental characteristic of Mycenaean Linear B, which in large part explains its almost total uniformity over a wide geographic area, from Knossos to Phaistos and other Mycenaean sites on the island to Crete itself to Pylos on the opposite coast, all the way to Mycenae and Tiryns on the far side of the Peloponnese and even as far away as Thebes in Boeotia, which was a key Mycenaean centre and which has been continually occupied from then on right through to today. Click on the map to ENLARGE:

Thebes Boetia

All of this further implies that, while Linear B, the accounting and inventorying language for Mycenaean Greek, was homogeneous, uniform and formulaic to the teeth, the actual Mycenaean dialect may very well have not been. In fact, I sincerely doubt it was, since it is symptomatic of all ancient Greek dialects, even those which are closely related (such as the Ionic and Attic) to diverge and go their own merry way, regardless of the structure, orthography and grammatical quirks of their closest relatives. Since that was surely the case with every ancient Greek dialect with which we are familiar – and God knows it was! - then it must have also been the case with Mycenaean Greek and with its closest, kissing cousin, Arcado-Cypriot Greek, the latter written in Linear C or in the quirky Arcado-Cypriot alphabet. Even though no other ancient Greek dialects were as closely related as were Mycenaean and its kissing cousin, Arcado-Cypriot, these dialects were somewhat different. What is more, it is almost certain that there were notable variations within each of these dialects, the further afield you went. In other words, the Mycenaean Greek spoken at Knossos and Phaistos, which would have been much more influenced by its forbear, the Minoan language, was a little different from that spoken at Pylos, and doubtless even more from the Mycenaean Greek at Mycenae, Tiryns and especially Thebes.

But spoken Mycenaean Greek and the Mycenaean Linear B accounting and inventorying language are not the same beast. The latter is a homogeneous, formulaic and largely shorthand subset of the former. I shall have a great deal more to say about this extremely important distinction between the two in future.

Richard

SHARP rise in VISITS to our blog in January 2015: from an average of ca. 3,500 in the autumn of 2014 to 5,000 this month: Click to ENLARGE the BANNER:

LBK&M VISITS POST 700 012015

This is a lot for something as esoteric as Mycenaean Linear B.  With our profoundest gratitude and thanks.

We have even more great news coming very soon! We have had a major breakthrough which very few Internet sites are privileged to receive. Keep posted. 


Richard and Rita


LOL! A Trojan Horse or a Bunch of Lawyers – The Tucan War: Click to ENLARGE

RealTrojanHorse





A KEY TO THE MINOAN ECONOMY? An emphatic YES. 21,904 sheep in one place? Guess where... (Click to ENLARGE):

Knossos KN 162a D b

Knossos, of course! I have a number of relevant comments to make on this fascinating numeric tablet, which is is typical of the scads of numeric tablets the Minoan scribes (mostly at Knossos) produced for inventory, just as they did with pretty much every other agricultural animals or crops, or economic merchandise or trade in general. One of my comments in particular [2 infra] turns on the possibility, if not probability, that the word in question may even be Minoan! 

Following the NOTES in the illustration above, we notice that:

[1] the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for sheep seem to be meaningless, for lack of context, the usual bugbear that plagues so many Linear B tablets. What these numbers, which seem quite haphazard, refer to is anyone’s guess, but I prefer to think of them as mere practice scribblings. On the other hand, they may refer to the ideogram [3] below. See infra.    

[2] This is undoubtedly the ideogram for “month”. The problem is, what does the supersyllabogram RE immediately preceding it refer to, if not the name of the month itself? And that is just what I take it to mean. The difficulty we are now faced with, what is the name of the month which begins with the first syllable, the syllabogram RE? We cannot assume it is a Classical Greek name for any month, because in the Minoan & Mycenaean era (ca. 1900 BCE – 1200 BCE), Classical Greek month names did not exist. So either the month name referred to here beginning with the supersyllabogram RE is a Mycenaean Greek month name or even a Minoan month name, for the simple reason that the Minoan scribes writing in Mycenaean Greek sometimes very likely transposed (i.e. used) Minoan names for islands, municipalities, names of people, names of the seasons and months etc. This practice, if indeed it was their practice, may very well serve to provide a definite clue to the categories of Minoan vocabulary I refer to above, and then some. It is an approach to the partial decipherment of Linear A we need to take seriously. The problem with supersyllabograms such as RE is that they are only the first syllable of any word they represent, and are thus incapable of revealing what the word behind the supersyllabogram in question refers to, unless we already know the language the supersyllabogram is used for. If the language is Mycenaean Greek in Linear B, then we stand a (usually remote) chance of deciphering the word, but if the word is Minoan, and – I must strongly emphasize this – a Minoan month name written, not in Linear A, but in Linear B (since this is after all a Linear B tablet) we stand no chance whatsoever of deciphering the month name, at least for the present. 
    
[3] This ideogram looks remarkably like the ideogram for “honey”, but wait! Hold on now! Does that make any sense at all in the context of this tablet, which otherwise and principally provides meaningful statistics on sheep, and nothing else? So it appears that suggesting this is the ideogram for “honey” may be stretching the limits of credibility, especially in light of the fact that the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for “sheep” appear haphazard at best, hence, probably meaningless, except as (practice) doodles. There is simply no way of knowing.   

[4] The scribe appears to have effaced the lower half of this 1K (1,000), but I prefer to assume that he did so in error. If not, then the total number of sheep would be 21,804 rather than 21,904, as if that makes much of a difference! It is still a helluva lot of sheep. 

[5] This modified ideogram for “person”, in which the person appears to be holding a spear or something of that ilk, poses a few problems, none of them insurmountable, and any of which may be valid in the context of this tablet. First of all, why would a person hanging around sheep bear a spear, except to chase off predators such as wolves? If we assume that this modified ideogram actually means “shepherd”, then the problem almost resolves itself. Almost. The difficulty now is, what is the shepherd holding? It certainly could still be a spear, but shepherds usually hold staffs, and so that it what I take it to mean for this modified ideogram, unless... this is the signature of the scribe, which is an entirely plausible alternative. So this ideogram could mean 1 of 3 things. Take your pick.

Last, but far from least, we are still left with two nagging questions. How is it possible that this tablet, in combination with the 5 tablets on rams from Knossos, all 6 of them, can yield a mind-boggling total of over 45,000 sheep?  Was the even countryside around Knossos capable of sustaining such an immense number of livestock, let alone only sheep, not counting bulls & cows, horses etc. etc.? What is going on here? Have our assiduous scribes gone overboard?  The answer is simply, no. The second part of our question must reference the time, i.e. the year, season or month each and every one of these tablets was composed. This is no idle matter for speculation. The tablet in this post seems to refer only to the month RE, though only on the left side of the ideogram for sheep, leaving us with the question whether the rest of the tablet dealing only with sheep to the right of the ideogram for sheep, refers to the same time period, i.e. on month, that month being RE. It could go either way. But once again, we shall never know.

It simply strikes me as a little odd, in fact bordering on the ridiculous, that there would be 45,000 sheep around Knossos all at once! However, the explanation for this oddity follows. Once we clear that up, we can then conclude, within reasonable parameters, that there more than likely were never as many as 45,000 sheep wandering around, stinking up the countryside, and posing an awful environmental hazard to the city of Knossos. Otherwise, the city, as prosperous and as clean as the Minoans were, would never have survived more a few years. But ostensibly it did. I have addressed this issue before in posts where I refer to the strong likelihood that the Minoans, being the advanced civilization they were, were not only plainly familiar with the basic principles of hydrology and plumbing (which they most certainly were), but equally with the principles and practice of crop rotation and even rotation of animals in husbandry. If we allow for this scenario, then there would more likely than not, be far fewer than 45,000 sheep hanging around Knossos in any given running or fiscal year, though how many there would be we can never know... except that, given the fact that almost all sheep-related tablets from Knossos itself rarely inventory fewer than 5,000 sheep on any one tablet. So we can at least speculate an annual figure of some 5,000-10,000 sheep, if nothing else.      
     
And who is to say this tablet, and any or all of the remaining tablets, were inscribed in the same year? Again, no idle question, for two inescapable reasons.

[1] The Minoan scribes kept annual statistics for absolutely anything and everything they inventoried, and erased the very same tablets on which these annual statistics were inscribed, and replaced the whole shebang with the new statistics for the next fiscal year for the same inventories of whatever they were recording (sheep, rams, ewes, cows, bulls, horses, chariots, armour, vessels and vases of all kinds, cloth, jewelry, you name it, the list goes on and on and on). In other words, putting it in a nutshell, there is simply no way of determining whether any or all of these 6 tablets in this and the previous post originate from the same “wetos” or “running year” = fiscal year, as the Minoan scribes so aptly called each inventory year.

[2] Add on top of this scenario the fact that all 4,000 or so of the tablets at Knossos were unearthed from the rubble of either a massive earthquake or the destruction of the city by invasion (the place is scarred with burns), or both, how can anyone be sure that any fragments laying side-by-side in the messy rubble on any aspect of Minoan life whatsoever, are from the same year, let alone the same category of inventory shelves on which they were almost certainly stored according to some classification system making it easy for the scribes to retrieve any tablet on any aspect of the Minoan agri-economy for any given running year, i.e. fiscal year? Once again we are at an impasse, up against a solid (or if you like, crumbling) brick wall.  The likelihood that there is a strong relationship, some sort of relationship, or little relationship at all between one tablet and the next lying beside aside in the rubble that Sir Arthur Evans and company had to all too meticulously and cautiously rummage through remains an open question at best. True enough, as I have myself discovered in certain sequential ranges of tablets and fragments in Scripta Minoa, there are several instances in which the tablets in a particular entirely intact series, say speculatively, KN 1610 – KN 1654, for the sake of argument, all deal with the very same aspect of the Minoan agri-economy, for instance, sheep, rams and ewes, but even when they do, there is still absolutely no guarantee that any of these intact sequences all deal with the same running or fiscal year. And all too many adjacent tablets are not directly related. So we are left with the same enigma we were confronted with in the first place. 

Richard


Where are all these tens of thousands of rams from? Guess. One guess & you’re right! Click to ENLARGE:

Knossos KN 917 1088 1089 1090 1096

As I pointed out in great detail in a previous post, the Minoan/Mycenaean economy ca. 1450 BCE, with its home base at the city of Knossos itself, spread out its sheep husbandry locales among several key sites, notably, Kytaistos, Phaistos & Lykinthos, mentioned 20 times each, Exonos 15 times, Davos 14, Lato & Syrimos 12, Lasynthos 9, Sugrita 8, Tylisos (or Tyllisos) 5 & Raia 3 times. But Knossos is never mentioned at all! All of this is threshed out in the previous post, CRITICAL Post: The Minoans Counted Sheep While They Were Wide Awake,

https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/vital-post-the-minoans-counted-sheep-while-they-were-wide-awake-big-time/

which I strongly suggest you read, if you are at all fascinated by the Minoan economy and their international trade, especially in the area of sheep raising and husbandry, which was the vital underpinning of their entire subsistence as a people, outweighing by far all other economic activities of any kind whatsoever.  

Regardless of the fact that the scribes at Knossos never mention the city as a sheep raising site, it was in fact the primary locale for sheep husbandry, for the simple, plain reason that only a city of this size, with a population probably in excess of 50,000, enormous for the ancient world, had the human and land resources to accommodate such huge numbers of sheep as illustrated above, i.e. 24,000 at the very minimum, and only on these 5 tablets! In the next post, I shall post a Linear B tablet from Knossos, in which the numbers of sheep mentioned will literally blow you away!

If anyone thinks even for a moment that any of the other sheep raising locales mentioned at the outset of this post had anywhere near the land space and human resources sufficient to raise such huge numbers of sheep, that person is probably deluding him- or herself.

We are left with one bizarre mystery. The only thing that utterly baffles me is, where are all the ewes! That question, not a rhetorical question at all, begs the issue. I simply cannot figure this out for the life of me. How can you raise any new sheep, i.e. newborns, if there are no ewes around! If anyone has any suggestions or comments whatsoever to help us unravel this plainly weird mystery, be my guest!

Richard


CRITICAL POST: The Minoans counted sheep while they were wide awake... big time! 

An In-depth Statistical Analysis and Wide Cross-Section of over 2,500 tablets and fragments out of the approximately 4,000 at Knossos dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes.

For the past 4 months, I have been meticulously examining a huge cross-section of 2,503 Linear B tablets & fragments from the approximately 4,000 found at Knossos, representing no less than 62.57 % of that total, a sampling for which the statistical accuracy must be so high as not to exceed 0.5 % +/- margin of error (although I haven not verified this myself). Even with the total of 4,000 tablets and fragments being only a reasonably fair estimate of the total, the statistical accuracy would still be very high, since we are dealing with a total very close to 4,000. Here is the detailed table I compiled with its statistical analysis of the total number of tablets and fragments at Knossos specifically dealing with sheep, rams and ewes (503), as opposed to the total number I examined = 2,503. Click to ENLARGE:

Linear B Tablets Knossos sheep rams ewes

However, not only did I isolate all 503 of the tablets and fragments dealing with sheep, rams and ewes from my cross-section of 2,500 tablets, I also further sub-divided all 503 of these by locales or sites at which the Minoans raised sheep, these being, from most to least often mentioned on the tablets, Kytaistos, Phaistos & Lykinthos (20 times each), for a total of 60; Exonos (15 times); Davos (14); Lato & Syrimos (12), for a total of 24; Lasynthos (9); Sygrita (8); Tylissos or Tylisos (5) and Raia (2), Knossos never being even mentioned at all! What! I here you say... and me too. Come on, this begs the question. 

Hypothesis A: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

Why? Why not Knossos? It is patently ridiculous to assume that no sheep were raised at Knossos, since Knossos was a city of a population reputedly exceeding 50,000, an enormous city for the ancient world (aside from Rome, of course). None of the other locales listed in our table come remotely close to Knossos in size or economic power and significance, not even Phaistos. The Minoans had to have raised sheep at Knossos, of that there can be no doubt. But how many of the overall 503 tablets mentioning sheep, rams and ewes can be said to deal with Knossos?  Although we could ideally postulate a total of 365 times, the remainder of the 503 tablets, this is a highly problematic question, since there is simply no way of knowing whether or not the scribes were referring to Knossos and Knossos alone whenever they omitted to name the locale for sheep husbandry. It seems quite conceivable, even reasonable, to assume that the majority of the remaining 365 tablets and fragments, or at least most of them, do deal specifically with Knossos, but there is really no real way of our ever knowing.

However, there is one tell-tale statistic which may serve as a real clue to the incidence of sheep raising at Knossos, and that is the figure for the number of times Tylissos is mentioned, i.e. only 5 times, even though Tylissos was an important Minoan site. The point I am making here is simply this: Tylissos was right next door to Knossos, practically an outskirt of the city. So if Tylissos is mentioned less often than every other sheep raising locale, with the sole exception of Raya (3 times), then were were the sheep being raised near or at Knossos?  The answer seems transparent enough. At Knossos itself, or at least in the countryside surrounding Knossos, which would almost (but not quite) include Tylissos. So this is my hypothesis, namely, that in all probability most of the remaining 365 tablets and fragments do deal with Knossos, since as I have already said, it is patently impossible that Knossos was not the major sheep raising locale in the Minoan agri-economy.

Hypothesis B: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

There is another angle from which we may approach my assumption. Let’s say I am talking about my own garden (today, in the twenty-first century). Now since my own garden is right here in the city I live in, what is the point of saying “my garden in Ottawa” to other folks from Ottawa, since they already know that? The only time it would be necessary to refer to “my garden in Ottawa” would be when I was showing my garden at the cottage to my friends, and I wished to distinguish it from my other garden in Ottawa. Likewise, if I am referring to my mother’s garden, which happens to be in Toronto, while speaking to friends in Ottawa, I have to say “my mother’s garden in Toronto”, unless they all already know that. You see my point.

By analogy, if scribes, all of whom lived in Knossos, were referring to sheep husbandry at Knossos, why would they bother mentioning the city as such, since they would have been sharing this information with their fellow scribes and literate administrators in Knossos itself. On the other hand, if they had to refer to sheep raising absolutely anywhere else, even at Tylissos, which was not quite at Knossos, they would have had to mention the site by name; otherwise, their fellow scribes and co-literates would have had no idea where the sheep were being raised, which defeats the whole point of inventorying or compiling such statistics in the first place. Remember that the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B (not Linear A) were space-saving freaks, to say the least, since the tablets were usually very small. So by not mentioning Knossos as a sheep raising locale, since they lived there after all, they saved precious space on their tablets... yet another reason why Knossos was in fact never mentioned. Anyway, people are lazy by nature, and would rather not do any work they can avoid. So either they would have mentioned Knossos all the time, however many times it would have been the default locale for sheep raising (because, in fact, Knossos was the default location for sheep husbandry) on those remaining 365 tablets, or they would not have mentioned it all. We know of course they did not. All of this is speculation, of course, but it is rational speculation, I dare say.

Hypothesis C: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

And, believe it or not, there is yet another way to approach this hypothesis, and this approach is in fact purely statistical. Whenever we are confronted with a tablet or fragment from any of the other sheep raising locales specifically inventoried in the table above, when we examine the tablet for the total number of sheep raised at any one of these locales, we discover (and this is very significant) that nowhere are more than a few hundred sheep, rams or ewes mentioned on these site-specific tablets and fragments. The reason for this is probably that there was not enough available land at these sites to raise more than a few hundred sheep at a time.

On the other hand — and I must lay particular emphasis on this point — on several of the remaining 365 tablets or fragments, 1,000s or even 10s of 1,000s of sheep are tallied. Now where on earth except at Knossos would there be enough room to accommodate so many blasted sheep? I think I have made my point.

I can see some of you object (some perhaps even loudly), how could any place, even Knossos, have enough room in the surrounding countryside to accommodate almost as many or even more sheep than the general population of the city, without stripping the top soil bare, causing irreparable environmental damage and making one stinky countryside? It is hard to counter such an objection, which is entirely rational on any count. Still, we do not know whether the Minoans practised land rotation. However, given that their civilization was so advanced and sophisticated, with their basic grasp and sound implementation of the principles of hydrology to city plumbing never again to be matched until the end of the 19th. century of our era (!), it begs the question whether or not they were familiar with, and indeed practised land rotation for sheep grazing. I for one would be willing to bet at least 50/50 that they did... a practice which would have effectively preserved available grazing land, and made Knossos a perfectly suitable place to raise sheep, and scads of them.

But there is still more. Of the 2,503 tablets and fragments from Knossos I examined, those dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes account for fully 20.12 % of every last tablet, regardless of the area of interest in the Minoan society, economy, social structure, religious affairs etc. any and all of the remaining tablets deal with. This is a huge sub-set of all the tablets, and in fact, when you examine a cross-section of as many as 2,503 tablets of approximately 4,000, as I have done, you will discover, perhaps to your astonishment, perhaps not, that no other single area of interest or topic, if you like, in Minoan society comes anywhere even close to the number of times sheep, rams and ewes are specifically and almost always solely addressed on such tablets or fragments, i.e. 503 times. This speaks to the one area that literally grabs centre stage in the Minoan socio-economic and trade structure. It all boils down to one thing: the Minoan economy by-and-large revolved around sheep raising and husbandry, and the products which derived from it, such as wool, which also accounts for a fairly significant proportion of the remaining 3,500 tablets (though far from the numbers for sheep per se). Although there can be no denying that other areas of interest, such as raising pigs and other livestock, various crafts such as gem cutting, jewelry etc., religious issues, military matters, household affairs and so on, played a significant role in the Minoan economy and in their society, there can be no denying that sheep raising and husbandry was the keystone of their economy. There is simply no way of getting around this conclusion, given the fact that the cold, bare statistics practically shout this at us.  Of course, many of you will object, statistics aren’t everything, or even all that reliable as an indicator of anything, for that matter. And of course, you would be right... except for one big thorn in our side, namely, the fact that statistics for the number of fragments and tablets dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes is so huge (20.12 %) that it could very well make the objections of our doubting Thomases almost irrelevant. I have not yet formally compiled statistics for the incidence of tablets and fragments dealing with any other aspect of Minoan life whatsoever, but I can assure that, even on examining all of these tablets quite closely, no other area of interest whatsoever comes even remotely close to the overwhelming figure of 503 tablets or fragments specifically focusing on sheep, rams and ewes (20.12 %), accounting for fully 1/5 of all 2,503 tablets and fragments I examined.

The next post will provide us with two examples of the 138/503 site-specific Linear B tablets dealing with sheep, rams and ewes.
  
Richard



The Extreme Significance of the Syllabograms JO and SI in Mycenaean Greek (Click to ENLARGE):

Ventris grids JO = YO & SI

This table is pretty much self-explanatory. About the only thing I wish to call to your attention is this: the syllabogram SI is not only highly flexible in its usages (5), but in its adaptability to expressing several alternative combinations of word endings: sij si ci. 

Much more on this later. I will soon explain how the Mycenaeans managed to adapt the Linear A morphed to Linear B syllabary to express the phonetic values of ancient Greek, which they actually did quite well, considering the serious restraints the Linear B script imposed on them.

Richard


 

Significance of the Statistical Frequency of Syllabograms in % according to Michael Ventris (1952)
 
Michael Ventris was on to much more than even he imagined when he began to unravel the mysteries of the Linear B script by the spring of 1952, when he constructed the following table, in which he extrapolated the statistical frequency in percentage (%) of most of the syllabograms [Click to ENLARGE]:

Michael Ventris Frequency of Syllabograms in Percentages 1952
What he didn't realize then, and what has become not only apparent but of paramount importance to myself and, I sincerely hope, to other researchers in the field of Linear B today is that most of the syllabograms with high or moderate frequencies (in %) play an enormous role in the progressive-regressive reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar and vocabulary alike. I cannot stress this point too much.

Some syllabograms, in fact, play such a decisive role in the grammar and vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek that they cannot be safely ignored in the reconstruction of the language. Of these, for the time being, the most significant for our purposes are, above all, JO (genitive sing. masc. & neut. adjs. & nouns) and SI (dative plural & endings for several forms of verb conjugations, as well as U (nom. sing. masc. nouns), YA (fem. sing. nom. & gen. adjs. & nouns), TA (fem. sing. nom. & neut. pl. nom.) and TE (verb conjugations).

Keep posted for our analyses of the contextual significance of each of these syllabograms in turn, beginning with the 2 most relevant to the reconstruction of both Mycenaean grammar & vocabulary, i.e. JO & SI.

We shall address the rest of the high and moderate frequency syllabograms late this year.

Richard

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