Linear B tablet 04-81 N a 12 from the Knossos “Armoury”
While most of the Linear B tablets from the Knossos “Armoury” we have translated so far this month have posed few problems of any significance, and a few occasional problems of some significance, this tablet stubbornly defies an accurate translation, for the following reasons:
1 the literal word order on the first line is so jumbled up that it is almost impossible to determine what adjectives modify what nouns. So I have had to come up with at least two alternate interpretations of this line in my free translation. We are saddled with the burning question –
1.1 Is the chariot equipped with straps and bridles made of leather and horse blinkers made of copper?
1.2 Is the chariot equipped with straps and horse blinkers made of leather and bridles made of copper?
1.3 even some other probable concatenation?
Then we are confronted with the mysterious Mycenaean word – (ko)nikopa – (if indeed the first syllabogram, which is partially obscured, is in fact – ko – ), leaving me no alternative but to rummage through an ancient Greek dictionary, in the hope that I just might be able to come up with a word concatenated from two ancient Greek words, and to my slight relief, I found both of the ancient Greek words you see in the illustration of the tablet above, transliterated into Latin script here for those of you who cannot read ancient Greek. These are the words – koniatos – , which means – whitewashed – or – painted white – and – kopis – which means – sword/axe – . See The Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary, pg. 189, for these definitions. But it is quite clear to any ancient Greek linguistic scholar that I am stretching the putative meaning of – (ko)nikopa – just about as far as one can without crossing over into the realm of ridiculous speculation. So please take my translation of this word with a very large grain of salt. I merely took this meaning because the word has to mean something, so why not at least try and take a stab at it? Every one and anyone who knows me is perfectly aware that I am always the first one to take the plunge and to attempt to translate even the most recalcitrant unknown words found on Linear B tablets. Someone has to, and I am a most willing guinea pig.
Nevertheless, it is still possible, however remotely, that the word may mean just that, especially if we assume (and that is all it is, an assumption) that the chariot builder painted an axe motif onto both sides of the chariot body, just as we find the same motif painted onto frescoes in the Hall of the Double Axes at Knossos. This motif of the double axe, which is dubbed a – labrys – by the Minoans and Mycenaeans, is characteristic of wall frescoes at both Knossos and Mycenae, as illustrated here:
clarified in turn by the illustration below of the ideogram – dapu – for – labrys – and with a similar ideogram of a labrys incharged with the supersyllabogram WE, which I have as yet been unable to decipher:
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