spring haiku de printemps – the salamander = la salamandre the salamander on a fern with fiddleheads on a glazed vase la salamandre sur la fougère, les ornements d ’un vase émaillé Richard Vallance
Linear A, examples of writing, reposted from Mnamon, Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean:
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This post on Linear A tablets and roundels from Mnamon is amazing! You really have to see it for yourself. The graphics quality is astounding, and the explanations of the tablets are clear and precise.
Linear B tablet HT 93 (Haghia Triada). What happens when there are not enough Mycenaean-derived words to decipher a Linear A tablet:
While it is a relatively straightforward matter to decipher Linear A tablets which contain a substantial portion of Mycenaean-derived vocabulary, the situation rapidly deteriorates the fewer Myenaean-derived words there are on the tablet or inscription. In fact, there is a point of no return in all too many cases. This is not quite the situation we are faced with when confronted with Linear A tablet HT 88 (Haghia Triada). But we are getting close to the precipice. There appear to be only 4 Mycenaean-derived words on this tablet, SERE = a corn silo, ASE = surfeit, OTI = with handles and KIRO, which seems to be a scribal error, since this word appears on the VERSO of the tablet with the large number 165 + fraction following it. So I suspect the scribe meant to inscribe KURO. As for the later archaic or classical Greek words to which these four words correspond, see the actual figure of the tablet above.
As for the remainder of the tablet, most of the vocabulary simply eludes us, with the exception of one word, DARIDA (HT 10, HT 85, HT 93 and HT 122), an old Minoan (OM) word, appearing in the Minoan substrate language, which definitely refers to some kind of vase. And if our interpretation of OTI is correct, then the vase is two-handled. The decipherment of OTI as two-handled is buttressed by the presence of the ideogram for a vase with two handles nearly adjacent to it. As for the rest of the tablet, with the exception of SARA2, which is ancient Semitic for barley or a similar grain crop, your guess is as good as mine. However, I suspect that QAQARU is another type of (large) vase, which in this case is used to store SARA2.
Linear A tablet 10 (Haghia Triada), a crazy-quilt hodgepodge:
Linear A tablet 10 (Haghia Triada) is a crazy-quilt hodgepodge of 2 apparent Mycenaean-derived words (MEZA & TARINA), Semitic (KUNISU), with all of the rest of the words being Old Minoan (OM). Moreover, there are two numeric syllabograms U*305 & *312, which are completely unknown. There is also some confusion with the numerals on this tablet. I disagree with Prof. John G. Younger’s interpretation of some of them. So as we can see, in spite of the 2 apparent Mycenaean-derived words, it is next to impossible to decipher this tablet, try as we might.
Translation of Linear A tablet (HT 8) for Ancient Foods and anyone who likes beer, dealing with “barley wine” = beer:
There is little doubt but that this tablet deals with the production of barley wine, which is the Mycenaean + Classical Greek word for wine. Here is the running partial translation, with enough text in the Mycenaean-derived superstrate to make it quite clear that this tablet deals with the production of beer:
RECTO: JEDI (OM) = a person? (involved in the production of) KI = 1 unit (something like a pithos or very large vase) of barley wine, the PA3KARATI (OM) sowing? (of the barley for this barley wine) + TE = tereza (OM) = liquid unit (of this barley wine) + 301 (unknown), 2 units + QA301* (unknown) + I (unknown) + production? of sweet fermented liquor, i.e. beer+ harvesting? Of barley
(serving) a large bowl (Semitic) + KA? And 1 large jar (Anatolian), 2 and 5 units (a large liquid amount), 2 of the first and 5 of the second + PA2? (unknown, possibly millet or spelt) + 1 unit of *301 (unknown) + ZARIRE? (OM, unknown) + harvesting share? of the ripe crop or fruit (i.e. barley for sweet fermented liquor) + 1 PAJARE? (OM) = indentured land? + *86 & *188 (both unknown), 1/2
While all of the Old Minoan words (OM) words on this tablet are conjectural, the New Minoan words (NM), such as barley and sweet fermented liquor and the Semitic and Anatolian words, a large bowl and a large jar, perhaps provide some clues as to the meaning of the latter. JEDI (OM) = person? is highly conjectural. The numeric syllabograms *301, *86 & *188, of which the phonetic value is unknown, cannot possibly be deciphered.
New interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 10 (Haghia Triada):
A few months ago I posted my first interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 10 (Haghia Triada). Since then, I have made a few small tweaks. These are (a) the Linear A word kunisu, which is derived from Semitic kunissu, definitely means “emmer wheat”. (b) The supersyllabogram PA stands for Linear A pa3ni (paini) (noun)/pa3nina (painina) (adjective), which means either “millet” or “spelt”, since these two grain crops are the second most common grains cultivated everywhere in the Bronze age after kunisu “emmer wheat” and didero “einkorn wheat”. (c) the translation “offscourings/chaff” for ruma/rumata/rumatase (noun, adjective, noun in the instrumental plural) makes sense in context. (d) dare probably means “with a firebrand or torch”, since the tablet appears to deal with drought, when dead crops, i.e. grains in this case, are burnt. (e) Although tanati resembles the dative singular of the ancient Greek work qa/natoj, but this interpretation is doubtful.
New interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 7 (Haghia Triada):
A few months ago, I tentatively deciphered Linear A tablet New interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 7 (Haghia Triada), but when I look back on that decipherment now, I find it implausible. So I have re-interpreted here in light of new data I have acquired since then. As the tablet is inscribed mostly in Old Minoan, it is rather difficult to make complete sense of it. However, the two Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) terms offer us a clue. These are iruja = “a priestess” and tanati, which appears to be dative singular for “death”. However, although iruja is nominative singular, it is followed by the number 3, which would seem to indicate that there are 3 priestesses. And the Minoan plural of a is e, hence iruje. The only explanation I can find for this discrepancy is that the 3 priestesses are operating independently, one by one, each one making at least 1 offering, while 1 priestess makes 2, for a total of 4. But this translation, which is rather convoluted, remains in doubt because I cannot verify with any real certainty the meanings of the Old Minoan words. However, it does manage to hold together. Perhaps someday in the future, we shall unearth more Linear A tablets, which will provide us with insight into the significance of the Old Minoan vocabulary.
Linear A tablet HT 38 (Haghia Triada) with 2 supersyllabograms, dealing with wine:
This intriguing tablet apparently deals with containers for wine, ranging from a type of vase (daropa) to a wine-skin (aka) to cloth, which appears to have been treated to be water-proof. Since the ideogram for “pig” appears immediately to the left of aka, we can surmise that the wine-skin is made of pig’s hide. The notion that cloth containers could have been water-proofed is somewhat in doubt, but the overall decipherment of HT 38 appears sound enough.
Linear A rock crystal vase IO Za 10 from Iouktas: The finely chiselled Linear A rock crystal vase IO Za 10 from Iouktas appears to bear an inscription along the lines of, “the peak sanctuary or shrine of the goddess of healing and health”. I came to this conclusion in the following manner. The word zudisika appears to be a composite Linear A word, of which the first two syllables, zudi, are Old Minoan (OM), while the last two syllables, sika, are almost certainly Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1). Linear A sika corresponds neatly with archaic Greek sika, which is arch. accus. for sikos (Latinized), meaning “a sacred precinct or shrine”. It is a historical fact that there were numerous peak sanctuaries in the Minoan eras. So it strikes me that zudi may very well mean, “summit or peak”, hence our decipherment, which after all is said is done, makes perfect sense. This decipherment is strongly corroborated by the fact that Juktas (Iouktas)is indeed a Middle Minoan peak sanctuary! Click to visit:
Linear A vase rim fragment IO Za 9 from Iouktas:
Linear A vase rim fragment IO Za 9 from Iouktas appears to deal with the goddess of healing and health offering her powers and blessings as balms to heal someone who is ill. The significance of the Old Minoan word (OM) unaka can only be divined from context. It appears to mean “illness” or “disease”, as that interpretation does suit the context. But we can never really know.
As for jasasa, this word appears to be an oblique case for jasa (arch. acc) of jaso, the goddess of healing and health. So this vase rim would appear to say something like, “due to the goddess of healing and health offering balms to a person’s disease”.
On his site, Prof. John G. Younger refers to the right-to-left writing of jasasa as retrograde, but there is no such linguistic term. What he ought to have said was sinistrograde.
the Linear A vessel (vase) AP Za 2 from Apodoulou: mostly topomastics and epomastics?
It appears that Linear A vessel (vase) AP Za 2 from Apodoulou is loaded with epomastics. The words are so long that it appear that it cannot be otherwise. Moreover, some of the terms appear to be agglutinated, e.g. ipinamite, inajareta and ikupa3namate (ikupainamate). The only word which appears not to be an eponym is ipinamite i0pneumi/te (instrumental singular) = with/for baked (bread). Since there are so many names, it is difficult to imagine that they are the owners of the vase. But they may very well be bakers, given the context. This would imply that the vase is full of (einkorn or emmer?) wheat to be used for baking bread.
Linear A tablet ZA 15 VERSO (Zakros), so little text, so information rich, all about wine, with yet another Old Minoan word conclusively deciphered!
If there is any Linear A tablet which conveys so much information in so few words, this has to be it. No one could be blamed for thinking that a tablet, whether or not it is inscribed in Linear A or Linear B, which contains only 2 words (qedi & kuro), 3 ideograms (wine) and one supersyllabogram would have little to say. But this is far from the case here. This tablet offers us the best of 3 worlds. First of all, the word kuro is Mycenaean-derived New Minoan; secondly, we are finally able to establish once and for all and beyond doubt that the Old Minoan word qedi actually means a flagon for wine. Since it appears on other Linear A tablets in conjunction with the same ideogram, wine, the meaning is indisputable; and thirdly, the supersyllabogram RA, as all supersyllabograms are, is information-rich. It can stand for only 1 of two possible Linear A words, rani or ratise, which are, believe it or not, practically synonymous. First we have rani, which means “anything sprinkled (as in a libation); rain drop”, and then ratise, which appears to be instrumental plural for “with drops of wine”. So the inscription reads the same way either way. I would like to point out as well that no linguist specializing in Linear A, not even Prof. John G. Younger, has drawn explicit attention to the supersyllabogram RA, which is critical to a proper reading of this tablet, since no Linear A, let alone Linear B, researchers have recognized supersyllabograms for what they are, until I myself deciphered all 36 of them in Linear B between 2014 and 2016, the results of my research consequently published in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015) ISSN 1452-7448, pp. 73-108:
And not to be outdone, I have also already isolated the 27 supersyllabograms found in Linear A. It actually came as no surprise to me that Linear A has supersyllabograms.
As it so turns out, it was the Minoan Linear A scribes who invented supersyllabograms, not the Minoan-Mycenaean Linear B scribes. You will note that I have already been able to decipher 10 of the 27 SSYLS in Linear A, including that for RA, which in the pottery and vessels sector signifies “with drops of wine for a libation”. The enormous and far-reaching implications of supersyllabograms in both Linear A and Linear B cannot be stressed enough.
Linear A vase rim inscription PE Zb 3 (Petras), terebinth trees:
The Linear A vase rim inscription PE Zb 3 (Petras) deals with terebinth trees, kitanasijase (instrumental plural), either surrounded by a (stone) enclosure or growing in a field. The inscription is entirely in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan. Since the Linear A word for terebinth tree, kitano (nominative masc. sing.) is all but identical to the Linear B word kitano, we can be quite certain that this tablet is inscribed in New Minoan.
On a passing note, I would like to point out that I have already deciphered over 60 Linear A tablets more or less accurately. That is far more than anyone has ever even attempted to decipher in the past.
The failures of Gretchen Leonhardt’s translation of Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris): (Click to read) Gretchen Leonhardt’s translation of Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is unfortunately riddled with errors in interpretation and with lexical errors, all of which are frankly inexcusable. This sad state of affairs is attested to by her own Poll, in which she asks her readers: We note that her own translation has garnered only 1 vote versus 5 votes for “Janke’s” translation, which is not his translation at all, but rather that of Rita Roberts, Crete, who is a professional archaeologist, and whose translation is published in Richard Vallance Janke’s in-depth and thoroughly meticulous article recently published in the prestigious international hard-cover annual, ISSN 1452-7448 It is to be stressed that Mrs. Roberts, as a life-long archaeologist, is eminently qualified to decipher the famous Ventris tablet (Pylos Py TA 641-1952). Her translation surpasses even that of Michael Ventris himself: Not only that, it flatly contradicts the translations Mrs. Leonhardt, who is not an archaeologist, brings to bear on practically every single word on this tablet, with the sole exception of those terms which are so transparent that it is impossible to interpret them otherwise than they appear. Such words are tiripode, qetorowe (quattuor in Latin) , dipa (with this word, Ms. Leonhardt’s translation flatly defies logic) and apu, in which case she is so far off the mark that it is amazing she cannot have seen how far astray she has gone in interpreting this preposition, apu, common to Mycenaean Greek, and the Arcadian, Cypriot, Lesbian & Thessalian dialects [NOTE below]. Now what is particularly striking here is the fact that the Arcadian and Cypriot dialects are practically identical, and that their parent, Arcado-Cypriot, is the dialect of the Linear C syllabary, in which once again apu appears. So how Ms. Leonhardt could possibly cook up her translation of apu as “to become bleached or white” simply baffles me beyond credulity. Why on earth would anyone fashioning pottery such as tripods, vases and cups ever want to bleach them? And there is more, much more. Her translation falls prey to several more startling errors, of which I have flagged only a few:  aikeu, which she claims is somehow “related to aikia (here Latinized) | injurious, insulting treatment...” But how on earth would insulting or injurious treatment have anything remotely to do with fashioning pottery? It is quite beyond me.  anowe, which she falsely interprets as “last year’s, one year”, again flying in the face of reason, flatly flying in the face of the definition Chris Tselentis, who is a professional Greek lexicologist, attributes to it in his excellent Linear B Lexicon: which in this case is to be interpreted as “without handles”.  apu. See above. dipa, which she, for some bizarre reason which totally escapes me and which Tselentis would find ludicrous, interprets as “to inspect, inspection”. She should make up her mind. Is this a verb or a noun? At any rate dipa is clearly the Mycenaean Greek equivalent of the Homeric depa, which everyone knows means “a cup”. Period.  See . No further comment.  mewijo, which she imagines is “a kind of cumin”. In the first place, Mycenaean Greek never makes a distinction between kinds of cumin. It just has the one word, kumino, and that’s that. At any rate, why bother parsing the word down to a specific “kind of cumin”? Additionally, it is particularly difficult to imagine why anyone would put cumin in a tripod or cup, since it would simply blow away. OK, I grant that it would probably stay put in a vase, but... mewiyo, again according to the Greek expert Tselentis, simply means “small(er)”.  Mezoe she has as “barley”, but here again she is in flat contradiction with Tselentis, who has it that kirita means “barley”. I for one am not about to question the expertise of a Greek-born lexicologist.  owowe, she would have us believe, “is perhaps related to damage, hurt” (italics mine). But here again, Tselentis defines owowe as “with handles”, which makes perfect sense in light of  above, anowe, which means “without handles”. These two words are clearly opposites. Anowe is after all a-privative. There are plenty of other such errors in her translation, but I simply leave these aside for our readers versed in ancient Greek to interpret as they see fit. NOTE: Buck, C.D. The Greek Dialects. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press. xvi, 373 pp. ISBN 1-85399-556-8... apu pg. 352. Arcadian, Cypriot, Lesbian & Thessalian
Cretan hieroglyphic seals (Middle Minoan I & II, ca. 2100-1700 BCE): On the first of these seals there appear 4 ideograms (?) which appear to be precursors of Minoan Linear A syllabograms, but there is no way of knowing whether or not this is the case.
Russet Minoan Linear A tablet on amphorae with the new word tesi = a small unit of measurement: While I have already deciphered, more or less accurately, the following words on this russet Minoan Linear A tablet on amphorae, daweda = medium size amphora, pa3ni or paini = amphora for the storage of grain, daru = scales?, Kudoni = Kydonia & reza = standard unit of measurement, there is one new word on it, tesi = a small unit of measurement (as is attested by its small number = 3.5). This brings the total number of Linear A words I have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 90.
Vase with Minoan Linear A inscription on it (undecipherable): There is simply insufficient text in the Minoan Linear A inscription just below the rim of this vase for me to be able to decipher it.
Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) mostly translated, with 2 new words, Kaudeta (person’s name) & pa3ni (paini) = type of vase? nos. 74 & 75 Most of the terms on Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada), apart from 2 new words, Kaudeta (person’s name) & pa3ni (paini) = type of vase?, have already been deciphered; so I have been able to translate most of this tablet, which is a first! We have certainly come a long way since we started deciphering Minoan Linear A a month ago, when our Glossary of Minoan Linear A had only 16 words in it. Now at 75, we have almost 5 times as many terms. I shall display the full Glossary of 75 terms in the next post. These two new words, Kaudeta and pa3ni (paini) are nos. 74 & 75 in a glossary in which I have managed to decipher 75 terms in Minoan Linear A, more or less accurately. In the next post featuring the full Glossary of Minoan Linear A (75 terms), i shall explain the concept of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B.
Minoan Linear A terms for large (qapa3 = qapai) and small size (pazaqe) handle-less vessels: Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) contains two terms for handle-less vessels. These are qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” (more commonly the former), and pazaqe for a “small handle-less cup”. The latter were very common in both Minoan & Mycenaean times, which explains why so many of them are mentioned on this tablet (3,000). Cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation from Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) confirms that the decipherment qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” is correct. As for pazaqe, it is plain that the handle-less cups are very small, since there are so many of them (3,000). These are illustrated to the top right of the figure above. This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A terms we have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 60. It is at this point that we hit a brick wall, at least for the time being, as there is simply no way for me to decipher Minoan Linear A tablets with no ideograms on them. Unfortunately, these account for the majority of Linear A tablets. But the fact that we have been able to decipher as many as 60 Minoan words is a vast improvement over any previous attempts by any researchers in Minoan Linear A to decipher anything at all. The best anyone has managed to date has been restricted to eponyms and toponyms, and the finest work done in this respect was achieved with great insight by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog:
Yet another Minoan Linear A tablet with 3 words I have already deciphered: Here you see yet another Minoan Linear A tablet which features not just 1, but 3 Minoan Linear A words I h ave previously deciphered. These are adu = “prefix for measurement”, daweda = “medium size amphora” (see illustration below) and kukani = “deep red wine”. It is gratifying to discover that 3 words I have recently deciphered appear on a second Linear A tablet. It is wide open to speculation whether or not this confirms my decipherments. Still, a second tablet can do no harm to our cause.