Rita Roberts’ elegant translation of Knossos tablet KN 1548 Ok 02. Once again, Rita Roberts has finessed a translation of an intact military tablet from Knossos. It is significant that Rita mentions that the hilt is directly riveted, whether to ivory overlaid on terebinth, or to the terebinth itself. Although the tablet does not explicitly mention rivets, it is obvious that this was the method the highly skilled Mycenaean sword craftsmen used to attached the blade to the hilt. The following figures clearly illustrate the marked accuracy of her translation. Notice in particular the blue stones inlaid in the ivory on the second and third swords in figure 2, and especially in the second. If these stones are lapis lazuli, as I strongly suspect they are, then it follows almost as night follows day that the second sword in particular could only have been reserved for the wanax — transliterated from the Greek into Latin letters for those of you who cannot read Greek — (called wanaka in Linear B), the King of Mycenae, since lapis lazuli was worth a fortune in those days. The second sword could also have been his, though it may also have been the property of the second leader in the Mycenaean hierarchy, the lawaketa, or lawagetas (likewise transliterated into Latin letters) or the leader of the host, in other words the commander-in-chief, the general. I would bet my top dollars on this presumption. I wonder whether Rita would too. Bravo, Rita.
Abstract of the study, COMPOSITE BOWS IN AEGEAN BRONZE AGE WARFARE, by Spyros Bakas, Archaeological Institute of the University of Warsaw: Click on this banner to read the study: ABSTRACT: Archery played a dominant role in Bronze Age, especially in later period. The technological evolution to the composites was a significant factor that affected the Warfare in several ways. The composite was introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos in the 18th century BCE. However we do not have any archaeological examples from the Aegean Bronze Age world. This brief study will try to approach the issue of the use of composite bows in the Minoan and Mycenaean Warfare attempting to include all the possible archaeological iconographical and textual evidence that could support this argument. There is a large number of smiths in Pylos tablets. These are aligned with the bureaucratic and centralized structure of the Mycenaean palatial centers. The word “to-ko-so-wo-ko”, which appears five times in the tablets, refers to the profession of the “bow-maker”. Based on the evidence from the Pylos “chariot –tablets”, we do know that this Palatial centre could field hundreds of chariots while also there is a record that there are 6010 arrows stored in this particular place. It seems more likely that the Palatial centers would need those “bow makers” mostly for military purposes rather than just for hunting. Therefore, the construction of composite bows – as weapons of the Mycenaean aristocrats – seems to be the most possible occupation of those craftsmen. Mycenaean bronze scaled corselets would have been constructed for and against the composite bows. Bronze Age cultures valued the composite bow as a highly advanced and efficient weapon, offering solutions to both mobility and firepower in conflict. It is certain that the composite bow wasn’t commonplace in Minoan and Mycenaean world. It was a prestige item with high cost owned by the elite warriors and aristocrats. The weapon was in use by the Minoans probably from the early Neopalatial period and continued to play a dominant role in Aegean battlefields till the 13 century BC following the decline of chariot archery. This study will be published in the upcoming Volume IV of the Archaeological Journal, Syndesmoi, University of Catania, Italy NOTE: We have also provided a direct link to this fascinating study by Spyros Bakas here at LBK&M and on our twitter page. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for our link to his study, and you can also see the link posted on our twitter account here:
2 Haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, archaic Greek, English & French on the Mycenaean invasion of Troy: Click to ENLARGE = 2 haïkou en linéaire B, en grec archaïque, en anglais et en français sur l’nvasion mycénienne de Troie: Cliquer pour ELARGIR The latinized Linear B texts of these haiku read as follows: soteria * aneu Akireyo mene Toroya Omero Toroyade peree * Note that the archaic dative termination -i- does not appear in Mycenaean Greek.
Just added to my academia.edu page, Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, and its Profound Implications in the Regressive-Progressive Reconstruction of Unattested, Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek Vocabulary and Grammar, here: This is the first of a series of several papers I shall be publishing this year and next (2016) on my hypothesis underpinning the theoretical and proposed actual links between the archaic Greek of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (lines 459-815). These papers are of extreme significance to the methodology, process and procedure of regressive extrapolation of Mycenaean Greek vocabulary or grammatical constructs derived from the most archaic Greek in the Iliad, considered by many researchers to be an in)direct offshoot of Mycenaean Greek itself. Vocabulary or grammatical constructs thus derived are then progressively applied to reconstruct parallel elements missing from any attested Linear B sources regardless. I cannot stress too much the extreme significance of this particular line of research I am pursuing in the reconstruction of numerous elements (possibly even into the hundreds) of Mycenaean Greek derived from these sections alone of the Iliad. Richard
Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Comparison of their Handwriting I have always been deeply fascinated by Alan Turing and Michael Ventris alike, and for obvious reasons. Primarily, these are two geniuses cut from pretty much the same cloth. The one, Alan Turing, was a cryptologist who lead the team at Bletchley Park, England, during World War II in deciphering the German military’s Enigma Code, while the other, Michael Ventris, an architect by profession, and a decipherment expert by choice, deciphered Mycenaean Linear B in 1952. Here are their portraits. Click on each one to ENLARGE: Having just recently watched the splendid movie, The Imitation Game, with great pleasure and with an eye to learning as much more as I possibly could about one of my two heroes (Alan Turing), I decided to embark on an odyssey to discover more about each of these geniuses of the twentieth century. I begin my investigation of their lives, their personalities and their astounding achievements with a comparison of their handwriting. I was really curious to see whether there was anything in common with their handwriting, however you wish to approach it. It takes a graphologist, a specialist in handwriting analysis, to make any real sense of such a comparison. But for my own reasons, which pertain to a better understanding of the personalities and accomplishments of both of my heroes, I would like to make a few observations of my own on their handwriting, however amateurish. Here we have samples of their handwriting, first that of Alan Turing: Click to ENLARGE and secondly, that of Michael Ventris: Click to ENLARGE A few personal observations: Scanning through the samples of their handwriting, I of course was looking for patterns, if any could be found. I think I found a few which may prove of some interest to many of you who visit our blog, whether you be an aficionado or expert in graphology, cryptography, the decipherment of ancient language scripts or perhaps someone just interested in writing, codes, computer languages or anything of a similar ilk. Horizontal and Vertical Strokes: 1. The first thing I noticed were the similarities and differences between the way each of our geniuses wrote the word, “the”. While the manner in which each of them writes “the” is obviously different, what strikes me is that in both cases, the letter “t” is firmly stroked in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The second thing that struck me was that both Turing and Ventris wrote the horizontal t bar with an emphatic stroke that appears, at least to me, to betray the workings of a mathematically oriented mind. In effect, their “t”s are strikingly similar. But this observation in and of itself is not enough to point to anything remotely conclusive. 2. However, if we can observe the same decisive vertical (—) and horizontal (|) strokes in other letter formations, there might be something to this. Observation of Alan Turing’s lower-case “l” reveals that it is remarkably similar to that of Michael Ventris, although the Ventris “l” is always a single decisive stroke, with no loop in it, whereas Turing waffles between the single stroke and the open loop “l”. While their “f”s look very unalike at first glance, once again, that decisive horizontal stroke makes its appearance. Yet again, in the letter “b”, though Turing has it closed and Ventris has it open, the decisive stroke, in this case vertical, re-appears. So I am fairly convinced we have something here indicative of their mathematical genius. Only a graphologist would be in a position to forward this observation as a hypothesis. Circular and Semi-Circular Strokes: 3. Observing now the manner in which each individual writes curves (i.e. circular and semi-circular strokes), upon examining their letter “s”, we discover that both of them write “s” almost exactly alike! The most striking thing about the way in which they both write “s” is that they flatten out the curves in such a manner that they appear almost linear. The one difference I noticed turns out to be Alan Turing’s more decisive slant in his “s”, but that suggests to me that, if anything, his penchant for mathematical thought processes is even more marked than that of Michael Ventris. It is merely a difference in emphasis rather than in kind. In other words, the difference is just a secondary trait, over-ridden by the primary characteristic of the semi-circle flattened almost to the linear. But once again, we have to ask ourselves, does this handwriting trait re-appear in other letters consisting in whole or in part of various avatars of the circle and semi-circle? 4. Let’s see. Turning to the letter “b”, we notice right away that the almost complete circle in this letter appears strikingly similar in both writers. This observation serves to reinforce our previous one, where we drew attention to the remarkable similarities in the linear characteristics of the same letter. Their “c”s are almost identical. However, in the case of the vowel “a”, while the left side looks very similar, Turing always ends his “a”s with a curve, whereas the same letter as Ventris writes it terminates with another of those decisive strokes, this time vertically. So in this instance, it is Ventris who resorts to the more mathematical stoke, not Turing. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Overall Observations: While the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris do not look very much alike when we take a look, prime facie, at a complete sample overall, in toto, closer examination reveals a number of striking similarities, all of them geometrical, arising from the disposition of linear strokes (horizontal & vertical) and from circular and semi-circular strokes. In both cases, the handwriting of each of these individual geniuses gives a real sense of the mathematical and logical bent of their intellects. Or at least as it appears to me. Here the old saying of not being able to see the forest for the trees is reversed. If we merely look at the forest alone, i.e. the complete sample of the handwriting of either Alan Turing or Michael Ventris, without zeroing in on particular characteristics (the trees), we miss the salient traits which circumscribe their less obvious, but notable similarities. General observation of any phenomenon, let alone handwriting, without taking redundant, recurring specific prime characteristics squarely into account, inexorably leads to false conclusions. Yet, for all of this, and in spite of the apparently convincing explicit observations I have made on the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris, I am no graphologist, so it is probably best we take what I say with a grain of salt. Still, the exercise was worth my trouble. I am never one to pass up such a challenge. Be it as it may, I sincerely believe that a full-fledged professional graphological analysis of the handwriting of our two genius decipherers is bound to reveal something revelatory of the very process of decipherment itself, as a mental and cognitive construct. I leave it to you, professional graphologists. Of course, this very premise can be extrapolated and generalized to any field of research, linguistic, technological or scientific, let alone the decipherment of military codes or of ancient language scripts. Many more fascinating posts on the lives and achievements of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris to come! Richard
Military Ideograms in Linear B for spear, arrow, axe, (long) sword, short sword or dagger, horn, bow & arrow: Click to ENLARGE With the exception of the last one on the bottom right, these military ideograms speak for themselves. Mrs. Rita Roberts of Crete and I are of the opinion that her decipherment of B259 comes down to “bow and arrow”, in light of a Linear B seal inscribed with an archer wielding a bow and arrow she recently found on the internet and we posted here, which looks uncannily like the syllabogram itself. The very last ideogram (bottom right), with the arrow pointing at it, is as yet undeciphered. Mrs. Roberts, Spyros Bakas, in the graduate program for Mycenaean Studies at the University of Warsaw, the Association of Historical Studies (Koryvantes), Athens and I myself are all working together to find a solution for a tenable decipherment of this last ideogram. Should any one of you reading this post have any further suggestions for its decipherment, please feel free to leave a comment on this post. Richard
Interdisciplinary CONFERENCE on “Thinking Symbols”, Pultusk, Poland, June 30 June 30 - July 2 2015: Click to ENLARGE the Announcement: an interdisciplinary conference on “Thinking Symbols” under the auspices of the Pultusk Academy of Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30 - July 2 2015 & with the participation of speakers Mrs. Christy Emilio Ioannidou & Mr. Spyros Bakas from The Association of Historical Studies: KORYVANTES, Athens, Greece: click on their banner to visit them: Richard
Our own Page in PARTNERSHIP on Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies (Greece) Click here to visit our own page in our professional partnership with Koryvantes, Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies: Koryvantes has done an extremely professional job of designing our page on his magnificent site, and we hope we have done the same for his Association on ours, here: We URGE all of our visitors to visit Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies, in Greece, as often as possible, since their research into ancient Greek warfare and weaponry is of the very highest order. Koryvantes discusses Greek warfare and weaponry from all historical eras, right down from the Mycenaean to the Byzantine, accompanied b magnificent illustrations of Greek warriors and weapons. His site is a must see! Koryvantes is a MAJOR contributor and attendee at numerous International Conferences and Meetings all over Europe! Richard
MAJOR Announcement! PARTNERSHIP with KORYVANTES: Association of Historical Studies: A World-Renowned Historical Greek site: Click to visit KORYVANTES: KORYVANTES: Who we are “KORYVANTES”, The Association of Historical Studies, is a Cultural Organization, researching and applying experimentally the Military Heritage of the Greeks from the Bronze Age to the late Byzantium. “Koryvantes” has participated in Academic conferences of Experimental Archaeology (University of Warsaw 2011, Academy of Pultusk 2012, University of Belgrade 2012, Organization Exarc / Denmark 2013 ), while our studies have been published in academic literature (British Archaeology Report Series) and Special International Journals (Ancient Warfare Magazine ). “Koryvates” has participated in International Archaeological Festivals (Biskupin / Poland 2011 , Lyon / France , 2012 ) and International Traditional Archery Festivals ( Istanbul 2013 Amasya 2013 , Biga 2013 , Kiev 2013) , presenting high quality shows to thousands of viewers. “Koryvantes” has participated in major international TV Productions (History Channel, BBC2, BBC 4, ITV), on the thematics of warfare and culture of ancient Greece. Since 2008, we have spearheaded research and the practical study of Greek Warfare at an international level, reconstructing and testing weapons, armour and fighting techniques of 3,300 years of Greek History. The Major Concerns & Areas of Research of our Site are: Experimental Archaeology, Academic Research, MYCENAEAN EQUETA, Archaic Hoplite, Classical Hoplite, Byzantine Vandon, Traditional Archery, 33 Centuries of History (CAPS for MYCENAEAN EQUETA by Richard Vallance Janke) Click on this banner to visit ALL CATEGORIES: For photos of people arrayed in the armour of the Mycenaean Equeta, Click on this photo to visit the page: Text minimally revised by Richard Vallance Janke to reflect Canadian English. TO CONTACT US: For more information on the KORYVANTES, visit WIKIPEDIA: Korybantes You may also visit KORYVANTES on Twitter here: and follow them if your are a student, researcher, professor or an aficionado of Mycenaean History and Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek Military History, and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I fully expect that KORYVANTES will be profoundly interested in my translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships, which I expect to finish by spring 2015. KORYVANTES IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTNER SITE LINEAR B, KNOSSOS & MYCENAE HAS EVER PARTNERED WITH! We shall be reblogging a great many posts from KORYVANTES, and we are certain that they shall be doing the same with many of ours. English-Myceneaen Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon: My research colleague, Rita Roberts and I, shall soon be compiling the first major LEXICON of our all-new, extremely comprehensive English-Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon which is to be published in its entirety sometime in 2018. When it is published, it will be by far the largest and most comprehensive Linear B & Linear C Lexicon on Mycenaean Linear B and the first ever on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C ever published. Published FREE in PDF format, it is bound to at least double the currently attested (A) Mycenaean vocabulary of some 2,500 words, logograms and ideograms to at least twice that many attested (A) and derived (D) lexical entries, to at least 5,000, if not 6,000 – 7,000 words. The Military section of this Lexicon is to be published first, meaning that KORYVANTES, The Association of Historical Studies, will benefit fully from the largest vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B Military Terminology ever assembled online or in print. It will be published on its own sometime later this year as a prelude to our full lexicon, under the title, An English-Mycenaean Linear B/Mycenaean Linear B-English Lexicon of Military Terminology (PDF). Richard
Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic Greek? Does that surprise you, if you are a Linear B translator? It surprised my translator colleague, Rita Roberts, and myself, for quite some time – well over a year. But not any more. There are two inescapable reasons why we have been able to come to the conclusions we have reached. These are: (a) that the Linear B scribes very frequently used what Rita and I call supersyllabograms, a term which describes a peculiar phenomenon common to only a subset of syllabograms which have defied decipherment for the past 63 years since 1952. We shall be deciphering almost all of the 31 supersyllabograms, a substantial subset of the full set of 61 syllabograms (over 50 %). Only a very few supersyllabograms still defy decipherment, at least for us, but someone in the near future may find the keys to even those ones. Enough of that for now. We will be publishing our complete peer-reviewed research paper later on this year. So folks will just have to wait. (b) that the Linear B scribes very often left unsaid (i.e. omitted) from their tablets what was perfectly obvious to them (see my Comments on Knossos tablet M 10 E x 233 below for the full text), since they all assiduously followed the same strict guidelines for transcribing accounts and inventories, and all used the same formulaic language for their transcriptions. To visualize how all this directly influences Rita Roberts’ methodical and accurate translation of Knossos Tablet M 10 E x 233, click on this image of the tablet to ENLARGE it: From the red outline to the right, you can see that I have filled in the rest of the missing section of this Linear B tablet. I am confident that the tablet in its entirely did in fact look almost exactly as you see here, because there is only 1 ideogram (for ram) only partially missing, while the word, SURI on the second line is clearly the Mycenaean place name, SURIMO, or in Greek, Syrimos. Since this tablet is clearly all about an offering TO the god Dikataro (dative!) or Zeus, and no one in their right mind would sacrifice more than one ram or animal to any of the gods, livestock being indispensable to their livelihood, it follows that one ram and one ram only was sacrificed to the god. Ergo, there cannot possibly be much more on the truncated right side of this fragment than the outline in red I have tacked on to its end. Does Formulaic Language in Mycenaean Linear B Tablets Have Anything to do with Formulaic Archaic Greek in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey? Surprise, surprise. It does. And so does Arcado-Cypriot in its alphabet or in Linear C. My Hypothesis runs as follows. If this premise does not hold water for some translators of Linear B, recall that Homer also heavily relied on formulaic phrases. He appears to have picked up that habit, not only from the Mycenaean Greek scribes who preceded him by 400-600 years, but also from the Arcado-Cypriot scribes, who wrote in the Linear C syllabary and in the Arcado-Cypriot Greek alphabet at the very same time as he was composing the Iliad – a fact that all too many historians and linguists completely overlook. Recall that Linear C had already evolved from the almost exclusively accounting and inventorial syllabary (Linear B ) to a literary one, with many of their tablets simultaneously composed in both Linear C and in alphabetic Arcado-Cypriot Greek. The lengthy legal document, the famous Idalion tablet, ca. 400 BCE, was one such tablet, written in both Linear C and alphabetic Greek. But Linear C had been in constant use from ca. 1100 BCE (long before Homer!) non-stop all the way through to ca. 400 BCE, when the Arcado-Cypriots finally abandoned it in favour of the Greek alphabet alone. My point is simply this: I for one cannot believe that Homer was not even remotely familiar with documents in the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet or possibly even in Linear C, because there were plenty of them around at the time he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey (if he did). So even if he was not at all familiar with Mycenaean Linear B, he certainly must have known about, and may very well have read documents in Arcado-Cypriot. But that is not all. In spite of the fact that he almost certainly did not know Linear B, being familiar as he most likely was with the vocabulary and grammar of Arcado-Cypriot meant that he automatically had some inkling of Mycenaean Greek. Why so? - simply because of all the ancient Greek dialects (archaic or not), no two were more closely related than Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, not even Ionic and Attic Greek – not by a long shot. This alone implies that even if Homer consciously knew nothing about Mycenaean Greek, its vocabulary and grammar, unconsciously he did, because every time he borrowed formulaic language from Arcado-Cypriot, he was in effect borrowing almost exactly the same vocabulary and phrases from Mycenaean Greek. But there is more – much more – to this than superficially meets the eye. Homer was in fact very familiar with Mycenaean society, and with Mycenaean warfare, because he mentions both so often in the Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, and even occasionally in the Odyssey, that is obvious to all but the most recalcitrant translators of ancient Greek that he frequently resorts to Mycenaean vocabulary, phrases and even grammar (especially for the genitive and dative cases), even if he is not conscious of it. It stares us in the face. To illustrate my point, allow me to draw your attention to the numerous instance Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary and grammar in just one of the serial passages of Book II of the Iliad I have already meticulously translated into twenty-first century English. Click to ENLARGE: Now if you compare my scholia on the word, thalassa, on line 614 with the Linear B tablet below from Knossos, you can instantly see they are one and the same word! Since Linear B had no L+vowel series of syllabograms, the scribes had to substitute the R+vowel syllabograms for Mycenaean words which would have otherwise begun with L. Also, Linear B never repeats consonants, as that is impossible in a syllabary. Similarly, Linear B was unable to distinguish between variants of consonants, such as we find T & TH in the Greek alphabet. So the Mycenaean tarasa is in fact equivalent to the Homeric thalassa, given that on Linear B fragment KN 201 X a 26: t = th, r = l & s = ss, hence tarasa = thalassa, down to the last letter. Anyway, for the time being, I rest my case. But with respect to the relationship between formulaic language in Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot, whether in Linear C or alphabetic on the one hand, and Homer’s use of formulaic language on the other, there is more to come on our blog this year – much more. It is highly advisable for all of you who are experienced translators of either or both Mycenaean Linear B and Homeric Greek to read all of my translations in series of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, wherein he uses the most archaic Greek in all of the Iliad. Otherwise, you may experience some difficulty following my thesis on formulaic language and the hypotheses upon which it is based. As for the rest of you folks, who are not translators, but who frequently read the posts on our blog, just enjoy and assimilate the essentials, and forget the rest, because all of the technical stuff I delve so deeply into doesn’t matter anyway unless you are a translator. Still, you may be asking, why delve into so much detail in the first place? Great question. It is all for the benefit of our fellow translators and decipherers, to whom we absolutely must address so many of the posts on our pointedly technical blog. Nevertheless, our blog is open to all to enjoy and read, as far as each of you wishes to take yourself. As I said just now, keep what you like and leave the rest. You will always learn at least something truly valuable to yourself. Otherwise, why would you be a regular visitor to our blog in the first place? Keep posted. Richard
Fantastic new Blog on the Internet all about #ancient #Greek #warriors & #weapons including #Mycenaean. You simply HAVE to check it out! Richard
Thank you so much, Adonis Koryvantes, for not only inviting me to join your blog, but for allowing me to be an author. I sincerely hope I can contribute some really useful posts. PS I hope you got my invitation to my blog! In case you are not already following me on Twitter, here is my account: 10 of the Loveliest Frescoes from Knossos (Composite): Choose your Favourite(s)! Click to ENLARGE: These frescoes are as follows:  The Fresco of the Dolphins in the…I am already following you on Twitter. I shall soon post some of the lovely photos of Mycenae I took when I was there in early May, 2012. Richard Meanwhile, you may wish to check out this post on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae: Click on the composite of the Frescoes to read this post the composite is much larger on my blog)
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