The path towards a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A: a rational approach: PART A

The path towards a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A: a rational approach: PART A

Before May 2016, I would never have even imagined or dared to make the slightest effort to try to decipher Minoan Linear A, even partially. After all, no one in the past 116 years since Sir Arthur Evans began excavating the site of Knossos, unearthing thousands of Mycenaean Linear A tablets and fragments, and a couple of hundred Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (mostly the latter), no one has even come close to deciphering Minoan Linear, in spite of the fact that quite a few people have valiantly tried, without any real success. Among those who have claimed to have successfully deciphered Linear A, we may count:

Sam Connolly, with his book:

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

Where he claims, “Has the lost ancient language behind Linear A finally been identified? Read this book and judge for yourself”. 

Stuart L. Harris, who has just published his book (2016):

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

basing his decipherment on the notion that Minoan Linear A is somehow related to Finnish, an idea which I myself once entertained, but swiftly dismissed,, having scanned through at least 25 Finnish words which should have matched up with at least 150 Minoan Linear A words. Not a single one did. So much for Finnish. I was finished with it.

and Gretchen Leonhardt


who bases her decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablets on the ludicrous notion that Minoan Linear A is closely related to Japanese! That is a real stretch of the imagination, in light of the fact that the two languages could not be more distant or remote in any manner of speaking. But this is hardly surprising, given that her notions or, to put it bluntly, her hypothesis underlying her attempted decipherments of Mycenaean Linear B tablets is equally bizarre.

I wind up with this apropos observation drawn from Ms. Leonhardt’s site:    If a Minoan version of a Rosetta Stone pops up . . , watch public interest rise tenfold. ‘Minoa-mania’ anyone?”. Glen Gordon, February 2007 Journey to Ancient Civilizations.

Which begs the question, who am I to dare claim that I have actually been able to decipher no fewer than 90 Minoan Linear A words

Minoan Linear A Glossary

since I first ventured out on the perilous task of attempting such a risky undertaking. Before taking even a single step further, I wish to emphatically stress that I do not claim to be deciphering Minoan Linear A. Such a claim is exceedingly rash. What I claim is that I seem to be on track to a partial decipherment of the language, based on 5 principles of rational decipherment which will be enumerated in Part B. Still, how on earth did I manage to break through the apparently impenetrable firewall of Minoan Linear A?  Here is how.

In early May 2016, as I was closely examining Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada),

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

which dealt exclusively with vessels and pottery, I was suddenly struck by a lightning flash. The tablet was cluttered with several ideograms of vessels, amphorae, kylixes and cups on which were superimposed with the actual Minoan Linear A words for the same. What a windfall! My next step - and this is critical - was to make the not so far-fetched assumption that this highly detailed tablet (actually the most intact of all extant Minoan Linear A tablets) was the magic key to opening the heavily reinforced door of Minoan Linear, previously locked as solid as a drum. But was there a way, however remote, for me to “prove”, by circumstantial evidence alone, that most, if not all, of the words this tablet actually were the correct terms for the vessels they purported to describe? There was, after all, no magical Rosetta Stone to rely on in order to break into the jail of Minoan Linear A. Or was there?

As every historical linguist specializing in ancient languages with any claim to expertise knows, the real Rosetta Stone was the magical key to the brilliant decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822 by the French philologist, François Champellion

Francois Champellion Rosetta Stone Schiller Institute
It is truly worth your while to read the aforementioned article in its entirety. It is a brilliant exposé of Monsieur Champellion’s dexterous decipherment.

But is there any Rosetta Stone to assist in the decipherment of Haghia Triada tablet HT 31. Believe it or not, there is. Startling as it may seem, that Rosetta Stone is none other than the very first Mycenaean Linear B tablet deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952, Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952.  If you wish to be informed and enlightened on the remarkable decipherment of Pylos Py TA 641-1952, you can read all about it for yourself in my article, published in Vol. 10 (2014) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 

Archaeology and Science, Vol. 10 (2014), An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952. pp. 133-161, here: 

Archaeology and Sciene Belgrade

It is precisely this article which opened the floodgates to my first steps towards the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. The question is, how? In this very article I introduced the General Theory of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear A (pp. 148-156). It is this very phenomenon, the supersyllabogram, which has come to be the ultimate key to unlocking the terminology of vessels and pottery in Minoan Linear A. Actually, I first introduced in great detail the General Theory of Supersyllabograms at the Third International Conference on Symbolism at The Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, on July 1 2015:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens

Role of SSYLs in Mycenaean Linear B

This ground-breaking talk, re-published by Koryvantes, is capped off with a comprehensive bibliography of 147 items serving as the prelude to my discovery of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B from 2013-2015.

How Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) serves as the Rosetta Stone to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada):

Believe it or not, the running text of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is strikingly alike that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). So much so that the textual content of the former runs very close to being parallel with its Mycenaean Linear B counterpart. How can this be? A few preliminary observations are in order. First and foremost, Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) cannot be construed in any way as being equivalent to the Rosetta Stone. That is an absurd proposition. On the other hand, while the Rosetta stone displayed the same text in three different languages and in three different scripts (Demotic, Hieroglyphics and ancient Greek), the syllabary of Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is almost identical to that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). And that is what gives us the opportunity to jam our foot in the door of Minoan Linear A. There is not point fussing over whether or not the text of HT 31 is exactly parallel to that of Pylos Py TA 641, because ostensibly it is not! But, I repeat, the parallelisms running through both of these tablets are remarkable.

Allow me to illustrate the cross-correlative cohesion between the two tablets right from the outset, the very first line. At the very top of HT 31 we observe this word, puko, immediately to the left of the ideogram for “tripod”, which just happens to be identical in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B. Now the very first on Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is tiripode, which means “tripod”. After a bit of intervening text, which reads as follows in translation, “Aigeus works on tripods of the Cretan style”, the ideogram for “tripod”, identical to the one on Haghia Triada, leaps to the for. The only difference between the disposition of the term for “tripod” on HT 31 and Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is that there is no intervening text between the word for tripod, i.e. puko, on the former, whereas there is on the latter. But that is scarcely an impediment to the realization, indeed the revelation, that on HT 31 puko must mean exactly the same thing as tiripode on Pylos Py TA 641-1952. And it most certainly does. But, I hear you protesting, and with good reason, how can I be sure that this is the case? It just so happens that there is another Linear B tablet with the same word followed by the same ideogram, in exactly the same order as on HT 31, here: 

Linear A 19 confirmation that puko means tripod

The matter is clinched in the bud. The word puko in Minoan Linear A is indisputably the term for “tripod”, exactly parallel to its counterpart in Mycenaean Linear B, tiripode.

I had just knocked out the first brick from the Berlin Wall of Minoan Linear A. More was to come. Far more.

Continued in Part B.


Added to The Role of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

Added to The Role of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to VISIT

role of supersyllabograms

The Role of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, talk on July 1 at the Third Interdisciplinary Conference, Thinking Symbols, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Poland -  my talk centred on the role of what were previously – and erroneously – called “adjuncts” in Mycenaean Linear B. With 35 in total, there are for more of them and they fulfill a role far more significant than had previously been assumed. In the majority of cases, one syllabogram replaces entire phrases and even sentences.  No one had identified, isolated and classified them all until I did so in 2014-2015.

A breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Is puko the word for a tripod in Linear A?

A breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Is puko the word for a tripod in Linear A? 

This is my latest published paper on academia	.edu. If you wish to read it in its entirety, you may download it here:

Is puko the word for tripod in Minoan Linear A cf tiripo in Mycenaean Linear B
It is one of three (3) papers which I am having published this year, the other two being:

1. An Archaeologist’s translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris), with an introduction to supersyllabograms in the vessels & pottery Sector in Mycenaean Linear B,

shortly to appear in the peer-reviewed European archaeological journal,

Archaeology and Science / Arheologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448

Archeology and Science Belgrade

for which you can read submission guidelines and examples of articles in this PDF file: Click on the link below to read it

Archaeology and Science guidelines

& for which the following information is now available:

In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military affairs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a  fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.

Keywords: Mycenaean Linear B, syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, supersyllabograms, adjuncts, Linear B tablets, Pylos, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), decipherment, translation, pottery, vessels, tripods, cauldrons, amphorae, kylixes, cups, goblets 


2. The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw

Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, July 1 2015, TBP (to be published) late 201r or early in 2016.


Prospectus on my Presentation, “The Rôle of Supersyllbograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, exactly one month from today, at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, June 30-July 2

Prospectus on my Presentation, “The Rôle of Supersyllbograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, exactly one month from today.

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw
aka Surcharged Adjuncts, to be held at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, June 30-July 2,

Pultusk Academy and logo

Prospectus link

sponsored by the Department of Classics of the University of Warsaw and by the Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), with particular acknowledgement of the superb research Marie Louise Nosch in the domain of textiles in Mycenaean Linear B, whom I have cited 12 times in the bibliography of the paper. See Section A, page 4, July 1, 2015

Prospectus July 1 20154


Now on References, Notes & Bibliography for the Presentation, “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B”

Has just been uploaded as my second research paper at (click to VISIT):

References Notes Bibliography Supersyllabograms Pultusk Poland

Comments, observations and criticisms welcome here at Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae and on my pages.

The next paper I upload to will deal specifically with the Gezer Algricultural Almanac in Paleo-Hebrew and its translation into Mycenaean Linear B.[


Happy Second Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae! Now the largest Linear B blog on the Internet

Happy Second Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae! Now the largest Linear B blog on the Internet

We are delighted to announce that Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear B Knossos & Mycenae May 2015
reaches its second anniversary on May 1 2015.

What have we accomplished in the past two years? A great deal indeed. Here are the highlights.

1. The discovery, extrapolation, collation and classification of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, of which there are 34 (to date) out of 61 syllabograms in Linear B, excluding counting homophones (with the sole exception of RAI = saffron).

2. We have entered into close partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece), here:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies
where we have been assigned our own category for posting on their blog,

Linear B & the Iliad


3. As a direct result of 1. & 2. above, Richard, our blog moderator, has been invited to give his talk

at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” (June 30-July 2 2015), sponsored by The Association of Historical Studies (Koryvantes), Athens:

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw

at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw.

Pultusk Academy and logo

His talk, and those of all other presenters at the Conference will be published by the University of Warsaw. The University of Warsaw also plans to publish the General of Supersyllabograms and its application to the translation of some 700+ Mycenaean Linear B tablets across the board, in a book to be titled, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, to appear sometime in 2016.  

4. In the past two years, Richard and his research colleague, Rita Roberts of Crete, have translated in excess of 100 Linear B tablets, most of them from Knossos, along with some from Pylos, Mycenae and Thebes.

5. Richard has compiled the following elements in his ongoing project to reconstruct as much as possible of Mycenaean Greek grammar from the ground up:
5.1 the complete table for the conjugations of the active voice, present, future, imperfect, aorist & perfect of Mycenaean verbs;
5.2 the table of adjectives and nouns ending in the archaic “eus” in the nominative singular.
5.3 Richard plans to continue with the compilation of Mycenaean Greek grammar throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.

6. Richard has translated most of The Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and will finish off his translation this year (2015). This will be followed by his translation of Book I of the Iliad in its entirety (2015-2016).

7. We are in the process of compiling the largest Lexicon of both attested and derived Mycenaean Greek in Linear B ever to have appeared anywhere, in print or on the Internet. We have already finished with the draft of the first Section on Military Affairs, which is to appear on our blog and on the blog of The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece) sometime in the summer or autumn 2015. It is to be subdivided into several primary Sections, (1) Agriculture (2) Crafts, Trade and Commerce (3) Military Affairs (4) Domestic Affairs, including the production of vessels and pottery & (5) Religious  Affairs. This is such a huge undertaking that it is unlikely that we will be able to complete it before 2018.

8. Richard has offered his services as Professor to Rita Roberts, Crete, who is now in her first year of university, working towards her three-year Bachelor of Arts in Linguists (BAL) in the field of Mycenaean Linear B. Both Rita and I can assure you that the curriculum is of the highest order and extremely demanding. Already, in her first semester of her first year, Rita has been tasked with the tough chore of translating several difficult Linear B tablets from Knossos on military affairs, and this is just the beginning! As far as we can tell, this online university undergraduate course, specifically focusing on Mycenaean Linear B, will be the first ever of its kind ever to have been offered worldwide. I am of course open to inviting others who are seriously committed to learn Mycenaean Linear B, but just as Rita has had to do, new students will have to first finish their secondary school level in Linear B before moving onto university studies. It took Rita two years to fulfill the requirements for a secondary school matriculation in Linear B. This and the full course of studies (secondary school and a bachelor’s degree) requires 5 full years of unstinting commitment to the mastery of Mycenaean Linear B.  At the end of these five years, the student (Rita being our first) will possess the credentials to be an expert in the field.  

9. We have begun posting on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, having already translated 3 tablets in that syllabary. We have also made available for the first time ever the standard keyboard layout for Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, which you may download free at your convenience. We plan on continuing with posts on Linear C throughout 2016 & 2016, eventually tackling the famous Idalion Tablet of the 5th. Century BCE. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the closest cousin dialect to Mycenaean Linear B, will play a significantly greater rôle than it presently does on our blog. Both Linear B and Linear C will be thoroughly cross-compared with the archaic grammar and vocabulary of the Catalog of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, the latter generally being considered as an indirect descendant of the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects, at least in these two respects. This cross-comparative study will help us to properly situate the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects in the diachronic time line of ancient Greek dialects. 

10. We have begun a thorough-going investigation of the relationship between the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries, which are almost identical in most respects, the latter being derived from the former with other major Bronze Age scripts and alphabets, including the Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew alphabets, soon the Proto-Arabic, and any others which bear up well under comparison with Linear A & Linear B.

12. We have posted some information on Minoan Linear A, but it is not our intention to attempt to decipher this unknown language – at least for the next five years. However, certain aspects of Linear A itself are of prime importance to our concerns, especially its intimate relationship with Linear B, as well as its place in the development of ancient scripts in the context of 10. above.

13. We have begun exploring the possibilities for the application of Linear B & C to extraterrestrial communication. If this sounds wacky or even peculiar to you, think twice. NASA itself has already begun its own investigation of such intriguing prospects for Linear B and Linear C.

As the direct result of our unflagging commitments to these areas of research into Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C and several other areas relating to these, our blog has grown to be the largest on the entire Internet devoted to the study of Mycenaean Linear B. I had hope for 50,000 visitors in the first two years, but these were exceeded, as we have had over 51,000. We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your interest in what is manifestly an extremely specialized and narrow area of interest in the vast sea of linguistics, ancient and modern, and we look forward to seeing more of you visit our site throughout our third year, May 2015-April 2016. I am confident that we shall exceed 100,000 visits by the end of our third year. With our gratitude. Richard 	     


These are the primary concerns of our Blog, but there are others, which are intriguing to special interest groups. Our goals are ambitious but we mean to fulfill them.

At the same time, our Twitter account has attracted some 920 followers, compared with about 500 at the end of first year (May 1 2014). We have sent out over 13,600 tweets in the past 2 years. Click here to visit our Twitter account:

Knossos KONOSO twitter May 2015

Our research colleague, Rita Roberts, now has over 380 followers on her Twitter account, here:

Rita Roberts Twitter

This makes for some 1,300 followers for us both on Twitter, a considerable number indeed, in light of the fact that the study of Linear B and the specialized interests in archaeology and similar arcane fields which Rita follows are rare birds indeed!

I also urge you to follow Rita’s superb blog, here:

Ritaroberts blog May 2015

Finally, we have set ourselves up on Google +, where you can find our page here:

Google + Richard Vallance Janke
We started up on Google + just a couple of months ago, and we already have 383 followers in our Circle.



Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, near Warsaw, Poland

Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, near Warsaw, Poland: Click to ENLARGE

Pultusk Academy and logo
This is the venue where I shall be giving my lecture on The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B between June 30 & July 2 2015. I am ready and raring to go!


Conference, “Thinking Symbols”, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, University of Warsaw (June 30-July 2 2015)

Thinking Symbols”, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, University of Warsaw (June 30-July 2 2015):

Thinking Symbols Koryvantes 640

Table of All 32 Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B for my Presentation at the Conference: Click to ENLARGE

Table of SSYLS in Mycenaean Linear B

As of spring 2015, I have discovered, isolated and classified a total of 32 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, having found no new ones since autumn 2014. Let us review supersyllabograms, what they are, the 2 different types & how they are classified & sub-classified.

What Supersyllabograms are:

In Mycenaean Linear B, a supersyllabogram is almost always the first syllabogram only, in other words, the first syllable only of a Mycenaean Greek word or phrase. There are only three (3) exceptions to this operative principle. The 32 supersyllabograms account for more than 50 % of all syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. That this is a very significant subset of this discrete set of syllabograms goes without saying.  

The 2 types of Supersyllabograms:

There are only two types of supersyllabograms:

(1) Independent supersyllabograms (i):

An independent supersyllabogram is one which stands alone, all by itself, on any Linear B tablet. There is just the one syllabogram, with nothing preceding or following it, except whenever several of them appear in a series, as on Linear B tablet Heidelburg HE Fl 1994. And even then, strictly speaking, they still stand alone, each one being a discrete entity naming only one thing, a city or settlement name. 

Most independent supersyllabograms were deciphered,

(a) first by Prof. John Chadwick, who deciphered the syllabograms NI = suko (figs) & SA = rino (flax), and the homophone RAI = kanako (crocus or saffron) in his ground-breaking book, The Decipherment of Linear B (1959,1970), in which he divulged to the world the arduous road over several years to the decipherment of Linear B in 1952 by the brilliant cryptographer, Michael Ventris.

It is essential to realize that these three independent supersyllabograms alone are the only ones for which the single syllabogram symbolizing the Mycenaean Greek word they each replace is not the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of that word, as we can clearly see with NI, SA & RAI. This being the case, the remaining 29 supersyllabograms of a total of 32 are, by default, the first syllabogram of the Mycenaean word or phrase each of them represents.

(b) The second person to identify independent supersyllabograms was Prof. Thomas G. Palaima, in his superb translation of Heidelburg tablet HE Fl 1994, here:

Heidelburg HE Fl 1994 800

In this case, all 5 of the independent supersyllabograms, KO, ZA, PA, PU & MU are the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a Minoan or Mycenaean city or settlement name. While these 5 independent SSYLS appear in sequence, each one should and must be interpreted as standing alone in its own right.

There are thus a total of 3 + 5 = 8 independent supersyllabograms (i). However, it is absolutely essential to understand that some of these 8 SSYLS are also dependent (d).

I am obliged to point out that neither John Chadwick nor Thomas G. Palaima recognized or identified these 8 supersyllabograms as such, since after all, one of them (Chadwick) discovered only 3 syllabograms which fit this description, while the other (Palaima) hit upon only 5 more. In retrospect, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that it would be unrealistic, if not downright disingenuous, to expect them to have isolated supersyllabograms in the first place, given that they only just happened to stumble upon these 8, all of which are independent SSYLS, and none of which fit into the default paradigm of the rest of the supersyllabograms, all of which are dependent (d). In a word, neither of them could conceivably have even identified a phenomenon one could call the supersyllabogram, because they did not find any others. And it was the others, of which there are so many, that were, as we say, the real McCoy.

(2) Dependent supersyllabograms(d):

A dependent supersyllabogram (d) is one which always appears as a single syllabogram, but which is also always immediately adjacent to (da) or inside (di) an ideogram. It is the dependent supersyllabogram I discovered early 2014, and which has given true meaning to the term as I have come to define it. The basic formula for the layout of the dependent supersyllabogram on any Linear B tablet is:

SSYLa (left) + ideogram (right) -or-
ideogram (left)+ SSYLb (right) -or-
SSYLc on top of an ideogram -or-
SSYLd under an ideogram -or-
SSYLe inside an ideogram.

If there is only one (1) dependent supersyllabogram (d) adjacent to only one (1) ideogram, that ideogram, upon which that SSYL depends, determines the exact meaning of the SSYL. Change the ideogram, change the meaning. In other words, the meanings of all dependent supersyllabograms (d) are determined by the specific ideogram to which they are adjacent. The meaning of any adjacent dependent SSYL must therefore be strictly contextual (dc).     

More than one dependent supersyllabogram can be adjacent to one or more ideograms, and in any order. However, the order in which the SSYLS & the ideograms appear together is never random. It is always structurally contextual. Change the order, change the meaning.

Sub-classification of Dependent Supersyllabograms:

Dependent supersyllabograms are sub-classified as either associative (as) or attributive (at).

(1) Associative dependent supersyllabograms (as) are those which are immediately adjacent to the ideograms upon which they depend. An associative SSYL is one which informs of us of some external element, for instance, the factor of land tenure relating to the ideogram itself, or one which circumscribes its environment, especially in the livestock raising sub-sector of the agricultural sector. For instance, in the Table of All 32 Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B above, the supersyllabogram O adjacent to the ideogram for sheep + the number of sheep accounted for in the inventory of any particular tablet, informs us that the sheep are being raised on a lease(d) field, more specifically a usufruct lease field (i.e. a lease field which a farmer tenant cultivates for the use of his own family and village neighbours, with a taxation imposed by the overseer). In other words, the supersyllabogram O = onato (lease field) is associated with the raising of x no. of sheep.

(2) Attributive dependent supersyllabograms (at) always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute (usually known as an adjectival function) of the ideogram. For instance, the syllabogram PO inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word ponikiya = “purple”, hence the phrase = “purple cloth”.  Likewise the syllabogram TE, when it appears inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the supersyllabogram for the Mycenaean word tetukuwoa, which means “well prepared” or if you like, “well spun”. Hence, the syllabogram TE inside the ideogram for cloth must mean one thing and one thing only, “well-prepared cloth”. I have discovered, identified & classified well over a dozen examples of associative supersyllabograms.

The first person to identify and correctly translate two of the most frequently occurring supersyllabograms was Chris Tselentis, who deciphered the two SSYLS ZE & MO on Knossos Tablet KN So 4439, in the appendix TEXTS of Linear B tablets of his excellent Linear B Lexicon. On this tablet, which is strictly military, these syllabograms each appear immediately adjacent to the ideogram for chariot wheel, ZE appearing after the ideogram, and MO before it. It was obvious to Chris Tselentis that, in the military context of this tablet, the syllabogram ZE could mean one thing and one thing only, “a pair of (wheels)”, while MO could only mean “a single wheel”. And he was bang on. Unfortunately, he had his hands full just compiling his comprehensive Lexicon, and so he never got around to a thorough examination of a large enough statistically significant cross-section of Linear B tablets, to ascertain whether there were any more like this one.

But there were – plenty more, in fact some 700 of 3,000 Linear B tablets I meticulously poured through from the corpus at Knossos. If it weren’t for Chris Tselentis in particular, or for John Chadwick and Thomas G. Palaima before him, I would never have followed my intuition to ferret out more examples of the same phenomena, only to be so richly rewarded for taking this decisive step in the first place in the winter of 2014. There was no guarantee that anything concrete would come out of my year-long investigations. But it did, to say the very least. The ultimate result of my painstaking search through 3,000 tablets from Knossos, and the meticulous research which ensued were to pay off in droves. The Table you see above is the true fulfillment of a hard-won struggle.     

To read a detailed account of the function of dependent supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, please refer to this post:

Associative Versus Attributive


Photos of Michael Ventris (1922-1956) & Richard Vallance Janke (1945 – )

Photos of Michael Ventris (1922-1956) & Richard Vallance Janke (1945 - ): Click to ENLARGE each composite

Here is a composite of 2 photos, one of Michael Ventris (1922-1956) just before his tragic death in a car accident in 1956, and one of myself, Richard Vallance Janke, still younger, at age 23, upon my graduation for my first degree, Honours Bachelor of Arts in Latin and French (majors), English and German (minors) from Sir Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1968.

Michael Ventris age 30 & Richard Vallance Janke age 23

I have no hesitation whatsoever in declaring that I consider Michael to be my patron saint, and that I pray to him instead of to God, because he is the greatest inspiration in my entire life. I shall do so until God informs me otherwise.

And here is another composite of myself, first as a Reference Librarian, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, taken at the age of 43 in 1988, and the second of a lovely couple and  myself at the age of 63, taken while I was on holidays in Quebec in the summer of 2008.

Richard 1989 and 2008

I will be using these photos for my talk on The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Linear B at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, University of Warsaw, Poland, June 29 – July 2, 2015.



Conference on Symbolism: The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Selected Appendices A-C

Conference on Symbolism: The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Selected Appendices A-C

Since the presentation I shall be giving at the Conference, Thinking Symbols, at the Pultusk Academy, University of Warsaw, is under wraps until then, I am posting for your information just 5 of the 11 Appendices to that talk (3 in this post), to give you at least some idea of where I shall be leading the attendees at the Conference in the course of my talk. In this post, you can see the first three Appendices. The first one (Appendix A) illustrates the use of what I choose to call Modern International Superalphabetic Symbols, as you see here:

A Appendix

It is readily apparent from this appendix that we are dealing with modern ideograms, all of which are international standards, and which are recognized as such world-wide. For instance, everyone in the world knows that the first symbol or ideogram means “under copyright protection”, while the fourth means “no parking”.

Proceeding to Appendix B, we have:

B Appendix

The abbreviations in this appendix are so strikingly similar to what I have identified as supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B that it is immediately obvious to anyone seeing the latter for the first time can instantly correlate the former with the the city codes or supersyllabograms in Linear B, as seen here in Appendix C:

C Appendix

Clearly, the abbreviations for modern city codes, even though they consist of the first two letters only of the 10 city names are identical in structure and format to the ancient city names, represented by the first syllabogram, in other words, the first syllable in each, which we find in Appendix C.  This astonishing co-incidence reveals something of the sophistication of Mycenaean Linear B taken to its limits.

It was in fact Prof. Thomas G. Palaima who first identified these city names (Knossos, Zakros, Pylos etc.) in his superb translation of Linear B tablet Heidelburg HE Fl 1994. What he failed to realize was that he had in fact discovered the sypersyllabogram, which I finally came to realize in 2014 was always the first syllabogram, in other words, the first syllable only of a particular Mycenaean Greek word, in this instance, a city or settlement name. In retrospect, we cannot blame him for this apparent oversight, because that is all it was, apparent. He never got around to a meticulous examination of the 3,000 relatively intact tablets from Knossos, which I took upon myself to carry through to its ultimate revelation(s). And what a revelation they proved to be, when in the course of over a year (2014-2015), I discovered to my utter astonishment that some 700 (23.3%!) of the 3,000 tablets I examined all had at least one supersyllabogram on them, and some as many as four!

Some of the tablets I examined had supersyllabograms only on them, and no text whatsoever. The question was, I had to wonder – and I mean I really had to wonder – what did they all mean? The answer was not long in coming. Within 2 weeks of identifying the first new supersyllabogram, I had already isolated & defined more than 10 of them!

When I speak of supersyllabograms, I do not mean simply city or settlement names. Far from it. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and they are atypical. There are at least 30 supersyllabograms in all, out of a syllabary comprised of only 61 syllabograms, in other words 50% of them. That is a staggering sum. Supersyllabograms range in meaning from “lease field” to “plot of land” to “sheep pen” to “this year” (among the first 10 I discovered) referring to sheep husbandry in the agricultural sector, from “cloth” to “well-prepared cloth” to “gold cloth” and “purple dyed cloth” in the textiles sector, and on and on. That this is a major discovery in the further decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B goes practically without saying. In fact, nothing like it has been achieved in the past 63 years since the decipherment of the vast majority of Mycenaean Linear B by the genius, Michael Ventris, in 1952-1953.

michael ventris 1922-1956 at work in hisstudy
More Appendices to follow in the next post.


Interdisciplinary CONFERENCE on “Thinking Symbols”, Pultusk, Poland, June 30 June 30 – July 2 2015: Click to ENLARGE the Announcement:

Interdisciplinary CONFERENCE on “Thinking Symbols”, Pultusk, Poland, June 30 June 30 - July 2 2015: Click to ENLARGE the Announcement:

A Koryvantes Announcement Symbolism Poland June-July 2015

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: