KEY POST: my translation of Knossos Tablet KN RA 1548 = 3 finer quality swords... another tough nut to crack: Click to ENLARGE:

There are MAJOR problems with this post, all centred around the word, ariyete, which I now believe I have translated wrongly. As soon as I can clear up the problems, I will report the Tablet, KN RA 1548, and modify the text accordingly. I also invite any Linear B expert to catch me out on this one, as I am quite certain you will.  Apart from this tricky (sneaky) word, I believe the rest of the translation is accurate. 

Translation KN RA 1548
There are several noteworthy aspects to my translation of this very significant tablet from Knossos, which has been translated many times over. However, each translator has his or her own take on what the tablet signifies, and I am no exception. I researched every single word on the table very carefully before translating it, but the word which caused me the greatest grief was “ariyete”. What on earth was that supposed to mean? Once again, Liddell & Scott (1986 ed.) came to my rescue, as you can see on the tablet above. Some will say I am really going out on a limb with this interpretation, and actually I suppose I am. But as I have so often said before in this blog, and shall never cease to repeat, one has to take chances with translations of Linear B Tablets, which are often (to say the very least) ambiguous. Now let us turn to the map upon which I base my hypothesis for my translation. Click to ENLARGE:

Eastern Mediterranean 1250-1150 BCE
At least my translation has the elegance of being consistent within its ambit. The swords here are described as “finer”, and there are only 3 of them in inventory, further attesting to their quality. Moreover, the attribution of Median origin of manufacture is not such a far stretch of the imagination, since as the map itself clearly illustrates, the Medians were a migratory people at that time, and the word for the people described as “ariyete” on the tablet bears a more than passing resemblance to “Arzawa” on the map. I am not at all claiming that my translation is the “right” one, as there simply is no such thing in cases such as this, with Knossos KN RA 1548, which is about as ambiguous as you can get.

While my literal translation is just that, literal, following the tablet word by word, what is my justification for my free translation?  Why do I insist that the 3 swords, which are made of Cyperus, have “chain-braided hilts”, rather than simply saying what the text clearly says, that they are “with chains” (dative plural)? I do so for two good reasons: (1) because if the swords were hung from chains (presumably shoulder straps), the poor blokes who wanted to attack with them would be killed themselves before they even got them off their shoulders! & (2) Bronze-Age swords were frequently adorned with chain-braided hilts, as you can see in these two examples: Click to ENLARGE:

Bronze Age Sword inlaid with gold braid top & second example below

We must recall at all times that the Minoan & Mycenaean scribes were very adept at using shorthand in transcribing their tablets, since the tablets were almost invariably very small. That is why a literal translation is quite unlikely to represent accurately what they really meant when they wrote out their tablets. It is for this reason, for instance, that the noun “kuperos” stands (in) for the adjective “kuperosiya”, which in fact would be feminine, were it to modify the noun, “pakana”. So why did the scribes use the noun instead of the adjective? The answer is apparent... to save space on the tablet. Minoan and Mycenaean scribes resorted to this ploy over and over on 100s, even 1,000s of tablets, so is it any wonder they would have done so on this tablet? 


I welcome any and all observations, critiques and criticisms of this translation, however agreeable or, on the other hand, contrary or vexatious.


Richard