Initial Confirmation for Strong Evidence of the Extremely Close Relationship Between the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Dialects and Their Vocabulary & the Profound Implications for Linear B Research and Translation – Click to ENLARGE:

6 Examples of the simliarities between Linear B & C

This chart of only six (6) words, the same in the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot dialects, make it painfully obvious, with the possible exception of the word for “city”, which is nowhere attested in Linear B, and hence open to serious doubt, that their vocabulary is, in the vast majority of cases, almost virtually identical. Once I have mastered Linear C by early next year (2015), I shall be able to translate the famous Idalion Tablet, which you see here:

Idalion_tablet 640

This tablet, which is very long, and in splendid condition, being cast in bronze, is a legal decree composed in the fifth century BCE. Although its publication comes much later than the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, it is well known that the Arcado-Cypriot dialect was written in Linear C as early as 1100 BCE, a mere 100 years later (!) than the sudden disappearance of Linear B, even though there are no extant documents from that time. The vital point here is that neither Mycenaean Greek nor Arcado-Cypriot underwent any significant changes at all during their primacy, the former between ca. 1600 & 1200 BCE, the latter between 1100 & 400 BCE. They remained almost virtually unchanged, the latter in spite of the Dorian invasions around 1200-1100 BCE, which had no visible effect whatsoever on either Arcado-Cypriot or its slightly older forbear and kissing cousin, Mycenaean Greek, both firmly encamped in the family of East Greek dialects. Dorian Greek was an entirely different kettle of fish, being strictly a West Greek dialect. Linguists, experts in ancient Greek dialects, have confirmed this over and over throughout the twentieth century into the twenty-first. In fact, the consensus is universal on the extremely close bond between these two East Greek, proto-Ionic dialects, because how on earth can it be otherwise?  An orange is an orange, and a tangerine is a tangerine. They are both in the same class. But Dorian, a West Greek dialect, is no more related to our East Greek cousins than an apple is to either an orange or a tangerine. Yes, they are both fruit, but that is where the similarity ends.

If you are in any doubt over the extreme similarities between Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot, I refer you to this post:

Linear B Previous Post

which you should read in its entirety. In it, two eminent linguists in ancient Greek, virtually agree on every single point, even though they are writing 60 years apart, the one, C.D. Buck, in 1955, and the other, E.J. Bakker, whose intensive study of the ancient Greek dialects was just released this year (2014). This is the consensus pretty much across the board. It is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to divorce these two dialects from one another. If anything, there is only annulment between West Greek Dorian, and East Greek Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot. The former, which only gained the ascendancy in its own sphere of influence, the Peloponnese, after the Dorian invasions ca. 1200 BCE, had virtually no effect at all on Mycenaean Greek, simply because that is impossible, Mycenaean Greek having predated Dorian Greek by at least 400 years! Besides, Mycenae fell either before the Dorians arrived on the scene, or because the Dorians themselves destroyed their civilization.

But even this latter scenario is highly improbable, for this sole reason if none other. Since all of the Mycenaean cities collapsed at the same time (give or take a few years), I have to seriously question how the Dorians could possibly have toppled all of them, when for instance, Thebes, in far-flung north-eastern Greece, was so far away from the Peloponnese that they, the Dorians, would have had to trek all across Greece just to get there. An improbability, if not an impossibility, considering the horrendously difficult conditions for long distance travel in those days, even – or should I say – except at a snail’s pace. 

Once I have mastered Linear C, which is going to be very soon (early 2015), I shall translate the entire Idalion tablet, and at least 3 other Linear C tablets into English, and even supply the alphabetical Cypriot text of the tablet. Oh, and by the way, if anyone questions the even tighter relationship between the northern Arcadian dialect on the Peloponnese, and its far-flung sister, Cypriot, on Cyprus, in the south-east Mediterranean, think again. With the exception of a few piddly differences, they are virtually identical, all the more astonishingly that their locales are so far apart (See travel in the ancient world above).  But it does not end there. Mycenaean Greek & Arcado-Cypriot, both East Greek dialects, are even more similar than Ionic & Attic Greek! That is one tough act to follow.

There is at least one modern researcher and translator of Linear B tablets who attempts to correlate Mycenaean with Doric Greek vocabulary, and at that, quite frequently. This is a dangerous path to pursue, fraught with hazards from which it would be difficult, even in the best of scenarios, to extricate oneself without becoming mired in blatant contradictions leading inexorably to a reductio ad absurdum. I have the greatest respect for this linguist, who has roundly criticized me and soundly corrected me on at least three of my more dubious, if not down-right silly translations of Linear B tablets, and for this I am truly grateful.

Yet to pursue a path that will lead nowhere but to an irresolvable impasse seems very much like Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills. While I applaud, though with some serious reservations, this person’s highly imaginative approach to deciphering Linear B, the methodology is bound to turn all Linear B research on its head, and to largely invalidate the corpus of Linear B translations to date almost in its entirety... let alone the astonishing achievements of Michael Ventris in the first place. I am certainly not advocating that any researcher-translator of Linear B cannot do precisely that, but if he or she does, that person will have a heck of a lot of explaining & justifications to advance, and above all, will have to provide proof-positive (no loopholes please!) that his or her hypotheses or, if you like, entire theory, flies or crashes. Not only that, such a translator would have to convince the vast majority of contemporary linguists expert in Linear B decipherment and translation that such a drastic shift in the tectonics of the translation of Linear B does in fact constitute a truly significant, meaningful revolution in our understanding of the script and of the East Greek dialect, Mycenaean Greek, which is its underpinning.

I sincerely believe that my own research, which goes in the exact opposite direction, directly correlating the (striking) similarities between a relatively large cross-section of Mycenaean vocabulary in Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot in Linear C (I expect at least 100-200 words), will serve to throw a huge wrench into any approach which attempts to correlate Mycenaean East Greek in any significant way with Dorian West Greek, and which is highly likely to invalidate said approach once and for all. Of course, my approach, my hypotheses, my theory and my methodology must also stand the test of sound critical appraisal from the international community of Linear B linguists. If my theory does not pass muster with the majority of Linear B experts, so be it. There it ends.

As an aside, allow me to point out that I shall be pursuing a very similar route starting in October, and continuing on through the end of this year and probably beyond, as I translate the entire Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad, the very section of that astonishing Epic in which Homer makes frequent use of the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad. This translation will confirm (because all others have to date) that a strong correlation also exists between his archaic Greek, almost certainly harkening back to at least the ninth century BCE, if not beyond, and Mycenaean Greek, upon which it is firmly founded. That exercise, in and of itself, will serve just as well as the present on Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot, to confirm that Mycenaean Greek has strong bonds, not only with Arcado-Cypriot, but with the most archaic Greek in the Iliad. And it does not end there either. If confirmation is pending between the close affinity of Homer’s archaic Greek and Arcado-Cypriot, that circumstance alone will only serve to strengthen my hypotheses, and the theory underpinning them, as outlined above. I sincerely believe and confidently trust it will.