Archive for May, 2017

Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #6 Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes)

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 Arkhanes digitized

Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #5 Linear A tablet MA 1 (Malia)

Linear A Malia MA 1 digitized

Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #4 Linear A tablet KH 11 (Khania)

Linear A tablet KH 11 Khania digitized


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #3 Linear A tablet KH 10 (Khania)

Linear A tablet KH 10 Khania digitized

Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #2 Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania)

Here is the digitally enhanced version of KH 5:

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania digitized

versus the original photo of it as found on the Internet:

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania original

The original photo is severely underexposed, fuzzy and definitely off-colour.

Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: # 1 Linear A tablet ZA 14 (Zakros)

Lineat A tablet digitally enhanced

So many photographs of both Linear A and B tablets on the Internet are of such poor quality that they are often practically illegible, even when the entire inscriptions are extant. Photos are underexposed, fuzzy and off-colour. I have taken it upon myself to correct as many of these flaws as I possibly can. The results are sometimes nothing short of spectacular and usually very good. I hope everyone who uses them enjoys them to the fullest. You have my permission to reproduce them, but please do not alter their appearance. The amount of work I have to pour into each digitization can run to at least one hour.   

For the first time ever in history, a conjectural full restoration of an entire Linear A tablet, ZA 20 (Zakros):

Linear A tablet ZA 20 Zakros restored

In the previous post, I conjectured how the text of the missing top of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) might have read. While we shall never know for certain, one thing is sure: we do know that the entire tablet dealt with grain crops. It therefore stands to reason that the missing text on the top must have inventoried grains. With this firmly in mind, I have endeavoured to reconstruct what I believe how the missing text may have read. It could very well have run something along these lines:

kireta2 (kiretai) 11 dideru 42 dideru 30 qerie 22 qerie 6

NOTE that kireta2 (kiretai) is the Minoan orthography for Greek krithai (Latinized), which of course is barley.

Translation: 11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn

for a total of 111

which when taken into account with total of 19 on the bottom half of the tablet yields a grand total of 130.

Hence the decipherment of the entire tablet with the top half restored as conjectured, reads as follows:

11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn + ro? with dry units of measurement (i.e. bushel-like units) + 4 units of mi? + ? + ? + along with 1 bushel-like unit of wheat 7 12 bushel-like units of te*123 (flax?) + 2 bushels of rumatase (spelt?) for a grand total of 130.

As you can readily see, this decipherment makes perfect sense, and in any case, even if the text of original tablet did not read quite this way, it must have read very much like this.

You will forgive my awful scribal hand. I cannot hope to be able to replicate the finer hand of the original scribe.

A solid decipherment of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros), which definitely deals with several types of crops:

ZA 20

Even though at the very least the top half of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) is missing, it definitely deals with several types of crops. This is abundantly clear from the extant text on the bottom half (or less) of the tablet, in which we find, not one but 2 references to wheat, and to another crop, rumatase, which remains undeciphered, but which in all probability means “flax”. This word could also be Mycenaean-derived New Minoan for luma (Latinized Greek) for “offscourings”, the process whereby impurities are removed from grain crops, in this case, the extraction of chaff from wheat. It makes perfect sense in context.

Given that at least half of the top of this tablet is lost, the question is, what does it reference? It is apparent from the remaining extant text on the bottom of this tablet, which deals with wheat twice, that the missing upper part of the tablet should deal with grain crops. There are indeed several words in Linear A which are grain crop-specific. These are dideru =  “emmer wheat”, qerie =  “roasted einkorn” and sara2/sarai =  “sharia wheat”. It is highly likely that the missing top portion of this tablet deals with at least one of these crops, or with 2 or even all 3 of them. In addition, mention may well have been made of either or both barley and flax crops.

standard ideograms for crops in Linear A

In view of the fact that the sum total for all crops on this tablet = 130, whereas the totals for the crops on the bottom half = 19 only, we are left with 111 units of something unaccounted for... and what might be that something?... other grain crops, of course. Otherwise, how are we to account for the 111 missing units on the lost portion of this tablet? We cannot. These 111 units, which were definitely tallied on the missing top of the tablet, must have been standard units of dry measurement for grain crops, something akin to our modern bushels. Of course, bushels are merely a speculative approximation, since there is no way we can know what the standard units of dry measurement for crops were either in the Minoan or Mycenaean eras, historically remote as they are.  All we can do is hazard an approximation. But at least bushels at least give us some idea of what we are dealing with here.

Evidence for a substantive inventory of several grain crops on this tablet is further buttressed by the presence of the word durezase, in an oblique case of dureza, which I have (and I believe correctly) deciphered as one standard unit of dry measurement in Minoan, in other words one unit roughly approximating the modern bushel. So the accumulation of circumstantial evidence lends even further credence to our decipherment. Finally, the decipherment makes so much sense contextually that it is more likely than not correct.    

Provisional count of Mycenaean-derived vocabulary in Linear A = 33.4 %:

provisional count of New Minoan words in Linear A

I have just finished calculating the provisional maximum number of probable/possible Mycenaean-derived New Minoan words in our Linear A Lexicon of 988 words, and the count comes to 330, which is 33.4%. However, there is still a good deal of research to be done before I can determine how many of these potential New Minoan words are in fact just that. I estimate that, once I have eliminated the possible candidates, and restricted myself to the probable, this figure should drop to around 25%, which is roughly in line with the percentage of French words in English = 29%.

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes), dealing with wine and pomegranate juice?

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 Arkhanes

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes) appears to deal with wine and pomegranate juice. This being so, we have now deciphered 2 Linear A tablets centred on this subject. If the two decipherments withstand scrutiny, they lend credence to the notion that wine and pomegranate juice were produced in pre-Mycenaean Minoan times. It is uncertain whether or not pomegranate juice was mixed with wine, but if it was, the composite alcoholic beverage would have been delicious. We recall that ancient wine, even as late as Roman times, was more sour than modern wine; hence, the need to sweeten it. The most common sweetener was honey, but it is conceivable that pomegranate juice was also used, at least in the middle and early late Minoan eras.

On a final note, I have greatly enhanced and digitized the original of this tablet, which was originally under-focused and fuzzy.

Proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield:

Trojan roundel in proposed Mycnaean-derived Linear A

This is my proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield. It is highly probable that a roundel of Trojan origin inscribed in Linear A would have been entirely composed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan Linear A, since after all the Trojan War occurred near the end of the Mycenaean Era (ca. 1250-1200 BCE). Given the late date, it is improbable that it would have been inscribed in Old Minoan. Why it is inscribed in Linear A rather than in Linear B, which would have been the expected syllabary, remains a mystery. However, there is evidence that Mycenaean scribes switched back and forth between Linear A and Linear B indiscriminately.

Partial conjectural decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 6 Haghia Triada (VERSO):

Haghia Triada Linear A tablet HT6 VERSO

If there is any Linear A tablet which has proven a real headache, it has to be this one. The surface of the VERSO of HT 6 (Haghia Triada) is so badly damaged that experts such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog and Prof. John G. Younger cannot even agree on a few syllabograms in the text, while I myself disagree with them on some of the same. Additionally, there is no consensus on the values of Linear A fractions. Interpretations by Andras Zeke and Prof. John G. Younger of the smaller fractional values often do not agree. So I am unwilling to add fuel to the fire. I simply choose whichever value (either that of Zeke or of Younger) seems more convincing to me. At any rate, no one today can determine with any degree of accuracy numeric values in Minoan Linear or Mycenaean Linear B, since both syllabaries are so historically remote as to preclude any convincing readings.

As for the syllabograms on this tablet, once again, Andras Zeke and John G. Younger do not agree on the values of at least 3 of them. And I find myself at odds with their own interpretations. This is the result of the shoddy scribal hand and the less than ideal condition of the tablet itself. As for maridi, I find myself obliged to read it as if it were meridi, since the interpretation wool (mari) is utterly out of the question in the context of this tablet, whereas reading it as meridi = “honey” makes much more sense contextually. As for sama, it may be the Minoan equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B samara = mound/hill”, but once again, this interpretation is conjectural. I have previously tentatively deciphered Old Minoan (OM) pa3nina (painina) as “an amphora for the storage of… ”, but here again, I have gone out on a limb. Nevertheless, the interpretation once again suits the context. Once all of fig and pomegranate juice (RECTO) and the drops of wine and honey (VERSO) are accounted for, we can see that this tablet may deal with a recipe for a sweet alcoholic beverage, which with these ingredients would indeed be delicious.

Consequently, any convincing decipherment of the VERSO of HT 6 is beyond our reach. We simply have to muddle through it and come up with the best alternatives we can for each apparently decipherable word. However, by fully taking into account the much more accessible text on the RECTO of HT 6, I believe I have been able to rescue a small portion of the significance of the text on the VERSO by placing it in its proper context with the RECTO. See the previous post for my fuller decipherment of the RECTO.

Teaching Ancient Civilisations

Ritaroberts's Blog

Source: Teaching Ancient Civilisations

This is a re-blog from Luciana Cavallaro..Luciana takes you through all periods of ancient times. A must read, especially for teachers whose pupils will be enthralled.

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Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO: ripe figs and pomegranates:


Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO deals with ripe crops, including figs and pomegranates. Although we do not know what the Old Minoan words jaru or ruja (could be either), mazu and daqera mean, they are almost certainly kinds of ripe crops, some of them fruits. However, it is possible that mazu derives from the proto-Indo-European mat = to plant, hoe. Cf. Occitan massa and Spanish maza = “mallet”. This makes sense in context.

Of the probable Mycenaean-derived New Minoan words, pitaja, on line 2, which appears to mean “drinkable”, would imply that we are dealing with 24 units (cups?) of fig juice, in view of the fact that figs are specified as the first ripe crop on line 1.

It is noteworthy that, as the result of having learned how to decipher some 25-30 Linear A tablets, all of which are at least partially inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, I am finally gaining greater insight into the vocabulary, Old Minoan and New Minoan alike, of Linear A tablets.

Since this tablet is so information rich, I am obliged to decipher the VERSO in the next post.

Edges of Pithoi from Petras, Crete, 15th. century BCE:

edges of pithoi Crete, Petras, 15th century BC

It is apparent from the inscriptions on these pithoi that the text is inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, except for the personal names (of the fabricators or owners of the vases) .

Petras Archaeological site:

Petras archaeological site


A convincing contextualized decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 1 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 1 Haghia Triada

While decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 1 (Haghia Triada) appears at first sight beyond reach, this may not actually be the case. Of the 6 words on this tablet, only 3 are likely to be Mycenaean-derived, qera2u (qeraiu), kiro and kupa3nu (kupainu), while the other 3, zusu, didizake and aranare, are almost certainly Old Minoan, i.e. written in the original Minoan language. As I have pointed out over and over, a number of Linear A tablets appear to be inscribed in a combination of the Mycenaean-derived superstratum and of the Minoan substratum, as is almost surely the case here.

But even if 3 of the words on this tablet are probably Mycenaean-derived, 2 of them, qera2u (qeraiu) and kupai3nu (kupainu) require further analysis. How can it be that qeraiu is derived from gerron (Greek Latinized) = shield and kupainu from kuparissinos (Greek Latinized) = made of cypress word”, when the orthography of the Mycenaean-derived words diverges from the original Greek, especially in the case of kupainu, which does not exactly appear to resemble kuparissinos? But there is an explanation and it is this. The orthography of the Greek words must be adjusted to meet the dictates of Minoan spelling in each and every case in which Mycenaean-derived words are imported into the Minoan language.

This phenomenon is analogous to the imposition of the Norman French superstratum on English pursuant to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 CE. The Mycenaean conquest of Knossos and Crete or, failing that, of their all but absolute suzerainty over these territories ca. 1500-1450 BCE appears to have had a similar outcome, namely, that much of the vocabulary of the source language of the invaders, the Mycenaeans, found its way into the target or original language, Minoan. But in so doing, the originally Mycenaean vocabulary would have had to be adjusted to standard Minoan orthography.

Allow me to illustrate this through comparison with the influx of some 10,000 French words into English between ca. 1100 & 1450 CE. The French vocabulary could not be assimilated into English without undergoing a metamorphosis in orthography permitting the original French vocabulary to be adjusted to the dictates of English spelling. Examples running into the thousands abound. So we should not be at all surprised at this metamorphosis of orthography from the superstratum (Mycenaean derived vocabulary) to the substratum (Minoan vocabulary derived from the Mycenaean superstratum). After all, when superstratum French words are imported into English, their orthography undergoes the same metamorphosis. For instance, we have:

French to English:

albâtre = alabaster
amical = amicable
bénin = benign
ciprès (from Old French cipres) = cypress (See below for Minoan kupainu)
cloître = cloister
dédain = disdain
dédoublé = doubled up
doute = doubt
entrée = entrance
fanatique = fanatic
gobelet = goblet
jalousie = jealousy
loutre = otter
maître = master
plâtre = plaster
retenir = retain
soldat = soldier
similitude = similarity

and on and on ad nauseam. This phenomenon applies to every last substratum language upon which a superstratum from another language is imposed. So in the case of Old Minoan, it is inevitable that the orthography of any single superstratum Mycenaean derived word has to be adjusted to meet the exigencies of Minoan orthography.

The most striking example of this metamorphosis is the masculine singular. Mycenaean derived words in Minoan must have their singular ultimate adjusted to u from the Mycenaean o. There are plenty of examples:

Akano to Akanu (Archanes)
akaro to akaru (field)
kako to kaku (copper)
kuruko to kuruku (crocus/saffron)
mare (mari) to maru (wool)
Rado to Radu (Latos)
simito to simitu (mouse)
suniko to suniku (community)
Winado to Winadu (toponym)
woino to winu (wine)
iyero to wireu  (priest)

And on this particular tablet we find the Mycenaean-derived Minoan spellings:

qera2u (qeraiu), which if Latinized would be gerraiu, from Greek gerron and

kiro, which if Latinized, is kilon, almost the exact equivalent of the Greek keilon. And kupa3nu (kupainu), Latinized = kupainu (kupaino) at least approximates the Greek kuparissinos, but with the the syllables rissi dropped. Compare this last entry with French-English similitude = similarity and you can see at once that orthographic metamorphoses even as divergent as these are possible. So chances are that kupainu may in fact be equivalent to kuparissinos, although there is no way to verify this with any certainty, except for one thing. Context.

Since we know from line 1 that we are dealing with 192 shields and lances * (i.e. arrow shafts *), it is not too much of a stretch to conjecture that kupainu does correspond to the Greek kuparissinos, because we know from archaeological and historical evidence that Minoan and Mycenaean shields were of wicker work. And it is well within the realm of reason to suppose that such wicker shields were constructed of flexible, pliant cypress wood. Cypress wood is smooth grained and lightweight and has natural built in preservatives or oils that make cypress long lasting and resistant to water damage. It could be combined with bronze and leather on Mycenaean and ancient Greek warrior shields. And according to Wikipedia, The word cypress is derived from Old French cipres, which was imported from Latin cypressus, Latinized from the Greek κυπάρισσος (kuparissos). Ergo.

However, we are still left with the puzzle, what do the Old Minoan words, zusu, didizake and aranare, mean? Once again, context comes to the rescue. It is entirely reasonable to suppose that a Linear A tablet dealing with cypress shields and lances would also cover other military paraphernalia essential to self-defence. The most obvious candidates are spears and swords, for zusu and aranare respectively, though in which order we cannot say for certain. The inclusion of swords as one of the alternatives is well justified, since pakana, i.e. swords, frequently appear on Linear B tablets. As for didikaze, I will not speculate, although it too more likely than not references military apparel, perhaps signifying armour.

Aranare (knives?) is plural, singular = aranarai. Since the word is diminutive feminine, the decipherment knives clearly makes sense in context.
Nevertheless, any decipherment of  zusu, didizake and aranare is by nature problematic. Assumptions are always dangerous, even in the case of a tablet such as this one, where context would appear to support such conclusions. But as I have so often repeated, appearances can be and often are deceptive.

Locations of Linear A tablets at Haghia Triada, including the 14 I have deciphered:

Haghia Triada location of tablets in Linear A with my decipherments

This general plan of Haghia Triada with the locations of Linear A tablets incorporates the 14 tablets which I have managed to decipher more or less accurately to date.

The Passage of Jupiter.

Ritaroberts's Blog

The ancient   Babylonians could predict the passage of Jupiter  through the night sky, which they recorded on cuneiform  tablets – more than 14 centuries before such techniques  were seen  in Europe.

The discovery was made by Mathieu Ossendrijver of  Humboldt  University in Berlin , who studied five cuneiform tablets that date back to  between 350 and 50 BC, recovered during  19th century excavations near the main temple Esagila in Babylon, and now held by the British Museum in London.

The tablets record calculations for the time and velocity of the planet’s journey over 60 days. Four describe an area covered over a certain period of time as a trapezoid, but the figures could not be connected to a named planet. However, when  Ossendrijver examined the fifth, previously unstudied, tablet he noticed it specifically mentions Jupiter and that the figures matched those on the other four tablets.

Though contemporary, Greeks and Egyptians had mastered astronomy…

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The Deadliest Blogger: Military History Page


Much of our perception of history is influenced by the artists who have drawn and painted scenes from out of the past. This is the second in a series in which Deadliest Blogger looks at historical armies and warriors through the images artists have given us.

The Trojan War was a seminal event in both Greek and Roman history and legend; and few episodes in Classical mythology have attracted more attention from artists, writers, or filmmakers than this famous war.

In their immortal tales the epic poets Homer and Virgil describe the ten-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans; and the wanderings of the Trojan hero Aeneas and the refugees from Troy to Italy. While these tales were accepted as history by both the Greeks and the Romans; post-renaissance scholars largely dismissed them as myth. It was not till the work of archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who did the…

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Inscription from Malia in New Minoan Linear A, Tainaron, a town with authority:

Mallia text in Linear A dealing with Tainaron with Linear B transcription

Here we have yet another inscription from Malia in New Minoan Linear A, which appears to invoke the supreme authority of Tainaron, a town at the southern tip of Laconia, with the blessings of the gods. If this tablet is indeed inscribed in Mycenaean-derived new Minoan, then it is the fourth of the tablets from Malia I have deciphered, all of them in New Minoan. It would thus appear that the Mycenaeans had assumed suzerainty over Malia before these tablets were inscribed, and that the scribes there were still using the Linear A syllabary to inscribe tablets in Mycenaean Greek, just before the switch-over to the new official syllabary, Linear B. It cannot simply be co-incidental that all of the inscriptions from Malia, including the famous IDAMATE labrys from the Archalochori Cave, appear to be inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan. In fact, the word Idamate can easily be rendered as the mother (goddess) of Mount Ida”. It is also a matter of great interest to note that Tainaron itself is the toponym of Cape Tainaron,

Tainaron ancient Greece

where there was a sanctuary of Poseidon, who may very well be the god who has brought blessings on the town. It is to be noted that the Archalochori axe inscribed in proto-Greek is also in a sanctuary where a horde of bronze votive weapons, mostly axes, were discovered. Moreover, Malia tablet MA 1 appears to deal with Minos, the legendary king of Knossos offering gold to Rhea, mother of Zeus. In other words, all of the inscriptions from Malia deal with religious rites. This should come as no surprise, as more Linear A than Linear B tablets appear to focus on religious symbolism or rites.

Except for Tainaro, which is equivalent to the nominative neuter in Linear B, all proto-Greek spellings on this inscription have been adjusted to meet the exigencies of Old Minoan syntax. It would thus appear that etanasu is the Minoan orthography for hestanwn (standing, Greek Latinized), while pijani is the dative or instrumental singular in Minoan of the noun derived from the Greek verb, piainw, to enrich. The orthography of Tainaro appears to confirm that the nominative neuter in Linear B underwent no change in Minoan. This conclusion conforms with the table of 45 apparent Minoan masculine and neuter nominatives I recently posted:


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