Introduction to supersyllabograms on Linear A tablets: PART A

Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B:

The phenomenon of the supersyllabogram in Mycenaean Linear B was first introduced to the world at at the Third Interdisciplinary Conference, Thinking Symbols, on July 1, 2015, at the Pultusk Academy of Humanities, here:

role of supersyllabograms in Linear B Thinking Symbols

Prior to 2015, no researcher had ever identified supersyllabograms in Linear B. But what is a supersyllabogram? A supersyllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular major Mycenaean Linear B word paired with a particular ideogram in any of the major sectors of the Mycenaean economy, agricultural, military, textiles, vessels and pottery. Initially, in 2015, 34 supersyllabograms were identified in this talk, which is brief enough for you to glean a clear conception of what supersyllabograms entail.

By 2016, this number had risen to 36, 35 syllabograms and 1 homophone or logogram (AI), published in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015), ISSN 1452-7448, pp. 73-108, published in 2016, here:

Archaeology and Science decipherment of supersyllabograms in Linear B


Here is the abstract of that article:

A supersyllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a major (never minor) economic indicator combined with a closely related ideogram in the four economic sectors of the Mycenaean economy, agricultural, military, textiles and vessels or pottery. With very few exceptions, change the economic sector and you change the meaning of any particular supersyllabogram. Of some 3,500 tablets and fragments from Knossos, about 800 or 23% contain at least one supersyllabogram and sometimes as many as four or five. The whole point of supersyllabograms is that they are meant to eliminate text on tablets to the greatest possible extent. In a syllabary of 61 syllabograms + one homophone (AI), 36 syllabograms or 59% are supersyllabograms. Supersyllabograms serve to greatly economize on the precious space available on the tiny inventory tablets in Linear B. Any complete decipherment of Linear B must fully account for the supersyllabogram as a unique phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is squarely compromised.

Supersyllabograms in Linear A:

As it turns out, supersyllabograms were not invented by the Mycenaeans, but by the Minoans. They first emerged in Linear A, not Linear B. In a syllabary of 54 syllabograms, 27 or 50 % are supersyllabograms. This compares favourably with the incidence of supersyllabograms in Linear B, in which 36 or 59 % of 61 syllabograms are supersyllabograms.

Linear A base syllabary

620 Table 5 Table of 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A

KEY to supersyllabograms in Linear A:

fi = figs

gr = grains (wheat)

ma = man, person

oo = olives, olive oil

pi = pigs

ra = rams

sh = sheep

te = textiles

ve = vessels

wi = wine & vinegar

Locales where Linear A tablets have been found:

HT = Haghia Triada

KH = Khania

MA = Malia

PE = Petras
PH = Phaistos

TH = Thera

TY = Tylissos

ZA = Zakros

The numeric value of each supersyllabograms is rated as follows:

BOLD: n. e.g. 21. TE = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is either certain or highly probable.

Italics: n. e.g. 1. A = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is possible.

Standard font: n. e.g. 2 = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is unlikely or questionable.

1. A aka = aska = a0ska = wine skin -or- apero PGS a1mpeloj = a vine Cf. Linear B apero -or- aresana NM1 a1leisana <- a1leison = an embossed cup (arch. acc.) = de/paj (Homeric) Cf. Linear B dipa/arisu NM1 a1leisu <- a1leison = embossed cup

HT 2 oo HT 39 ve KH 83 ve MA 10 ve

2. DA dadumata OM = harvesting? -or- grain(s) measured? -or- dadumina/dadumine OM= related to harvesting?

HT 133 gr

3. DI dipa3a (dipaia) PGS di/paia <- di/paj de/paj = from a cup -or- dipaja PGS di/paia <- di/paj de/paj = from a cup (alternate?)

HT 12 oo HT 14 oo (x2) HT 28 oo (x5) HT 50 oo HT 90 oo HT 116 oo HT 121 oo HT 129 oo

4. E etori NM1 e1tori <- e1toj = for a year?

HT 2 oo HT 21 oo HT 34 gr HT 50 oo HT 58 oo MA 10 (x3)

5. KA kadi MOSE NM1 kadi/ (instr. sing.) <- ka/doj = with a jar or vessel for water or wine

HT 28 wi HT 88 ma HT 100 ma

6. KE ?

HT 26 ve (x2)

7. KI kitina NM1 ktoi/na/ktoina/siaj = border of a plot of land/territory Cf. Linear B kotona kotoina ktoi/na = plot of land?

HT 8 oo HT 9 wi HT 16 oo HT 28 oo HT 44 gr HT 50 oo (x2) HT 91 oo HT 101 oo (x2) HT 116 (x2) HT 125 oo HT 129 oo HT 140 oo? (x2) TY 3 (x3) ZA 18 oo

8. KU?

HT 38 te (x2) HT 61 gr HT 128 gr (x6) PH 31 sh (x7)

9. ME meza NM1 me/za (fem. sing.) = greater, bigger Cf. Linear B mezo me/zwn me/zoj?

TY 3 oo ZA 15 wi

10. MI ? HT 28 oo HT 50 oo HT 58 oo HT 90 oo HT 91 oo (x2) HT 100 oo HT 101 oo HT 116 oo (x2) HT 125 oo HT 137 oo TY 3 oo (x5)

11. NE nea NM1 ne/a = new Cf. Linear B ne/#a = new -or- nere OM = larger amphora size (fem. plural)

HT 23 oo HT 32 oo (x2) HT 100 oo

12. PA pa3ni/pa3nina/pa3niwi OM = millet -or- spelt -or- pa3qe -or- qepa3 i.e. paiqe -or- qepai (+ ideogram for wheat”) LIG = a kind of grain similar to wheat

HT 43 gr HT 93 gr (x2) HT 120 gr (x3) HT 125 oo HT 128 gr KH 27 gr PE 1 (x2) TY 3 oo ZA 6 gr (x3) ZA 11 (x5) ZA 18 gr ZA 28 gr

13. QE qera2u/qera2wa OM = a type of grain, probably millet or spelt (inflected) -or-

qeria OM = probably millet or spelt

HT 16 gr HT 28 gr HT 36 gr HT 99 gr HT 101 gr HT 121 oo ZA 11 gr

14. RA ranatusu (agglutinative?) -or- NM1 r9anatusu < – r9anti/zw = to cleanse, purify

rani NM1 r9a=ni/j = anything sprinkled (as in a libation); rain drop See also ratise -or- ratise (ritise?) NM1 = la/tise <- la/taj = with drops of wine (instr. pl.)

HT 44 oo KH 31 ve KH 91 ve ZA 6 wi (x2) ZA 15

15. RI rima NM1 lei=mac = garden -or- lei=mma = remnant, remains -or- lh=mma = income, receipts (dative/instrumental plural)

HT 23 oo HT 35 oo HT 60 oo KH 82 oo

16. RU ruma/rumu/rumata/rumatase lu=matase <- lu=ma = offscourings from grain, i.e chaff?

KH 12 ve (x2) KH 63 ve KH 83 ve KH 84 ve KH 85 ve KH 91 ve

17. SA sato PGS Hebrew sa/ton = Hebrew unit of measurement?

HT 27 gr (x2) wi HT 144 wi HT 131 wi ZA 15 wi

18. SI sika NM1 shka/ (arch. acc.) <- shko/j = fold, enclosure; (sheep) pen; sacred precinct, shrine = <- zhka/zw = to pen in Cf. Linear B periqoro peri/boloj = sheep pen?

HT 27 wi PH 31 pi PH 31 sh ZA 9 sh (x3)

19. SU supa3 (supai)/supa3ra (supaira) OM =small cup with handles Cf. Linear B dipa mewiyo

-or- supi/supu/supu2 OM = largest size pithos -or- MOSE NM1 supu/h sipu/h sipu/a i0pu/a = meal

20. MA? 10 ve ZA 5 wi

TA taikama OM tai + NM1 ka/ma = a unit of land, something like an acre? -or- ta2re/ta2reki NM1 sta=rei<- stai=j wheaten flour mixed into dough + tasise sta/sisei -or- tai2si (taisi) NM1 stai=sei <- stai=j = with wheaten flour mixed into a dough (instr. pl.)

HT 28 oo (x2) HT 35 oo KH 19 oo KH 39 KH 55 oo KH 61 oo KH 85 oo

21. TE = teresa OM = liquid unit of measurement

HT 6 fi HT 13 wi HT 17 wi HT 19 wi HT 21 gr HT 40 gr HT 44 gr HT 51 fi HT 62 wi HT 67 fi HT 70 fi HT 96 fi HT 133 gr TH 6 te TH Zb 11 wi

22. TI tisa OM = pottery worker/working on pottery/pottery wheel (tourney)?

KH 10 ve

23. TU ?

HT 23 oo HT 28 oo HT 50 oo HT 101 oo TY 3 oo

24. U uro NM1 ou0=loj = entire, total. Cf. kuro ku=rwn = reaching, attaining i.e. = total ?

HT 2 oo HT 21 oo HT 28 oo HT 40 00 (x3) HT 43 oo HT 58 oo HT 91 oo HT 96 oo HT 100 oo HT 101 oo (x2) HT 125 oo HT 140 oo (x8) TY 3 oo

25. WA HT 27 wi (x2)

26. WI winadu #i1nadu = vineyard Cf. Linear B winado -or- winu NM1 #i/nu = wine Cf. Linear B wono #oi/noj -or- winumatari NM1 #i/numa/tari = wine dedicated to Mother Earth (agglutinative)

27. KH 5 wi