Archive for August, 2018



Crete

When you look at the advertisments for Crete, usually provided by the Greek tourist board, a huge amount of publicity is given to the ‘great Minoan civilisation’ discovered by Arthur Evans at the turn of the 20th century. Coach tours are offered to Knossos, the disneyland of archeology, where Evans poured concrete to recreate his ideas of what this fine civilisation meant.

He has written about a ‘pax Minoica’ a society that lived in peace under a matriarchal dynasty based on the legend of King Minos. A society of art and bull jumping and palaces with plumbing. It all sounds rather dreamlike. Perhaps it was.

After all, Evans invented the Minoans. The name came from the legend of King Minos who demanded Athenians to offer annual tribute to Crete of young men and maidens to be fed to the ‘minotaur’, the legendary half man half bull imprisoned in the labyrinth…

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If this is an authentic Linear B tablet, I will eat my hat. Most of the ideograms are obviously phoney. I begin to doubt the sanity of this author.

Mycenaean Miscellany

This Monday morning, I received an unexpected phone call from the curator of the antiquities collection at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, with remarkable news: the elderly Professor Ashley, who had retired to Wellington some years ago from his post at Miskatonic University, had died, and bequeathed his significant private collection to the museum.  Among the items catalogued by his executor was, apparently, “a clay tablet, bearing upon it an inscription in the Minoan script of Linear Class B”.  Accompanying the paperwork was a photo of his father, who had preceded him as Professor of Ancient History at Miskatonic, posing with Arthur Evans at Knossos and dated to 1904; it must be supposed that the tablet was gifted to him during that visit, giving it a provenance not unlike that of the fragment at University College London.  The elder Professor Ashley had passed away in 1946, prior…

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Translation of Linear B tablet Knossos KN 710 Ma 05 by Rita Roberts:

Linear B tablet KN 710 MA 05 by Rita Roberts

This translation is self-explanatory. The translation of the supersyllabogram O on top of the water jug is entirely appropriate. Notice that Rita Roberts is beginning to master the (archaic) ancient Greek alphabet.

Fun With Tablets: TH Gf 134


Excellent analysis. Kudos, and reblogged. You are very thorough in you research.

Richard

Mycenaean Miscellany

This is the first of what I imagine will be a recurring series which will probably just end up as an excuse for me to geek out about some minor detail I find on a tablet and then tell everyone about it.  With luck, the fun part won’t be entirely one-sided.

How do normal people spend Wednesday evenings?  Not, I imagine, flicking through pictures of the Linear B tablets from Thebes.  But as you’ve probably picked up by now, I’m quite comfortable being entirely abnormal, and so that’s exactly what I was doing last night.  It was quite good fun – the pictures are sharp, and the transliterations are included beneath the tablets so you can check your readings – and, when you reach tablet Gp 134, realize that your reading doesn’t match theirs.

Here’s the published photo and facsimile of the tablet:

TH Gf 134TH Gf 134 Fascimile

The top line is unproblematic: a man’s…

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Converting Linear B to ancient Greek, Rule 6a, TA TE TI TO TU:

Rule 6a t = t

Rule 6a is very simple. In the majority of Linear B words containing TA TE TI TO TU, these syllabograms must be converted to ta te ti to tu in (archaic) ancient Greek. However, by now it is becoming obvious that almost all or all of the previous rules we have already learned (1-5) also apply to almost all Greek words, and so we must always keep this in mind. In other words, multiple rules almost always apply to almost all Linear B words converted into Greek. The best way to confirm this is simply to check the Greek spelling in Tselentis of every single word you convert from Linear B into Greek. This requires perseverance and above all, practice, practice, practice, until it sinks in. From here on in, as we learn each additional rule, from 6b upwards, the number of multiple rules applying to almost every Linear B word converted into Greek will increase by 1 with each new rule. So far the number of multiple rules applying to each Linear B word converted into Greek = 1 2 3a 3b 4 5 6a for a maximum of 7 possible variations. With rule 6b, the maximum number of multiples will increase to 8.  Rule 6b follows in the next post.


John Chadwick recognized the Linear B supersyllabograms ZE & MO:

chadwick reading the past linear b 37 ZE zeugesi

chadwick reading the past linear b 38 MO mono

It is quite obvious from the excerpts above from Chadwick’s masterful, Reading the Past: Linear B and Related Scripts, © 1987 that he clearly recognized the supersyllabograms ZE, corresponding to (archaic) Greek zeu/gesi = yoked and MO mo/noj = single. This being the case, it is also more than likely that he was aware of the existence of at least some of the 39 supersyllabograms in Linear B, and this is significant, because it was he who first latched onto Michael Ventris’ amazing discovery in 1952 that the Linear B syllabary was in fact the script of a very ancient and archaic Greek dialect, which we now know as Mycenaean. This raises the question, did Michael Ventris himself know about supersyllabograms? Brilliant as he was, I am greatly inclined to believe he did, but his untimely death at the young age of 34 in a terrible car accident in 1956 never gave him the chance to further develop and refine his initial decipherment of Linear B in 1952. So we shall never know. But very the idea that he may have known is truly tantalizing.

Rita Roberts, translation of Linear B tablet KN 701 Mm 01:  

Linear B fragment KN 709 M m 01 two-handled cup

This is the first ever translation of a Linear B vessels or pottery fragment by Rita Roberts for her third, and final, year of university. In her third year, she is expected to master, first, Linear B tablets and fragments dealing with pottery and vessels, and secondly, tablet and fragments on textiles. The first category is the easier of the two to master, and so Rita will be concentrating on vessels and pottery tablets and fragments for the first quarter of her third year.
               

Linear B - KN Dd1171, article by Peter J. Keyse on academia.edu 

Click on this graphic to view Keyse’s article:

Linear B - KN Dd1171


Peter J. Keyse provides a thorough analysis of Linear B tablet  KN Dd 1171 in this fascinating article, which is well worth reading for anyone who is familiar with the Linear B syllabary, and certainly for anyone who is studying Linear B in depth. His article is not without errors. For instance, he deciphers PoRo as the name of someone in what he calls the PoMe “worker class” = a shepherd,

Linear B - KN Dd1171 PORO

but his interpretation of of PORO is clearly incorrect, as this word  has 3 distinct meanings, one of which is the Linear B word for “a foal”, as demonstrated by Chris Tselentis in his Linear B Lexicon, here:

Tselentis PORO

(The other 2 meanings of POME offered by Tselentis do not fit the context)

while POME is quite obviously Mycenaean Greek for “shepherd”:

Tselentis POME

Keyse also notes that Michael Ventris identified 3 major styles for incisions - those at Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae. In his own words: The vertical lines are quite faint scratches and not easily seen. The cuts in the clay are ‘under-cut’ i.e. pushed in at an angle . This preoccupation with Linear B scribal hands recurs in a great many articles on Linear B. Keyse also covers the what he ascertains to be the phonetic sounds of the numerics on this tablet. He also emphasizes the nature and particulars characteristics of the scribal hand on this tablet.

But it his conclusion which is most fascinating. He says,

In conclusion: 

What would Dd1171 sound like if read aloud? Po-Ro. 20 OVISm, 72 OVISf. Pa-I-To. Pa 8 OVISm. While it reasonable to say that Linear B was no more the spoken language of its day than ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ speak is for accounting clerks today it is also true to say that accountants do on occasions talk in journals and double-entry (and not only when at dinner parties and down the pub) and they certainly call over inventories to each other. It is clear that Linear B had a sound but perhaps it is unlikely that we can fairly reproduce it today. Considering the importance of numbers within the Linear B archive I find it surprising that no phonic system has been devised to represent them or if devised is not clearly documented in the literature. 

COMMENT by Richard Vallance Janke on the sound, i.e. the general pronunciation of Linear B. In actuality, we probably do have some idea of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. Its closest cousin was Arcado-Cypriot, represented both by its own syllabary, Linear C, and by its own archaic alphabet. The Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects were much closer phonetically than even Ionic and Attic Greek. Phonological details of the archaic Arcado-Cypriot dialect appear in C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, © 1955, 1998. ISBN 1-85399-566-8, on pg. 144. He provides even more information on Arcado-Cypriot on pp. 7-8, and classifies it as an East Greek dialect, pg. 9. This is highly significant, because if Arcado-Cypriot is East Greek, ergo Mycenaean Greek also is. This places both of the archaic East-Greek dialects, Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, firmly in the camp of all East Greek dialects, including Arcadian, Aeolic, Lesbian, Cyprian, Pamphylian, Thessalian, Boeotian, and the much later Ionic and Attic dialects. So it is probably fair to say that we may have at least an idea, even if somewhat inaccurate, of how Mycenaean Greek was pronounced. And this has huge implications for the further study of Mycenaean Greek phonology.

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