Category: Ancient Greek

The ancient Greek alphabet with Linear B equivalents where they exist:

Greek alphabet

Here we find the table of the ancient Greek alphabet including the archaic letter # (digamma), pronounced “wau” as in “wow!” It is clear from this table that many ancient Greek letters have no exact Linear B equivalents. However, even these Greek letters can be replaced by Linear B syllabograms, which we shall introduce later.

Rule 9b: Linear B K = Greek g

Rule 9b: Linear B K = Greek g:

Linear B K = Greek G 620


Conversion of Linear B K to ancient Greek K: rule 9a

Rule 9a Linear B K = Greek K 620


translation of Knossos tablet KN 778 Cj 01 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos Linear B tablet KN 778 C j 01





translation of Knossos tablet fragments KN 775 M g 03 & KN 776b M f 01 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablets KN 775 M 6 03 & KN 776b M f 01



HOW TO SAY 8 WORDS in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek and modern Greek!

how to say 8 words in Egyptian hieroglyphics Linear B ancient Greek modern GreekLBKM


Translation of Knossos tablet KN 700 Mi 01 by Rita Roberts:

KN 700 M 01


Translation of Linear B tablet KN 708a M h 02 by Rita Roberts:

KN 708a M h 02


Cleopatra and Ptolemy in Egyptian hieroglyphics and in Linear B!

goddess Cleopatra beloved of her father LBKM

K L U P D R A Cleopatra LBKM


PYRAMID in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mycenaean Linear B, ancient and modern Greek:

BNBNT = pyramid in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mycenaean Linear B, ancient and modern Greek


FALCON in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek & modern Greek:

Egyptian hieroglyphics B I K = falcon + Linear B IERAKA + ancient and modern Geek



Knossos fragment KN 874 M k 111 according to Sir Arthur Evans as translated by Rita Roberts:

Knossos fragment KN 874 M k 111 according to Sir Arthur Evans



Knossos tablet KN 746 M 1 11 according to Sir Arthur Evans (stirrup jars) as translated by Rita Roberts:

Knossos Linear B tablet KN 746 M 1 11 as translated by Rita Roberts



Translation of Knossos tablet KN 711a M h 01 according to Sir Arthur Evans by Rita Roberts:

KN 711 a M h 01

This translation pretty much speaks for itself. Rita amazed me by mastering the archaic ancient letter digamma #.

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.

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 

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.

another Linear B tablet from Knossos illustrating the syllabogram JU, KN 21 J i 14:


Knossos Linear B tablet 21 J i 14

This tablet from Knossos deals with barley stalks in conjunction with the syllabogram JU, which clearly is also a crop, but which kind we do not know. Wine is also mentioned on this tablet. So we may very well be dealing with barley wine, which of course is what the Mycenaeans and ancient Greeks called beer. So now we have a hint as to what JU might mean, i.e. hops or a draught, but my bet is on the former.
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