Category: Ancient Greek

README! In the post, “On the Dangers of Bad Linear B Scholarship”

I erroneously wrote:

So as I said, I find your conclusions most intriguing, and may be dead wrong. 

when I meant:

so as I said, I find your conclusions most intriguing, and I may be dead wrong. 

With my apologies to the author of this article.

Richard Vallance Janke

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.

syllabogram JU on Linear B tablets: KN 8a J i 01 & KN 20 Ji 22 (recto verso):

Here we have the first 2 examples of Linear B tablets with the syllabogram JU, first  KN 8a J i 01:

Knossos Linear B tablet 8a

and secondly, KN 20 Ji 22 (recto verso):

Knossos Linear B tablet 20ab

It is apparent fro these 2 tablets that it is probably impossible to decipher the syllabogram JU, at leasst for the time being. But however daunting the task to decipher it, we shall persist to the bitter end.

Linear B syllabary revised 2018 with the syllabogram JU:

We have had to revise the Linear B syllabary 2018, by adding the syllabogram JU or YU (we prefer the latter pronunciation), which is not accounted for in almost all versions of the Linear B syllabary, in spite of the fact that several Linear B tablets from Knossos bear this syllabogram. The Linear B syllabogram JU or YU is directly inherited from its Linear A forbear JU, which we see here in the table of Linear A syllabograms:

Linear A syllabary with JU

And here is the Linear B syllabogram JU or YU as it appears alone.

J series 2018

And here is the revised Linear B syllabary 2018, which includes the syllabogram JU or YU. If you have a copy of the Linear B syllabary on your computer, you should discard it and replace it with this new Linear B syllabary revised 2018.

Linear B base syllabary 2018 620

Tablets illustrating the Linear B syllabogram JU or YU will follow in the next few posts.

KEY POST! How to download all of Scripta Minoa!

This procedure works only in Firefox, but can be readily adapted to other browsers. To download Scripta Minoa, Vol. 1, in Firefox, 

1. First go to the search page, as seen here:

google home

2. Secondly, copy this address in your HTML search bar, which in Firefox looks like this:       

google search Script Minoa Vol 1620

And click the right arrow above, to open the file:

3. which will now appear on your desktop, at the LINK above, like this in Firefox:

Scripta Minoa Vol 1620

4. next, to the far right of the document displayed above, you will see the navy blue DOWNLOAD button, with the DOWNLOAD arrow in white. Click on it to download the file:

download the file
The DOWNLOAD Button is immediately above.

5. When you click on this button, the next thing you should see is this: 

save fle

CLICK: Save File, to save this file on your computer. You must then open your Downloads Folder, and open this file. Since the procedure to open Downloads in the Downloads Folder varies according to your operating system (Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 10, Apple) you will have to download and save this file according to your system. I cannot help you with this step. If you need help with this step, consult the HELP files for downloading files on your computer.

6. AFTER you have successfully downloaded this file to your computer, open your Downloads Folder and SAVE the file to your computer, preferably on your desktop.

7. Then open Adobe Acrobat, and open the file on your desktop (or wherever you saved it) in Adobe Acrobat. Adobe Acrobat will open the file far far quicker than the online download, in fact, in a matter of seconds.

To download and open Scripta Minoa, Vol. 2, repeat all of the steps above, except that in:

Step 2, Secondly, copy this address in your HTML search bar, which in Firefox looks like this:    

google search Script Minoa Vol 2620

And click the right arrow above, to open the file:
And then you should see this page: 

Scripta Minoa Vol 2620

This is the Google address for Scripta Minoa, Vol. 2, which is not quite the same as the Google address for Scripta Minoa, Vol. 1.

NOTE that certain details in Steps 1-7 above will vary from browser to browser. We did not provide instructions for Internet Explorer, as we only use Firefox. So if you are using a browser other than Firefox, you may have to adjust some of the input(s) for each step above.

Please NOTE that the Linear B fragments and tablets appear in Scripta Minoa, Volume 2, not Volume 1. You can see this for yourself when you open Scripta Minoa, Volume 2, in your Adobe Acrobat Reader. SCROLL DOWN the file until you see this page, the first page of the fragments and tablets in Vol. 2.:

first tablets from scripta minoa vol 2620

I-je-re-ja, ka-ra-wi-po-ro and others, article by Cécile Boëlle,

Click here to read this fascinating study on the role of women as priestesses in Mycenaean Religion.

ijereja academia

This article is in French. You can download it from the link above and open it in WORD or Open Office.

How to read entries in The Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis (Greece):

Linear B Lexicon frontispiece

Here is a table illustrating exactly how to read entries in The Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis (Greece)

how to read entries in the Linear B Lexicon620

You can download the entire Lexicon from my account here. CLICK on the title to download it:

Linear B Lexicon

Converting Linear B into ancient Greek: Rule 5, neuter gender: 

Linear B O to Greek on neuter620

The table above makes it painfully obvious that archaic Greek neuter nouns MUST end in n, and there is no exception to this rule. It is impossible for Linear B to express this final n, because Linear B is a syllabary, and in a syllabary all words can end only in a vowel. But in archaic and ancient Greek, all neuter words MUST end with n. Rule 5 (neuter) is similar to Rule 4 (masculine), except for the final letter, which is j for masculine is n for neuter. This is the last rule for July 2018. 


Converting Linear B into ancient Grreek: Rule 4, masculine gender:

Rule 4 masculine Linear B O to Greek OS620

The table above makes it painfully obvious that archaic Greek masculine nouns MUST end in j, and there is no exception to this rule. It is impossible for Linear B to express this final j, because Linear B is a syllabary, and in a syllabary all words can end only in a vowel. But in archaic and ancient Greek, all masculine words MUST end with j.

Linear B R to ancient Greek l, Rule 3b, not quite so intuitive but still easy!

Linear B to ancient Greek r = l620

Rule 3b is as almost as easy as Rule 3a. In Rule 3b Linear B R always = ancient Greek l. This is because there is no L series of syllabograms in Linear B, i.e. no LA LE LI LO LU, so the only way to express L in Linear B is through the R series, RA RE RI RO RU.

Linear B R to ancient Greek r, Rule 3a, extremely easy!

Linear B to ancient GreekRule 3a r= r620

Rule 3a is as easy as Rule 1. Nothing to it. Linear B R always = ancient Greek r.

Converting Linear B into ancient Greek: Rule 2, single S in Linear B becomes double SS in ancient Greek:

Rule 2 the double consonant Linear B S = ss in ancient Greek620

In a very few cases, Linear B words with a single S convert into a double SS ss in ancient Greek, as illustrated in the chart above. This is not very common. Most of the time, a single S in Linear B remains a single S s in ancient Greek.

Converting Linear B into ancient Greek: Rule 1, the stressed acute accent /

Rule1 acute accent = stress in ancient Greek620

Rule 1 is by far the easiest Rule to remember in converting Linear B spelling into ancient Greek orthography. Simply put, you must always place the acute accent / where the stress falls on the ancient Greek word. This stressed acute accent / must never be omitted from the ancient Greek word.

Linear B to ancient Greek: Level 2a – part 1, a little more complex:

Linear B to ancient Greek Level 2a 620

As we enter the second phase of converting Linear B feminine words into ancient Greek, things get a little more complex. So it is absolutely essential to read the graphic table Level 2a – part 1 so thoroughly that you finally have it memorized. I shall not repeat the comments in the NOTES here, because they speak for themselves.

Ancient Greek alphabet: PART B, for guess who...

ancient Greek alphabet PART b

Ancient Greek alphabet: Part A, for guess who….

ancient Greek alphabeta


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