Category: Measurement

on another Linear A tablet apparently largely inscribed in Mycenaean-derived Greek:

The translation of the Mycenaean-derived vocabulary alone on Linear A Tablet ZA 8 (Zakros), apparently largely inscribed by Richard Vallance Janke (University of Western Ontario, Emeritus) and Alexandre Solcà (Université de Genève) has been published on This decipherment of the apparent of the Mycenaean-derived vocabulary alone on Linear A Tablet ZA 8 (Zakros) is truly striking in many respects, and is more than well worth reading, especially by anyone well versed in Mycenaean Linear B. So please visit this document on and at least download it, as illustrated above, by clicking on the DOWNLOAD button to the right of the article:

Linear A tablet ZA 8 Zakros


Rita Roberts translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected:

Linear B tablet KN 160a J j 11 wine

Rita Roberts translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected, is trickier than the previous one she has translated to fulfill the requirements for her second year of university, KN 906 Da 02, dealing with livestock. Because this tablet is damaged, truncated left and right, it can be more difficult to establish meaning for certain terms. But not necessarily so. Rita struggled gainfully with this tablet. And this is understandable. What determines everything in the decipherment of any tablet, Linear A or B, is CONTEXT. If we cannot determine what any given word(s) mean in the actual context of the tablet, we sometimes fail to grasp the meanings of these words. But in the end, everything falls into place, and a relatively convincing translation can be gleaned from it, as we see in the illustration above.

The only character which occasions real difficulty is the supersyllabogram PE, which usually stands for seed(s). But if this the meaning to be extracted, it does not really make all that much sense, since grape seeds do not contribute much to wine, only the grapes do. The only explanation I can muster here is this: the grape seeds had to be extracted, i.e. removed, from the grapes to produce the wine. That makes sense. Finally, we find the ideogram for “olive oil” on this tablet, but how olive oil mixes with wine is a mystery to me, unless the olive oil is being served with bread along with the wine. But there is no mention of bread on this tablet. So some issues remain unresolved.


Linear A tablet ZA 8, another Linear A largely inscribed in proto-Greek and/or Mycenaean Greek, groats, figs and wheat dough:

Linear A tablet ZA 8 Zakros

The context of this tablet makes it quite clear that we are dealing with an inscription largely inscribed in proto-Greek and/or Mycenaean Greek. The free translation reads as follows:

the brim (of a vessel or pot), with groats inside it + 1 1/2 units of figs * (not in the pot!) in a slanting) urn OR 2/3rds of a unit of liquid measurement (of the figs) + 2/5 salty units (something like milligrams) of wheat dough + 1/2 mapa (unknown) ** + 2 1/4 maikase (unknown) ** + 2 1/2 daipita ** + 4 2/5 due measures.

* The supersyllabogram NI, which means figs, is almost certainly nira or nita in Linear A. The word nita occurs in the Linear A lexicon.

** mapa, maikasa and daipita are almost certainly Old Minoan (OM) words in the Minoan substrate. So far, these words appear to be indecipherable. So far … This tablet dates from the Late Minoan Ib period (ca. 1500-1450 BCE), hence it overlaps with Linear B tablets, such as those from Knossos, which date from the same period, making it all the more likely that it is largely inscribed in proto-Greek, possibly with some Mycenaen Greek words on it.



Now on, Translation of Linear A tablet HT 13 into proto-Greek:

Linear A tablet HT 13 on academiaedu

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HT 13 comments

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Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) successfully translated almost in in its entirety: wine stalks in (parallel) rows, crushing grapes:

Linear A tablet HT 13 Haghia Triada grapes & wine

This is the first ever almost complete decipherment of Linear A tablet HT (Haghia Triada). The only word I was unable to translate is kuzuni, of which there are 17. It may mean something like barrels, although the Minoans probably did not store wine in barrels, but rather in sealed pithoi. Except for the word kuzuni, this tablet is inscribed entirely in proto-Greek. And it is even possible that kuzuni is proto-Greek, because as in Mycenaean Greek, in which some words, especially all of the words for types of cloth, fell out of use after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, it is possible or even probable that kuzuni is a proto-Greek word which disappeared from proto-Greek before Mycenaean Greek caught on.

The decipherment above is so air-tight that it is almost certainly correct in every detail. We must realize that proto-Greek words such as kaudeta cannot have looked too much like their much later Mycenaean, archaic and classical Greek counterparts, but there is always a resemblance which is quite convincing when you place everything in context. By just taking one look at all of the proto-Greek words I have deciphered on this tablet, you realize that the sense “fits” in all instances. The decipherment of this tablet makes so much sense it almost certainly is correct.

When Alexandre Solc I come around to publishing our article, Evidence for proto-Greek in Linear A, in the next issue of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) in January 2019, you can rest assured that this tablet will be a prime candidate for the Linear A Oscars!

Mycenaean Linear B units of dry measurement:

Linear B units of dry measurement

This chart speaks for itself. Notice that at least 4 of these dry units of measurement in Linear A have counterparts in Linear A.

Linear B tablet, Pylos ER 312, tax collection for wheat for the temple in the palace:

Linear B Pylos tablet ER 312

This most fascinating of Linear B tablets, Pylos ER 312, clearly deals with the temple in the palace (both words in the locative singular). The tablet deals with taxation of seed for wheat and for wheat as such, where the units of wheat a large, and measured in something like bale-like units. Now it is obvious that in the Minoan/Mycenaean era, wheat and other grain crops were not measured in bales, but there was a standard large unit of measurement for them, which probably approximated bales. As the tax collector is mentioned, we know this tablet deals exclusively with taxation for wheat seeds and wheat. The taxes raised by the tax collector are for the temple in the palace. In line 7, we have worokiyoneyo eremo, which prima facie is somewhat mystifying. However, as my research colleague, Alexandre Solcà, points out, eremo is the adjective corresponding to the noun, eremo, the latter signifying desert. So the attributive of this word probably means devoid of. It certainly makes sense in context, given that the word preceding it is worokiyoneyo (genitive singular) for “of an offering , so the sense would be, literally, devoid of an offering, hence, a free offering. This clears up any ambiguity in the text.



Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN J 1 f 01, her last tablet for her second year of university:

Linear B tablet KN 1 J f 01 priestess of the winds

Line 1: Deukijojo = month name + temeno = shrine. The damaged first syllabogram looks like TO. The actual word temeno =temple” does not appear on the first line of this tablet, since it appears that the the scribe has made a scribal error, which actually happens quite often on Linear B tablets. The writing is messy, and appears to read teno, which would explain the scribal error, i.e. he missed on one syllabogram. Deukijojo could either be a month name, in which case it means “the tenth month” or more properly in this content, “of the tenth month” or it could simply be a persons name. If it refers to the tenth month, then it follows that the entire tablet refers to this month.

Line 2:

Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo = name + newejo = “of something new” + 3 units (probably bales) of barley. Hence the line refers to 3 new units (probably bales) of barley from Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo

Line 3:

Padarejode = a place hame, which is a sanctuary = hence, olive oil from Dardare and 2 units (probably bales) of barley.

Line 4:

Pade = name plus olive oil and 1 unit (probably a bale) of barley

Line 5:

Pasiteoi = “to all gods” barley and 1 unit of olive oil

Line 6:

olive oil and barley for Qerasiya = goddess Artemis, with numerals absent because of right truncation.

Line 7:

1 unit of barley to all the gods at Aminiso = Amnisos

Line 8:

2 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil for the goddess Erinu. Note that Erinu references one of the Furies (Erynies) in Greek. So it would appear that the scribe tells us that there was a sacrifice to at least one of or probably all of the Furies to appease them so that crops would thrive.

Line 9:

Gold and olive oil and 1 cyperus plant, probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds in Line 10.

Line 10:

4 cyperus plans dedicated to Anemo Ijereja = to the priestess of the winds

Line 11:

Blank and truncated.

Line 12:

3 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil and 2 units of barely plus 2 cyperus trees (also probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds)

Line 13:

Blank and truncated.


This is the very last tablet Rita Roberts is to translate for her second year of university, and it is by far the most challenging she has ever been confronted with to date. Congratulations to Rita! She is now about to take her final examination for her second year, which is to consist of 25 questions in increasing level of difficulty, the last 5 of which are to be translations of tablets, plus her second year thesis paper, What did the Minoan agricultural sector contribute to the Mycenaean Empire? This paper must be at least 25 pages long, inclusive of the bibliography but excluding illustrations, which will add to the page length of her thesis. Since this thesis paper is much more difficult than her first year thesis, I am allotting her three months to complete it, i.e. Feb. 15 – May 15. However, she must complete the rest of the examination in just 2 weeks (Feb. 15 – March 1 2018).

In the next post, I shall re-inscribe the entire tablet in archaic Greek from the Mycenaean.


The Antikythera mechanism is a 2,100-year-old computer:

Antikythera mechanism Wikipedia

116 years ago (1902), divers found a chunk of bronze off a Greek island. It has radically changed our understanding of human history.

One hundred sixteen years ago, an archaeologist was sifting through objects found in the wreck of a 2,000-year-old vessel off the Greek island Antikythera. Among the wreck’s treasures, fine vases and pots, jewellery and, fittingly enough, a bronze statue of an ancient philosopher, he found a peculiar contraption, consisting of a series of brass gears and dials mounted in a case the size of a mantel clock. Archaeologists dubbed the instrument the Antikythera mechanism. The genius — and mystery — of this piece of ancient Greek technology is that arguably it is the world’s first computer. If we gaze inside the machine, we find clear evidence of at least two dozen gears, laid neatly on top of one another, calibrated with the precision of a master-crafted Swiss watch. This was a level of technology that archaeologists would usually date to the sixteenth century AD. But a mystery remained: What was this contraption used for? 

To archaeologists, it was immediately apparent that the mechanism was some sort of clock, calendar or calculating device. But they had no idea what it was for. For decades, they debated. Was the Antikythera a toy model of the planets or was it a kind of early astrolabe, a device which calculates latitude?

IMAGE ancient

At long last, in 1959, Princeton science historian Derek J. de Solla Price provided the most convincing scientific analysis of this amazing device to date. After a meticulous study of the gears, he deduced that the mechanism was used to predict the position of the planets and stars in the sky depending on the calendar month. The single primary gear would move to represent the calendar year, and would, in turn, activate many separate smaller gears to represent the motions of the planets, sun and moon. So you could set the main gear to the calendar date and get close approximations for where those celestial objects in the sky on that date. And Price declared in the pages of Scientific American that it was a computer: “The mechanism is like a great astronomical clock ... or like a modern analogue computer which uses mechanical parts to save tedious calculation.”
Anticythera mechanism frontal

Antikythera mechanism original
It was a computer in the sense that you, as a user, could input a few simple variables and it would yield a flurry of complicated mathematical calculations. Today the programming of computers is written in digital code, a series of ones and zeros. This ancient analog clock had its code written into the mathematical ratios of its gears. All the user had to do was enter the main date on one gear, and through a series of subsequent gear revolutions, the mechanism could calculate variables such as the angle of the sun crossing the sky. As a point of referencdee, mechanical calculators using gear ratios to add and subtract, didn’t surface in Europe until the 1600s. 

Since Price’s assessment, modern X-ray and 3D mapping technology have allowed scientists to peer deeper into the remains of the mechanism to learn even more of its secrets. In the early 2000s, researchers discovered text in the guise of an instruction manual that had never been seen before, inscribed on parts of the mechanism. The text, written in tiny typeface but legible ancient Greek, helped them bring closure to complete the puzzle of what the machine did and how it was operated.
The mechanism had several dials and clock faces, each which served a different function for measuring movements of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, but they were all operated by just one main crank. Small stone or glass orbs moved across the machine’s face to show the motion of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter in the night sky and the position of the sun and moon relative to the 12 constellations of the zodiac. Another dial would forecast solar and lunar eclipses and even, amazingly enough, predictions about their colour. Today, researchers surmise that different coloured eclipses were considered omens of the future. After all, the ancient Greeks, like all ancients, were a little superstitious. 

The mechanism consisted of:
- a solar calendar, charting the 365 days of the year 
- a lunar calendar, counting a 19 year lunar cycle 
- a tiny pearl-size ball that rotated to illustrate the phase of the moon, and another dial that counted down the days to regularly scheduled sporting events around the Greek isles, like the Olympics.  The mechanics of this device are absurdly complicated. A 2006, in the journal Nature, a paper plotted out a highly complex schematic of the mechanics that connect all the gears. 

Researchers are still not sure who exactly used it. Did philosophers, scientists and even mariners build it to assist them in their calculations? Or was it a type of a teaching tool, to show students the math that held the cosmos together? Was it unique? Or are there more similar devices yet to be discovered? To date, none others have been found.

Its assembly remains another mystery. How the ancient Greeks accomplished this astonishing feat is unknown to this day. Whatever it was used for and however it was built, we know this: its discovery has forever changed our understanding of human history, and reminds us that flashes of genius are possible in every human era. Nothing like this instrument is preserved elsewhere. Nothing comparable to it is known from any ancient scientific text or literary allusion,” Price wrote in 1959. “It is a bit frightening, to know that just before the fall of their great civilization the ancient Greeks had come so close to our age, not only in their thought, but also in their scientific technology.”

There are amazing fully operational modern versions of the Antikythera Mechanism, such as these:


another modern version of the Antikythera mechanism


Researcher Cites Ancient Minoan-era Computer:


This Minoan object preceded the heralded Antikythera Mechanism. If we take the definition of a computer as being a device that can compute, even at the most basic level, then this computer meets the bottom line of the definition.

A stone-made matrix has carved symbols on the surface of this computer related with the Sun and the Moon, serving as a cast to build a mechanism that functioned as an analog computer to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. The mechanism was also used as sundial and as an instrument calculating the geographical latitude. In this sense, it predates the astrolabe, an instrument of some antiquity (i.e. since Minoan times).

Researcher Cites Ancient Minoan-era Computer:

Researcher Minas Tsikritsis who hails from Crete — where the Bronze Age Minoan civilization flourished from approximately 2700 BC to 1500 century BC — maintains that the Minoan Age object discovered in 1898 in Paleokastro site, in the Sitia district of western Crete, preceded the heralded “Antikythera Mechanism” by 1,400 years, and was the first analog and “portable computer” in history.

“While searching in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion for Minoan Age findings with astronomical images on them we came across a stone-made matrix unearthed in the region of Paleokastro, Sitia. In the past, archaeologists had expressed the view that the carved symbols on its surface are related with the Sun and the Moon,” Tsikritsis said.

The Cretan researcher and university professor told ANA-MPA that after the relief image of a spoked disc on the right side of the matrix was analysed it was established that it served as a cast to build a mechanism that functioned as an analog computer to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. The mechanism was also used as sundial and as an instrument calculating the geographical latitude.

Source: Athens News Agency [April 06, 2011]

For the definition of the astrolabe, see

astrolabe Wikipedia

Persian models dating as far back as the eleventh century have been found, and Chaucer wrote a Treatise on it in the late 1300s. But different models of astrolabes date as far back as somewhere around 400 BCE, when Theodora of Alexandra wrote a detailed treatise on the astrolabe. Historically, many different versions of the astrolabe have arisen since then. For a full account of astrolabes, consult Wikipedia: Astrolabe. But the whole point is that the Minoan computer predates even the earliest of these (vide supra), by at least 1,000 years!

By the Elizabethan era it consisted of a large brass ring fitted with an alidade or sighting rule:

Mariner's Astrolabe Francisco de Goes 1608

Notice the astonishing resemblance between the Minoan computer and the astrolabe from 1608 above.


For the amazing Antikythera Mechanism, see the next post.

Linear B numerals 100, 1k and 10k are atemporal, like those in the movie. Arrival:

It is quite clear from the following illustration of the numbers 1-12 in the Heptapod circular language, which correspond to the number of ships landing on earth, that their numbers, occurring in a circle, are similar to the numerals for 100, 1k and 10k in Mycenaean Linear A. This correspondence reveals an intriguing characteristic of these Linear B numerals, namely, that they can serve as ideograms for extraterrestrial communication. In other words, just as the Heptapod numbers serve to communicate from the extraterrestrials, the Linear B numerals can serve to communicate with them or any other extraterrestrial civilization.

movie Arrival heptapod 12 and Linear B 100 1k 10k


Earth-shattering linguistic data from the Movie, Arrival (2016)


Not too long ago, I had the distinct pleasure of watching what is undoubtedly the most intellectually challenging movie of my lifetime. The movie is unique. Nothing even remotely like it has ever before been screened. It chronicles the Arrival of 12 apparent UFOs, but they are actually much more than just that. They are, as I just said, a unique phenomenon. Or more to the point, they were, are always will be just that. What on earth can this mean? 

The ships, if that is what we want to call them, appear out of thin air, like clouds unfolding into substantial material objects ... or so it would appear. They are approximately the shape of a saucer (as in cup and saucer) but with a top on it. They hang vertically in the atmosphere. But there is no motion in them or around them. They leave no footprint. The air is undisturbed around them. There is no radioactivity. There is no activity. There are 12 ships altogether dispersed around the globe, but in no logical pattern.

A famous female linguist, Dr. Louise Banks  (played by Amy Adams), is enlisted by the U.S. military to endeavour to unravel the bizarre signals emanating from within. Every 18 hours on the mark  the ship opens up at the bottom (or is it on its right side, given that it is perpendicular?) and allows people inside. Artificial gravity and breathable air are created for the humans. A team of about 6 enter the ship and are transported up an immense long black hallway to a dark chamber with a dazzlingly bright screen. There, out of the mist, appear 2 heptapods, octopus-like creatures, but with 7 and not eight tentacles. They stand upright on their 7 tentacles and they walk on them. At first, the humans cannot communicate with them at all. But the ink-like substance the heptapods squirt onto the thick window between them and the humans always resolves itself into circles with distinct patterns, as we see in this composite:

Eventually, the humans figure out what the language means, if you can call it that, because the meanings of the circles do not relate in any way to the actions of the heptapods.  Our heroine finally discovers what their mission is, to save humankind along with themselves. They tell us... There is no time. And we are to take this literally.

circular language from the movie Arrival 2016

I extracted all of the linguistic data I could (which was almost all of it) from the film, and it runs as follows, with phrases and passages I consider of great import italicized.   

1. Language is the foundation of which the glue holds civilization together. It is the first weapon that draws people into conflict – vs. - The cornerstone of civilization is not language. It is science.
2. Kangaroo... means “I don't understand.” (Watch the movie to figure this one out!)
3. Apart from being able to see them and hear them, the heptapods leave absolutely no footprint.
4. There is no correlation between what the heptapods say and what they write.
5. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity.  
6. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech,  a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly.
7. There is no time.
8. You approach language like a mathematician.
9. When you immerse yourself in a foreign language, you can actually rewire your brain. It is the language you speak that determines how you think.
10. He (the Chinese general) is saying that they are offering us advanced technology. God, are they using a game to converse with... (us). You see the problem. If all I ever gave you was a hammer, everything is a nail. That doesn't say, “Offer weapon”, (It says, “offer tool”). We don't know whether they understand the difference. It (their language) is a weapon and a tool.  A culture is messy sometimes. It can be both (Cf. Sanskrit).
11. They  (masses 10Ks of circles) cannot be random. 
12. We (ourselves and the heptapods) make a tool and we both get something out of it. It's a compromise. Both sides are happy... like a win-win. (zero-sum game). 
13. It (their language) seems to be talking about time... everywhere... there are too many gaps; nothing's complete. Then it dawned on me. Stop focusing on the 1s and focus on the 0s. How much of this is data, and how much is negative space?... massive data... 0.08333 recurring. 0.91666667 = 1 of 12. What they're saying here is that this is (a huge paradigm). 10Ks = 1 of 12. Part of a layer adds up to a whole. It (their languages) says that each of the pieces fit together. Many become THERE IS NO TIME. It is a zero-sum-game. Everyone wins.
NOTE: there are 12 ships, and the heptapods have 7 tentacles. 7X12 = 84. 8 +4 =12. 
14. When our heroine is taken up into the ship in the capsule, these are the messages she reads: 1. Abbott (1 of the 2 heptapods) is death process. 2. Louise has a weapon. 3. Use weapon. 4. We need humanity help. Q. from our heroine, How can you know the future? 5. Louise sees future. 6. Weapon opens time.
15. (her daughter asks in her dream). Why is my name Hannah? Your name is very special. It is a palindrome. It reads the same forward and backward. (Cf. Silver Pin, Ayios Nikolaos Museum and Linear A tablet pendant, Troullous).
16. Our heroine says, * I can read it. I know what it is. It is not a weapon. It is a gift. The weapon (= gift) IS their language. They gave it all to us. * If you learn it, when your REALLY learn it, you begin to perceive the way that they do. SO you can see what’'s to come (in time). It is the same for them. It is non-linear. WAKE UP, MOMMY!

Then the heptapods disappear, dissolving into mere clouds, the same way they appeared out of nowhere in clouds, only in the opposite fashion. There is no time. They do not exist in time.

The implications of this movie for the further decipherment of Linear A and Linear B (or for any unknown language) are profound, as I shall explain in greater detail in upcoming posts.


Linear A tablet HT 38 (Haghia Triada) with 2 supersyllabograms, dealing with wine:

Linear A tablet TA HT 38 Linear A

This intriguing tablet apparently deals with containers for wine, ranging from a type of vase (daropa) to a wine-skin (aka) to cloth, which appears to have been treated to be water-proof. Since the ideogram for pig appears immediately to the left of aka, we can surmise that the wine-skin is made of pigs hide. The notion that cloth containers could have been water-proofed is somewhat in doubt, but the overall decipherment of HT 38 appears sound enough.


Just uploaded to Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 86 Haghia Triada, a mirror image of HT 95:

decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 86

Linear A Tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada) Linear A tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada) appears to be inscribed partially in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan and partially in Old Minoan, just as is HT 95 (Haghia Triada). This is one of the most significant of all Linear A tablets, because it so closely parallels HT 95. The fact that the text of HT 86 so closely mirrors that of HT 95 lends further credence to our decipherment of both of these tablets taken together. We find approximately equal parts of Mycenaean-derived New Minoan and Old Minoan vocabulary on HT 86. Here we have the New Minoan vocabulary on HT 86: akaru, dideru (equivalent to Linear B didero), dame & minute Old Minoan vocabulary on HT 86: kunisu, saru, qara2wa (qaraiwa) & adu. We must pay special heed to the terms akaru and dideru in New Minoan, as these in turn signify " field " (archaic acc.), where all of these crops are obviously grown and didero, which is Linear A for " einkorn wheat ". As for the Old Minoan terminology, we have kunisu, which is " emmer wheat " and adu, which is a very large unit of dry measurement, probably " bales ". Astonishingly, the text as a whole admirably hangs together, all the more so when compared with that of HT 95. 

The first ever complete and entirely unique decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 123 Haghia Triada RECTO olives saffron flax wine

This decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada) is entirely unique and is the first ever of its kind. It incorporates several key features never before seen in any of the failed attempts at deciphering this tablet. These are:

1. It accurately identifies the crops as (a) olives (b) wine and (c) saffron/flax;

2. It accurately identifies what all previous decipherers” have erroneously assumed to be fractions as crop shares;

3. It accurately identifies the supersyllabogram PU, which no one has ever before been able to decipher as the Old Minoan word, punikaso = Phoenician or in the case of wine = purple, equivalent to Linear B ponikiyo.

4. It clearly and accurately identifies the shares of crops, usually 8 shares per;

5. The Old Minoan Linear A word kiro appears to mean they owed, which suits the context to a T;

6. the combination of the number 8 with harvesting fits the season exactly, the month for harvesting being lunar August (at least if the Minoans counted counted their lunar months from the first month in the year, which certainly appears to be the case).

7. Since the total 20 + is right-truncated on the last line, I have to assume that it refers to 20 or more months, given that 9 months are mentioned above, with the ninth month implying that 8 preceded it, for a total 17. The number 4 with the unknown character probably also references months, bringing the potential total to 21. Thus a grand total of 20+ months is not out of the question.

This is the first ever successful decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 (RECTO) in toto.



Statistical incidence of various types of gains and of flax on Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada and elsewhere, now on

Statistical incidence of various types of grains and of flax on Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada and elsewhere



Now on Are Minoan and Mycenaean fractions fractions?

Click to download:



This very brief, but informative tract is a real eye opener.


Are Minoan and Mycenaean fractions fractions? I am not at all convinced

Are Minoan Linear A fractions fractions or something else

Are Mycenaean Linear B fractions fractions or something else

Since Minoan and Mycenaean fractions, as estimated by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog and Prof. John G. Younger, fall as low as 1/10 and 1/32, I am not at all convinced that these are fractions at all. They are, as far as I can tell, crop shares. This makes a lot more sense, since we are dealing with farming, where crop shares have always been of paramount importance. As for units of measurement, we have no real idea what they were, since Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean Empire are so remote in history. No one can possibly determine fractions that far back in history. In fact, Prof. Younger and Andras Zeke cannot even agree on the values of the fractions... not that that argument invalidates the notion they are not fractions. That is a specious argument. However, it makes more sense to consider these as crop shares, especially in view of the fact that some of the Mycenaean symbols are so remarkably similar to their Minoan counterparts. The appearance of symbols has nothing to do with what we take them to mean. This again is an arbitrary decision, which may be right or wrong.  

HT 95 (Haghia Triada), dealing emmer and einkorn wheat, is one of the most significant of all Linear A tablets:

HT 95 dadumata dame minute saru kunisu dideru

Linear A tablet, HT 95 (Haghia Triada), which deals with various grain crops, i.e. emmer and einkorn wheat, millet and spelt, and with flax, is unquestionably the most important Linear A tablets, with the possible exception of HT 86, dealing with the same roster of grains, inscribed exclusively in Old Minoan. When I posted HT 86 (Haghia Triada) the first time round, I established that kunisu meant “emmer wheat” and dideru “einkorn wheat”, but I was not quite sure I had them in the right order. Thanks to Cyrus G. Gordon, who makes the following statement:

... Linear A ku-ni-su must mean some kind of wheat because it is followed by  the WHEAT determinative. Now kunnisu is a Semitic word for “emmer wheat”  so that Linear A ku-ni-su WHEAT “emmer wheat” not only adds a word to our Minoan vocabulary but it also establishes Ventris’s (sic) readings of the ku, ni and su signs. (italics mine)

we now know beyond doubt that kunisu does mean emmer wheat, just as I had suspected. Consequently, since these two types of wheat appear conjointly here and very close together on HT 86, we are left to draw the conclusion that dideru means einkorn wheat. Now dideru appears 4 times on HT 86 & 95, while kunisu appears once on HT 10 & HT 79, and 4 times on HT 86 & 95, for a total of 6 times. So it pretty much goes without saying that these two grains play a significant role in the Minoan diet. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets, since these two grains were the predominant ones in all societies in these regions. This will become blatantly obvious when I publish the Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon of 1031 New Minoan, pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan words sometime in July, from which I cite all the references dealing with grain crops in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets in REFERENCES below (Note that I have italicized explicit references to major grains in each title dealing with the same). 

As for dame and qera2u (qeraiu), proper identification is a bit problematic, because we do not know which is which. This is why I have tagged dame with the reference [1], signifying it could mean either spelt or millet, and qera2u (qeraiu) with [3], meaning either millet or spelt (the reverse). But the problem is that we are confronted with 2 permutations here. By this we mean that dame could mean either spelt or millet or vice versa, and qera2u (qeraiu) millet or spelt or millet or vice versa. Either way, dame means one of the two, while qera2u (qeraiu) the other. But how do we know this? It just so happens that, after emmer and einkorn wheat, the next most common grains in the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle East were millet and spelt. So chances are good that dame and qera2 (qeraiu) each references one or the other. 

The reference note [2] with flax indicates two things, (a) first that flax is in an oblique case, probably instrumental, i.e. with flax, since the nominative is sara2 (sarai) & (b) the standard unit of measurement is probably not something a bushel, because flax is extremely light. What it is we shall never know, since after all we have no real concept of what any standard unit of measurement, dry or liquid, was either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B. These civilizations are so remote in the distant past that any attempt at determining standard units of measurement amounts to nothing more or less than a wild guess.

Nevertheless, we find that we are able to decipher HT 95 with a reasonable degree of accuracy, and in the case of kunisu and dideru, with complete accuracy. So we can now say with confidence that these two grains have been conclusively deciphered once and for all time, thanks to Cyrus H. Gordon.

© by Richard Vallance Janke 2017


1 Adu, Michael. Stay green in wheat: Comparative study of modern bread wheat and ancient wheat cultivars
2 Beneš,  Jaromír. Kernel Weights of Triticum, Hordeum, Avena, Secale and Panicum Species can be used for Better Estimation of Importance of Different Cereal Species in Archaeobotanical Assemblages
3 Desheva, Gergana. Comparative Evaluation of Einkorn Accessions (Triticum monococcum L.) of Some Main Agricultural Characters
4 Gordon, Cyrus H. Linguistic continuity from Minoan to Eteocretan
6 Mueller-Bieniek, Aldona. Plant macrofossils from the site of Tell Arbid, Northeast Syria (3rd–2nd millennium BC). Preliminary report
7 Poupet, Pierre. Approche pédoarchéologique des espaces de production agricole à l’âge du Bronze dans les montagnes méditerranéennes (exemples des Pyrénées-Orientales et de la Haute-Corse, France)
8 Salamini, F. AFLP Analysis of a Collection of Tetraploid Wheats Indicates the Origin of Emmer and Hard Wheat Domestication in Southeast Turkey
9 Ibid. Genetics and geography of wild cereal domestication in the near east
10 Ibid. Molecular Diversity at 18 Loci in 321 Wild and 92 Domesticate Lines Reveal No Reduction of Nucleotide Diversity during Triticum monococcum (Einkorn) Domestication: Implications for the Origin of Agriculture
11 Shaaf, S. Evolutionary History of Wild Barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. spontaneum) Analyzed Using Multilocus Sequence Data and Paleodistribution Modeling
12 Stein, Gil. Isotope evidence for agricultural extensification reveals how the world's first cities were fed
13 Ulanowksa, Agata. Different skills for different fibres? The use of flax and wool in textile technology of Bronze Age Greece in light of archaeological experiments. Workshop: The Competition of fibres, March 8-10, Excellence Cluster TOPOI (A-4), Textile Revolution
14 Yakar, Yak. The Nature and Extent of Neolithic Anatolia’s Contribution to the Emergence of Farming Communities in the Balkans - an Overview
15 You, Frank. The structure of wild and domesticated emmer wheat populations, gene flow between them, and the site of emmer domestication
16 Zapata, Lydia. Hulled wheats in Spain: history of minor cereals
17 Ibid. Measuring grain size and assessing plant management during the EPPNB, results from Tell Qarassa (southern Syria)
18 Ibid. The spread of agriculture in northern Iberia: New archaeobotanical data from El Mirón cave (Cantabria) and the open-air site of Los Cascajos (Navarra)

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.    

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