Category: Measurement

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.    

Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada), apparently in Mycenaean derived Greek:

Linear A tablet HT 87

Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada) is apparently inscribed in Mycenaean derived Greek. The literal translation and the free translation derived from it do make sense if we interpret the text as being Mycenaean derived Greek. The only word which is indecipherable is sa?supu -or- ni?supu. I cannot determine what the word is, since the syllabogram on the far left is left-truncated. It may be either ni or sa. On thing is certain: Prof. John G. Younger got it wrong. But it is probably an archaic proto-Greek word, which may mean something along the lines of “perfumed”, resulting in a translation “perfumed unguent”, of which 1 part is saffron. This makes sense in context. 

Decipherment of Haghia Triada tablet HT 11 entirely in Mycenaean derived Greek:

HT 11

If we read this tablet as if it were inscribed in Mycenaean derived Greek, it does actually make sense. While the tablet is partially an inventory, the rest of it is a religious ceremony for (farmed?) land leased out, blessed by 3 priests. It is much more complex than most tablets either in Linear A or in Linear B.

Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 95 (recto/verso) almost intact:

Linear A tablet HT 95 recto verso

Even though there is only one word of probable Mycenaean derivation, saru, from Greek saro, which literally means “a broom”, and in this instance, which refers to a threshing floor or the process of threshing wheat, almost all of the remaining Old Minoan words on this tablet can be deciphered more or less accurately. The Minoan word kunisu definitely means “emmer wheat”, while dideru is “roasted einkorn”. Even though we do not know exactly what the other types of grains or wheat, dame and minute are, it is highly likely that both of these words are the plural of the diminutives damai and minuta2 (minutai), which in turn implies that these terms refer to fine grains. I take it from context that dadumata means “harvesting”.

And so the decipherment flies.

Here are illustrations of emmer wheat and roasted einkorn:

roasted einkorn and emmer wheat

Rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada)  & the first real glimpse of Minoan grammar actualized:

LinearA tablet HT 117 Haghia Triada 620

This albeit partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) incorporates an approximately equal admixture of Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language, also known as the Minoan substratum (of which I am unable to decipher most of the words) and of New Minoan, i.e. the superstratum of words of probable Mycenaean provenance, most of which I have been able to decipher with relative ease. While some of the New Minoan translations obviously appear to break the grammatical rules of Mycenaean Greek, such as mitu for “mint”, which is after all mita (and feminine) in Mycenaean Greek or daminu for “in 1 village”, which is damo in the nominative in Linear B, these adjustments can be readily accounted for by the fact that Old Minoan grammar is not at all the same beast as Mycenaean grammar. Although we are not yet familiar with much of Old Minoan grammar, which is after all the grammar of Minoan, just the same as modernized Anglo-Saxon grammar is the grammar of English, in spite of the enormous superstratum of French, Latin and Greek words in the latter language, this tablet alone perhaps affords us a first glimpse into the mechanics of Minoan grammar. Thus, it would appear that mitu may be the Minoan accusative of mita, and daminu may be the locative of damo in Minoan. Although there is no scientific way for me to substantiate this claim, I believe I am onto something, and that I may be making the first cracks in the obdurate wall of the grammar of the Minoan language substratum.  If this is so, then I may be actually pointing the way to unravelling at least a subset of Old Minoan grammar.  To illustrate my point, let us take a look at these phrases in English, as adapted from their Norman  French superstrata.  In French, the phrases would read as follows: avec la menthe”& “ dans le village”, whereas in English they read as “with mint” & “in the village”. Take special note of the fact that, while the Norman French superstrata words in English, “mint” and “village” are (almost) identical to their Norman French counterparts, the grammar of the phrases is entirely at odds, because after the grammar of French, which is a Romance language, and of English, which is a Germanic, cannot possibly coincide.  But here again, I must emphatically stress that English grammar is an entirely different matter than English vocabulary, of which the latter is only 26 % Germanic, but 29 % French, 29 % Latin and 4 % Greek, the latter 3 languages, namely, the superstrata, accounting for fully 64 % of all English vocabulary! We must always make this clear distinction between English grammar, which is essentially Anglo-Saxon modernized, and English vocabulary, which is only minimally Germanic.

If we carry this hypothesis to its logical outcome, we can readily surmise that the same phenomenon applies to the Linear A syllabary. Where grammar is concerned, the Linear A syllabary is Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language or substrate. Where vocabulary is concerned, Linear A represents an admixture of Old Minoan vocabulary, such as uminase, kuramu, kupa3nu (kupainu), tejare and nadare (all of which I cannot decipher) and of New Minoan Mycenaean derived vocabulary, such as makarite, mitu, sata, kosaiti and daminu on this tablet alone. The orthography of the latter words is not actually consistent with Mycenaean grammar, because constitutionally it cannot be. Once again, the grammar is always Minoan, whereas the vocabulary often falls into the New Minoan (Mycenaean derived) superstratum.

In the case of makarite, it would appear that, if the word is dative in Minoan, the Minoan dative is similar to the Mycenaean, ending as it seems to in i. The ultimate te in makarite appears to be the Mycenaean or ancient Greek enclitic te (and). In the case of mitu, which is mita and feminine in Mycenaean Greek, it would appear that the Minoan word is either masculine or that in this case at least, it is instrumental, meaning “with mint”, in which case the Minoan feminine instrumental appears to terminate with u. The word kosaiti appears to follow the same lines. The first two syllables, kosai, apparently are Mycenaean, but the ultimate ti is Minoan, and once again, instrumental (plural). Again, daminu appears to repeat the same pattern. The word damo is masculine (or neuter) in Mycenaean. But the ultimate is inu here, which appears to be the Minoan locative, inu. To summarize, we must make a clear-cut distinction between any New Minoan vocabulary on any Linear A tablet, and its orthography, which must of necessity follow the orthographic conventions of the Minoan language, and not of the Mycenaean, from which any such words are derived. I intend to make this abundantly clear in subsequent posts.  

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) almost completely deciphered + the 4 categories of Linear A tablets:

Linear A talbet HT 14 Haghia Triada

Here you see Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada), which I have been able to decipher almost completely. This is because the tablet is comprised mostly of ideograms, making it much easier to reconstruct the original text. In addition, I have already translated the supersyllabogram TE = tereza (on the first line) as being a large unit of liquid measurement, which in the case of wine might be something like “a flask”,  “a jug” or something along the lines of  “a gallon”, on the explicit understanding that there was no such thing as a gallon in Minoan times; this is merely an approximation.  The supersyllabograms PU & DI are unknown, i.e. indecipherable, at least to date. Likewise, the Old Minoan word, apu2nadu (apunaidu) is also unknown, but it might mean  “harvest”. The units of wheat are probably equivalent to something like a bushel. The supersyllabogram MI = mini signifies  “for a month” (dative) or “monthly”, and is New Minoan, i.e. a word of Mycenaean origin superimposed on Linear A.

The rest of the decipherment is self-explanatory.

Decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets falls into four (4) categories:

1. Tablets on which we find only Old Minoan words, or on which the vast majority of words are Old Minoan. These tablets are pretty much indecipherable.
2. Tablets on which we find a combination of Old Minoan and New Minoan (words of Mycenaean origin). The more New Minoan words on a tablet, the more likely we are going to be able to decipher it. Ideally, there should be more New Minoan (Mycenaean) words than Old Minoan (the original Minoan substratum), in order to divine the meanings of Old Minoan words immediately adjacent to New Minoan words. This is of course contextual analysis. Such tablets are at least partially decipherable.
3. Linear A tablets containing ideograms almost exclusively are susceptible to decipherment. HT 14 (Haghia Triada) falls into this category.
4. A very few Linear A tablets are written mostly, almost entirely and in one case only, entirely in New Minoan (the Mycenaean superstratum). These tablets can be be mostly and in some cases entirely deciphered.     

A ‘fairly accurate’ rendering of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 86a, according to Gretchen Leonhardt:

a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A HT 86a
This Linear B tablet clearly deals with various crops, with the lead in crop being grains or wheat, just as one would expect on either a Mycenaean Linear B tablet. By the same token, there is no reason to suppose that a Minoan Linear A tablet dealing with crops would not deal first and foremost with grains and wheat. The units of measurements identified on this tablet accord with those tentatively tabulated by Andras Zeke on the


Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt of

has duly advised me that (and I quote) “your "recto" tablet is a fairly accurate rendering of HT 86a, but your "verso" tablet is an inaccurate rendering of HT 87.... ” She is of course entirely correct in informing me that the so-called verso side is not the same tablet at all, but is in fact, HT 87 (Haghia Triada). I am nevertheless astonished that she would accord me a fair degree of accuracy in my decipherment of HT 86 a, in view of the fact that  (a) I do not even know what the Minoan language is;
(b) Ms. Leonhardt claims to have conclusively deciphered the Minoan language as being proto-Japanese, categorically stating as she does that “overwhelming evidence keeps me steadfast in this view...”, a claim which I intend shortly to refute in no uncertain terms, by bringing to bear on it reasonable circumstantial, though not conclusive, evidence to the contrary and;
(c) she concedes that my decipherment of HT 86 A is fairly accurate, in spite of the fact that I am apparently flailing in the dark, since I know nothing of the Minoan language. Yet if I am, how on earth did I manage to achieve even a fairly accurate decipherment, I have to ask her.

Although Ms. Leonhardt claims that my knowledge of Linear A is “in its infancy” (as everyone’s, including her own, must of necessity be), as a historical philologist specializing in the decipherment of ancient syllabaries such as Linear A, Linear B and Linear C, and unlike Ms. Leonhardt along with numerous other researchers who purport to have definitely deciphered the Minoan language, I neither have ever made nor would ever make the rash and untenable claim that I have deciphered it, given the exiguous size of the lexical database with which we have to work. I have said as much over and over, as for instance in this citation from one of my own works to be published in the next year or so, and I quote:

Conclusions concerning the many failed attempts at deciphering Minoan Linear A:

The worst of all the pretensions of the authors of the aforementioned monographs and tractata are their untenable claims that they have in fact deciphered Minoan Linear A. How is it even remotely possible that these soi- disant decipherers of Minoan Linear A can claim to have discovered the so-called magic bullet in the guise of the proto-language upon which their decipherment has been based, when the proto-languages they invoke are soà wildly disparate? These decipherers have turned to a number of proto-languages, some of them Indo-European (such as proto-Greek and Proto-Slavic), others non proto-Indo-European, running the gamut from Uralic (proto-Finnish), proto-Niger Congo to proto-Semitic and Sumerian all the way through to proto-Altaic and proto-Japanese. While it is patently impossible that all of these proto-languages could be at the base of the Minoan language, it is nevertheless remotely conceivable that one of them just might be. But which one? Given the tangled  mass of contradictions these so-called decipherments land us in, I am left with no alternative but to pronounce that none of these so-called proto-languages is liable to stand the test of linguistic verisimilitude. All of this leaves me with an uneasy feeling of déjà vu.

Instead, I have adopted the unique approach of declaring that it does not matter what proto- language Minoan derives from, or for that matter, whether or not it, like modern Basque, is a language isolate, meaning a natural (spoken) language, ancient (dead) or modern (alive) with no demonstrable genealogical or genetic relationship with any other language whatsoever or alternatively, a language that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language in the world. (italics mine).

and again:

In an article of this nature, which is the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial, but by no means definitive, decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A terms which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language, but not the language itself. Anyone who dares claim he or she has “deciphered” the Minoan language is skating on very thin ice. Any attempt to decipher the Minoan language is severely trammelled by the incontestable fact that no one knows what the language is or even what language class it belongs to, if any.

1 Minoan Linear A word under SA-SE of putative proto-Hebrew origin, sato = saton?


There appears to be a single word under the syllabograms SA-SE in Minoan Linear A, which is of putative proto-Hebrew origin, and it is sato, which apparently is the equivalent of (proto-) Hebrew saton, a unit of measurement.

Guess what! All 17 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A panned out!

To my great surprise and definite relief, it appears that all 7 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A have panned out. Looks like I hit gold in the Klondike!


Measurement of 17 conjectural units total of dry and liquid volume & weight in Minoan Linear A:

Each entry below is classified by UNIT of measurement + amount + tablet + measurement type (dry or liquid + volume or weight):


adaru 40 ARKH 5 volume or weight
adu 680 HT 92 dry volume LARGE
(a fair candidate for a unit of measurement)
dame 20 HT 86 + 74 HT 120 dry volume
kidata 134 HT 40 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
kunisu 20 HT 86 weight
kupaja 16 HT 116 weight
nudu*331 207 HT 40 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
pa3nina 12 HT 93 dry volume + darida = vase
pase 20 HT 18 weight
pura2 (purai) 40 HT 116 volume or weight
pitakase 161 HT 21 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
qanuma 12 HT 116 weight
sara2 (sarai) 5 HT 121 + 10 HT 114 + 20 HT 90 + 41 HT 101 + 976 HT 102 volume
(the most likely candidate for a true unit of measurement)
sikine 12 HT 116 weight
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
tuqirina 40 HT 129 volume or weight


itaja 10 HT 28 liquid volume


ra*164ati 38 HT 17 liquid volume

I have extracted all 17 of these conjectural units of measurement, dry in the case of grains (barley and wheat), and liquid in the case of olives and olive oil and wine from all of the Minoan Linear tablets I isolated from the total store of relatively intact Linear A tablets I meticulously scanned from Prof. John G. Younger’s Lexicon of Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (mostly the latter, which I of course naturally omitted as completely unreliable sources of any terminology whatsoever in Minoan Linear A). I have omitted any so-called unit of measurement which occurs 5 times or less on the Linear A tablets I scanned, as these are much more likely not to relate to measurement at all. 

The total number of these putative units of measurement compares favourably with total number of 16 units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, as illustrated in the table below.


However, it must be stressed that all 17 of the Minoan Linear A apparent units of measurement are spelled out in full, whereas all 16 of the Mycenaean Linear B units are represented by symbols, the exact opposite practice. To complicate matters further, Minoan Linear A uses symbols to represent very small (fractional) units of measurement,


again in a practice appositive to Mycenaean Linear B, in which the units of measurement are > unity and usually (quite) large. This introduces the distinct possibility that a few, some or even all of 17 the so-called units of measurement in Minoan Linear A I have isolated above are not units of measurement at all.

I shall have to thoroughly investigate the inevitable ramifications of this real dilemma before I even dare add a single, let alone more than one of these so-called units of measurement to the Glossary of 110 Minoan Linear A words I have compiled. At most, I doubt that more than 4 or 5 of the 17 terms in this list are likely to qualify for inclusion in the Minoan Linear A Glossary, although this estimate may turn out to be too conservative. We shall soon see.   

KEY POST: 2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?

In this post we compare two vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). The key question here can be posed in three different ways:

1. Does one of these two decipherments measure up significantly more than the other?
2. Does either measure up? 
3. Does neither measure up?

Here are the two decipherments, first that of Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 Slavic

and secondly, my own decipherment:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 by RIchard Vallance Janke

According to option 3 above, it is of course possible that neither of these translations forms a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text (whatever it actually means). On the other hand, it is much more likely that option 1. above is applicable, namely that only one of the two decipherments at least approaches a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text , although we can never really know how faithfully until such time as Minoan Linear B is properly and fully deciphered. And that will not happen anytime soon, due to the extreme paucity of extant Linear B tablets and fragments (< 500), of which the vast majority are fragments, and thus ineffectual in providing any impetus to even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. However, all is not lost. Far from it. There quite a few (almost) full intact Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which are very much more susceptible to contributing positively to at least a partial decipherment of Linear A. To date, the Linear A tablets which I have been able to decipher, more or less accurately, are HT 13, HT 14, (HT 17), HT 21, HT 31, HT 38, HT 91, HT 92, HT 94 and HT 132 (all from Haghia Triada)
ZA 1 ZA 8 ZA 10 (Zakros) 
GO Wc 1 (Gournia) 
and the Troy spindle whorls

I have also managed to decipher one or two words on several other tablets from Haghia Triada, Zakros and elsewhere, without however being able to decipher the remainder of the integral text, which utterly escapes me, and is therefore still to be considered undecipherable, at least for the time being. There is no telling whether or not either I myself or someone else will be able to decipher more words from the rest of these tablets or even some of the tablets entire in the near future. Only time will tell, but I believe the prospects are much better now than they were even a few months ago, i.e. prior to May 2016, when I embarked on the exciting journey to decipher as much of Minoan Linear A as I could. It is no small achievement, I believe, for me to have been able to decipher at least the 12 Linear A tablets listed above, if indeed my decipherments approach cohesive accuracy, both internally and by means of cross-correlative regressive extrapolation from almost identical to similar Mycenaean Linear B tablets.

With respect to my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) above, I wish to make the following highly pertinent observations. I leave it up to you to decide for yourself (yourselves) whether or not the assumptions I have meticulously made with specific reference to what appear to be derivational standard units of measurement in Minoan Linear A are in fact that. Immediately pursuant to my highly accurate decipherment of HT 31 (Haghia Triada) on vessels and pottery, for which Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the quasi Rosetta Stone (as I have re-iterated many times since that decipherment), I turned my attention to three words which appeared over and over on several Minoan Linear A tablets, these being reza, adureza & tereza. Philologists such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog had previously and consistently “deciphered” these three terms as being toponyms or place names, but I was immediately suspicious of such an interpretation, given that both adureza and tereza have the prefixes adu and te prepended to what strikingly appears to be their own root, reza. Subsequent research revealed two more terms most likely derived from the root, reza = the standard unit of linear measurement in Minoan Linear A (as far as I can tell... more on this to come). These are dureza and kireza. So the total number of terms relative to measurement of large, not minute, quantities in Minoan Linear A appear to be 5. That is quite a tally.

+ units of measurement in Minoan Linear A: exact values unknown

reza = standard unit of measurement (linear)
adureza = dry unit of measurement (something like a “bushel”)
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown) [1]
kireza = dry measurement for figs (a basket) [2]
tereza = liquid unit of measurement (something like “a gallon” or at the bare minimum “a litre” [3]  

[1] While I have been utterly unable to surmise what standard unit of measurement dureza is supposed to represent, even the standard units for reza, adureza & tereza are mere approximations. For more on this see the concluding paragraph of this post.  
[2] While I am virtually certain that kireza is the standard unit for the measurement of a basket of figs, this still begs the question, what size is the basket? At any rate, it is pretty obvious that the basket size cannot be larger than can reasonably be carried on one shoulder, since that is the way baskets are carried in practically every culture, ancient or modern. So in this case, the approximation for the standard unit of measurement figs, kireza, is considerably more accurate than all of the others.      
[3] Obviously, in light of [1] above, my guesstimates for the standard units of dry and wet measurement (adureza and tereza respectively) are just that, and nothing more.   

rawa tiri wanaka

Now if we compare the variables in the prefixes to the root, reza (adu, du, ki & te) with the similar practice of suffixes appended to word roots in Mycenaean Linear B, which is the direct opposite practice we have just propounded for Minoan Linear A, we nevertheless discover that the same level of consistency and coherence applies equally to both languages, as clearly illustrated by the following table, in which the prefixes listed above for Minoan Linear A appear at the end, preceded by no fewer than three roots (which are invariable) and appear in front of highly variable suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B. The roots are, respectively, raw, which references anything to do with people, tri, which references anything related to the number 3 and wana, which references any connotation of kingship or royalty in Mycenaean Greek.

While the practices for affixing are appositive in Minoan Linear A (which prepends affixes to the root) and in Mycenaean Linear B (which appends suffixes to the root or stem), the procedure the two languages follows is one and the same, flipped on its head either way you view it, i.e. from the perspective of Mycenaean Linear B or vice versa, from that of Minoan Linear A. The underlying principle which defines this procedure is the cognitive frame, as propounded by my colleague and friend, Eugenio R. Luján. So let us simply call the procedure (whether from the perspective of Minoan Linear or its opposite in Mycenaean Linear B) just that, the cognitive frame, which is also the template for the procedure, actually proceeding forward in both languages, each in its own way. Either way, the procedure works like a charm. As Eugenio R. Luján so succinctly summarizes it in his article, Semantic Maps and Word Formation: Agents, Instruments, and Related Semantic Roles, in Linguistic Discovery (Dartmouth College), Vol 8, Issue 1, 2010. pp. 162-175, and I quote:

... The methodology of semantic maps has been applied mainly to the analysis of grammatical morphemes (affixes and adpositions) pg. 162

and again,

Previous work on semantic maps has shown how the polysemy of grammatical morphemes is not random, but structured according to underlying principles....

Although the semantic map methodology has not been applied to the analysis of word formation patterns, there is no reason to suppose that derivational morphemes behave differently from grammatical morphemes. In fact, taking into account the findings of the intensive work done in the field of grammaticalization in the last thirty years or so, we know now that lexical and grammatical morphemes constitute a continuum, and their meanings are organized in the same way—inside a cognitive frame,... pg. 163 

and most significantly,

In contrast to the lexicon, the number of derivational morphemes and word
formation patterns in any given language is limited. pg. 163.

I wish to lay particular stress on this last observation by Eugenio R. Luján, because he is right on the money. In terms of the way I have expounded my own explanation of how the procedure of the cognitive frame works, as I see it, what he is actually saying here is this: the derivational morphemes (i.e. the prefixes in Minoan Linear A and the suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B) is limited, and in fact very limited in comparison with the orthographic and grammatical lexicon in either language, or for that matter, in any language, ancient or modern.

All of this brings us full circle back to my own original assumption, namely, that adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza are all derivational morphemes of reza in Minoan Linear A and that the suffixes appended to the roots raw, tri and wana in Mycenaean Linear B are also derivational morphemes. The gravest problem with the decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) advanced by Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih is that it does not take the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes into account at all. So instead, the authors advance entirely different meanings for each of these terms (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza), entirely oblivious to the the fact that they all share the same root, reza. This factor alone throws profound doubt on their decipherment.

On the other hand, my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) takes the procedure of the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes fully into account, with the very same procedure applied to derivational morphemes in Mycenaean Linear B, though in the opposite direction). For the sake of consistency, let us refer to the the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes in Minoan Linear A as regressive, given that the variables (the prefixes, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza) precede the root, reza, and the same frame as progressive in Mycenaean Linear B, in light of the fact that the root or stem is followed by the variable suffixes (derivational morphemes). Be it as it may, prefixes and suffixes are both classed under the umbrella term, affixes, and again, I repeat, the procedure is the same either way. An affix is an affix is an affix, whether or not it comes first (prefix) or last (suffix).

For this reason alone I am convinced that my decipherment of HT 13 is on the right track, even if it is not totally accurate... which it cannot be anyway, in light of the fact that the standard units of measurement for large quantities in Minoan Linear A (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza) will never be known with any measure of accuracy, given that we can have no idea whatsoever that the “standard” units for anything in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B can ever be really determined. The farther we as philologists or historical linguists go back diachronistically in the historical timeline, the less determinable are units of measurement or, for that matter, different kinds of textiles or pottery, few of which we can know with any measure of certainty either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B.


Basic units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B & Minoan Linear A chart of fractions:

Basic units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B:


Minoan Linear A chart of fractions:



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