Category: Measurement

Translation of Linear B Tablets KN 515 R r 11 & KN 516 Rs 12 by Rita Roberts:

Linear B tablets KN 515 & 516

Translation of Knossos tablet KN LD (1) 573 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 573 textiles

This tablet presents several difficulties. While a literal translation is adequate, we must use our imagination to render a fluent translation. For instance, in line 1.we translate “delivered free” as “tariff free”, since in line 2. the cloth is “foreign”, i.e. “imported”, as well as being “decorated”  or more accurately “embroidered”. In addition in 3. the supersyllabogram WI can mean either simply “leather” or “made of leather”, implying that there is a piece made of leather to go with the imported embroidered cloth. So as we can see, this is far from being a straightforward translation. It is in fact one of the most difficult tablets Rita Roberts has ever had to translate. 

Rita Roberts, translation of Knossos Linear B tablet, KN 556 R o 01:

KN 556 R o 01

Translation of Knossos Linear B tablet KN 530 R l 23 by Rita Roberts:

KN 530 R l 23

The ancient Greek alphabetical numeric system:

ancient greek numerals

This chart illustrates both the ancient Greek acrophonic and alphabetical numeric systems. However, the acrophonic system, used primarily in Classical Athens ca. 500 – 400 BCE, came much later than the alphabetical system. So in effect we must resort to the only Greek numeric system we can use to represent numbers in Mycenaean Greek numbers, i.e. the alphabetical system. The alphabetical numbers are displayed in the second column after the modern numbers, 1 – 100,000 in the following chart. Here are some examples of alphabetic numbers representing Mycenaean numbers: 

mycenaean numbers followed by their alphabetic greek equivalents

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 525 R l  24 by Rita Roberts

linear b tablet kn 525 r l 24 knossos

It is to be noted that the supersyllabogram TE, which appears in the text tagged 2. refers to the Linear B word TETUKUOWA = tetu/xu #oa, which literally translated means “well prepared” or “ready”, in other words “finished”  cloth or textile, in this case “finished wool”.

summer haiku d’été – cormorant diving for fish = cormoran qui plonge 

diving for fish –
on target... or not

cormorant haiku

qui plonge aux poissons –
il trouve sa cible

Richard Vallance Janke

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 712 M p 01 by Rita Roberts:

Linear B tablet KN 712 M p 01


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


Knossos Linear B tablet 21 J i 14

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

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

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

Knossos Linear B tablet 8a

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

Knossos Linear B tablet 20ab

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

Linear A, examples of writing, reposted from Mnamon, Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean:

Click on the image below to visit this post:

Mnamon examples of writing Linear A

This post on Linear A tablets and roundels from Mnamon is amazing! You really have to see it for yourself. The graphics quality is astounding, and the explanations of the tablets are clear and precise.

new Linear A nodule, on the brim of a cup or tripod + a spice cup:


As the graphics above make it clear enough, this decipherment is pretty straightforward, much to my relief, considering how so many Linear A inscriptions are such tough nuts to crack.

Linear A nodule on weighing emmer wheat with 3 supersyllabograms:


This rare Linear A nodule is of particular interest because it contains 3 supersyllabograms, JE SE & U. I am unable to decipher JE and SE, but U appears to be the first syllabogram, actually a vowel, i.e. the first syllable of the word it represents, which in this case would appear to be the Mycenaean-derived word, udoro = u3droj = a water flask. But this interpretation may not make sense in the context of weighing KUNI(SU) or emmer wheat, unless a certain standardized amount of water in a water flask were poised at the other end of the scale measuring the emmer wheat. This is surely open to speculation. THESIS The Minoan and Mycenaean Agricultural Trade and Trade Routes in the Mycenaean Empire by Rita Roberts:

Click on this logo to download her thesis:

minoan and mycenaean main

We are proud to announce that Rita Roberts has fulfilled the requirements of her second year of university, and has passed with a mark of 85 %. We have awarded her 90 % for thesis, The Minoan and Mycenaean Agricultural Trade and Trade Routes in the Mycenaean Empire, which is a finely researched document I highly recommend to any and all. It deals in great detail with every conceivable aspect of Minoan and Mycenaean agricultural trade via their trade routes in the Mycenaean Empire, ca. 1600-1450 BCE. We congratulate Rita on her splendid achievement, and we look forward to her fuflling the exacting requirements of her third and final year of university which commences on July 1 2018, Canada Day. Once she has completed her third year, she will have earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Minoan and Mycenaean studies.

Linear B tablet HT 93 (Haghia Triada). What happens when there are not enough Mycenaean-derived words to decipher a Linear A tablet:

Linear A tablet HT 93 Haghia Triada

While it is a relatively straightforward matter to decipher Linear A tablets which contain a substantial portion of Mycenaean-derived vocabulary, the situation rapidly deteriorates the fewer Myenaean-derived words there are on the tablet or inscription. In fact, there is a point of no return in all too many cases. This is not quite the situation we are faced with when confronted with Linear A tablet HT 88 (Haghia Triada). But we are getting close to the precipice. There appear to be only 4 Mycenaean-derived words on this tablet, SERE = a corn silo, ASE = surfeit, OTI = with handles and KIRO, which seems to be a scribal error, since this word appears on the VERSO of the tablet with the large number 165 + fraction following it. So I suspect the scribe meant to inscribe KURO. As for the later archaic or classical Greek words to which these four words correspond, see the actual figure of the tablet above.

As for the remainder of the tablet, most of the vocabulary simply eludes us, with the exception of one word, DARIDA (HT 10, HT 85, HT 93 and HT 122), an old Minoan (OM) word, appearing in the Minoan substrate language, which definitely refers to some kind of vase. And if our interpretation of OTI is correct, then the vase is two-handled. The decipherment of OTI as two-handled is buttressed by the presence of the ideogram for a vase with two handles nearly adjacent to it. As for the rest of the tablet, with the exception of SARA2, which is ancient Semitic for barley or a similar grain crop, your guess is as good as mine. However, I suspect that QAQARU is another type of (large) vase, which in this case is used to store SARA2.

Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania) ca. 1450 BCE – adorned with ivy:

Linear A KH 5 inscription from Chania, circa 1450 BCE b

This tablet, which significantly dates from 1450 BCE, right at the time of the transition from the Linear A to the Linear B syllabary, appears to have 3 Mycenaean-derived words inscribed on it. Because it was probably one of the very last tablets inscribed in Linear A, it could just as well have been inscribed in Linear B. The first two syllables of ADAKISIKA, i.e. ADA, are Old Minoan (OM), falling within the substrate of the original Minoan language. Both ADA and ADU appear to deal with large(r) quantities in the Minoan language. And the first and second words, ADAKISIKA + WISASANE = adorned with plenty of ivy in equal measure, make for a perfectly acceptable phrase. WINASAO very much appears to be a variant of Linear A WINU, which means wine. It may be cast in an archaic Minoan ablative absolute, which would perhaps explain its orthography.

Since the rest of this tablet is in Old Minoan (OM), the language of the original Minoan language substrate, it is indecipherable.

Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada), ripe figs, pistachio-nuts, pomegranates & roses:

Linear A tablet HT 6 Haghia Triada



15 units (something like litres) liquid of ripe figs from fig trees, 24 pistachio-nuts, 10 barley cakes (apparently seasoned with pistachio-nuts), 2 roses, and 4 more units (something like kilograms) of ripe fruit + 22 DAQERA? (some kind of fruit), 22 3/4 units (something like litres or kilograms) falling to earth + 15 1/2 figs


3 growing (grown) ripe (i.e. the figs) with 1 unit (something like a flagon) of drops of wine in 3 units (something like kilograms or kilolitres) of honey, and 66 units (something like kilograms) of DADUMA (some kind of fruit, possibly or even probably grapes) + 3 1/4 units of REKI? + 35 SAMA? + 17 1/2 PA3NINA?

So as we can see, most of the vocabulary on this tablet appears to be Mycenaean-derived. The tablet appears to deal with a wonderful recipe for dessert.

Translation of Linear A tablet (HT 8) for Ancient Foods and anyone who likes beer, dealing with barley wine = beer:

Linear A tablet HT 8 Haghia Triada

There is little doubt but that this tablet deals with the production of barley wine, which is the Mycenaean + Classical Greek word for wine. Here is the running partial translation, with enough text in the Mycenaean-derived superstrate to make it quite clear that this tablet deals with the production of beer:

RECTO: JEDI (OM) = a person? (involved in the production of) KI = 1 unit (something like a pithos or very large vase) of barley wine, the PA3KARATI (OM) sowing? (of the barley for this barley wine) + TE = tereza (OM) = liquid unit (of this barley wine) + 301 (unknown), 2 units + QA301* (unknown) + I (unknown) + production? of sweet fermented liquor, i.e. beer+ harvesting? Of barley


(serving) a large bowl (Semitic) + KA? And 1 large jar (Anatolian), 2 and 5 units (a large liquid amount), 2 of the first and 5 of the second + PA2? (unknown, possibly millet or spelt) + 1 unit of *301 (unknown) + ZARIRE? (OM, unknown) + harvesting share? of the ripe crop or fruit (i.e. barley for sweet fermented liquor) + 1 PAJARE? (OM) = indentured land? + *86 & *188 (both unknown), 1/2

While all of the Old Minoan words (OM) words on this tablet are conjectural, the New Minoan words (NM), such as barley and sweet fermented liquor and the Semitic and Anatolian words, a large bowl and a large jar, perhaps provide some clues as to the meaning of the latter. JEDI (OM) = person? is highly conjectural. The numeric syllabograms *301, *86 & *188, of which the phonetic value is unknown, cannot possibly be deciphered.

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.


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