John Chadwick recognized the Linear B supersyllabograms ZE & MO:

chadwick reading the past linear b 37 ZE zeugesi

chadwick reading the past linear b 38 MO mono

It is quite obvious from the excerpts above from Chadwick’s masterful, Reading the Past: Linear B and Related Scripts, © 1987 that he clearly recognized the supersyllabograms ZE, corresponding to (archaic) Greek zeu/gesi = yoked and MO mo/noj = single. This being the case, it is also more than likely that he was aware of the existence of at least some of the 39 supersyllabograms in Linear B, and this is significant, because it was he who first latched onto Michael Ventris’ amazing discovery in 1952 that the Linear B syllabary was in fact the script of a very ancient and archaic Greek dialect, which we now know as Mycenaean. This raises the question, did Michael Ventris himself know about supersyllabograms? Brilliant as he was, I am greatly inclined to believe he did, but his untimely death at the young age of 34 in a terrible car accident in 1956 never gave him the chance to further develop and refine his initial decipherment of Linear B in 1952. So we shall never know. But very the idea that he may have known is truly tantalizing.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS: 5 major articles by Richard Vallance Janke,  Spyros Bakas and Rita Roberts

In a major new development in the international dissemination of 5 papers by Spyros Bakas, Rita Roberts and Richard Vallance Janke, the following 5 articles are now universally available on WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, with 47,480,622 files:

Wikimedia Commons

These articles are:
CLICK on each logo to download each article:

1. Vallance Janke, Richard. “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet TA  641-1952 (Ventris) with an Introduction to Supersyllabograms in the Vessels & Pottery Sector in Mycenaean Linear B”, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade). Vol. 11 (2015) ISSN 1452-7448. pp. 73-108

Wikimedia commons Pylos tablet PY641-1952620
2. Vallance Janke, Richard. “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade). Vol. 11 (2015) ISSN 1452-7448. pp. 73-108 

Wikimedia commons decipherment of supersyllabograms620
3. Vallance Janke, Richard. “The Mycenaean Linear B  “Rosetta Stone” for Linear A Tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) Vessels and Pottery”, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade). Vol. 12 (2016) ISSN 1452-7448. pp. 75-98  

Wikimedia commons Mycenaean Rosetta Stone for Linear A620
4. Vallance Janke, Richard and Bakas, Spyros. “Linear B Lexicon for the Construction of Mycenaean Chariots”, Epohi/Epochs. Vol. XXIV (2017), Issue 2. pp. 299-315 

Wikimedia commons Linear B Lexicon for the construction of Mycenaean chariots
5. Roberts, Rita & Janke, Richard Vallance, consulting editor.
The Minoan and Mycenaean Agricultural Trade and Trade Routes in the Mycenaean Empire

Wikimedia commons Minoan and Mycenaean620

The appearance of these articles on WIKIMEDIA COMMONS greatly enhances their international profile. 

Richard Vallance Janke
June 19 2018

Guidelines for submissions to Les Éditions KONOSO Press now on

guidelines KONOSO Press

Guidelines for submissions to Les Éditions KONOSO Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, are now on Our new Press will be publishing online monographs and books only, from 40 to 200 pages long. Submissions will be accepted starting July 1 2018. Any person submitting papers should expect to wait 6 months before we can advise that person whether or not we have accepted the submission. Submissions guidelines are very strict. You must read them exhaustively. Submissions not following these guidelines will be automatically rejected.

The editors on our board of editors are of the highest calibre with the finest credentials. Here is the list of all our editors:

ISBN 978-0-9868289-1-1

Board of Editors/Conseil des rédacteurs

Richard Vallance Janke, University of Western Ontario, Emeritus


Alexandre Solcà

Associate Editor-in-Chief, Université de Genève

Spyros Bakas,

Chief Associate Editor, University of Warsaw

Associate Editors:

John Bengtson, University of Minnesota

Julia Binnberg, University of Oxford, Classical Archaeology

Nic Fields, University of Newcastle, England

Jean-Philippe Gingras, Royal Military College of Canada

Jorrit Kelder, University of Oxford, Oriental Studies, Associate Professor

Roman Koslenko, Mykolaiv National University & National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine

Haris Koutelakis, Kapodistrian University of Athens

Massimo Perna, Università degli Studi di Napoli Suor Orsola Benincasa

Philipp Schwinghammer, Universität Leipzig, Historisches Seminar

Olivier Simon, Université de Lorraine, independent researcher, PIE

The most renowned of these editors are Spyros Bakas of the University of Warsaw, an expert in ancient Mycenaean and Greek warfare, and Jorrit Kelder of the University of Oxford, one of the worlds most famous researchers in Mycenaean Linear B.

Our Press promises to become one of the world’s most prestigious publishers in ancient Aegean studies in short order.

You may submit your first paper as of July 1 2018.

Richard Vallance Janke, Editor-in-Chief, May 9 2018

Preliminary Roster of Editors, Aux Éditions Konoso Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Konoso Press on academiaedu

Richard Vallance Janke, University of Western Ontario, Emeritus


Alexandre Solcà

Associate Editor-in-Chief, Université de Genève

Spyros Bakas,

Chief Associate Editor, University of Warsaw

Associate Editors:

Julia Binnberg, University of Oxford, Classical Archaeology

Nic Fields, University of Newcastle, England

Roman Koslenko, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine

Xaris Koutelakis, Kapodistrian University of Athens

Philipp Schwinghammer, Universität Leipzig, Historisches Seminar

Olivier Simon, Université de Lorraine

Editors Credentials and Degrees, plus their pages or home pages will appear in the Forward to each monograph published. Aux Éditions Konoso Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, will publish online monographs only, from 20-100 pages long, each with its own unique ISBN (International Standard Book Number). We shall be accepting our first submissions from the summer of 2018 onward. The first monograph will probably be published in early 2019. If you are interested in becoming an Associate Editor of our already prestigious board of editors, please contact Richard Vallance Janke at:

supplying your credentials and degrees, and the name of the institution from which you obtained your highest degree.

Thank you

Richard Vallance Janke,

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

April 2018


Astonishing commentary on my Exhaustive Linear A lexicon, comparing my achievements to those of Albert Einstein!

In the past week since I first uploaded my Exhaustive Linear A Lexicon, it has received 410 hits, i.e. downloads, as of 5:00 pm., Monday 7 August 2017. This amounts to almost 60 downloads a day. To download it, click below. You will then be taken to the next page, where you simply click the green DOWNLOAD button.

Exhausitve Linear Lexicon Richard Vallance Janke

The lexicon has catapulted me from the top 5% to the top 0.1% of users.
Comments and commendations have been pouring in. Unquestionably, the most astonishing is this one:

Linear A research by Richard Vallance Janke related to Albert Einstein and Coliln Renfrew

Other comments include:

wonderful topic... 

Inspired by your new perspective on one of the most studied cultures in the world.

Yes when you see their artifacts and the technology needed to create such items is amazing... Thanks for the reply and keep up the great work 


Réponse par Richard Vallance Janke à la recherche très récente sur la tablette AN PY 55 = AN 724, menée par Tina et Enriqueta Martinotti, dont leur étude : 

Tina MARTINOTTI, Enriqueta MARTINOTTI. Poétique Mycénienne dans la Tablette PY 724 An ( PY 55) de Pylos, classfiée comme " liste de rameurs ". Épigraphie mycénienne: traduction de la tablette en linéaire b Py 55=An 724 de Pylos classifiée c.. 2015. 


HAL Id: hal-01147208
Submitted on 29 Apr 2015

Depuis Chadwick, la tablette en linéaire b, classifiée Py 55=An 724 a été interprétée à partir de la lecture des séries de signes ro-o-wa comme le nom du port de Pylos et e-re-ta comme « rameur/s » ; plusieurs auteurs pensent que ce texte est une liste de rameurs. Mais la présence de la série ki-ti-ta, interprétée d’abord comme « agriculteur », a produit des controverses : Que faisait le mot « agriculteur » dans une liste de rameurs ? Finalement ki-ti-ta a été interprétée, de manière un peu téméraire comme «unité fiscale»3. Cette dernière hypothèse imagine le cas de l’infortune des agriculteurs qui, ne pouvant payer leurs taxes foncières, s’engageaient dans la marine.

Néanmoins, la tablette n’a aucune similitude avec une liste, elle présente des lignes complètes. Toutes ces approximations théoriques, en étant arbitraires, suggèrent une défaillance dans l’interprétation. Ainsi, cette tablette est l’objet de l’analyse que nous exposons ici, en prenant la méthode épigraphique des systèmes syllabaires dont un signe est homophonique, polysémique et logographique. La traduction, ici proposée, suit la méthodeinterprétative4 des phonèmes, et recherche l’énoncé produit pour l’homophonie. Notre analyse démontre que la tablette PY 55 ne traite pas d’une liste de rameurs, mais qu’il s’agit d’un admirable texte littéraire où le mythe, le culte et la tradition se trouvent étroitement liés aux données philologiques, archéologiques, iconographiques et géographiques. Cette tablette est une oeuvre littéraire mycénienne et une des premières chansons épiques ; un texte narratif qui renvoie aux rituels et offrandes dans la grotte dite aujourd’hui « Grotte de Nestor », ainsi que le sacrifice du taureau « auprès de la mer salée », tel que nous l’a transmis la tradition homérique. On verra que ce texte décrit l’épique d’une figure héroïque divine ; les exploits d’un dieu qui étaient dignes de mémoire pour les pyliens. Ce texte décrit un héros divin mythique, guérisseur, guerrier, fécondant, en étroit rapport avec la déesse Terre, et représentant, à ses yeux, l’idéal de la valeur et des vertus bienfaisantes...

à laquelle ma réponse à mon compte sur, ici :


Bonjour, Tina !

Je tiens à vous répondre cette fois de la manière la plus respectueuse, vu que je viens de lire très attentivement deux de vos articles. J’en lirai les autres dès que j’aurai le temps libre de les assimiler avec le plus grand soin.
Je dois vous avouer franchement que je suis très impressioné de votre recherche concernant le déchiffrement du syllabaire Linéaire B. Mais en dépit de mon admiration considérable de vos efforts énergiques à cet égard, je suis toujours constraint de garder plusieurs réservations relatives à votre hypothèse essentielle, là où il s’agit de la nature polysémiotique des syllabogrammes et des mots mycéniens, surtout à la lumière du syllabaire Linéaire C du dialecte arcado-chyprien, qui n’obéit en aucune manière à votre hypothèse essentiel, ce qui me rend plutôt soupçonneux, voire méfiant de quelques-unes des conclusions auxquelles vous souscrivez. De l’autre part, je suis ravi que mes propres hypothèses vous incitent finalement à promulguer les votres, car il est carrément évident que le monde international de la recherche historique et diachronique des syllabaires ne tire pas avantage de votre perspicacité pénétrante depuis je ne sais combien d’années. Néanmoins, il est vraiment à regretter que vous conduisez vos recherches, paraît-il, uniquement en français, étant donné que la plus grande proportion de loin des recherches dans tous les domaines scientifiques et techniques est menée, comme vous le savez très bien, uniquement en anglais.  Cela signifie en un mot que la très grande majorité des rechercheurs en linguistique historique et diachonique sont par forfait dépourvus des implications à grande portée, à fort impact et certes à long terme de vos recherches si importantes. Et cela, presqu’inutile de dire, c’est vraiment grand dommage ! Et c’est dans cette optique que presque toute la communauté mondiale de la recherche en linguistique restera  malheureusement dépourvue de l’impact considérable, voire, révolutionnaire, de vos recherches sur les syllabaires du monde antique. 

En plus de tout cela, il me reste à assumer la responsabilité de répondre nettement et de façon strictement logique à plusieurs de vos conclusions, non pas en français, mais en anglais, pour que les rechercheurs allophones en anglais puissent suivre la trame de notre discussion continue en ce qui regarde le déchiffrement des syllabaires Linéaire A et B, nonobstant le Linéaire C, dont je ferai au fur et à mesure plusieurs observations et commentaires d’extrême importance et pertinence à ce même égard.

Reste à constater qu’à partir d’aujourd’hui, je me sentirai obligé de discuter en anglais tout aspect des trois syllabaires dont il s’agit (les Linéaires A, B, et C)  de telle sorte que nos collègues allophones puissent suivre et comprendre notre dialogue soutenu.


Merci bien, ma collègue très estimée

Richard Vallance Janke

3 of my articles in Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (2014, 2015, & 2016) + Vol. 12 (2016) Figure 1 & 2 Tables:

Figure 1



2 Tables (nos. To be assigned)



as they will appear in the prestigious international hard-bound annual Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448. Vol. 12 (2016). This annual generally runs to 250-300 pp. 

It is impossible to cross-correlate Minoan Linear A tablets from Mycenaean Linear B tablets by means of retrogressive extrapolation without explicitly taking into account the fact that almost all Minoan Linear A tablets are vertical in their orientation (just as with modern inventories), while the vast majority of Mycenaean Linear B tablets are horizontal in their orientation. For more on this critical factor in the reasonably accurate decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablet, see (Click on the banner):


Articles published and to be published in Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448:

[1] My article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris)” has already been published in  Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 10 (2014). pp. 133-161 (Click banner to download it):


[2] My article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” is already slated for publication in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 11 (2015), to be released in the spring of 2017. (Click the banner for the announcement):


[3] My article,  “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Minoan Linear B tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” is to be published in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 Vol. 12 (2016) (Click the banner for the announcement):


This major announcement is shortly to appear on my account.


Which of the 2 decipherments of Linear A tablet HT 13, that of Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih and my own, do you believe is the more accurate?

PINTEREST boards of interest related to Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B (NEWEST Boards):

This is a reasonably comprehensive directory of PINTEREST boards of interest related to Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B. To visit each board, simply CLICK on its banner, and sign up, if you like: 


1900 – 1600 BC Ancient Greek/Minoan Pottery (Click BANNER to visit):

1900-1600 BC
Ancient Mycenaean Culture

ancient mycenaean culture

Bronze Age

Bronze Age
Civiltà egea
civilita egea
Homer’s Bronze Age
Homer's Bronze Aage

Minoan Fashion

Minoan fashion



Micenic_bronze age

Micenic bronze age

Richard Vallance — Linear Scripts, Superhero

PINTEREST superhero

Mycenaean Linear B: a very English genius: Michael Ventris (in 8 Parts)!

a very English genius Michael Ventris

These 8 videos taken all together bring us a full movie on the incredible accomplishments of Michael Ventris, who in June & July 1952 finally deciphered Mycenaean Linear, after 52 years of vain attempts by many other researchers to accomplish this truly remarkable feat! I myself have watched the entire film in 8 parts, and I found it thrilling!

Archaeology and Science (illustrations) No, 10 (2014) Post 2 of 2

This is the annual serial, Archaeology and Science No, 10 (2014), in which my article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952”, with translations by both Michael Ventris (1952) and Rita Roberts (2015) appear. This is the most beautiful periodical I have ever seen in my life.

I feel truly privileged to have been published in it. Look out for my second article , Archaeology and Science No, 11 (2015)




Archaeology and Science (illustrations) No, 10 (2014) Post 1 of 2

This is the annual serial, Archaeology and Science No, 10 (2014), in which my article, “An Archaeologist’s Translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952”, with translations by both Michael Ventris (1952) and Rita Roberts (2015) appear. This is the most beautiful periodical I have ever seen in my life. It is 274 pp. Long. It is in hard cover, and is worth about $80. The pages are on glossy paper and illustrated in full colour. As an author, I received a complimentary copy.

Archaeology and Science 2014 Vol. 10 front cover


Archaeology and Science 2014 Vol. 10 back cover

Archaeology and Science 2014 Vol. 10 Ventris 140 full

Archaeology and Science 2014 Vol. 14 Rita Roberts pg. 141 full

Archaeology and Science 2014 Vol. 10 Rita Roberts pg 141 close


PUBLISHED! Archaeology and Science. Vol. 10 (2014). An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 pp. 133-161 (
Click on banner to view the article: Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014

pp. 133-161



In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization,Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military aff airs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B.

This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.


Introduction to the article:

Why are there so many ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, 123 all told, with 30 in the pottery and vessels sector alone? This is no idle question. Of the 123 Linear B ideograms listed in Wikimedia Commons,1 fully 30 or 24.5 % are situated in the pottery and vessels sector of the Mycenaean economy, as illustrated in Table 1. But why so many? As I emphatically pointed out in the talk I gave at The Third Interdisciplinary Conference, “Thinking Symbols”, June 30-July 1 2015, at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw, Poland, in partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), with whom our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), is in full partnership, “No-one deliberately resorts to any linguistic device when writing in any language, unless it serves a useful purpose beneficial to more eff ective communication, contextual or otherwise.” (italics mine)...

Archaeology and Science Vol 10 2014
Rita Robert's translation of Pylos tablet 641-1952

Minoan dolphin amphora 2nd millennium BCEvessels on Pylos tablet 641-1952

Happy Third Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae!

Happy Third Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae!

Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae was founded in March 2013, and since then it has grown to become the premier Linear B blog on the entire Internet. Our blog covers every conceivable aspect of research into Mycenaean Linear B, including, but not exclusively, decipherment of hundreds of tablets from every single sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy (agriculture, military, textiles, spices & condiments, vessels and pottery and the religious sector); the translation of the introduction to Book II of the Iliad, plus the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II, with particular emphasis on the extensive influence of Mycenaean Linear B and of he Mycenaean world on the Catalogue of Ships; extensive vocabulary, lexicons and glossaries of Linear B; lessons in Linear B; progressive grammar of Linear B; extensive research into the 3,500 Scripta Minoa tablets from Knossos; and above all other considerations, the isolation, classification and decipherment of all 35+ supersyllabograms in every sector of the Minoan/Mycenaen economy (see above). Supersyllabograms were previously and erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in Mycenaean Linear B. The decipherment of supersyllabograms is the major development of the further decipherment of Linear B since the genius, Michael Ventris, first deciphered it in 1952.

But that is not all. Our blog also zeroes in on Minoan Linear A, with at least one successful attempt at deciphering at least one word on a major Linear A tablet, and that is the Linear A word for “tripod”, a truly serendipitous development, given that the same word was the first word ever translated in Mycenaean Linear B. Our blog also focuses on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, with a few translations of tablets in that script. In short, no other blog on the Internet deals as extensively with all three of these scripts, Linear A, Linear B and Linear C together.

It is also remarkable that we have had in excess of 80,000 visitors since our blog’s inception in March 2013. While this figure may seem rather smallish to many visitors, may I remind you that Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C are extremely esoteric in the field of ancient linguistics. To put it another way, how many people in the entire world do you imagine can read Mycenaean Linear B, and even fewer who can read Arcado-Cypriot Linear C? Scarcely more than a very few thousand out of a population of 7+ billion. So I believe that we have made great strides in the past three years, and I fully expect that we shall top 100,000 visitors by the end of this year, 2016.

Knossos tablet KN 497 O a 06 & the supersyllabogram DA = labrys = double axe:

Knossos tablet KN 497 O a 06 supersyllabogram DA = labrys = double axe

There isn’t much I can say about this tablet, apart from the fact that it inventories 6 double axes. The text on the left side is unintelligible, being left truncated. The importance of the labrys or double axe in the Minoan/Mycenaean religion cannot be over-stressed. This repetitive motif appears the whole length of the Hall of the Double Axes at Knossos – which I personally saw in May 2012 and which is a magnificent work of art. A nearly identical motif re-appears on frescoes at Mycenae. The presence of the labrys is all-pervasive in the Minoan/Mycenaean religious symbolism of the military. It is uncertain whether the religious or the military aspect predominates in such art, but I am inclined to say that it is the religious, since religious symbolism is rampant in the Minoan/Mycenaean pantheon. Moreover, their religion is primarily matriarchal, and not patriarchal. It is to be expected that religious mythology would trump military in matriarchal societies such as this.

Full PDF text of  “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” for the talk I gave at The Third International Disciplinary Conference ‘Thinking Symbols’ at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Poland, July 1 2015

Thinking Symbols

This is the full PDF text (Click to READ):

The Role of SSYLS in Mycenean Linear B

of the ground-breaking talk I gave at  The Third International Disciplinary Conference ‘Thinking Symbols’ at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, July 1 2015. This presentation constitutes the most significant breakthrough in the further decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B since the genius, Michael Ventris, realized a successful decipherment of the Linear B syllabary in June-July 1952. In this paper, I isolate, identify and classify all 34 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, previously and largely erroneously referred to as “adjuncts”  in the field of linguistic research into Linear B. The discovery of supersyllabograms is of such critical import to the full decipherment of Linear B that they simply cannot safely be ignored, to the peril of misinterpretation or even total misreadings of some 700-1,000 intact Linear B tablets from Knossos alone. In fact, it staggers the imagination to find that fully 34 of 61 syllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B alternatively function as supersyllabograms on hundreds of tablets. Actually, it is more accurate to say that syllabograms specifically identified as supersyllabograms are no longer simple syllabograms at all, as my talk makes perfectly clear. Read on, my friends, and stand as amazed as I was (and still am) at the discovery,  isolation, identification and classification of supersyllabograms in Linear B.

Furthermore, my presentation includes an extremely  comprehensive bibliography of 147 items on prior research into any and all phenomena related to syllabograms leading (in)directly to my own discovery of supersyllabograms as a phenomenon it is own right. This  bibliography even references (item 139) the upcoming publication of a major article by myself, which is to appear in the February 2016 issue of prestigious peer-reviewed European journal,

Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448,
February 2016. approx. 30 pp.


In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization, Linear B,Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military affairs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.

Keywords: Mycenaean Linear B, syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, supersyllabograms, adjuncts, Linear B tablets, Pylos, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), decipherment, translation, pottery, vessels, tripods, cauldrons, amphorae, kylixes, cups, goblets

Please note that this post shall shortly be supplemented with several more delving into the general application of supersyllabograms in Linear B, and into the specific application of them to every sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, from agriculture to the military, from textiles to vessels (pottery) to over-arching realm of the religious in their society.


Part B: a breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A? An introduction to supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy and the implications of their application to Linear A tablets for the earlier Minoan economy. 


Any attempt at deciphering Minoan Linear A is fraught with enormous difficulties which seem all but insurmountable. Obstructions such as the small   number of extant tablets, the most vocabulary which of necessity follows, and the impossibility of cross-correlation with any other ancient language make it all but futile practically to make any headway its decipherment, however partial or sporadic. Yet there is another approach which a researcher in South Africa has adopted: Click to visit SITE

african decipherment
Taking G.J.K. Campbell-Dunn’s method one step further, I propose that we attempt to decipher bits and pieces of Minoan Linear A by relying not only on its ideograms  exclusively,  but on syllabograms  adjacent to or affixed to them forming entire words, but above all where single syllabograms are incharged  in their ideograms, which in fact is the case with at least one extant tablet in Minoan Linear A sporting no fewer than 
5  of them, as we have already noted in the previous post. 

This approach dispenses entirely with the irksome necessity of making any effort to divine what class of languages Minoan linear A belongs to, if any. Almost all researchers have until now focused on asking just this question. Is Minoan linear A Indo-European? Does it belong to the Finnic language family, which falls completely outside the Indo-European orbit? Is it in any way related to Luvian, an ancient language of the Anatolian branch of Indo-European languages, as Sir Arthur Evans surmised it might be? This is what he has to say in Scripta Minoa, with reference to both Minoan Linear A and Linear B:

It would seem, therefore, unlikely that the language of the Cretan scripts was any kind of Greek, and probable that it was related to the early language or languages of  Western Anatolia  –  associated, that is, with the archaeological 'cultures’ of Alaja Hüyük I ( 'proto-hattic’) and  of Hissarlik II and Yortan  ( 'Luvian’)... ” , and a little further, “Though many of the sign-groups are compounded from distinct elements, usually of two syllables each, there is little trace of an organized system of grammatical suffixes, as in Greek. At most, a few signs are notably frequent as terminals... (italics mine)...

Some have surmised that the Minoan language may conceivably be an ancient “rogue” language, but I for one find that assumption a little hard to swallow. 
Of course, in 1952-1953 Michael Ventris finally proved Evans wrong about Linear B. But in retrospect, who can blame Evans for that, in view of the understandable utter lack of evidence to the contrary in his day and age. Anyway, there were (and still are) no extant tablets in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B with parallel text in another known ancient language, as had conveniently been the case with the Rosetta Stone, to come to the rescue towards convincing decipherment of the latter script, if not the former. In spite of this untoward situation, the latter, Linear B, was effectively deciphered by the genius Michael Ventris (1922-1956) in July 1952. 

Moving on then, any word which either precedes immediately or is nearly adjacent to any particular ideogram  in Minoan Linear A may in fact be the actual word corresponding to that ideogram, just as Michael Ventris firmly demonstrated it is in his translation of Pylos tablet 641-1952 (Ventris) in Mycenaean Linear B. So it stands to reason that the translation for a similarly situated word in Minoan Linear A which is (nearly) adjacent to its ideogram is, in fact, the very word the closely situated ideogram pictorially represents. If this notion seems far-fetched, let us stop for a moment to consider whether or not there is any relationship between such a phenomenon, should it exist, in Minoan Linear A and the actual one corresponding to it in Mycenaean Linear B. It just so happens that not only does a strikingly similar construct exist in Linear B, but that it is found on not scores, but hundreds of extant Linear B tablets (in the range of 725 all told from Knossos and Pylos, of which 700 are from Knossos alone).

Now what I am proposing is a cross-correlation  between the unknown meanings of at least a few Minoan words paired with the ideograms with which they are associated and the indisputably known values (meanings) of several Mycenaean words paired with strikingly similar if not identical ideograms in Linear B. In other words, we may very well have at hand an independent variable  in a deciphered ancient language against which we can compare at least a very few Minoan words, and that language is Mycenaean Linear B. Let us say that the latter acts as a sort of Rosetta Stone, in which deciphered words adjacent to ideograms act as a litmus test for (apparently) equivalent lexemes in Minoan Linear A.

It just so happens that there are two Minoan Linear A tablets which ideally serve our purpose. These are tablet HT 31 from Haghia Triada, as illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE

Linear A Tablet HT 31
and the Linear A tablet we introduced in the previous post: Click to ENLARGE

Linear A Ay. Nikolaos Mus
which bears an uncanny resemblance to Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the very first tablet of any length translated successfully by Michael Ventris in 1952-1953, here: Click to ENLARGE

Ventris translation linear-b-tablet-pylos-641-1952 LBK&M
itself re-deciphered in a more refined translation by Mrs. Rita Roberts, a retired archaeologist who resides not far from Heraklion and Knossos, Crete, as we see illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE

Rita Roberts Pylos TA Py 641-1952 Roberts burnt-from-legs-up LBK&M

Her much more recent translation (2015) is so accurate from a strictly archaeological  perspective that it serves an an ideal benchmark for the partial decipherment of at least a few of the words and the so-called incharged supersyllabograms representative of 5  of them on the Linear A tablet from the Ay Nikolaus Museum, Greece.

Yet before we can tackle a fragmentary decipherment of  these vessel types in Linear A, we first need to address (a) the pairing of translated words for 5  types of vessels on Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) as specifically and accurately identified by Rita Roberts, and (b) the even more significant phenomenon of what I refer to as supersyllabograms paired with ideograms on this and other extant tablets in the pottery and vessels sector of the Mycenaean economy, if we are to make any headway at all. We must take particular note of the extremely precise translations she makes of all of the types of vessels found on Pylos TA 641-1952. These are, respectively, tripod   (the most significant of them all, as we shall soon enough discover when we come to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31, 2 and 3 handled kylixes ,  the 24 and 32 handled pithoi   for the storage of olive oil or wine, and dipae (anowe) ,  small drinking cups, with (or without) handles. We need to to bear all of these vessel types firmly in mind, as they are going to make a cameo appearance in our attempt at the decipherment of at least a few types of vessels in Minoan Linear A infra  (the next post). 

 The implications of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B for a feasible translation of at least a few words for vessels in Minoan Linear A:

To recap a topic which I have addressed over and over on our blog, Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae, I advance the following definition of the phenomenon known as the supersyllabogram in Mycenaean Linear B. By default and without exception, supersyllabograms are the first syllabogram, in other words, the first syllable of one Mycenaean Linear B word or phrase in particular and no other, which is always solely dependent on the specific context of the economic sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy in which it appears. Change the context of the economic sector, for instance from the agricultural to the military or the vessels sector, and you automatically change the significance of the supersyllabogram, with very few exceptions, the most notable being the syllabogram ne , invariably meaning newo   (masc.), newa   (fem.) or “new” in all sectors. This clear-cut definition makes so much sense there is little or no reason to contest it.

Moreover, all such single syllabograms, a.k.a. supersyllabograms, without exception, appear either (a) adjacent to or (b) inside the ideogram they qualify, and (c) they are repeated over and over, like clockwork, on hundreds of tablets in almost every major sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, by which I mean, the agricultural and its sub-sectors (livestock of all sorts and primary crops), the military, the household, the vessels and pottery and the religious sectors.

Supersyllabograms appearing adjacent to their ideograms are invariably associative  , while those bound inside their ideograms are invariably attributive.  Associative supersyllabograms, which are found in droves in the agricultural sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, are either surcharged ,  adjacent to the top right or  occasionally to the top left, or supercharged  ,  situated right on top of the ideogram they qualify. Unfortunately, the scope of our present investigation does not leave us any room to focus on the equally significant phenomenon of associative supersyllabograms which are found on some 700  of 3,500  or fully 20 %  of extant tablets from Knossos alone! This we must leave until later on, since they too call for in-depth analysis of them in all sectors of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, but most notably in the agricultural sub-sector livestock, especially where sheep (rams & ewes) are concerned, to which they apply on 90 %  of all tablets in that sector.

Attributive supersyllabograms are invariably incharged , bound inside the ideogram they qualify.  It is these we are concerned with here, as they are eminently characteristic of the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, the very sector with which we are dealing, as we address their critical rôle in Mycenaean Linear B and Minoan Linear A, in which they apparently also appear, taking the tablet we addressed in the last post as our example.

Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B and the profound implications they may very well have on at least a minimal decipherment of a few (super) syllabograms in Linear A in the pottery and vessels sector in the Minoan economy: 

In 2014, extrapolating my findings to the vessels sector alone of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, I was quick to isolate and classify the supersyllabograms-cum-ideograms in the vessels sector alone of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy. There are 10 all told, and they are: Click to ENLARGE

10 Supersyllabograms in the Vessels Sector of Mycenaean Linear B

Here, two supersyllabograms in particular call for clarification.

The fist of these is ka , to which I have assigned four (4) possible variants. The most obvious of these is the first, kako or kakeyapi = copper. This SSYL (supersyllabogram) ka  might also possibly refer to kapo = fruit, hence, to a fruit jar, or to a stirrup jar, sometimes referred to as kararewe in Linear B or even to kati, a kind of (water) vessel or flask. Since the last under consideration here obviously overlaps with the incharged SSYL u,  which clearly designates a water jug, flask or flagon, I have no choice but to dispense with that meaning. While the vessel could be of copper, it is just as likely that the scribes were referring to the stirrup jar.  Of the latter two explanations, the last strikes me as the most convincing.

Next we have the SSYL po , which could refer to any of the following: posedao(ne) -or- (ni) = Posedaon i.e. Poseidon (god’s name) or to posidaewe, related to a cult apparently associated with Poseidon, potiniyaweya (adjectival/attributive), referring to the priestess or follower of the Minoan-Mycenaean/Homeric goddess, Potnia, to porenaya, attendants in sacrificial ceremonies, to porupode, an octopus, generally on a vase or amphora, to ponike, decorated with a griffin or ponikeya, crimson, and finally, to popureya, purple. Since we are confronted yet again with the conundrum, what did the scribes themselves intend the SSYL po   to signify, I felt obliged to account for all of these variants. Yet in light of the research literature on religious and sacrificial rites in the Minoan and Mycenaean societies, it strikes me that the most tenable translation or the SSYL po   is the adjectival attribute potiniyaweya, referring to a priestess or follower of the Minoan-Mycenaean/Homeric goddess, Potnia, since only only was their religion eminently matriarchal, but also this goddess in particular is frequently mentioned on extant tablets.

Now because we were not there when the scribes so often resorted to employing these supersyllabograms, we cannot ever really know what the SSYL po   or others like it resistant to interpretation meant to them. They certainly knew, and as a guild, they invariably assigned one meaning and one only to each supersyllabogram they deployed on the Linear B tablets. The supersyllabograms are therefore all standardized and all formulaic .  No variations were countenanced. Not that they ever cared one jot whether or not any one would understand their meaning in the future, since after all they were accountants, and accounts are by definition ephemeral. The extant inventory tablets from Knossos, Pylos and elsewhere only survive due to massive conflagration or other preservative factors at each archaeological site. But we still owe it to ourselves to make every effort to reconstitute a few variants on putative meanings assigned to each supersyllabogram which remains ambiguous, otherwise we learn nothing new of further value in the field of archaeological linguistics in either Mycenaean Linear B or Minoan Linear A.

Supersyllabograms (SSYLS) in Mycenaean Linear B are so information rich that they call for further clarification.

1. Previous researchers, most of them linguists specializing in Mycenaean Linear B, have, without exception, referred to supersyllabograms as “adjuncts” to the ideograms they qualify. But many of these are in fact far more than merely that. Close examination of a small cross-section of extant Linear B tablets concerned with pottery and vessels from Knossos, as illustrated  in the chart above, clearly demonstrates that this is the case. Here are just a few tablets in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy illustrative of what I mean: Click to ENLARGE each illustration

supersyllabogam Libation DI in Linear B
supersyllabogram water flask U udor in Linear B

2. My translations of even these few tablets alone reveals this astonishing finding: supersyllabograms replace not only single words but often entire phrases in Mycenaean Linear B. Effectively, they telescope what would have otherwise been discursive and space-wasting text on what are ostensibly small tablets in Linear B (ranging from 15 cm. wide to a maximum of 60 cm. by 60 cm deep), into a single discrete element, namely, themselves.

3. This reveals another prime characteristic of Linear B tablets deploying supersyllabograms as replacements or stand-in markers, i.e. subject headings, for Mycenaean words or phrases. Supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector alone (as in every other sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy) boil down to being shorthand . This discovery sets back the time frame for the first known use of shorthand some 3,300 years from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it was previously assumed shorthand originated. In this respect alone Mycenaean Linear B attains a high degree of versatility and sophistication virtually unknown to any other contemporaneous script, hieroglyphic or syllabogrammatic, inclusive of Linear C, which abandoned ideograms altogether as the very last step in the evolution from the pre-alphabetic syllabaries (Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arado-Cypriot Linear C) into the earliest known forms of the ancient Greek alphabet.

4. Above all other considerations, the majority of supersyllabograms in Linear B in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy are attributive, dependent on the ideograms they qualify. Attributive dependent supersyllabograms are never adjacent to the ideogram they qualify, but are always bound inside it. Without exception, they describe an actual attribute of the ideogram.

For instance, as we can see from the table of the 10  supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, the syllabogram a  inside the ideogram for a vessel with 2 handles is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word apiporewe, clearly identifying the vessel as an amphora. But why even bother tagging vessel as an amphora, when it is obvious that the ideogram in question looks so remarkably like an amphora in the first place? Recall that the Mycenaean scribes never used any linguistic device without a reason. In this case, the reason, I believe, is that the scribe deliberately inserts the syllabogram  a  inside the ideogram for what is probably an amphora anyway to call our attention to the fact that this vessel in particular is an extremely valuable, more than likely ornate specialty amphora intended for the Minoan or Mycenaean nobility in any one of the major palace complexes. I can see no other reason why any Mycenaean scribe would resort to such a tactic other than to identify it as a precious commodity.

Likewise, the simplified, streamlined syllabogram sa  (stripped of its small arms at 90 degrees to its Y arm) incharged   in the ideogram for a vessel is almost certainly the supersyllabogram for an unknown pre-Greek, probable Minoan word beginning with the syllabogram sa   (a distinct clue in and of itself) for raw flax, the agricultural crop the Mycenaeans Greeks called rino = flax (as an unrefined agricultural crop) or the refined product, linen cloth. Both of these supersyllabograms are incharged,  in other words, attributive,  as can clearly be deduced from their significance noted here. Although we can readily cite further examples from the table illustrative of the 10 supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, I must leave that analysis for another time and place. However, it is worthwhile noting that I have discovered, isolated and classified some twenty-five (25) attributive supersyllabograms alone (exclusive of associative) in all sectors of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy to date. That is a very great deal from a syllabary consisting of 61  syllabograms all told.

The phenomenon of ambiguity in the meaning of certain syllabograms incharged or surcharged to their ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B is a really nasty stickler in the interpretation of incharged supersyllabograms (if that is what they actually are) on extant tablets in Linear A in the Minoan language, which has stubbornly resisted all attempts at decipherment to date. Any attempt to decipher incharged supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A amounts to a daring plunge into an unknown sea. But I for one love to dive, and I swim well enough to take the plunge.   

Now it just so happens that everything we have just noted about supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector in Mycenaean Linear B may indeed apply just as well to the same sector in the earlier Minoan economy. This we shall demonstrate in the next post.


Just uploaded to, An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology (PDF)


This glossary serves as a baseline introduction to linguistics terminology. As such, at first glance, it may not appear to be of much value to those of us who are linguists. However, if you are a professor or teacher of linguistics, you may find this little glossary of benefit to your students, especially undergraduates. As for those of you who are archaeologists and whose field of specialization is not linguistics, you will more than likely find this little lexicon of some real practical value if ever you have need to have recourse to linguistics terminology. There are as well plenty of other people whose specialization is not linguistics, but who would like to familiarize themselves with at least some of the most generalized terminology of linguistics. Moreover, there are those among you who are not professional linguists at all, but who may have contributed something of real merit to the field, or are about to to do so.

Recall the astonishing contribution of Michael Ventris,

Michael Ventris

an architect and not a professional linguist at all, who single-handedly deciphered the Linear B syllabary as the script of the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean Greek, not to mention many other geniuses outside the orbit of linguistics who have also made revelatory if not revolutionary discoveries that no linguist ever realized. We should keep firmly in mind that Michael Ventris alone managed to decipher Linear B, after a half-century of utterly fruitless attempts by professional linguists to accomplish this astounding feat of the intellect. This is not to say that a great many academic linguists have not accomplished similar remarkable breakthroughs in the field, because they most certainly have. Still, linguistics, like any other field of study in the humanities or sciences, is not the exclusive purview of the so-called ivory tower league. Whether or not we are ourselves matriculated linguists, we should always bear this in mind.

Finally, lest we forget, there are many among us may simply be curious about general Linguistics Terminology, in order to familiarize yourself with it, just in case a glossary such as this one, however limited, may whet your appetite for more. You never know. Nothing venture, nothing gained.


Because this little glossary is in PDF format, it is very easy for you to download it, save it on your computer so that you can view it in Adobe Acrobat, and even print it out at your leisure. To download this glossary, click on this LINK:


As for my own status on, of which I have been a member for just under a month, yesterday I had 94 followers, today I have 100, while at the same time my page has already been viewed 1,215 times as of the time of this writing. Yesterday I was in the top 1% of researchers cited, or whose work was downloaded on, while now I am in the top 0.5%. The most astonishing thing is that my paper, Did you know you speak Mycenaean Greek? You do! sas already been downloaded 373 times from, placing it firmly in the top 2% of all articles, documents, research papers etc. downloaded from there in the past 30 days. And it has only been online for three weeks at most.
Is for you? You bet it is!
If nothing else, I have come to the definitive conclusion that is a far better venue than any other on the entire Internet for students and researchers in any academic field whatsoever. If you wish to see your research papers downloaded more often than anywhere else on the Internet, this is the place to be. It is far more efficient in attracting the attention of the international open research community than any other place on the Internet, bar none. So if you are an academic or even a student in any discipline whatsoever, you really should sign up for, and it is free! Go here to sign up:

I am truly grateful for the attention that researchers, academics and students on this prestigious site are giving to my research, yet surely not mine alone, but also that of my distinguished colleague and fellow researcher, Rita Roberts of Crete.

Rita Roberts

Keep your eyes on Rita's own page,   where she will soon be uploading her seminal article on her translation of Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952, the very first that Michael Ventris himself translated in 1952.

Rita's translation is bound to arouse a lot of attention on, since she is an archaeologist with a unique perspective on the import of this famous tablet, thus in a position to produce a translation which those of us as linguists may have overlooked. I for one would never have been able to accomplished a translation in the manner Rita Roberts has finessed hers. Please remember to follow Rita on, as that the place where she will eventually be publishing all of her research articles and documents on Mycenaean Linear B.  Until such time as it appears on, to review  her excellent translation, please click here:

Rita Roberts Py 641-1952 translation

Our special offer to assist in the promotion of our fellow researchers who often visit our blog:

By the way, if any of you who often visit us here at Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae would like us to promote you on (once you have signed up there), we will be delighted to do so, regardless of your own area of research, even if it has nothing to do with linguistics. We shall post the links to the pages of the first 5 people who request this of us, once that many have contacted us with this in mind (but not before). So please be patient and bear with us. We are behind you all 100%.


Uploaded to, my research on: Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Cursory Comparison of their Handwriting

Although I originally posted this brief research paper here on our blog about two months ago, I have just uploaded a revised, and slightly more complete version of it here:

Alan Turing and Michael Ventris handwriting title
which anyone of you visiting our blog may download at leisure, provided that you first sign up with, which is a free research clearinghouse, replete with thousands of superb research articles in all areas of the humanities and arts, science and technology and, of course, linguistics, ancient and modern. The advantages of signing up with are many. Here are just a few:

1. While it is easy enough to read any original post on our blog, it is very difficult to upload it, especially since almost all of our posts contain images, which do not readily lend themselves to uploading into a word processor such as Word or Open Office.
2. On the other hand, since almost all research articles, papers, studies, journal articles and conference papers are in PDF format, they can be uploaded from with ease. You will of course need to install the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to download any research paper or article, regardless of author(s) or source(s). You can download it from here:

adobe acrobat reader download 
3. is the perfect venue for you to set up your own personal page where you may upload as many of your research papers as you like.
4. is also one of the best research resource hubs on the entire Internet where you can find not just scores, but even hundreds of papers or documents of (in)direct interest to you as a researcher in your own right in your own field of expertise.
5. Of course, you will want to convey this great news to any and all of your colleagues and fellow researchers, whether or not they share your own interests.

My own home page is:

Richard Vallance

I would be most grateful if you were to follow me and if you would like me to follow you back, please let me know.


Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Comparison of their Handwriting

I have always been deeply fascinated by Alan Turing and Michael Ventris alike, and for obvious reasons. Primarily, these are two geniuses cut from pretty much the same cloth. The one, Alan Turing, was a cryptologist who lead the team at Bletchley Park, England, during World War II in deciphering the German military’s Enigma Code, while the other, Michael Ventris, an architect by profession, and a decipherment expert by choice, deciphered Mycenaean Linear B in 1952.

Here are their portraits. Click on each one to ENLARGE:

Alan Turing portrait

Michael Ventris Linear B grid AMINISO

Having just recently watched the splendid movie, The Imitation Game, with great pleasure and with an eye to learning as much more as I possibly could about one of my two heroes (Alan Turing), I decided to embark on an odyssey to discover more about each of these geniuses of the twentieth century. I begin my investigation of their lives, their personalities and their astounding achievements with a comparison of their handwriting. I was really curious to see whether there was anything in common with their handwriting, however you wish to approach it. It takes a graphologist, a specialist in handwriting analysis, to make any real sense of such a comparison. But for my own reasons, which pertain to a better understanding of the personalities and accomplishments of both of my heroes, I would like to make a few observations of my own on their handwriting, however amateurish.      

Here we have samples of their handwriting, first that of Alan Turing: Click to ENLARGE 

Alan Turing handwriting sample

and secondly, that of Michael Ventris: Click to ENLARGE

Michael Ventris handwriting letter 18 june 1952

A few personal observations:

Scanning through the samples of their handwriting, I of course was looking for patterns, if any could be found. I think I found a few which may prove of some interest to many of you who visit our blog, whether you be an aficionado or expert in graphology, cryptography, the decipherment of ancient language scripts or perhaps someone just interested in writing, codes, computer languages or anything of a similar ilk.

Horizontal and Vertical Strokes:

1. The first thing I noticed were the similarities and differences between the way each of our geniuses wrote the word, “the”. While the manner in which each of them writes “the” is obviously different, what strikes me is that in both cases, the letter “t” is firmly stroked in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The second thing that struck me was that both Turing and Ventris wrote the horizontal t bar with an emphatic stroke that appears, at least to me, to betray the workings of a mathematically oriented mind. In effect, their “t”s are strikingly similar. But this observation in and of itself is not enough to point to anything remotely conclusive.
2. However, if we can observe the same decisive vertical () and horizontal (|) strokes in other letter formations, there might be something to this. Observation of Alan Turing’s lower-case “l” reveals that it is remarkably similar to that of Michael Ventris, although the Ventris “l” is always a single decisive stroke, with no loop in it, whereas Turing waffles between the single stroke and the open loop “l”. While their “f”s look very unalike at first glance, once again, that decisive horizontal stroke makes its appearance. Yet again, in the letter “b”, though Turing has it closed and Ventris has it open, the decisive stroke, in this case vertical, re-appears. So I am fairly convinced we have something here indicative of their mathematical genius. Only a graphologist would be in a position to forward this observation as a hypothesis.

Circular and Semi-Circular Strokes:

3. Observing now the manner in which each individual writes curves (i.e. circular and semi-circular strokes), upon examining their letter “s”, we discover that both of them write “s” almost exactly alike! The most striking thing about the way in which they both write “s” is that they flatten out the curves in such a manner that they appear almost linear. The one difference I noticed turns out to be Alan Turing’s more decisive slant in his “s”, but that suggests to me that, if anything, his penchant for mathematical thought processes is even more marked than that of Michael Ventris. It is merely a difference in emphasis rather than in kind. In other words, the difference is just a secondary trait, over-ridden by the primary characteristic of the semi-circle flattened almost to the linear. But once again, we have to ask ourselves, does this handwriting trait re-appear in other letters consisting in whole or in part of various avatars of the circle and semi-circle? 
4. Let’s see. Turning to the letter “b”, we notice right away that the almost complete circle in this letter appears strikingly similar in both writers. This observation serves to reinforce our previous one, where we drew attention to the remarkable similarities in the linear characteristics of the same letter. Their “c”s are almost identical. However, in the case of the vowel “a”, while the left side looks very similar, Turing always ends his “a”s with a curve, whereas the same letter as Ventris writes it terminates with another of those decisive strokes, this time vertically. So in this instance, it is Ventris who resorts to the more mathematical stoke, not Turing. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Overall Observations:

While the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris do not look very much alike when we take a look, prime facie, at a complete sample overall, in toto, closer examination reveals a number of striking similarities, all of them geometrical, arising from the disposition of linear strokes (horizontal & vertical) and from circular and semi-circular strokes. In both cases, the handwriting of each of these individual geniuses gives a real sense of the mathematical and logical bent of their intellects. Or at least as it appears to me. Here the old saying of not being able to see the forest for the trees is reversed. If we merely look at the forest alone, i.e. the complete sample of the handwriting of either Alan Turing or Michael Ventris, without zeroing in on particular characteristics (the trees), we miss the salient traits which circumscribe their less obvious, but notable similarities. General observation of any phenomenon, let alone handwriting, without taking redundant, recurring specific prime characteristics squarely into account, inexorably leads to false conclusions.

Yet, for all of this, and in spite of the apparently convincing explicit observations I have made on the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris, I am no graphologist, so it is probably best we take what I say with a grain of salt. Still, the exercise was worth my trouble. I am never one to pass up such a challenge.

Be it as it may, I sincerely believe that a full-fledged professional graphological analysis of the handwriting of our two genius decipherers is bound to reveal something revelatory of the very process of decipherment itself, as a mental and cognitive construct. I leave it to you, professional graphologists. Of course, this very premise can be extrapolated and generalized to any field of research, linguistic, technological or scientific, let alone the decipherment of military codes or of ancient language scripts. 

Many more fascinating posts on the lives and achievements of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris to come! 


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Φιλολογικά φύλλα

... από την περιπέτεια της θεωρίας, της ερμηνείας και της διδασκαλίας

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