Category: Tablets



New interpretation of Linear A tablet PE 1 (Petras), grain crops:

In light of recent crucial discoveries I have made with respect to the cultivation of grain crops in the Bronze Age, particularly in Crete, I have revised my original decipherment of this tablet to read as follows:

Linear A tablet Petras PE 1 grains

Although it is uncertain whether or not the supersyllabogram PA refers to pa3qe (paiqe) or even if that word refers to the specific crops, millet or spelt, at least we do know the tablet is referencing grains throughout, because the ideogram for them appears twice, with the same supersyllabogram both times. It would appear that the 72 men are the sowers or harvesters. If that is the case, then ukare or asesina might mean sowing or harvesting”, more likely the latter than the former. The addition of these two new words raises the total number of entries in the Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon from 1029 to 1031, now 257 more than the 774 in the Linear A Reverse Lexicon by Prof. John G. Younger, such that our lexicon is 25 % larger than his.

 


Linear A tablet ZA 4 RECTO (Zakros) is quite a mess, since so much of the text is damaged:

Linear A tablet ZA 4a RECTO Zakros

As you can see for yourself, Linear A tablet ZA 4 RECTO (Zakros) is quite a mess, since so much of the text is damaged. I have attempted to restore some of the badly scratched syllabograms. These include tu and e on line 1, pi and se on line 2 & se on line 4 (which can also be read alternatively as the ideogram for olives/olive oil”). Many of my interpretations of syllabograms are at odds with those of Prof. John G. Younger, but this is nothing unusual, especially in instances where tablets are as badly damaged as is this one.

With the exception of situ, which obviously means wheat, I have made no effort to decipher this tablet, as it would be a fruitless endeavour given its poor state of preservation, and the uncertainty of the values of several syllabograms resulting from it.


Early Minoan hieroglyphic roundels and seals may lend some insight into the later development of the Linear A syllabary:

Minoan hieroglyphic writing

 

As illustrated above, early Minoan hieroglyphic roundels and seals may lend some insight into the later development of the Linear A syllabary. Notice that the the hieroglyphic for an axe or labrys looks remarkably like the Linear A and Linear B syllabogram for A, while the Y shaped hieroglyphic, whatever it is supposed to represent (and no one knows what), is similar to the Linear A syllabogram for SA. So it is conceivable, however remotely, that this hieroglyphic seal may actually read asa or saa, whichever way you read it (not that we have any idea what that is supposed to mean).Then we have the hieroglyphic marked with an asterisk (*). This looks very much like a vase, amphora or flask to hold wine, water or possibly even olive oil. There is another one which looks like a fish. That should not be too surprising, given that the ideogram for fish does appear on at least one extant Linear A fragment from Phaistos, as we have witnessed in a recent previous post. Finally, on the bottom line, the seal marked (f) bears a hieroglyphic which looks like a bat, and this in turn may very well be the antecedent to the Linear A syllabogram MA. But this hieroglyphic is not that of a bat, but rather of a cat, which we can see from the beautiful seal on the top left of the illustration. This is substantiated by the some of the variations in the scribal hands for Linear A MA, which indeed look like the visage of a cat, as we see here:

Linear A scribal hands for MA = cat

So I guess it is a cat.


Linear A fragment PH 8 (Phaistos), largely indecipherable for scanty text:

Linear A fragment Phaistos PH 8

My interpretation of Linear A fragment PH 8 (Phaistos), largely indecipherable for scanty text, is very much at odds with that of Prof. John G. Younger. This is not the first time either.


Linear A fragment from Phaistos with a fish remarkably resembling the ancient Christian-like iconography of the fish:

Phaistos Linear A tablet with fish Christian-like iconography

This Linear A fragment from Phaistos, which was found in the same cache as PH 7, is remarkable insofar as we find on it the sole occurrence of the ideogram for fishon any Linear A tablet anywhere, regardless of provenance.

This symbol is remarkable for two reasons. First, it is clearly a reflection of the inscription on Phaistos fragment PH 7, which reads as follows, “(illumined by) the firebrand of the goddess of healing, the bread of healing with water from a cup”. If this is not reminiscent of the Christian communion, I do not know what is. But we can go even further. The resemblance between the fish ideogram on this Linear A fragment from Phaistos to the fragment bearing an anchor, fish and Greek chi ro symbols from the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian

chi-rho fish anchor fragment from catacombs of saint sebastian

is so striking that one is left wondering how this can possibly be. However, there may be less of a mystery here than we might otherwise imagine. It is a well known historical phenomenon in ancient religions that a later religion frequently borrows its iconography from a former.

Additional critical  highly relevant commentary by Daniel Rocha:

It is true that later religions borrow from older religions, but it seems that these symbols kind of run in parallel to Judaism, as far as I know. In any case, the symbols you are mentioning are linked to the worship of Atargatis. This deity used to be the wife of God in the very primitive versions of Judaism. If what you are pointing is true, it seems that the worship of Mary is justified, since she would be the wife of God. But, as far as I know, this cult among Jews did not exist in the 1st century CE.

But look here: “It has also been proposed that the element -gatis may relate to the Greek gados “fish”.[14] (For example, the Greek name for “sea monster” or “whale” is the cognate term ketos. So Atar-Gatis may simply mean “the fish-goddess Atar”.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichthys

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atargatis

Atargatis

But it could be like gados mana, fish food or something along these lines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna#Origin

Plus an additional comment by Richard Vallance Janke:

The Linear A word keta/kete, which very much appears to be the same word, first in the accusative of aspect (keta) and secondly in the instrumental sing. (kete, meaning “with fish”), of which the masculilne singular in Linear A would have been keto, and which is the equivalent of ancient Greek gados. If this is the case, then the fish ideogram on this fragment from Phaistos echoes even more closely the text of Phaistos PH 7, which as we have already seen is a religious ceremony involving a libation of water along with the bread of healing. If all of this rings true, then the relationship between these two fragments is so striking it simply cannot be ignored. Moreover, the Hebrew, manna (grains, bread), interpreted in Christianity as the bread of Heaven, also appears in Linear A as mana, another astonishing co-incidence.

Richard

Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) with John G. Youngers errors corrected:

Linear A tablet HT 14 Haghia Triada

 


Rita Robert’s translation of an extremely challenging Linear B tablet, KN 903 D a 01:

Linear B tablet KN 903 D a 01

Linear B Latinized:
Line 1: Watoakoraya + ideogram for “rams” 60 + ideo for “ewes” 270 + ideo for aiza = billy goat  49
Line 2: ideogram for “she goat” 130 + ideo for siaro = “boar” 17 + ideo for sow 41 + ideo for tauro -or- toro = “bull/ox”   + ideo for “cow” 4

Decipherment:
Line 1: From the market in Wato (or: from the town market), 60 rams and 270 ewes plus 49 billy goats
Line 2: along with 130 she goats plus 17 boar plus 41 sows 2 bulls  and 4 cows



Decipherment of the RECTO of Linear A tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A Haghia Triada HT 86

It is possible to decipher this tablet and several others dealing with grain crops with a reasonable degree of accuracy and, in the case of some words, with complete accuracy. The Linear A word akaru is almost certainly the equivalent of akaro, and not of akareu, in Linear B, the latter interpretation of John G. Younger being utterly out of the question in context. The standard Old Minoan words for emmer wheat and “roasted einkorn” are kunisu and dideru. The second of these words, dideru, is equivalent to Linear B, didero, but neither word appears in any later ancient Greek dialect, leading me to draw the inference that dideru/didero is either archaic proto-Mycenaean Greek or that it falls within the pre-Greek substratum or alternatively that it is Old Minoan (OM). As for dame, it appears to be dative singular for damu (Linear A) or damo (Linear B), hence grains for the village wheat”. Finally, minute would appear to signify “and for one month”, te being enclitic, meaning “and”, with the entire phrase derived from mini = “month”. The actual case structure for the ultimate u has yet to be determined for Old Minoan. Unfortunately, it will be some time before I can tackle Old Minoan grammar (declensions and conjugations), as I must first decipher as many Old Minoan, pre-Greek substratum and Mycenaean-derived words as I can in Linear A. And these run to at least 300 out of 988 Minoan words I have isolated.


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #6 Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes)

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 Arkhanes digitized


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #5 Linear A tablet MA 1 (Malia)

Linear A Malia MA 1 digitized


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #4 Linear A tablet KH 11 (Khania)

Linear A tablet KH 11 Khania digitized

 


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #3 Linear A tablet KH 10 (Khania)

Linear A tablet KH 10 Khania digitized


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: #2 Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania)

Here is the digitally enhanced version of KH 5:

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania digitized

versus the original photo of it as found on the Internet:

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania original

The original photo is severely underexposed, fuzzy and definitely off-colour.


Digital enhancement of Linear A & B tablets: # 1 Linear A tablet ZA 14 (Zakros)

Lineat A tablet digitally enhanced

So many photographs of both Linear A and B tablets on the Internet are of such poor quality that they are often practically illegible, even when the entire inscriptions are extant. Photos are underexposed, fuzzy and off-colour. I have taken it upon myself to correct as many of these flaws as I possibly can. The results are sometimes nothing short of spectacular and usually very good. I hope everyone who uses them enjoys them to the fullest. You have my permission to reproduce them, but please do not alter their appearance. The amount of work I have to pour into each digitization can run to at least one hour.   


For the first time ever in history, a conjectural full restoration of an entire Linear A tablet, ZA 20 (Zakros):

Linear A tablet ZA 20 Zakros restored

In the previous post, I conjectured how the text of the missing top of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) might have read. While we shall never know for certain, one thing is sure: we do know that the entire tablet dealt with grain crops. It therefore stands to reason that the missing text on the top must have inventoried grains. With this firmly in mind, I have endeavoured to reconstruct what I believe how the missing text may have read. It could very well have run something along these lines:

kireta2 (kiretai) 11 dideru 42 dideru 30 qerie 22 qerie 6

NOTE that kireta2 (kiretai) is the Minoan orthography for Greek krithai (Latinized), which of course is barley.

Translation: 11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn

for a total of 111

which when taken into account with total of 19 on the bottom half of the tablet yields a grand total of 130.

Hence the decipherment of the entire tablet with the top half restored as conjectured, reads as follows:

11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn + ro? with dry units of measurement (i.e. bushel-like units) + 4 units of mi? + ? + ? + along with 1 bushel-like unit of wheat 7 12 bushel-like units of te*123 (flax?) + 2 bushels of rumatase (spelt?) for a grand total of 130.

As you can readily see, this decipherment makes perfect sense, and in any case, even if the text of original tablet did not read quite this way, it must have read very much like this.

You will forgive my awful scribal hand. I cannot hope to be able to replicate the finer hand of the original scribe.


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 ARKH 2 (Arkhanes), dealing with wine and pomegranate juice?

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 Arkhanes

Linear A tablet ARKH 2 (Arkhanes) appears to deal with wine and pomegranate juice. This being so, we have now deciphered 2 Linear A tablets centred on this subject. If the two decipherments withstand scrutiny, they lend credence to the notion that wine and pomegranate juice were produced in pre-Mycenaean Minoan times. It is uncertain whether or not pomegranate juice was mixed with wine, but if it was, the composite alcoholic beverage would have been delicious. We recall that ancient wine, even as late as Roman times, was more sour than modern wine; hence, the need to sweeten it. The most common sweetener was honey, but it is conceivable that pomegranate juice was also used, at least in the middle and early late Minoan eras.

On a final note, I have greatly enhanced and digitized the original of this tablet, which was originally under-focused and fuzzy.


Proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield:

Trojan roundel in proposed Mycnaean-derived Linear A

This is my proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield. It is highly probable that a roundel of Trojan origin inscribed in Linear A would have been entirely composed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan Linear A, since after all the Trojan War occurred near the end of the Mycenaean Era (ca. 1250-1200 BCE). Given the late date, it is improbable that it would have been inscribed in Old Minoan. Why it is inscribed in Linear A rather than in Linear B, which would have been the expected syllabary, remains a mystery. However, there is evidence that Mycenaean scribes switched back and forth between Linear A and Linear B indiscriminately.


Partial conjectural decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 6 Haghia Triada (VERSO):

Haghia Triada Linear A tablet HT6 VERSO

If there is any Linear A tablet which has proven a real headache, it has to be this one. The surface of the VERSO of HT 6 (Haghia Triada) is so badly damaged that experts such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog and Prof. John G. Younger cannot even agree on a few syllabograms in the text, while I myself disagree with them on some of the same. Additionally, there is no consensus on the values of Linear A fractions. Interpretations by Andras Zeke and Prof. John G. Younger of the smaller fractional values often do not agree. So I am unwilling to add fuel to the fire. I simply choose whichever value (either that of Zeke or of Younger) seems more convincing to me. At any rate, no one today can determine with any degree of accuracy numeric values in Minoan Linear or Mycenaean Linear B, since both syllabaries are so historically remote as to preclude any convincing readings.

As for the syllabograms on this tablet, once again, Andras Zeke and John G. Younger do not agree on the values of at least 3 of them. And I find myself at odds with their own interpretations. This is the result of the shoddy scribal hand and the less than ideal condition of the tablet itself. As for maridi, I find myself obliged to read it as if it were meridi, since the interpretation wool (mari) is utterly out of the question in the context of this tablet, whereas reading it as meridi = “honey” makes much more sense contextually. As for sama, it may be the Minoan equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B samara = mound/hill”, but once again, this interpretation is conjectural. I have previously tentatively deciphered Old Minoan (OM) pa3nina (painina) as “an amphora for the storage of… ”, but here again, I have gone out on a limb. Nevertheless, the interpretation once again suits the context. Once all of fig and pomegranate juice (RECTO) and the drops of wine and honey (VERSO) are accounted for, we can see that this tablet may deal with a recipe for a sweet alcoholic beverage, which with these ingredients would indeed be delicious.

Consequently, any convincing decipherment of the VERSO of HT 6 is beyond our reach. We simply have to muddle through it and come up with the best alternatives we can for each apparently decipherable word. However, by fully taking into account the much more accessible text on the RECTO of HT 6, I believe I have been able to rescue a small portion of the significance of the text on the VERSO by placing it in its proper context with the RECTO. See the previous post for my fuller decipherment of the RECTO.


Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO: ripe figs and pomegranates:

HT 6 RECTO

Linear A tablet HT 6 (Haghia Triada) RECTO deals with ripe crops, including figs and pomegranates. Although we do not know what the Old Minoan words jaru or ruja (could be either), mazu and daqera mean, they are almost certainly kinds of ripe crops, some of them fruits. However, it is possible that mazu derives from the proto-Indo-European mat = to plant, hoe. Cf. Occitan massa and Spanish maza = “mallet”. This makes sense in context.

Of the probable Mycenaean-derived New Minoan words, pitaja, on line 2, which appears to mean “drinkable”, would imply that we are dealing with 24 units (cups?) of fig juice, in view of the fact that figs are specified as the first ripe crop on line 1.

It is noteworthy that, as the result of having learned how to decipher some 25-30 Linear A tablets, all of which are at least partially inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, I am finally gaining greater insight into the vocabulary, Old Minoan and New Minoan alike, of Linear A tablets.

Since this tablet is so information rich, I am obliged to decipher the VERSO in the next post.

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