Tag Archive: archaic Greek



Converting Linear B to ancient Greek, Level 1b:

converting Linear A to ancient Greek level1b

Table 2 above illustrates further refinements in the conversion of Linear B spelling to (archaic) ancient Greek orthography. We note in particular Linear B pedira, which becomes pe/dila in ancient Greek. This is because there exists no L series of syllabograms, i.e. LA LE LI LO LU, in Linear B. On the other hand, a great many (archaic) ancient Greek words contain the letter l (lambda) = l Latinized. One such word is pe/dila. So it is to be expected that the l (lambda) = l Latinized in words such as pe/dila must be represented by R in Linear B. There is just no way around it. Next, we have the word onata in Linear B, which of course turns out to be o/nata in (archaic) ancient Greek, just as we would naturally expect. But this word has an alternative spelling o/naton, which is not feminine at all, but rather neuter. Now it just so happens that almost all neuter words in ancient Greek must terminate in n, Latinized as n. But since Linear B is a syllabary, it is impossible for any Linear B word to end in a consonant. However, since almost all neuter ancient Greek words end in n, this consonant must be added to the ancient Greek equivalent of the Linear B word to which it corresponds.
    

How to convert Linear B vocabulary into (archaic) ancient Greek: PART A: feminine

PART A: Level 1a

converting Linear A to ancient Greek level1a

We note in the Table 1 above that in many instances the correlation between the Linear B and (archaic) ancient Greek orthography is (practically) one on one, i.e. the spelling is identical or almost identical in Linear B and in (archaic) ancient Greek. The attribute (archaic) is optional, since sometimes the Greek word parallel to the Linear B is simply ancient Greek, whereas at other times, the word parallel to the Linear B is archaic ancient Greek. But it really does not make any difference in the end, because the Greek spelling to the right of the Linear B word is the preferred orthography, as simple as that. Thus, in Table 1, the Greek for aiza, eneka, kama, meta and Samara is identical to the Linear B. Since Samara is capitalized, Greek S or sigma is also upper case, S rather than lower case, s. In the case of Linear B arura, the ancient Greek has an additional vowel, ou as in arou/ra. There is nothing at all unusual in such a small discrepancy in spelling between Linear B and ancient Greek, since Linear B u may be expressed as simply u or as ou in ancient Greek, because the pronunciation of u and ou is identical in ancient Greek.

In the case of Linear B Manassa (also capitalized, because it is a theonym), Linear B single s becomes double ss in ancient Greek. This is because it is impossible for two adjacent consonants to follow one another in Linear B, which is a syllabary, in which absolutely all syllabograms must end in a vowel, whereas ancient Greek, which is an alphabet, far more frequently doubles consonants, i.e. allows for adjacent consonants. While this seems counter-intuitive at first sight, once we have covered all Linear B words in the feminine, masculine and neuter genders, this will become transparent.

Finally, we note the / above one of the syllables in each of the Greek words in this table. This is called the acute accent (/), indicating on which syllable the stress must fall in that word. So ai/za (Latinized) is pronounced AIza in ancient Greek, e/neka Eneka, ka/ma KAma, Ma/nassa MAnassa, meta/ meTA and Sama/ra SaMAra.

This phenomenon is identical to the stress on the primary syllable in English, except that English never uses accents, not even / acute. So in English we have HOUsing, deCIpherant, deCIsion, Elephant, instiTUtion and SEparation etc. etc. To English-speaking people, this is intuitive, but to people learning English as a second language (ESL) the position of the accented syllable is far from intuitive, because English simply has no accents of any kind. In this sense, English is very odd, because almost all other modern languages have accents (for whatever reason, stress or not). On the other hand, the stressed syllable in ancient Greek is glaringly obvious, because it always bears the acute accent / above it.    


THE MYCENAEAN LINEAR B “ROSETTA STONE” TO MINOAN LINEAR Tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) Vessels and Pottery

Richard Vallance

has just been uploaded to my academia.edu account, here:

Mycenaean Rossetta Stone for Linear A tablet HT 31

To DOWNLOAD it, click on the DOWNLOAD button on the top right hand side of the page.

ABSTRACT

In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), we address past and current prospects for the decipherment of the Minoan language, which has never met with any credible success in the 117 years since the ?rst discovery of Minoan Linear A tablets by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos in 1900. A considerable number of philologists and historical linguists, some of them amateurs, claim to have deciphered the Minoan language, yet no one has ever formulated a convincing decipherment. We advance a unique and entirely untested approach to unravelling the text of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), based on the principle of cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation (CCRE) from Mycenaean Linear B to Linear A. HT 31 so closely parallels Mycenaean Linear B tablet, Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) that the latter effectively serves as a kind of “Rosetta Stone” for the former. There is also credible evidence that a Mycenaean derived superstratum imposed itself on Linear A as the result of the Mycenaean conquest of Knossos and Crete ca. 1500 – 1450 BCE or, failing that, their all but absolute suzerainty over Knossos and its dependencies. Approximately 300 or 26 % of 1166 intact words in Linear A are very likely of Mycenaean origin.

Linear B syllabary with correspondances to the ancient Greek alphabet including digamma:

Linear B syllabary with Greek alphabet assignments

This table of the Linear B syllabary with correspondances to the ancient Greek alphabet including digamma outlines how each series of syllabograms, e.g. A E I O U, DA DE DI DO DU, KA KE KI KO KU, MA ME MI MO MU, TA TE TI TO TU etc. corresponds with the ancient Greek letter series, including the archaic Greek letter digamma, very common in Mycenaean Greek but absent from Classical Greek which are common to them. In some cases, the first consonant of the syllabogram series exactly matches the consonant + vowels of the Greek letters to which that series corresponds. These are:

DA DE DI DO DU = da de dei dh di dh do dw du

MA ME MI MO MU = ma me mei mh mi mh mo mw mu

NA NE NI NO NU = na ne nei nh ni nh no nw nu

SA SE SI SO SU = sa se sei sh si sh so sw su

But there is one significant problem. The Linear B syllabary cannot distinguish between short and long Greek vowels, or Greek double-vowel combinations. Thus,

DE DI DO = de dei dh di dh do dw

ME MI MO = me mei mh mi mh mo mw

NE NI NO = ne nei nh ni nh no nw

SE SI SO = se sei sh si sh so sw

must account for 2 or 3 vowel variations in the ancient Greek alphabet, as seen above. For example, as seen in the D series of syllabograms above, DE = any of 3 = de dei dh DI for either di dh & DO for either do dw. The list of syllabogram series and their Greek alphabetic equivalents above provides several examples of these vowel variations.

Syllabogram series representing multiple consonants + vowels:

Syllabogram series representing multiple consonants + vowels are more complex. These are:

KA KE KI KO KU corresponding to:

ga ge gei gh gi gh go gw gu

ka ke kei kh ki kh ko kw ku

xa xe xei xh xi xh xo xw xu

PA PE PI PO PU corresponding to:

pa pe pei ph pi ph po pw pu

fa fe fei fh fi fh fo fw fu

ya ye yei yh yi yh yo yw yu

QA QE QI QO corresponding to:

ba be bei bh bi bh bo bw bu

ga ge gei gh gi gh go gw gu

RA RE RI RO RU corresponding to:

la le lei lh li lh lo lw lu

ra re rei rh ri rh ro rw ru

TA TE TI TO TU corresponding to:

ta te tei th ti th to tw tu

qa qe qei qh qi qh qo qw qu

Plenty of examples of all of the consonant + vowel variations explained in all instances above are found in the table, following the table of syllabogram series, at the top of this post.

CONVENTIONS in Linear A and ancient Greek orthography:

Linear B is also unable to account for the presence of consonants in the ancient Greek alphabet, especially in the case of final or ultimate consonants, which are extremely common in ancient Greek, and de rigueur in masculine and neuter nouns and adjectives, and in the conjugations of several persons, singular and plural, in all cases of ancient Greek verbs (present, future, imperfect, aorist, perfect and pluperfect in all moods, indicative, optative and subjunctive). But only the present and aorist (CHECK) in the indicative and the present in the optative occur in Linear B.

I shall be posting the Greek equivalents to Linear B nouns, adjectives and verbs in an upcoming post.


Just uploaded to academia.edu = Exhaustive Linear A lexicon of 1030 New Minoan and Old Minoan words, with extensive sectional commentaries.pdf 


exhaustive linear a lexicon of 1030 Minoan words with extensive sectional commentaries


What with its 1030 entries of New Minoan (NM1), Pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan terms, this is the most exhaustive Linear A Lexicon ever published in history, exceeding Prof. John G. Younger’s (at 774 intact words) by 226, with the emphasis squarely on intact exograms (words). Every possible origin of Linear A words is investigated, with extensive sectional commentaries. This lexicon, 65 pp. long, includes 4 appendices and a bibliography of 108 items. 

You will not want to miss out on reading this paper, representing one of the most significant historical breakthroughs in the decipherment of the Linear syllabary. If you are a member of academia.edu, please download it, and read it at your leisure. If you are not already a member of academia.edu, you can sign up for free, and then download it.

My recent research into (Minoan) Linear A has meant that I have been catapulted from the top 5 % to the top 0.1 % of users on academia.edu in the past three weeks, here:

Richard Vallance profile academia.edu




Supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete:

AY Nikolaos Museum tablet with supersyllabograms

There are a total of 6 supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete, far more than on any other Linear A tablet. In fact, there is no text at all on this tablet, which makes it unique in the Linear A repertoire. All in all, there are 27 supersyllabograms in Linear A, versus 36 in Linear B. The Minoans and not the Mycenaeans invented supersyllabograms. Since many visitors to our site are unfamiliar with supersyllabograms, even though they have been defined here on several occasions, a supersyllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular word of major import in any of the major sectors of the Minoan economy. On this tablet, we find 7, of which one is not actually a syllabogram but a symbol. They are as follows:

1 SU (a) OM (Old Minoan) supa2 (supai) + supa2ra (supa2ra) = a small cup with handles

2 A2/AI OM? unknown, currently indecipherable

3 U NM1 (New Minoan) udiriki = with water (instr. Sing.) = hudriki (archaic Greek Latinized

4 PO NM1 potokuro = reaching a full drink, i.e. a draught (agglutinative) = poton + kurwn (archaic Greek latinized)

5 a hook which symbolizes a handle

6 A NM1 aresana = an embossed cup (archaic acc.) = aleissana (archaic Greek Latinized)

SU (b) OM sup1/supu/supu2 = the largest size pithos

NOTE that all of the supersyllabograms on this tablet deal with vessels and pottery.

Linear A contains 27 supersyllabograms, some of which are Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) and others Old Minoan, i.e. in the original Minoan substratum, as illustrated in this table:

620 Table 5 Table of 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A

The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear A will be the feature article in Vol. 13 (2017) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 , to be published early in 2019. This article is to be the follow-up to The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, Vol. 11 (2015), currently online on academia.edu here:

decipherment supesyllabograms archaeologyand science Belgrade

 

 


6 Minoan Linear A words from KE to KO which might be proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean:

Here is the table of Minoan Linear A words from KE to KO in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon.

miinoan-linera-a-words-ki-ko-of-possible-proto-greek-origin

As is the usual case, there are inherent problems with the “Greekness” of almost all of the Minoan Linear A words I have tagged as possibly being proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean. This should come as no surprise in view of the fact that I made myself crystal clear on this account in the previous post. The most convincing Minoan Linear A word by far of apparent proto-Greek origin is keite, which is highly likely to be the equivalent of archaic Greek keithen = “thence/from there”.  The least credible is [6] koiru, which is far enough off in its orthography from ancient Greek, kairos = “due measure” to cast sufficient doubt on it.

But in almost all cases, appearances can be, and often are, deceiving. I have said this already, and I repeat it for the sake of emphasis. We cannot be too overcautious.

This brings the total number of so-called proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean words I have managed to isolate in Minoan Linear A to 22.

Tentative confirmation of 10 possible proto-Greek words out of 18 under the first vowel, A, in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon:

a-minoan-linear-a-possible-greek

When I subjected the first alphabetical entries under A in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon to rigorous analysis in order to determine whether or not any of the entries under A just might have been proto-Greek, or more likely than not, proto-Mycenaean. I was able to extrapolate tentative archaic Greek “definitions”, if you like, for no fewer than 10 of the 18 entries under A. That is quite a staggering return! However, in spite of these encouraging findings, we must exercise extreme caution in assigning proto-Greek significance to any number of Minoan words.

Of course, the discovery right fro the outset of 10 words which might possibly be proto-Greek or proto-Mycenaean, is highly tempting. One could, if one were so inclined, that as a consequence of this discovery, the Minoan language must have been proto-Greek. But I would warn us away from such a rash assumption, for several cogent reasons, all of which will become clear as we run alphabetically through the Reverse Linear A Lexicon. One of the most obvious roadblocks to accepting, even on a tentative basis, a proto-Greek reading of words such as the 10 I have isolated under A above is the extreme paucity of consecutive, running text and, what is even worse, the even rarer instances of extant Linear A words providing sufficient context on the tablets for us to be able to extract any real meaning at all from the tablets. This is the brick wall we run up against again and again in any endeavour at deciphering any Minoan word, taken as a single entity.

There is one tenet at least which bears out confirmation or abnegation, and it is this: if we continue to discover a considerable number of potential proto-Greek under subsequent initial syllabograms alphabetically from DA on through to ZU, then there might very well be a case for concluding that either (a) the Minoan language was entirely proto-Greek or (b) the Minoan language was pre-Greek and very probably non Indo-European, but which contained a great many proto-Greek words, for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed through our extrapolative analysis of Minoan words from DA to ZU.

This is bound to be one exciting journey of discovery!


Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos Linear B tablet KN 946 G a 303 (mid-term, second year university):

knossos-tablet-kn-946-g-a-303-620

Trust me, this is not an easy tablet to translate.

... with a translation into archaic ancient Greek added by Richard Vallance Janke.


Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in R = Greek = 423:

In this post we find derived (D) infinitives in R. Here is the table of derived (D) thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter R:


mycenaean-linear-b-infinitives-in-r-620

It is absolutely de rigueur to read the NOTES on Mycenaean versus ancient archaic Greek orthography in the chart above. Otherwise, the Linear B sentences will not make any sense.

It was highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 423.


Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in Q = Greek B b =  413:

In this post we find derived (D) infinitives in Q, corresponding to initial B b in ancient Greek. Here is the table of derived (D) thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter B b (Q in Mycenaean Greek):

mycenaean-linear-b-infinitives-in-q-b

Since there is no B series of syllabograms in Linear B (BA, BE, BI, BO) but only the Q series (QA, QE, QI, QO), the latter must stand in for the former. Read the notes in the Q  chart  above.

It was highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 413.

Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in K = 85!/Total = 199

In this post we find 85 derived (D) infinitives in K in natural Mycenaean Greek, of which there are far more than with any other letter in the Mycenaean dialect and all other later ancient Greek dialects alike, with the possible exception of verbs beginning with P (or PI in ancient Greek). This is because many more words in both ancient and modern Greek, for that matter, begin with the letter K. Why so? The prepositional prefix KATA is prepended to more verbs in Greek, ancient and modern alike, than any other prepositional prefixes, with the possible exception of PERI and PRO, which we will encounter soon.

Here is the table of attested thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter K in Mycenaean Greek. As you can see, the number of verbs I have selected from a far larger vocabulary of verbs beginning with KATA stands at 85:

mycenaean-linear-b-thematic-present-infinitives-k-620i

It is absolutely essential that you read the notes on the Mycenaean Linear B orthography of ancient Greek verbs; otherwise, you are bound to misinterpret the spelling of Mycenaean verbs in Linear B. The two most important characteristics of verbs in Mycenaean Linear B, regardless of the letter with which the first syllable or syllabogram starts (let alone K), are as follows:

1. It is impossible for two consonants to follow one another in any Mycenaean verb in Linear B, because Linear B is a syllabary, and all syllabograms must end in a vowel. See the table for K above for concrete examples.
2. It is impossible for Mycenaean present infinitives in Linear B to end in ein, because once again, this is a syllabary, and no syllable can ever end in a consonant. For this reason, ancient Greek thematic present infinitives which always end in EIN must end in E in Mycenaean Greek. See the table for K above for concrete examples.
3. For the other two so-called rules for Mycenaean Greek spelling of thematic present infinitives, see the table for K above for concrete examples. 
 
The 4 sentences following Greek verbs in K make it perfectly clear that we are dealing with natural Mycenaean Greek as it was actually spoken. Note that the natural plural in OI is to found in spoken Mycenaean, rather than the singular in O we find almost (but not always) exclusively on the extant Linear B tablets. See infinitives in D for a further explanation for this phenomenon.

It is also highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 199, of which 85 or 42.7% fall under the Greek letter K alone! I shall indicate the running total as we proceed through the alphabet.


Mycenaean Linear B Progressive Grammar: Derived (D) Verbs/Infinitives in D = 12:

In this post we find 12 derived (D) infinitives in natural Mycenaean Greek.

Here is the table of attested thematic and athematic infinitives starting with the Greek letter D in Mycenaean Greek:

d-derived-infinitives-620

The 4 sentences after the 12 verbs in D make it absolutely clear that we are dealing with natural Mycenaean Greek as it was actually spoken. It is also highly likely that official documents, poetry (if any) and religious texts were written in natural Mycenaean Greek on papyrus. However, the moist climate of Crete and the Greek mainland meant that papyrus, unlike in the arid climate of Egypt, was doomed to rot away. So we shall never really know whether or not there were documents in natural Mycenaean Greek. But my educated hunch is that there were.

Thematic Verbs:

Active Voice:

These are the so-called standard verbs, which are by far the most common in all ancient Greek dialects. Thematic verbs are sub-classed into three voices, active, middle and passive.

Middle Voice:

The middle voice is unique to ancient Greek, and is self-referential, by which we mean the subject acts upon him- or herself or of his or her own volition. The middle voice also includes reflexive verbs. I am posting the first person singular of verbs in the middle voice, as it is far more common than the infinitive.

Athematic Verbs:

Athematic verbs are far less common than thematic, but they are the most ancient of ancient Greek verbs. They have already appeared completely intact by the time Mycenaean Greek has entrenched itself. The Mycenaean conjugations of athematic verbs are very similar, and in some cases identical to, their conjugations in much later Ionic and Attic Greek, and must therefore be considered the root and stem of the same class of verbs in later classical Greek. The fact that athematic verbs were already fully developed by the era of Mycenaean Greek is a strong indicator that the Mycenaean dialect is not proto-Greek, but the first fully operative ancient East Greek dialect. We shall demonstrate over and over that Mycenaean Greek was the primordial fully functional East Greek dialect which was to be adopted and adapted by the later East Greek dialects (Ionic and Attic among others). I am posting the first person singular of athematic verbs, as it is far more common than the infinitive.

The reconstruction of natural language Mycenaean grammar by means of the methodology of progressive grammar is to be the subject of my fourth article in the prestigious international journal, Archaeology and Science, Vol. 13 (2017). The concept of progressive grammar is actually quite easy to grasp. It merely designates the reconstruction of natural, as opposed to inventorial, Mycenaean Greek grammar from the ground up. By the time I have finished with this project, I shall have reconstructed a huge cross-section of natural Mycenaean grammar, approaching the grammar of later East Greek dialects in its comprehensiveness.

NOTES:
[1]There are two (2) verbs in the middle voice under D. These are dekomai and dunamai.
[2] There are no athematic MI verbs under D.
[3]In the natural Mycenaean Greek language, the nominative masculine plural always ends in oi, e.g. tosoi. This is in contrast to the formalized, fossilized Greek of Linear B inventories, which very rarely give any words in the nominative masculine plural. Instead, the extant Linear B tablets simply give the words in the singular, e.g. toso.
[4]In the natural Mycenaean Greek language, the nominative feminine plural always ends in ai, e.g. heketai (which is actually a masculine noun with feminine endings). This is in contrast to the formalized, fossilized Greek of Linear B inventories, which very rarely give any words in the nominative masculine plural. Instead, the extant Linear B tablets simply give the words in the singular, e.g. heketa.

There are exceptions to attested plurals on the tablets. The nominative masculine plural of teo (god) is teoi, exactly as it appears in natural Mycenaean Greek. This is because the word teo is not a word found in inventories, but rather in religious texts, mimicking the natural language. It is the template upon which the nominative masculine plural of all words in natural Mycenaean Greek is formed.  

The total number of natural Mycenaean Greek derived (D) infinitives we have posted so far = 24 A + 12 D for a TOTAL of 36. I shall indicate the running total as we proceed through the alphabet.


Progressive Linear B Grammar: Verbs/Derived (D) Infinitives: A = 24

Beginning with this post, we shall be constructing a Lexicon of Derived (D) Infinitives in Mycenaean Linear B. This post lists all 24 derived verbs I have selected classed under A. The methodology whereby we reconstruct derived verbs, not attested (A) anywhere on any Linear B tablets, is termed retrogressive extrapolation, by which I mean that we draw each entry in alphabetical order from an ancient Greek dictionary, accounting for throwbacks to archaic East Greek, since that is what the Mycenaean dialect is. The dictionary we are using is the Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. Since the entries in the classical dictionary are in Attic Greek, they frequently require readjustment to reflect their much earlier orthography in archaic Greek. I have also taken the liberty of selecting only those verbs of which the spelling is identical or very close to what would have been their orthography in Mycenaean Greek. This is because Mycenaean orthography is often problematic, insofar as it frequently omits a consonant preceding the consonant which follows it. Additionally, since Mycenaean Greek is represented by a syllabary, in which each syllable must end in a vowel, it is impossible for the spelling of a great many words (let alone verbs) to accurately correspond to the orthography of the same words in later ancient Greek dialects. So I have decided to omit such verbs for the sake of simplicity. Finally, since there are so many verbs under each letter of the Greek alphabet, I have had to be very selective in choosing the verbs I have decided to include in this Lexicon, omitting scores of verbs which would have qualified just as well for inclusion as the verbs I have chosen.

a-derived-infinitives-620

 

 


Linear B tablet Sd 4401 from the Knossos “Armoury”, a fully assembled chariot:

Knossos tablet SD 4401

Apart from the very first tablet on chariots we posted this month, namely, Linear B tablet Kn 894 N v 01, here:

Link to Knossos tablet Kn 894 N v 01

This is one of the most detailed of the Linear B tablets from the Knossos “Armoury”, zeroing in on more parts of a Mycenaean chariot than can be found on any of the other tablets we have already translated on the same subject, apart from Linear B tablet Kn 894 N v 01. There are a couple of peculiarities in the Linear B text of this detailed tablet which require clarification. The first is that the ideogram for chariot on the right side of the tablet is right truncated; so we do not know whether or not the chariot is equipped with a set of wheels. But common sense tells us that it is almost certain that this is a chariot equipped with wheels on axle, since the scribe explicitly states that the chariot is fully assembled. Secondly, the word for chariot on the second line = - iqiya – is feminine, which is quite strange, given that all of the modifying attributes following this word are in the masculine. This leads me to confidently conclude that the scribe meant to inscribe – iqiyo - = a double chariot, i.e. a chariot for two drivers, rather than – iqiya -. Otherwise, the grammatical constructs on the second line do not jibe.

As we have already noted in our translations of at least a few of the other chariot tablets, the scribes are prone to make errors, usually in case agreement or in orthography. But that is nothing unusual, given that writers past and present are prone to the same liability. After all, we are only human.


Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

04.5 iqiya piriniyo opoqo keryapi opiiyapi

 Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

While some of the military tablets from the Knossos Armoury dealing with the construction and design of chariots pose a few problems in the translation of certain words which yield at least two or possibly even three different possible meanings, others are much more of a challenge to the translator. Some vocabulary in the more challenging tablets proves to be much more fractious. There are several reasons for this phenomenon when we are dealing with Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, let alone that of any truly archaic ancient language, such as Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics. These are:

1 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek or Classical Greek, conveying the same or a similar meaning. Such is the case with – wanax – = “king” in Mycenaean Greek.
2 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek, and yet not convey precisely the same meaning or might even mean something more remotely associated, such as – qasireu – , which does not mean the same thing as “basileus” = “king” in Homeric Greek. A – qasireu – in Mycenaean Greek is merely a local leader of a town, citadel, redoubt or similar small centre and nothing more.   A king in Mycenaean Greek is a – wanax – , for which there is an almost exact match in Homer’s Iliad.  
3 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may look like variants of later Homeric or Classic Greek words, although they are spelled in a fashion alien to the latter, never appearing in them. 
4 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Classical Ionic or Attic Greek, and yet convey an entirely different meaning.
5 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may be archaic Greek which later fell entirely out of use even prior to Homeric Greek, in which case it may be next to impossible to confirm that such words are even archaic Greek at all.
6 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly be proto-Greek or even more ancient proto Indo-European, but we can never be certain of this at all.
7 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly or even likely be Minoan or of Minoan origin. Such is the case with the word – kidapa – on tablet KN 894 N v 01, the very first tablet I translated in this series of tablets on chariots. L.R. Palmer assumes this word refers to a kind of wood, and I agree. This assumption is based on the fact that two other kinds of wood are referenced on the same tablet, i.e. elm and willow. With this evidence in hand, I have gone even further than L. R. Palmer and have taken the calculated risk to identify this word as meaning “ash (wood)”, a wood which Homer uses for weapons.
8 Just as is the case with Classical Greek, in which a few thousand words are not of Indo-European origin, Mycenaean Greek contains a fair proportion of such vocabulary. Words such as – sasama –  (sesame) & – serino –  (celery) come to mind.

This is the scenario which confronts us in the translation of at least two of the words on this tablet, namely, – piriniyo – and – mano –, both of which are certainly open to more than one possible interpretation. The first word - piriniyo – meets the criteria outlined in 1 & 3 above. It probably means “an ivory worker”, but we cannot be sure of this. Since the latter – mano – may not have any relation to later Homeric or Classical Greek at all, it is a crap shoot to try and translate it. This word meets the criteria in 1,2 and 4 above. But I took the chance (as I always do), on the assumption, however fanciful, that – mano – may be related to the Classical Greek word – manos – , meaning “thin”, as defined in Liddell & Scott.

And what applies to Mycenaean vocabulary on this and all other tablets dealing with chariots, whether or not they originate from Knossos, equally applies to all of the vocabulary on each and every tablet in the military sector of the Mycenaean economy. By extension, this principle must also apply to all of the vocabulary on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance (Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes etc.) and regardless of the sector of the Mycenaean economy with which they are concerned. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In short, the 8 criteria outlined above must be applied on an equal footing, through the procedure of cross-comparative extrapolation, to all of the vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek.

We shall return to this phenomenon in our article on chariot construction and design, which is to appear on my

 account under the auspices of Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies (Athens):

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens Category Linear B & the Iliad
sometime later this winter.


Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design

KN 894 An1910_211_o.jpg wheel ZE

In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy?

It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them.

It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the  Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. 

Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.      

And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector.

Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. 

When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must.

A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean):

While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. 

But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others.

So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers.


This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots.

Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia:      

Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened."[6] This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. 

wikipedia historicity
The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias:

approaching history

The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. 

Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era.

If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place.  

How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done.

However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean.

So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts:

Mycenaean-Fresco-Mycenae-women-charioteers

as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here:

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 original text Latinized and in archaic Greek
   
This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here:

Notes on Knossos tablet 894 N v 01 Wheel ZE

and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here:

The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, 

The Greek Age of Bronze chariots


whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate.  

As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here:

wheel rim illustration

Hence my translation here:

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 984 N v 01 Wheel ZE

Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here:

Linear A texts in transciption

I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete.

While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. 

In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts.

So stay posted. 



Rita Robert’s translation of tablet K 04-01-07 / 04-01 N a 01 from the Knossos Armoury:
To ENLARGE this image or any other image or photo posted on this blog, RIGHT CLICK on it, select VIEW and then SAVE it to your computer:  

Knossos 04 01 N a 01


Rita Robert’s commentary on this tablet:
  
Line 1 - araruya  aniyapi = equipped with bridles -  wirinijo opoqo = with leather blinkers – kerajapi opiiyapi =  with horn bits -   ideogram 

Line 2 -  iqiyo = chariot – ayameno erepate = decorated with ivory -

araromotemeno = fully assembled – ponikijo = painted crimson.

Due to the truncation on the right hand side of this Linear B tablet it is impossible to state whether there is only one or more chariots listed.

TRANSLATION:
one chariot ?  fully assembled equipped with bridles with leather blinkers and horn bits decorated with ivory inlays and painted crimson.

A dual chariot depicted on this fresco from Pylos. LH lllA/B date around 1340 BCE

Chariot fresco from Pylos

Mycenaean Chariot fresco

Chariot harnessing fro Mycenae

Richard’s comments:

Apart from a single error Rita made in line 2 of this tablet, having misread the second syllabogram as -mu- instead of -qi-, consequently misinterpreting -iqiyo- as -Imuyo- ( a person’s name) instead of – iqiyo - = a chariot, her translation is convincing and elegant, as is to be expected from a Linear B translator of her advanced skills. That error has been corrected in the translation above.

It goes without saying that the right-truncated ideogram for -chariot- to the right of the tablet between lines 1 and 2 must mean a chariot with wheels, as  a chariot without wheels cannot conceivably be fully assembled, equipped and decorated.

While the archaic Greek may appear somewhat difficult or abstruse to linguists who specialize in Classical Greek, it is really not so bizarre after all, since we find many parallels in Homer’s Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II. Notice that the gender of the word for chariot is fluid, i.e. not yet fixed in Mycenaean Greek. Moreover, this word is archaic in the extreme, having disappeared completely from Homeric and Classical Greek. Nevertheless, its meaning is clear from the context of all tablets on which it appears, since on most of them it is juxtaposed with the ideogram for chariot.

In my notes on the archaic Greek, you will notice that the (second) aspirated a in the Greek for – kerayapi – is aspirated in the archaic Greek. This orthography does not correspond to the spelling on this tablet, but in Chris Tselentis’ excellent Linear B Lexicon the alternate spelling – kerahapi – is  attested as an alternate standard. 

Richard


Just uploaded to academia.edu - Annotated Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad and of lines 484 to 652 of The Catalogue of Ships

Just uploaded to academia.edu - Annotated Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad and of lines 484 to 652 of The Catalogue of Ships into fluent twenty-first century English, with reference to the significant impact of Mycenaean Greek on its archaic Greek. This is followed by a “modern” poem, Ode to the Archangel Michael in Mycenaean Linear B, English & French.

Click on this banner to download the translation:

Iliad 2 academia edu 2015-12-09 17-29-12

This is my revised translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad and of lines 484 to 652 of The Catalogue of Ships, which replaces the former one which I had uploaded to academia.edu. The former translation, which was incomplete, omitting a continuum of lines appearing in the revised translation, has been deleted from academia.edu and from this blog. So if you wish to read my revised translation, you will need to download the one referred to in this post.

Thank you

Richard


A breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A? Is puko the word for a tripod in Linear A? 

This is my latest published paper on academia	.edu. If you wish to read it in its entirety, you may download it here:

Is puko the word for tripod in Minoan Linear A cf tiripo in Mycenaean Linear B
It is one of three (3) papers which I am having published this year, the other two being:

1. 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,

shortly to appear in the peer-reviewed European archaeological journal,

Archaeology and Science / Arheologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448

Archeology and Science Belgrade

for which you can read submission guidelines and examples of articles in this PDF file: Click on the link below to read it

Archaeology and Science guidelines

& for which the following information is now available:
 
ABSTRACT

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 

&

2. The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw

Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, July 1 2015, TBP (to be published) late 201r or early in 2016.

Richard


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