Tag Archive: aromatics



The third example of Cretan ideograms/logograms, Malia label Mu MA/M Hf, possibly decipherable:

Cretan label Malia Quartier Mu MA M Hf

Click on the label, FRAGRANTICA, for more information about saffron as an ancient aromatic.

This is the third example of Cretan ideograms/logograms, Malia label Mu MA/M Hf. Surprising as it is, this label may be largely decipherable. It is subdivided into 3 sections. The first S1 is blank. The second, S2, appears to spill over from the first side to the second, while the third, S3, is found on the second side alone. The first ideogram in S2 (section 2) is probably the one for “saffron”, while the second is still indecipherable. The third is clearly some sort of representation of a woman. The X, which is indecipherable, is followed by the number 100. S2 continues on side 2, which begins with what is clearly the ideogram for “textiles/cloth”, followed by what appear to be 3 ideograms for “sword(s)”. If these 3 ideograms in fact designate “swords”, they are practically identical to those for “swords” in Linear B. Section 3 (S3) begins with what appears to be an ideogram for “garment(s)”, followed once again by textiles, and followed in turn by an indecipherable ideogram, which might possibly relate to cutting, S3 ending with the number 100.

A partial decipherment might read: aromatic saffron + ? + a weaver or weavers (all weavers were women) weaving 100 rolls of cloth, 3 of which serve to wrap 3 swords in + 100 garments of some kind of (cut) textiles (saffron dyed?).


Supersyllabogram A for amphora with the aromatic and dye saffron UPDATE

Introduction:

The supersyllabogram A for amphora is usually associated with vessels, and in that context it means that the vessel concerned is clearly an amphora, as illustrated below:

vase A  

This, the standard use of A as a supersyllabogram for vessels, is fully documented in my article, 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, to be published in the February 2016 issue of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. Following is the text of my discussion of the standard use of the SSYL A for amphora from this article:

Yet the most astonishing characteristic of supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy is this: the majority of them are attributive, and dependent on the ideograms they qualify. Attributive dependent supersyllabograms always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute of the ideogram. For instance, 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, unequivocally identifying the vessel as an amphora. But why even bother noting this, when it is obvious that the ideogram in question is in fact that for an amphora? Again, I repeat, the Mycenaean scribes never used any device without a reason. In this particular case, the reason, I believe, is apparent. Any scribe who places the syllabogram a inside the ideogram for what is probably an amphora anyway, does so on purpose to draw our attention to the fact that he is tagging said vessel as a highly valuable and very likely ornate specialty amphora fashioned specifically for the palace elite, and not any old amphora at all, as we see illustrated here in Figures 12 and 13: click to ENLARGE  

Fig. 12

l fig 12 minoan-amphora

Fig. 13:

m fig 13 MERI amphora

The distinction is crucial. I can conceive of no other reason why any Mycenaean scribe would resort to such a ploy other than to identify the vessel in question as a precious commodity.  Similarly, the simplified and streamlined syllabogram sa inside the ideogram for a vessel on a stand is, in my estimation, almost certainly the supersyllabogram for an unknown pre-Greek, possibly Minoan word for raw flax, the agricultural crop the ancient Greeks called rino = linon, from which linen (being the selfsame word in both Mycenaean and ancient alphabetical Greek) is derived. Both of these supersyllabograms are incharged, a term I have had to coin to describe the presence of syllabograms inside ideograms, given its complete absence in  previous research on so-called  “adjuncts” to Linear B ideograms, in other words, supersyllabograms.

END of discussion

The supersyllabogram A with the ideogram for – saffron:

Yet after my submission of this article to Archaeology and Science, I discovered another use of the same supersyllabogram, the vowel a, this time in conjunction with the ideogram for saffron, as illustrated by these 3 tablets from Knossos: 

saffron

Translations of these tablets:

KN 669 K j 21
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: yo wheat 195 + saffron in amphorae 43 + saffron 45
line 2: (syllabogram truncated right, probably ma for -ama-) yo wheat 143 + danetiyo + wheat 70 + saffron 45

Translation:

line 1: yo? 195 units of wheat + 43 small amphorae filled with saffron & 45 units of saffron harvested (the units being very small)
line 2: ma for -ama? = at the same time, meaning along with yo? 143 units of wheat +  
70 units of wheat on loan + 45 units of saffron (harvested)

NOTE that the amphorae containing saffron would have to be small, very much like perfume bottles, given that saffron threads would not take up much space. 
 
KN 851 K j 03
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: syllabogram truncated right, uncertain, possibly -i- ) yo wheat + epikere  + wheat (right truncated, amount unknown)
line 2: ama
line 3: saffron in small amphorae 46 (or possibly more due to right truncation)

Translation:
line 1: i? yo? uncertain amount of wheat well planted (from the earth) + uncertain amount of wheat
line 2: along with
line 3: 46 (or more) units of saffron in small amphorae

KN 852  K j 01
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: dawo amaepikere + wheat 10,000 (or more, being right truncated)
line 2: saffron in amphorae 70 + saffron 20

Translation:
line 1: i? yo? along with (= ama, prefix of amaepikere) 10,000 units of well planted wheat from Dawos (Dafos)
line 2: 70 units of saffron in small amphorae + 20 units of saffron (harvested)  

This application of the supersyllabogram a for saffron I find truly intriguing. Yet again, it clearly designates an amphora, but in this context a small amphora which contains saffron, which takes up little space. Now since saffron is an aromatic which is usually refined to delicate threads plucked from the flower of the same name, as illustrated here:

saffron-extract-benefits

it naturally follows that, if it is stored in an amphora, represented by the supersyllabogram a, the amphora must be small and capped with a stopper with a handle to prevent the saffron from blowing away. I am not sure how the Minoans and Mycenaeans fabricated the caps with handles for a small amphora filled with saffron, but it strikes me that they (the caps) would have been made of pottery of some kind. The cap with a handle would have had to be fashioned so that it was air tight. It is scarcely any wonder that the Minoans and Mycenaeans would have stored saffron in this fashion, as this extremely precious and expensive aromatic would have been used as a dye or its finely woven threads would have been woven into textiles, often ritually offered to divinities, as well as being used in perfumes, medicines, and body washes. See Wikipedia, Saffron: click to READ:

wikipedia saffron

There exists a stunning fresco the "Saffron Gatherers" fresco of the "Xeste 3" building. According to Wikipedia, this is one of many Minoan style frescoes depicting saffron; they were found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini. which illustrates the harvesting of saffron, of which we see here a close up detail: click to ENLARGE

Cueilleuse_de_safran,_fresque,_Akrotiri,_Grèce


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