Tag Archive: attendants



Table of the distribution of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector:

Following is the Table of the 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector. It is clear from this table that the majority of supersyllabograms (12) in Minoan Linear A fall in the olive trees, olives and olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan economy, primarily in Haghia Triada, but also in Khania (Chania). The next most common sector is grains (barley & wheat) with 7, the third are vases and pottery and also wine with 5, the fourth is figs with 2 and the fifth are military (men as attendants to the king) and textiles with 1 SSYL each.

table-of-24-supersyllabograms-in-minoan-linear-a-640

The distribution of supersyllabograms in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B by economic sector is of the utmost importance. I shall need to cross-correlate the key economic sector-by-sector distribution of supersyllabograms in both syllabaries to verify whether or not the distribution of SSYLs in the one syllabary (Linear A) and the other (Linear B) is closely aligned or not. The alignment of supersyllabograms in each syllabary relative to the other will determine with greater accuracy which economic sectors are the most and which the least important in each language, Minoan and Mycenaean. This way, we can get a much better idea of how the key economic sectors are distributed, from most to least important, in each of the two societies, Minoan and post-Minoan Mycenaean. It is of the utmost important to understand that all of the supersyllabograms in both of these syllabaries must refer only to major economic terms in each sector and sub-sector. 

I shall explicitly compare the relative economic distribution of each society, the Minoan and Mycenaean in my upcoming article, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada, in Vol. 16 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. The Table of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector is to appear in this article.

I have deciphered the following 8 supersyllabograms more or less successfully in Minoan Linear A:

DA = dadumata = grain/wheat measurer? = Linear B sitokowo
KA = kapa = follower or foot soldier, attendant to the king 
KI = kidata = to be accepted for delivery = Linear B dekesato
OR
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto
AND
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket
AND
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed
NI = nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza. But Mycenaean Linear B shares NI with Minoan Linear A, in spite of the fact that the Mycenaean word for figs is suza.   
PA = pa3ni (amphora for storing grain) + pa3nina = grain or wheat stored in an amphora
RA ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine) 
SA sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre
TE = tereza = standard unit of usually liquid measurement, sometimes of dry measurement


The Linear B “Attendants” Tablet – a Tough Nut to Crack! (Click to ENLARGE):

linear-b-attendants-tablet-apiqoro-kowa-kowo-ta2
This has got to be one of the most difficult Linear B tablets to decipher, not because most of it isn't all that hard to translate, but for that last syllabogram TA, which I am sure must have stumped practically everyone who has ever tried to tackle it.  However, upon consulting the most comprehensive Linear B Glossary on the Internet, A Companion to Linear B, Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World [Bibliothèque de lInstitut linguistique de Louvain ― 127 (2011)]  I discovered, to my utter astonishment, the two entries you see flagged just under the tablet itself in this post, TAPA EOTE, which is in early ancient Greek, tapa\ e1ontej. What we need to understand in this context is that the Linear B scribes frequently used abbreviations to save valuable space on what were, after all, (very) small tablets. For instance, on the Heidelberg Tablet HE FL 1994, the scribe has used the single syllabobgrams KO PA & MU to stand in for KONOSO, PAITO & MUKENE respectively, thereby saving a great deal of space. I shall be translating this fascinating tablet as well sometime in April or May. Another reason why I believe we can lend credence to my translation is this: attendants actually do appear on Minoan frescoes, such as this one from Knossos (Click to ENLARGE):

Minoan_procession_fresco_crete_Knossos
My explanatory commentary below goes a long way to clarifying and lending further credence to my decipherment. So unless you actually read the commentary, you will not get a full grasp on the decipherment.     

We notice that in the fresco above, the one woman, almost certainly a priestess has 7 attendants, all male, which might go some way to explaining why there are 41 attendants for only 32 people. If for instance the priestess in a procession of 32 people has, as in the fresco we see here, 7 attendants, and everyone else coming up the rear has 1 attendant, for a total of 38 attendants, the total is very close to the 41 given on this tablet.  But it is also possible that the priestess would have an acolyte following right behind her, and if her acolyte were to have 3 attendants, we would then have our 41. Of course all this is pure conjecture on my part, but the possibility still remains, and at any rate we cannot conjecture how many attendants would follow in a particular procession, as processions were probably held very often at Knossos, Chania, Mycenae, Pylos and other Mycenaean centres for different festivals. All ancient cities without exception held frequent festivals, which were almost all religious in nature, festivals for the city's patron goddess, for spring sowing and autumn reaping of crops, feasting festivals for the "wanaka" or King and his Queen, and in the case of Knossos and the Mycenaean fortress towns, for the Snake Goddess of fertility, without whom the population would not have been well replenished... at least for the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

Another equally feasible interpretation for some festivals at least, is that many of the attendants would have been musicians, just as in the fresco above, where we see a lyre player on the left and/or libation bearers, such as the 1 on the right in this fresco holding a rhyton, probably filled with mead or wine. So if that were to be the case, and 31 people had 1 attendant each, that would leave, for instance, possibly 4 musicians and 6 libation or "cup bearers"(again giving a total of 41 as in this case). Processions proliferate on Minoan/Mycenaean frescoes... and the number of attendants would have surely varied widely, depending on the type of festival. Of course, we shall never really know, as the extensive research into Minoan/ Mycenaean festivals to date has never been able to shed sufficient light on the arcane "mysteries" of Minoan/Mycenaean religious rites, processions and festivals, nor is it likely that future research will get much further, barring the unearthing of a considerable number of new tablets dealing specifically with religious matters.

Still, I feel quite confident that I have come up with a sound decipherment of the final syllabogram TA on the Linear B “Attendants” Tablet, but I would love to receive feedback from any and all researchers into Linear B tablets concerning other equally feasible interpretations of that pesky little syllabogram.

CAVEAT:

On the other hand, this translation crams an awful lot of significance into one pesky syllabogram, TA. The solution could be a lot simpler. So if I can come up with any alternative simpler decipherment(s), I will let you all know. One should never take anything for granted. 

Richard

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