Tag Archive: attributive supersyllabograms



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

 

 


Archaeology and Science annual: the Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, the last & most formidable frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B:

cover-as-2015

For the past 65 years since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B, one phenomenon has eluded historical linguists and philologists. This is the supersyllabogram, which is always a single syllabogram, being the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular Mycenaean word in any one or more of the major economic sectors of the Mycenaean economy: agriculture, military, textiles and the vessels and pottery sector, along with a few religious supersyllabograms. Supersyllabograms are always independent; they always stand alone on extant Linear. My discovery, isolation and classification of supersyllabograms represents the final frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B. Some 800 tablets from Knossos alone contain primarily supersyllabograms, with a subset of these incised with supersyllabograms and nothing else. It is difficult to decipher the former, and impossible to decipher the latter without fully accounting for the presence of supersyllabograms. The decipherment of supersyllabograms accounts for the last and most difficult remaining 10 % of Mycenaean Linear B to be deciphered.

inset-as-2015

editors-as-2015

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You may also download The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B here:

archaeology-and-science-download

This article is 35 pages long (pp. 73-108) in a 29 cm. x 22 cm. format, which is far oversized compared with the standard north American format for research journals (ca. 20 cm. vertical), meaning that if it had been published in the standard north American format, it would have run to some 50 pp., which is the size of a small book.

The Editorial Board consists of 21 peer reviewers, all of them matriculated professors and researchers at the Ph.D. level or higher, from Ancona, Belgrade, Belgium, Bologna, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A., Moscow, Münich, Philadelphia, U.S.A., Rome, Warsaw & Trieste. Every author must pass muster with the majority of these peer reviewers if his or her article is to be published in Archaeology and Science. That is one tall hurdle to overcome.

Note also that I am ranked in the top 0.5 % of all researchers and publishers on academia.edu

richard-vallance-on-academia-edu

 


What do all those supersyllabograms in Linear B associated with the ideogram for “saffron” mean?

In response to a recent query by a research colleague of mine regarding the use of 4 key supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B (A, TI, RO & WE) related to the harvesting and production of saffron, I am reposting this table:

ssyls-in-linear-bassociated-with-saffron

It is clear that each of these 4 supersyllabograms functions in its own unique way. I sincerely hope that this reposting clears up any ambiguities that may have previously persisted.


First WORD draft of  “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)” completed for publication in...

I have just completed the first full WORD draft of  “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) for publication in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. Here is the cover of the current issue of Archaeology and Science:

cover-archaeology-and-science-2014

And here you see 4 consecutive non-contiguous brief excerpts from this article, which is to run to at least 35 pages,

minoan-linear-a-vocabulary-2016a

minoan-linear-a-vocabulary-2016b

minoan-linear-a-vocabulary-2016c

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as has the article about to be published in Vol. 11 (2015),  “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, which runs from page 73-108, for a total of 35 pages. See previous post for details on that article.


MASTER Article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B”, Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015) received: excerpts follow

I have just received the DRAFT of the entire issue of Vol. 11 (2015) Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, in which my ground-breaking article, “The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B” appears on pp. 73-108 (35 pages long). I have proof-read it and I found errors only in the transcription of the SPIonic.ttf Greek font, which causes all the Greek text to be printed in Latin characters, such that they appear garbled. But this error will be eliminated in the actual article when it appears this coming winter (2017).

Here you see the title page plus three consecutive but non-contiguous excerpts from my article:

archaeology-and-science-vol-11-2015

decipherment-of-supersyllabograms-in-linear-b-a

decipherment-of-supersyllabograms-in-linear-b-b

decipherment-of-supersyllabograms-in-linear-b-c


NOTE that the decipherment of the 36 supersyllabograms is the first and last major breakthrough in the final decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B, which was first deciphered by Michael Ventris in June-July 1952 (with the exception of supersyllabograms, which account for at least 20 % of the text on Linear B tablets).

Thanks!

Richard


Decisive proof that the word Minoan Linear A supaira is a small(er) vessel type:

A Ay. Nikolaos Mus

Decisive proof that the word Minoan Linear A supaira is a small(er) vessel type, approximately equivalent to the Mycenaean Linear B word dipa = “cup with handles” arises from another highly significant Minoan Linear A tablet, and that one is the tablet from the Ay. Nickolaus Museum, Greece. There are 300 of these cups on Linear A tablet Haghia Triada 31, so we know they are small. What is so amazing about the Ay. Nickolaus Museum Linear A tablet is that it confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mycenaean Linear B inherited its supersyllabograms from Minoan Linear A! There are no fewer than 6 supersyllabograms for vessel types on this highly significant tablet. The very first one is that for supaira = “cup”. What is even more astonishing is the fact that this supersyllabogram, SU, is incharged inside the ideogram for this vessel type, once again confirming that Mycenaean Linear B inherited not only its supersyllabograms, but even its ideograms, from Minoan Linear A. Now we now for certain that the word supaira on HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is a vessel type, because it appears as an incharged SSYL on the Ay. Nickolaus Museum Linear A tablet. But that is not all. We also know that it is a cup with a handle, because the Ay. Nickolaus tablet shows it as such. So supaira definitely means “a small cup with a handle”, very much like the famous Mycenaean Nestor’s cup at the National Museum of Athens, even though the latter has two handles.

Nestor's cup Mykene National Museum Athens

This makes for the second extremely precise definition of a Minoan Linear A word for a vessel type, the other being puko = Mycenaean Linear B tiripode = “tripod”.

The practice of incharging attributive supersyllabograms inside their ideograms is a Minoan Linear A invention as well. So the Mycenaeans did not invent supersyllabograms, nor did they innovate the creation of incharged attributive supersyllabograms inside their own ideograms. The Minoans did all that! To confirm beyond a doubt that the Mycenaean Linear B practice of incharging attributive supersyllabograms is derived from the Minoan Linear A practice, cf. the Linear B table of incharged supersyllabograms below.

Supersyllabograms for pottery in Mycenaean Lnear A


Translation of Linear B textiles tablet, KN 527 R l 51:

KN 527 R l 51 textiles

Apart form being extremely repetitive (and I cannot grasp why the linear B scribe felt so inclined to repeat the same phrase, tetukuwoa = a kind of cloth 3 times!), the decipherment is straightforward. I do not know what Ekisia is supposed to mean. I believe it is either a personal name or a toponym (place name).  



Introduction to the Complete Bibliography of 138 Citations for “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the 2015 Conference in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015.

In the next 2 posts, I shall present my exhaustive bibliography of 138 items (79 citations in each of the two parts) for the talk I shall be giving on “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” at the 2015 Conference, “Thinking in Symbols” in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015. It is so exhaustive that I doubt I have missed any sources of any significance to the topic at hand. Of course, the paper of the talk itself cannot be released at this time, as it is still under wraps.

Certain researchers past and present, above all Marie-Louise Nosch, have made significant contributions towards the realization of the General Theory of Supersyllabograms which I have just finalized this year, after a year of intensive research (spring 2014 – spring 2015). Previous researchers have sometimes come right up to the edge of a general theory correlating the single or multiple syllabograms they usually designate as “adjuncts” or “endograms” to the Linear B ideograms to which they are “surcharged” (i.e. attached), and which they invariably qualify. But all of these definitions are lacking in one sense or another, for the following reasons:

1. Although designated as (mere) “adjuncts” to the ideograms they invariably qualify, these associative single or multiple syllabograms (up to a maximum of 5!) are far more than that. Standing in as first-syllable abbreviations for words and even entire phrases in Mycenaean Greek, they play an absolutely critical rôle in significantly qualifying the ideograms to which they are attached, all the more so when the tablet on which they are found contains no text whatsoever, but only ideograms with these so-called “adjuncts”. But since these “adjuncts” invariably replace either Mycenaean words or (very often) entire phrases, they cannot be relegated to the status of simple adjuncts. In far too many instances, these single syllabograms encompass so much text that their inherent meaning as such turns out to be much more comprehensive and significant than that of the ideograms to which they are presumably attached. In other words, the single syllabogram(s) embodies/embody so much more than what would have otherwise been nothing but wasteful discursive text. So it appears that we should expediently and practically refer to as the ideogram as the adjunct, rather than the other way around.

On tablets with no text whatsoever and with 3 or more syllabograms performing this function, it is more than apparent that all of the single syllabograms functioning as the first syllable of a Mycenaean Greek word or an entire phrase replace so much discursive text that they literally cut down the amount of space used on the tablet in question by as much as two-thirds! Since the Linear B scribes at Knossos and Pylos in particular were real sticklers for saving as much space as they possibly could on what were (and are) extremely small extant tablets (rarely more than 15 cm. or 6 inches wide), they resorted to this stratagem so often (on at least 23% of the Linear B tablets at Knossos) that the practice is, if anything, of far greater importance to an accurate decipherment of those tablets on which they appear than was previously thought. It is for this reason that I have come to designate syllabograms playing this rôle as supersyllabograms, and certainly not as mere “adjuncts” or “endograms”, since that is patently what they are – supersyllabograms.

2. The designation of supersyllabograms as “endograms” is extremely misleading and quite inaccurate, since as many of these supersyllabograms precede as follow the ideograms to which they are attached. So “endograms” account for only half of supersyllabograms at best. Besides, what are we to call the supersyllabograms which precede the ideograms to which they are attached? Has anyone thought of that or even mentioned it in previous research? Not that I have ever seen, and I have read every single document (monographs, journal articles and articles in every past conference) I could lay my hands on. The reason for this lacuna is clear enough. Past researchers have focused solely on “adjuncts” or “endograms” related solely to the field of research in Mycenaean Linear B which is of primary and frequently exclusive interest to themselves. Even Marie-Louise Nosch, who has done an astonishing amount of truly remarkable research in this area, has restricted herself to the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, as that is her primary field of interest. Fair enough. 

Given this scenario, it appears to me that researchers past and present have been focusing exclusively on the trees or even sometimes, as with Marie-Louise Nosch, on whole clearings in forest. But none have ever concentrated on the entire forest, at least until last year, when I myself decided to ransack every single syllabogram on some 3,000 tablets (not fragments) from Knossos, in order to hypothesize, if at all possible, a general pattern to the use of supersyllabograms with ideograms. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. So far, I have discovered that at least 33 of the 61 syllabograms plus one of the homophones (“rai” for saffron) frequently function as supersyllabograms. Under the circumstances, and given that so many scribes so often resorted to this strategy, I soon enough concluded that it was not only a standard convention in the compilation of some 700 tablets at Knossos, but that the supersyllabograms found on these tablets were almost invariably formulaic codes. And in ancient Greek – witness Homer alone - any practice which was both conventional and formulaic was always deliberate. No-one ever resorts to such strategies in any language, unless they have abundant reason to do so.

This is all the more true for the practices the Linear B scribes routinely ascribed to, given that they would do absolutely anything, if they possibly could, to save precious space on their tiny clay tablets. This too is another crucial factor past researchers have overlooked. Linear B scribes only recorded information which was absolutely essential to the precise compilation of what were (and are) after all statistical accounts and inventories. We can take the far-reaching consequences and implications of this conclusion even further. Have you ever seen a modern-day inventory which resorts to similar tactics to conserve precious space and to make the inventory as clear, precise and accurate as possible? Of course you have. As illustrated in the following two examples, the most efficient of modern inventories resort to the same tactics, the formulaic use of code abbreviations as substitutes for wasteful discursive text with predictable frequency – which is almost always: Click to ENLARGE each one with its relevant notes

aircraft inventory 

liquor inventory

In other words, just as abbreviations serve as default codes in modern inventories, supersyllabograms function pretty much the same way on the Linear B tablets. Supersyllabograms are in fact inventory codes for the Mycenaean Linear B words or entire phrases they replace. This revelation surely substantiates the claim I am now going to make: the Linear B scribes were far ahead of their time in the compilation of inventories and statistics. No other ancient language, including classical Greek and even Latin, came remotely close to this extremely advanced practice the Linear scribes so brilliantly and consciously contrived for their astonishing ability to create practical templates they consistently applied to inventorial management. And no-one until the Italian bankers in Renaissance was to revive the practice with equal skill. As for the standard practices of the Linear B scribal inventories, they are so remarkably alike modern 20th. & 20st. Century practices that it is uncanny.         

3. But there is more. Why previous researchers have not drawn attention to the fact that many supersyllabograms, especially in the field of textiles, neither precede nor follow the ideograms they qualify, but are almost invariably inside them, is beyond me. Once again, no one in any language resorts to any stratagem without solid practical and even logical reason(s). Such is the case with the textile “intragrams”, as opposed to “exograms” in Linear B, the latter of which invariably qualify pretty much all ideograms in the field of agriculture. Again, this raises the critical, hardly hypothetical, question, why. And again, there are substantive and strictly functional reasons why the Linear B scribes made this critical distinction – because they knew they had to. Supersyllabograms functioning as “exograms” are always associative, while those operating as “intragrams” are invariably attributive. The Linear B scribes made this fundamental distinction between the two sub-classes of supersyllabograms for the simple reason that they, as a guild, knew perfectly well what the operative distinction was which each of these types of supersyllabograms played on the tablets on which they were inscribed. The talk I am giving at the Conference in Pultusk between June 30 and July 2 2015 will make this perfectly clear.

4. I have no objection to the designation “surcharged” for “exograms” as supersyllabograms, because they are not only literally surcharged onto the ideograms with which they are always associated, they also figuratively surcharge the meaning(s) of these ideograms, in a sense somewhat akin to super-charged gasoline or petrol which beefs up engine performance in cars - or by symbolic association, something along those lines. But I am forced to object to the designation of “intragrams” as surcharged in the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economies, for the obvious reason that they are both literally and figuratively not surcharged at all. Again, the scribes never resorted to “intragrams”, unless they were absolutely critical to an actual attribute, whenever required in a particular case, such as the frequent designation of colour for textiles. Ask yourselves, why would any scribe in his right mind write out the full name of the default colour white for linen, when he did not have to? He simply would not. On the other hand, the Linear B scribes did make use of an attributive supersyllabogram when they knew perfectly well that it was critical to the economic class status of the cloth so designated. For instance, purple cloth, designated by the supersyllabogram PU for Mycenaean Linear B pupureyo – a royal colour par excellence – was much more refined and far more expensive than the heavier and coarser plain white linen cloth (rino) spun for the hoi polloi (the lower classes). So they had to mention that for the sake of the “wanaka” or King (of Knossos or Mycenae) to whom this distinction was all too important, given that neither he nor his Queen no any of the princes royal would ever be caught dead wearing cheap cloth.

There is much more to this than meets the eye, as I shall clearly illustrate in the book, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to appear sometime in 2016, if all goes well.

I would be truly remiss were I not to acknowledge the major contributions the French researcher, Marie-Louise Nosch, whom I have cited 15 times (!) in my bibliography, has made to fundamentally accurate definitions of supersyllabograms in the textile sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy. Although I happened upon all of her astonishingly insightful research articles only after I had deciphered 32 of the 34 supersyllabograms (the other two being beyond me, as well as her), the truly accurate and intrinsically logical conclusions she came to on her own back up my conclusions on the meanings of practically all the intragrams for textiles almost to the letter. This amazing co-incidence, if that is merely what it is, serves as solid circumstantial collateral evidence to substantiate my Theory of Supersyllabograms. Co-incidence? I rather doubt that. It is a given that researchers in any scientific field tend to strike their bearings in the same general direction in any age, including our own. Like Odysseus, we are all heading for the same shore. The most convincing conclusions which will eventually be drawn from the research we are all sharing in now are yet in the offing. But in my eyes one thing is certain. Everything we researchers in Mycenaean Linear B, as a community, are aiming for now is bound to make a ground-breaking, perhaps even profound, contribution in the near future to make the further decipherment of Linear B considerably much more accurate than any we have seen to date.

The Bibliography to follow in two parts (1-69 & 70-138) in the next two posts.

ADDENDUM: I shall be publishing this post & the next two in academia.edu very soon, prior to my presentation at the Conference in Pultusk, Poland, June 30 - July 2, 2015.

Richard

Associative versus Attributed Supersyllabograms Illustrated in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Illustration of Associative versus Attributive Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

This is Slide H of my lecture, “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B ” I shall be giving at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, associated with the University of Warsaw, Poland, between June 30 & July 2, 2015. It clearly illustrates the marked difference between an associative (as) and an attributive supersyllabogram (at).

Associative Supersyllabograms:

Associative SSYLs relate to physical objects or items, places, specific locations & geographic identifiers which are independent of the ideograms they are associated with, and which do not define them in any way, except as additional information relative to the latter. A sheep is still a sheep, a horse is still a horse & an ox is still an ox, even when it has no associative supersyllabogram modifying it. However, associative SSYLS are extremely informative, since they always circumscribe the circumstances in which the ideograms, almost always animate and animal, find themselves placed. As such, associative SSYLS (as) replace whole words and even entire phrases, which offer us a great deal more insight into the ideogram involved than would have been supplied by the ideogram alone. There is a huge difference between the ideogram for “sheep” or “ram” all on its own, and the same ideograms accompanied by an associative supersyllabogram. For instance, in this illustration, the SSYL (as) KI informs us that “the ram is on a plot of land”.  That is an entire sentence in English symbolized by the SSYL (as) KI + the ideogram for “ram” (only two characters!). The SSYL (as) O + “sheep” is even more informative, telling us that “the sheep is on a lease field.” and even “the sheep is on a usufruct lease field.” Not only that, the scribes frequently combined two or more SSYLs (as), such as KI & O with an ideogram, usually for “ram”, “ewe” or “sheep”, replacing a very long sentence in both Mycenaean Linear B and in English (or any other target language into which the source – Mycenaean Greek – is translated). Thus, the SSYLs (as) KI + O + the ideogram for “ewe + the number 114 mean no less than,114 ewes on a plot of land which is a usufruct lease field”.

Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy, and are also characteristic of the military sector. Associative SSYLS are not symbiotic.

Talk about a shortcut! Of course, many of us already know by now that the Mycenaean scribes frequently resorted to this clever stratagem to save plenty of space on what are, after all, very small tablets, rarely more than 30 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep, and usually much smaller.

Attributive Supersyllabograms:  

On the other hand, attributive SSYLs (at) always modify the the sense of ideograms on which they simultaneously depend as the ideograms themselves depend on them through the attributive qualities they assign to the latter. In other words, the relationship between the attributive supersyllabogram and the ideogram which it modifies is both symbiotic and auto-determinative. The plain ideogram for “cloth” has nothing inside it. But when the ideogram for “cloth” is assigned an attribute (usually defined as an adjectival modifier) that ideogram contains inside itself the supersyllabogram which unequivocally modifies its meaning. Thus, the ideogram for “cloth” with the SSYL NE inside it can mean one thing and one thing only, “new cloth”. Likewise, the SYL PU inside the ideogram for “cloth” can only mean “purple cloth”, and nothing else. Similarly, the SSYL TE inside the same ideogram has the specific meaning, “well-prepared cloth” or “finished cloth prepared for market or sale”. Thus, all attributive supersyllabograms modify the unqualified meaning of the simple syllabogram for “cloth” in the textile sector, while similar SSYLS in other sectors, especially the vessels, pottery & vases sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy operate in the exact same fashion. Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in these two sectors. 

Richard

 

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