Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART A: Is it in the Minoan language? In my previous post on the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE, I postulated that the wordIdamatewas probably either the name of the king or of the high priestess (of the labyrinth?) to whom this labrys has been ritually dedicated. But in so doing I was taking the path of least resistance, by seeking out the two most simplistic decipherments which would be the least likely to prove troublesome or controversial. In retrospect, that was a cop-out. No sooner had I posted my two alternate simplistic translations than I was informed by a close colleague of mine in the field of diachronic historical linguistics focusing on Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B that at least two other alternative decipherments came into play, these being: 1. that the term Idamate may be the Minoan equivalent of the Mycenaean Linear BDamate, which is apparently an early version of the ancient Greek,Demeter, who was the goddess of cereals and harvesting: 2. that the termIdamatemay be Minoan for Mount Ida, in which case, the wordMate= “mount”, such that the phrase actually spells out “Ida mount(ain)” : Since both of these decipherments make eminent sense, either could, at leasttheoretically, be correct. But there is a third alternative, and it is far more controversial and compelling than either of the first two. 3. It is even possible that the four syllabograms I DA MA & TE are in factsupersyllabograms, which is to say that each syllabogram is thefirstsyllabogram, i.e. thefirst syllableof a word, presumably a Minoan word. But if these 4 supersyllabograms represent fourconsecutiveMinoan words, what on earth could these words possibly signify, in light of the fact that we know next to nothing about the Minoan language. It appears we are caught in an irresolvable Catch-22. Yet my own recent research has allowed me to tease potential decipherments out of 107 or about 21 % of all intact words in Prof. John G. Younger’sLinear A lexiconof 510 terms by my own arbitrary count. Scanning this scanty glossary yielded me numerous variations on 3 terms which might conceivably make sense in at leastonesuppositious context. These terms (all of which I have tentatively deciphered) are: 1.For I:itaja= unit of liquid volume for olive oil (exact value unknown) 2.FOR DA:either:daropa= stirrup jar = Linear Bkarawere(high certainty) ordatara= (sacred) grove of olive trees ordata2 (datai)= olive, pl. date = Linear Berawoordatu= olive oil ordaweda= medium size amphora with two handles 3.For TE:tereza= large unit of dry or liquid measurement ortesi= small unit of measurement But I cannot find any equivalent for MA other thanmaru, which seemingly means “wool”, even in Minoan Linear A, this being the apparent equivalent of Mycenaean Linear Bmariormare. The trouble is that this term (if that is what the third supersyllabogram inidamatestands in for) does not contextually mesh at all with any of the alternatives for theother threewords symbolized by their respective supersyllabograms. But does that mean the phrase is not Minoan? Far from it. There are at least 2 cogent reasons for exercising extreme caution in jumping to the conclusion that the phrase cannot be in Minoan. These are: 1. that the decipherments ofallof the alternative terms I have posited for the supersyllabograms I DA & TE above arealltentative, even if they are more than likely to be close to the mark and some of them probably bang on (for instance,daropa), which I believe they are; 2. that all 3 of the supersyllabograms I DA & TEmayinstead stand for entirely different Minoan words,none of which I have managed to decipher. And God knows there are plenty of them! Since I have managed to decipher only 107 of 510 extant intact Minoan Linear A words by my arbitrary count, that leaves 403 or 79 % undeciphered! That is far too great a figure to be blithely brushed aside. The > impact of combinations of a > number of Minoan Linear A words on their putative decipherment: To give you a rough idea of the number of undeciphered Minoan words beginning with I DA & TE I have not been able to account for, here we have a cross-section of just a few of those words from Prof. John G. Younger’s Linear A Reverse Lexicon: which are beyond my ken: For I:iininuniijadiimetuirimaitakiFor DA:dadanadainidakidakudaqaqaFor MA:madadumajasamanuqamasuriFor TE:tedatiqatedekimatenamipitenerudaBut the situation is far more complex than it appears at first sight. To give you just a notion of the enormous impact ofexponentialmathematical permutations and combinations on the potential forgross errorsin any one of a substantial number of credible decipherments ofany given numberof Minoan Linear A terms as listed even in the small cross-section of the 100s of Minoan Words in Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon, all we have to do is relate the mathematical implications of the chart on permutations to any effort whatsoever at the decipherment of even a relatively small no. of Minoan Linear A words: CLICK on the chart of permutations to link to the URL where the discussion of both permutations and combinations occurs: to realize how blatantly obvious it is thatany number of interpretationsof anyoneof the selective cross-section of terms which I have listed here can be deemed the so-called actual term corresponding to the supersyllabogram which supposedly represents it. But, and I must emphatically stress my point, this is just a small cross-section of all of the terms in the Linear B Reverse Lexicon beginning with each of the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE in turn. It is grossly obvious that, if we allow for theenormousnumber of permutations and combinations to which the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE must categorically be subjected mathematically, it is quite out of the question to attempt any decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms, I DA MA & TE,without taking contextabsolutelyinto consideration. And even in that eventuality, there is no guarantee whatsoever that any putative decipherment of each of these supersyllabograms (I DA MA & TE) in turn in the so-called Minoan language will actually hold water, since after all, a smaller, but still significant subset of an extremely large number of permutation and combinations must still remain incontestably in effect. The mathematics of the aforementioned equations simply stack up to a very substantial degree against any truly convincing decipherment of any single Minoan Linear A term,exceptfor one small consideration (or as it turns out, not so small at all). As it so happens, and as we have posited in our first two alternative decipherments above, i.e. 1. thatIdamateis Minoan for MycenaeanDamate,the probable equivalent of classical GreekDemeter, or 2. thatIdamateactually means “Mount Ida”, these two possible decipherments which do make sense can be extrapolated from the supersyllabograms I DA MA & TE, at least if we take into account the Minoan Linear A terms beginning with I DA & TE (excluding TE), which I have managed, albeit tentatively, to decipher. However,far too many putativedecipherments of the great majority of words in the Minoan language itself are at present conceivable, at least to my mind. Yet, this scenario is quite likely to change in the near future, given that I have already managed to tentatively decipher 107 or 21 % of 510 extant Minoan Linear A words, by my arbitrary count. It is entirely conceivable that under these circumstances I shall be able to decipher even more Minoan language words in the near future. In point of fact, ifIdamateactually does mean eitherIdamate(i.e. Demeter) orIda Mate(i.e. Mount Ida), then: (a) with only 2 possible interpretations for IDAMATE now taken into account, the number of combinations and permutations is greatly reduced to analmost insignificantamount & (b) the actual number of Minoan Linear A words I have deciphered to date rises from 107 to 108 (in a Boolean OR configuration, whereby we can add either “Demeter”or“Mount Ida” to our Lexicon, but not both). A baby step this may be, but a step forward regardless.

## Tag Archive: combinations

Is the syllabogram ZE just a plain old syllabogram? A MAJOR discovery soon to be announced! ZE, theSuper Syllabogram! Just the other day, while meticulously examining some of the 100s of the fragments of theScripta MinoaI have already ploughed through with a fine-tooth comb, I noticed something particularly astonishing, something which has never been directly observed until now,but which is bound to have a significant impacton the continuing saga all of us, as researchers, are pursuing in our attempts to successfully decipher certain aspects of the Linear B syllabary, including both logograms and ideograms, which have hitherto remained entirely recalcitrant to interpretation. But I sincerely believe I have actually cracked another mystery in the Linear B saga, andthat mystery revolves around not one, but more than one, Linear B syllabogram, logogram and ideogram, taken not in isolation but in. This entirely new approach to the decipherment of hitherto inexplicable portions of Linear B tablets, indeed, even of fragments of Linear B tablets, is bound to have profound implications in our ability to break open at least some of the remaining mysteries of Linear B. Not only did I discover this particular syllabogram ZEspecific, invariable combination(s) with one anotherin a specific configuration, that is to say, a specific, invariable order with the very same ideogram several times over, but I also discovered. Something is going on here, and I mean something big, which has eluded the notice of all Linear B researchers to date, in the 60 years plus since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B. To say the very least, I was extremely lucky to have stumbled upon this particular and particularly precise usage of the “syllabogram” ZE in thethe same phenomenonoccurring at least as frequently and in some cases, far more frequently, with specific syllabograms always combined in exactly the same order with exactly the same ideogramScripta Minoa, which places it firmly in the same class as the most common Linear B logograms, all of which are already perfectly understood. The big difference here is that, until now, all Linear B logograms we know the precise meaning of are all comprised of nothing but two or more syllabograms. I stress this. In the case of ZE, we have an entirely new phenomenon, as you shall soon discover for yourselves. Please understand that for my purposes, and in fact for the sake of absolute clarity and for sound theoretical purposes, I insist on a clear distinction between a logogram and an ideogram. In fact, as you are soon to see, we may have to “invent” at least one new class of Linear B “symbols” which is a composite of either: aboth a syllabogram; b and, yes,andan ideogram, but always in the same precise configuration and in the same precise ordereven. I am in fact so convinced that the “meaning” I am about to assign to the syllabogram ZE in combination with the (as yet) “secret” syllabogram I shall be unveiling is in fact so sound as to be practically self-evident. I challenge all major researchers into Linear B to challenge my interpretation of the ZE + ideogram logogram, since after all I may be barking up the wrong tree. But somehow, intuitively, inductively and contextually, I do not believe I err. Only time will tell. What I sincerely believe I am about to demonstrate is this: Linear B is an even more complex, more sophisticated, in short, a more elegant syllabary system than we have yet imagined, so much so indeed that2 ideograms, again always in the same precise configuration and in the same precise orderit may be the most sophisticated syllabary ever to have existed prior to the advent of the alphabetic scripts. Keep posted! Richard

Linear B Ideograms: Level 5.0 (Advanced) Ideograms formed by Combinations of Syllabograms (Click toENLARGE): It is obvious from this table illustrating 3 of the most common ideograms found on extant Linear B tablets, i.e. cheese, honey & ointment, that the Minoan/Mycenaean scribes were at great pains to save as much precious space on those little (often tiny) baked clay tablets they used, as they very frequently resorted to replacing whole words, specifically the most common Mycenaean vocabulary, with ideograms. Ideograms were formed in 2 distinct ways. The easiest way, which the scribes resorted to almost all of the time, was simply to use a pictorial representation of the word(s) which they wished to “write”, as illustrated in this example (Click toENLARGE): The second method, which was considerably more complex, and also very clever, was to combine 2, and sometimes even 3,syllabograms, by simply piling them on top of one another, butalways in a specific order and in a universal standard geometric pattern. This is just another example of thegeometric economyof Linear B, which I have referenced previously in our Blog. The only thing I myself can't quite figure out is this, why would the scribes have used simple ideograms for the vast majority of the common words they were intended to replace, but then turn to (seemingly) complicating matters by piling syllabograms on top of one another? I just don't know. But they did, and that's the end of it. On a final note, once we have come to the end ofLevel 5, Advanced, in our Linear B lessons, we shall have completed the course, and will have under our belts the Linear B syllabary and ideograms in their entirety. This is a wonderful accomplishment for any student willing to take the lengthy time and sustained effort to learn Mycenaean Linear B, a language which cannot be mastered, so to speak, “with a snap of the fingers”. To tell the truth, it has already takenme3 years to get to the point where I am myself in my attempts to “master” Linear B and the complex Mycenaean Greek grammar underlying it, and I still have a long way to go. But perseverance always pays off in the long run. I also have 3 students learning Linear B, of whom 1 in particular is now at the threshold of Linear B Level 3 (Intermediate), and who has already mastered the entire basic syllabary. Richard