Tag Archive: commander-in-chief



Linear B tablet, Pylos ER 312, tax collection for wheat for the temple in the palace:

Linear B Pylos tablet ER 312

This most fascinating of Linear B tablets, Pylos ER 312, clearly deals with the temple in the palace (both words in the locative singular). The tablet deals with taxation of seed for wheat and for wheat as such, where the units of wheat a large, and measured in something like bale-like units. Now it is obvious that in the Minoan/Mycenaean era, wheat and other grain crops were not measured in bales, but there was a standard large unit of measurement for them, which probably approximated bales. As the tax collector is mentioned, we know this tablet deals exclusively with taxation for wheat seeds and wheat. The taxes raised by the tax collector are for the temple in the palace. In line 7, we have worokiyoneyo eremo, which prima facie is somewhat mystifying. However, as my research colleague, Alexandre Solcà, points out, eremo is the adjective corresponding to the noun, eremo, the latter signifying desert. So the attributive of this word probably means devoid of. It certainly makes sense in context, given that the word preceding it is worokiyoneyo (genitive singular) for “of an offering , so the sense would be, literally, devoid of an offering, hence, a free offering. This clears up any ambiguity in the text.

 

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UPDATE on the military Minoan Linear A tablet HT 94 (Haghia Triada) = attendants to the king/foot soldiers: 

ideogram-eqeta-linear-b-kapa-linear-a

This tablet, HT 94 (Haghia Triada) contains the key military Minoan Linear A term, kapa, which is almost certainly the approximate equivalent to Mycenaean Linear B eqeta = “follower”.

mycenaean-eqeta-or-follower-of-the-king

The term eqeta in Mycenaean Greek has a special connotation. It denotes an attendant to the king, wanaka, who is usually also the rawaketa = “leader of the hosts” i.e.  “Commander-in-Chief”, which in the case of the Mycenaean expedition against Troy (ca. 1300-1250 BCE) would have been Agamemnon.

so-called-mask-of-agamemnon-mycenae

It is notable that the ideogram, apparently for “man”, on the medallion is so large that it practically fills the entire surface. Note also the supersyllabogram KA which is surcharged top right. This medallion is not the Linear A tablet HT 94 (Haghia Triada), but its resemblance to the text of the latter is so striking it simply cannot be ignored. In addition, this ideogram is more elaborate than the standard one for “man” in Minoan Linear A, and bears an amazing resemblance to the fresco image of the eqeta above. For these two reasons alone, I have come to the firm conclusion that indeed kapa in Minoan Linear A is the close equivalent to eqeta in Mycenaean Linear B, with a scalar precision of 75 % or >.      

According to the renowned twentieth century Linear B expert and researcher, L.R. Palmer, the eqeta also appears to have had a religious function.

It is highly unlikely there was such a person as a “follower” in pre-Mycenaean, Minoan society at Knossos. So we must take a stab at an approximation to the term eqeta in Minoan Linear A, i.e. kapa, which would probably have referred to attendants to the King, much in the same way as the Praetorian Guards who protected the sacrosanct person of the Emperor in post AD ancient Rome. 

praetorian-guard




Minoan Linear A ideogram for “man” “soldier” + supersyllabogram KA = kapa = Mycenaean Linear B = eqeta:

Ideogram Eqeta Linear B kapa Linear A

The illustration above highlights the Minoan Linear A ideogram for “man” “soldier” + supersyllabogram KA = kapa = Mycenaean Linear B = eqeta, which in turn is the Mycenaean military functionary called in English “soldier” (approximately).  Actually, the eqeta were the personal attendants of the rawaketa or Leader of the Host (Homeric), otherwise known as the Commander-in-Chief. Yet this title was often synonymous with wanaka, the king, who in the case of the Trojan War was none other than Agamemnon. Since the high Minoan civilization (Late Middle Minoan MMIIIb, ca 1600 BCE)

Minoan Mycenaean tiimelines

preceded the Mycenaean at Knossos (Late Minoan III, ca 1450 BCE) by about 150 years, it is of course impossible to directly cross-correlate the Minoan word kapa with the Mycenaean eqeta, which came much later, typically at Mycenae itself and at Pylos (ca 1400-1200 BCE). So kapa may not strictly mean “follower”, but simply “soldier” or “foot soldier”. Yet it must be said in all fairness that the Minoan soldier was highly likely to be a subaltern, in other words, follower of his ultimate supernumerary, the King of Knossos.   

I am relatively confident of my decipherment, given that Haghia Triada tablet HT 94 mentions 62 kapa, a number commensurate with a company of followers or (foot) soldiers, attendants to the King. 

This is the fifty-seventh (57) Minoan Linear A word I have deciphered, more or less accurately (in this case more).


Comprehensive Architectural Lexicon, Knossos & Mycenae (Part B):

Architectural Lexicon Knossos and Mycenae Part B

Part B of our architectural lexicon in Linear B presents only a few little problems. First of all, pokironuka = decorated with different studs, would appear to refer to studs which are jutting ornamentations on buildings, but I cannot be sure of this. Ponikiyo is almost always translated as palm tree, but I suspect it also means Phoenician, i.e. an architectural style. For the three * asterisked notes, see the lexicon above. Just one more point on samara. Samara is an actual ancient city. One Linear B lexicon defines it as points, but I have not the faintest idea what that is supposed to mean. The alternative meaning is monuments, which is completely acceptable. But I have added the additional signification, burial mounds, because these appear in some numbers at Mycenae alone.


Linear B tablet 04-39 N u 10 from the Knossos “Armoury” illustrating the SSYLS ZE & MO

Linear B tablet k 04-39 N u 10 from Knossos wheel ZE MO

While the translation of this tablet is relatively straightforward, there are a few points worthwhile mentioning. The first is that the supersyllabogram MO, appearing  for the first time on this tablet, is the first syllable of the Linear B word – mono - , meaning – one, single (i.e. spare). Secondly, since the tablet is right-truncated, we do not know how many spare wheels (MO) the scribe has inventoried, but my bet is that there is a spare wheel for each set of wheels on axle. Given that there are 3 sets of wheels on axle, that would mean that there would be 3 spare wheels. Lastly, and significantly, there is absolutely no mention of a chariot on this tablet (nor is there on well over a dozen other tablets), leading me to the all but inescapable conclusion that a considerable number of chariots were fully assembled without their wheels, the wheels being separately manufactured. But why? 

There are three discreet sets of tablets discussing the construction of chariots and their wheels (on axle):

(a) The first set of tablets inventory fully assembled chariots with their wheels on axle and their spare wheel (if present);
(b) The second is comprised of tablets for fully assembled chariots without their wheels on axle and;
(c) The third details the construction of wheels on axle, usually along with spare wheels, with no mention of chariots. Now this third set of tablets raises the inescapable question: why do so many tablets refer to the construction of wheels (both wheels on axle and spares), with no mention whatsoever of the chariots for which they are destined?

The most plausible explanation for these discrepancies is that the privileged functionary who has ordered his chariot does not want it delivered with its wheels already on axle [set (b) above], because he wishes to have the wheels separately manufactured according to his own specifications. We can be reasonably certain that VOPs such as the wanax (King) or the rawaketa (Commander-in-Chief) were the only supernumeraries who could possibly afford to have chariot wheels manufactured to their exacting specifications. Here you see a composite of four different styles of Mycenaean chariot wheels:

composite of 4 Mycenaean chariots

Such highly placed aristocrats would probably have been terribly fussy about the style and decoration of the wheels they wanted mounted. So the wheels on axle would have been manufactured separately from the chariots, which neatly explains why numerous tablets speak of wheel construction alone, while others refer to chariots without their wheels attached destined for the same elite customers. In fact, these two types of tablets appear to run in tandem with each other, there being one tablet referring to the chariot fully assembled without wheels on axle and a corresponding one detailing the manufacture of the wheels on axle (and most of the time of the spare wheel), but with no mention of the chariot itself. The difficulty is which Knossos tablet dealing with a particular fully assembled chariot without wheels is to be paired with which corresponding tablet describing the manufacture of wheels on axle (and most often a spare wheel to boot)? That is a question we shall never know the answer to, but the plausibility of this method of dual (or paired) construction of chariots without wheels in tandem with the separate manufacture of wheels makes sense.

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