Tag Archive: cross-section

Linear B tablet KN 595 R p 31 with reference to the chiton undertunic:

Linear B tablet KN 595 R p 31 & the supersyllabograms O PE & KI

This tablet has to be one of the most challenging and most intriguing I have ever had the pleasure of deciphering. Challenging because it introduces two new associative supersyllabograms which appear nowhere else on tablets in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. Intriguing because, as is to be expected, the two associative supersyllabograms, O & PE in the military sector, cannot possibly mean the same thing as they do in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, where they are occur on hundreds of tablets. Associative supersyllabograms, which always appear adjacent to the ideograms they modify, are those which describe some characteristic or element related it, unlike attributive supersyllabograms, which always appear inside the ideogram which they modify. Attributive supersyllabograms are without exception an attribute of the ideogram which they embody. Thus the attributive supersyllabogram KI describes precisely the type of textile its ideogram refers to, namely, the chiton undertunic = kito in Linear B, which the Mycenaean warriors, charioteers and foot soldiers alike wore under their breastplate = toraka in Linear B or thorax in ancient Greek. There is no mystery here.

But what about the associative supersyllabograms O on the first line and PE on the second line? What can they possibly signify? It is obvious from the outset that here, in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, they cannot conceivably mean the same thing as they do in the agricultural sector, where O = onato i.e. a lease field & PE = periqoro = a sheep pen in Linear B. This is where context comes into play, and in a big way. In fact, without context in the broadest sense of that word, no supersyllabogram, whether associative or attributive, can have any meaning at all.

It is absolutely necessary to define context in its all-inclusive sense. By context I do not merely mean the semantic-syntactical context within the confines of the tablet in which any supersyllabogram whatsoever appears, but also the cross-comparative syntactical contextual significance of each and every syllabogram cutting across any number of tablets in which these supersyllabograms appear in the same sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. But even at this level, context is not sufficiently accounted for. It is all fine and well to contend that this is all there is to context. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless and until we take context to mean the actual real world significance of each and every supersyllabogram, let alone word or phrase, we take into account in any and all sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, contextual and cross-contextual syntactical context alone fall far short of establishing their actual meaning. The real world context is just that. It is the clincher.

For instance, if we contend that the associative supersyllabograms O = onato or lease field, and PE = periqoro or a sheep pen in contextual association alone with the ideogram they modify, we cannot be certain that that is in fact what these two supersyllabograms designate. Unless we take their real world, environmental context fully into account, there is no substantive corroborative evidence that these supersyllabograms actually mean what they appear to mean in their contextual sense alone. The only way we can be certain that these supersyllabograms O & PE actually refer to a lease field and a sheep pen in turn, and nothing else, is to fully account for their real world context, namely, the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy (which just so happens to be almost always sheep). Otherwise, all the contextual analysis in the world amounts to a hill of beans. As it just so happens, these two supersyllabograms, O & PE, in the agricultural sector alone, must mean what they do mean, because there are no other feasible alternatives in their real world environment.

The guiding principle is, change the sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy in which any supersyllabogram appears, and you automatically change its real world significance in the vast majority of cases, with very few exceptions. It is patently impossible for the supersyllabogram O to mean a lease field or for the supersyllabogram PE to refer to a sheep pen in in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. The idea is ludicrous. That leaves us with no other alternative than to attempt to establish, not only the (cross-) contextual, but also the real world significance of the associative supersyllabograms O & PE in the military sector. This is not such a simple operation as one might assume.

The principle of cross-contextual real world significance of supersyllabograms:

Before moving on to the definitions of these two supersyllabograms in the military sector, it is absolutely necessary to generalize the principle of the sense of any supersyllabogram whatsoever in the context of any and all sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy in which it appears. Hypothetically and in actuality, the meaning of any supersyllabogram whatsoever, associative as well as attributive, depends entirely on both the syntactical and real world context within which it appears. Change the environmental context in which any single supersyllabogram is set, and you automatically change its meaning or more properly speaking, its true significance. Thus, for instance, the supersyllabograms O & PE each signify one thing and one thing only in the agricultural sector and quite another in the military sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. This is true for every single supersyllabogram which cuts across any or all of the sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. These sectors are: agricultural, military, textiles, vessels (pottery etc.), religious and toponyms. For instance, the supersyllabogram PA cuts across all sectors but one, vessels. But it cannot and does not carry the same real world significance in any of these sectors. This factor must always be held uppermost in mind in the determination of the real world significance of any and all supersyllabograms, associative or attributive, as they cut across the boundaries separating the sectors of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy.

That leaves us with the burning question, just what do the associative supersyllabograms O & PE signify in the military sector? The answer, at least in the case of the associative supersyllabogram O, is not so obvious as one might imagine. Why so? Unfortunately, when we turn to Chris Tselentis’ superb Linear B Lexicon, we discover to our dismay that there are no fewer than three candidates for the supersyllabogram O. These are (a) that the supersyllabogram O means a military unit, such as a squadron or battalion or (b) it refers to the delivery of the item(s) under the scope or (c) to the purchase of said item(s). Which one is right?  We shall never know. We were not there when the scribes assigned the real world significance to this supersyllabogram, O. Any one of the aforementioned definitions fits the bill where the military sector is concerned. It is particularly tempting to opt for the first meaning, as it is explicitly military, but we must be on our guard about making such an assumption. However, it does appear that the notion of a military unit such as a squadron or battalion makes eminent sense, given the presence of the word eropakeya, which references game hunting. At the same time, that definition looks suspiciously like it is too specific with regard to the real world context, as I am somewhat doubtful whether a scribe would run to such detail in the determination of the significance of the supersyllabogram at hand, namely, O. It makes just as much sense to postulate that O refers to the delivery or purchase of the textile, the chiton undergarment. We were not there when the scribe assigned the meaning he did to this supersyllabogram, O. So we shall never know. So take your pick.

As for the supersyllabogram PE, things are much more straightforward. We already know from the syntactical and real world context of the attributive supersyllabogram KI, which can refer to one thing and one thing only, the (undergarment) chiton, that the associative supersyllabogram PE must without a shadow of a doubt be directly related to its parallel attributive supersyllabogram KI. It just so happens that Chris Tselentis has lit upon the one word which precisely fits the context (at all levels). And that word is pekoto, which refers to a kind of textile. And that kind of textile is quite obviously the chiton. But why would the scribe find it necessary to repeat the notion of textile, once as pekoto (a kind of textile) and secondly as kito (a chiton) specifically? There has to be a legitimate reason; otherwise he would not have done so. The reason is this: the scribe is specifically drawing our attention to the manufacture of a certain type of textile, in this instance, the chiton undergarment. This is the primary thrust of the overall significance of the text (contextual and real world) of this tablet. In other words, the fact that the supersyllabogram O refers to a military hunting unit, or to the delivery or purchase of the items under consideration for game hunting (namely, textiles) is secondary, taking a back seat to the actual manufacture of this item, which is the chiton undertunic. At least that is how I interpret it.

CRITICAL POST: The Minoans counted sheep while they were wide awake... big time! 

An In-depth Statistical Analysis and Wide Cross-Section of over 2,500 tablets and fragments out of the approximately 4,000 at Knossos dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes.

For the past 4 months, I have been meticulously examining a huge cross-section of 2,503 Linear B tablets & fragments from the approximately 4,000 found at Knossos, representing no less than 62.57 % of that total, a sampling for which the statistical accuracy must be so high as not to exceed 0.5 % +/- margin of error (although I haven not verified this myself). Even with the total of 4,000 tablets and fragments being only a reasonably fair estimate of the total, the statistical accuracy would still be very high, since we are dealing with a total very close to 4,000. Here is the detailed table I compiled with its statistical analysis of the total number of tablets and fragments at Knossos specifically dealing with sheep, rams and ewes (503), as opposed to the total number I examined = 2,503. Click to ENLARGE:

Linear B Tablets Knossos sheep rams ewes

However, not only did I isolate all 503 of the tablets and fragments dealing with sheep, rams and ewes from my cross-section of 2,500 tablets, I also further sub-divided all 503 of these by locales or sites at which the Minoans raised sheep, these being, from most to least often mentioned on the tablets, Kytaistos, Phaistos & Lykinthos (20 times each), for a total of 60; Exonos (15 times); Davos (14); Lato & Syrimos (12), for a total of 24; Lasynthos (9); Sygrita (8); Tylissos or Tylisos (5) and Raia (2), Knossos never being even mentioned at all! What! I here you say... and me too. Come on, this begs the question. 

Hypothesis A: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

Why? Why not Knossos? It is patently ridiculous to assume that no sheep were raised at Knossos, since Knossos was a city of a population reputedly exceeding 50,000, an enormous city for the ancient world (aside from Rome, of course). None of the other locales listed in our table come remotely close to Knossos in size or economic power and significance, not even Phaistos. The Minoans had to have raised sheep at Knossos, of that there can be no doubt. But how many of the overall 503 tablets mentioning sheep, rams and ewes can be said to deal with Knossos?  Although we could ideally postulate a total of 365 times, the remainder of the 503 tablets, this is a highly problematic question, since there is simply no way of knowing whether or not the scribes were referring to Knossos and Knossos alone whenever they omitted to name the locale for sheep husbandry. It seems quite conceivable, even reasonable, to assume that the majority of the remaining 365 tablets and fragments, or at least most of them, do deal specifically with Knossos, but there is really no real way of our ever knowing.

However, there is one tell-tale statistic which may serve as a real clue to the incidence of sheep raising at Knossos, and that is the figure for the number of times Tylissos is mentioned, i.e. only 5 times, even though Tylissos was an important Minoan site. The point I am making here is simply this: Tylissos was right next door to Knossos, practically an outskirt of the city. So if Tylissos is mentioned less often than every other sheep raising locale, with the sole exception of Raya (3 times), then were were the sheep being raised near or at Knossos?  The answer seems transparent enough. At Knossos itself, or at least in the countryside surrounding Knossos, which would almost (but not quite) include Tylissos. So this is my hypothesis, namely, that in all probability most of the remaining 365 tablets and fragments do deal with Knossos, since as I have already said, it is patently impossible that Knossos was not the major sheep raising locale in the Minoan agri-economy.

Hypothesis B: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

There is another angle from which we may approach my assumption. Let’s say I am talking about my own garden (today, in the twenty-first century). Now since my own garden is right here in the city I live in, what is the point of saying “my garden in Ottawa” to other folks from Ottawa, since they already know that? The only time it would be necessary to refer to “my garden in Ottawa” would be when I was showing my garden at the cottage to my friends, and I wished to distinguish it from my other garden in Ottawa. Likewise, if I am referring to my mother’s garden, which happens to be in Toronto, while speaking to friends in Ottawa, I have to say “my mother’s garden in Toronto”, unless they all already know that. You see my point.

By analogy, if scribes, all of whom lived in Knossos, were referring to sheep husbandry at Knossos, why would they bother mentioning the city as such, since they would have been sharing this information with their fellow scribes and literate administrators in Knossos itself. On the other hand, if they had to refer to sheep raising absolutely anywhere else, even at Tylissos, which was not quite at Knossos, they would have had to mention the site by name; otherwise, their fellow scribes and co-literates would have had no idea where the sheep were being raised, which defeats the whole point of inventorying or compiling such statistics in the first place. Remember that the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B (not Linear A) were space-saving freaks, to say the least, since the tablets were usually very small. So by not mentioning Knossos as a sheep raising locale, since they lived there after all, they saved precious space on their tablets... yet another reason why Knossos was in fact never mentioned. Anyway, people are lazy by nature, and would rather not do any work they can avoid. So either they would have mentioned Knossos all the time, however many times it would have been the default locale for sheep raising (because, in fact, Knossos was the default location for sheep husbandry) on those remaining 365 tablets, or they would not have mentioned it all. We know of course they did not. All of this is speculation, of course, but it is rational speculation, I dare say.

Hypothesis C: Why not Knossos?... or more to the point, probably Knossos

And, believe it or not, there is yet another way to approach this hypothesis, and this approach is in fact purely statistical. Whenever we are confronted with a tablet or fragment from any of the other sheep raising locales specifically inventoried in the table above, when we examine the tablet for the total number of sheep raised at any one of these locales, we discover (and this is very significant) that nowhere are more than a few hundred sheep, rams or ewes mentioned on these site-specific tablets and fragments. The reason for this is probably that there was not enough available land at these sites to raise more than a few hundred sheep at a time.

On the other hand — and I must lay particular emphasis on this point — on several of the remaining 365 tablets or fragments, 1,000s or even 10s of 1,000s of sheep are tallied. Now where on earth except at Knossos would there be enough room to accommodate so many blasted sheep? I think I have made my point.

I can see some of you object (some perhaps even loudly), how could any place, even Knossos, have enough room in the surrounding countryside to accommodate almost as many or even more sheep than the general population of the city, without stripping the top soil bare, causing irreparable environmental damage and making one stinky countryside? It is hard to counter such an objection, which is entirely rational on any count. Still, we do not know whether the Minoans practised land rotation. However, given that their civilization was so advanced and sophisticated, with their basic grasp and sound implementation of the principles of hydrology to city plumbing never again to be matched until the end of the 19th. century of our era (!), it begs the question whether or not they were familiar with, and indeed practised land rotation for sheep grazing. I for one would be willing to bet at least 50/50 that they did... a practice which would have effectively preserved available grazing land, and made Knossos a perfectly suitable place to raise sheep, and scads of them.

But there is still more. Of the 2,503 tablets and fragments from Knossos I examined, those dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes account for fully 20.12 % of every last tablet, regardless of the area of interest in the Minoan society, economy, social structure, religious affairs etc. any and all of the remaining tablets deal with. This is a huge sub-set of all the tablets, and in fact, when you examine a cross-section of as many as 2,503 tablets of approximately 4,000, as I have done, you will discover, perhaps to your astonishment, perhaps not, that no other single area of interest or topic, if you like, in Minoan society comes anywhere even close to the number of times sheep, rams and ewes are specifically and almost always solely addressed on such tablets or fragments, i.e. 503 times. This speaks to the one area that literally grabs centre stage in the Minoan socio-economic and trade structure. It all boils down to one thing: the Minoan economy by-and-large revolved around sheep raising and husbandry, and the products which derived from it, such as wool, which also accounts for a fairly significant proportion of the remaining 3,500 tablets (though far from the numbers for sheep per se). Although there can be no denying that other areas of interest, such as raising pigs and other livestock, various crafts such as gem cutting, jewelry etc., religious issues, military matters, household affairs and so on, played a significant role in the Minoan economy and in their society, there can be no denying that sheep raising and husbandry was the keystone of their economy. There is simply no way of getting around this conclusion, given the fact that the cold, bare statistics practically shout this at us.  Of course, many of you will object, statistics aren’t everything, or even all that reliable as an indicator of anything, for that matter. And of course, you would be right... except for one big thorn in our side, namely, the fact that statistics for the number of fragments and tablets dealing specifically with sheep, rams and ewes is so huge (20.12 %) that it could very well make the objections of our doubting Thomases almost irrelevant. I have not yet formally compiled statistics for the incidence of tablets and fragments dealing with any other aspect of Minoan life whatsoever, but I can assure that, even on examining all of these tablets quite closely, no other area of interest whatsoever comes even remotely close to the overwhelming figure of 503 tablets or fragments specifically focusing on sheep, rams and ewes (20.12 %), accounting for fully 1/5 of all 2,503 tablets and fragments I examined.

The next post will provide us with two examples of the 138/503 site-specific Linear B tablets dealing with sheep, rams and ewes.

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae


Poetry that purrs. It's reowr because the cat said so.

Egyptian Moon ~My love of Ancient Egypt~


Eris' Smile

I'm a reconstructionist-ish Hellenic Polytheist. My pronouns are they/theirs and fae/faers, and I am gay as hell.


A blog about writing, society, and life itself

Super Sleep Heavy

For times when sleep don't come easy


A topnotch WordPress.com site

Santorini Tours

Private Tours in Santorini

Demetrio Demetriadi

Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος…

Duplicate My Success

How to be successful in internet marketing.

A Geordie Lost in London

How to live the London life, on a Northern budget

Penelope Burns

Write | Blog | Create | Earn

Gleaning The Scriptures

The Savior Lives To Teach.

Macedonian Ancestry

"I thank the gods for being Greek" - Alexander the Great


Geopolitics - The Road To Global Ruin * Γεωπολιτική - Ο Δρόμος Προς Παγκόσμια Καταστροφή

Care, Bliss and the Universe

Life, the Universe and Yourself


'Eyeball-chewin' Bastard'

William Rubel

The Magic of Fire : Traditional Foodways

Albania -ilire- Pellazgët


anne frandi-coory

A Life in Two Halves

Traditional Polytheist

A site devoted to the study and discussion of ethnic and traditional polytheism throughout the world, in regard to its nature, history, and present standing in general.

Rilkes Panther

fictional stories and social commentary


Easy healthy recipes for lazy busy people

The Whirling Bee

Reality has no walls, no edges - a journey in altered states of consciousness


The future of humanity with science and technology research based on 3D, 4D, and 5D Printing

Diary of a Pagan Art Student

History, folklore, art, paganism


Celebrating Poetry.


Minha maneira de ver, falar, ouvir e pensar o mundo... se quiser, venha comigo...

blog bangla mail

Welcome My Site


4th Lund Conference on Games, Interaction, Reasoning, Learning and Semantics

Site Title

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

When Women Inspire

Inspirational Women | Health and Lifestyle Tips

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Yahuah Is Everything

My blogs on The Bible and the true name of God Yahuah and His Son,Yahusha,

Musings on History

Teacher looking at Ancient History and Gothic Literature in an historical context mainly.

The Deadliest Blogger: Military History Page

The historical writing of Barry C. Jacobsen


Artistic Reconstruction and Original Translation From Homer's "Iliad" by Kathleen Vail

Akhelas Writing

The Myriad Musings of Austin Conrad

%d bloggers like this: