Tag Archive: cups



the supersyllabogram SU in Linear A, a small cup with handles & the largest pithos size:

Minoan Pithos and small cup with a handle

The supersyllabogram SU in Linear A has two meanings, context dependent. The first is:

1. SU = supa3 (supai)/supa3ra (supaira) OM = a small cup with handles Cf. Linear B dipa mewiyo. The word depa/depu PGS de/paj de/pu (acc.?) = cup occurs in Linear A. Cf. Linear B dipa di/paj & Homeric de/pa

and the second is:

2. SU = supi/supu/supu2 OM = largest size pithos;

but not MOSE * NM1 supu/h sipu/h sipu/a i0pu/a = meal tub. MOSE * = decryption by Prof. Yuriy Mosenkis. This interpretation flies in the face of context on any Linear A tablet or fragment. It is all fine and well to conjecture a proto-Greek or Mycenaean-derived Greek word, but if you check your decipherment against extant tablets, then you may find it invalidated. This must always be done. Otherwise, you will end up with a meaning which is simply out of the question.


POST 1,702: The supersyllabogram DI in Linear A, dipa3a (dipaia) + dipaja = from a cup

Minoan cups

The supersyllabogram DI in Linear A, dipa3a (dipaia) almost certainly refers to a cup. It is debatable whether or not this form is Linear A nominative singular; however, the form dipaja = from a cup, is likely to be genitive singular.

DI = dipa3a (dipaia) PGS di/paia <- di/paj de/paj = from a cup 
or
DI = dipaja PGS di/paia <- di/paj de/paj = from a cup (alternate?)


The supersyllabogram AKA in Linear A = either wine skin or an embossed cup:

ancient wine skin and the Vapheio cup

BOLD: n. e.g. 1. A = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is either certain or highly probable.

Italics: n. e.g. 7. KI = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is possible.

Standard font: n. e.g. 2 = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is unlikely or questionable.

It is almost certain that the supersyllabogram A in Linear A means either a wine skin or an embossed cup.

1. A aka = aska = a0ska = wine skin -or- apero PGS a1mpeloj = a vine Cf. Linear B apero -or- aresana NM1 a1leisana <- a1leison = an embossed cup (arch. acc.) = de/paj (Homeric) Cf. Linear B dipa/arisu NM1 a1leisu <- a1leison = embossed cup

Note that it appears on HT 2 (Haghia Triada) dealing with olive oil, which is sometimes served from a vessel and on the other 3 tablets, same provenance, all of which deal with vessels, hence the reading, embossed cup:

HT 2 oo HT 39 ve KH 83 ve MA 10 ve

oo = olive oil

ve = vessels


Haiku in Minoan Linear A: wine from an embossed cup, the healing bread of heaven:

haiku wine from an embossed cup

 


Symbaloo/Google search ranks Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae as fourth largest on the Internet:

search-minoan-linear-a-mycenaean-linear-b-major-sites-sept-13-2016

Since this is a Boolean AND search, if we omit sites dealing with only Minoan Linear A or only Mycenaean Linear B, which do not fulfill this requirement, our site ranks fourth. But since the site, Linear A and Linear B script: Britannica.com is a minor site, we actually rank third.

Also, our PINTEREST board is ranked fifth (actually fourth). We have over 1.7 K Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B translations, photos, maps & images on our PINTEREST board, Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B, Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary. Click the banner to visit and join if you like!


Minoan Linear A Linear B


   

Does this Minoan Linear A tablet refer to the Linear A word karopa3 (karopai) for a kylix? 

new Linear  A tablet kylix for spices



The first ever complete translation of a Linear A tablet in toto, HT 31 (Haghia Triada), vessels & pottery:

Linear A tablet HT 31 vessels

Here you see the first ever full translation of a Linear A tablet, HT 31 (Haghia Triada), vessels & pottery. Today I was finally able to break through the last barriers to the complete translation of this tablet, one of the most complete in Linear A, and the only one with so many ideograms, in this case, all of them standing for various types of vessels. The tablet explicitly names the type of each vessel by superimposing the Linear A name of it over its ideogram. What a windfall!

It just so happens that HT 31 exhibits so many parallels with Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) that it almost defies credulity... so much so that we can even consider the latter to be the long overdue “Rosetta Stone” for the former. Not only are they written in two syllabaries which are almost the same, Minoan Linear A for HT 31, and its successor, Mycenaean Linear A for Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), but even the contents (the text) of each of these tablets closely mirrors that of the other. That is one truly amazing co-incidence. And it is precisely because the similarity between these two tablets is so striking that I have been able to decipher the integral text of Minoan Linear A HT 31 (Haghia Triada) in toto, with the exception of a few signs (syllabograms, ideograms and numerals) which are pretty much illegible. This is the first time in history that anyone has managed to decipher a Minoan Linear A tablet in its entirety.

Compare the translation of HT 31 with the text of Mycenaean tablet  Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) on which I have overlaid the equivalent cross-correlated Linear A vocabulary, and it instantly becomes clear that the two tablets deal with almost exactly the same range of vessels:

Pylos Tablet 641-1952 Ventris with Minoan Linear A term superimposed

The methodology followed in the comparative analysis of any Linear A tablet which appears similar to any Linear B counterpart is called cross-correlated retrogressive extrapolation of a Linear A tablet (A) with an equivalent Linear B tablet (B), where:

CCRE (cross-correlated retrogressive extrapolation) stipulates that A = B (closely or approximately), in this case closely. 

I welcome any and all comments on this hard-fought and hard-won breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A. Please also tag this post with 4 to 5 stars if you like it (hopefully 5!) 


Minoan Linear A terms for large (qapa3 = qapai) and small size (pazaqe) handle-less vessels:

handle less  vase

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) contains two terms for handle-less vessels. These are qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” (more commonly the former), and pazaqe for a “small handle-less cup”. The latter were very common in both Minoan & Mycenaean times, which explains why  so many of them are mentioned on this tablet (3,000). Cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation from Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) confirms that the decipherment qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” is correct. As for pazaqe, it is plain that the handle-less cups are very small, since there are so many of them (3,000).  These are illustrated to the top right of the figure above.

This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A terms we have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 60. It is at this point that we hit a brick wall, at least for the time being, as there is simply no way for me to decipher Minoan Linear A tablets with no ideograms on them. Unfortunately, these account for the majority of Linear A tablets. But the fact that we have been able to decipher as many as 60 Minoan words is a vast improvement over any previous attempts by any researchers in Minoan Linear A to decipher anything at all. The best anyone has managed to date has been restricted to eponyms and toponyms, and the finest work done in this respect was achieved with great insight by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog:

Minoan Language Blog




Knossos tablet KN 875aM n 01 as a template guide for the decipherment of vessels (pottery) in Minoan Linear A:

KN 875a M n 01 DIPA

Knossos tablet KN 875a M n 01 serves as a useful template guide for cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation of vocabulary for vessels (pottery) in Minoan Linear A. Although have already deciphered, more or less accurately, the words for “a cup with handles” in Minoan Linear A, we have not yet been able to extract the term for “a handle-less cup”. So hopefully this tablet should serve as a guide to the eventual discovery of the Minoan Linear A equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B dipa anowe or dipa anowoto, both meaning “a handle-less cup”. The term dipa anowe also appears on the famous Linear B tablet, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the first ever large Mycenaean Linear B tablet ever deciphered by none other than Michael Ventris himself. This tablet has recently be re-deciphered by Rita Roberts, an archaeologist from Crete, in my article, An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952. pp. 133-161 in  Archaeology and Science, Vol. 10 (2014) ISSN 1452-7448 (Belgrade), now available on academia.edu here:

archaeologist's translation of Pylos TA 641-1952 Ventris

This is the most comprehensive article (28 pages long) ever written on the decipherment of this key Linear B tablet. You can download it from academia.edu at the link above.


Another Linear A word bites the dust. Dawe?da = 2 handled cup or kylix

Linear A a recto verso pottery

It did not take me long to find yet another Minoan Linear A for a specific type of vessel, the meaning of which was quite easy to break through. This is the term dawe?da (of which the second syllable may not be we at all) since that syllabogram is missing from the W series in Linear A.  The ideogram is clearly that of a 2 handled cup, and one of the photos I found of a 2 handle cup was that of a Minoan kylix. So that accounts for my translation. There are of course other types of 2 handled cups, such as kraters, but it strikes me that the latter type came later and are more likely to be Mycenaean, since kraters are commonly understood as being Greek.

I do not know the numerical designation for this tablet or its provenance; so if anyone can come up with it and inform me, I would be most grateful.


Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

The Minoan Linear A word kuro unquestionably means “total”, primarily because it is always followed by numerics, sometimes in large numbers. It is of course the equivalent (though not exact) of the Linear B tosa = “so many”, i.e. “total”. I say not exact, since the Mycenaean Linear for “total” is plural, and I strongly suspect that the Minoan Linear A counterpart is singular. I am also of the opinion that Mycenaean Linear B inherited syllabograms which always end in a vowel directly from Minoan Linear A, because I am firmly convinced that Minoan Linear A words always ended in a vowel, never a consonant. Since the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms all end in a vowel, whereas Greek words almost never do, terminating instead in consonants, it stands to reason that the Linear B syllabary is a direct calque on the Linear A syllabary. The newly ensconced Linear B scribes at Knossos simply took over a big chunk of the Linear A syllabary, without even bothering to account for Greek ultimate consonants. This may look weird or positively perverted to us, but we must recall that the scribes, many of whom worked in the transition period from Minoan Linear A to Mycenaean Linear B, would not have wanted to “re-invent the wheel”. After all, both the Linear A and Linear B tablets were first and foremost inventories, so why rock the boat?  The older Minoan scribes had to learn Mycenaean as fast as possible. They must have found Mycenaean very strange to their ears, since almost all of the words ended in a consonant. Be it as it may, it appears the younger scribes were quite willing to adapt the Minoan Linear A syllabary willy-nilly, and have done with it.

CONCLUSIONS: All of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms inherited from Minoan Linear A end in vowels, in spite of the fact that (even archaic Mycenaean) Greek words almost always end in consonants because, in short, Minoan Linear A words (probably almost) invariably ended in vowels. If this is the case, this amounts to an extremely important discovery over the nature of the Minoan language. As far as I know, no previous researchers in Minoan Linear A have ever taken this basic premise into account. But I stand my ground on this one.  Finally, since almost all Minoan Linear A words probably ended in an ultimate vowel, the word kuro is very likely to be either masculine or neuter, based on the (untested) assumption that gender in Minoan Linear A would have assigned O ultimate to masculine or neuter and A ultimate to feminine ultimate. However, fair warning! There are a great number of Minoan Linear A words which terminate in U ultimate, and these may be in the masculine, while those words ending in O may be in the neuter, or vice versa. I shall have to test this hypothesis over the next few years, as I attempt to gradually decipher at least some Minoan Linear A vocabulary. I shall also be addressing other key characteristics of Minoan Linear A orthography in future posts.

On the Mycenaean Linear B tablet tosa pakana = “so many swords” i.e. “the total” number of swords, tosa is in the plural, the exact opposite of kuro in Minoan Linear A, at least if my hypothesis is right.

Linear A tabletr An1938_706_o tossa pakana

Another consideration I would like you all to take into account is this: I personally do not care one jot what class of language Minoan Linear A falls into, whether or not it be Indo-European, for reasons which will become crystal clear in near future posts. In a nutshell, it is precisely because almost all philologists and specialists in Minoan Linear A try to pigeon hole the language into a particular class of languages that they are getting nowhere with its decipherment. Why not instead just accept the language for what it is( whatever it is!), by gradually deciphering as many words as we conceivably can, even if these amount to no more than a couple of dozen or so and, in addition, by reconstructing in so far as possible the grammar of Minoan Linear A, which may in turn provide further clues to other “undecipherable” vocabulary. You never know.


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


The lovely Minoan Camp Stool or Footstool Fresco fragment KN 1521 X m 50:

KN 1521 X m 50

This is a particularly fascinating fragment. First of all, I never imagined I would ever be able to find a  picture, and better than that, an actual fresco of a Minoan camp stool or footstool. Mais une fois laffaire cherchée, les voilà trouvés, deux tabourets exquis ! Once searched, once found, two exquisite stools! Just my luck. Secondly, have a look at the scribe’s hand. Beautiful!... especially the way he stylizes NU. Three florid variations on just one syllabogram.  For that matter, the same phenomenon recurs with RA. He must have been in love and wanted to give a least one of the footstools to his darling. Just kidding! Quite impressive and quite an impressive fragment, unique, one of a kind.


Stunning frescoes from Knossos, Third Palace, Late Minoan III b (ca. 1450 BCE) Post 1 of 2

cup bearers fesco Knossos a

cup bearers fresco Knossos c

cup bearers fresco Knossos b


The famous “Bulls Head” sacrificial Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated:

KN 872 M o 01 libation cup and Nestor

This is one of the most well-known of all Linear B tablets. It was unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans from the debris at Knossos in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, so much of the text is missing or badly mutilated (left truncated) that it is difficult to translate it. In addition, the words “neqasapi” and “qasapi”, which are variants of one another, are to be found nowhere in Tselentis or any other Mycenaean Greek lexicon, including the most comprehensive of them all, that of L.R. Palmer in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts (1963). However, I was able to make sense of the right side of the tablet, which fortunately is largely intact. The Bulls Head is not just a bulls head, it is a sacrificial Bulls Head rhyton, as you can see from my archaic Greek text, here transliterated into Latin characters, “rrhuton kefaleiia tauroio” = “a rhyton of the head of a bull”. There are also 3 kylixes or cups with handles, presumably made of gold. So I was able to extricate enough text to make reasonable sense of this fine tablet.


Translation of Pylos tablet TN 996, the famous “bathtub” tablet:

Pylos TN 996 linear-b-showing-numbers-of-bath-tubs-and-other-vessels

This was a rather difficult tablet to translate, for several reasons:
1. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not the first word on the first line is a personal name, but it certainly appears to be so.
2. Two of the words on this tablet appear to refer to some type of vessel or pottery, but they appear in no Linear B lexicon (not even Tselentis). The first is pinera in line 2 & the second pokatama in line 4.
3. Some of the words are definitely archaic Mycenaean Greek, but most of these are translatable. For instance, Linear B rewotereyo = (archaic) Greek “leuterios” in line 1 begins with an abbreviated form of the Greek word “leukos”, which means “white”  or “bright” or “light”. So I take this word to mean “a lamp-lighter”, which makes eminent sense in the context.
4. The ideogram is for “bathtub” = asamito in line 1, while the one on line 2 appears to be a variant on the same, but it may mean a “large watering can” to pour warm or hot water into the bathtub.
5. See the comment on po? in the illustration above. The translation “octopi”, meaning “decorated with octopi”, appears solid enough, especially in line 3 where it is paired with the word for “jug”. The translation is less tenable in line 4, where it is paired with “an oil lamp”.



Just added to academia.edu: A Significant Breakthrough in the Decipherment of Linear B: The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, July 1, 2015.

To read the full text of my talk, with its comprehensive bibliography of 147 items related to this ground-breaking discovery in Mycenaean Linear B, click on this LINK:

breakthrough in decipherment ofx Mycenaean Linear B title
Of particular interest is item 139 in the bibliography:

139. Vallance Janke, Richard.  “An Archaeologist’s translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris), with an introduction to supersyllabograms in the vessels & pottery Sector in Mycenaean Linear B”, TBP in Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, February 2016. approx. 30 pp.

ABSTRACT
In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military affairs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a  fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.
Keywords: Mycenaean Linear B, syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, supersyllabograms, adjuncts, Linear B tablets, Pylos, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), decipherment, translation, pottery, vessels, tripods, cauldrons, amphorae, kylixes, cups, goblets

which is as you can see the abstract of my own article about to appear in the February 2016 issue of the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal, Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448

Richard 

Associative Versus Attributive Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Appendix H

Appendix H neatly summarizes the rôle of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. Click to ENLARGE:

H Appendix
I wish to stress one thing in particular. There is a marked difference in associative supersyllabograms, which account for the greatest number of SSYLS in Mycenaean Linear B, and attributive supersyllabograms, which appear primarily in the textiles and vessels (pottery, amphorae, cups etc.) sectors of the Late Minoan III & Mycenaean economies.

Associative supersyllabograms inform of us of some element, usually a land tenure factor, which relates to the ideogram itself, or which circumscribes its environment, especially in the livestock raising sub-sector of the agricultural sector. For instance, the supersyllabogram O, which you see in this Appendix, plus the ideogram for sheep + the number of sheep accounted for in the inventory of any particular tablet, informs us that the sheep are being raised on a lease(d) field, more specifically a usufruct lease field (i.e. a lease field which a farmer tenant cultivates for the use of his own family and village neighbours, with a taxation imposed by the overseer). In other words, the supersyllabogram is associated with the raising of x no. of sheep. The scribe could have simply informed us that x no. of sheep were raised, and left it at that. But he did not. By adding just one syllabogram, in this case a simple vowel = O, he has given us a great deal more information on the raising of the sheep (rams & ewes) on this particular tablet. And he has done all of this without having to resort to writing it all out as text. Since it was critical for the scribes to use as little space as possible on what were (and are) extremely small tablets, the use of supersyllabograms as a substitute for wasteful text is illustrative of just how far the scribes were willing to go to save such invaluable space. They did not do this only occasionally. They did it a great deal of the time, and they always followed the exact same formula in so doing. Not only are syllabograms such as O (on a lease field), KI (on a plot of land) & NE (in their sheep pens) in the field of sheep husbandry associative, they are all what I designate as dependent supersyllabograms, since they are meaningless unless they are immediately adjacent to the ideograms they qualify. No ideogram, no supersyllabogram. Period.

To illustrate the radical difference between a Linear B tablet on which a supersyllabogram + an ideogram is used, and another on which the text is spelled out, take a good hard look at this comparison: Click to ENLARGE

Knossos Tablet KN 933 G d 01 supersyllabograms and text

This comparison between the real tablet from Knossos using only supersyllabograms and ideograms (left) and a putative one using text in full (right) is precisely the reason why so many scribes much preferred the former formulaic approach to inscribing tablets to the latter discursive and space wasting technique. A textual version of this tablet would have been twice as long as the actual tablet. Even if no one nowadays has ever managed to decipher dependent supersyllabograms until now, that cannot conceivably mean that the Linear B scribes did not know what they were, since otherwise, they would never have used them so liberally in the first place. In other words, using SSYLS for no reason at all is tantamount to a reductio ad absurdum. There are thousands of supersyllabograms found on 700 tablets from Knossos. They are there because all of the scribes, as a team or, if you like, as a guild, all understood each and every supersyllabogram to mean one thing and one thing only in its proper context. In other words, supersyllabograms are standardized and always formulaic. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Homer, who also heavily relied on formulaic expressions, though for entirely different reasons. My point is that formulaic language is a key characteristic of ancient Greek texts, right on down from Mycenaean times through to Attic and beyond. We should never overlook this extremely important characteristic of ancient Greek, regardless of period (1450 – 400 BCE).   

Attributive dependent supersyllabograms always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute (usually known as an adjectival function) of the ideogram. For instance, the syllabogram PO inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word ponikiya = “purple”, hence the phrase = “purple cloth”.  Likewise the syllabogram TE, when it appears inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the supersyllabogram for the Mycenaean word tetukuwoa, which means “well prepared” or if you like, “well spun”. Hence, the syllabogram TE inside the ideogram for cloth must mean one thing and one thing only, “well-prepared cloth”. I have discovered, identified & classified well over a dozen examples of associative supersyllabograms. 

Neither type of dependent supersyllabogram, associative or attributive, was ever isolated and tabulated in Mycenaean Linear B until I systematically studied, deciphered and classified scores of them on some 700 tablets from Knossos.

Richard


An Archaeologist’s Thoroughly Researched Translation of Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 (Ventris)

This Linear B Tablet PY 641 is by far the most difficult one I have had to translate. It was the first ever Linear B tablet which Michael Ventris deciphered in 1952. I was in my teen years then and knew nothing of his great achievement and in fact nothing about the Linear B Ancient script writings whatsoever.

I am aware that many scholars have translated this tablet such as the archaeologist Carl Blegen, and also Prof. John Chadwick, who assigned the first range of standard values to ideograms for the vessels on Linear B Tablet 641.

Ref: Chadwick, John. The Decipherment of Linear B (2nd edition) London: Cambridge University Press 1970. ISBN 521-09596. pg. 117.

I now submit my translation of this very important Linear B tablet from the great Minoan Palace at Pylos: Click to ENLARGE

Pylos Tablet 64l Burnt from legs up

TRANSLATION:

Aigeus a worker is making tripods of the Cretan style.
There are 2 Tripods with three legs and two handles,
1 Tripod with a single handle on one foot,
1 Tripod with the legs burnt from the legs up *,
3 Big pots with two handles,  
2 Big pots with three handle,
1 Smaller pot with four handles,
1 Small type of cup/ goblet with three handles,
1 Small type of cup/goblet without handles.
              
  
WITH REGARD TO THE POTTERY VESSELS:

Kylix two handled stemmed Cup
                                                                                                                                             
COMMENTS

As an archaeologist working on Minoan pottery for the past ten years, I feel that adding a few descriptions of the pottery vessels mentioned on this Linear B tablet will further our understanding of their important shapes and uses. Also, we must remember that due to the lack of sufficient room on these very small clay tablets, the Minoan scribe recording so many items would not have been able to write all the details for us to read in our modern times. But of course, his fellow Minoan scribes understood exactly what the pottery items were.

The following is my idea of what I believe the Minoan scribe has listed on this Linear B tablet PY 64l and what they were used for.

Tripods - Sometimes referred to as Cauldrons and were mainly used for cooking purposes and for boiling water
 
Tripod in color and b&w

Pithoi - Because the Linear B word mezoe means ‘greater/bigger’, I interpret these pots which have three and those with four handles as being Pithoi. They were used for the storage of large quantities of agricultural produce such as grain crops, olive oil and wine. These huge pots could have as many as eight handles.

Large Pithoi in storage at Knossos  

Large Pithoi (singular, pithos) in storage at Knossos

Amphorae – (singular, amphora) These pots having two handles or even three handles were used for the storage and transport of oil or any other liquid substances.

Minoan Amphora
      Early Minoan Amphora from Knossos

Amphora – mewijo means smaller. The other amphora listed on this tablet with four handles was most likely used for the storage of perfume.

With regard to the Linear B word dipa meaning “cup”:

After further research into archaeological reports and illustrations at The Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Centre for East Crete and The History of Minoan Pottery by Philip Betancourt 1985 Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, I found that the two cups listed on this tablet PY 64l can only mean a (type of cup). I therefore interpret them as being goblets, although the one with three handles possibly being a kylix Both were drinking vessels.

goblets found at knossos after Macdonald & Knappett 2007

Late Helladic IIIA2 three handled kylix courtesy Mitrou Archaeological Site Credit photo Winn Burke

CONGRATULATIONS, Rita Roberts!

Congratulations to Rita Roberts for her excellent translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris), which she has grounded on her thorough research as an archaeologist into every last type of vessel illustrated by Prof. John Chadwick’s classification of ideograms for vessels. What is particularly impressive here is her insistence on checking one by one all of the ideograms (which are after all symbolic representations of the real thing) against prominent archaeological finds of each type. This very effective approach is novel, in so far as all of translators to date of tablet Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris), whether or not they were archaeologists themselves, have never taken the trouble to cross-correlate the various ideograms with their actual hardware counterparts. By taking this critical step in gathering concrete evidence to back up her choices for the name of each and every type of vessel on this extremely significant tablet, Mrs. Roberts has provided us empirical evidence as confirmation of the types of vessels named and flagged by ideograms on the tablet. Why no one has done this in the past is beyond me... and beyond Mrs. Roberts as well.

At any rate, it was this technically challenging tablet which I assigned to Rita Roberts as the final step in her Secondary School Level studies. I am delighted to announce that Mrs. Roberts has achieved a mark of 98% for the extreme thoroughness of her research, especially in the archaeological sphere. Rita is thus granted her Secondary School Matriculation with all its attendant rights and privileges. I shall be designing a Secondary School Graduation Certificate on fine linen 25% cotton paper, beautifully framed, to send to Rita Roberts. I shall also post her Certificate right here on our blog for all to see. It goes without saying that I myself shall not attempt to translate this famous tablet, because to be perfectly honest, I could not have come up with a translation as thoroughly researched or as minutely detailed and accurate as this one by Rita Roberts.

Mrs. Roberts is now at the first year level of university studies, and as such, she is now confronted with even greater challenges, being obliged as she is to translate tablets (much) more complex than Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris), to master all of the logograms and ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, and to thoroughly learn all of the vocabulary in the military sphere from the comprehensive English – Mycenaean Linear B – Archaic Greek – Modern Greek Lexicon of Military Affairs she and I are to publish by June 2015. In effect, her studies for the first two semesters of her first year will focus primarily on the translation and the mastery of Mycenaean Linear B tablets on military affairs.

She is also hereby granted the status of co-moderator of this blog.

Richard


My Cup Runneth Over! Liquid Measurement for Wine & Olive Oil in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

A KN 160a J j 11 wine PE wine DI

Because it is damaged and fragmentary, a decent translation of this tablet is unattainable. But this is no excuse for not taking a stab at it. The several notes appended to the end of the tablet highlight the multiple problems facing the translator confronted with a fragmentary tablet in Linear B, let alone any other ancient script. Some difficulties are dependent on the nature (i.e. type) of script itself (hieroglyphs, cuneiform, a syllabary or an alphabet), hence, script-dependent. Taking our notes step by step:

[1] The difficulty posed by this ideogram for a “ladle” arises from the fact that we have no idea of the size of ladle (if that is what it is) the Linear B scribes were referencing. This problem is exacerbated by further considerations below.

[2] I am unable to accurately identify the syllabogram on the left side of this line, which is itself apparently the last syllabogram of a word in Mycenaean Linear B. This particular problem is not script-dependent. 
 
[3] The syllabogram following KE is illegible; the two-syllable word cannot be recovered.
   
[4] Same problem as in [3], although in this case the syllabogram, if it is one, is chopped off from the middle down. Such problems are endemic to fragmentary tablets, regardless of script (not script-dependent). 
  
[5] The ideogram for “wine” in Linear B is very easy to spot & identify. It is also commonplace.

[6] The ideogram for “olive oil” in Linear B is very easy to spot & identify. It is also commonplace.

[7] This is just one of the ideograms for “bowl”. Once again, we are confronted with the same old dilemma, which keeps popping up all over Linear B tablets. What kind of bowl is this? Once again, the scribes all knew perfectly well what kind of bowl this ideogram referenced, just as they knew precisely what all other ideograms in Linear B meant (mean). Unfortunately for us in the twenty-first century, the precise meaning of scores of ideograms is beyond our ken.  When I refer to meaning, I do not simply mean, “This is a mixing bowl.” - “That is a soup bowl” - “This is a cereal bowl” etc.

Far from it. Whenever the Linear B scribes referred to any kind of vessel: cauldron, cooking pot, bowl, cup, jar, jug, vase (including amphorae) etc. etc., they identified each and every type not only by its specific type (nomenclature), but by its capacity (liquid or dry measurement), and its primary function. That is a lot of “definition” to cram into one ideogram. And this is precisely why we will probably never be able to accurately identify the type of vessel so many ideograms refer to, because we were not there when the scribal guild assigned standard names married to standard measurements to identify and classify each and every ideogram.

The Key Rôle of Archaeology in Tentatively Identifying Types of Vessels Referenced by Linear B Ideograms: 

However, all this does not mean that we cannot take a good stab at tentatively identifying at least the type of vessel referenced by any given ideogram, in every case where an adequate description evades us. Why so? As my research colleague and friend, Rita Roberts, who lives not far from Heraklion, Crete, and who is an archaeologist, has pointed out on numerous occasions, archaeology is eminently suited to provide us with alternative tools to at least tentatively correlate many Linear B ideograms for vessels with the astonishing plethora of known vessel types which have been unearthed for each and every ancient civilization – including of course the Minoan and Mycenaean. Vessels of the same type (for instance, amphorae) can be readily identified. The archaeologist can then attempt to correlate a particular vessel type or sub-type (amphorae are easily classified into sub-types) with a particular ideogram. But here several problems arise:
(a) Since ideograms are by nature semi-abstract, we can never be really sure that any particular ideogram we assign to any particular vessel type actually does correspond to “the real thing”. It is always a best-guess scenario. But it is better than nothing, and in some cases, at least, the semi-abstract ideogram may look well enough alike the actual vessel to confirm the former with reasonable accuracy.
(b) Since several ideograms for vessels in Linear B look almost exactly the same, this poses yet another dilemma. What are the sizes of similar ideograms? - in other words, what dry or liquid volume are they intended to hold, as the function of measurement alone?
(c) There is also the very real question of the kind of function for any vessel. While the ideogram for some vessel look-alike types may refer to cooking vessels, pots, pans, utensils etc., others in the same run of ideograms may be symbolic of higher class, palatial and even royal vessels, such as silver and gold cups (dipa), bowls, plates etc.

A Plethora of Ideograms for Vessels in Linear B & their Approximate Archaeological Equivalents:

Click to ENLARGE:

LinearB ideograms  for vessels and actual vessels

I am sure our resident archaeologist, Rita Roberts, can think of other distinctions and functions of various Linear B look-alike ideograms and of their corresponding “real ware” than can I. Or perhaps we could assign the modern counterparts, “software” to ideograms and “hardware” to archaeologically identified vessel types.
   
[8] See [7]. Same difficulty. The most glaring problems with this ideogram are the size of the cup, and in particular, its function. Is this just any old cup or is it silver-ware or even gold? Who is to say? No one today. But you can be sure the scribes knew exactly what kind of cup this ideogram refers so.   

[9] Here is where things get really messy. According to Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog, the T style logogram is supposed to reference dry measure only, and is meant to be the equivalent of approx. 3 kilograms (give or take). But on this tablet, the T measurement refers to liquid measurement for wine and olive oil. This appears to be another contradiction in terms. To further complicate the matter, the amount of wine measured appears to be quite voluminous, at some 4 x 5 = 20 litres in the first instance (if it is not right-truncated!) & 6 x 5 = 30 litres in the second. Someone must have thrown a huge party, and lots of folks must have got drunk as skunks! Or else Andras Zeke is wrong. This is all the more likely to be the case if we take into account the amount of liquid a ladle can hold – as in [1] above and in particular, how much a ladle of olive oil is supposed to be – as in [6] above. Those measurement standards [1] & [6] are way out of kilter with those for kilograms (dry measurement) or perhaps litres (liquid measurement) in [9]. How can we possibly square the small measurement standards for olive oil with the voluminous ones for wine on this tablet, without ending up in a morass of contradictions? - unless of course whoever wrote this tablet meant to say that the “the recipe” (if recipe it is) called for adding a small amount of olive oil to a heck of a lot of wine. Such a combination makes no sense to me, but I am no archaeologist. So my archaeologist colleagues and friends... come to the rescue! But then again, Andras Zeke is still right, and we are missing implicit rather than explicit details of the nature (type, volume & function) of any given ideogram for vessel. 

[10] This is clearly the supersyllabogram DI, which almost certainly refers to the Linear B word for “a drinking cup” or dipa in the specific context alone of ideograms for vessels. But it might also designate the function of the cup, which would be representative of any of the Linear B words beginning with diwo or diwe, in other words, to the God Zeus or possibly even Dionysus (also beginning with DI). In that case, the cup is a libation cup. However, the first meaning is the more convincing of the two. When used in a religious context, the supersyllabogram always takes on the latter meaning.

[11] This is the syllabogram PE, apparently left-truncated. If so, it is impossible to recover the rest of the Linear B word of which it is the ultimate. 

[12] This looks like a Linear B word, nopono (whatever that is), but once again, the word is almost certainly left-truncated, because the tablet is fragmented. So again, the word appears to be irretrievable.

As we can all see from this tablet, any attempt at a reasonable or definitive decipherment or translation is next to impossible. However, it is our solemn duty as translators of Mycenaean Linear B to make the best of the not-so-good of all possible worlds, and to attempt a translation that reveals something of the true intent of the text as the scribe wrote it. This is what I always do, and have done here.


Richard

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