Tag Archive: cups

Rita Roberts, translation of Linear B tablet KN 701 Mm 01:  

Linear B fragment KN 709 M m 01 two-handled cup

This is the first ever translation of a Linear B vessels or pottery fragment by Rita Roberts for her third, and final, year of university. In her third year, she is expected to master, first, Linear B tablets and fragments dealing with pottery and vessels, and secondly, tablet and fragments on textiles. The first category is the easier of the two to master, and so Rita will be concentrating on vessels and pottery tablets and fragments for the first quarter of her third year.

new Linear A nodule, on the brim of a cup or tripod + a spice cup:


As the graphics above make it clear enough, this decipherment is pretty straightforward, much to my relief, considering how so many Linear A inscriptions are such tough nuts to crack.

Minoan Linear A seal, ZOTE, possibly a belt or girdle (of gold?)

Minoan seal crete ZOTE girdle belt

This Linear A Minoan seal is incised with the syllabograms ZO + TE, which form the word ZOTE, apparently equivalent to ancient Greek zwsth/r = belt or girdle. If this is the meaning we can take from the seal, it is likely the belt was gold, as per the fresco of the cup bearers in the South Portico, Knossos.

Rita Roberts translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected:

Linear B tablet KN 160a J j 11 wine

Rita Roberts translation of Knossos tablet KN 160a J j 11, dealing with wine, corrected, is trickier than the previous one she has translated to fulfill the requirements for her second year of university, KN 906 Da 02, dealing with livestock. Because this tablet is damaged, truncated left and right, it can be more difficult to establish meaning for certain terms. But not necessarily so. Rita struggled gainfully with this tablet. And this is understandable. What determines everything in the decipherment of any tablet, Linear A or B, is CONTEXT. If we cannot determine what any given word(s) mean in the actual context of the tablet, we sometimes fail to grasp the meanings of these words. But in the end, everything falls into place, and a relatively convincing translation can be gleaned from it, as we see in the illustration above.

The only character which occasions real difficulty is the supersyllabogram PE, which usually stands for seed(s). But if this the meaning to be extracted, it does not really make all that much sense, since grape seeds do not contribute much to wine, only the grapes do. The only explanation I can muster here is this: the grape seeds had to be extracted, i.e. removed, from the grapes to produce the wine. That makes sense. Finally, we find the ideogram for “olive oil” on this tablet, but how olive oil mixes with wine is a mystery to me, unless the olive oil is being served with bread along with the wine. But there is no mention of bread on this tablet. So some issues remain unresolved.


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 
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:


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”.

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