Tag Archive: Decipherment

How circular language in the movie, Arrival, determines the aspacial/atemporal nature of logograms throughout the ages:

In the movie, Arrival (2016), which chronicles the arrival on earth of 12 mysterious ships, apparently from outer space, the following statements leap out at us:

parsing the language of the heptapods in the movie, Arrival

1. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity.  
2. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech,  a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly.

The key to all of this is the phrase a logogram is free of time. Allow me to illustrate. Logograms are also often called ideograms, and that is what I prefer to call them. Another word to describe them is icon. When we examine ancient Linear A and B ideograms and compare them with modern ones, the results are astonishing, to wit:




All of the aforementioned examples make it quite clear that ideograms, whether they be as ancient as those in Linear A and Linear B (i.e. about 3,400 years old) or modern ... or for that matter, neolithic or even earlier, all bear a striking resemblance to one another. Take for instance the Linear A ideogram for “scales” and compare it with just one modern one (among so many others), and we see immediately that they are extremely similar. Now take the Linear B ideograms for man” and “woman” and compare these with the washroom symbols for the same and once again the similarity is almost too good to be true. Then there is the Linear B ideogram for a four-spoke wheel compared with a modern one for an eight-spoke wheel. The number of spokes is not relevant to this discussion, only the fact that the ancient Linear B ideogram for “wheel” is practically identical to the modern one.

The implications for the decipherment of ideograms in any language, ancient or modern (let alone Linear A and Linear B) versus those in any modern language are staggering. We can be sure that the ancient ideograms varied little from one language to another, let alone between Minoan and Mycenaean. In fact, the syllabogram TE, which sometimes represents wheat, in Linear A and Linear B is almost identical to the same ideograms in cuneiform!

It is patently obvious that since the distinction between the ancient ideograms and their modern equivalents enumerated above is so thin, all of these ideograms (or logograms or icons) are not only time independent (atemporal) and spatially independent (aspatial), they are also language independent. This is a stunning phenomenon.

The implications for the further decipherment of Linear A are simply overwhelming.

And this is why in the movie, Arrival, the heptapods assert, “There is no time.”

Earth-shattering linguistic data from the Movie, Arrival (2016)


Not too long ago, I had the distinct pleasure of watching what is undoubtedly the most intellectually challenging movie of my lifetime. The movie is unique. Nothing even remotely like it has ever before been screened. It chronicles the Arrival of 12 apparent UFOs, but they are actually much more than just that. They are, as I just said, a unique phenomenon. Or more to the point, they were, are always will be just that. What on earth can this mean? 

The ships, if that is what we want to call them, appear out of thin air, like clouds unfolding into substantial material objects ... or so it would appear. They are approximately the shape of a saucer (as in cup and saucer) but with a top on it. They hang vertically in the atmosphere. But there is no motion in them or around them. They leave no footprint. The air is undisturbed around them. There is no radioactivity. There is no activity. There are 12 ships altogether dispersed around the globe, but in no logical pattern.

A famous female linguist, Dr. Louise Banks  (played by Amy Adams), is enlisted by the U.S. military to endeavour to unravel the bizarre signals emanating from within. Every 18 hours on the mark  the ship opens up at the bottom (or is it on its right side, given that it is perpendicular?) and allows people inside. Artificial gravity and breathable air are created for the humans. A team of about 6 enter the ship and are transported up an immense long black hallway to a dark chamber with a dazzlingly bright screen. There, out of the mist, appear 2 heptapods, octopus-like creatures, but with 7 and not eight tentacles. They stand upright on their 7 tentacles and they walk on them. At first, the humans cannot communicate with them at all. But the ink-like substance the heptapods squirt onto the thick window between them and the humans always resolves itself into circles with distinct patterns, as we see in this composite:

Eventually, the humans figure out what the language means, if you can call it that, because the meanings of the circles do not relate in any way to the actions of the heptapods.  Our heroine finally discovers what their mission is, to save humankind along with themselves. They tell us... There is no time. And we are to take this literally.

circular language from the movie Arrival 2016

I extracted all of the linguistic data I could (which was almost all of it) from the film, and it runs as follows, with phrases and passages I consider of great import italicized.   

1. Language is the foundation of which the glue holds civilization together. It is the first weapon that draws people into conflict – vs. - The cornerstone of civilization is not language. It is science.
2. Kangaroo... means “I don't understand.” (Watch the movie to figure this one out!)
3. Apart from being able to see them and hear them, the heptapods leave absolutely no footprint.
4. There is no correlation between what the heptapods say and what they write.
5. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity.  
6. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech,  a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly.
7. There is no time.
8. You approach language like a mathematician.
9. When you immerse yourself in a foreign language, you can actually rewire your brain. It is the language you speak that determines how you think.
10. He (the Chinese general) is saying that they are offering us advanced technology. God, are they using a game to converse with... (us). You see the problem. If all I ever gave you was a hammer, everything is a nail. That doesn't say, “Offer weapon”, (It says, “offer tool”). We don't know whether they understand the difference. It (their language) is a weapon and a tool.  A culture is messy sometimes. It can be both (Cf. Sanskrit).
11. They  (masses 10Ks of circles) cannot be random. 
12. We (ourselves and the heptapods) make a tool and we both get something out of it. It's a compromise. Both sides are happy... like a win-win. (zero-sum game). 
13. It (their language) seems to be talking about time... everywhere... there are too many gaps; nothing's complete. Then it dawned on me. Stop focusing on the 1s and focus on the 0s. How much of this is data, and how much is negative space?... massive data... 0.08333 recurring. 0.91666667 = 1 of 12. What they're saying here is that this is (a huge paradigm). 10Ks = 1 of 12. Part of a layer adds up to a whole. It (their languages) says that each of the pieces fit together. Many become THERE IS NO TIME. It is a zero-sum-game. Everyone wins.
NOTE: there are 12 ships, and the heptapods have 7 tentacles. 7X12 = 84. 8 +4 =12. 
14. When our heroine is taken up into the ship in the capsule, these are the messages she reads: 1. Abbott (1 of the 2 heptapods) is death process. 2. Louise has a weapon. 3. Use weapon. 4. We need humanity help. Q. from our heroine, How can you know the future? 5. Louise sees future. 6. Weapon opens time.
15. (her daughter asks in her dream). Why is my name Hannah? Your name is very special. It is a palindrome. It reads the same forward and backward. (Cf. Silver Pin, Ayios Nikolaos Museum and Linear A tablet pendant, Troullous).
16. Our heroine says, * I can read it. I know what it is. It is not a weapon. It is a gift. The weapon (= gift) IS their language. They gave it all to us. * If you learn it, when your REALLY learn it, you begin to perceive the way that they do. SO you can see what’'s to come (in time). It is the same for them. It is non-linear. WAKE UP, MOMMY!

Then the heptapods disappear, dissolving into mere clouds, the same way they appeared out of nowhere in clouds, only in the opposite fashion. There is no time. They do not exist in time.

The implications of this movie for the further decipherment of Linear A and Linear B (or for any unknown language) are profound, as I shall explain in greater detail in upcoming posts.



Another Linear A tablet bites the dust… Troullos TL Za 1… horsemanship and hunting:

Troullos tablet TL Za 1

This tablet or nodule completely eluded me for over 2 years. Then tonight, all of sudden, its meaning literally burst wide open. The first hint came when I began to decipher the obvious Linear words, all of which happen to be Mycenaean-derived New Minoan NM1. The most obvious word, which stands out like a sore thumb, is WAJA = #ai/a in Mycenaean-derived Greek, in other words land. The rest of the Mycenaean-derived words were more difficult to extract from the agglutinated text, since in an agglutinative language such as Minoan, words which would otherwise be separate in a fusional or inflected language, such as ancient or modern Greek or German, are simply strung together in long strings. So it is difficult to know where one word ends and another begins … but far from impossible. Because so many words on this tablet are agglutinated, it presents a particularly challenging target for decipherment. But decipher it I did, as you can see below.

If we break apart the agglutinated words, meanings start to surface. For instance, ATAI*301 appears to mean 0astai= from oastei=a, meaning of the town, community.

Moving on, we have QARE0 = ba/lei ba/loj = at the threshold (locative singular). For the time being, I do not know what OSU, which is almost certainly Old Minoan, means but I am confident I shall soon figure it out. If we then decipher the first 2 agglutinated words ATA*301WAJA. OSUQARE, we get something along these lines (OSU being omitted for the time being), on the … threshold of community of town, i.e. on the … outskirts of the community or town

The the next two agglutinated words are UNAKANASI. UNA is Old Minoan. KANASI is instrumental plural Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) for ka/nnasi (instr. plural) = made of reeds, i.e. wicker. This almost certainly refers to the chariot itself, which like almost all Mycenaean chariots, is probably made of wicker, as illustrated below. If my hunch is correct, given that KANASI means made of wicker, then UNA must necessarily mean chariot, hence a chariot made of wicker. Remember: UNAKANASI is a composite agglutination of 2 words, first Old Minoan (UNA) and the second Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) = KANASI.

Troullos tablet original with Mycenaean horse and chariot and modern horse halter

IPINAMASIRUTE is another agglutination, this time consisting of 3 words, all of them Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1). The tablet or nodule above provides us with the full translation, which in its actual order reads, with horsemanship + running + (towards) prey. In other words, we have a charioteer, whose name is JASASARAME, clearly a highly skilled charioteer and hunter, whose ridership or horsemanship allows him to run towards his prey, and at a fast pace at that, given that NAMA always refers to something flowing fast, usually a stream, but in this context, clearly horses, 2 of them, of course, since Mycenaean chariots always have two horses.

So the free translation runs along these lines, and very well indeed,

Jasasarame, the hunter-charioteer, in his chariot made of wicker, is exercising his (considerable) ridership skills, by running at break-neck speed (or: running by a stream) towards the wild prey he is hunting on the outskirts of his town (community).

This decipherment, which is almost entirely in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) hangs together admirably well. It is a major breakthrough in the ongoing saga of the decipherment of Linear A. It is also buttressed by the fact that the tablet or nodule actually looks like a horses halter. While the word halter appears, at least at first sight, not to figure in the text, this is of little consequence. The tablet itself makes it quite clear enough that here we have two horses (always two with Mycenaean chariots) and that a well-heeled, and most likely aristocratic or warrior-class charioteer, Jasasarame, is at the reins.

I rest my case.

Translation of a very tricky Linear B tablet, Knossos KN 913 D k 01 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 913 D k 01 translation by Rita Roberts

The decipherment of this tablet is far from clear-cut, and all because of 1 word, paro, the first on both lines 1 and 2. This word very likely corresponds to the ancient Greek pa/loj (palos) = a lot (cast), meaning a lot cast by one or more people to decide who is obliged to do something, and in this case, which is apparently a religious context, that something is the sacrifice of a billy goat and a she goat. Etowono got the lot for the ram, probably the long stick, if that is what it was, given that we are dealing with a ram here. Komawete got the short one for the she goat. It kind of makes sense, and in fact there would seem to be no other rational interpretation of this tablet. It is one of the trickiest I have ever assigned to Rita, and this aroused her suspicions in the first place. Because she could not possibly have recognized the (archaic or ancient) Greek for paro, I had to delve into that word. Otherwise, her translation is highly commendable, and deserves a full 100 %.


Translation of Linear B Knossos tablet KN 355 J b 19 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 355 J b 19 by Rita Roberts



T. Farkas’ brilliant decipherment of Linear B tablet KN 894 Nv 01:

Knossos tablet KN 984 Nv 01

Linear B transliteration

Line 1. ateretea peterewa temidwe -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Line 2. kakiya -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 1. kakodeta -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for pair or set tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Line 3. kidapa temidweta -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 41 tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

line 4. odatuweta erika -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 40 to 89 tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Translation (my knowlege of Greek grammar is not sufficient at present to write out proper sentences [NOTE 1] but I have looked up and know the Greek equivalents for the Linear B words which I will write here.)

Line 1. Pair/set of inlaid/unfinished? elmwood chariot wheel rims

Οn your blog you have translated ateretea as “inlaid” from the Greek ἀιτh=ρeς. I found these words ατελείωτος , ατελεις … that means “unfinished” Do you think that could work? Either way I get that ateretea is an adjective that describes the wheel rims [2].

α)τερεδέα/ατελείωτος πτελεFάς τερμιδFέντα ζευγάρι a1ρμοτα, (sorry for the mishmash Greek [3]).

Line 2. 1 Copper [4] set or pair of wheel fasteners , bronze set or pair of wheel fasteners

I looked around the net and some say copper was used as a band or even as a tire and as leather tire fasteners on bronze age chariot wheels.

Since the deta on kakodeta refers to bindings perhaps this line is refering to sets of types of fasteners of both copper and bronze for wheels? (hubs, linch pins, nails, etc…) [Richard, YES!]

χαλκίος ζευγάρι α1ρμοτα, χαλκοδέτα ζευγάρι α1ρμοτα

Line 3. 41 Sets or pairs of “kidapa” chariot wheel rims

Looked around the net didn’t find and words to match kidapa…I did take note that you think ― like L.R. Palmer ― that it means ash-wood.

κιδάπα τερμιδFέντα ζευγἀρι α1ρμοτα

Line 4. 40 to 89 ? sets of toothed/grooved willow-wood chariot wheels.

Ive looked at many diagrams and pictures of chariot wheels… but none that I could find were clear enough to really understand what might be meant by toothed [5]… Ι even watched a documentary where an Egyptian chariot is built. It is called building Pharaoh’s Chariot. Perhaps one day I’ll happen upon some chariot wheels somewhere and finally understand what is meant.

ο0δατFέντα ε0λικα ζευγἀρι α1ρμοτα 40 -89 ?

Comments by our moderator, Richard Vallance Janke:

This is absolutely brilliant work! I am astounded! 100 % hands down. This is one of the most difficult Linear A tablets to decipher. I too take kidapa to mean ash wood, as it is a tough wood. It is also probably Minoan, since it begins with ki, a common Minoan prefix:

kidapa OM = ash wood? (a type of wood) Appears only on Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01
kidaro MOSC NM1 kidaro ke/dron = juniper berry-or- kedri/a = oil of cedar Cf. Linear B kidaro
kidata OM = to be accepted or delivered? (of crops) Cf. Linear B dekesato de/catoj

See my Comprehensive Linear A lexicon for further details I imagine you have already downloaded the Lexicon, given that at least 16 % of Linear A is Mycenaean-derived Greek. This decipherment alone of an extremely difficult Linear B tablet entitles you to a secondary school graduation diploma, which I shall draw up and send to you by mid-August.

Specific notes:

[1] Thalassa Farkas declares that … my knowlege of Greek grammar is not sufficient at present to write out proper sentences… , but the actual point is that it is not really possible to write out Greek sentences in Mycenaean Greek, in view of the fact that sentences are almost never used on Linear B tablets, given that these are inventories. Grammar is not characteristic of inventories, ancient or modern. So it is up to us as decipherers to reconstruct the putative “sentences which might be derived from each of the tabular lines in an inventory. So long as the sentences and the ultimate paragraph(s) make sense, all is well.

[2] wheel rims is an acceptable reading.

[3] This is hardly mishmash Greek. It is in fact archaic Greek, and archaic Greek in the Mycenaean dialect, absolutely appropriate in the context.

[4] In Line 2, kakiya (genitive singular of kako) might mean copper, but is much more likely to mean “(made of) bronze” (gen. sing.), given that copper is a brittle metal, more likely to shatter under stress than is bronze. Copper tires would simply not hold up. Neither would pure bronze ones. Either would have to be re-inforced, and in this case by kidapa = ash-wood. That is the clincher, and that is why the word kidapa appears on this tablet.

[5] In Line 5, temidweta does not mean with teeth, but the exact opposite, with grooves” or “with notches. After all, if we invert teeth in 3 dimensions, so that they are inside out, we end up with grooves. This can be seen in the following illustration of a Mycenaean chariot in the Tiryns fresco of women (warrior) charioteers:

Tiryns fresco women charioteers

On the other hand, scythes, which are after all similar to teeth, were commonplace on ancient chariots, including Egyptian, a nice little clever addition to help cut or chop up your enemies. Still, it is unlikely that Mycenaean chariots would be reinforced by scythes, in view of the fact that there are far too many of them even on fresco above. That is why I take temidweta to mean indentations” or “notches”. But temidweta could refer to “studs”, which like notches, are small, even though they stick out.




New interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 7 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 7 Haghia Triada


A few months ago, I tentatively deciphered Linear A tablet New interpretation of Linear A tablet HT 7 (Haghia Triada), but when I look back on that decipherment now, I find it implausible. So I have re-interpreted here in light of new data I have acquired since then. As the tablet is inscribed mostly in Old Minoan, it is rather difficult to make complete sense of it. However, the two Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) terms offer us a clue. These are iruja = a priestess and tanati, which appears to be dative singular for “death”. However, although iruja is nominative singular, it is followed by the number 3, which would seem to indicate that there are 3 priestesses. And the Minoan plural of a is e, hence iruje. The only explanation I can find for this discrepancy is that the 3 priestesses are operating independently, one by one, each one making at least 1 offering, while 1 priestess makes 2, for a total of 4. But this translation, which is rather convoluted, remains in doubt because I cannot verify with any real certainty the meanings of the Old Minoan words. However, it does manage to hold together. Perhaps someday in the future, we shall unearth more Linear A tablets, which will provide us with insight into the significance of the Old Minoan vocabulary.

New interpretation of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros):

Linear A tablet ZA 20 HM 1636 Zakros

This new interpretation of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) varies only slightly from my original one. I interpret the syllabogram on line 0 (the indecipherable line) as being NI, since the bottom of NI is a vertical line. And figs often figure prominently in Linear A tablets. The actual reading of the text is not quite clear, since there are at least 2 damaged syllabograms following MI on line 1. It is impossible to determine with any accuracy what the actual units of measurement are for anything on this tablet, although of course the units of chaff from wheat would have to be considerably less than the total units of wheat. So 1 unit + 6 units of wheat probably refers to something like bushels (a mere approximation), from which we would not get all that much chaff… which may explain the presence of the container, supposedly containing 3 smallish units of chaff. But why would anyone want to place chaff in a container? So we see problems with the decipherment.

Linear A haiku, violets parallel to violets for Kaniami, from her father, in Linear A, archaic Greek, English and French:

As can clearly be seen from the original inscription on this exquisitely crafted golden pin from the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete, the text of the haiku closely follows the original:

Linear A golden pin Zf 1 Ayios Nikolaos Museum


Just uploaded to academia.edu = Exhaustive Linear A lexicon of 1030 New Minoan and Old Minoan words, with extensive sectional commentaries.pdf 

exhaustive linear a lexicon of 1030 Minoan words with extensive sectional commentaries

What with its 1030 entries of New Minoan (NM1), Pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan terms, this is the most exhaustive Linear A Lexicon ever published in history, exceeding Prof. John G. Younger’s (at 774 intact words) by 226, with the emphasis squarely on intact exograms (words). Every possible origin of Linear A words is investigated, with extensive sectional commentaries. This lexicon, 65 pp. long, includes 4 appendices and a bibliography of 108 items. 

You will not want to miss out on reading this paper, representing one of the most significant historical breakthroughs in the decipherment of the Linear syllabary. If you are a member of academia.edu, please download it, and read it at your leisure. If you are not already a member of academia.edu, you can sign up for free, and then download it.

My recent research into (Minoan) Linear A has meant that I have been catapulted from the top 5 % to the top 0.1 % of users on academia.edu in the past three weeks, here:

Richard Vallance profile academia.edu

Silver pin from Mavro Spelio: A.Y. Nikolaos Museum PL Zf 1:

Minoan Linear APL Zf1 silver pin Nikolaus Museum


This silver pin, PL Zf 1, from Mavro Spelio, now housed in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete, bears an inscription which may read dextrograde (left-to-right) or sinistrograde (right-to-left), but either way the text reads the same way. The inscription is a mixture of Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) and Old Minoan. The words Tanunikina (nom. fem. sing.) and Ninuni (dat. sing.) are almost certainly eponyms, with the former acting in some way as an agent of healing to the latter. Apart from the eponyms, the Old Minoan text is indecipherable. But that does not mean we cannot catch the drift of the inscription, because we can. It certainly makes sense that Tanunikina, despite her best efforts to spin or weave a magic spell, cannot heal Ninuna. We can infer that Tanunikina is a healer priestess. Such personages were extremely common in the ancient world, and certainly in Minoan Crete and on the Mycenaean mainland, with this practice surviving into archaic and classical Greece. She may even be an oracle, such as we find at Delphi much later on in ancient Greek history. If she is an oracle, she probably worked from a Minoan peak sanctuary.   

HT 123 (Haghia Triada) VERSO, deciphered for the first time ever:


Linear A tablet HT 123 Haghia Triada VERSO

As follows:
1. 2 shares in an enclosed plot land for 11 months,
1 scythe for sowing
2. tidata . pisa . 4 2 shares in 1 enclosed plot 
3. in 1 enclosed plot *188 tupadida
4. sowing *... kadi . repu
5. paputuito harvesting to full harvest 
6. kuro 20 . kiro 5

1. the lop-sided square with a cross in it in line 1 is an enclosed plot of land with 2 shares for the tenant farmers, which was sown 11 months ago, the tenants using a scythe for sowing. The scythe also appears in line 1, looking somewhat like a sword.
2. In line 2, the 2 shares are repeated. The words *188 and tupadata are indecipherable, although tupadida is obviously some kind of crop.
4. In line 4, the word kadi refers to an amphora (large) for the storage of the paputuito (also indecipherable, also a crop)
5. which in line 5 has been harvested to full harvest. This makes perfect sense, since the harvest occurs in the 11th. month, i.e. lunar November. This particular season, it appears to be still warm enough that month to cash in on the full harvest. This is possible in a Mediterranean climate such as in Crete.
6. In line 6, kuro references the total return for the full harvest, while kiro stands for the 5 shares owed (4 for the tenants, 1 for the landlord). This also makes sense, since 2 shares are listed on line 1, and 2 more in line 2. As for the extra share, this is apparently the tithe for the landlord.          

Just uploaded to academia.edu: Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 86 Haghia Triada, a mirror image of HT 95:

decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 86 academia.edu

Linear A Tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada) Linear A tablet HT 86 (Haghia Triada) appears to be inscribed partially in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan and partially in Old Minoan, just as is HT 95 (Haghia Triada). This is one of the most significant of all Linear A tablets, because it so closely parallels HT 95. The fact that the text of HT 86 so closely mirrors that of HT 95 lends further credence to our decipherment of both of these tablets taken together. We find approximately equal parts of Mycenaean-derived New Minoan and Old Minoan vocabulary on HT 86. Here we have the New Minoan vocabulary on HT 86: akaru, dideru (equivalent to Linear B didero), dame & minute Old Minoan vocabulary on HT 86: kunisu, saru, qara2wa (qaraiwa) & adu. We must pay special heed to the terms akaru and dideru in New Minoan, as these in turn signify " field " (archaic acc.), where all of these crops are obviously grown and didero, which is Linear A for " einkorn wheat ". As for the Old Minoan terminology, we have kunisu, which is " emmer wheat " and adu, which is a very large unit of dry measurement, probably " bales ". Astonishingly, the text as a whole admirably hangs together, all the more so when compared with that of HT 95. 

Supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete:

AY Nikolaos Museum tablet with supersyllabograms

There are a total of 6 supersyllabograms on the large Linear A tablet in the A.Y. Nikolaos Museum, Crete, far more than on any other Linear A tablet. In fact, there is no text at all on this tablet, which makes it unique in the Linear A repertoire. All in all, there are 27 supersyllabograms in Linear A, versus 36 in Linear B. The Minoans and not the Mycenaeans invented supersyllabograms. Since many visitors to our site are unfamiliar with supersyllabograms, even though they have been defined here on several occasions, a supersyllabogram is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular word of major import in any of the major sectors of the Minoan economy. On this tablet, we find 7, of which one is not actually a syllabogram but a symbol. They are as follows:

1 SU (a) OM (Old Minoan) supa2 (supai) + supa2ra (supa2ra) = a small cup with handles

2 A2/AI OM? unknown, currently indecipherable

3 U NM1 (New Minoan) udiriki = with water (instr. Sing.) = hudriki (archaic Greek Latinized

4 PO NM1 potokuro = reaching a full drink, i.e. a draught (agglutinative) = poton + kurwn (archaic Greek latinized)

5 a hook which symbolizes a handle

6 A NM1 aresana = an embossed cup (archaic acc.) = aleissana (archaic Greek Latinized)

SU (b) OM sup1/supu/supu2 = the largest size pithos

NOTE that all of the supersyllabograms on this tablet deal with vessels and pottery.

Linear A contains 27 supersyllabograms, some of which are Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1) and others Old Minoan, i.e. in the original Minoan substratum, as illustrated in this table:

620 Table 5 Table of 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A

The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear A will be the feature article in Vol. 13 (2017) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 , to be published early in 2019. This article is to be the follow-up to The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, Vol. 11 (2015), currently online on academia.edu here:

decipherment supesyllabograms archaeologyand science Belgrade



HT 95 (Haghia Triada), dealing emmer and einkorn wheat, is one of the most significant of all Linear A tablets:

HT 95 dadumata dame minute saru kunisu dideru

Linear A tablet, HT 95 (Haghia Triada), which deals with various grain crops, i.e. emmer and einkorn wheat, millet and spelt, and with flax, is unquestionably the most important Linear A tablets, with the possible exception of HT 86, dealing with the same roster of grains, inscribed exclusively in Old Minoan. When I posted HT 86 (Haghia Triada) the first time round, I established that kunisu meant “emmer wheat” and dideru “einkorn wheat”, but I was not quite sure I had them in the right order. Thanks to Cyrus G. Gordon, who makes the following statement:

... Linear A ku-ni-su must mean some kind of wheat because it is followed by  the WHEAT determinative. Now kunnisu is a Semitic word for “emmer wheat”  so that Linear A ku-ni-su WHEAT “emmer wheat” not only adds a word to our Minoan vocabulary but it also establishes Ventris’s (sic) readings of the ku, ni and su signs. (italics mine)

we now know beyond doubt that kunisu does mean emmer wheat, just as I had suspected. Consequently, since these two types of wheat appear conjointly here and very close together on HT 86, we are left to draw the conclusion that dideru means einkorn wheat. Now dideru appears 4 times on HT 86 & 95, while kunisu appears once on HT 10 & HT 79, and 4 times on HT 86 & 95, for a total of 6 times. So it pretty much goes without saying that these two grains play a significant role in the Minoan diet. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets, since these two grains were the predominant ones in all societies in these regions. This will become blatantly obvious when I publish the Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon of 1031 New Minoan, pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan words sometime in July, from which I cite all the references dealing with grain crops in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets in REFERENCES below (Note that I have italicized explicit references to major grains in each title dealing with the same). 

As for dame and qera2u (qeraiu), proper identification is a bit problematic, because we do not know which is which. This is why I have tagged dame with the reference [1], signifying it could mean either spelt or millet, and qera2u (qeraiu) with [3], meaning either millet or spelt (the reverse). But the problem is that we are confronted with 2 permutations here. By this we mean that dame could mean either spelt or millet or vice versa, and qera2u (qeraiu) millet or spelt or millet or vice versa. Either way, dame means one of the two, while qera2u (qeraiu) the other. But how do we know this? It just so happens that, after emmer and einkorn wheat, the next most common grains in the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Middle East were millet and spelt. So chances are good that dame and qera2 (qeraiu) each references one or the other. 

The reference note [2] with flax indicates two things, (a) first that flax is in an oblique case, probably instrumental, i.e. with flax, since the nominative is sara2 (sarai) & (b) the standard unit of measurement is probably not something a bushel, because flax is extremely light. What it is we shall never know, since after all we have no real concept of what any standard unit of measurement, dry or liquid, was either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B. These civilizations are so remote in the distant past that any attempt at determining standard units of measurement amounts to nothing more or less than a wild guess.

Nevertheless, we find that we are able to decipher HT 95 with a reasonable degree of accuracy, and in the case of kunisu and dideru, with complete accuracy. So we can now say with confidence that these two grains have been conclusively deciphered once and for all time, thanks to Cyrus H. Gordon.

© by Richard Vallance Janke 2017


1 Adu, Michael. Stay green in wheat: Comparative study of modern bread wheat and ancient wheat cultivars
2 Beneš,  Jaromír. Kernel Weights of Triticum, Hordeum, Avena, Secale and Panicum Species can be used for Better Estimation of Importance of Different Cereal Species in Archaeobotanical Assemblages 
3 Desheva, Gergana. Comparative Evaluation of Einkorn Accessions (Triticum monococcum L.) of Some Main Agricultural Characters 
4 Gordon, Cyrus H. Linguistic continuity from Minoan to Eteocretan
6 Mueller-Bieniek, Aldona. Plant macrofossils from the site of Tell Arbid, Northeast Syria (3rd–2nd millennium BC). Preliminary report 
7 Poupet, Pierre. Approche pédoarchéologique des espaces de production agricole à l’âge du Bronze dans les montagnes méditerranéennes (exemples des Pyrénées-Orientales et de la Haute-Corse, France) 
8 Salamini, F. AFLP Analysis of a Collection of Tetraploid Wheats Indicates the Origin of Emmer and Hard Wheat Domestication in Southeast Turkey 
9 Ibid. Genetics and geography of wild cereal domestication in the near east 
10 Ibid. Molecular Diversity at 18 Loci in 321 Wild and 92 Domesticate Lines Reveal No Reduction of Nucleotide Diversity during Triticum monococcum (Einkorn) Domestication: Implications for the Origin of Agriculture 
11 Shaaf, S. Evolutionary History of Wild Barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. spontaneum) Analyzed Using Multilocus Sequence Data and Paleodistribution Modeling 
12 Stein, Gil. Isotope evidence for agricultural extensification reveals how the world's first cities were fed 
13 Ulanowksa, Agata. Different skills for different fibres? The use of flax and wool in textile technology of Bronze Age Greece in light of archaeological experiments. Workshop: The Competition of fibres, March 8-10, Excellence Cluster TOPOI (A-4), Textile Revolution
14 Yakar, Yak. The Nature and Extent of Neolithic Anatolia’s Contribution to the Emergence of Farming Communities in the Balkans - an Overview
15 You, Frank. The structure of wild and domesticated emmer wheat populations, gene flow between them, and the site of emmer domestication 
16 Zapata, Lydia. Hulled wheats in Spain: history of minor cereals
17 Ibid. Measuring grain size and assessing plant management during the EPPNB, results from Tell Qarassa (southern Syria) 
18 Ibid. The spread of agriculture in northern Iberia: New archaeobotanical data from El Mirón cave (Cantabria) and the open-air site of Los Cascajos (Navarra) 

Linear B tablet HT 118 (Haghia Triada), livestock on plots of land:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 118 Haghia Triada

While this tablet does present some problems in the decipherment of the kinds of livestock on it, that does not mean we do not have a relatively reasonable picture of which ones they are. Beside madi, which appears to mean “pig” from the context, the other 3 are qaqaru, arisa and riruma. Now these 3 probably mean “cow”, “bull” and “ox” in turn. But if they must be permuted. In other words, if the first word, qaqaru, means “cow”, then the other two mean “bull” and “ox”, but in which order we cannot tell. Thus, it is necessary to permute all 3 words for all 3 kinds of livestock at each occurrence. The supersyllabogram KI almost certainly refers to “a plot of land”, because it is repeated twice, and after all, we do find livestock on plots of land.

I have now deciphered, in whole or in part, 17 tablets from Haghia Triada alone, and somewhere in the order of 35 altogether, regardless of provenance.

Preview of the most Complete Linear A Lexicon of 1029 words ever compiled in history soon to be published on academia.edu just uploaded:

preview of comprehensive Linear A Lexicon

This Preview of the most Complete Linear A Lexicon of 1029 words ever compiled in history soon to be published on academia.edu.pdf is in and of itself a lengthy article (14 pages long), offering full insight into the massive extent and impact of the actual lexicon, Comprehensive Lexicon of 1029 New Minoan, pre-Greek substratum and Old Minoan words, with extensive commentaries, soon to be published on my academia.edu account (sometime in July 2017). The actual Lexicon will be at least 45 pages long, and will include all of the following elements:

1. An in-depth introduction, comparing this Lexicon, with its 1029 Linear A terms with the Linear A Reverse Lexicon of Prof. John G. Younger, containing 774 intact Linear A words. To date, Prof. Younger’ Lexicon has always been considered the de facto standard of Linear A lexicons; but it falls far short of the mark. From scanning through every last Linear A tablet on Prof. Younger’s site, Linear A texts in phonetic transcription, I discovered scores of Linear A words which he missed in his Reverse Lexicon. I have also spent the last two years ransacking the Internet for every last scrap of evidence of extant Linear A tablets, fragments, roundels, pendants and inscriptions on pottery, only to unearth even more Linear words entirely overlooked by Prof. Younger, to the extent that I uncovered a total of 1029 Linear A exograms, 225 more than he did. Thus, our Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon is 27.7 % larger than his.
2. The Lexicon itself, containing 1029 words, of which over 160 are Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, some 85 are either toponyms or eponyms, a few score fall within the pre-Greek substratum and at least 80 are Old Minoan words I have been able to decipher, more or less conclusively. As for the remainder of the Old Minoan substratum, i.e. the original pre-Greek Minoan language, I have been unable to decipher the rest of its vocabulary. But believe it or not, this factor is less of an impediment to the decipherment of Linear A than we might otherwise believe. I have been able to decipher at least 350 words out of a total of 1029, which is to say about 33 % of Linear A.
3. Each section of the final Comprehensive Lexicon, i.e. A: Mycenaean-derived New Minoan NM1 B: the pre-Greek substratum C: eponyms and toponyms D: Old Minoan vocabulary and E: ligatured logograms is accompanied by a detailed analysis and survey of its contents.
4. The final Lexicon contains a comprehensive bibliography of 84 items on every aspect I have detailed of the decipherment of Linear A as outlined in this preview.  



Linear A tablet ZA 15 VERSO (Zakros), so little text, so information rich, all about wine, with yet another Old Minoan word conclusively deciphered!

Linear A tablet ZA 15 b VERSO Zakros

If there is any Linear A tablet which conveys so much information in so few words, this has to be it. No one could be blamed for thinking that a tablet, whether or not it is inscribed in Linear A or Linear B, which contains only 2 words (qedi & kuro), 3 ideograms (wine) and one supersyllabogram would have little to say. But this is far from the case here. This tablet offers us the best of 3 worlds. First of all, the word kuro is Mycenaean-derived New Minoan; secondly, we are finally able to establish once and for all and beyond doubt that the Old Minoan word qedi actually means a flagon for wine. Since it appears on other Linear A tablets in conjunction with the same ideogram, wine, the meaning is indisputable; and thirdly, the supersyllabogram RA, as all supersyllabograms are, is information-rich. It can stand for only 1 of two possible Linear A words, rani or ratise, which are, believe it or not, practically synonymous. First we have rani, which means anything sprinkled (as in a libation); rain drop, and then ratise, which appears to be instrumental plural for with drops of wine. So the inscription reads the same way either way. I would like to point out as well that no linguist specializing in Linear A, not even Prof. John G. Younger, has drawn explicit attention to the supersyllabogram RA, which is critical to a proper reading of this tablet, since no Linear A, let alone Linear B, researchers have recognized supersyllabograms for what they are, until I myself deciphered all 36 of them in Linear B between 2014 and 2016, the results of my research consequently published in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015) ISSN 1452-7448, pp. 73-108:

decipherment of supersyllabograms in Linear B

And not to be outdone, I have also already isolated the 27 supersyllabograms found in Linear A. It actually came as no surprise to me that Linear A has supersyllabograms.

Table 5 Table of 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A revised 2017

As it so turns out, it was the Minoan Linear A scribes who invented supersyllabograms, not the Minoan-Mycenaean Linear B scribes. You will note that I have already been able to decipher 10 of the 27 SSYLS in Linear A, including that for RA, which in the pottery and vessels sector signifies with drops of wine for a libation”. The enormous and far-reaching implications of supersyllabograms in both Linear A and Linear B cannot be stressed enough.


Linear A tablet ZA 4 RECTO (Zakros) is quite a mess, since so much of the text is damaged:

Linear A tablet ZA 4a RECTO Zakros

As you can see for yourself, Linear A tablet ZA 4 RECTO (Zakros) is quite a mess, since so much of the text is damaged. I have attempted to restore some of the badly scratched syllabograms. These include tu and e on line 1, pi and se on line 2 & se on line 4 (which can also be read alternatively as the ideogram for olives/olive oil”). Many of my interpretations of syllabograms are at odds with those of Prof. John G. Younger, but this is nothing unusual, especially in instances where tablets are as badly damaged as is this one.

With the exception of situ, which obviously means wheat, I have made no effort to decipher this tablet, as it would be a fruitless endeavour given its poor state of preservation, and the uncertainty of the values of several syllabograms resulting from it.

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae now has its own private domain name:

Minoan Linear A Linear B Knossos & Mycenae domain name

It is no longer evident from the domain name that this is a WordPress site. I have also cleaned up the Header to eliminate the annoying RSS Feed. Now you select any month/year the Monthly Archives right from the TOP of page.



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