Tag Archive: economy



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

 

 


Illustrations of 5 Minoan Linear A tablets (Figures) in Archaeology and Science (2016):

a-figure-1-linear-a-ht-31-pavel-serafimov-anton-perdih

b-figure-2-linear-a-ht-13-translation-by-richard-vallance-janke

figure-3-linear-a-tablet-19-puko-tripod

linear-a-ht-12-qatidate-olive-tree

ht-117-lineara-epigraphic-harvest-festival-ideogram-vessel-daro

Above are 5 illustrations of some (not all) of the Minoan Linear A tablets, reduced to 620 pixels, as they will appear as Figures (with the Figure nos. assigned only to Figures 1 & 2, other Figure nos. not yet assigned) in my upcoming article, “Pylos Tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” in the prestigious international annual Archaeology and Science, Vol. 12 (2016) ISSN 1452-7448. This is to be the third major article in a row which I will see published in Archaeology and Science.

This paper represents the first genuine breakthrough in the decipherment of Minoan Linear A vocabulary (not the language!) in the 116 years since the first Linear A tablets were unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos in 1900.


Table of the distribution of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector:

Following is the Table of the 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector. It is clear from this table that the majority of supersyllabograms (12) in Minoan Linear A fall in the olive trees, olives and olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan economy, primarily in Haghia Triada, but also in Khania (Chania). The next most common sector is grains (barley & wheat) with 7, the third are vases and pottery and also wine with 5, the fourth is figs with 2 and the fifth are military (men as attendants to the king) and textiles with 1 SSYL each.

table-of-24-supersyllabograms-in-minoan-linear-a-640

The distribution of supersyllabograms in both Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B by economic sector is of the utmost importance. I shall need to cross-correlate the key economic sector-by-sector distribution of supersyllabograms in both syllabaries to verify whether or not the distribution of SSYLs in the one syllabary (Linear A) and the other (Linear B) is closely aligned or not. The alignment of supersyllabograms in each syllabary relative to the other will determine with greater accuracy which economic sectors are the most and which the least important in each language, Minoan and Mycenaean. This way, we can get a much better idea of how the key economic sectors are distributed, from most to least important, in each of the two societies, Minoan and post-Minoan Mycenaean. It is of the utmost important to understand that all of the supersyllabograms in both of these syllabaries must refer only to major economic terms in each sector and sub-sector. 

I shall explicitly compare the relative economic distribution of each society, the Minoan and Mycenaean in my upcoming article, Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada, in Vol. 16 (2016) of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. The Table of 24 Supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A by economic sector & sub-sector is to appear in this article.

I have deciphered the following 8 supersyllabograms more or less successfully in Minoan Linear A:

DA = dadumata = grain/wheat measurer? = Linear B sitokowo
KA = kapa = follower or foot soldier, attendant to the king 
KI = kidata = to be accepted for delivery = Linear B dekesato
OR
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto
AND
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket
AND
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed
NI = nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza. But Mycenaean Linear B shares NI with Minoan Linear A, in spite of the fact that the Mycenaean word for figs is suza.   
PA = pa3ni (amphora for storing grain) + pa3nina = grain or wheat stored in an amphora
RA ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine) 
SA sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre
TE = tereza = standard unit of usually liquid measurement, sometimes of dry measurement


The 70 Minoan Linear A terms MAXIMUM I shall be featuring in my article on the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science: 

Here is a list of the 70 out of 106 Minoan Linear A terms I shall be zeroing in on in my article in Vol. 12 (2016), “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018), to be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.

In an article of this nature, which is to be the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial (by no means definitive) decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A words which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language. It is, of course, impossible to decipher the Minoan language, and anyone who dares claim he or she has done so is skating on very thin ice, actually, no ice whatsoever. All we can hope to do at the present juncture is to decipher some of the vocabulary, that and nothing else. This is possible because the syllabary has already been deciphered, though as far as I know, no researchers or decipherers to date have taken any note of this vital factor. It is precisely because the syllabary itself has been deciphered that we have any access at all to Minoan vocabulary. We must recall that for Michael Ventris, the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B was far more difficult at the outset, because no-one in the world, including himself, knew what the Linear B syllabic signs signified. It took him two years or so to figure them out and he never actually got them until he realized that Linear B was a very early form of Greek, which we now know as Mycenaean Greek.

But the situation is far different with Minoan Linear A. We can read the syllabary. We can “read” the words, but we cannot understand what they mean... at least to date. I have taken upon myself to decipher, more or less accurately (probably more often less than more) as many Minoan Linear A words as I possibly can. Even after months of strenuous travail, I have only been able to extrapolate the potential meanings of 106 Minoan Linear A words from a lexicon of about 510 intact Linear A words in John G. Younger’s Lexicon. These terms I have managed to decipher more or less accurately thus amount to only 20 % of the complete lexicon. But 20 % is far more than anyone else has managed to decipher  to date.  

Here then are the 70 terms (MAXIMUM) excerpted from my complete Glossary of Minoan Linear A:           
 
p-glossary

KEY:

Minoan Linear A words deciphered with certainty (90% - 100%) are in BOLD.
Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a reasonable degree of certainty (75% - 85%) are in italics.

All terms in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B have been Latinized for ease of access to persons not familiar with these syllabaries. 


Terms to which I shall assign special treatment are followed by an asterisk (*). 

adureza = unit of dry measurement (grain, wheat, barley, flour)
aka = wineskin (two syllabograms overlaid)
akii = garlic
darida = large vase *  
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere * 5
datara = grove of fig trees *
datu = olives See also qatidate = olive trees = Linear B erawa *
daweda = medium size amphora with two handles
dikise = a type of cloth = Linear B any number of types of cloth
ditamana = dittany (medicinal herb) 10
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown amount)*
kanaka = saffron = Linear B kanako
kapa = follower or (foot) solder = Linear B eqeta *
karopa3 (karopai) = kylix (with two handles & smaller than a pithos) *
kaudeta = to be distributed (fut. part. pass.) approx. = Linear B, epididato = having been distributed (aorist part. pass.)15 
keda = cedar
kidema*323na = type of vessel (truncated on HT 31) *
kidapa = (ash) wood, a type of wood. On Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01 *
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto 20
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket *
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed
kuro = total             
kuruku = crocus
maru = wool (syllabograms superimposed) = Linear B mari/mare 25
mitu = a type of cloth 
nasi = a type of cloth
nere = larger amphora size *
nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza *
orada = rose 30
pazeqe = small handle-less cups = Linear B dipa anowe, dipa anowoto *
puko = tripod = Linear B tiripode *
qapa3 = qapai = large handle-less vase or amphora *
qatidate = olive trees See also datu = olives = Linear B erawo *
qareto = Linear B onato = “lease field” * 35
quqani = medium size or smaller amphora *
ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine)
rairi = lily 
reza = 1 standard unit of measurement *
sajamana = with handles = Linear B owowe * 40
sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre 
sata = a type of cloth
sedina = celery
supa3 (supai) = small cup = Linear B dipa mewiyo *
supu = very large amphora * 45
tarawita = terebinth tree
tejare = a type of cloth
teki = small unit of measurement for wine @ 27 1/2 per tereza *
tereza = larger unit of liquid measurement (olive oil, wine) *
tesi = small unit of measurement * 50
tisa = description of pot or pottery = Linear B amotewiya/yo
udimi = a type of cloth 
uminase = harbour (cf. French “Le Havre”), famous Atlantic port in France * 
usu = a type of cloth

Eponyms:

Sirumarita2 = Sirumaritai 55
Tateikezare
Tesudesekei
Turunuseme

Toponyms:

Almost all the toponyms do not require decipherment as they are either identical or almost identical in Mycenaean Linear B:

Akanu = Archanes (Crete)
Dikate = Mount Dikte 60
Idaa = Mount Ida
Idunesi
Kudoni = Kydonia
Meza (= Linear B Masa)
Paito = Phaistos ( =Linear B) * 65
Radu = Lato (= Linear B Rato)
Setoiya = Seteia (= Linear B) 
Sukirita/Sukiriteija = Sybrita
Uminase = Linear B Amnisos * 
Winadu = Linear B Inato 70

COMMENTARY:

This Glossary accounts for 20 % of all intact Minoan Linear A terms.

The principle of cross-correlative cohesion operates on the assumption that terms in Minoan Linear A vocabulary should reflect as closely and as faithfully as possible parallel terms in Mycenaean Greek vocabulary. In other words, the English translations of Minoan words in a Minoan Linear A Glossary such as this one should look as if they are English translations of Mycenaean Greek terms in a Linear B glossary. I have endeavoured to do my best to achieve this goal, but even the most rational and logical approach, such as I take, does not and cannot guarantee reciprocity between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B terms. It is precisely for this reason that I have had to devise a scale of relative accuracy for terms in this Linear A Glossary, as outlined in KEY at the top of it.

The best and most reliable Linear B Lexicon is that by Chris Tselentis, Athens, Greece. If you wish to receive a  copy of his Lexicon, please leave a comment in Comments, with some way for me to get in touch with you.

Are there any words in Mycenaean Greek of putative Minoan origin? It should surely not strike us as so surprising that there are. After all,  

kidapa = ash? (Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01)

Several Minoan Linear A words very likely survived into Mycenaean Linear B. The problem is, if they did, we do not know which ones did.... except perhaps kidapa, which has a distinctly Minoan feel to it. Cf. kidata = to be accepted (for delivery to) = Linear B dekesato


Archaeology and Science, Glossary of 106 Minoan Linear A words deciphered with (reasonable) accuracy (the largest ever glossary of Linear A) accounting for 20 % of all intact Minoan Linear A terms in Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A texts in phonetic transcription = 510:

This Glossary contains only Minoan Linear A terms which have been deciphered either with certainty or with a reasonable degree of certainty. It is more or less the version which will be published in my article slated for publication in Vol. 12 (2016), “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018). To be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.    
 
p-glossary

KEY:

Minoan Linear A words deciphered with certainty (90% - 100%) are in BOLD.
Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a reasonable degree of certainty (75% - 85%) are in italics.

All terms in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B have been Latinized for ease of access to persons not familiar with these syllabaries. 

adaro = barley = Linear B kirita
adu = so much, so many, all (persons, things, esp. grain/wheat), referencing all  accounts relevant to them. In the case of grains & wheat, adu would refer to all the “ bushel-like” units of wheat accounted for. In the case of the men measuring the wheat, it would appear that they are surveyors or comptrollers. Cf. Linear B, toso, tosa.
adureza = unit of dry measurement (grain, wheat, barley, flour)
aka = wineskin (two syllabograms overlaid)
5 akipiete = (in) common, shared, allotted, allotment = Cf. Linear B kekemena ktoina = small plot of land
akii = garlic
asasumaise = cattle-driver or shepherd = Linear B qoukoro -or- qorokota 
atare = figs overseer  = Linear B opisuko
10 darida = large vase  
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere
datara= grove of fig trees
datu = olives See also qatidate = olive trees = Linear B erawa
daweda = medium size amphora with two handles
15 dikise = a type of cloth = Linear B any number of types of cloth
ditamana = dittany (medicinal herb)
dumitatira2 (dumitatirai) = right or inner spindle wheel on one side of the distaff
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown amount)
jedi = man/men = Linear B atoroqo.
20 kanaka = saffron = Linear B kanako
kapa = follower or (foot) solder = Linear B eqeta
karopa3 (karopai) = kylix (with two handles & smaller than a pithos) 
kaudeta = to be distributed (fut. part. pass.) approx. = Linear B, epididato = having been distributed (aorist part. pass.) 
keda = cedar
25 kidata = to be accepted (for delivery to) = Linear B dekesato
kidema*323na = type of vessel (truncated on HT 31)
kidapa = (ash) wood, a type of wood. On Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01 
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto
30 kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed 
kukani = (deep) red wine Cf. Linear B wono mitowesa
kuro = total
kuruku = crocus
35 maru = wool (syllabograms superimposed) = Linear B mari/mare
mitu = a type of cloth 
nasi = a type of cloth
nere = larger amphora size
nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza
40 orada = rose 
pajare = in pay, hired = Linear B emito
pazeqe = small handle-less cups = Linear B dipa anowe, dipa anowoto
pimitatira2 (pimitatirai) = left or outer spindle wheel on one side of the distaff
pitakase = harvested or field of = Linear B akoro
45 puko = tripod = Linear B tiripode
qapa3 = qapai = large handle-less vase or amphora 
qatidate = olive trees See also datu = olives = Linear B erawo
qareto = Linear B onato = “lease field” 
quqani = medium size or smaller amphora
50 ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine) 
rairi = lily 
reza = 1 standard unit of measurement
sajamana = with handles = Linear B owowe
sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre
55 sata = a type of cloth
sedina = celery
supa3 (supai) = small cup = Linear B dipa mewiyo
supu = very large amphora
tarawita = terebinth tree
60 tejare = a type of cloth
teki = small unit of measurement for wine @ 27 1/2 per tereza
tereza = larger unit of liquid measurement (olive oil, wine)
tesi = small unit of measurement
tisa = description of pot or pottery = Linear B amotewiya/yo
65 udimi = a type of cloth 
uminase = harbour (cf. French Le Havre), famous Atlantic port in France  
usu = a type of cloth

Eponyms:

Adunitana
Akaru
70 Asasumaise = name of cattle-driver or shepherd
Asiyaka
Dadumine
Danekuti
Daqera
75 Ikurina
Kanajami
Kosaiti
Kukudara
Kuramu
80 Kureju
Makarita
Mirutarare
Qami*47nara
Qetiradu
85 Sidate
Sirumarita2 = Sirumaritai
Tateikezare
Tesudesekei
Tidiate
90 Turunuseme
Watumare

Toponyms:

Almost all the toponyms do not require decipherment as they are either identical or almost identical in Mycenaean Linear B:

Akanu = Archanes (Crete)
Dame
Dawa (Haghia Triada)
95 Dikate = Mount Dikte
Idaa = Mount Ida
Idunesi
Kudoni = Kydonia
Kura
100 Meza (= Linear B Masa)
Paito = Phaistos ( =Linear B)
Qeka 
Radu = Lato (= Linear B Rato)
Setoiya = Seteia (= Linear B) 
105 Sukirita/Sukiriteija = Sybrita
Uminase = Linear B Amnisos
106 Winadu = Linear B Inato

COMMENTARY:

This Glossary accounts for 20 % of all intact Minoan Linear A terms.

The principle of cross-correlative cohesion operates on the assumption that terms in Minoan Linear A vocabulary should reflect as closely and as faithfully as possible parallel terms in Mycenaean Greek vocabulary. In other words, the English translations of Minoan words in a Minoan Linear A Glossary such as this one should look as if they are English translations of Mycenaean Greek terms in a Linear B glossary. I have endeavoured to do my best to achieve this goal, but even the most rational and logical approach, such as I take, does not and cannot guarantee reciprocity between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B terms. It is precisely for this reason that I have had to devise a scale of relative accuracy for terms in this Linear A Glossary, as outlined in KEY at the top of it.

The best and most reliable Linear B Lexicon is that by Chris Tselentis, Athens, Greece. If you wish to receive a  copy of his Lexicon, please leave a comment in Comments, with some way for me to get in touch with you.

Are there any words in Mycenaean Greek of putative Minoan origin? It should surely not strike us as so surprising that there are. After all,  

kidapa = ash? (Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01)

Several Minoan Linear A words very likely survived into Mycenaean Linear B. The problem is, if they did, we do not know which ones did.... except perhaps kidapa, which has a distinctly Minoan feel to it. Cf. kidata = to be accepted (for delivery to) = Linear B dekesato


Slated for publication in Archaeology and Science Vol. 12 (2016),“Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery”:

archaeology-and-science-vol-12-2016-2018Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery”, is definitively slated for publication in Vol. 12 (2016) in the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018). To be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.

This is the ground-breaking article in which I announce to the world my success at a partial decipherment of some of the vocabulary of Minoan Linear A, not of the language itself, which no one is in a position to decipher, given the extreme paucity of extant tablets and fragments (<500), of which the vast majority are fragments.  

In the progressive layout of the draft of this revolutionary article, I shall be featuring the following Minoan Linear A tablets and commentaries on Minoan Linear A in my article (in this approximate order), as per previous posts on this blog (Click on each link to visit its post):

INTRODUCTION

Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” for Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)

a-pylos-ta-641-1952-ventris

5 words of vessel types in Minoan Linear A: Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada)

b-5-words

Linear A tablet tagged “19” & the Minoan word for “tripod” = puko (confirmation)

c-ht-19

FAILED DECIPHERMENTS

d-failed-decipherments

Proto-Slavic interpretation of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) — another decipherment gone awry

d-proto-slavic

2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?

d-proto-slavic

PROSPECTS FOR DECIPHERMENT

How far can we go deciphering Minoan Linear A? And now for the bad news

e-how-far

What are the current prospects for deciphering Minoan Linear A? Dismal but…

f-prospects

PRINCIPLES & CROSS-CORRELATION

g-5-principles

The 5 principles applicable to the rational partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A

The principle of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B & logical fallacies

h-cross-correlative

ACTUAL MINOAN LINEAR A TABLETS SUSCEPTIBLE TO AT LEAST PARTIAL DECIPHERMENT

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 132 qareto = lease field (post lost, to be reposted)

i-qareto

Mycenaean Linear B tablets on terms and activities related to olive oil as templates for cross-correlation to Minoan Linear A tablets

j-olive-oil

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 12 & qatidate = Mycenaean Linear B erawa = olive tree(s)

j-olive-oil

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

k-kapa
Minoan Linear A kirita2 (kiritai) = delivery & kiretana = delivered (nos. 67 & 68 deciphered)

l-delivery

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) & wine

m-ht-13

Minoan Linear whorls unearthed by Heinrich Schliemann at Troy in 1875 & their striking similarity to the Linear A whorls (recto/verso) illustrated here

n-troy

Minoan Linear A words: 7 types of cloth on tablet HT 117 (Haghia Triada) compared with 7 types of cloth in Mycenaean Linear B

o-cloth

GLOSSARY OF MINOAN LINEAR A TERMS & CONCLUSIONS

Glossary of 134 words & Partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A : a rational approach from Mycenaean Linear B (final version)

p-glossary

Rita Roberts has finished her first year of university with a great mark of 83 % = A!

mycenaean warrior vase

Rita Roberts has finished her first year of university with a great mark of 83 % = A! Her first year was devoted entirely to the military sector of the Mycenaean economy. She had to translate scores and scores of Linear B military tablets, and thoroughly master all the supersyllabograms in the military sector.

military supersyllabograms

Rita has already started her second year of three, and she is focusing on the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy. In this sector, she will have, not scores, but hundreds of Linear B tablets to translate. 

Congratulations, Rita.


Minoan Linear A tablet ZA 8, atare = “a grove of fig trees” at Zakros:

Linear A Zakros ZA 8 atare = fig grove

After spending considerable time wracking my brains out trying to figure out what atare on Minoan Linear A ZA 8 from Zakros could possibly mean, I finally came up with what I consider a rational solution. We note that no number of figs or fig trees follows the syllabogram NI, which designates figs in both Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B, in which the actual word for “fig(s)” is suza. Given that Zakros in pre-Mycenaean Minoan times was probably a rather small outpost, the likelihood that there would be only 1 stand or grove of figs there stands up quite well to scrutiny. Of course, there is no way of saying for certain (far from it) that that is what arate means, but this is the route I have chosen to follow in deciphering the term.

This is the sixty-first (61) term we have deciphered, more or less accurately, in Minoan Linear A. This is post 1,200 on our site since its inception in late 2013.


Before we can decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because... PART A: delivery of olive oil

Before we can plausibly (and frequently tentatively) decipher even a single Linear A tablet on olive oil, we must decipher as many as we can in Linear B, because there are so many facets to be taken fully into consideration in the olive oil sub-sector of the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy related to the production of olive oil which on an adequate number of Linear B tablets (at least 10), mostly from Knossos, dealing with harvesting from olive oil trees and the production and delivery of olive oil that we must account for every single term related to olive oil on the Linear B tablets, and then compile a list of all of these terms in order to cross-correlate these with equivalent terms on the Linear A tablets, mostly from Haghia Triada.

Another vital factor which just occurred to me is that the Minoan economy appears to have been primarily centred in Haghia Triada, while the Mycenaean primarily in Knossos, with valuable contributions from Pylos as well. In other words, the economic centre or power house, if you will, of the Minoan economy appears to have been Haghia Triada and not Knossos. I am somewhat baffled by the fact that researchers to date have not taken this important factor adequately into account. It appears to reveal that Knossos had not yet risen to prominence in the Minoan economy in the Middle Minoan Period (ca. 2100-1600 BCE):

the three Periods of Minoan Civilization

The gravest challenge confronting us in the cross-correlation of the several economic terms related to olive oil production in the late Minoan III 3a period under Mycenaean suzerainty (ca. 1500-1450 BCE)  with potentially equivalent terms in Minoan Linear A arises from the mathematical theoretical constructs of combinations and permutations. Given, for instance, that there are potentially a dozen (12) terms related to olive oil production on an adequate number (10-12)  Linear B tablets to afford effectual cross-correlation, how on earth are we to know which terms in Mycenaean Linear B correspond to apparently similar terms in Minoan Linear A? In other words, if we for instance extrapolate a total of 12 terms from Mycenaean Linear B tablets, how are we to line or match up the Mycenaean Linear B terms in a “Column A” construct with those in Minoan Linear B in “Column B”? There is no practical way that we can safely assert that term A (let us say, for the sake of expediency, that this word is apudosi = “delivery”) in Mycenaean Greek corresponds to term A in Minoan Linear  A, rather than any of B-L, in any permutation and/or in any combination. This leads us straight into the trap of having to assign ALL of the signified (terms) in Mycenaean Linear A to all of the signified in Minoan Linear B. I shall only be able to definitively demonstrate this quandary after I have deciphered as many Linear B tablets on olive oil as I possibly can.

340 APUDOSI

349 APUDOSI


379 APUDOSI

For the time being, we have no choice but to set out on our search with these 3 tablets, all of which prepend the first term apudosi = “delivery” to the ideogram for olive oil. In closing, I wish to emphatically stress that this is precisely the signified I expected to turn up in the list of terms potentially related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear B. It is also the most important of all Mycenaean Linear B terms prepended to the ideogram for “olive oil on the Linear B tablets. When we come to making the fateful decision to assign the the correct Minoan Linear A term meaning just that, delivery” on the Linear A tablets dealing with olive oil, how are we to know which Linear A signified corresponds to Linear B apudosi = “delivery”? Still the situation is not as bad as you might think, at least for this term. Why so? Because if it appears (much) more often on the Linear B tablets (say, theoretically, 5 times versus less than 5 for all the other terms in Linear B related to olive oil), then the term appearing the most frequently on Minoan Linear A tablets related to olive oil is more likely than not to be the equivalent of apudosi, i.e. to mean  “delivery”.

The less frequent the occurrence of any particular term relative to olive oil on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, the greater the room there is for error, to the point that where a term appears only once on all of the Linear B tablets we can manage to muster up for translation, it becomes next to impossible to properly align that term with any of the terms occurring only once on the Minoan Linear A tablets, especially where more than one signified occurs on the Mycenaean Linear B tablets. If for example, 3 terms occur only once on the Linear B tablets, which one(s) aligns with which one(s) on the Linear A? A messy scenario. But we must make the best of the situation, bite the bullet, and cross-correlate these 3 terms in all permutations and combinations (= 9!) from the Linear B to the Linear A tablets containing them. This I shall definitively illustrate in a Chart once I have translated all terms related to olive oil production in Mycenaean Linear A.


Introduction to the Complete Bibliography of 138 Citations for “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the 2015 Conference in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015.

In the next 2 posts, I shall present my exhaustive bibliography of 138 items (79 citations in each of the two parts) for the talk I shall be giving on “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” at the 2015 Conference, “Thinking in Symbols” in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015. It is so exhaustive that I doubt I have missed any sources of any significance to the topic at hand. Of course, the paper of the talk itself cannot be released at this time, as it is still under wraps.

Certain researchers past and present, above all Marie-Louise Nosch, have made significant contributions towards the realization of the General Theory of Supersyllabograms which I have just finalized this year, after a year of intensive research (spring 2014 – spring 2015). Previous researchers have sometimes come right up to the edge of a general theory correlating the single or multiple syllabograms they usually designate as “adjuncts” or “endograms” to the Linear B ideograms to which they are “surcharged” (i.e. attached), and which they invariably qualify. But all of these definitions are lacking in one sense or another, for the following reasons:

1. Although designated as (mere) “adjuncts” to the ideograms they invariably qualify, these associative single or multiple syllabograms (up to a maximum of 5!) are far more than that. Standing in as first-syllable abbreviations for words and even entire phrases in Mycenaean Greek, they play an absolutely critical rôle in significantly qualifying the ideograms to which they are attached, all the more so when the tablet on which they are found contains no text whatsoever, but only ideograms with these so-called “adjuncts”. But since these “adjuncts” invariably replace either Mycenaean words or (very often) entire phrases, they cannot be relegated to the status of simple adjuncts. In far too many instances, these single syllabograms encompass so much text that their inherent meaning as such turns out to be much more comprehensive and significant than that of the ideograms to which they are presumably attached. In other words, the single syllabogram(s) embodies/embody so much more than what would have otherwise been nothing but wasteful discursive text. So it appears that we should expediently and practically refer to as the ideogram as the adjunct, rather than the other way around.

On tablets with no text whatsoever and with 3 or more syllabograms performing this function, it is more than apparent that all of the single syllabograms functioning as the first syllable of a Mycenaean Greek word or an entire phrase replace so much discursive text that they literally cut down the amount of space used on the tablet in question by as much as two-thirds! Since the Linear B scribes at Knossos and Pylos in particular were real sticklers for saving as much space as they possibly could on what were (and are) extremely small extant tablets (rarely more than 15 cm. or 6 inches wide), they resorted to this stratagem so often (on at least 23% of the Linear B tablets at Knossos) that the practice is, if anything, of far greater importance to an accurate decipherment of those tablets on which they appear than was previously thought. It is for this reason that I have come to designate syllabograms playing this rôle as supersyllabograms, and certainly not as mere “adjuncts” or “endograms”, since that is patently what they are – supersyllabograms.

2. The designation of supersyllabograms as “endograms” is extremely misleading and quite inaccurate, since as many of these supersyllabograms precede as follow the ideograms to which they are attached. So “endograms” account for only half of supersyllabograms at best. Besides, what are we to call the supersyllabograms which precede the ideograms to which they are attached? Has anyone thought of that or even mentioned it in previous research? Not that I have ever seen, and I have read every single document (monographs, journal articles and articles in every past conference) I could lay my hands on. The reason for this lacuna is clear enough. Past researchers have focused solely on “adjuncts” or “endograms” related solely to the field of research in Mycenaean Linear B which is of primary and frequently exclusive interest to themselves. Even Marie-Louise Nosch, who has done an astonishing amount of truly remarkable research in this area, has restricted herself to the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, as that is her primary field of interest. Fair enough. 

Given this scenario, it appears to me that researchers past and present have been focusing exclusively on the trees or even sometimes, as with Marie-Louise Nosch, on whole clearings in forest. But none have ever concentrated on the entire forest, at least until last year, when I myself decided to ransack every single syllabogram on some 3,000 tablets (not fragments) from Knossos, in order to hypothesize, if at all possible, a general pattern to the use of supersyllabograms with ideograms. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. So far, I have discovered that at least 33 of the 61 syllabograms plus one of the homophones (“rai” for saffron) frequently function as supersyllabograms. Under the circumstances, and given that so many scribes so often resorted to this strategy, I soon enough concluded that it was not only a standard convention in the compilation of some 700 tablets at Knossos, but that the supersyllabograms found on these tablets were almost invariably formulaic codes. And in ancient Greek – witness Homer alone - any practice which was both conventional and formulaic was always deliberate. No-one ever resorts to such strategies in any language, unless they have abundant reason to do so.

This is all the more true for the practices the Linear B scribes routinely ascribed to, given that they would do absolutely anything, if they possibly could, to save precious space on their tiny clay tablets. This too is another crucial factor past researchers have overlooked. Linear B scribes only recorded information which was absolutely essential to the precise compilation of what were (and are) after all statistical accounts and inventories. We can take the far-reaching consequences and implications of this conclusion even further. Have you ever seen a modern-day inventory which resorts to similar tactics to conserve precious space and to make the inventory as clear, precise and accurate as possible? Of course you have. As illustrated in the following two examples, the most efficient of modern inventories resort to the same tactics, the formulaic use of code abbreviations as substitutes for wasteful discursive text with predictable frequency – which is almost always: Click to ENLARGE each one with its relevant notes

aircraft inventory 

liquor inventory

In other words, just as abbreviations serve as default codes in modern inventories, supersyllabograms function pretty much the same way on the Linear B tablets. Supersyllabograms are in fact inventory codes for the Mycenaean Linear B words or entire phrases they replace. This revelation surely substantiates the claim I am now going to make: the Linear B scribes were far ahead of their time in the compilation of inventories and statistics. No other ancient language, including classical Greek and even Latin, came remotely close to this extremely advanced practice the Linear scribes so brilliantly and consciously contrived for their astonishing ability to create practical templates they consistently applied to inventorial management. And no-one until the Italian bankers in Renaissance was to revive the practice with equal skill. As for the standard practices of the Linear B scribal inventories, they are so remarkably alike modern 20th. & 20st. Century practices that it is uncanny.         

3. But there is more. Why previous researchers have not drawn attention to the fact that many supersyllabograms, especially in the field of textiles, neither precede nor follow the ideograms they qualify, but are almost invariably inside them, is beyond me. Once again, no one in any language resorts to any stratagem without solid practical and even logical reason(s). Such is the case with the textile “intragrams”, as opposed to “exograms” in Linear B, the latter of which invariably qualify pretty much all ideograms in the field of agriculture. Again, this raises the critical, hardly hypothetical, question, why. And again, there are substantive and strictly functional reasons why the Linear B scribes made this critical distinction – because they knew they had to. Supersyllabograms functioning as “exograms” are always associative, while those operating as “intragrams” are invariably attributive. The Linear B scribes made this fundamental distinction between the two sub-classes of supersyllabograms for the simple reason that they, as a guild, knew perfectly well what the operative distinction was which each of these types of supersyllabograms played on the tablets on which they were inscribed. The talk I am giving at the Conference in Pultusk between June 30 and July 2 2015 will make this perfectly clear.

4. I have no objection to the designation “surcharged” for “exograms” as supersyllabograms, because they are not only literally surcharged onto the ideograms with which they are always associated, they also figuratively surcharge the meaning(s) of these ideograms, in a sense somewhat akin to super-charged gasoline or petrol which beefs up engine performance in cars - or by symbolic association, something along those lines. But I am forced to object to the designation of “intragrams” as surcharged in the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economies, for the obvious reason that they are both literally and figuratively not surcharged at all. Again, the scribes never resorted to “intragrams”, unless they were absolutely critical to an actual attribute, whenever required in a particular case, such as the frequent designation of colour for textiles. Ask yourselves, why would any scribe in his right mind write out the full name of the default colour white for linen, when he did not have to? He simply would not. On the other hand, the Linear B scribes did make use of an attributive supersyllabogram when they knew perfectly well that it was critical to the economic class status of the cloth so designated. For instance, purple cloth, designated by the supersyllabogram PU for Mycenaean Linear B pupureyo – a royal colour par excellence – was much more refined and far more expensive than the heavier and coarser plain white linen cloth (rino) spun for the hoi polloi (the lower classes). So they had to mention that for the sake of the “wanaka” or King (of Knossos or Mycenae) to whom this distinction was all too important, given that neither he nor his Queen no any of the princes royal would ever be caught dead wearing cheap cloth.

There is much more to this than meets the eye, as I shall clearly illustrate in the book, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to appear sometime in 2016, if all goes well.

I would be truly remiss were I not to acknowledge the major contributions the French researcher, Marie-Louise Nosch, whom I have cited 15 times (!) in my bibliography, has made to fundamentally accurate definitions of supersyllabograms in the textile sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy. Although I happened upon all of her astonishingly insightful research articles only after I had deciphered 32 of the 34 supersyllabograms (the other two being beyond me, as well as her), the truly accurate and intrinsically logical conclusions she came to on her own back up my conclusions on the meanings of practically all the intragrams for textiles almost to the letter. This amazing co-incidence, if that is merely what it is, serves as solid circumstantial collateral evidence to substantiate my Theory of Supersyllabograms. Co-incidence? I rather doubt that. It is a given that researchers in any scientific field tend to strike their bearings in the same general direction in any age, including our own. Like Odysseus, we are all heading for the same shore. The most convincing conclusions which will eventually be drawn from the research we are all sharing in now are yet in the offing. But in my eyes one thing is certain. Everything we researchers in Mycenaean Linear B, as a community, are aiming for now is bound to make a ground-breaking, perhaps even profound, contribution in the near future to make the further decipherment of Linear B considerably much more accurate than any we have seen to date.

The Bibliography to follow in two parts (1-69 & 70-138) in the next two posts.

ADDENDUM: I shall be publishing this post & the next two in academia.edu very soon, prior to my presentation at the Conference in Pultusk, Poland, June 30 - July 2, 2015.

Richard

Associative versus Attributed Supersyllabograms Illustrated in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Illustration of Associative versus Attributive Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B

This is Slide H of my lecture, “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B ” I shall be giving at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, associated with the University of Warsaw, Poland, between June 30 & July 2, 2015. It clearly illustrates the marked difference between an associative (as) and an attributive supersyllabogram (at).

Associative Supersyllabograms:

Associative SSYLs relate to physical objects or items, places, specific locations & geographic identifiers which are independent of the ideograms they are associated with, and which do not define them in any way, except as additional information relative to the latter. A sheep is still a sheep, a horse is still a horse & an ox is still an ox, even when it has no associative supersyllabogram modifying it. However, associative SSYLS are extremely informative, since they always circumscribe the circumstances in which the ideograms, almost always animate and animal, find themselves placed. As such, associative SSYLS (as) replace whole words and even entire phrases, which offer us a great deal more insight into the ideogram involved than would have been supplied by the ideogram alone. There is a huge difference between the ideogram for “sheep” or “ram” all on its own, and the same ideograms accompanied by an associative supersyllabogram. For instance, in this illustration, the SSYL (as) KI informs us that “the ram is on a plot of land”.  That is an entire sentence in English symbolized by the SSYL (as) KI + the ideogram for “ram” (only two characters!). The SSYL (as) O + “sheep” is even more informative, telling us that “the sheep is on a lease field.” and even “the sheep is on a usufruct lease field.” Not only that, the scribes frequently combined two or more SSYLs (as), such as KI & O with an ideogram, usually for “ram”, “ewe” or “sheep”, replacing a very long sentence in both Mycenaean Linear B and in English (or any other target language into which the source – Mycenaean Greek – is translated). Thus, the SSYLs (as) KI + O + the ideogram for “ewe + the number 114 mean no less than,114 ewes on a plot of land which is a usufruct lease field”.

Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy, and are also characteristic of the military sector. Associative SSYLS are not symbiotic.

Talk about a shortcut! Of course, many of us already know by now that the Mycenaean scribes frequently resorted to this clever stratagem to save plenty of space on what are, after all, very small tablets, rarely more than 30 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep, and usually much smaller.

Attributive Supersyllabograms:  

On the other hand, attributive SSYLs (at) always modify the the sense of ideograms on which they simultaneously depend as the ideograms themselves depend on them through the attributive qualities they assign to the latter. In other words, the relationship between the attributive supersyllabogram and the ideogram which it modifies is both symbiotic and auto-determinative. The plain ideogram for “cloth” has nothing inside it. But when the ideogram for “cloth” is assigned an attribute (usually defined as an adjectival modifier) that ideogram contains inside itself the supersyllabogram which unequivocally modifies its meaning. Thus, the ideogram for “cloth” with the SSYL NE inside it can mean one thing and one thing only, “new cloth”. Likewise, the SYL PU inside the ideogram for “cloth” can only mean “purple cloth”, and nothing else. Similarly, the SSYL TE inside the same ideogram has the specific meaning, “well-prepared cloth” or “finished cloth prepared for market or sale”. Thus, all attributive supersyllabograms modify the unqualified meaning of the simple syllabogram for “cloth” in the textile sector, while similar SSYLS in other sectors, especially the vessels, pottery & vases sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy operate in the exact same fashion. Associative supersyllabograms proliferate in these two sectors. 

Richard

 


All About Sypersyllabograms: Their Enormous Impact on the Nature of Linear B – Everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask!

Given that supersyllabograms invariably display the characteristics highlighted in the previous post, they must also be formulaic by nature. The several restrictions placed on their disposition next to or inside ideograms, the invariability of their meanings within each sector, and other such considerations means they are always formulaic. Although the language of Homer is also very often formulaic in the Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, there is probably little or no relationship between the formulaic nature of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B and his archaic formulae. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that formulaic language is a particular characteristic of both Mycenaean Linear B and of Homer’s own so-called Epic Greek. However, the nature of the formulaic language of Linear B and that of Homeric Greek are of a different order.

In the chart which follows, we see for the first time ever on our blog the disposition of each supersyllabogram in each sector of Minoan/Mycenaean society, with repetitions of certain supersyllabograms, which re-appear in different sectors, usually with different meanings from one sector to the next, with the exception of the supersyllabogram “newo/newa”, which always means “new”, regardless of sector. It alone appears in three sectors: agriculture (livestock, mainly sheep, rams & ewes), textiles & vessels, as seen in the chart here: Click to ENLARGE

AppendixB

While the meanings of some supersyllabograms are firmly established, due primarily to their high frequency on Linear B tablets from Knossos, others are less firmly demonstrable. For instance, in the sector, agriculture, sub-sector sheep husbandry, the meanings of the supersyllabograms O = lease field, KI = plot of land , NE = new & PE = enclosure or sheep pen, are firmly established with a very high degree of probability, if not total accuracy. In the case of PE, the definition is 100 % confirmed, since on one of the tablets in that series, the scribe conveniently spelled out the word in full, instead of using the simple superyllabogram PE. It is this very tablet which establishes beyond a doubt the authenticity of supersyllabograms as a phenomenon innate to Linear B alone, and not found in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. As for Minoan Linear A, no-one knows whether SSYLS exist, because the language remains recalcitrant to decipherment.

In the military sector, the supersyllabogram ZE almost certainly means “a pair of..” or “a team of...”, with a 90 % or greater probability. However, once we get past the two primary sectors in which supersyllabograms are used extremely frequently, given that there are so many tablets to be found in these two primary sectors of Minoan/Mycenaean society, the situation devolves by degrees into less certainty.

Supersyllabograms found adjacent to any ideogram, as for instance those with the ideograms for sheep, ram, ewe (livestock), or horse or chariot (military) are considered to be associative. Associative Supersyllabograms are those which define characteristics of the environment or specific context in which their associative ideograms appear. For instance, it is natural and logical to associate sheep with lease fields, plots of land & sheep enclosures. The same goes for military ideograms. The ideograms for horse and chariot naturally associate with pairs or teams of... (fill in the blanks).    

There are still quite a large number of tablets in the textiles sector; so the meanings of most of the supersyllabograms in that sector are more than likely still very reliable, not the least because each of them still makes good sense: KU = gold cloth, PA = dyed cloth, PU = purple or Phoenician cloth (amounting to pretty much the same thing, anyway) & RI = linen. I would assign at least a 70 % to 90 % degree of probability to each of the definitions I have deduced for each of these supersyllabograms in textiles. The supersyllabograms in the sector of vessels (amphorae, drinking cups, water jugs etc.) may be a little less firm, but I am still convinced that I deduced most of them accurately, yielding a probability of 70 % - 80 %.

Supersyllabograms in the textile and vessels sector are another kettle of fish. Since they appear inside the ideograms they modify, they are attributive in nature. In other words, they describe attributes of the textiles or vessels which they modify, and are, in almost all instances, adjectival in nature. Their placement inside the ideograms makes it quite clear that this is what the scribes actually indented, since a symbol inside another always describes attributes of the ideogram in which it appears. Should anyone doubt this, we have only to appeal to symbols appearing inside others as they are found in today’s world, since they follow the exact same principle. For instance, we have: click to ENLARGE:

Modern Superalphabetical Symbols

Need I say more?     

On the other hand, I have been quite unable to decipher at least one supersyllabogram, SE, which sadly appears only 3 times on extant tablets from Knossos. For this reason alone, I dare not assign it a meaning, since I am quite sure that if I did, I would probably be (way) off the mark.

There remain the supersyllabograms for place names, which are in a category of their own, since none of them appear with ideograms, and all of them are found on only 1 tablet, Heidelburg HE Fl 1994, which Prof. Thomas G. Palaima so expertly deciphered in 1994. Click on this banner to read his translation and my explanatory POST in its entirety:

SSYLS POST Palaima

There can be no question whatsoever that these are in fact supersyllabograms, the very first ever to have been isolated, for which we owe Prof. Palaima full credit. Of course, he did not define them as supersyllabograms, as he was unaware of the high frequency of the rest of them as adduced above in this post. Nevertheless, they are what they are, supersyllabograms. We have KO for Konoso (Knossos), MU for Mukene (Mycenae), ZA for Zakros etc.

And if a few of you are still in doubt as to the viability of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, remember: the very same phenomenon applies to internationally standardized signs nowadays.

Once again, nowadays, we have a symbol within a symbol, or if you like, a symbol inside an ideogram. It is truly amazing how such a practice has resurfaced after at least 32 centuries, even if it was only the Minoan/Mycenaean scribes in the ancient world who figured out the system in the first place, leaving it interred for 32 centuries before it re-appeared in the twentieth century. So once again, we find ourselves face to face with a very ancient script, namely the Linear B syllabary, which was so systematic, formulaic and logical that it can only be considered as a brilliant breakthrough in the art of writing. After all, supersyllabograms are not the only phenomenon Linear B sported with such bravado. Ideograms in and of themselves abounded (over 100 of them!). They even used ideograms as the equivalent of subject headings as they resurfaced in nineteenth century libaries, in the Dewey Decimal & Library of Congress systems.

Witness just one tablet alone, namely, Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris), the very first tablet ever translated with complete success by none other than the great Michael Ventris himself, and you can see these “subject headings” for yourself, plastered all over that amazing tablet! Why did the scribes use so many ideograms for vessel types on this single tablet? The answer was obvious, at least to them... the ideograms for vessels were the signposts or indexing markers of this tablet which instantly allowed the scribes to identify the precise type of vessel described in the full text immediately preceding each one, even before they bothered reading the descriptive text. That this is a very clever indexing system goes without saying. And it re-appears over and over on so many tablets that it is without question one of the hallmarks of the Linear B syllabary. Finally, their numeric accounting system was the most efficient ever devised in the ancient world. Summarizing all of the streamlined characteristics of Linear B we have just enumerated, it becomes obvious that Linear B was, first and foremost, a carefully devised form of shorthand for Mycenaean Greek. Once again, the Mycenaean scribes anticipated a methodology for writing business transactions which would not re-appear as modern shorthand – you guessed it – until the nineteenth century AD.

All of this adds up to one inescapable conclusion: Linear B was the world’s fist ever commercial shorthand, and until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was nothing even remotely as efficient, logical and practical ever to be found throughout history until... the modern era. This is precisely why I am so in awe of Linear B, a script which was millennia ahead of its time. It is also why I refuse to characterize Linear B as being prehistoric. It is nothing of the sort. It is in a word, a proto-historic writing and accounting system, leading me to the inexorable conclusion that Minoan/Mycenaean society was in fact not prehistoric at all, but proto-historic. I am not the first linguist specializing in ancient linguistics to have asserted this claim, but I am the first to speak up as emphatically and unequivocally as this.        

This then has been a brief summary of the functions and the key rôle supersyllabograms play in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B.


Richard   

        
  

Two maps of Mycenaean Greece, the Second Illustrating the Mycenaean Empire’s Extensive Trade Routes

Map of Mycenaean Greece and the Orient ca 1450 BCE

Click to ENLARGE this map of the Mycenaean Empire’s Trade Routes:

Map of Mycenaean Greece ca 1250 BCE

It is perfectly clear from this map that the extent of the Mycenaean Empire was as vast as that of the great Athenian Empire some 700-800 years after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE. While the actual epicentres of these two great Greek empires, that of Mycenae, the earliest of them all, and that of Athens, were not the same (which goes without saying), amazingly their network of trade routes extended to virtually the same places, some very far away, especially in light of the great difficulties encountered by ancient Bronze and Iron age mariners in their little ships on the high seas. The very fact that they, the Mycenaeans,the Egyptians, the Athenians, the Romans and everyone else in the ancent world had to do all of their international trading in the spring, summer and early autumn, when the Mediterranean Sea was relatively calm speaks volumes to the wide extent and the robust economic strength of their trade routes.  We see here that the Mycenaean trade routes did in fact reach as far as and apparently even beyond Sicily, astonishing as that seems, as well as all the way to Egypt. The Minoan Empire had previously carried on a hefty trade relationship with Egypt before them.

Richard


A Series of Maps of the Minoan & Mycenaean Empires, Some with New Toponyms Seen for the First Time

Our first map is of the principal Minoan cities and settlements, with the locations of the major palaces in the Late Minoan Era (LM Ia – LMII, ca. 1550 -1450 BCE) Click to ENLARGE:

Map of Minoan settlements Minoan Empire

It was over the last half of the sixteenth & the first half of the fifteenth century that the Minoan civilization made the swift switchover from using the as yet undeciphered Linear A syllabary to writing Mycenaean Greek in Linear B. Whether or not Knossos itself was conquered by the Mycenaeans around 1500 BCE is a question entirely open to conjecture. Many historians are quite convinced it was, but I personally am not so convinced. However, you should take my opinion with a large grain of salt, as I am a linguist and not a historian!

The largest Minoan palaces after that of Knossos, the capital city of the Minoan Empire, with a population estimated to have been somewhere around 55,000 (a huge city for the Bronze age!) were those at Phaistos & Zakros. All of the palaces illustrated on this map have been thoroughly excavated, and they have yielded inestimable treasures of Linear A & B tablets, magnificent Minoan frescoes and art, bronze ware of all sorts (weaponry, utensils etc.), pottery and so on. If you have already had the opportunity to visit any of these magnificent sites (as I have, seeing Knossos in May 2012), you will know to what heights the Minoan Empire and their highly cultured civilization aspired. They (the Minoans) were so cultivated and refined that they virtually outclassed and outshone all other contemporary Bronze Age empires, and that includes, to my mind at least, Egypt! In fact, the Mycenaeans, shortly after arrival at Knossos, imitated lock-stock-and-barrel, the brilliant architecture and the entire repertoire of military expertise, the arts and crafts and every other area of the prosperous Minoan agri-economy. Their tribute to the Minoans could not have been more profound than that of the Romans to the Greeks some 1,000 years or more later on.  It was that kind of phenomenon, nothing less.

All of these maps, as well as all of the maps in the next few posts, also appear on the following PINTEREST Boards,

MycenaeanPIN


Knossos & Mycenae Sister Civilizations


AncientSeaPeople


Richard

A KEY TO THE MINOAN ECONOMY? An emphatic YES. 21,904 sheep in one place? Guess where... (Click to ENLARGE):

Knossos KN 162a D b

Knossos, of course! I have a number of relevant comments to make on this fascinating numeric tablet, which is is typical of the scads of numeric tablets the Minoan scribes (mostly at Knossos) produced for inventory, just as they did with pretty much every other agricultural animals or crops, or economic merchandise or trade in general. One of my comments in particular [2 infra] turns on the possibility, if not probability, that the word in question may even be Minoan! 

Following the NOTES in the illustration above, we notice that:

[1] the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for sheep seem to be meaningless, for lack of context, the usual bugbear that plagues so many Linear B tablets. What these numbers, which seem quite haphazard, refer to is anyone’s guess, but I prefer to think of them as mere practice scribblings. On the other hand, they may refer to the ideogram [3] below. See infra.    

[2] This is undoubtedly the ideogram for “month”. The problem is, what does the supersyllabogram RE immediately preceding it refer to, if not the name of the month itself? And that is just what I take it to mean. The difficulty we are now faced with, what is the name of the month which begins with the first syllable, the syllabogram RE? We cannot assume it is a Classical Greek name for any month, because in the Minoan & Mycenaean era (ca. 1900 BCE – 1200 BCE), Classical Greek month names did not exist. So either the month name referred to here beginning with the supersyllabogram RE is a Mycenaean Greek month name or even a Minoan month name, for the simple reason that the Minoan scribes writing in Mycenaean Greek sometimes very likely transposed (i.e. used) Minoan names for islands, municipalities, names of people, names of the seasons and months etc. This practice, if indeed it was their practice, may very well serve to provide a definite clue to the categories of Minoan vocabulary I refer to above, and then some. It is an approach to the partial decipherment of Linear A we need to take seriously. The problem with supersyllabograms such as RE is that they are only the first syllable of any word they represent, and are thus incapable of revealing what the word behind the supersyllabogram in question refers to, unless we already know the language the supersyllabogram is used for. If the language is Mycenaean Greek in Linear B, then we stand a (usually remote) chance of deciphering the word, but if the word is Minoan, and – I must strongly emphasize this – a Minoan month name written, not in Linear A, but in Linear B (since this is after all a Linear B tablet) we stand no chance whatsoever of deciphering the month name, at least for the present. 
    
[3] This ideogram looks remarkably like the ideogram for “honey”, but wait! Hold on now! Does that make any sense at all in the context of this tablet, which otherwise and principally provides meaningful statistics on sheep, and nothing else? So it appears that suggesting this is the ideogram for “honey” may be stretching the limits of credibility, especially in light of the fact that the numbers to the left of the generic ideogram for “sheep” appear haphazard at best, hence, probably meaningless, except as (practice) doodles. There is simply no way of knowing.   

[4] The scribe appears to have effaced the lower half of this 1K (1,000), but I prefer to assume that he did so in error. If not, then the total number of sheep would be 21,804 rather than 21,904, as if that makes much of a difference! It is still a helluva lot of sheep. 

[5] This modified ideogram for “person”, in which the person appears to be holding a spear or something of that ilk, poses a few problems, none of them insurmountable, and any of which may be valid in the context of this tablet. First of all, why would a person hanging around sheep bear a spear, except to chase off predators such as wolves? If we assume that this modified ideogram actually means “shepherd”, then the problem almost resolves itself. Almost. The difficulty now is, what is the shepherd holding? It certainly could still be a spear, but shepherds usually hold staffs, and so that it what I take it to mean for this modified ideogram, unless... this is the signature of the scribe, which is an entirely plausible alternative. So this ideogram could mean 1 of 3 things. Take your pick.

Last, but far from least, we are still left with two nagging questions. How is it possible that this tablet, in combination with the 5 tablets on rams from Knossos, all 6 of them, can yield a mind-boggling total of over 45,000 sheep?  Was the even countryside around Knossos capable of sustaining such an immense number of livestock, let alone only sheep, not counting bulls & cows, horses etc. etc.? What is going on here? Have our assiduous scribes gone overboard?  The answer is simply, no. The second part of our question must reference the time, i.e. the year, season or month each and every one of these tablets was composed. This is no idle matter for speculation. The tablet in this post seems to refer only to the month RE, though only on the left side of the ideogram for sheep, leaving us with the question whether the rest of the tablet dealing only with sheep to the right of the ideogram for sheep, refers to the same time period, i.e. on month, that month being RE. It could go either way. But once again, we shall never know.

It simply strikes me as a little odd, in fact bordering on the ridiculous, that there would be 45,000 sheep around Knossos all at once! However, the explanation for this oddity follows. Once we clear that up, we can then conclude, within reasonable parameters, that there more than likely were never as many as 45,000 sheep wandering around, stinking up the countryside, and posing an awful environmental hazard to the city of Knossos. Otherwise, the city, as prosperous and as clean as the Minoans were, would never have survived more a few years. But ostensibly it did. I have addressed this issue before in posts where I refer to the strong likelihood that the Minoans, being the advanced civilization they were, were not only plainly familiar with the basic principles of hydrology and plumbing (which they most certainly were), but equally with the principles and practice of crop rotation and even rotation of animals in husbandry. If we allow for this scenario, then there would more likely than not, be far fewer than 45,000 sheep hanging around Knossos in any given running or fiscal year, though how many there would be we can never know... except that, given the fact that almost all sheep-related tablets from Knossos itself rarely inventory fewer than 5,000 sheep on any one tablet. So we can at least speculate an annual figure of some 5,000-10,000 sheep, if nothing else.      
     
And who is to say this tablet, and any or all of the remaining tablets, were inscribed in the same year? Again, no idle question, for two inescapable reasons.

[1] The Minoan scribes kept annual statistics for absolutely anything and everything they inventoried, and erased the very same tablets on which these annual statistics were inscribed, and replaced the whole shebang with the new statistics for the next fiscal year for the same inventories of whatever they were recording (sheep, rams, ewes, cows, bulls, horses, chariots, armour, vessels and vases of all kinds, cloth, jewelry, you name it, the list goes on and on and on). In other words, putting it in a nutshell, there is simply no way of determining whether any or all of these 6 tablets in this and the previous post originate from the same “wetos” or “running year” = fiscal year, as the Minoan scribes so aptly called each inventory year.

[2] Add on top of this scenario the fact that all 4,000 or so of the tablets at Knossos were unearthed from the rubble of either a massive earthquake or the destruction of the city by invasion (the place is scarred with burns), or both, how can anyone be sure that any fragments laying side-by-side in the messy rubble on any aspect of Minoan life whatsoever, are from the same year, let alone the same category of inventory shelves on which they were almost certainly stored according to some classification system making it easy for the scribes to retrieve any tablet on any aspect of the Minoan agri-economy for any given running year, i.e. fiscal year? Once again we are at an impasse, up against a solid (or if you like, crumbling) brick wall.  The likelihood that there is a strong relationship, some sort of relationship, or little relationship at all between one tablet and the next lying beside aside in the rubble that Sir Arthur Evans and company had to all too meticulously and cautiously rummage through remains an open question at best. True enough, as I have myself discovered in certain sequential ranges of tablets and fragments in Scripta Minoa, there are several instances in which the tablets in a particular entirely intact series, say speculatively, KN 1610 – KN 1654, for the sake of argument, all deal with the very same aspect of the Minoan agri-economy, for instance, sheep, rams and ewes, but even when they do, there is still absolutely no guarantee that any of these intact sequences all deal with the same running or fiscal year. And all too many adjacent tablets are not directly related. So we are left with the same enigma we were confronted with in the first place. 

Richard


Where are all these tens of thousands of rams from? Guess. One guess & you’re right! Click to ENLARGE:

Knossos KN 917 1088 1089 1090 1096

As I pointed out in great detail in a previous post, the Minoan/Mycenaean economy ca. 1450 BCE, with its home base at the city of Knossos itself, spread out its sheep husbandry locales among several key sites, notably, Kytaistos, Phaistos & Lykinthos, mentioned 20 times each, Exonos 15 times, Davos 14, Lato & Syrimos 12, Lasynthos 9, Sugrita 8, Tylisos (or Tyllisos) 5 & Raia 3 times. But Knossos is never mentioned at all! All of this is threshed out in the previous post, CRITICAL Post: The Minoans Counted Sheep While They Were Wide Awake,

https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/vital-post-the-minoans-counted-sheep-while-they-were-wide-awake-big-time/

which I strongly suggest you read, if you are at all fascinated by the Minoan economy and their international trade, especially in the area of sheep raising and husbandry, which was the vital underpinning of their entire subsistence as a people, outweighing by far all other economic activities of any kind whatsoever.  

Regardless of the fact that the scribes at Knossos never mention the city as a sheep raising site, it was in fact the primary locale for sheep husbandry, for the simple, plain reason that only a city of this size, with a population probably in excess of 50,000, enormous for the ancient world, had the human and land resources to accommodate such huge numbers of sheep as illustrated above, i.e. 24,000 at the very minimum, and only on these 5 tablets! In the next post, I shall post a Linear B tablet from Knossos, in which the numbers of sheep mentioned will literally blow you away!

If anyone thinks even for a moment that any of the other sheep raising locales mentioned at the outset of this post had anywhere near the land space and human resources sufficient to raise such huge numbers of sheep, that person is probably deluding him- or herself.

We are left with one bizarre mystery. The only thing that utterly baffles me is, where are all the ewes! That question, not a rhetorical question at all, begs the issue. I simply cannot figure this out for the life of me. How can you raise any new sheep, i.e. newborns, if there are no ewes around! If anyone has any suggestions or comments whatsoever to help us unravel this plainly weird mystery, be my guest!

Richard


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

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

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

Linear B Tablets Knossos sheep rams ewes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Linear B Show & Tell # 3:  Axes & (Temple of the) Double Axes & their Relgious Symbolism: (Click to ENLARGE)

A akosono dapu dapuritoyo axes (temple of the) double axes

If anything, the symbolism if the “axe” and especially of the “double axe” is one of the major underpinnings of Minoan/Mycenaean religion. We find axes and double axes all over the place on Minoan and Mycenaean frescoes, regardless of site, Knossos, Mycenae, Pylos etc.  If ever you visit Knossos, you will see for yourself the famous Temple of the Double Axes. Although the lower story is sealed off, if you look down, you will see a lovely frieze of horizontal double axes on the back wall of the lower story. To this day, no-one really knows the true significance of the symbol of the axe or double axe in Minoan or Mycenaean mythology. They pose a real dilemma. Since the Minoans at Knossos were a peaceable people, why would they plaster double axes all over the walls of a building which we take to be the Temple of the Double Axes (erroneously or not)?

In Mycenae, however, the symbol of the axe or double axe makes perfect sense, as the Mycenaeans were a warlike people. The simplest explanation I can come up with is that the Mycenaeans exported the axe and double axe to Knossos after their conquest or occupation of the city. And no-one is quite sure if the Mycenaeans actually did conquer Knossos, or whether the two “city states” allied in order to greatly strengthen their hand as a unified Empire in the economic and trading affairs of the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean seas ca. 1500-1200 BCE. Of course, Knossos (Late Minoan III Palatial Period) itself fell sometime around 1450-1400 BCE, but the great Mycenaean Empire persisted until ca. 1200 BCE, after which the Nordic Dorians invaded the entire Greek peninsula, the Peloponnese, leaving the Mycenaean “city states” in ruins. It is entirely probable that the Minoan-Mycenaean Empire ca. 1500-1400 BCE rivalled the Egyptian Empire in the scope of its power. Almost certainly the Mycenaeans were actively trading with civilizations along the East coast of Greece and inland, Athens and Thebes (the latter being a Mycenaean stronghold) and with the city of Troy and the inhabitants along the West coast of what we now know as Turkey. What is particularly fascinating and (highly) revealing in the historical perspective of the rise of ancient Greece is that the new Greek colonies which spread all over the Aegean in the 7th. and 6th.  centuries BCE flourished in precisely the same places where the Mycenaeans had carried on such extensive trade some 6 to 10 centuries earlier! There is more to this than meets the eye, as we shall eventually discover in key posts on this blog later this year or sometime in 2015.

Other omnipresent religious symbols included the Horns of Consecration at Knossos, and the Snake Goddess & the goddess Pipituna at both Knossos and Mycenae.

Richard

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