Tag Archive: Egyptian

Total number of words derived from languages antecedent to Linear A in Linear A: 

banner antecedents to Linear A in Linear A
Below we find the potential total of the number of words derived from languages antecedent to Linear A in Linear A. This figure = 87 or 8 % of Linear A may need to be revised downwards upon re-checking each word against each and every Linear A tablet on which it may appear.
This is also true of the total of 305 = 28 % of the Greek-like words in the previous post. It is likely that the grand total of 36 % will thus also eventually need to be revised downwards. I will only be able to verify the final results after the exercise of cross-correlation with Linear A tablets, prior to the publication of the Revised Linear A Lexicon early in 2018.

Akanu/Akanuzati  PGS TOP A0rxa/nej = Archanes (Crete) – or- a large bowl, from Semitic akanu
akara/akaru = akaras/akarus NM a1kra - or - = end, border + akaru a0gro/j = field, from Hittite, akkala = furrow  
ama OM = armas = moon? (Hittite/Luwian origin?)
ana not NM a0na/ ana = upwards, above, through; according to etc. OM = tin, from Hittite, anna, Akkadian, anaku 
api NM a0spi/j = shield – or- OM plough, from Hittite apin  = 5
Arenesidi  ONO = for Nesidis (Hittite)
ari/arinita OM = flower? + arinata = flowery, from Hittite alil 
arisu OM = cow or bull or ox, permuted. See also qaqaru, riruma
asadaka asadakas MOSE NM a1staxa <- a1staxu (Minoan nom. sing.)= ear of corn
asamune OM = goblet, from Semitic assummun 
Asara2 TOP = Linear B Asaro A0sa/roj -or- may refer to Assur, hence Assyria -or- asara2 (asarai) = without flax – or- OM = white, from Hittite asara = 10
asasarame NM? Used in conjuction with the Mycenaean attempt to translate the name of the Minoan goddess, Atana, Greek Athena A-ta-no-dju-wa-ja – or- Asherah (Semitic) 
asijaka – used in conjunction with – uminasi – OM asijaka = entrance to a port? - or- Sfardak = from Sardis (Luwian)
asona = possibly Asona peoples of Africa, whose totem is a crow or snake, thus possibly snake. atu NM a1stu/ = town See also Luwian atiwati = in the town
daka/daki/daku/dakuna/dakusene(ti) (last agglutinative) OM = black? (Luwian, dakkuis) + Dakusene OM ONO Cf. Takusenni (Khurritic)
damate PGS NM Da/mate = Damater Cf. Linear B Damate Cf. damate = Earth Mother = 15 (Pelasgian) - or- da/matei = in the village 
darunete – See also dirunete. See also Hittite, daru = tree, wood
depa/depu PGS de/paj de/pu= cup Cf. Linear B dipa di/paj & Homeric de/pa (Luwian = bowl, cup)
dideru OM PGS = einkorn wheat – or- oats (Semitic) Cf. Linear B didero
etori NM? e1tori <- e1toj = for a year – or – OM = food, from Hittite etri
Idamate/Idamete PGS ONO  0Idama/te = Mother goddess of Mount Ida  Cf. Idaian Mother (Pelasgian) = 20
ija OM = ram from Hittite iya
jako/jaku/jakute OM = grain? from Hittite, halki
Kanijami ONO Kaniamis fem. (Ugaritic)
kanuti OM ONO = Kanuties (Phrygian)
karopa2 (karopai) OM = kylix with 2 handles-or- MOSE NM ka/rdoph = wooden vessel/vase – or – karpu = vessel name (Semitic) = 25
kataro NM ka/nqa=roj = scarab (Egyptian) + drinking cup
kiro/kirisi/kiru OM = deficit, owed Cf. Linear B oporo = they owed Cf. kilu, kalum = deficit (Semitic)
kunisu OM = emmer wheat (derivation: Semitic kunnisu) 
kupa/kupi NM ku=fa/ ku=fi/ <- ku=fo/j = bent, curved, with something bent, possibly a scythe. See also – kupaja (genitive singular) – below – or – OM cypergrass, henna (Semitic)
Kupa3nu OM ONO (Ugaritic) = 30
kupari OM = legume. Cf. gopali = annual legume (Sanskrit)
kuro/kurotu NM ku=roj = supreme power, authority & ku=rwn = reaching, attaining i.e. = total Cf. Linear B tosa to/sa Cf. kol = total (Semitic)
mana/manapi (common) PGS Hebrew manna= = (of spiritual food) bread from heaven, the supernatural food eaten by the Israelites in the desert, or simply bread” -or- Mana = Minos (Luwian)   
maro/maru/maruku/maruri NM  mallo/j = flock of wool Cf. Linear B mali mali/ = wool  = 410
masa/masaja NM ma/=ssa  ma/=ssaia <= ma/=sswn = larger, bigger  - 0r – OM = goat, from Hittite, mas = 35
matiti OM = with a mat? (instrumental sing.) Cf. matta (Phoenician)
Mekidi ONO Megi/di <- Me/gaj = the Great – or – OM = income, revenue, from Hittite melkitu 
mesiki -or- sikime -or- kimesi etc. LIG  Cf. Hittite, mekki = much, many  
midai OM = red, from Hittite mida = red, ochre
minute (sing. minuta2 – minutai) OM = pulse crop, any one of broad beans (faba/fava), chick peas, lentils or vetch (permuted) See minutum = standard type of grain (Semitic) = 40
nesa/nesaki/nesakimi + OM nesidi = Hittite (Pelasgian) 
Paito NM1 Phaistos Faisto/j = Phaistos Cf. Linear Paito Faisto/j See also Payata (Luwian) = paka OM =  (very common)/paku (very common)/pakuka Cf. pancha  = drink from alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices (Sanskrit) – or – OM = whole, entire, from Hittite, panku
paku NM paxu/j = great, large; rich, wealthy – or- OM, paku, = holy, sacred from Hittite, parkui
para NM para\ = beside, from beside, by the side of, beyond etc. - or- viceroy, prince -or- double axes (Luwian)
pata/patada/pataqe/patu OM = small handle-less cups Cf. Linear B dipa anowe, dipa anowoto Cf. pataqu = wine cup (Semitic) = 45
pisa OM TOP?  Cf. Luwian, Pisaru = Pisaros
potokuro NM poto/n +  ku/rwn = reaching a full drink, a full draught (agglutinative) – used with no. 65 – or – OM = grand total Cf. putu kol = grand total (Semitic)
punikaso PGS NM funi/kasoj = crimson, red (of wine) Cf. Linear B ponikiya ponikiyo foini/kioj = crimson Cf. Phoenician
qaqaru OM = a livestock animal, probably a cow or bull or ox – or – talent (gold) (Pelasgian)
qati/qatiki OM = portion Cf. bhakti = portion Sanskrit)
qera2u/qera2wa/qera2ja... (truncated)  OM = a type of grain, probably millet or spelt (inflected) – or – toasted grain, from Semitic qalu = 50
qeria/qeriu OM = probably millet or spelt – or - – or – toasted grain, from Semitic qalu
qero NM be/loj = arrow, dart -or- beryl	vaidūrya (Sanskrit, Dravidian)
qeti (instr. sing.)/qetiradu OM/PGS = a very large pot, pithos Cf. Linear B PGS qeto pi/qoj
qetune/qitune OM = linen, from kutum (Semitic)   
raki/rakii/rakisi/raku OM = lacquer Cf. lākṣā (Sanskrit)
ruqa/ruqaqa (common) OM = to kindle? from Hittite ruki ?
saka sakas NM sa/kka <- sa/kkoj = coarse cloth of hair from goats; sackcloth -or- sa/ka <- sa/koj a shield made of wicker See also saqqu (Akkadian) See also – saqa – below = 55
saqa saqas OM = sack Cf. saqqu (Akkadian)
saro/saru/sarutu NM sa/ron = broom, threshing floor -or- flax (inflected) – or- barley, from saru (Semitic)
sasaja OM = of a seal, from Luwian, sasa = seal
sasara(me) OM ONO = Sasarah (a god) from Asherah (Lycian)  
sato/sata PGS Hebrew sa/ton = Hebrew unit of measurement = 60
semetu PGS ONO= Semitic?
sija NM si/a <- si/a = goddess – or- seed, from Hittite siya
suniku (common) NM su/noiku <- su/noikoj  living together, joint inhabitant,  dweller
supa3 (supai)/supa3ra (supaira) OM =small cup with handles Cf. Linear B dipa mewiyo – or -   sapu = vessel name  (Semitic)
supi/supu/supu2 OM = largest size pithos but not MOSE NM supu/h sipu/h sipu/a i0pu/a = meal tub, because no tablet justifies this interpretation – or- sappu = bowl (Semitic)
takaa/takari = large container for liquid Cf. tadaga-m (Sanskrit) = 65
taki/taku/takui NM ta=xei/ <- ta=xu/j = quick, swift, speedy -or- with a large container
for liquid (instr. singular) Cf. tadaga-m (Sanskrit) – or – OM = tax, from Hittite taksessar = tax
tara = possibly a cat/also zatara,  found in modern English

taro MOSE NM tau=roj = bull – or- OM = tree, from Hittite, taru = tree

tenita(ki) OM Tanit, Tinnit (Semitic) = 70
teri/teridu OM = three, from Hittite teriyas
terota -or- rotate -or- tatero etc. LIG – variation of the above?
terusi OM = delivery (Akkadian/Luwian) (extremely common) 
tiditeqati (agglutinative) rel. Cf. qati above 
tinata (common)/tinita OM =  tithe (Luwian)  = 75
titiku OM = ONO = Titiku = Titis (Pelasgian)
toreqa OM = ball of wool? (from Luwian, tolype?) 
Utinu OM ONO = personal name Cf. itti (Proto-Canaanite) 
Wadunimi TOP = the place or town of Waduna? (locative sing.?) Cf. Badunimis (Pelasgian)

wasato NM #a/stu a1stu = town Cf. Lnear B wato #a/stu. See also, Luwian, ati wati = in the town) = 80

winu NM #i/nu = wine Cf. Linear B wono  #oi/noj Cf. Luwian wainu & Hittite, wiyana
witero = with, found in modern English
zute NM  zu=qe <- ζῦθος = with beer  See also Hittite, sessar= beer

TOTAL number of words from languages antecedent to Linear A in Linear A = 83/1076
Percentage of of words from languages antecedent to Linear A in Linear A = 8 %
TOTAL  percentage of all words (Greek-like) and from languages antecedent to Linear A in Linear A = 28 % + 8 % = 36 %

CRITICAL POST: Ancient words from 3,000 – 1,200 BCE in modern English:

First the ancient words in modern English, and in the next two posts, how words infiltrate from earlier to diachronically close later languages. These posts are real eye-openers, explaining how words from earlier languages trickle into later, e.g. Akkadian and Sanskrit into Linear A (Minon) and Linear B (Mycenaean) + how all of the ancient words here infiltrate English.

Akkadian/Assyrian (3,000 BCE):


babel babilu = Babylon; gate of God (Akkadian)

bdellium budulhu = pieces (Assyrian)

canon, canyon qanu = tube, reed (Assyrian)

cumin kumunu = carrot family plant (Akkadian)

natron sodium (Akkadian)

myrrh murru (Akkadian)

sack saqqu (Akkadian)

shalom = hello sholom/shlama = hello (also Hebrew)

souk saqu = narrow (Akkadian)

Semitic (2,000-1,000 BCE):

arbiter arbiter (Latin from Phoenician)

byssus bwtz = linen cloth, to be white (Semitic)

chemise gms = garment (Ugaritic)

deltoid dalt (Phoenician)

fig pag (paleo-Hebrew)

iotacism iota (Phoenician)

map (Phoenician)

mat matta (Phoenician)

shekel tql (Canaanite)

Egyptian (2690 BCE):

Egyptian-Papyrus 19k BCE






baboon 5

barge, bark, barque, to embark




chemistry 10

copt, coptic




endive 15





lily 20





myth 25





phoenix 30



sack See also saqqu (Akkadian)


Susan(na), Phineas, Moses, Potiphar, Potiphera 35


stibium = eye paint


uraeus (emblem on the headdress of the pharaoh)39

Sanskrit (2,000 BCE):


aniline nili (Sanskrit)

Aryan aryas = noble, honourable

atoll antala

aubergine vātigagama = eggplant, aubergine

avatar avatara = descent

bandana bandhana = a bond

banyan vaṇij = merchant

basmati vasa

beryl vaidūrya (Sanskrit, Dravidian)

bhakti bhakti = portion

candy khaṇḍakaḥ, from khaṇḍaḥ = piece, fragment

cashmere shawl made of cashmere wool

cheetah chitras = uniquely marked

chintz chitras = clear, bright

cot khatva

cobra kharparah = skull

crimson krmija = red dye produced by a worm

crocus kunkunam = saffron, saffron yellow

datura dhattūrāh = a kind of flowering plant

dinghy dronam = tiny boat

ginger srngaveram, from srngam “horn” + vera = body

guar gopali = annual legume

gunny goni = sack

guru gurus = bachelor

jackal srgalah = the howler

Java/java = island/coffee Yavadvipa= Island of Barley, from yava

= barley + dvipa =island

juggernaut jagat-natha-s = lord of the world

jungle jangala = arid

jute jutas = twisted hair

karma karman = action

kermes kṛmija = worm-made

lacquer lākṣā

lilac nila = dark blue

loot lotam = he steals

mandala mandala = circle

mandarin mantri = an advisor

mantra mantras = holy message or text

maya maya = illusion

Mithras mitrah = friend

mugger makara = sea creature, crocodile

musk mus = mouse

nard naladam = nard

nirvanas nirvanas = extinction, blowing out (candle)

opal upalah = opal

orange narangas = orange tree

pal bhrata = brother

palanquin palyanka = bed, couch

panther pāṇḍara = pale

pepper pippali = long pepper

punch pancha = drink from alcohol, sugar, lemon, water,

tea or spices

pundit paṇdita =learned

rajah rajan = king

rice vrihi-s = rice, derived from proto-Dravidian

rupee rūpyakam =silver coin

saccharin sarkarā

sandal wood candanam = wood for burning incense

sapphire sanipriya = sacred to Shani (Sanskrit) = Greek,


sari sati = garment

shawl sati = strip of cloth

sugar sharkara = ground sugar

swami svami = master

tank tadaga-m =pond, lake pool, large artificial

container for liquid

thug sthaga = scoundrel

tope stupah

yoga yogas = yoke, union

yogi yogin = one who practices yoga, ascetic

zen dhyana = meditation

Linear A (1,800-1,500 BCE):

linear a tablet kh5 khania

cedar keda = cedar

cumin kuminaqe = and cumin See also Linear B kumino

kumi/non Cf. kumunu = carrot family plant


lily rairi (also Egyptian) -or- nila = dark blue


pimento			pimata = pimento
rose				rosa  = rose 
sack				saka sa/kka  <- sa/kkoj = coarse cloth of hair from 
				goats; sackcloth -or- sa/ka <- sa/koj a shield made
				of wicker See also saqqu = sack (Akkadian)

Linear A & Linear B (1,800-1,200 BCE):

Linear B tablet with ideogram

agriculture akara/akaru a1kra (arch. acc.) – or – = end, border

+ akaru a0gro/j = field Cf. Linear B akoro a0gro/j

democracy		dima/dimaru dh=maj <- dh=moj = land, country;
				people Cf. Linear B	damo = village da=moj
				Mother goddess of Mount Ida	Idamate/Idamete
Rhea, goddess of Mount Ida Idarea  0Idar9ea 
healer			ijate i0a/ter = doctor, physician Cf. Linear iyate
calligraphy		karu = ka/llu <- ka/lloj = beautiful, fine,
copper			kaki/kaku xalku/ <- xalko/j = copper, bronze
crimson			punikaso funi/kasoj = crimson, red (of wine)
				Cf. Linear B ponikiya ponikiyo foini/kioj
				= crimson Cf. krmija = red dye produced by a
				worm (Sanskrit)
crocus			kuruku kro/koj = crocus, saffron Cf. crocus
				kunkunam = saffron, saffron yellow (Sanskrit)
Lykinthos			Rukito Cf. Linear B Rukito Lu/kinqoj
minth			mita mi/nqa = mint Cf. Linear B mita 
nard				naridi na/ridi <- na/rdoj = with nard. See also
				naladam (Sanskrit)
new				nea ne/a (feminine) = new Cf. Linear B ne/#a = new     
pistachio-nut		pitakase/pitakesi pista/kesi = with pistachio-nuts
				(instr. pl.) 
Phoenician		punikaso funi/kasoj = crimson, red (of wine)
				Cf. Linear B ponikiya ponikiyo foini/kioj
				= crimson Cf. krmija = red dye produced by a
				worm (Sanskrit)
Phaistos			Paito Faisto/j Cf. Linear Paito 
Rhea			rea r9e/a = goddess, Rhea
sack				saka sa/kka (arch. acc.) <- sa/kkoj = coarse cloth of
				hair from goats; sackcloth -or- sa/ka <- sa/koj
				a shield made of wicker Cf. See also
				saqqu (Akkadian)
sesame			sasame sasa/me = sesame Cf. Linear B sasa/ma
terebinth tree		tarawita = terebinth tree Cf. Linear B kitano 
				ki/rtanoj & timito ti/rminqoj 
thalassian		tarasa = sea Cf. Linear B tarasa qa/lassa
thorax			toraka  qw/rac  = breastplate, cuirass = Linear B
throne			turunu qo/rnoj = throne Cf. Linear B torono
wine 			winu  #i/nu = wine Cf. Linear B wono = wine, vine
wine dedicated to Mother Earth winumatari NM #i/numa/tari = wine
				dedicated	to Mother Earth
yoked			zokutu zogutu/ <- zogwto/j = yoked, with a cross-		
zone				zuma zw=ma girdle, belt; girded tunic 

Mycenaean Linear B (1,600-1,200 BCE):

aeon eo e0wn = being

anemometer anemo a0ne/mwn = wind

angel akero a0ngge/loj = messenger

agora akora a0gora/ = market

axles akosone a1conej = axles

amphorae aporowe a0mfore#ej

armaments amota a3rmo/ta = chariot

anthropology atoroqo a0nqrw/poj = man, human being

aulos (musical instrument)auro a0ulo/j = flute, musical instrument

cardamon kadamiya kardami/a = cardamon

celery serino se/linon = celery

chiton kito xitw/n = chiton

circular kukereu kukleu/j = circle

coriander koriyadana koli/adna

cumin kumino kum/minon Cf. kumunu = carrot family plant


curator korete kore/ter = governor

cypress kuparo ku/pairoj

divine diwo Di/#oj = Zeus

duo dwo du#o/ = two

elephant erepa e0le/faj = ivory (in Mycenaean)

eremite eremo e1remoj = desert

foal poro pw/loj = foal

gynecology kunaya gunai/a = woman

heterosexual hatero a3teroj e3teroj = other

hippodrome iqo i3ppoj = horse

labyrinth dapuritoyo = labyrinth laburi/nqoj

linen rino li/non

lion rewo le/#wn = lion

mariner marineu marineu/j = sailor, mariner

maternal matere ma/ter = mother

Mesopotamia Mesopotomo Mesopota/moj = Mesopotamia

metropolis matoropuro matro/puloj = mother city

nautical nao nau/j = ship

non-operational noopere nwfe/lioj = useless

operation opero o1feloj = operation

paternal pate pa/ter = father

paramedic 		para para\ = beside, from beside, by the side of,
				beyond etc.
pharmaceutical	pamako fa/rmakon = medicine
polypod			porupode polu/pode polu/pouj = octopus
progressive		poro pro\ = in front of 
purple			popureyo pofurei/a = purple
quartet			qetoro tetta/rej = four

schinus kono skoi/noj (flowering pepper)

strategic tatakeu startageu/j = general

stylobate			tatamo staqmo/j = standing post, door post
temenos			temeno (piece of land assigned as an official
				domain (to royalty)
theological		teo qe/oj = god
trapeze			topeza to/rpeza tra/peza = table
tripod			tiripode tri/pwj = tripod
vision			wide #ei/de = to see 
xenophobic		kesenuwiyo ce/n#ioj = stranger

© by Richard Vallance Janke 2017

Wikipedia: History of beer + the Minoan words for beer = zute and kiretaiwinu finally deciphered: 

the supersyllaogram TE in Linear A

From Wikipedia: History of beer

wikipedia the history of beer

As almost any cereal containing certain sugars can undergo spontaneous fermentation due to wild yeasts in the air, it is possible that beer-like beverages were independently developed throughout the world soon after a tribe or culture had domesticated cereal. Chemical tests of ancient pottery jars reveal that beer was produced as far back as about 7,000 years ago in what is today Iran. This discovery reveals one of the earliest known uses of fermentation and is the earliest evidence of brewing to date. In Mesopotamia, the oldest evidence of beer is believed to be a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicting people drinking a beverage through reed straws from a communal bowl.

ancient depictions of beer consumption and brewing a

A 3900-year-old Sumerian poem honouring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing, contains the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread. 

In Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq), early evidence of beer is a 3900-year-old Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing, which contains the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread. Approximately 5000 years ago, workers in the city of Uruk were paid by their employers in beer.

Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.

Beer was part of the daily diet of Egyptian pharaohs over 5,000 years ago. Then, it was made from baked barley bread, and was also used in religious practices. During the building of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, each worker got a daily ration of four to five liters of beer, which served as both nutrition and refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids' construction.

ancient depictions of beer consumption and brewing b

The Greek writer Sophocles (450 BCE) discussed the concept of moderation when it came to consuming beer in Greek culture, and believed that the best diet for Greeks consisted of bread, meats, various types of vegetables, and beer or zythos as they called it. The ancient Greeks also made barley wine (Greek:  – krithinos oinos, “barley wine” mentioned by Greek historian Polybius in his work The Histories, where he states that Phaeacians kept barley wine in silver and golden kraters.

NOTES: The Old Minoan (OM) equivalent of zythos is zute, while the New Minoan (NM) equivalent of krithinos oinos is kiretaiwinu.

TE = tereza OM = standard liquid unit of measurement confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that tereza, was used to measure fig juice, Old Minoan (OM) supersyllabogram = NI, corresponding to the OM word nira2 (nirai) -or- nita2 (nitai) OM = figs + ideogram = NI (in both Linear A & B), as well as for wine = New Minoan winu NM1 #i/nu = wine Cf. Linear B wono #oi/noj, as well as for beer, for which the Minoan words are deciphered for the first time below. Minoan beer was fermented either from barley (kiretai) or from emmer wheat (kunisu).

TE = tereza on Minoan Linear A tablets

HT 6 fi HT 13 wi HT 17 wi HT 19 wi HT 21 gr HT 40 gr HT 44 gr HT 51 fi HT 62 wi HT 67 fi HT 70 fi HT 96 fi HT 133 gr TH 6 te TH Zb 11 wi

fi 5 (fig juice)

wi 5 (wine)

gr 5 (beer, from barley)

The ancient Greek word for beer was ζῦθος (zythos), which appears as zute in Old Minoan (OM) and also κρίθινος οἶνος – krithinos oinos = barley wine. This means that the Minoan word combination for beer was very likely kireta2 (kiretai) NM1 kri/qai = barley + winu NM1 #i/nu = wine Cf. Linear B wono #oi/noj, hence kiretaiwinu = kri/qai#i/nu

Minoan beer was also produced from emmer wheat, kunisu OM = emmer wheat (derivation: Semitic kunnisu)


Tablet, Malia Palace MA/P Hi 02 in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs, dealing with crops and vessels (pottery):

Cretan tablet Malia Palace MAP hi 02

Tablet, Malia Palace MA/P Hi 02 in so-called Cretan hieroglyphs, which are not hieroglyphs at all, but rather ideograms and logograms, is highly intriguing. Actually, this tablet is partially decipherable. The front side definitely deals with the produce of olive trees, i.e. olive oil and also with wheat crops. If anyone is in any doubt over the meaning of the logogram 5. TE, which looks exactly like the Linear A and Linear B syllabogram TE, this doubt can easily be swept away by mere comparison with the logogram/ideogram for wheat in several ancient scripts, some of which are hieroglyphic, such as Egyptian, others which are cuneiform and yet others which bear no relation to either hieroglyphs or cuneiform, or for that matter, with one another, as for instance, the Harrapan and Easter Island exograms.

comparison of Cretan TE with symbol for wheat or barley in various ancient scripts

In fact, the recurrence of an almost identical ideogram/logogram across so many ancient scripts is astonishing. It is for this reason that I am in no doubt over the interpretation of 5. TE as signifying what in the Cretan script.

Next up, we have 3a. & 3b., which I interpret, and probably correctly, as signifying “ewe” and “ram” respectively. In fact, the resemblance of 3b. to a ram’s head is uncanny. What is passingly strange is this: the ram’s head figures so prominently on the second side of the tablet, being much larger than any other ideogram/logogram on the tablet. Why is this so? There simply has to be a reason. But for the time being, I am stumped. Since 3a. & 3b. Relate to sheep, it stands to reason that 6. is another type of livestock. My money is on “pig”. 7. and 9. are both vessels, 7. probably being either a wine or water flask and 9. being a spice container, as it is strikingly similar to the Linear B ideogram for the same. 8. looks like some kind of grain crop, and so I take it to be so.

As for the rest of the ideograms/logograms, they are still indecipherable.

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design

KN 894 An1910_211_o.jpg wheel ZE

In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy?

It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them.

It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the  Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. 

Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.      

And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector.

Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. 

When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must.

A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean):

While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. 

But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others.

So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers.

This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots.

Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia:      

Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened."[6] This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. 

wikipedia historicity
The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias:

approaching history

The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. 

Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era.

If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place.  

How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done.

However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean.

So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts:


as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here:

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 original text Latinized and in archaic Greek
This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here:

Notes on Knossos tablet 894 N v 01 Wheel ZE

and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here:

The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, 

The Greek Age of Bronze chariots

whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate.  

As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here:

wheel rim illustration

Hence my translation here:

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 984 N v 01 Wheel ZE

Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here:

Linear A texts in transciption

I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete.

While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. 

In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts.

So stay posted. 

The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) to parsing scribal hands: Part A: Cuneiform


I propose to demonstrate how geometric co-ordinate analysis of cuneiform, the Edwin-Smith hieroglyphic papyrus (ca. 1600 BCE), Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C can confirm, isolate and identify with great precision the X Y co-ordinates of single characters or syllabograms in their respective standard fonts, and in the multiform cursive “deviations” from their fixed font forms, or to put it in different terms, to parse the running co-ordinates of each character, syllabogram or ideogram of any scribal hand in each of these scripts. This procedure effectively encapsulates the “style” of any scribe’s hand, just as we would nowadays characterize any individual’s handwriting style. This hypothesis constitutes a breakthrough in the application of graphology a.k.a epigraphy based entirely on the scientific procedure of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) of scribal hands, irrespective of the script under analysis.


cuneiform font
Any attempt to isolate, identify and characterize by manual visual means alone the scribal hand peculiar to any single scribe incising a tablet or series of tablets common to his own hand, in other words, in his own peculiar style, has historically been fraught with difficulties. I intend to bring the analysis of scribal hands in cuneiform into much sharper focus by defining them as constructs determined solely by their relative positioning on the X Y axis plane in two-dimensional Cartesian geometry. This purely scientific approach reduces the analysis of individual scribal hands in cuneiform to a single constant, which is the point of origin (0,0) in the X Y axis plane, from which the actual positions of each and every co-ordinate on the positive planes (X horizontally right, Y vertically up) and negative planes (X horizontally left, Y vertically down) are extrapolated for any character in this script, as illustrated by the following general chart of geometric co-ordinates (Click to ENLARGE):

A xy analysis
Although I haven’t the faintest grasp of ancient cuneiform, it just so happens that this lapsus scientiae has no effect or consequence whatsoever on the purely scientific procedure I propose for the precise identification of unique individual scribal hands in cuneiform, let alone in any other script, syllabary or alphabet  ancient or modern (including but not limited to, the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Semitic & Cyrillic alphabets), irrespective of language, and even whether or not anyone utilizing said procedure understands the language or can even read the script, syllabary or alphabet under the microscope.    

This purely scientific procedure can be strictly applied, not only to the scatter-plot positioning of the various strokes comprising any letter in the cuneiform font, but also to the “deviations” of any individual scribe’s hand or indeed to a cross-comparative GCA analysis of various scribal hands. These purely mathematical deviations are strictly defined as variables of the actual position of each of the various strokes of any individual’s scribal hand, which constitutes and defines his own peculiar “style”, where style is simply a construct of GCA  analysis, and nothing more. This procedure reveals with great accuracy any subtle or significant differences among scribal hands. These differences or defining characteristics of any number of scribal hands may be applied either to:

(a)  the unique styles of any number of different scribes incising a trove of tablets all originating from the same archaeological site, hence, co-spatial and co-temporal, or
(b)  of different scribes incising tablets at different historical periods, revealing the subtle or significant phases in the evolution of the cuneiform script itself in its own historical timeline, as illustrated by these six cuneiform tablets, each one of which is characteristic of its own historical frame, from 3,100 BCE – 2,250 BCE (Click to ENLARGE),

B Sumerian Akkadian Babylonian stamping
and in addition

(c)  Geometric co-ordinate analysis is also ideally suited to identifying the precise style of a single scribe, with no cross-correlation with or reference to any other (non-)contemporaneous scribe. In other words, in this last case, we find ourselves zeroing in on the unique style of a single scribe. This technique cannot fail to scientifically identify with great precision the actual scribal hand of any scribe in particular, even in the complete absence of any other contemporaneous cuneiform tablet or stele with which to compare it, and regardless of the size of the cuneiform characters (i.e. their “font” size, so to speak), since the full set of cuneiform characters can run from relatively small characters incised on tablets to enormous ones on steles. It is of particular importance at this point to stress that the “font” or cursive scribal hand size have no effect whatsoever on the defining set of GCA co-ordinates of any character, syllabogram or ideogram in any script whatsoever. It simply is not a factor.

To summarize, my hypothesis runs as follows: the technique of geometric co-ordinate analysis (GCA) of scribal hands, in and of itself, all other considerations aside, whether cross-comparative and contemporaneous, or cross-comparative in the historical timeline within which it is set ( 3,100 BCE – 2,250 BCE) or lastly in the application of said procedure to the unambiguous identification of a single scribal hand is a strictly scientific procedure capable of great mathematical accuracy, as illustrated by the following table of geometric co-ordinate analysis applied to cuneiform alone (Click to ENLARGE):

C geometric co-ordinate analysis of early mesopotamian cuneifrom

The most striking feature of cuneiform is that it is, with few minor exceptions (these being circular), almost entirely linear even in its subsets, the parallel and the triangular, hence, susceptible to geometric co-ordinate analysis at its most fundamental and most efficient level. 

It is only when a script, syllabary or alphabet in the two-dimensional plane introduces considerably more complex geometric variables such as the point (as the constant 0,0 = the point of origin on an X Y axis or alternatively a variable point elsewhere on the X Y axis), the circle and the oblong that the process becomes significantly more complex. The most common two-dimensional non-linear constructs which apply to scripts beyond the simple linear (such as found in cuneiform) are illustrated in this chart of alternate geometric forms (Click to ENLARGE):

D alternate geometric forms
These shapes exclude all subsets of the linear (such as the triangle, parallel, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, ancient swastika etc.) and circular (circular sector, semi-circle, arbelos, superellipse, taijitu = symbol of the Tao, etc.), which are demonstrably variations of the linear and the circular.
These we must leave to the geometric co-ordinate analysis of Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, all of which share these additional more complex geometric constructs in common. When we are forced to apply this technique to more complex geometric forms, the procedure appears to be significantly more difficult to apply. Or does it? The answer to that question lies embedded in the question itself. The question is neither closed nor open, but simply rhetorical. It contains its own answer.

It is in fact the hi-tech approach which decisively and instantaneously resolves any and all difficulties in every last case of geometric co-ordinate analysis of any script, syllabary or indeed any alphabet, ancient or modern. It is neatly summed up by the phrase, “computer-based analysis”, which effectively and entirely dispenses with the necessity of having to manually parse scribal hands or handwriting by visual means or analysis at all. Prior to the advent of the Internet and modern supercomputers, geometric co-ordinate analysis of any phenomenon, let alone scribal hands, or so-to-speak  handwriting post AD (anno domini), would have been a tedious mathematical process hugely consuming of time and human resources, which is why it was never applied at that time. But nowadays, this procedure can be finessed by any supercomputer plotting CGA co-ordinates down to the very last pixel at lightning speed. The end result is that any of an innumerable number of unique scribal hand(s) or of handwriting styles can be isolated and identified beyond a reasonable doubt, and in the blink of an eye. Much more on this in Part B, The application of geometric co-ordinate analysis to Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. However strange as it may seem prima facie, I leave to the very last the application of this unimpeachable procedure to the analysis and the precise isolation of the unique style of the single scribal hand responsible for the Edwin-Smith papyrus, as that case in particular yields the most astonishing outcome of all.

© by Richard Vallance Janke 2015 (All Rights Reserved = Tous droits réservés)

Happy Second Anniversary to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae! Now the largest Linear B blog on the Internet

We are delighted to announce that Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Linear B Knossos & Mycenae May 2015
reaches its second anniversary on May 1 2015.

What have we accomplished in the past two years? A great deal indeed. Here are the highlights.

1. The discovery, extrapolation, collation and classification of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, of which there are 34 (to date) out of 61 syllabograms in Linear B, excluding counting homophones (with the sole exception of RAI = saffron).

2. We have entered into close partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece), here:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies
where we have been assigned our own category for posting on their blog,

Linear B & the Iliad


3. As a direct result of 1. & 2. above, Richard, our blog moderator, has been invited to give his talk

at the Conference, “Thinking Symbols” (June 30-July 2 2015), sponsored by The Association of Historical Studies (Koryvantes), Athens:

Supersyllabograms by Richard Vallance Janke Pultusk Academy Humanities Warsaw

at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, just outside of Warsaw.

Pultusk Academy and logo

His talk, and those of all other presenters at the Conference will be published by the University of Warsaw. The University of Warsaw also plans to publish the General of Supersyllabograms and its application to the translation of some 700+ Mycenaean Linear B tablets across the board, in a book to be titled, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, to appear sometime in 2016.  

4. In the past two years, Richard and his research colleague, Rita Roberts of Crete, have translated in excess of 100 Linear B tablets, most of them from Knossos, along with some from Pylos, Mycenae and Thebes.

5. Richard has compiled the following elements in his ongoing project to reconstruct as much as possible of Mycenaean Greek grammar from the ground up:
5.1 the complete table for the conjugations of the active voice, present, future, imperfect, aorist & perfect of Mycenaean verbs;
5.2 the table of adjectives and nouns ending in the archaic “eus” in the nominative singular.
5.3 Richard plans to continue with the compilation of Mycenaean Greek grammar throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.

6. Richard has translated most of The Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and will finish off his translation this year (2015). This will be followed by his translation of Book I of the Iliad in its entirety (2015-2016).

7. We are in the process of compiling the largest Lexicon of both attested and derived Mycenaean Greek in Linear B ever to have appeared anywhere, in print or on the Internet. We have already finished with the draft of the first Section on Military Affairs, which is to appear on our blog and on the blog of The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens, Greece) sometime in the summer or autumn 2015. It is to be subdivided into several primary Sections, (1) Agriculture (2) Crafts, Trade and Commerce (3) Military Affairs (4) Domestic Affairs, including the production of vessels and pottery & (5) Religious  Affairs. This is such a huge undertaking that it is unlikely that we will be able to complete it before 2018.

8. Richard has offered his services as Professor to Rita Roberts, Crete, who is now in her first year of university, working towards her three-year Bachelor of Arts in Linguists (BAL) in the field of Mycenaean Linear B. Both Rita and I can assure you that the curriculum is of the highest order and extremely demanding. Already, in her first semester of her first year, Rita has been tasked with the tough chore of translating several difficult Linear B tablets from Knossos on military affairs, and this is just the beginning! As far as we can tell, this online university undergraduate course, specifically focusing on Mycenaean Linear B, will be the first ever of its kind ever to have been offered worldwide. I am of course open to inviting others who are seriously committed to learn Mycenaean Linear B, but just as Rita has had to do, new students will have to first finish their secondary school level in Linear B before moving onto university studies. It took Rita two years to fulfill the requirements for a secondary school matriculation in Linear B. This and the full course of studies (secondary school and a bachelor’s degree) requires 5 full years of unstinting commitment to the mastery of Mycenaean Linear B.  At the end of these five years, the student (Rita being our first) will possess the credentials to be an expert in the field.  

9. We have begun posting on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, having already translated 3 tablets in that syllabary. We have also made available for the first time ever the standard keyboard layout for Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, which you may download free at your convenience. We plan on continuing with posts on Linear C throughout 2016 & 2016, eventually tackling the famous Idalion Tablet of the 5th. Century BCE. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the closest cousin dialect to Mycenaean Linear B, will play a significantly greater rôle than it presently does on our blog. Both Linear B and Linear C will be thoroughly cross-compared with the archaic grammar and vocabulary of the Catalog of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, the latter generally being considered as an indirect descendant of the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects, at least in these two respects. This cross-comparative study will help us to properly situate the Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot Greek dialects in the diachronic time line of ancient Greek dialects. 

10. We have begun a thorough-going investigation of the relationship between the Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B syllabaries, which are almost identical in most respects, the latter being derived from the former with other major Bronze Age scripts and alphabets, including the Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew alphabets, soon the Proto-Arabic, and any others which bear up well under comparison with Linear A & Linear B.

12. We have posted some information on Minoan Linear A, but it is not our intention to attempt to decipher this unknown language – at least for the next five years. However, certain aspects of Linear A itself are of prime importance to our concerns, especially its intimate relationship with Linear B, as well as its place in the development of ancient scripts in the context of 10. above.

13. We have begun exploring the possibilities for the application of Linear B & C to extraterrestrial communication. If this sounds wacky or even peculiar to you, think twice. NASA itself has already begun its own investigation of such intriguing prospects for Linear B and Linear C.

As the direct result of our unflagging commitments to these areas of research into Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C and several other areas relating to these, our blog has grown to be the largest on the entire Internet devoted to the study of Mycenaean Linear B. I had hope for 50,000 visitors in the first two years, but these were exceeded, as we have had over 51,000. We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your interest in what is manifestly an extremely specialized and narrow area of interest in the vast sea of linguistics, ancient and modern, and we look forward to seeing more of you visit our site throughout our third year, May 2015-April 2016. I am confident that we shall exceed 100,000 visits by the end of our third year. With our gratitude. Richard 	     


These are the primary concerns of our Blog, but there are others, which are intriguing to special interest groups. Our goals are ambitious but we mean to fulfill them.

At the same time, our Twitter account has attracted some 920 followers, compared with about 500 at the end of first year (May 1 2014). We have sent out over 13,600 tweets in the past 2 years. Click here to visit our Twitter account:

Knossos KONOSO twitter May 2015

Our research colleague, Rita Roberts, now has over 380 followers on her Twitter account, here:

Rita Roberts Twitter

This makes for some 1,300 followers for us both on Twitter, a considerable number indeed, in light of the fact that the study of Linear B and the specialized interests in archaeology and similar arcane fields which Rita follows are rare birds indeed!

I also urge you to follow Rita’s superb blog, here:

Ritaroberts blog May 2015

Finally, we have set ourselves up on Google +, where you can find our page here:

Google + Richard Vallance Janke
We started up on Google + just a couple of months ago, and we already have 383 followers in our Circle.



Quotations from The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, Presentation at the Conference, Thinking Symbols, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015: Part A

Alan Turing

Alan Turing (1923-1954), a world-famous mathematical genius and cryptologist, was head of the team at Bletchley Park in England, which deciphered what was considered at the time to be the uncrackable Enigma Code that German Intelligence used throughout the Second World War for their secret military missions and operations, eventually all to no avail. It is he who said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
... let’s get straight to the point, and look at Slide A, which dramatically illustrates the universal rôle symbols play on physical signs, otherwise known as signage, in our hectic world today.

Slide omitted, to be displayed at the Conference only

Now you will notice that the international standard signage symbols we all my must rely on every day of our lives are of two kinds, (a) nominal (N), meaning symbols which replace the names of places, otherwise known as toponyms, which usually offer us static information & (b) verbal or kinetic (V), which replace actions we must take if we are to avoid unpleasant or disastrous consequences. Here on Slide A we see examples of both static and kinetic symbols or ideograms.

... we need to define in broad terms what a syllabary is, given that all of the signs on this tablet are syllabograms, so that we can interpret the Mycenaean city & settlement codes. This clears the way for a basic understanding of how syllabograms function. Like a script or signary based on ideograms, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics or Chinese ideograms, generally an earlier development than itself, a syllabary is a signary based on syllabograms, each of which consists of a single consonant + a single vowel up to a maximum of 5 vowels in a discrete series, as we see illustrated here in Slide J.

Slide omitted, to be displayed at the Conference only

Mycenaean Linear B, like its immediate predecessor, Minoan Linear A, has a D series, da, de, di, do & du; an N series, na, ne, ni, no & nu, and so on. Some syllabogram series are incomplete, for instance, the W series, wa, we, wi & wo, with four syllabograms & the Z series, za, ze & zo, consisting of three in Linear B. Minoan Linear A and the two archaic Greek pre-alphabetic syllabaries, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C also have syllabograms for each of the 5 vowels. We can see now that a syllabary is generally considered to be the intermediate stage between even more ancient scripts such as Egyptian hieroglyphics on the one hand, and the later Greek alphabet on the other, in so far as it contains both consonant + vowel sequences and the minimal set of 5 vowels, just as all alphabets do right on up from the various avatars of the ancient Greek alphabet to the Cyrillic for many Slavic languages, such as Russian and Ukrainian to the Latin alphabet, from which almost all modern Occidental alphabets are derived. Click to ENLARGE 

hieroglyphics linear b alphabet

The Famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos on Papyrus! Minoan Literature? Did any Exist?

Click to ENLARGE

Replica of the Dolphin Fresco Knossos on papyrus

Here you see a magnificent reproduction of the famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos reprinted on Papyrus, which I purchased for the astonishing price of 10 euros while I was visiting the site on May 2, 2012. The colours on this papyrus version are so vibrant no photograph can fully do justice to them. Nevertheless, the photo turned out wonderfully, and if you would like to use it yourself, please feel free to do so. I even framed it to enhance it.

Papyrus in Minoan/Mycenaean Crete?

The very idea of reprinting one of the amazing Knossos frescoes onto papyrus may seem blasphemous to some, but certainly not to me. It raises the very astute question: did the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, ever produce any literature as such? Consent is almost unanimous on the Internet and in print – No! They did not write any literature. But not so fast! It strikes me as peculiar - indeed very peculiar – that a civilization as advanced and sophisticated as that of Knossos, in both the Minoan Linear A eras (Middle Minoan – early Late Minoan) and in the Mycenaean Linear B era (Late Minoan), may very well have had a literature of its own, for these reasons, if none other:

(a) Creation Myths:

Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites and other proto-literate civilizations, at least had a religious literature, whether or not it was composed on papyrus (as with Egypt), here at Wikipedia:

The sun rises over the circular mound of creation as goddesses pour out the primeval waters around it

Egyptian Creation Myth Sunrise_at_Creation 

or on baked clay tablets, as with the Babylonians, here:

The Enûma_Eliš Epic (Creation Myth) ca. 1,000 lines long on 7 tablets: 

Enûma_Eliš Creation Myth


When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called.

the famous Sumerian Myth of Gilgamesh on 7 Tablets here:

Epic of Gilgamesh

and the Sumerian & Akkadian Myths, including that of Gilgamesh, here:

Akkadian Gilgamesh:

Akkadian cuneiform-gilgamesh

(b) The implications of the astounding achievements of the highly advanced Minoan Civilization for a putative literature of their own:

Just because the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, left behind no literature as such on their administrative inventory tablets, does not necessarily mean that they never wrote any literature at all. That strikes me as bordering on nonsensical, since Knossos always had the closest economic and cultural ties with Egypt and with all of the other great civilizations contemporaneous with her. Egypt, above all, set great store on the inestimable value of Knossian, Minoan and Mycenaean artifacts such as gold, in which the Mycenaean artisans were especially gifted, lapis lazuli, of which the finest quality in the entire known world issued from Knossos; Minoan & Mycenaean pottery and wares, which again were of the most splendid designs; Minoan textiles and dyes, again the finest to be found, and on and on. In fact, the Minoans were rightly renowned as the among the very best dyers in the entire known world.

But why stop there? Why should such an obviously advanced civilization as the Minoan, with its understanding of the basic principles of hydraulics, quite beyond the ken of any other contemporary civilization, and with its utterly unique airy architecture, based on the the most elegant geometric principles, again quite unlike anything else to found in the then-known world, not have a literature of its own? To me, the idea seems almost preposterous.

(c) If the Minoans & Mycenaeans did write any literature, what medium would they most likely have used for it?

The question remains, if they did have a literature of their own, it too was most likely religious in nature. But on what medium would they have written it down? - certainly not on their minuscule tablets, as these were so tiny as to virtually exclude the composition of any religious literature such as that of the origin of mankind (very much in currency at that era in the other civilizations mentioned above). Again, the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B used their tiny tablets solely for ephemeral annual accounting and inventories. Still, I can hear some of you objecting, “But the Babylonians and other civilizations wrote down their creation myths on tablets!” Fair enough. Yet those tablets were larger, and they were deliberately baked to last as long as possible (and they have!), quite unlike the Minoan & Mycenaean ephemeral administrative tablets, which were never baked.  And, as if it isn’t obvious, one civilization is not necessary like another, not even in the same historical era. This is especially so when it comes to the Minoan civilization – and to a very large extent to its cousin, the Mycenaean, versus all others at the time, since clearly the socio-cultural, architectural and artistic defining characteristics of the former (Minoan/Mycenaean) were largely very much at odds with those of the latter, (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria etc.), much more ostentatious than the Minoans... except for one thing...

We are still left with the question of medium. If the Minoans, writing in Linear A and later in Linear B, did have a literature, and let us assume for the sake of argument that they did, which medium would they have used? Before I get right down to that, allow me to point out the Knossos was, as it were, the New York City of the Bronze Age, the metropolis at the very hub of all international trade and commerce on the Mediterranean Sea. All you need to do is look at any map of the Mediterranean, and you can see at a glance that Knossos was located smack dab in the centre of all trade routes to all other great civilizations of her day and age, as we quite clearly see on this composite map: Click to ENLARGE

Minoan Trade Routes 1600-1400 BCE

Is it any wonder that no-one was particularly bent on attacking her, or any other city on the island of Crete, such as Phaistos, since after all everyone everywhere strictly depended on Knossos as the very nexus of international trade? No wonder the city was never fortified. This pretty much how Knossos looked at her height: Click to ENLARGE


No walls or fortifications of any kind in evidence! That alone is a very powerful indicator of the critical commercial value of Knossos as the very hub of international commerce in her era. But more than anywhere else, the archaeological evidence powerfully evinces a very close trade relationship between Knossos and Egypt, since Minoan jewelry, textiles, pottery and wares have shown up in considerable amounts – sometimes even hordes - in Egyptian archaeological sites. The Egyptians clearly placed extreme value on Minoan goods, as exquisitely crafted as they were. So what? - I hear you exclaim.

So what indeed. These major trading partners each must have had something to trade with the other that the other was in desperate need of. And in the case of Knossos and the Minoans, the Egyptian commodity they would probably have needed most of all would be, you have it, papyrus. The Cretan climate was not dry enough for them to produce it themselves. So they would have had to rely exclusively on Egypt for what was, after all, one of the most precious commodities of the entire Bronze Age.

If we accept this hypothesis – and I see no reason why we should not at least seriously entertain it – then the Minoans may very well have used papyrus and ink to record their religious literature. There is some evidence, however second-hand and circumstantial, that they may have composed religious texts, and possibly even a religious epic, on papyrus.

This evidence, although only secondary, if we are inclined to accept it as such – is the high incidence of the names of Minoan and Mycenaean deities and priestesses, and even of religious rites, on the Linear B accounting and inventory tablets from Pylos, over all other Minoan/Mycenaean sites. Why on earth even bother mentioning the names of so many gods so frequently on minuscule tablets otherwise dealing almost exclusively with anything as boring – yet naturally economically vital - as statistics and inventories of livestock, crops, military equipment, vases and pottery, and the like? There was nothing economically useful about religious rites or babbling on about deities. So why bother, unless it was a matter of real significance to the Minoans and Mycenaeans? But ostensibly, it was. Chuck economics, at least where religion is concerned, they apparently believed. This cannot come as any surprise in the ancient world, and of course, in the Bronze Age itself, where religions and superstitious beliefs were rampant, playing an enormous and absolutely essential rôle in virtually every civilization, every society, great or small. This composite of Minoan/Mycenaean deities, which were were found in droves on every single Minoan/Mycenaean site, makes this blatantly obvious: Click to ENLARGE 

Minoan goddesses TOP Mycenaean goddesses B

(d) The implications of a putative Minoan & Mycenaean military literature in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad: 
Given this scenario, I am seriously inclined to believe that not only did the Minoan and Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside for the time being) keep track of religious rites, and possibly even compose a creation myth of their own on papyrus, but that they may very well have also written down a stripped down written version of their oral military epic, their own story of the Trojan War, and if so, the most accurate version of the events of that war. Their original history of the Trojan war would have almost certainly been much more factual than the version of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad, which must have been derived from it, had it existed. This would go a long way to explaining why the Greek of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad is written in the most archaic, and the most-Mycenaean like Greek in the entire Iliad – not to say that Mycenaean Greek does not appear elsewhere in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, because, surprise, surprise, it most certainly does.  

There is one passage in The Catalogue of Ships which really brings this sort of scenario to the fore. I refer specifically to lines 645-652, which read as follows in the original Greek and in my translation: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships Role of Knossos and Crete in the Trojan Wariliad-2-615-652 (1)

It is passingly strange that Homer bluntly states, in no uncertain terms, that Knossos and Crete were major contributors to the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War, since everyone these days, archaeologists and literati alike, assume without question that Knossos fell long before the Trojan War (ca. 1450-1425 BCE). So who is right?  Homer? - us? -anyone? How on earth can we resolve the blatant discrepancy? We cannot, nor shall we ever. But the fact remains that this extremely important passage in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad leaves me quite unsettled. Since Homer is obviously convinced that Knossos and some 100(!) Cretan cities did figure prominently in the Trojan War, where on earth did he get his information from? I for one believe it is quite conceivable that rewrites on papyrus of some Minoan documents from Knossos and possibly even Phaistos may still have been in existence when Homer wrote the Iliad, or that at least stories of their prior existence were still in circulation. If you think correlatively as I always do, this hypothesis cannot simply be dismissed out of hand.

For my in-depth discussion of this very important question, please refer to this post:

RipleyBelieveitorNot Knossos in the Trojan War

(e) If the Minoans and Mycenaeans wrote some sort of religious and/military literature of their own on papyrus, there is absolutely no evidence that they did! 

This leaves us with only one final consideration. If the Minoans and Mycenaeans actually did compose documents on papyrus, where are they all? The answer to that stares us in the face. While the scribes would have taken great pains to assiduously preserve documents on papyrus in dry storage while the city of Knossos was still flourishing, these same documents would all have rotted away entirely and in no time flat, once Knossos and the Minoan civilization had collapsed. Crete was not Egypt. Egypt’s climate was bone dry; the climate of Crete was, and still is, Mediterranean. Ergo, the whole argument against the Minoans and Mycenaeans ever having had a literature of their own, composed on papyrus scrolls is de natura sua tautological, as is the argument they did. 50/50. Take your choice. But since I am never one to leave no stone unturned, I much prefer the latter scenario.

NOTE: This post took me over 8 (!) hours to compile. So I would appreciate if at least some of you would tag it LIKE, comment on it, or better still, reblog it!
For all the intense work Rita and I put into this great blog of ours, it often shocks me that so few people seem to take much interest in some of our most compelling posts. I am merely letting you know how I feel. Thanks so much. 



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.


And even more ancient humour! Don’t pick your n...! Yuk!

Aztec pick your nose

More humour: composites of ancient tablets and hieroglyphs .. ancient grammar police!

Oh wait! I think they were just kidding (Click to ENLARGE):


I’ve never seen this symbol before (Click to ENLARGE):




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