Tag Archive: einkorn



After 117 years, the Linear A vocabulary for 3 major grains (bran, wheat, barley) and for flax is conclusively deciphered:

Although decipherment of Linear A vocabulary for the primary Minoan grains has seemed beyond reach for the past 117 years, I believe that I may have actually cracked the vocabulary for at least 3 major Minoan grain crops, kireta2 (kiretai)/kiretana (attributive) = barley, dideru = einkorn wheat, kunisu = emmer wheat and for sara2 (sarai) = flax, while concurrently tackling 3 more grain crops, rumata(se), pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina (painina) (attributive), which I may or may not have managed to accurately identify. More on this below.

How did I manage to accomplish this feat? My first breakthrough came with the code-breaker, Linear A tablet HT 114 (Haghia Triada), on which appears the word kireta2 (kiretai). It just so happens that this is a match with the ancient Greek word, kritha(i) for barley, here Latinized:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 Haghia Triada

Armed with this invaluable information, I then devised a procedure to extract the names of the other 2 major grains, dideru (Linear B equivalent, didero), and kunisu and for sara2 (sarai) from all of the Haghia Triada tablets. I selected the tablets from Haghia Triada because they mention grains far more often than any other extant Linear A tablets do, regardless of provenance, with the sole exception of Zakros ZA 20, which is a very close match with the many Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada dealing with grains.

The procedure I have adopted is tagged cross-comparative extrapolation (CCE). I scanned every last word related to grain on every last Linear A tablet from Haghia Triada, HT 1 – HT 154K on Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A texts in phonetic transcription HT (Haghia Triada) for the recurrence and numerical frequency of each of these words. It strikes me as very odd that no one in the past 117 years since the first discovery of Linear A tablets at Knossos has ever thought of this or a similar cross-comparative procedure. While it is practically useless to try and extrapolate the meaning of each and every grain merely by examining them in context on any single Linear A tablet, regardless of provenance, because even in single tablet context, and even in the presence of other words apparently describing other type(s) of grain, we get absolutely nowhere, the outcome from cross-correlating every last one of these words on every last tablet from Haghia Triada paints an entirely different picture, a picture which is both comprehensive and all-embracing. Clear and unambiguous patterns emerge for each and every word, including the total incidence of all statistics for them all. The result is astonishing. The table below makes this transparently clear:

Minoan ancient grains

We see right off the top that all of the Haghia put together mention akaru, which means field, the equivalent of Linear B akoro, no fewer than 20 times! Additionally, the generic word for wheat, situ, corresponding to Linear B sito, surfaces 5 times. But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Cross-comparative extrapolation of the next 4 grains has proven to be much more fruitful. The first of these is of course kireta2 (kiretai) kiretana (attributive) for “barley”, which appears 149 times (!) on all of the Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada. I was definitely on to something big.

But the preliminary step I needed to take, before I actually attempted to identify the next 2 most common grains cultivated in the pre-Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan era, was to conduct a Google search on the 2 most common grains after barley grown in Minoan Crete. These are einkorn and emmer respectively. Returning to my cross-comparative extrapolative scan, I discovered the words dideru and kunisu recurring 40 times each. It just so happens that one previous researcher (whose name unfortunately escapes me for the time being, but whom I shall fully acknowledge when I publish my summary data on academia.edu) has accurately identified both of these types of wheat. As can be seen from the table above, these are dideru for “einkorn” and kunisu for “emmer” wheat respectively.

Moving on, fully realizing that sara2 (sarai) runs rampant on the Haghia Triada Linear A tablets, I discovered that this word recurs no less than 1321 times. Astonishing! But what does it mean? The answer was not long coming. The next most common crop the Minoans cultivated was flax, for the production of linen. Flax is not a grain, but is derived from flax flowers and seeds. This fully explains why sara2 (sarai) recurs with such astonishing frequency. Unlike the aforementioned grains, which would have been grown on a relatively restricted number of plots, in this case not exceeding 4o each, the number of flax flowers required to produce a sufficient flax harvest would have had to be very high… hence 1321. These stunning frescoes illustrate a male Minoan flax flower and a female flax seed gatherer:

Minoan flax gatherers

Even from these 2 frescoes, we can easily see that the flax gatherers were kept busy picking what was required, a large flax crop, in this case running to 1321 flax seeds and flowers. No surprise here.

As a result of my exhaustive cross-comparative extrapolation of the first four Minoan crops, I have been able to define 3 of them for certain as grains, kireta2 (kiretai), dideru and kunisu, and one of them, sara2 (sarai) as flax. It is practically certain that all 4 definitions are correct. Hence, I have managed to isolate for the first time in 117 years the actual names of 4 major Minoan crops, barley, einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and flax.

However, when it comes to the next 5 crops, we run up against inescapable semiotic problems. What does each of these signifiers signify? There is no easy answer. On the other hand, I would have been remiss were I not to make a stab at extrapolating the names of these crops as well. It just so happens that the next most common grains after barley, einkorn and emmer cultivated by the Minoans were millet and spelt. And the next two words I extrapolated were rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). But if one of them appears to be millet, the other is spelt, or vice versa. That is the conundrum. But the problem is compounded by the mystifying cumulative total statistics for each of these words, 1039 for rumata(se) and 1021 for pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). Why on earth are there so many recurrences of these 2 crops, when there are only 40 instances of dideru and kunisu? It does not seem to make any sense at all. Yet there is a possible explanation. While dideru and kunisu reference einkorn and emmer crops as crops per se, it would appear that rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive) refer to the seeds derived from the crops. It is the only way out of this impasse. However, it is not necessarily a satisfying answer, and so I have to reserve judgement on these definitions, which are interchangeable at any rate.

Next we have the ligatured logograms dare and kasaru, either of which might refer to the next most common crops, durum and lentils. But there is no way for us to corroborate this conclusion with any certainty. The verdict is out. Finally, the last word, kuzuni, might refer to 2 other, less common Minoan crops, either sesame or vetch for fodder. But once again, which one is which? Your guess is as good as mine.

Conclusions:

Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Every last one of these words identifies a Minoan crop. While most of them are grains, three of them are certainly not. One of them is clearly flax (sara2/sarai) The other two may or may not be lentils or sesame. But they probably are one or the other, if they are not on the other hand durum or vetch. In short, there several permutations and combinations for the last 5. Yet the circumstantial evidence for the first 4 appears quite solid enough to justify the definitions we have assigned, barley, einkorn, emmer and flax. So at least this constitutes a major breakthrough in the identification of these 4 for the first time in 117 years.

I shall eventually be publishing a much more comprehensive draft paper on this very subject on my academia.edu account, either this summer or autumn. I shall keep you posted.


Google image search “Minoan Linear A grains” reveals that practically every last image is from Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae:

Click on the image search banner to see the results for yourself:

google search on grains and their decipherment in Linear A

This confirms that the almost all current research (2015-2017) is almost exclusively founded in my studies and decipherments of grains (wheat, barley, flax, spelt etc.) on Linear A tablets.


Credible decipherment of several grains mentioned on of Linear A tablet HT 10 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 10 Haghia Triada dealing with several grain crops

After several abortive attempts at realizing a relatively convincing decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 10 (Haghia Triada), I believe I have finally managed to come through. This has to be one of the most challenging Linear A tablets I have ever been confronted with. Any credible decipherment eluded me for months on end, until it finally struck me that all I needed to do was to identify the grain crops most commonly cultivated in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean. And this is precisely what I have just done.  

Neolithic and Bronze age grains cultivated in the Mediterranean during the Neolithic and Bronze Age eras (the most common italicized):

barley (sara2/sarai?) *
einkorn (dideru) *
emmer (kunisu) *
flax (sara2/sarai?) *
freekeh (sara2/sarai?) *
and
bran (less common)
bulgur (less common)
groats (less common)
lentils (less common)
millet (dare -or- kasaru)
spelt (dare -or- kasaru)
vetch for fodder (less common)

Now it strikes me that if we find any of these grains recurring on several Linear A tablets, and we do, these grains must be the most common cultivated then. As it so happens, the 3 grain crops most frequently referenced in Linear A tablets are dideru, kunisu and sarai2 (sarai). They appear over and over and in abundant quantities on several Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada (HT 8 HT 10 HT 28 HT 85-68 HT 91 HT 93 HT 95 HT 114 HT 121 & HT 133), on HM 570, on Khania KH 10, Kophinas KO Za 1 and on Zakros ZA 20. We now know for certain that dideru means “einkorn (wheat)” and kunisu “emmer (wheat)”. It is also highly likely that sara2 (sarai) references “barley”, “flax” or “freekah”. Which one we cannot be sure, but it almost certainly has to be one of these. In addition, we also find dare and kasaru on HT 10. It stands to reason that, by elimination, dare and kasaru are probably either “millet” or “spelt” or vice versa. I have eliminated bran, bulgur, groats, lentils and vetch, as these crops appear to have been relatively less common. 

Free translation of HT 10:

emmer wheat on 4 hills + PA? + 16 1/2 bushel-like units of another type of grain (millet or spelt) *333? + RO + 6 *u325 + 14 bushel-like units of groats (?) + 2 1/2  of *301 (whatever that is), all stored in 8 vases, of which 2 are pithoi (very large) and also stored in 1 vessel of another type + 2 bushel-like units of bran, flax, millet or spelt & 16 young shoots of grain + 6 /12 of *312 TA ? & 6 bushel-like units of millet or spelt, of which 9 1/4 units were lost to death (i.e. never matured)...

My preliminary research into the types of grains cultivated in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Mediterranean has clearly facilitated this plausible decipherment of HT 10, and has moreover confirmed my even more accurate translations of several other Linear A tablets dealing with grain, almost all of them co-incidentally from Haghia Triada.



Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) with John G. Youngers errors corrected:

Linear A tablet HT 14 Haghia Triada

 


For the first time ever in history, a conjectural full restoration of an entire Linear A tablet, ZA 20 (Zakros):

Linear A tablet ZA 20 Zakros restored

In the previous post, I conjectured how the text of the missing top of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) might have read. While we shall never know for certain, one thing is sure: we do know that the entire tablet dealt with grain crops. It therefore stands to reason that the missing text on the top must have inventoried grains. With this firmly in mind, I have endeavoured to reconstruct what I believe how the missing text may have read. It could very well have run something along these lines:

kireta2 (kiretai) 11 dideru 42 dideru 30 qerie 22 qerie 6

NOTE that kireta2 (kiretai) is the Minoan orthography for Greek krithai (Latinized), which of course is barley.

Translation: 11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn

for a total of 111

which when taken into account with total of 19 on the bottom half of the tablet yields a grand total of 130.

Hence the decipherment of the entire tablet with the top half restored as conjectured, reads as follows:

11 bushel-like units of barley, 42 units of emmer wheat, 30 units of emmer wheat mixed with 22 units of roasted einkorn, and 6 units of pure roasted einkorn + ro? with dry units of measurement (i.e. bushel-like units) + 4 units of mi? + ? + ? + along with 1 bushel-like unit of wheat 7 12 bushel-like units of te*123 (flax?) + 2 bushels of rumatase (spelt?) for a grand total of 130.

As you can readily see, this decipherment makes perfect sense, and in any case, even if the text of original tablet did not read quite this way, it must have read very much like this.

You will forgive my awful scribal hand. I cannot hope to be able to replicate the finer hand of the original scribe.


A solid decipherment of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros), which definitely deals with several types of crops:

ZA 20

Even though at the very least the top half of Linear A tablet ZA 20 (Zakros) is missing, it definitely deals with several types of crops. This is abundantly clear from the extant text on the bottom half (or less) of the tablet, in which we find, not one but 2 references to wheat, and to another crop, rumatase, which remains undeciphered, but which in all probability means “flax”. This word could also be Mycenaean-derived New Minoan for luma (Latinized Greek) for “offscourings”, the process whereby impurities are removed from grain crops, in this case, the extraction of chaff from wheat. It makes perfect sense in context.

Given that at least half of the top of this tablet is lost, the question is, what does it reference? It is apparent from the remaining extant text on the bottom of this tablet, which deals with wheat twice, that the missing upper part of the tablet should deal with grain crops. There are indeed several words in Linear A which are grain crop-specific. These are dideru =  “emmer wheat”, qerie =  “roasted einkorn” and sara2/sarai =  “sharia wheat”. It is highly likely that the missing top portion of this tablet deals with at least one of these crops, or with 2 or even all 3 of them. In addition, mention may well have been made of either or both barley and flax crops.

standard ideograms for crops in Linear A

In view of the fact that the sum total for all crops on this tablet = 130, whereas the totals for the crops on the bottom half = 19 only, we are left with 111 units of something unaccounted for... and what might be that something?... other grain crops, of course. Otherwise, how are we to account for the 111 missing units on the lost portion of this tablet? We cannot. These 111 units, which were definitely tallied on the missing top of the tablet, must have been standard units of dry measurement for grain crops, something akin to our modern bushels. Of course, bushels are merely a speculative approximation, since there is no way we can know what the standard units of dry measurement for crops were either in the Minoan or Mycenaean eras, historically remote as they are.  All we can do is hazard an approximation. But at least bushels at least give us some idea of what we are dealing with here.

Evidence for a substantive inventory of several grain crops on this tablet is further buttressed by the presence of the word durezase, in an oblique case of dureza, which I have (and I believe correctly) deciphered as one standard unit of dry measurement in Minoan, in other words one unit roughly approximating the modern bushel. So the accumulation of circumstantial evidence lends even further credence to our decipherment. Finally, the decipherment makes so much sense contextually that it is more likely than not correct.    


Linear A tablet HT 18 (Haghia Triada) in Old Minoan fully deciphered:

Linear A ideogams for wheat and barley

Linear A tablet HT 18 Haghia Triada

Except for the word pase which introduces this tablet, and which is probably Mycenaean-derived, the entire tablet is in Old Minoan, i.e. the Minoan substratum. Since we know what all of the ideograms and supersyllabograms mean, the decipherment is straightforward. On the first line, we have the ideogram for wheat followed by the associative supersyllabogram QE, which stands for qeria, Old Minoan for “emmer roasted wheat”. Next we have the ideogram for “roasted einkorn”, which Prof. John G. Younger incorrectly identifies as the ideogram for “olives”. They are sometimes confused. In this context, it makes no sense whatsoever for this ideogram to signify “olives”, in view of the fact the rest of the tablet deals with wheat, except at the very end, where figs are introduced. The associative supersyllabogram KI with the ideogram for “roasted einkorn” may reference one of two things, either kiretana, which is apparently Old Minoan for “Cretan” or more likely than not kireta2 (kiretai), meaning “with barley”. In other words, the roasted einkorn is mixed with barley. Finally, we have the supersyllabogram NI for “figs”. In old Minoan, this word is either nire or nite in the plural. The assignment of “bushel-like units” to the wheat and barley on this tablet is merely an approximation, since we have no idea what the standard unit for the measurement of grains, wheat or barley was in Minoan or for that matter in Mycenaean Crete. But it gives us an approximation of the amounts we are dealing with on this tablet.


Linear A fragment Petras V House III = grain husks in New Minoan + comprehensive Linear A Lexicon of 969 words:

Linear A fragment Patras V House III

This Linear A fragment is one of the most recent findings. It appears to be entirely in New Minoan, i.e. from the Mycenaean derived superstratum. It definitely deals with wheat, as its ideogram appears to the far left. What appears to be the syllabogram ti or pi (though I interpret it as the latter) is inscribed with RO, which just happens to correspond to the Mycenaean and ancient Greek word lopos, but which in this case is lopi (i.e. dative singular).  Hence, it would appear that we are dealing with 1 1/2 units (something along the lines of bushels) of wheat husk. When I speak of bushels, I mean merely a generous approximation, since we have no idea what the standard unit of measurement for wheat or barley was either in the Minoan or in Mycenaean era. But it gives us at least an idea of how much wheat we are dealing with.

At this juncture in my ongoing endeavour to decipher Linear A, I have run across so many tablets with New Minoan Mycenaean derived superstratum words that I am confident I am well on the way to deciphering New Minoan. Such is not the case with Old Minoan, i.e. the original Minoan language a.k.a. the Minoan substratum. But even there I have managed to decipher at least 100 words more or less accurately, bringing the total of Old Minoan, New Minoan and pre-Greek substratum vocabulary to around 250 out of the 969 Linear A words I have isolated in my Comprehensive Linear A Lexicon, by far the most complete Linear A Lexicon ever to appear online, exceeding Prof. John G. Younger’s Reverse Linear A Lexicon by at least 250.          


Common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat:

Linear A ideograms 620

These are the most common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat. Unlike Mycenaean Linear B, Linear draws a distinction between certain species of wheat, with the ideogram for “wheat” accompanied by the supersyllabogram DI meaning dideru = “roasted einkorn” and the same ideogram accompanied by QE , signifying qerie = “emmer wheat”, while at the same time using a slightly different ideogram for “barley”.  In addition, the word sara2 (sarai) = “sharia wheat”. All of these words are firmly established and confirmed in either the Old Minoan or the pre-Greek substratum. Most of the Linear A ideograms are either very similar or identical to their Linear B counterparts.

Here you see illustrations of emmer wheat and roasted einkorn:

roasted einkorn and emmer wheat

And here is sharia wheat:

sharia wheat


A truly fascinating Cretan hieroglyphic tablet from Phaistos!

Cretan hieroglyphic tablet from Phaistos

I dare say I find this tablet one of the most intriguing I have ever run across. I is just jam packed with information! I have done my best to decipher at least a little of it. .5 is probably the earliest version for the later-to-become ideogram for “roasted einkorn wheat”. Likewise .8 is almost certainly the primordial ideogram for “figs”. I have also provided the translation for the word “figs” in Old Minoan. It is either nire (singular nira2=nirae) or nite (singular nita2=nitai). It can only be one or other of these 2 options. I was the first person ever to successfully decipher the Old Minoan word for “figs” several months ago.


Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 95 (recto/verso) almost intact:

Linear A tablet HT 95 recto verso

Even though there is only one word of probable Mycenaean derivation, saru, from Greek saro, which literally means “a broom”, and in this instance, which refers to a threshing floor or the process of threshing wheat, almost all of the remaining Old Minoan words on this tablet can be deciphered more or less accurately. The Minoan word kunisu definitely means “emmer wheat”, while dideru is “roasted einkorn”. Even though we do not know exactly what the other types of grains or wheat, dame and minute are, it is highly likely that both of these words are the plural of the diminutives damai and minuta2 (minutai), which in turn implies that these terms refer to fine grains. I take it from context that dadumata means “harvesting”.

And so the decipherment flies.

Here are illustrations of emmer wheat and roasted einkorn:

roasted einkorn and emmer wheat

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