Tag Archive: historical

My article, Lexicon of Chariot Construction in Mycenaean Linear B, has been accepted in advance by the international historical journal, Epohi/Epochs:

Epohi Epochs historical journal

I shall be submitting it to the editor-in-chief, Stefan Iordanov of the Faculty of History of St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo (hence forward referred to as UVT), Bulgaria. The editorial board consists of highly prestigious researchers:

Executive Editor:

Stefan Yordanov, Associate Prof., Ph.D., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo


Ivan Tyutyundjiev, Prof., Dr. Hab., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Deputy Editors in Chief:

Plamen Pavlov, Prof., Ph.D., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Nikolay Kanev, Associate Prof., Ph.D., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo


Acad. Vasil Gyuzelev, Prof., Dr. Hab., Member of the Bulgarian Academy of science and President of the Association of Byzantinists and Medievalists in Bulgaria

Demetrios Gonis, Dr. Hab., Professor Emeritus of University of Athens (Greece)

Mirosław Jerzy Leszka, Prof., Dr. Hab., University of Lodz (Poland)

Tatyana Leontyeva, Prof., Dr. Hab., State University of Tver (Russia)

Milko Palangurski, Prof., Dr. Hab., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Petko Petkov, Проф. д-р Петко Петков, St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Rumen Yankov, Prof., Dr. Hab., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Mariya Ivanova, Prof., Dr. Hab., St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo

Dan Dana, Chargé de recherche de 1ère classe, Ph.D., Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique – Paris (France)

Issue editors:

Nikolay Kanev, Associate Prof., Ph.D.

Stefan Yordanov, Associate Prof., Ph.D.

Our primary partner, Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies (Athens) has a brand-new banner and new look! Check it out...

Click on their banner to visit their superb site:

Koryvantes association of historical studies Athens 30042017

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

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

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

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


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


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


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




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


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



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


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




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

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



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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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



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


Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

04.5 iqiya piriniyo opoqo keryapi opiiyapi

 Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

While some of the military tablets from the Knossos Armoury dealing with the construction and design of chariots pose a few problems in the translation of certain words which yield at least two or possibly even three different possible meanings, others are much more of a challenge to the translator. Some vocabulary in the more challenging tablets proves to be much more fractious. There are several reasons for this phenomenon when we are dealing with Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, let alone that of any truly archaic ancient language, such as Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics. These are:

1 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek or Classical Greek, conveying the same or a similar meaning. Such is the case with – wanax – = “king” in Mycenaean Greek.
2 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek, and yet not convey precisely the same meaning or might even mean something more remotely associated, such as – qasireu – , which does not mean the same thing as “basileus” = “king” in Homeric Greek. A – qasireu – in Mycenaean Greek is merely a local leader of a town, citadel, redoubt or similar small centre and nothing more.   A king in Mycenaean Greek is a – wanax – , for which there is an almost exact match in Homer’s Iliad.  
3 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may look like variants of later Homeric or Classic Greek words, although they are spelled in a fashion alien to the latter, never appearing in them. 
4 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Classical Ionic or Attic Greek, and yet convey an entirely different meaning.
5 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may be archaic Greek which later fell entirely out of use even prior to Homeric Greek, in which case it may be next to impossible to confirm that such words are even archaic Greek at all.
6 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly be proto-Greek or even more ancient proto Indo-European, but we can never be certain of this at all.
7 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly or even likely be Minoan or of Minoan origin. Such is the case with the word – kidapa – on tablet KN 894 N v 01, the very first tablet I translated in this series of tablets on chariots. L.R. Palmer assumes this word refers to a kind of wood, and I agree. This assumption is based on the fact that two other kinds of wood are referenced on the same tablet, i.e. elm and willow. With this evidence in hand, I have gone even further than L. R. Palmer and have taken the calculated risk to identify this word as meaning “ash (wood)”, a wood which Homer uses for weapons.
8 Just as is the case with Classical Greek, in which a few thousand words are not of Indo-European origin, Mycenaean Greek contains a fair proportion of such vocabulary. Words such as – sasama –  (sesame) & – serino –  (celery) come to mind.

This is the scenario which confronts us in the translation of at least two of the words on this tablet, namely, – piriniyo – and – mano –, both of which are certainly open to more than one possible interpretation. The first word - piriniyo – meets the criteria outlined in 1 & 3 above. It probably means “an ivory worker”, but we cannot be sure of this. Since the latter – mano – may not have any relation to later Homeric or Classical Greek at all, it is a crap shoot to try and translate it. This word meets the criteria in 1,2 and 4 above. But I took the chance (as I always do), on the assumption, however fanciful, that – mano – may be related to the Classical Greek word – manos – , meaning “thin”, as defined in Liddell & Scott.

And what applies to Mycenaean vocabulary on this and all other tablets dealing with chariots, whether or not they originate from Knossos, equally applies to all of the vocabulary on each and every tablet in the military sector of the Mycenaean economy. By extension, this principle must also apply to all of the vocabulary on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance (Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes etc.) and regardless of the sector of the Mycenaean economy with which they are concerned. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In short, the 8 criteria outlined above must be applied on an equal footing, through the procedure of cross-comparative extrapolation, to all of the vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek.

We shall return to this phenomenon in our article on chariot construction and design, which is to appear on my

 account under the auspices of Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies (Athens):

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens Category Linear B & the Iliad
sometime later this winter.

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. 

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

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An Introductory Glossary of General Linguistics Terminology: Part A: A-G

introductory glossary of general linguistics terminology Part A A-G 

NOTE: This glossary is ostensibly not comprehensive in any sense of the term, but it serves as a solid baseline introduction to linguistics terminology.   


abstract noun: a noun that denotes something viewed as a non-material referent, as opposed to a concrete noun. Examples: abstraction, attitude, communication, constitution, dependency, language, linguistics, magic, proliferation, rectitude, telecommunications.

acrolect: the variety of speech that is considered the standard form. For example: the Attic dialect by the fourth century BCE.

affix: a functional bound morpheme, typically short and with a functional meaning. Example: re in re-write. 

ambiguity: the property of words, terms, and concepts (within a particular context) as undefined, undefinable, or without an obvious definition, thus having an unclear meaning. A word, phrase, sentence, or uttered communication is called “ambiguous” if it can be interpreted in more than one way. Ambiguity is distinct from vagueness, which arises when the boundaries of meaning are indistinct. See also, connotation

analytic language: language that conveys grammatical relationships without using inflectional morphemes. A grammatical construction can similarly be called analytic if it uses unbound morphemes, which are separate words, and/or word order. English, which began as a synthetic language, has become more & more analytic over time. Afrikaans & Hebrew are also analytic. Contrast with synthetic language (below). 

anaphora: anaphora is the co-reference of a second expression with its antecedent. For example: This lexicon of Greek terms is comprehensive; it is very useful.

anthroponymy: the study of personal names.

antonym: from Greek anti ("opposite") and onoma ("name") are word pairs that are opposite in meaning, such as -hot- -cold- + -fat- -skinny- & -down- -up-. Words may have different antonyms, depending on the meaning. Both -long- and -tall- are antonyms of -short-. Antonyms are of four types:
Gradable antonyms stand at opposite ends ends of the spectrum: Examples: -cold- -hot- +  -slow- -fast
Complementary antonyms are pairs that express absolute opposites, like mortal and immortal.
Relational antonyms are pairs in which one describes a relationship between two objects and the other describes the same relationship when the two objects are reversed, such as parent and child, teacher and student, or buy and sell.
Auto-antonyms are the same words that can mean the opposite of themselves under different contexts or having separate definitions. Examples:  to enjoin (to prohibit, issue injunction -or- to order, command) + fast (moving quickly -or- fixed firmly in place) + sanction (punishment, prohibition -or- permission) + stay (remain in a specific place -or- postpone) 

aspect: a grammatical category associated with verbs, which expresses the temporal view of the event or state expressed by the verb. Examples: she learns (simple present aspect + she is learning (progressive present aspect) + she has learned (present perfect aspect)

auxesis:  an exaggeration of the importance of a referent by the use of a referring expression that is disproportionate to it. Example: referring to a scratch as a wound. Synonym: exaggeration 

basilect: a variety of a language that has diverged greatly from the standard form. For instance, the West Greek Doric dialect is a basilect quite far removed from the standard East Greek Attic dialect of the fifth century BCE. Doric Greek is also a basilect of Mycenaean Greek, for the obvious reason that the latter was predominant prior to the Doric invasion of Greece. 

bound morpheme: a morpheme which cannot stand alone to make a word, but must be combined with something else within a word. Examples: the -s- in the plural for tree = trees is a bound morpheme. Similarly, -cran- in cranberry.  
See also, free morpheme.


case: the grammatical category determined by varying syntactics or semantic functions of a noun, adjective or pronoun. Case is a function of only those languages which indicate certain functions by the inflection of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, or numerals. Greek, German, Latin & Russian are inflected languages.
circular definition: definitions can be circular or recursive. The definition refers to itself, thus defining an infinite number of things. Example: a thing is an object and an object is a thing. Circular definitions are always self-referential, hence closed. They can be dangerous traps. See also, recursive definition.

classifier: is an affix (often a suffix) that expresses the classification of a noun. Examples: Italian -raggazzo, raggazzi - (boy, masculine, sing. & pl.) + raggazza, raggazze (girl, feminine, sing. & pl.), where nouns are classified by gender & number.

collocation: a grouping or juxtaposition of words that commonly occur together. Example: by me, on a, with & the. 

comitative case: this is the case expressing accompaniment, expressed in inflected languages such as Greek & Latin by a preposition with the meaning "with" or "accompanied by." In Greek, meta = with + para = by (plus other prepositions expressing subtle distinctions). The usage of the comitative case in Greek is complex, and must be determined by context.

concrete noun: a noun that refers to what is viewed as a material entity, i.e. a thing . Examples: box, car, flag, lumber, post, rock, stump, table.     

connotation: 1. a meaning that is suggested or implied, as opposed to a denotation, or a literal definition. A characteristic of words or phrases, or of the contexts that words and phrases are used in. Connotations of the phrase, "You are a dog" = you are physically unattractive or morally reprehensible, not that you are a canine. 2. In semiotics, connotation arises when the denotative relationship between a signifier and its signified is inadequate to serve the needs of the community. A second level of meanings is termed connotative. These meanings are not objective representations of the thing, but new usages produced by the language group.

consonant: a speech sound produced with a significant constriction of the airflow in the oral tract. 

co-ordination: the linking of two or more elements as conjuncts in a coordinate structure such as -and- or -or- + in a list.   
corpus: a collection of writings, often on a specific topic, of a specific genre, from a specific demographic, a single author etc. 

co-reference: a reference in one expression to the same referent in another expression. Example: You said that you would come (English). Est-ce que vous me dites que vous viendrez? (French).  

corruption: word that has adopted from another language but whose spelling has been changed through misunderstanding, transcription error, mishearing, etc.  

continuous aspect: the imperfect(ive) aspect that expresses an ongoing, but not habitual, occurrence of the state or event expressed by the verb. Examples: he is running, he was running (English) + amant, amabant (they love, they loved: Latin). Ancient Greek & Latin cannot distinguish between continuous habitual & inceptive aspects in the present, future & imperfect tenses, and their compounds.    

copula: an intransitive verb which links the subject with an adjective, a noun phrase or a predicate. Examples: The book is on the table (English) Le livre est sur la table (French).    


definite pronoun: a pronoun that belongs to a class whose members indicate definite reference. Examples: the, this, that in English. The indefinite pronoun -the- is non-existent in Latin, in Mycenaean Linear B & in Homer but existent in Arcado-Cypriot, Classical Ionic, Attic, Hellenic & Koine (New Testament) Greek.

denotation: 1. The act of denoting, or something (such as a symbol) that denotes. 2. the primary or explicit meaning of a word, phrase or symbol. 3. something signified or referred to; a particular meaning of a symbol. 4. In semiotics, denotation is the surface or literal meaning encoded to a signifier, and the definition most likely to appear in a dictionary.

derivation: 1. formation of new words by adding affixes. Example: -singer- from -sing- + -adaptation- from -adapt- 2. derivation in linguistics is the process of changing the meaning and/or lexical class of a lexeme by adding a morpheme. 

derivative: 1. In a lexical database or lexicon, a derivative is sub-entry. Only irregular, semantic derivatives are entered as separate major entries. 2. a stem formed by combining a root with an affix to add a component of meaning that is more than inflectional. The meaning of a derivative is determined by its context, not its parts. Also known as: derived form, derived stem 3. A derivative is a stem formed by derivation, which is a morphosyntactic operation.
Kinds of derivatives:
1. Grammatical derivatives: Example:
nominalized stems, such as encouragement from encourage
adverbialized stems, such as courageously from courageous
2. Semantic derivatives such as generation from generate + isolation from isolate.  

diachronic linguistics: the study of language change over time, is also called historical linguistics. This is extremely important to research in ancient Greek, which was subject to significant changes in all of its dialects over time, especially when the time frame is extreme (i.e. a millennium, from Mycenaean to Attic Greek).   

diachrony: the study of change over time, especially changes to language.

dialectology: the study of dialects.

diphthong: a phonetic sequence, consisting of a vowel and a glide, that is interpreted as a single vowel. Examples: ai, ei, oi in English.

dummy word: a grammatical unit that has no meaning, but completes a sentence to make it grammatical. Examples: It is raining + Do you understand? 


elision:  the omission of sounds, syllables, or words in spoken or written discourse. Unstressed words are the most likely to be elided. Examples: camra for camera + evry for every in English. Elision is very common in ancient Greek, but not in Mycenaean Linear B or in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, since the latter are both syllabaries, in which all syllabograms must end with a vowel, making elision impossible.

enclitic: a clitic (suffix) that is phonologically bound to (i.e. inseparable from) the end of a preceding word to form a single unit. Examples: can’t, won’t & shouldn’t in English. Aminisode & Konosode (towards Amnisos, towards Knossos) in Mycenaean Greek. Enclitics are very common in ancient Greek.
epigraphy: from the Greek: epi-graph, literally "on-writing", "inscription" is the study of inscriptions or epigraphsas writing + the science of identification, classification, dating & drawing conclusions about graphemes.

epigrapher: person using the methods of epigrapher or epigraphist, who studies inscriptions, most of which are brief. 

epistemic modality: a modality that connotes how much certainty or evidence a speaker has for the proposition expressed by his or her utterance. Examples: We will  come (certainty) + She must have come + He may have come (uncertainty) + They might come (uncertainty) (English). The subjunctive expresses uncertainty in several languages, including English (rarely), German, French, Italian, Latin & Greek. Greek also has the optative to express uncertainty. In a lexicon as general as this one, it is not expedient to attempt to express the distinctions between the optative and the subjective in ancient Greek, as the relationship between the two is complex. In other words, you have to know ancient Greek very well to understand these distinctions and their several applications. 

etymology: 1 the study of the historical development of languages, particularly as manifested in individual words. 2 an account of the origin and historical development of a word. 3. the study of the origins of words. Through old texts and comparison with other languages, etymologists reconstruct the history of words — when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed. From Greek: true meaning = etymos (true) + logos (word). Etymology is extremely important in the archaic in Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, which in turn determine the etymology of a number of words in several later ancient Greek dialects.

extraposition: the movement of an element from its normal place to one at the end, or near the end, of a sentence.


family: a group of languages believed to have descended from the same ancestral language, e.g. the Indo-European language family from Proto-Indo-European.

finite verb: a verb form that occurs in an independent clause, and fully inflected according to the inflectional categories marked on verbs in the language. 

fossil: in linguistics, a fossilized word or term is extremely old, extinct, or outdated. Some words in Mycenaean Greek were already fossilized by the time Homer wrote the Iliad, and a much more significant number of Mycenaean words completely disappeared from later ancient Greek dialects. On the other hand, a number of Mycenaean words, such as apudosi (delivery) were never fossilized. 

free morpheme: 1. a grammatical unit that can occur by itself. Additional morphemes such as affixes (prefixes, suffixes) can be attached to it. Examples: berry, blue, cat, colour (hence: colourful, colourless), dog, elephant, green (hence: greenery), house, intern (hence: internship), orange, red, white, yellow. 2. a morpheme which can stand alone to make a word by itself. Example: -blue- in -blueberry- See also, bound morpheme.  

function word: a word which has little or no meaning of its own but which has a grammatical function. Examples in English: a, of, on, in, the. Function words play a key obligatory role in all languages. They are the glue that hold languages together syntactically.


gender. See, grammatical gender

gloss: A gloss (from Koine Greek glossa, meaning 'tongue') is a note made in the margins or between the lines of a book, in which the meaning of the text in its original language is explained, sometimes in its own language, sometimes in another language. Glosses vary in comprehensiveness and complexity, from simple marginal notations of difficult or obscure words, to entire interlinear translations of the original text and cross references to similar passages.

glossary: 1. a collection of glosses is a glossary 2. a collection of specialized terms with their meanings. Example: An English-Mycenaean Linear B Glossary 3. a list of terms defined in a particular domain of knowledge. Glossaries often appear at the end a book and often include either newly introduced or uncommon terms. 

glottochronology: the study of languages to determine when they diverged from being the same language. For instance, the divergence of Italian from Latin.

glottogony: 1. the genesis of language, i. e. the emergence of a system of verbal communication from proto-linguistic or non-linguistic means of communication 2. the study of language origins.

grammatical gender: a class system for adjectives & nouns, composed of two or three classes, whose nouns have at least human male and female referents and in some languages an inanimate referent (neuter). In many languages, gender is very often not classed by any correlation with natural sex distinctions. The genders of nouns classified in this fashion (masculine, feminine, neuter) do not necessarily refer to the masculine (male gender), feminine (female gender) or inanimate (neuter gender). In many cases a masculine noun can also be feminine or even neuter, or any other combination of genders. Genders for the exact same word may differ in different languages.  Examples: il mare (sea, masculine Italian) + la mer (sea, feminine, French), mare (sea, neuter, Latin) le tour (walk, stroll,  run, e.g. le Tour de France) + la tour (tower, French) etc. Examples of languages with two genders are French, Italian & Spanish & with three genders: German, Greek & Latin.

by Richard Vallance Janke, 2015

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KORYVANTES Category Linear B & The Iliad

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Koryvantes is a MAJOR contributor and attendee at numerous International Conferences and Meetings all over Europe!


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historical plaque at the home of Michael Ventris (1922-1952) decipherer of L inerar B


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