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All-new decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 8 (Haghia Triada) dealing with multiple crops:

Linear A tablet HT 8

This is the first time I have attempted to decipher Linear A tablet HT 8 (Haghia Triada), and I have met with considerable success in deciphering it for the most part. It quite clearly deals with multiple crops. Some explanation is in order. On the RECTO, we find the supersyllabogram KI, which means KIRETAI, in Greek kri/qai, meaning barley of which there are 10 units, something like bushels (a mere approximation as we cannot know that the standard units of measurement for crops were either in Linear A or in Linear B). Next comes the supersyllabogram PA3 (PAI), which probably refers to pa3ni/pa3nina/pa3niwi Old Minoan (OM) = millet -or- spelt. KARATI on line 2 is also OM and appears to correspond to Anatolian, karasa = a large jar, which makes sense in context. PA3 (PAI), which probably refers to pa3ni/pa3nina/pa3niwi Old Minoan (OM) = millet -or- spelt is then repeated. Line 3 begins with the supersyllabogram (SSYL) TE, which means tereza, OM for the standard unit of liquid measurement, while qanuma is OM for some kind of pulse crop, any one of broad beans (faba/fava), chick peas, lentils or vetch. On line 4 we find the word SIKIRA si/kera, a sweet-fermented liquor, Cf. Linear B sikero. When we combine this word with KIRETANA kri/qania on line 5 we get SIKIRA KIRETANA, which means of course a barley-like sweet-fermented liquor, in other words, beer, probably sweetened with honey.

VERSO: SUPU2 is a pithos or alternatively sappu, which is Semitic for bowl (practically the same thing). Hence, this decipherment is sound. The SSYL KA probably refers to karasa (Anatolian), meaning a large jar, which reinforces the decipherment of SUPU2. PA3 (PAI) on line 2 again refers to millet or spelt. ZARI- continued on line 3 with – RE is unknown, but has something to do with crops, followed as it is with the symbols for harvesting shares. KAPA karpa/ is ripe crops. PAJARA on line 4 appears to mean indentured land.

All in all, this decipherment is coherent, and holds together well.


Common pulse crops in the late Neolithic, Early, Middle and Late Bronze Ages Mediterranean and Near East, including Minoan Crete:

Minoan pulses diet

Go to:

http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/news/news-detail/en/c/429320/

Faba beans (Vicia Faba) fa/ba ancient Greek

Faba beans are among the world’s most ancient crops. During the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages, they played an important role in spreading agriculture throughout Eurasia and North Africa, along with other pulses and cereals. They can be found in numerous archaeological deposits.

Peas (Pisum sativum)

Peas also belong to one of the oldest domesticated crops. Archaeological evidence dates its existence back to 10 000 BC to the Near East and Central Asia. During the Stone and Bronze ages they spread to Europe and the Mediterranean and then to India in 200 BC.

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)

Chickpeas originated in an area located between the southeast of Turkey and the western part of the Fertile Crescent. They were domesticated around 7 000 BC. This is the reason why chickpeas are culturally bound to the Middle East and Asia, and why they are a basic constituent of Asian diets.

Lentils (Lens culinaris)

Lentils were also domesticated in the Fertile Crescent – in what today is Iraq. As far back as 8 500-6 000 BC, archaeological evidence confirms the existence of lentils. Just like chickpeas, lentils are a basic constituent of Asian diets.

Cow peas (Vigna unguiculata)

Cow peas, as we know them today, originated in Sub Saharan Africa but the origin of wild varieties has been traced to southern Africa. Although today cowpeas are cultivated throughout the world, they are still an important component of traditional intercropping systems in the dry savannahs of Sub-Saharan Africa due to their high shade tolerance. Ever since their domestication, they have been culturally bound to this region.

Lupine (Lupinus)

Lupinus is regarded as one of the most diverse genus in the legumes family. It is crucial for its very high protein content – up to 45%- and for its versatility, ranging from human nutrition to forage. The two main varieties domesticated by ancient civilizations are part of two geographically isolated groups: White Lupine, (Lupinus albus) of the Old World group and Andean Lupine (Lupinus mutabilis) of the New World group.

AND also download this highly relevant document:

thesis_hum_1997_riley_frank_richard.pdf

The Role of the Traditional Mediterranean Diet in the Development of Minoan Crete:

In this extremely detailed analysis of grain and pulse crops vetch, bitter vetch, lentils, chick peas, peas, grass peas, Celtic beans are all mentioned, with a great deal of information on how they were grown and how they were fully incorporated into the Minoan diet. 

Since we have already deciphered, in some cases, with complete accuracy, the types of grain crops the Minoans grew, ie. kunisu for emmer wheat and dideru for einkorn wheat, plus sara2 (sarai) for flax, among others, with the information on the most common Bronze Age pulse crops we now have in hand, we may now draw the tentative conclusion that any one of the following words, in order of frequency of use on the tablets, are very likely pulse crops:

1 minute 20 10 10 6+ = 46+
2 pura2 (purai) 6 (with figs) 40 (with grains) (Haghia Triada only) 40
3 qanuma 20 
all from Haghia Triada only...

Any 3 of the above probably refer to broad beans (faba/fava) , chick peas *,  lupins *,  vetch * in any permuted order. 

and the crops they represent, permuted, could be any of the following, with the most likely candidates marked by an asterisk (*):

broad beans (faba/fava) *, chick peas *,  lupins *,  vetch *

Since four pulses are listed in English, versus only 3 in Minoan, one of the 4 is not one of the 3. But we cannot know which one.

with the following pulses also possible, but less likely, candidates:

bambara, cow peas, green peas, pigeon peas

 


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.


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.


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