Tag Archive: linear B decipherment

Article, Linear B Lexicon for the Construction of Mycenaean Chariots just published on academia.edu:

Click on the TITLE to view and download the article:

aEpochs title

just uploaded to my academia.edu account at the link above. To download it, click the green DOWNLOAD button on the right side of the document.

Illustrations from the article:

bNew Kingdom chariot

c4 spoke chariots

dcomposite parts Mycenaean chariots

eMycenaean Chariots Lexicon

gKnossos tablet KN 894

This Lexicon is the only one of its kind in the entire world. To date, no one has ever published a Linear B Lexicon on a subject as focused as the Construction of Mycenaean Chariots.

This article has just been published in the prestigious European journal, Epohi (Epochs), Vol. 25, Issue 2 (2017), published bi-annually by the Department of History of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, University of Veliko, Tarnovo, Bulgaria. I have been invited by the Editor-in-Chief, Stefan Iordanov, to publish new papers in the near future (sometime in 2018) and again in 2019. Considering that the Editor-in-Chief, Stefan Iordanov, solicited me to submit this article sight unseen, you can be sure I shall submit more papers to the journal.

Linear B syllabary with correspondances to the ancient Greek alphabet including digamma:

Linear B syllabary with Greek alphabet assignments

This table of the Linear B syllabary with correspondances to the ancient Greek alphabet including digamma outlines how each series of syllabograms, e.g. A E I O U, DA DE DI DO DU, KA KE KI KO KU, MA ME MI MO MU, TA TE TI TO TU etc. corresponds with the ancient Greek letter series, including the archaic Greek letter digamma, very common in Mycenaean Greek but absent from Classical Greek which are common to them. In some cases, the first consonant of the syllabogram series exactly matches the consonant + vowels of the Greek letters to which that series corresponds. These are:

DA DE DI DO DU = da de dei dh di dh do dw du

MA ME MI MO MU = ma me mei mh mi mh mo mw mu

NA NE NI NO NU = na ne nei nh ni nh no nw nu

SA SE SI SO SU = sa se sei sh si sh so sw su

But there is one significant problem. The Linear B syllabary cannot distinguish between short and long Greek vowels, or Greek double-vowel combinations. Thus,

DE DI DO = de dei dh di dh do dw

ME MI MO = me mei mh mi mh mo mw

NE NI NO = ne nei nh ni nh no nw

SE SI SO = se sei sh si sh so sw

must account for 2 or 3 vowel variations in the ancient Greek alphabet, as seen above. For example, as seen in the D series of syllabograms above, DE = any of 3 = de dei dh DI for either di dh & DO for either do dw. The list of syllabogram series and their Greek alphabetic equivalents above provides several examples of these vowel variations.

Syllabogram series representing multiple consonants + vowels:

Syllabogram series representing multiple consonants + vowels are more complex. These are:

KA KE KI KO KU corresponding to:

ga ge gei gh gi gh go gw gu

ka ke kei kh ki kh ko kw ku

xa xe xei xh xi xh xo xw xu

PA PE PI PO PU corresponding to:

pa pe pei ph pi ph po pw pu

fa fe fei fh fi fh fo fw fu

ya ye yei yh yi yh yo yw yu

QA QE QI QO corresponding to:

ba be bei bh bi bh bo bw bu

ga ge gei gh gi gh go gw gu

RA RE RI RO RU corresponding to:

la le lei lh li lh lo lw lu

ra re rei rh ri rh ro rw ru

TA TE TI TO TU corresponding to:

ta te tei th ti th to tw tu

qa qe qei qh qi qh qo qw qu

Plenty of examples of all of the consonant + vowel variations explained in all instances above are found in the table, following the table of syllabogram series, at the top of this post.

CONVENTIONS in Linear A and ancient Greek orthography:

Linear B is also unable to account for the presence of consonants in the ancient Greek alphabet, especially in the case of final or ultimate consonants, which are extremely common in ancient Greek, and de rigueur in masculine and neuter nouns and adjectives, and in the conjugations of several persons, singular and plural, in all cases of ancient Greek verbs (present, future, imperfect, aorist, perfect and pluperfect in all moods, indicative, optative and subjunctive). But only the present and aorist (CHECK) in the indicative and the present in the optative occur in Linear B.

I shall be posting the Greek equivalents to Linear B nouns, adjectives and verbs in an upcoming post.

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 903 Da 01 by Rita Roberts:

KN 903 D a 01 livestock

Here we have Rita Roberts translation of Linear B B tablet KN 903 Da 01. In her own decipherment, Rita translated Watoakoraya as a personal name of a shepherd or herdsman, but this is clearly wrong, because akoraya is genitive singular and means “from the market” and Wato is archaic dative singular for Watos, which is a place name. So the proper translation is “from the market at Watos”. Otherwise, her translation is sound.

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 894 Do 04 by Rita Roberts:

KN 898 D o 04 opxen ZE

Here we have Rita Roberts translation of Linear B B tablet KN 894 Do 04, which I find quite fascinating, even though it is so short. This is because of the supersyllabogram ZE, which literally means “yoked with a pair of or as Rita Roberts puts it a team of oxen”. In addition, we have the enclitic QE following the name Tomako, which means “and”, implying that there was another herdsman mentioned before Tomako; hence, the tablet is left-truncated as well as right-truncated.

Special post for Linear B students: how to convert from Linear B to the ancient Greek alphabet and vice versa:

The following tables illustrate how to convert from Linear B to the ancient Greek alphabet and vice versa.

A: Linear B to ancient Greek:

linear b syllabary with ancient Greek alphabet correspondences

B: ancient Greek to Linear B:

ancient greek alphabet with Liniear B correspondences


Linear B numerals 100, 1k and 10k are atemporal, like those in the movie. Arrival:

It is quite clear from the following illustration of the numbers 1-12 in the Heptapod circular language, which correspond to the number of ships landing on earth, that their numbers, occurring in a circle, are similar to the numerals for 100, 1k and 10k in Mycenaean Linear A. This correspondence reveals an intriguing characteristic of these Linear B numerals, namely, that they can serve as ideograms for extraterrestrial communication. In other words, just as the Heptapod numbers serve to communicate from the extraterrestrials, the Linear B numerals can serve to communicate with them or any other extraterrestrial civilization.

movie Arrival heptapod 12 and Linear B 100 1k 10k


How circular language in the movie, Arrival, determines the aspacial/atemporal nature of logograms throughout the ages:

In the movie, Arrival (2016), which chronicles the arrival on earth of 12 mysterious ships, apparently from outer space, the following statements leap out at us:

parsing the language of the heptapods in the movie, Arrival

1. Unlike all written languages, the writing is semiseriographic. It conveys meaning. It doesn't represent sound. Perhaps they view our form of writing as a wasted opportunity.  
2. How heptapods write: ... because unlike speech,  a logogram is free of time. Like their ship, their written language has forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question, is this how they think? Imagine you wanted to write a sentence using 2 hands, starting from either side. You would have to know each word you wanted to use as well as much space it would occupy. A heptapod can write a complex sentence in 2 seconds effortlessly.

The key to all of this is the phrase a logogram is free of time. Allow me to illustrate. Logograms are also often called ideograms, and that is what I prefer to call them. Another word to describe them is icon. When we examine ancient Linear A and B ideograms and compare them with modern ones, the results are astonishing, to wit:




All of the aforementioned examples make it quite clear that ideograms, whether they be as ancient as those in Linear A and Linear B (i.e. about 3,400 years old) or modern ... or for that matter, neolithic or even earlier, all bear a striking resemblance to one another. Take for instance the Linear A ideogram for “scales” and compare it with just one modern one (among so many others), and we see immediately that they are extremely similar. Now take the Linear B ideograms for man” and “woman” and compare these with the washroom symbols for the same and once again the similarity is almost too good to be true. Then there is the Linear B ideogram for a four-spoke wheel compared with a modern one for an eight-spoke wheel. The number of spokes is not relevant to this discussion, only the fact that the ancient Linear B ideogram for “wheel” is practically identical to the modern one.

The implications for the decipherment of ideograms in any language, ancient or modern (let alone Linear A and Linear B) versus those in any modern language are staggering. We can be sure that the ancient ideograms varied little from one language to another, let alone between Minoan and Mycenaean. In fact, the syllabogram TE, which sometimes represents wheat, in Linear A and Linear B is almost identical to the same ideograms in cuneiform!

It is patently obvious that since the distinction between the ancient ideograms and their modern equivalents enumerated above is so thin, all of these ideograms (or logograms or icons) are not only time independent (atemporal) and spatially independent (aspatial), they are also language independent. This is a stunning phenomenon.

The implications for the further decipherment of Linear A are simply overwhelming.

And this is why in the movie, Arrival, the heptapods assert, “There is no time.”

T. Farkas’ brilliant decipherment of Linear B tablet KN 894 Nv 01:

Knossos tablet KN 984 Nv 01

Linear B transliteration

Line 1. ateretea peterewa temidwe -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Line 2. kakiya -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 1. kakodeta -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for pair or set tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Line 3. kidapa temidweta -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 41 tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

line 4. odatuweta erika -ideogram for wheel, SSYL ZE for set or pair 40 to 89 tablet broken off (i.e. right truncated)

Translation (my knowlege of Greek grammar is not sufficient at present to write out proper sentences [NOTE 1] but I have looked up and know the Greek equivalents for the Linear B words which I will write here.)

Line 1. Pair/set of inlaid/unfinished? elmwood chariot wheel rims

Οn your blog you have translated ateretea as “inlaid” from the Greek ἀιτh=ρeς. I found these words ατελείωτος , ατελεις … that means “unfinished” Do you think that could work? Either way I get that ateretea is an adjective that describes the wheel rims [2].

α)τερεδέα/ατελείωτος πτελεFάς τερμιδFέντα ζευγάρι a1ρμοτα, (sorry for the mishmash Greek [3]).

Line 2. 1 Copper [4] set or pair of wheel fasteners , bronze set or pair of wheel fasteners

I looked around the net and some say copper was used as a band or even as a tire and as leather tire fasteners on bronze age chariot wheels.

Since the deta on kakodeta refers to bindings perhaps this line is refering to sets of types of fasteners of both copper and bronze for wheels? (hubs, linch pins, nails, etc…) [Richard, YES!]

χαλκίος ζευγάρι α1ρμοτα, χαλκοδέτα ζευγάρι α1ρμοτα

Line 3. 41 Sets or pairs of “kidapa” chariot wheel rims

Looked around the net didn’t find and words to match kidapa…I did take note that you think ― like L.R. Palmer ― that it means ash-wood.

κιδάπα τερμιδFέντα ζευγἀρι α1ρμοτα

Line 4. 40 to 89 ? sets of toothed/grooved willow-wood chariot wheels.

Ive looked at many diagrams and pictures of chariot wheels… but none that I could find were clear enough to really understand what might be meant by toothed [5]… Ι even watched a documentary where an Egyptian chariot is built. It is called building Pharaoh’s Chariot. Perhaps one day I’ll happen upon some chariot wheels somewhere and finally understand what is meant.

ο0δατFέντα ε0λικα ζευγἀρι α1ρμοτα 40 -89 ?

Comments by our moderator, Richard Vallance Janke:

This is absolutely brilliant work! I am astounded! 100 % hands down. This is one of the most difficult Linear A tablets to decipher. I too take kidapa to mean ash wood, as it is a tough wood. It is also probably Minoan, since it begins with ki, a common Minoan prefix:

kidapa OM = ash wood? (a type of wood) Appears only on Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01
kidaro MOSC NM1 kidaro ke/dron = juniper berry-or- kedri/a = oil of cedar Cf. Linear B kidaro
kidata OM = to be accepted or delivered? (of crops) Cf. Linear B dekesato de/catoj

See my Comprehensive Linear A lexicon for further details I imagine you have already downloaded the Lexicon, given that at least 16 % of Linear A is Mycenaean-derived Greek. This decipherment alone of an extremely difficult Linear B tablet entitles you to a secondary school graduation diploma, which I shall draw up and send to you by mid-August.

Specific notes:

[1] Thalassa Farkas declares that … my knowlege of Greek grammar is not sufficient at present to write out proper sentences… , but the actual point is that it is not really possible to write out Greek sentences in Mycenaean Greek, in view of the fact that sentences are almost never used on Linear B tablets, given that these are inventories. Grammar is not characteristic of inventories, ancient or modern. So it is up to us as decipherers to reconstruct the putative “sentences which might be derived from each of the tabular lines in an inventory. So long as the sentences and the ultimate paragraph(s) make sense, all is well.

[2] wheel rims is an acceptable reading.

[3] This is hardly mishmash Greek. It is in fact archaic Greek, and archaic Greek in the Mycenaean dialect, absolutely appropriate in the context.

[4] In Line 2, kakiya (genitive singular of kako) might mean copper, but is much more likely to mean “(made of) bronze” (gen. sing.), given that copper is a brittle metal, more likely to shatter under stress than is bronze. Copper tires would simply not hold up. Neither would pure bronze ones. Either would have to be re-inforced, and in this case by kidapa = ash-wood. That is the clincher, and that is why the word kidapa appears on this tablet.

[5] In Line 5, temidweta does not mean with teeth, but the exact opposite, with grooves” or “with notches. After all, if we invert teeth in 3 dimensions, so that they are inside out, we end up with grooves. This can be seen in the following illustration of a Mycenaean chariot in the Tiryns fresco of women (warrior) charioteers:

Tiryns fresco women charioteers

On the other hand, scythes, which are after all similar to teeth, were commonplace on ancient chariots, including Egyptian, a nice little clever addition to help cut or chop up your enemies. Still, it is unlikely that Mycenaean chariots would be reinforced by scythes, in view of the fact that there are far too many of them even on fresco above. That is why I take temidweta to mean indentations” or “notches”. But temidweta could refer to “studs”, which like notches, are small, even though they stick out.




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