Tag Archive: liquid



REVISED: Co-op Storage of Olive Oil & Mass Production of Wheat in Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

a-kn-852-k-j-01-wheat-1k-olive-oil-a-for-amphora-ideogram

This tablet has been one of the most fruitful I have ever had the pleasure to translate. Not only did it yield up its contents (meaning) with little effort on my part, it also provided a brand new verb to add to the Mycenaean Greek Linear B lexicon (in the sense of vocabulary), with the prefix ama + the verb, epikere (3rd. person sing.) which, translated literally would mean, “cuts down all together”, or more appropriately “co-operates in cutting down” & in this context better still “co-operates in harvesting”, which in turn can be neatly rendered into English as “the co-operative of (the village of Dawos) harvests...”. I would like to extend my profound thanks to Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt, who has brought to my attention a critical error I made when I first translated this tablet. I had read ama & epikere as a single word, when a mere glance at this tablet clearly shows the words separated by the standard Linear B word divider, a vertical bar. Her vital correction serves to add more weight to my translation. It all makes perfect sense in this context, as it would indeed take an intensive co-operative effort on the part of the entire village of Dawos to harvest such a massive wheat crop. We note that the harvest is approx. 10,000 kilograms at the very least, and, considering the right truncation of this tablet, likely even more, from a minimum of 10K kilograms to 99.99K kilograms, though the upper limit figure is almost certainly way too high. So for the sake of expediency, let us assume the harvest runs to something in the range of 10K – 20K kilograms of wheat, still an enormous intake.

The second line of this tablet presents only one rather peculiar problem, the insertion of the number 1 inside the second ideogram for olive or olive oil, in this case, clearly olive oil, since people store olive oil rather than olives in pithoi or giant amphorae. I am not quite sure what that number 1 inside the second ideogram for olive oil refers to, but I assume it describes 1 type of amphora, as apposed to another, viz. the previous type mentioned on the same line with reference to 70 amphorae of olive oil. However, here again, we are confronted with the same difficulty we always encounter when trying to ascertain quantities in Mycenaean Linear B. The scribes knew perfectly well what an attributive number meant when assigned to an ideogram (here, for olive oil), but we do not and cannot 32 centuries later.

As for the rest of the line, going back to the first reference to olive oil, we find the syllabogram A inside the ideogram for olive oil. In this instance, it is an attributive supersyllabogram, and it clearly means A for aporewe, the Mycenaean Greek plural of amphora = amphorae, in this case the giant pithoi in which the Minoans at Knossos always stored their olive oil and wine.

Since the SSYL A is attributive and not associative (i.e. outside the ideogram), it must mean that the scribe is referring to olive oil which is always stored in pithoi or giant amphorae rather than consumed for immediate use (another attributive but separate value or characteristic for which there appears to be no known sypersyllabogram, since it is never referenced in any extant Linear B tablet). The distinction is subtle, but essential. When we say that a use of an item or commodity is typical, this means that it is an attributive characteristic or that item. The olive oil in this specific context can only be olive oil that is always stored in amphorae for later consumption... and when I say, amphorae, I mean the enormous pithoi or amphorae we encounter when we visit Knossos, as illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE

Giant amphorae or pithoi for sotring olive oil and wine at Knossos

Richard

         

My Cup Runneth Over! Liquid Measurement for Wine & Olive Oil in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

A KN 160a J j 11 wine PE wine DI

Because it is damaged and fragmentary, a decent translation of this tablet is unattainable. But this is no excuse for not taking a stab at it. The several notes appended to the end of the tablet highlight the multiple problems facing the translator confronted with a fragmentary tablet in Linear B, let alone any other ancient script. Some difficulties are dependent on the nature (i.e. type) of script itself (hieroglyphs, cuneiform, a syllabary or an alphabet), hence, script-dependent. Taking our notes step by step:

[1] The difficulty posed by this ideogram for a “ladle” arises from the fact that we have no idea of the size of ladle (if that is what it is) the Linear B scribes were referencing. This problem is exacerbated by further considerations below.

[2] I am unable to accurately identify the syllabogram on the left side of this line, which is itself apparently the last syllabogram of a word in Mycenaean Linear B. This particular problem is not script-dependent. 
 
[3] The syllabogram following KE is illegible; the two-syllable word cannot be recovered.
   
[4] Same problem as in [3], although in this case the syllabogram, if it is one, is chopped off from the middle down. Such problems are endemic to fragmentary tablets, regardless of script (not script-dependent). 
  
[5] The ideogram for “wine” in Linear B is very easy to spot & identify. It is also commonplace.

[6] The ideogram for “olive oil” in Linear B is very easy to spot & identify. It is also commonplace.

[7] This is just one of the ideograms for “bowl”. Once again, we are confronted with the same old dilemma, which keeps popping up all over Linear B tablets. What kind of bowl is this? Once again, the scribes all knew perfectly well what kind of bowl this ideogram referenced, just as they knew precisely what all other ideograms in Linear B meant (mean). Unfortunately for us in the twenty-first century, the precise meaning of scores of ideograms is beyond our ken.  When I refer to meaning, I do not simply mean, “This is a mixing bowl.” - “That is a soup bowl” - “This is a cereal bowl” etc.

Far from it. Whenever the Linear B scribes referred to any kind of vessel: cauldron, cooking pot, bowl, cup, jar, jug, vase (including amphorae) etc. etc., they identified each and every type not only by its specific type (nomenclature), but by its capacity (liquid or dry measurement), and its primary function. That is a lot of “definition” to cram into one ideogram. And this is precisely why we will probably never be able to accurately identify the type of vessel so many ideograms refer to, because we were not there when the scribal guild assigned standard names married to standard measurements to identify and classify each and every ideogram.

The Key Rôle of Archaeology in Tentatively Identifying Types of Vessels Referenced by Linear B Ideograms: 

However, all this does not mean that we cannot take a good stab at tentatively identifying at least the type of vessel referenced by any given ideogram, in every case where an adequate description evades us. Why so? As my research colleague and friend, Rita Roberts, who lives not far from Heraklion, Crete, and who is an archaeologist, has pointed out on numerous occasions, archaeology is eminently suited to provide us with alternative tools to at least tentatively correlate many Linear B ideograms for vessels with the astonishing plethora of known vessel types which have been unearthed for each and every ancient civilization – including of course the Minoan and Mycenaean. Vessels of the same type (for instance, amphorae) can be readily identified. The archaeologist can then attempt to correlate a particular vessel type or sub-type (amphorae are easily classified into sub-types) with a particular ideogram. But here several problems arise:
(a) Since ideograms are by nature semi-abstract, we can never be really sure that any particular ideogram we assign to any particular vessel type actually does correspond to “the real thing”. It is always a best-guess scenario. But it is better than nothing, and in some cases, at least, the semi-abstract ideogram may look well enough alike the actual vessel to confirm the former with reasonable accuracy.
(b) Since several ideograms for vessels in Linear B look almost exactly the same, this poses yet another dilemma. What are the sizes of similar ideograms? - in other words, what dry or liquid volume are they intended to hold, as the function of measurement alone?
(c) There is also the very real question of the kind of function for any vessel. While the ideogram for some vessel look-alike types may refer to cooking vessels, pots, pans, utensils etc., others in the same run of ideograms may be symbolic of higher class, palatial and even royal vessels, such as silver and gold cups (dipa), bowls, plates etc.

A Plethora of Ideograms for Vessels in Linear B & their Approximate Archaeological Equivalents:

Click to ENLARGE:

LinearB ideograms  for vessels and actual vessels

I am sure our resident archaeologist, Rita Roberts, can think of other distinctions and functions of various Linear B look-alike ideograms and of their corresponding “real ware” than can I. Or perhaps we could assign the modern counterparts, “software” to ideograms and “hardware” to archaeologically identified vessel types.
   
[8] See [7]. Same difficulty. The most glaring problems with this ideogram are the size of the cup, and in particular, its function. Is this just any old cup or is it silver-ware or even gold? Who is to say? No one today. But you can be sure the scribes knew exactly what kind of cup this ideogram refers so.   

[9] Here is where things get really messy. According to Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog, the T style logogram is supposed to reference dry measure only, and is meant to be the equivalent of approx. 3 kilograms (give or take). But on this tablet, the T measurement refers to liquid measurement for wine and olive oil. This appears to be another contradiction in terms. To further complicate the matter, the amount of wine measured appears to be quite voluminous, at some 4 x 5 = 20 litres in the first instance (if it is not right-truncated!) & 6 x 5 = 30 litres in the second. Someone must have thrown a huge party, and lots of folks must have got drunk as skunks! Or else Andras Zeke is wrong. This is all the more likely to be the case if we take into account the amount of liquid a ladle can hold – as in [1] above and in particular, how much a ladle of olive oil is supposed to be – as in [6] above. Those measurement standards [1] & [6] are way out of kilter with those for kilograms (dry measurement) or perhaps litres (liquid measurement) in [9]. How can we possibly square the small measurement standards for olive oil with the voluminous ones for wine on this tablet, without ending up in a morass of contradictions? - unless of course whoever wrote this tablet meant to say that the “the recipe” (if recipe it is) called for adding a small amount of olive oil to a heck of a lot of wine. Such a combination makes no sense to me, but I am no archaeologist. So my archaeologist colleagues and friends... come to the rescue! But then again, Andras Zeke is still right, and we are missing implicit rather than explicit details of the nature (type, volume & function) of any given ideogram for vessel. 

[10] This is clearly the supersyllabogram DI, which almost certainly refers to the Linear B word for “a drinking cup” or dipa in the specific context alone of ideograms for vessels. But it might also designate the function of the cup, which would be representative of any of the Linear B words beginning with diwo or diwe, in other words, to the God Zeus or possibly even Dionysus (also beginning with DI). In that case, the cup is a libation cup. However, the first meaning is the more convincing of the two. When used in a religious context, the supersyllabogram always takes on the latter meaning.

[11] This is the syllabogram PE, apparently left-truncated. If so, it is impossible to recover the rest of the Linear B word of which it is the ultimate. 

[12] This looks like a Linear B word, nopono (whatever that is), but once again, the word is almost certainly left-truncated, because the tablet is fragmented. So again, the word appears to be irretrievable.

As we can all see from this tablet, any attempt at a reasonable or definitive decipherment or translation is next to impossible. However, it is our solemn duty as translators of Mycenaean Linear B to make the best of the not-so-good of all possible worlds, and to attempt a translation that reveals something of the true intent of the text as the scribe wrote it. This is what I always do, and have done here.


Richard


Mycenaean Linear B Units of Measurement (Liquid, Dry & Weight): Click to ENLARGE

Units of Mesurement in Mycenaean Linear B

This table illustrates the syllabograms, logograms & ideograms used to represent units of measurement, liquid, dry and by weight. As can clearly be seen, the exact values many of the units are uncertain. I have hazarded a guess that the unit of measurement in this table which is represented by the ideogram for sheep may very well be the agricultural unit, a hogshead, in which case it is a liquid unit of measurement. Even that unit is variable, ranging anywhere from 46 to 65 US imperial gallons, with several stops in between. So if the Mycenaean measurement is anything like a hogshead, then it is probably just as unreliable, especially in light of the fact that the Mycenaean unit is ancient. Ancient units of measurement were notoriously variable. After all, if merchants could cheat, they would. There is nothing new in that practice!

The following units of measurement, which are syllabograms – RO, PE, ZE, MO & O, are all also supersyllabograms (more on this in subsequent posts). The meanings of ZE, MO & O are clear, and well established. ZE always means “a pair of” (wheels etc.) or “a team of” (horses, oxen etc.), while MO always means “a single” wheel etc., and O always refers to “deficit”. 

The meaning of PE is unclear. The meaning of PE as a supersyllabogram varies from sector to sector of the Mycenaean economy. In the field of agriculture, sub-field livestock/sheep, it is periqoro in Mycenaean Linear B Latinized, which means “an enclosure, i.e. a sheep pen”, whereas in the wine-making sector it appears as perusinowo (Latinized), meaning “last year’s (wine)”. Prof. Lynne Ribaud, who initially compiled this table of units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, assigned the value “a bunch of...”, presumably referring to “a bunch of grapes”, but this meaning is very uncertain.

Since these accounting terms are extremely common in Linear B inventories, anyone wishing to truly master Linear B must become familiar with all of them.  

Andras Zeke of Hungary, the owner of the now defunct

Minoan Language Blog
(a terrible pity, since it was such a magnificent blog) has taken a further step in the right direction, by hazarding more exact estimates of the values of several of the these measurement units, as illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE

Mycenaean-measurement-systems Minoan Language Blog
I have always greatly admired his extremely meticulous logical approach to the analysis of both the Linear A and Linear B syllabaries, and so I am inclined to accept the measurement values he assigns at their approximate face value, although I have no way of verifying his overall accuracy. Other Linear B researchers must have already cross-checked his findings, but as of now I am unaware of the results of any such findings. If anyone reading our blog is aware of other research into the units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, please advise me as soon as possible.


Richard


jackdempseywriter

Just another WordPress.com site

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

Reowr

Poetry that purrs. It's reowr because the cat said so.

Egyptian Moon ~My love of Ancient Egypt~

Hieroglyphic,Ancientegypt,archaeology

Eris' Smile

I'm a reconstructionist-ish Hellenic Polytheist/Pagan. My pronouns are they/them, and I am gay as hell. I mostly intend to write about paganism, politics and maybe Shinto sometimes.

CrapPile

A blog about writing, society, and life itself

Super Sleep Heavy

For times when sleep don't come easy

bal837

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Santorini Tours

Private Tours in Santorini

Duplicate My Success

How to be successful in internet marketing.

A Geordie Lost in London

How to live the London life, on a Northern budget

Penelope Burns

Write | Blog | Create | Earn

Gleaning The Scriptures

The Savior Lives To Teach.

Macedonian Ancestry

"I thank the gods for being Greek" - Alexander the Great

THE GEOPOLITICAL CHESS GAME

Geopolitics - The Road To Global Ruin * Γεωπολιτική - Ο Δρόμος Προς Παγκόσμια Καταστροφή

Care, Bliss and the Universe

Life, the Universe and Yourself

alexankarrbooks

licensed to cunt

William Rubel

The Magic of Fire : Traditional Foodways

Albania -ilire- Pellazgët

GJUHA SHQIPE_ETIMOLOGJI

anne frandi-coory

A Life in Two Halves

Traditional Polytheist

A site devoted to the study and discussion of ethnic and traditional polytheism throughout the world, in regard to its nature, history, and present standing in general.

Rilkes Panther

fictional stories and social commentary

LAZYBUTHEALTHY

Easy healthy recipes for lazy busy people

The Whirling Bee

Reality has no walls, no edges - a journey in altered states of consciousness

SV3DPRINTER

The future of humanity with science and technology research based on 3D, 4D, and 5D Printing. With sv3dprinter.com, small businesses can thrive:)

Diary of a Pagan Art Student

History, folklore, art, paganism

CreyenteAarav

Celebrating Poetry.

O LADO ESCURO DA LUA

Minha maneira de ver, falar, ouvir e pensar o mundo... se quiser, venha comigo...

blog bangla mail

Welcome My Site

GIRLS16@LUND

4th Lund Conference on Games, Interaction, Reasoning, Learning and Semantics

Site Title

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

When Women Inspire

Female empowerment | Inspiring women to success

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Yahuah Is Everything

My blogs on The Bible and the true name of God Yahuah and His Son,Yahusha,

Musings on History

Teacher looking at Ancient History and Gothic Literature in an historical context mainly.

The Deadliest Blogger: Military History Page

The historical writing of Barry C. Jacobsen

THE SHIELD OF ACHILLES

Artistic Reconstruction and Original Translation From Homer's "Iliad" by Kathleen Vail

Akhelas Writing

The Myriad Musings of Austin Conrad

%d bloggers like this: