Tag Archive: Lykinthos



Translation of Linear B tablet KN 349 J b 12 by Rita Roberts:

Linear A tablet KN 349 J b 12

 


Linear B tablet K 1248, Knossos, a special case:

Knossos tablet K 1248 PE rams

Linear B tablet K 1248 at Knossos presents us with a special case, in so far as it contains two new independent supersyllabograms, RU and KA. KA = kameu, which refers to the owner of a kama, a unit of land, which in turn is for all intents and purposes, synonymous with kitimena = a plot of land. This makes such perfect sense in context that it appears almost incontestable. And it also makes sense that the supersyllabogram KA, the owner of a unit or plot of land must be an independent supersyllabogram, because the owner is not necessarily directly linked to the sheep. Any kind of livestock might be present on his land at any given time. Moreover, the the unit or plot of land as such is independent of whatever livestock or, for that matter, crops which might turn up there. Now the tablet further clearly implies that KA = the owner of a unit of land because he is called by name, Kirinetos. He must be quite a wealthy farmer or superintendent of lands because he owns a lot of sheep (95) at one place (unnamed) and five more at Tuniya, which apparently is a minor outpost, given the small number of rams there. On the other hand, it is very difficult to establish whether or not he also owns a unit of land at Rukito = Lykinthos, since using a supersyllabogram, in this case, RU, to replace a toponym, is completely atypical. In fact, I reserve serious doubts that indeed RU refers to a place name. The only reason I selected it (Rukito) is that this is the only entry in Chris Tselentis' Linear B Lexicon which fits the bill. But it is a pretty poor excuse for the full word represented by the independent supersyllabogram RU, and so we must take it with a serious grain of salt.  I have tried my best.


Linear B tablet KN 349 J b 12, delivery of olive oil to Lykinthios (or Lykinthos):

KN 349 J b 12

Linear B tablet KN 349 J b 12 displays the standard, formulaic text for delivery of anything, in this case, olive oil. In addition, the destination, “to Lykinthios” (or “Lykinthos”, a major island in the Mycenaean Empire) is designated. Had the olive oil been delivered to Knossos, no destination would have been specified, as the Linear B scribes all took it for granted that any tablet mentioning delivery of any livestock (especially sheep) or any commodity (coriander, spices, olive oil etc.) without any mention of the destination was that it was Knossos by default. There was no point in their mentioning Knossos, since after all it was the capital of the Empire, and by far the largest city in it (pop. 55,000+, a huge city for the Bronze Age).


Knossos tablet KN 1280 E m 222, 10 ewes, 10 lambs and 40 sheep in a sheep pen:

Knossos tablet KN 1280 E m 222 lambs and sheep in sheep pens

Knossos tablet KN 1280 E m 222 deals with 10 ewes as mothers of 10 lambs, and also with 40 rams in a sheep pen. The supersyllabogram PA = pauro in Linear B or pauros in ancient Greek, also parvus in Latin = “small” or “little”, hence a small sheep is naturally a lamb. As if. Unfortunately, although the supersyllabogram PA occurs on no less than 38 Linear B tablets in the sheep husbandry sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy, there is no attested word corresponding to this supersyllabogram anywhere in the Mycenaean Greek lexicon. So I had to make an “educated guess”. Well, actually more than just educated. After all, the ancient Greek word pauros = Latin parvus = “small” or “little” eminently fits the bill. So I chose it, just like that. It is possible that this SSYL does not mean “lamb”, but I rather doubt it, especially in light of the fact that the number of lambs on this tablet is exactly equal to the number of ewes. 10 mothers, 10 lambs.



Coriander in Linear B. How does it measure up? Big time! Click to ENLARGE

measurmenrt of Coriander in Linear B on 3 tablets from Scripta Minoa

The translation of these three sequential * tablets is a straightforward affair ( * sequential because I have already translated KN 416). As I mentioned in a previous post, the Minoans & Mycenaeans at Knossos, Phaistos Lykinthos, Surimos, Pylos, Mycenae and elsewhere were crazy about coriander, because that is all they ever talk about on their inventory tablets referencing spices. The only thing that perplexed me at the outset on these tablets was the reference to crimson on tablets KN 417 L e 01 & KN 418 L e 11. I simply could not figure out why the total no. of grams for crimson were at variance with those for coriander. It is obvious to any experienced cook or chef that I know next to nothing about spices. This is unquestionably the reason why initially I could not figure out what the totals for crimson and coriander meant. I strongly suspected that the colour, crimson, was an instance of synecdoche, a literary device where the part represents the whole, in other words, the scribe is referring to a spice which is crimson coloured. Since coriander is green, the crimson spice must be another. That spice must be saffron, since saffron is vividly crimson in colour. So it appears our little conundrum is resolved. I freely admit I had to look these spices up on Google, then Wikipedia, just to confirm my suspicions, and thankfully, they turned out to be right.

So the two spices referenced on these tablets are coriander and saffron.

This is the last of our posts on the metric style measurement system used by the Linear B scribes at all of the locales mentioned above, and others besides.

Richard



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