Tag Archive: Minotaur

Linear B seal BE Zg 1 as erroneously interpreted by Gretchen Leonhardt, corrected here:

Linear B seal BE Zg 1

Gretchen Leonhardt, a self-styled Linear B expert, has erroneously deciphered Linear B seal BE Zg 1.  As she so often does, she misinterprets syllabograms, all to often blatantly violating their phonetic values. It is clear from this seal that the last syllabogram must be either ru or ne, and  certainly not me, by any stretch of the imagination. Leonhardt is also in the habit of recasting the orthography of Linear B words she interprets to suit her own purposes. In this instance, she translates what she mistakenly takes to be the word on the VERSO to be dokame as dokema in Latinized Greek, flipping the vowels. But the second syllabogram is clearly ka, and cannot be interpreted as anything else.  The problem with Ms. Leonhardt’s so-called methodology in her decipherment of any and all Linear B tablets is that she runs off on wild tangents whenever she is confronted with any word that does not meet her preconceptions. In this instance, she is desperate to cook up a meaning which appeals to her, no matter how much she has to twist the Linear B orthography. She indulges in this very practice on practically every last Linear B tablet she “deciphers”, interpreting Linear B words to suit her fancy, except in those instances where she is faced with no alternative but to accept what is staring her in the face.

For instance, allow me to cite some of her translations of certain words on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952.  She has no choice but to accept tiripode as signifying “tripod”, eme as  “together/with” and qetorowe as “four year”, even though it properly means “four”, in line with the Latin orthography, quattuor. Linear B regularly substitutes q for t. As for her so-called decipherment of apu, she should know better than to translate it as  “to become bleached/white”. After all, how could a burnt tripod be bleached white, when scorching turns pottery black? It is astonishing that she would overlook the obvious here. What is even more damning is the indisputable fact that apu is the default aprivative preposition for “from/with” in Mycenaean, Arcadian, Arcado-Cypriot, Lesbian and Thessalian, as attested by George Papanastassiou in The preverb apo in Ancient Greek:

preposition apo in ancient Greek dialects

Then we have mewijo, which she interprets as “a kind of cumin”. Why on earth the Mycenaeans would have bothered with naming a specific kind of cumin when the standard word suffices, is completely beyond me. In fact, the alternative word she has latched onto is extremely uncommon in any ancient Greek dialect. Finally, she bizarrely interprets dipa, which is clearly the Mycenaean equivalent to the Homeric depa, as “to inspect”, another wild stretch of the imagination. Sadly, Ms. Leonhardt is much too prone to these shenanigans, which mar all too many of her decipherments. She ought to know better.

This of course applies to her decipherment of Linear B seal BE Zg 1. Finally, we can also interpret the figure on this seal as representing the Horns of Consecration ubiquitous at Knossos. 

Imagine my utter astonishment when I just now revisited a rare Minoan Linear A tablet from Malia, and deduced that it may be written in proto-Greek!

And here it is, complete with a fairly complete decipherment, except for the word puwi, which utterly escapes me:


As I have just pointed out in the illustration of this tablet above, the implication for the eventual (all but complete?) decipherment of Minoan Linear A are nothing short of staggering ! The first time I attempted to decipher this tablet, I got absolutely nowhere, but this time round the story is quite different.

Compare the decipherment of this rare Minoan Linear A tablet with my decipherment of a Minoan Linear A medallion, on which is inscribed what appears to be the Linear A ideogram for “man”, but in fact is not.


I have explained this in some detail in the preview of my article, The Mycenaean Linear B “Rosetta Stone” to Minoan Linear A Tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) Vessels and Pottery, to be published in Vol. 12 (2016) of the prestigious international journal, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 (the article being currently under wraps until it is eventually published, probably early in 2018), and which will run to at least 50 pages.  

The Famous Linear B Tablet, “Rapato Meno”, the Priestess of the Winds & the Goddess Pipituna, Knossos KN Fp 13: Click to ENLARGE 

Translation of Knossos Tablet KN FP 13 RAPATO MENO

This tablet from Knossos, one of the most famous Mycenaean Linear B Linear B tablets, was first translated by Prof. John Chadwick, who did a fine job of it. There have been several good translations since then, but all of them have failed to notice certain finer details in the text. This translation hopefully brings these details to the fore.

For instance, as I have pointed out in the notes at the bottom of my translation, the units of measurement are open to question. I find it both expedient and wise to rely on the estimates of Andras Zeke of the now defunct Minoan Language Blog, since he has always been a most thorough and conscientious researcher. My estimates, like those of every other translator, are just that. So take them with a grain of salt. Secondly, Professors Killen and Chadwick translated qerasiya as “augur”, and I accept their translation without reserve, as it fits the context very well. However, every single translation to date that I have run across fails to mention that the augur is female, which once again very important in the context of Minoan-Mycenaean religious practices, which seem to have been pretty much the exclusive province of women. In my forth note [4], I call attention to the fact that here the ideogram for “olive” may refer to an “olive tree”, and to those who would (loudly) object to this interpretation, we need only recall that the olive tree was sacred to the goddess Athena in classical Athens. The connection between Minoan-Mycenaean religious practices is indirect and elliptical. However, if we stop to consider legend has it that “...every nine years Athens should send seven of their finest young men and young maidens to Crete, as sacrifice to the Minotaur. When the hero Theseus heard about this practice, he volunteered to be one of the victims, killing the Minotaur, and freeing Athens from this grizzly duty”: from

Research Project on King Minos

it makes more sense to interpret this reference as being an olive tree. This raises yet another question. If, as it appears from the context of this tablet, the Priestess of the Winds was the priestess of Pipituna, there is probably a direct or indirect connection between this goddess and the later Greek goddess, Athena. They might even be one and the same, though this strikes me as being unlikely.

On a final note, we notice that the second reference to anemoiyereya is squashed up against the right side of this tablet, which is after all only 15 cm. or about 6 inches wide. No surprise there, given that almost all Linear B tablets are very small or tiny. This offers a perfectly sound explanation why the last reference to the offering by Utano (or whatever this name is, probably Minoan) to the Priestess of the Winds only gives us the units of measurement, but of what it does not say. Yet it is pretty much obvious that this too is an offering of olive oil, since that is the only commodity offered up on the rest of the tablet. On our bog, I have stressed a great many times the extremely common practice the Mycenaean scribes resorted to over and over again to save precious space on their cramped tablets. This is also the reason why they resorted to the formulaic use of single syllabograms as the first syllable of scores of very common Mycenaean Linear B words in the fields of agriculture, the military, textiles and vessels. People who regularly consult our blog already know that these are called supersyllabograms. Of the 61 Linear B syllabograms, 33 are supersyllabograms, while one homophone, rai = saffron is also in the same class.

In conclusion, the preceding observations have allowed me the latitude to bring a little more precision to the translation of Knossos tablet KN FP 13.

As a final aside, I for one find the use of Latin to reference the names of Linear B ideograms strange at best, and downright silly at worst. The words the ideograms replace are Greek; so the ideograms should be labelled in Greek, with an English translation for those who do not read Greek. Given that most people do not read Latin these days, what difference does it make? Little or none. For this reason, I myself always tag Linear B ideograms with their proper (Mycenaean or archaic) Greek names.


FIVE SECOND STORIES: Theseus and the Minotaur & many more hilarious stories!
Theseus and the Minotaur: Click to ENLARGE:


Robert Clear does have a very clear name after all.

And click on this BANNER to go to his Blog where you can find his wonderful story:

five second stories MINOTAUR

You will note that I have added the Mycenaean Linear B Greek & ancient Greek for some of the key words in this wonderful story. What truly amazes me is that Robert translated “Minotaur” correctly, as “mino” = small + “taur” = bull, although the spelling of “mino” in Mycenaean Linear B is usually “meno”, but that is fine with me. If it makes Robert and all of his readers happy, that is all that matters.

So I hope you like it as much as I do.

Also, Robert Clear’s home page is here: Click on the BANNER: 

five second stories

He has plenty more 5 second stories on his home page. His 5 second stories are very funny, and some of them hilarious. My personal favourites are:

A HYENA, a cross between a cat and a dog! (absolutely hilarious! I should get one. I already have 4 cats)
CEDRIC is convinced that everyone thinks he is DULL. 




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