Tag Archive: olive oil

Rita Roberts’ translation of Knossos tablet KN J 1 f 01, her last tablet for her second year of university:

Linear B tablet KN 1 J f 01 priestess of the winds

Line 1: Deukijojo = month name + temeno = shrine. The damaged first syllabogram looks like TO. The actual word temeno =temple” does not appear on the first line of this tablet, since it appears that the the scribe has made a scribal error, which actually happens quite often on Linear B tablets. The writing is messy, and appears to read teno, which would explain the scribal error, i.e. he missed on one syllabogram. Deukijojo could either be a month name, in which case it means “the tenth month” or more properly in this content, “of the tenth month” or it could simply be a persons name. If it refers to the tenth month, then it follows that the entire tablet refers to this month.

Line 2:

Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo = name + newejo = “of something new” + 3 units (probably bales) of barley. Hence the line refers to 3 new units (probably bales) of barley from Wakatanujo – or- Dukatanayo

Line 3:

Padarejode = a place hame, which is a sanctuary = hence, olive oil from Dardare and 2 units (probably bales) of barley.

Line 4:

Pade = name plus olive oil and 1 unit (probably a bale) of barley

Line 5:

Pasiteoi = “to all gods” barley and 1 unit of olive oil

Line 6:

olive oil and barley for Qerasiya = goddess Artemis, with numerals absent because of right truncation.

Line 7:

1 unit of barley to all the gods at Aminiso = Amnisos

Line 8:

2 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil for the goddess Erinu. Note that Erinu references one of the Furies (Erynies) in Greek. So it would appear that the scribe tells us that there was a sacrifice to at least one of or probably all of the Furies to appease them so that crops would thrive.

Line 9:

Gold and olive oil and 1 cyperus plant, probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds in Line 10.

Line 10:

4 cyperus plans dedicated to Anemo Ijereja = to the priestess of the winds

Line 11:

Blank and truncated.

Line 12:

3 units (probably pithoi) of olive oil and 2 units of barely plus 2 cyperus trees (also probably dedicated to the priestess of the winds)

Line 13:

Blank and truncated.


This is the very last tablet Rita Roberts is to translate for her second year of university, and it is by far the most challenging she has ever been confronted with to date. Congratulations to Rita! She is now about to take her final examination for her second year, which is to consist of 25 questions in increasing level of difficulty, the last 5 of which are to be translations of tablets, plus her second year thesis paper, What did the Minoan agricultural sector contribute to the Mycenaean Empire? This paper must be at least 25 pages long, inclusive of the bibliography but excluding illustrations, which will add to the page length of her thesis. Since this thesis paper is much more difficult than her first year thesis, I am allotting her three months to complete it, i.e. Feb. 15 – May 15. However, she must complete the rest of the examination in just 2 weeks (Feb. 15 – March 1 2018).

In the next post, I shall re-inscribe the entire tablet in archaic Greek from the Mycenaean.


Brian Wyble’s carved facsimile of Linear B tablet KN 349 J b 12. He made this himself. Amazing!

Brian Wyble's facsimile of Linear B tablet KN 349 J b 12

Linear B text Latinized:

Rukito apudosi + ideogram for “olive oil” 52+ (because it is right



52 + units (probably amphorae) of olive oil, delivery to Lykinthos.

Transliterated into archaic Greek:

n /b / a0mfiforh/#ei e1laia, a0pu/dosij Lu/kinqo.

Brian is our newest student of Linear B. He already has a fundamental understanding of ancient Greek, although I am sure he realizes from the archaic Greek text above that he needs to master archaic Greek. This should come to him in no time flat.

Welcome from all of us to the study of Linear B, Brian!

Translation of Linear B tablet KN 347 D x 01 by Rita Roberts:

Linear A tablet KN 347 D x 01


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

Linear A tablet KN 349 J b 12


The supersyllabogram ME meza NM1 me/za (fem. sing.) probably means greater, bigger Cf. Linear B mezo me/zwn me/zoj

Knossos, Iraklion, Crete

It appears on Tylissos tablet TY 3 oo, dealing with olive oil and on Zakros tablet ZA 15 wi, dealing with wine. It would seem to imply that the vessels in which these commodities are stored are larger than usual.

The supersyllabogram NE in Linear A = nere larger amphora size (fem. pl.)

amphorae Knossos

NE nere OM = larger amphora size (fem. plural)

HT 23 oo HT 32 oo (x2) HT 100 oo

This supersyllabogram is found on 3 tablets from Haghia Triada, all of which deal with olive oil. This would seem to confirm our interpretation.

the supersyllabogram SU in Linear A, a small cup with handles & the largest pithos size:

Minoan Pithos and small cup with a handle

The supersyllabogram SU in Linear A has two meanings, context dependent. The first is:

1. SU = supa3 (supai)/supa3ra (supaira) OM = a small cup with handles Cf. Linear B dipa mewiyo. The word depa/depu PGS de/paj de/pu (acc.?) = cup occurs in Linear A. Cf. Linear B dipa di/paj & Homeric de/pa

and the second is:

2. SU = supi/supu/supu2 OM = largest size pithos;

but not MOSE * NM1 supu/h sipu/h sipu/a i0pu/a = meal tub. MOSE * = decryption by Prof. Yuriy Mosenkis. This interpretation flies in the face of context on any Linear A tablet or fragment. It is all fine and well to conjecture a proto-Greek or Mycenaean-derived Greek word, but if you check your decipherment against extant tablets, then you may find it invalidated. This must always be done. Otherwise, you will end up with a meaning which is simply out of the question.

The supersyllabogram AKA in Linear A = either wine skin or an embossed cup:

ancient wine skin and the Vapheio cup

BOLD: n. e.g. 1. A = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is either certain or highly probable.

Italics: n. e.g. 7. KI = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is possible.

Standard font: n. e.g. 2 = a supersyllabogram for which the definition is unlikely or questionable.

It is almost certain that the supersyllabogram A in Linear A means either a wine skin or an embossed cup.

1. A aka = aska = a0ska = wine skin -or- apero PGS a1mpeloj = a vine Cf. Linear B apero -or- aresana NM1 a1leisana <- a1leison = an embossed cup (arch. acc.) = de/paj (Homeric) Cf. Linear B dipa/arisu NM1 a1leisu <- a1leison = embossed cup

Note that it appears on HT 2 (Haghia Triada) dealing with olive oil, which is sometimes served from a vessel and on the other 3 tablets, same provenance, all of which deal with vessels, hence the reading, embossed cup:

HT 2 oo HT 39 ve KH 83 ve MA 10 ve

oo = olive oil

ve = vessels

4-sided Cretan pictogram bar with end shown & interpretations of pictograms:

4-sided Cretan pictogram bar with end shown


Cretan pictograms – 30-40: vessels (possibly/probably/definitely) known:

Cretan pictograms for vessels

Although we know that all of these pictograms represent vessels, only 30, 31, 33 & 38. are definite. All of the rest except 40., which is only possible, are probable.

Cretan pictograms – 15-23: crops (possibly/probably/definitely) known:

Cretan pictographs crops

All of the Cretan pictograms from 15 to 23 definitely deal with crops, though in some cases we cannot tell for certain which ones. In other cases, the crops represented by their respective pictograms are either probably or definitely identified. 17a. & 17b. are spice containers. 19a. – 19c. are 3 variants for olives/olive oil. 22. is absolutely the ideogram for wheat. 20. (multiple variants) is saffron.

The first two examples of so-called Cretan hieroglyphs appear to be 4 separate palm-leaf tablets, but are in fact one 4 sided-bar:

Knossos 4 sided bar in Cretan hieroglyphics or not

The first two examples of so-called Cretan hieroglyphs appear to be 4 separate palm-leaf tablets, but are in fact one 4 sided-bar from Knossos. This is of great significance, because if I am right and the text is sequential, from start to finish, and runs dextrograde on each side (which it almost certainly does) then a clear pattern emerges. 5 distinct links are found on the four sides. These are clearly marked on the facsimile of this 4 sided bar (Knossos Hh (04) 03). Consequently, we can assume that this bar tallies contents, for which 5 key ideograms recur, signifying that there is a distinct coherence to the contents they tag. The four-sided bar appears to inventory not only agricultural items, namely, the produce of olive trees (olive oil) and some kind of grain crop, symbolized by the logogram which looks like the Linear A & B syllabogram ZU, but military ones as well. The ideogram for adze or labrys, which is the origin of the syllabogram A in Linear A and B, appears on face 1. Then we have what looks like a helmet on face 2 and a boars tusk helmet (L5) on face 4. (the latter the precursor, it would seem, of the Linear A & B syllabograms for E). Finally, we find an ideogram (L4) which looks like some kind of animal, and my bet is that it is a horse. All of these ideograms and logograms lend credence to a military interpretation.

Translation of Linear B Knossos tablet KN 355 J b 19 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 355 J b 19 by Rita Roberts



Translation of Linear B tablet Knossos KN 346 J a 04 by Rita Roberts:

Linear B tablet KN 346 J a 04 Rita Roberts


Rita Roberts’ translation of Linear B tablet KN 342 J e 01 concerning olive oil:

Knossos tablet KN 342 J e 01 by Rita Roberts

Early Minoan hieroglyphic roundels and seals may lend some insight into the later development of the Linear A syllabary:

Minoan hieroglyphic writing


As illustrated above, early Minoan hieroglyphic roundels and seals may lend some insight into the later development of the Linear A syllabary. Notice that the the hieroglyphic for an axe or labrys looks remarkably like the Linear A and Linear B syllabogram for A, while the Y shaped hieroglyphic, whatever it is supposed to represent (and no one knows what), is similar to the Linear A syllabogram for SA. So it is conceivable, however remotely, that this hieroglyphic seal may actually read asa or saa, whichever way you read it (not that we have any idea what that is supposed to mean).Then we have the hieroglyphic marked with an asterisk (*). This looks very much like a vase, amphora or flask to hold wine, water or possibly even olive oil. There is another one which looks like a fish. That should not be too surprising, given that the ideogram for fish does appear on at least one extant Linear A fragment from Phaistos, as we have witnessed in a recent previous post. Finally, on the bottom line, the seal marked (f) bears a hieroglyphic which looks like a bat, and this in turn may very well be the antecedent to the Linear A syllabogram MA. But this hieroglyphic is not that of a bat, but rather of a cat, which we can see from the beautiful seal on the top left of the illustration. This is substantiated by the some of the variations in the scribal hands for Linear A MA, which indeed look like the visage of a cat, as we see here:

Linear A scribal hands for MA = cat

So I guess it is a cat.

RESEARCH paper: Supersyllabograms in the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy, by Rita Roberts academia.edu:

This essay constitutes Rita Robert’s first foray into major research in ancient Mycenaean linguistics on academia.edu. Rita has composed this highly scholarly article as the major component of her mid-term examination in her second year of university, exactly half way to her degree. Keeping up this pace, she is bound to perform outstandingly in her final essay of her second year, and in her third year thesis paper, which will be considerably more demanding than this study, and about twice as long.

I strongly recommend you to download this study here:

supersyllabograms in agriculture in Linear B academia.edu

It makes for engaging reading in ancient linguistics research.

You can reach Rita’s academia.edu account here to view her other papers:

rita roberts academia.edu


Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) with John G. Youngers errors corrected:

Linear A tablet HT 14 Haghia Triada


Common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat:

Linear A ideograms 620

These are the most common Linear A ideograms for livestock, crops, olives, barley and wheat. Unlike Mycenaean Linear B, Linear draws a distinction between certain species of wheat, with the ideogram for “wheat” accompanied by the supersyllabogram DI meaning dideru = “roasted einkorn” and the same ideogram accompanied by QE , signifying qerie = “emmer wheat”, while at the same time using a slightly different ideogram for “barley”.  In addition, the word sara2 (sarai) = “sharia wheat”. All of these words are firmly established and confirmed in either the Old Minoan or the pre-Greek substratum. Most of the Linear A ideograms are either very similar or identical to their Linear B counterparts.

Here you see illustrations of emmer wheat and roasted einkorn:

roasted einkorn and emmer wheat

And here is sharia wheat:

sharia wheat

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada) almost completely deciphered + the 4 categories of Linear A tablets:

Linear A talbet HT 14 Haghia Triada

Here you see Minoan Linear A tablet HT 14 (Haghia Triada), which I have been able to decipher almost completely. This is because the tablet is comprised mostly of ideograms, making it much easier to reconstruct the original text. In addition, I have already translated the supersyllabogram TE = tereza (on the first line) as being a large unit of liquid measurement, which in the case of wine might be something like “a flask”,  “a jug” or something along the lines of  “a gallon”, on the explicit understanding that there was no such thing as a gallon in Minoan times; this is merely an approximation.  The supersyllabograms PU & DI are unknown, i.e. indecipherable, at least to date. Likewise, the Old Minoan word, apu2nadu (apunaidu) is also unknown, but it might mean  “harvest”. The units of wheat are probably equivalent to something like a bushel. The supersyllabogram MI = mini signifies  “for a month” (dative) or “monthly”, and is New Minoan, i.e. a word of Mycenaean origin superimposed on Linear A.

The rest of the decipherment is self-explanatory.

Decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets falls into four (4) categories:

1. Tablets on which we find only Old Minoan words, or on which the vast majority of words are Old Minoan. These tablets are pretty much indecipherable.
2. Tablets on which we find a combination of Old Minoan and New Minoan (words of Mycenaean origin). The more New Minoan words on a tablet, the more likely we are going to be able to decipher it. Ideally, there should be more New Minoan (Mycenaean) words than Old Minoan (the original Minoan substratum), in order to divine the meanings of Old Minoan words immediately adjacent to New Minoan words. This is of course contextual analysis. Such tablets are at least partially decipherable.
3. Linear A tablets containing ideograms almost exclusively are susceptible to decipherment. HT 14 (Haghia Triada) falls into this category.
4. A very few Linear A tablets are written mostly, almost entirely and in one case only, entirely in New Minoan (the Mycenaean superstratum). These tablets can be be mostly and in some cases entirely deciphered.     
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