Tag Archive: priest

Translation of a very tricky Linear B tablet, Knossos KN 913 D k 01 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 913 D k 01 translation by Rita Roberts

The decipherment of this tablet is far from clear-cut, and all because of 1 word, paro, the first on both lines 1 and 2. This word very likely corresponds to the ancient Greek pa/loj (palos) = a lot (cast), meaning a lot cast by one or more people to decide who is obliged to do something, and in this case, which is apparently a religious context, that something is the sacrifice of a billy goat and a she goat. Etowono got the lot for the ram, probably the long stick, if that is what it was, given that we are dealing with a ram here. Komawete got the short one for the she goat. It kind of makes sense, and in fact there would seem to be no other rational interpretation of this tablet. It is one of the trickiest I have ever assigned to Rita, and this aroused her suspicions in the first place. Because she could not possibly have recognized the (archaic or ancient) Greek for paro, I had to delve into that word. Otherwise, her translation is highly commendable, and deserves a full 100 %.


Haiku in Linear A, Zadeu the priest, reminding us of Handel’s Zadok the Priest: 

Minoan Linear A haiku Zadeu wireu Zadeu the priest

Handel Zadok the priest score

Free translation of Linear A tablet KH 5 (Khania) concerning the shipping of wine by sea?

Linear A tablet KH 5 Khania enhanced

If this tablet, KH 5 (Khania) is inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, then it would appear that it deals with the shipping of wine by sea. The fact that the floor boards are apparently level would imply that the shipment was carried out successfully in calm seas. On line 1, adakisika, which is Mycenaean-derived New Minoan with orthography adapted to Old Minoan, translates as and adorned with ivy, which implies that the cargo has been blessed by a priest(ess). If this is the case, there is text missing before this phrase, which after all ends with and”, hence possibly “and adorned with ivy (blessed by a priest(ess))”. If NA references nauwi, i.e. “on a ship”, then the mention of “on a level wooden floor (i.e. deck)” makes sense in context. This decipherment may be largely correct, but there is no way of verifying this with any certainty. Finally, if PA is the first syllabogram of pa3ni (paini), which I interpret as Old Minoan for “amphora”, then the wine is being shipped in amphorae, the only way wine could have been shipped in Minoan times. As if…

Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada), apparently in Mycenaean derived Greek:

Linear A tablet HT 87

Linear A tablet HT 87 (Haghia Triada) is apparently inscribed in Mycenaean derived Greek. The literal translation and the free translation derived from it do make sense if we interpret the text as being Mycenaean derived Greek. The only word which is indecipherable is sa?supu -or- ni?supu. I cannot determine what the word is, since the syllabogram on the far left is left-truncated. It may be either ni or sa. On thing is certain: Prof. John G. Younger got it wrong. But it is probably an archaic proto-Greek word, which may mean something along the lines of “perfumed”, resulting in a translation “perfumed unguent”, of which 1 part is saffron. This makes sense in context. 

9 new Minoan Linear A words under U-WI, all of but 1 of which are probably of proto-Greek origin:


The 9 new Minoan Linear A words under U-WI are all probably of proto-Greek origin. As for those terms beginning with the syllabograms WA & WI, I have come to the conclusion that they all begin with digamma, meaning that digamma is even more common in Minoan Linear A than it is in Mycenaean Linear B. If we take into account that every last one of the Minoan Linear A words beginning with digamma would appear without digamma in Mycenaean Linear A, they all are equivalent to their Mycenaean Linear B and ancient Greek counterparts (the latter having dropped digamma for good). For instance, [3] TERA is almost certainly the ancient volcanic island of Thera, now Santorini, while [5] WAJA is equivalent to archaic Greek aia = earth, land and [7] WIJA is fem. pl. = arrows. The only word I have been unable to satisfactorily decipher is [6], of which I was able to decipher the first 2 syllabograms. You have to read the table to see my translation.

With this, we have come full circle to the end of our remarkable journey towards the decipherment of Minoan Linear A. Now that I have deciphered every last word I believe is of proto-Greek, proto-Hebrew, proto-Semitic or proto-Scythian origin, I have reached a cumulative grand TOTAL of 62 new Minoan Linear A words, expanding my original Minoan Linear A Glossary of 107 words = 21.5% of the total extant Linear B lexicon of 510 terms by my arbitrary count to a TOTAL = 169 words = 33 % of the total Minoan Linear A lexicon, which is exactly the sum and percentage I had predicted! This amounts to what is demonstrably a workable decipherment of the Minoan language, including of its grammar, which had evaded me before.

Now all I have to do is to decipher as many of the 27 supersyllabograms in Minoan Linear A, beyond the 9 I have already deciphered. Now that I am armed with 62 new Minoan Linear A words, I am quite sure that I shall be able to decipher quite a few more of the supersyllabograms, and with that goal accomplished, I shall have effectively and once and for all deciphered the Minoan language.


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.  

What does the word teri mean in Minoan Linear A?

Minoan Linear  A TERI sheep and olive oil

In spite of the fact that Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog attributes to the Minoan Linear A word teri the name of a type of ram on Linear A tablet PH 31, his translation cannot stand, because the same word is used in association with olive (oil) on another tablet, HT 91 (Haghia Triada). So the term is clearly independent of either association. On the other hand, the context of both these tablets is susceptible of assisting in determining what teri might mean. We should definitely take into account that only 1 ram and 1 (amphora?) of olive oil is mentioned on each of these two tablets. So the context severely limits our interpretation(s), since only large numbers of rams and olive oil admit of more liberal translations. I found that I had no real choice other than to consult Chris Tselentis’ superb Linear B Lexicon, in order to extract any meaning(s) that might possibly mesh with the Minoan word teri in light of the fact that only 1 reference is made to a ram and an amphora of wine. Under the circumstances, the only practicable translations I could come up with were: [1] just delivered (as it is certainly conceivable that just 1 of either of the above could have been “just delivered” to a farmer or possibly to a priest or priestess, possibly for sacrifice [2] as an offering, again to a priest or priestess, possibly for sacrifice or [3] being delivered, once again in the same context.

This brings the number of Minoan Linear A words we have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 65.

Rams for ritual slaughter: KN 386 A 87 & KN 387 X c 57 joins:

KN 386 & KN 387 tablet joins sacrificial rams

Here I am really digging deep into unknown waters in the decipherment of Linear B, deeper than I ever have.

These two fragments were originally one tablet. The central part is missing. This has got to be one of the most fascinating challenges I have ever encountered in the decipherment of Linear B text, since, as with all Linear B joins, it requires the decipherer to attempt to fill in the blanks, so to speak, i.e. the missing part of the original tablet, which as you can see is in an inverted V shape. If at all possible, as much the text that originally was located within that V has to be restored. Since as everyone knows who visits our blog that I am never one to skip a challenge, no matter how tough, I took it upon myself to make a serious attempt at a plausible reconstruction of at least part of the missing text, and to my satisfaction, I believe I succeeded, in the sense that I have recovered what might plausibly have been some of the original text, at least conjecturally. Any other interpretation might suffice, provided that (a) it made sense in the context of the text preserved on the two adjacent sides & (b) that the missing vocabulary was consistent with the ritual of religious sacrifice of sheep, a common practice in many civilizations of the ancient world.

Let us walk through my decipherment of the so-called missing text step by step. First of all, we have the left truncated syllabograms ... NO heading the first line of the right hand side of the original tablet (KN 387 X c 57). It is no easy matter to even make a stab at what the rest of this word could possibly have meant, or for that matter, how many syllabograms, in other words, syllables, it contained. So I had to take the only recourse available to me, and that was to ransack Chris Tselentis’ excellent Linear B Lexicon of at least 2,500 Linear B words for any word ending in NO which might possibly suit the context, keeping firmly in mind that this is the scene of a religious ceremony involving the ritual sacrifice of a ram or rams. I finally found the term which ideally suited the context, and it is temeno, which means a religious shrine or temple. It fits the context like a glove. So the likelihood that this was indeed the missing word ending with left-truncated NO is reasonably assured. On the second line of the same fragment (the right side), we have repa, the last two syllabograms or syllables of another missing word. The term which immediately leaped to mind was arepa = “cream” or “ointment”, and if that is a putative “correct” translation, it can be interpreted as meaning an  “anointing cream”. Fits the bill. The third word on the third line of the right hand side of the fragment, ending in the single syllabogram WE, was much harder to divine. It could be one of a dozen things, but I finally settled on duwowe, meaning  “a two handled vessel or urn”.  This again suits the context, but it is only one of scores of possible interpretations, all of which would have equally suited the context.  I was working on the assumption that the person making the sacrifice, presumably a priest, would have cremated the ashes of the ram(s) after the sacrifice. But this is definitely going out on a limb, since in most ancient societies, sacrificial slaughter of  sheep or rams involved killing them and then roasting them on a spit for subsequent consumption in a religious feast honouring the god” or if Hebrew, God. On the other hand, the Minoans and Mycenaeans may have (also) cremated the ashes of the sacrificed ram. If there is any researcher or archaeologist out there who visits this blog and can refute the notion of post-sacrificial cremation among the Minoans and Mycenaeans, please have at it and I shall revise my decipherment accordingly. 

Moving over to the left hand side of the join (KN 386 A 87), which contains considerably less text, we have on the second line the syllabogram QE, which by itself means “and”, but which in this case might possibly be the last syllabogram, i.e. last syllable of a Linear B word... except that scarcely any Linear B words end in QE,  and any way the syllabogram QE in this context is written huge. So I am left with no other alternative than to interpret it as I have done = “and”.  But “and” what? There you have me. I am stumped. On the next line, the third one down, we have the ideogram for “man” or “person” followed by the number 1, for “one person”, this in turn followed by the supersyllabogram SA, and then by the ideogram for “ram” and the number 1. The SSYL SA I have previously established on another tablet posted on this blog as most likely meaning sapaketeriya = “for ritual slaughter” or “for ritual sacrifice”. This too suits the context very well.  You can see the downwards pointing arrow from the ideogram for “man” to the word Towaune = “Towaunes”, presumably the name of the man, on the fourth line. His name in turn is followed by a Linear B word, which, if complete, is doke, a variation on odoke, the aorist (simple past) of the verb didomi (in Linear B), which means “to give” or “to offer”, and in this context “to offer up” (for ritual sacrifice). So now the sense is complete, except for all those single syllabograms (qe wa & po) on the left side of the join, which I can make no sense of at all. And that is a pitfall. However, within these restraints, I have been able to come up with one possible, even plausible interpretation (among God knows how many others), which you can see in translation at the bottom of the figure above.


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