Tag Archive: priestess

Linear A fragment PH 7 (Phaistos) which is definitely a religious incantation:

PH 7 linear-a-phaistos-a religious incantation

Linear A fragment PH 7 (Phaistos), entirely inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, is definitely a religious incantation. It is fascinating to note that the incantation is highly reminiscent of the Christian mass or communion, call it what you will. The priestess pours water, udiriki (instr. sing.), from a cup, dipaja (gen. sing.) and offers jatimane or the blessed bread of healing to her suppliants, while the whole ceremony, apparently conducted in a small shrine, is illumined by a firebrand. What a lovely, intimate picture of a scared religious ceremony this draws!

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. 

Decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 7, probably inscribed in New Minoan, i.e. the Mycenaean superstratum:

Linear A tablet HT 7 Hagha Triada 620

Linear A tablet HT 7 (Haghia Triada) may have been inscribed entirely in New Minoan, i.e. in the Mycenaean superstratum, and not in the Minoan substrate language at all. The decipherment does makes sense in proto-Greek, but I cannot account for the presence of the numbers 3 & 4, which casts doubt on it.
There is also the problem of human sacrifice. Some historians allege that the Minoans practised human sacrifice, but there is no proof of this at all. Besides, I find a bit strange that a civilization as advanced as the Minoan would have indulged in such a barbaric practice.  But you never know.

Is the Minoan Linear A labrys inscribed with I-DA-MA-TE in Minoan or in proto-Greek? PART B: OR is it in proto-Greek?What?” I hear you asking, “... is that even even remotely possible?” The keyword here is remotely. Remotely, yes, but only remotely. Recall that in the last post, in which I postulated that the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan Linear A words, though which ones among God knows how many possibilities it is exceedingly difficult to determine.

On the other hand, the four consecutive supersyllabograms ID + DA + MA + TE might conceivably stand for the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive proto-greek Greek words, most likely proto-Mycenaean. If that is the case — and, mark  my words, it is far more likely than not that it is not the case — we are once again confronted with a myriad of combinations and permutations of proto-Greek words which have the potential, however thin, of standing in for the 4 consecutive supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE. So be forewarned. The putative decipherment of these 4 supersyllabograms into the one possible decipherment I have arbitrarily posited among hundreds is just  that, putative and tentative, and nothing more.

The tentative decipherment I have come up with runs as follows when the Mycenaean Greek of which it is the apparent forerunner is Latinized:

The supersyllabograms in turn might conceivably mean (but only as a long shot):

I = iyereya (feminine nominative singular), meaning “priestess”
DA =  Damateroyo (feminine genitive singular), meaning “of Damater”
MA =  Matereteiyai (feminine dative singular, meaning “to Mater Thea (the Divine Mother” 
TE = temenoi (masculine dative or locative singular), meaning “(in) the temple”

yielding this Latinized decipherment (which is but one possibility out of 100s): 

iyereya Damateroyo ... matereteiyai (eni) temenoi

... which roughly translates as:

The priestess of Damater... (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) Mater  Thea (i.e. the Divine Mother) (in) the temple.

In this partial sentence, the phrase  (is making offerings -or- sacrificing to) and the preposition eni = “in” do not appear in the original supposed proto-Greek text, which I have extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek to make it fully accessible. Although these words are in fact absent from the original putative proto-Greek, they be supplied  with relative ease to fill in the gaps.

This proto-Greek translation is neatly encapsulated in this chart:


On closer examination, it turns out that, although this decipherment is only one among 100s of possible candidates, it is nevertheless one of the most plausible decipherments, for the following reasons:

1. If as I have pointed out in the previous post, Idamate is an actual Minoan word, as well as being in addition a series of 4 supersyllabograms. Thus, in the Minoan language it may very well mean something along the lines of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B: in other words, Idamate in the Minoan language may be the approximate equivalent of Damate in Mycenaean Linear B and of Demeter in ancient Greek. And if that is the case, the second supersyllabogram (DA) in my parallel proto-Greek translation, which I have deciphered as Damate, almost perfectly matches the Minoan word. This co-incidence, if co-incidence it is, is far too great to be ignored, and it lends a great deal of credence to my proto-Greek translation extrapolated forward to Mycenaean Greek of the second supersyllabogram DA in idamate.
2. But there is more, much more. As it so turns out, there is a sacred cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida, which is very close to the Minoan site of Phaistos. Another co-incidence? The name of the cave dedicated to Zeus on Mount Ida is the “Dictaean Cave”, as illustrated here:


3. It is nothing short of a remarkable co-incidence that Idamate, as inscribed on the labrys, may very well signify “Mount Ida”, as I have clearly indicated  in the previous post. But what does that imply?  I have to wonder whether or not there was a Minoan peak sanctuary on the summit of Mount Ida. This is what a Minoan peak sanctuary probably looked liked:


And if there was, it was of course a temple. Referencing our proto-Greek translation of Idamate, we find that the last supersyllabogram, TE, may readily and realistically rendered as temeno, which in Mycenaean Greek means “a temple”. How fascinating!

Does this imply that the priestess to Damater might have been sacrificing to Mater Thea in a temple or peak sanctuary which may possibly have existed on the summit of Mount Ida? The correlation is truly tempting. However, I must sound a strong note of caution. Such an interpretation of  the last supersyllabogram of Idamate = TE, as the putative Mycenaean word, temeno = “a temple” as being a peak sanctuary is nothing less than a real stretch of the imagination. So it must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Nevertheless, it is possible, however remotely, that the temple in which the priestess of Damater is worshipping just might have been a peak sanctuary. But  I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollars on it.  It is thus remotely possible that Idamate signifies both “Mount Ida” in Minoan and “Mater Thea” in proto-Greek extrapolates forward to later Mycenaean Greek. Further credence is possibly lent to this decipherment by the fact that Mount Ida is clearly visible in the near distance behind the ancient site of Phaistos, as illustrated here and on map below:



But we must be extremely skeptical of such an interpretation. Why so? Just as Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdith erroneously read proto-Slavic into Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada), thereby grossly misinterpreting it, my own attempt to superimpose proto-Greek on the 4 supersyllabograms I + DA + MA +TE may amount to the same genre of fundamental (and gross) inaccuracy in the putative decipherment into proto-Greek of a Minoan Linear A text, in this case, of the word idamate inscribed on the labrys. So we must exercise extreme caution in hypothesizing that the 4 supersyllabograms  I + DA + MA +TE are the first syllabograms, i.e. the first syllables of the 4 consecutive proto-Greek words I have arbitrarily assigned to them. So the fact remains that these 4 supersyllabograms are far more likely to be the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of 4 consecutive Minoan words than of proto-Greek words. I cannot stress this enough. 

2 more haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient Greek, English & French, this time about silence in the temple…



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.

Linear B tablet Pylos TA Ae 08 offerings of gold from her slaves to the priestess at Pylos:

Linear B tablet Pylos Ae 08 offerings by slaves to the priestess at Pylos

The Linear B tablet Pylos TA Ae 08 offerings of gold from her slaves to the priestess at Pylos is one of the most famous of all Linear B tablets. It rounds out our survey of 6 religious tablets in Mycenaean Linear B which may very well serve as templates for the decipherment of Minoan Linear A tablets in the same vein.

The lengthy and highly informative Linear B tablet Pylos Py Er 312 from Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon:

Pylos tablet PY TA Er 312 Linear B

Pylos tablet PY TA Er 312 Linear B Latinized and translation
Linear B tablet Pylos Py Er 312 which Chris Tselentis deciphered in his superb Linear B Lexicon is presented above. This tablet runs the gamut from wheat and wheat seeds, to the measurement of olive oil to a number of references to the gods and sacred cults. Since Linear B tablets from Pylos tend to be significantly larger than those from Knossos, they are often a richer source of information applicable to the decipherment, not only of Linear B tablets, but of Minoan Linear A tablets as well.  You can be sure that I shall rely a good deal lon this tablet in my efforts towards the further decipherment of Minoan Linear A. Since Chris Tselentis has done all the work for us, I have simply translated it into English, without troubling myself with appending the text in Archaic Greek.  

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.


CONTEST QUIZ & LOVELY BOOK PRIZES! Are these statuettes of the Mistress of the Hunt, Zeus & the Priestess of the Winds? Click to ENLARGE:

Potnia Theron Diwo Anemoieriya
NOTE that this POST is classified under the heading MEDIA at the top of this blog. If you click on MEDIA, you will find it much faster than if you simply try scrolling through the hundreds of posts on our blog.

It is quite possible that these 3 statuettes are, from left to right, (a) Potnia Theron (Mistress of the Hunt), (b) DIWO (in Mycenaean Greek) or ZEUS & (c) ANEMOIYEREA (The Minoan Mycenaean Priestess of the Winds). For more on the Priestess of the Winds, click on this BANNER:
POST Anemoiyerea
But they may not be. Who is to say, if not you yourself? So why not tell us, and we will let you know if you are right. Moreover, if you get the answer EXACTLY right, you will win FIRST PRIZE of a fine edition of W. Ceram’s Gods, Graves and Scholars, and if you get the closest answer to the FIRST PRIZE winning answer, your SECOND PRIZE is another fine book on The Minoans. See below for details.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST: It is simple. Answer any of questions (a) to (d) below as you see fit.

To reply with your answer, you may either:
(a) leave your reply in the Comments section for this post; or
(b) send me your answer to either of my e-mail accounts:




(Since I must protect myself from spammers, these e-mail links are not live in this post.
You must add my e-mail address to your address book.)


Good luck!  


While watching a truly fascinating TV program this morning, I happened to see these three statuettes, which I instantly recognized as quite possibly being dated anywhere from the late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age (ca. 1300-800 BCE). Just one look at them, and you can see for yourselves that they could easily date from within these five centuries. But the question is, do they, and if they do not, what are they? Do not kid yourself, this is an extremely tricky quiz question, because, unless you have actually seen the program yourself and you recognized them flash across the screen, then you cannot possibly know the answer. However, to be fair, I shall give everyone out there, whether or not you are an expert in ancient Greek archaeology, an historian of ancient Greece, or an aficionado of all things ancient, more than an even break to guess the right answer... and there is only one. 


Answer these questions as you see fit:
(a) Are these statuettes genuine ancient Greek artifacts, Minoan, Mycenaean or early Iron Age? OR
(b) If not, are statuettes from another ancient civilization, and if, so, which one? OR
(c) Are these statuettes fake? AND
(d) If they are fake, precisely what are they? If you believe (c) to be true, then you must answer (d) precisely, i.e. you must identify exactly what these statuettes are and the actual name of the program from which they are derived. The only way anyone can get this last option (d) correct is if you have actually seen the program in question, and even then, I my be leading you astray. In other words, either (a) or (b) may be the right answer, or on the other hand (c) and (d). YOU DECIDE.

There are two beautiful prizes to be won:
FIRST PRIZE: for the person who tells me precisely what they are, down to the very last detail, providing the actual names of each statute in turn, AND the name of the TV program where I found them, this magnificent volume:

Ceram, C.W. Gods, Graves, and Scholars: the Story of Archaeology. London: the Folio Society, © 1999. xxx, 528 pp. Illustrated with full colour and black & white plates. Bound in full buckram, printed on Inveresk Wove paper by the Bath Press.
Approximate Value: $80

Ceram Gods Graves and Scholars Folio
SECOND PRIZE: for the person who tells me gets the closest to the answer for the first PRIZE, down to the very last detail, providing the actual names of each statute in turn, but missing out on only one or two details, this splendid book: 

Fitton, J. Lesley. The Minoans. London: the Folio Society, © 2004. xix, 392 pp. Illustrated with full colour and black & white plates. Bound in full cloth, printed on Abbey Wove paper by Cambridge University Press. Approximate Value: $65

Fitton Minoans Folio



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