Tag Archive: Renaissance



Researcher Cites Ancient Minoan-era Computer:

minoan_computer

This Minoan object preceded the heralded Antikythera Mechanism. If we take the definition of a computer as being a device that can compute, even at the most basic level, then this computer meets the bottom line of the definition.

A stone-made matrix has carved symbols on the surface of this computer related with the Sun and the Moon, serving as a cast to build a mechanism that functioned as an analog computer to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. The mechanism was also used as sundial and as an instrument calculating the geographical latitude. In this sense, it predates the astrolabe, an instrument of some antiquity (i.e. since Minoan times).

Researcher Cites Ancient Minoan-era Computer:

Researcher Minas Tsikritsis who hails from Crete — where the Bronze Age Minoan civilization flourished from approximately 2700 BC to 1500 century BC — maintains that the Minoan Age object discovered in 1898 in Paleokastro site, in the Sitia district of western Crete, preceded the heralded “Antikythera Mechanism” by 1,400 years, and was the first analog and “portable computer” in history.

“While searching in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion for Minoan Age findings with astronomical images on them we came across a stone-made matrix unearthed in the region of Paleokastro, Sitia. In the past, archaeologists had expressed the view that the carved symbols on its surface are related with the Sun and the Moon,” Tsikritsis said.

The Cretan researcher and university professor told ANA-MPA that after the relief image of a spoked disc on the right side of the matrix was analysed it was established that it served as a cast to build a mechanism that functioned as an analog computer to calculate solar and lunar eclipses. The mechanism was also used as sundial and as an instrument calculating the geographical latitude.

Source: Athens News Agency [April 06, 2011]


For the definition of the astrolabe, see

astrolabe Wikipedia

Persian models dating as far back as the eleventh century have been found, and Chaucer wrote a Treatise on it in the late 1300s. But different models of astrolabes date as far back as somewhere around 400 BCE, when Theodora of Alexandra wrote a detailed treatise on the astrolabe. Historically, many different versions of the astrolabe have arisen since then. For a full account of astrolabes, consult Wikipedia: Astrolabe. But the whole point is that the Minoan computer predates even the earliest of these (vide supra), by at least 1,000 years!

By the Elizabethan era it consisted of a large brass ring fitted with an alidade or sighting rule:

Mariner's Astrolabe Francisco de Goes 1608

Notice the astonishing resemblance between the Minoan computer and the astrolabe from 1608 above.

***

For the amazing Antikythera Mechanism, see the next post.


Great Photos to Welcome us back home to Canada from our grand tour of central Europe!

After spending almost a whole month in Europe (25 days), starting first with Budapest, Hungary for 3 days, then continuing on to Vienna, Austria for 5 days, thence to Prague, the Czech Republic for a week, and finally on to Warsaw, Poland for our last 9 days, we are finally back home here in Canada, though as you can all well imagine, not without mixed emotions.  It goes without saying that this was such an exciting vacation, visiting so many astonishingly beautiful locales, we must both miss Europe terribly, all  the more so considering that we added side trips to 3 more magnificent cities, Salzburg and Krakow for Louis-Dominique and Gdansk for myself. What a totally unanticipated and unimaginably rewarding dream come true! Words simply cannot express our profound joy at visiting so many famous European cities, all of which date from the cradle of European, hence, Western, civilization.

While even photos cannot adequately express the profound spiritual impact these amazing venues had on us, they can at least offer you all a glimmer of the fantastic experiences that await you should you ever decide to do a grand tour of central & Eastern Europe yourself. Beginning with this post, I shall be posting 4 of my finest photos for each of the 6 cities we visited, from the approx. 6,000 (!) I took during our voyage. You are going to love them!

So let us start with Budapest, Hungary: Click each photo to ENLARGE it:

1. Budapest Parliament Florentine cupola:
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2. Budapest Parliament by night:
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3. Saint Matthias church with location and detail of weather vane:
StMatthias
4. Budapest Museum frieze:
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5. Budapest cathedral frieze: Ego sum via veritas et vita = I am the way, the truth and the life.
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6. Danube River with Budapest Chain Bridge from our night cruise boat:
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Richard 


Introduction to the Complete Bibliography of 138 Citations for “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the 2015 Conference in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015.

In the next 2 posts, I shall present my exhaustive bibliography of 138 items (79 citations in each of the two parts) for the talk I shall be giving on “The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B” at the 2015 Conference, “Thinking in Symbols” in the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015. It is so exhaustive that I doubt I have missed any sources of any significance to the topic at hand. Of course, the paper of the talk itself cannot be released at this time, as it is still under wraps.

Certain researchers past and present, above all Marie-Louise Nosch, have made significant contributions towards the realization of the General Theory of Supersyllabograms which I have just finalized this year, after a year of intensive research (spring 2014 – spring 2015). Previous researchers have sometimes come right up to the edge of a general theory correlating the single or multiple syllabograms they usually designate as “adjuncts” or “endograms” to the Linear B ideograms to which they are “surcharged” (i.e. attached), and which they invariably qualify. But all of these definitions are lacking in one sense or another, for the following reasons:

1. Although designated as (mere) “adjuncts” to the ideograms they invariably qualify, these associative single or multiple syllabograms (up to a maximum of 5!) are far more than that. Standing in as first-syllable abbreviations for words and even entire phrases in Mycenaean Greek, they play an absolutely critical rôle in significantly qualifying the ideograms to which they are attached, all the more so when the tablet on which they are found contains no text whatsoever, but only ideograms with these so-called “adjuncts”. But since these “adjuncts” invariably replace either Mycenaean words or (very often) entire phrases, they cannot be relegated to the status of simple adjuncts. In far too many instances, these single syllabograms encompass so much text that their inherent meaning as such turns out to be much more comprehensive and significant than that of the ideograms to which they are presumably attached. In other words, the single syllabogram(s) embodies/embody so much more than what would have otherwise been nothing but wasteful discursive text. So it appears that we should expediently and practically refer to as the ideogram as the adjunct, rather than the other way around.

On tablets with no text whatsoever and with 3 or more syllabograms performing this function, it is more than apparent that all of the single syllabograms functioning as the first syllable of a Mycenaean Greek word or an entire phrase replace so much discursive text that they literally cut down the amount of space used on the tablet in question by as much as two-thirds! Since the Linear B scribes at Knossos and Pylos in particular were real sticklers for saving as much space as they possibly could on what were (and are) extremely small extant tablets (rarely more than 15 cm. or 6 inches wide), they resorted to this stratagem so often (on at least 23% of the Linear B tablets at Knossos) that the practice is, if anything, of far greater importance to an accurate decipherment of those tablets on which they appear than was previously thought. It is for this reason that I have come to designate syllabograms playing this rôle as supersyllabograms, and certainly not as mere “adjuncts” or “endograms”, since that is patently what they are – supersyllabograms.

2. The designation of supersyllabograms as “endograms” is extremely misleading and quite inaccurate, since as many of these supersyllabograms precede as follow the ideograms to which they are attached. So “endograms” account for only half of supersyllabograms at best. Besides, what are we to call the supersyllabograms which precede the ideograms to which they are attached? Has anyone thought of that or even mentioned it in previous research? Not that I have ever seen, and I have read every single document (monographs, journal articles and articles in every past conference) I could lay my hands on. The reason for this lacuna is clear enough. Past researchers have focused solely on “adjuncts” or “endograms” related solely to the field of research in Mycenaean Linear B which is of primary and frequently exclusive interest to themselves. Even Marie-Louise Nosch, who has done an astonishing amount of truly remarkable research in this area, has restricted herself to the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy, as that is her primary field of interest. Fair enough. 

Given this scenario, it appears to me that researchers past and present have been focusing exclusively on the trees or even sometimes, as with Marie-Louise Nosch, on whole clearings in forest. But none have ever concentrated on the entire forest, at least until last year, when I myself decided to ransack every single syllabogram on some 3,000 tablets (not fragments) from Knossos, in order to hypothesize, if at all possible, a general pattern to the use of supersyllabograms with ideograms. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. So far, I have discovered that at least 33 of the 61 syllabograms plus one of the homophones (“rai” for saffron) frequently function as supersyllabograms. Under the circumstances, and given that so many scribes so often resorted to this strategy, I soon enough concluded that it was not only a standard convention in the compilation of some 700 tablets at Knossos, but that the supersyllabograms found on these tablets were almost invariably formulaic codes. And in ancient Greek – witness Homer alone - any practice which was both conventional and formulaic was always deliberate. No-one ever resorts to such strategies in any language, unless they have abundant reason to do so.

This is all the more true for the practices the Linear B scribes routinely ascribed to, given that they would do absolutely anything, if they possibly could, to save precious space on their tiny clay tablets. This too is another crucial factor past researchers have overlooked. Linear B scribes only recorded information which was absolutely essential to the precise compilation of what were (and are) after all statistical accounts and inventories. We can take the far-reaching consequences and implications of this conclusion even further. Have you ever seen a modern-day inventory which resorts to similar tactics to conserve precious space and to make the inventory as clear, precise and accurate as possible? Of course you have. As illustrated in the following two examples, the most efficient of modern inventories resort to the same tactics, the formulaic use of code abbreviations as substitutes for wasteful discursive text with predictable frequency – which is almost always: Click to ENLARGE each one with its relevant notes

aircraft inventory 

liquor inventory

In other words, just as abbreviations serve as default codes in modern inventories, supersyllabograms function pretty much the same way on the Linear B tablets. Supersyllabograms are in fact inventory codes for the Mycenaean Linear B words or entire phrases they replace. This revelation surely substantiates the claim I am now going to make: the Linear B scribes were far ahead of their time in the compilation of inventories and statistics. No other ancient language, including classical Greek and even Latin, came remotely close to this extremely advanced practice the Linear scribes so brilliantly and consciously contrived for their astonishing ability to create practical templates they consistently applied to inventorial management. And no-one until the Italian bankers in Renaissance was to revive the practice with equal skill. As for the standard practices of the Linear B scribal inventories, they are so remarkably alike modern 20th. & 20st. Century practices that it is uncanny.         

3. But there is more. Why previous researchers have not drawn attention to the fact that many supersyllabograms, especially in the field of textiles, neither precede nor follow the ideograms they qualify, but are almost invariably inside them, is beyond me. Once again, no one in any language resorts to any stratagem without solid practical and even logical reason(s). Such is the case with the textile “intragrams”, as opposed to “exograms” in Linear B, the latter of which invariably qualify pretty much all ideograms in the field of agriculture. Again, this raises the critical, hardly hypothetical, question, why. And again, there are substantive and strictly functional reasons why the Linear B scribes made this critical distinction – because they knew they had to. Supersyllabograms functioning as “exograms” are always associative, while those operating as “intragrams” are invariably attributive. The Linear B scribes made this fundamental distinction between the two sub-classes of supersyllabograms for the simple reason that they, as a guild, knew perfectly well what the operative distinction was which each of these types of supersyllabograms played on the tablets on which they were inscribed. The talk I am giving at the Conference in Pultusk between June 30 and July 2 2015 will make this perfectly clear.

4. I have no objection to the designation “surcharged” for “exograms” as supersyllabograms, because they are not only literally surcharged onto the ideograms with which they are always associated, they also figuratively surcharge the meaning(s) of these ideograms, in a sense somewhat akin to super-charged gasoline or petrol which beefs up engine performance in cars - or by symbolic association, something along those lines. But I am forced to object to the designation of “intragrams” as surcharged in the textiles sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economies, for the obvious reason that they are both literally and figuratively not surcharged at all. Again, the scribes never resorted to “intragrams”, unless they were absolutely critical to an actual attribute, whenever required in a particular case, such as the frequent designation of colour for textiles. Ask yourselves, why would any scribe in his right mind write out the full name of the default colour white for linen, when he did not have to? He simply would not. On the other hand, the Linear B scribes did make use of an attributive supersyllabogram when they knew perfectly well that it was critical to the economic class status of the cloth so designated. For instance, purple cloth, designated by the supersyllabogram PU for Mycenaean Linear B pupureyo – a royal colour par excellence – was much more refined and far more expensive than the heavier and coarser plain white linen cloth (rino) spun for the hoi polloi (the lower classes). So they had to mention that for the sake of the “wanaka” or King (of Knossos or Mycenae) to whom this distinction was all too important, given that neither he nor his Queen no any of the princes royal would ever be caught dead wearing cheap cloth.

There is much more to this than meets the eye, as I shall clearly illustrate in the book, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to appear sometime in 2016, if all goes well.

I would be truly remiss were I not to acknowledge the major contributions the French researcher, Marie-Louise Nosch, whom I have cited 15 times (!) in my bibliography, has made to fundamentally accurate definitions of supersyllabograms in the textile sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy. Although I happened upon all of her astonishingly insightful research articles only after I had deciphered 32 of the 34 supersyllabograms (the other two being beyond me, as well as her), the truly accurate and intrinsically logical conclusions she came to on her own back up my conclusions on the meanings of practically all the intragrams for textiles almost to the letter. This amazing co-incidence, if that is merely what it is, serves as solid circumstantial collateral evidence to substantiate my Theory of Supersyllabograms. Co-incidence? I rather doubt that. It is a given that researchers in any scientific field tend to strike their bearings in the same general direction in any age, including our own. Like Odysseus, we are all heading for the same shore. The most convincing conclusions which will eventually be drawn from the research we are all sharing in now are yet in the offing. But in my eyes one thing is certain. Everything we researchers in Mycenaean Linear B, as a community, are aiming for now is bound to make a ground-breaking, perhaps even profound, contribution in the near future to make the further decipherment of Linear B considerably much more accurate than any we have seen to date.

The Bibliography to follow in two parts (1-69 & 70-138) in the next two posts.

ADDENDUM: I shall be publishing this post & the next two in academia.edu very soon, prior to my presentation at the Conference in Pultusk, Poland, June 30 - July 2, 2015.

Richard

Ideal Demands for ZERO-TOLERANCE in Accounting & Inventories from Mycenaean Greece, to Classical Athens, Imperial Rome, the House of Medici and beyond – References to Wikipedia Articles & Several Illustrations

Inventorial Accounting Demand for ZERO-TOLERANCE Applied to the Translation of the Tricky Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231 by Rita Roberts: Click to ENLARGE

KN 1507 Ed 23l Nawiro Rams & Ewes
Our working hypothesis for Rita carefully considered translation of Knossos tablet KN 1507 E d 231.

Before proceeding to the genesis of our hypothesis for a realistic and practical translation of this very tricky Linear B tablet, allow me to inform you all that Rita is now being confronted with mind-bending challenges in the decipherment of really difficult Linear B tablets. Had I known this when I initially assigned Rita this tablet and the next one to be posted, I would have surely left them for her first year of her university level curriculum. However, as it turns out, the fact that she had to force herself to stretch her logical powers of observation to the extreme means that she is more than ready to rise to the even more daunting challenges facing her in the next month or so, when she finally embarks on her first year of university level studies. The fact that she was eventually able to translate this tough tablet, the two of using working together, speaks to her mastery of Linear B, which is already very considerable.

Working Hypothesis:

Since Linear B is first and foremost an accounting language for Mycenaean Greek, in other words, a subset of this archaic Greek dialect, we should expect that all accounting and inventorial records would have to be completely accurate, both with respect with line items and with total, zero-tolerance in arithmetical calculation in any Linear B tablet in this sphere, and that means something like 90-95 % of all tablets in Linear B, regardless of provenance. While there are quite a few tablets dealing with religious matters, meaning that in that case Linear B cannot be considered as an accounting subset of Mycenaean Greek, but must be construed as a religious affairs subset of the dialect, we leave this aside for future consideration.

Meanwhile, there are critical problems with not only this tablet, but plenty of others in the sphere of inventorial accounting, which simply must be addressed, and if possible, resolved. Based on the criteria our hypothesis for accounting and inventories demands in any society in any historical era, we should take into consideration several eras in succession, from the most ancient Babylonian through Egyptian, Mycenaean, the Athenian Treasury at Delphi: 507-470 BCE (Wikipedia) - a reasonably efficient financial system

Treasury of Athens at Delphi 507-470 BCE

and Roman Imperial Finances, the aerarium or state treasury under Augustus Caesar (62-14 BCE) and beyond (an exceedingly inefficient and corrupt financial system):

Roman Finance: Wikipedia (Click on the cameo of Augustus Caesar):


Cameo of Augustus Caesar 

to those of the Middle Ages, and above all else, the much more efficient accounting and banking procedures established by the Medici family in Florence in the 14th. And 15th. Centuries AD. ALL THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS WERE IN UNIVERSAL CONFORMITY IN EVERY HISTORICAL ERA, because they were not. This is especially true of the late Medieval era and the early Renaissance, when the sloppy Medieval accounting procedures in most European nations other than Italy seriously clashed with the extremely efficient banking system of the Medici in Florence.

The House of Medici (Wikipedia): Click on their Coat of Arms - ZERO-TOLERANCE Banking System

Coat_of_arms_of_the_House_of_de'_Medici

In fact, it was the Medici who invented the modern system of banking. Further developments and refinements ran through to the establishment of the Exchequer in Renaissance England: Click on the image of Thomas Cromwell - corrupt financial system

Thomas Cromwell Earl of Essex

Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) Chancellor of 
the Exchequer under Henry VIII (1533-1540)

and Ministries of Finance in the Renaissance and the 17th.

Henri de Schomber 1575-1632 Superintendent of Finances 1619-1622
     Superintendent of Finances
(France: 1561-1661) - reasonably accurate

and 18th. centuries

Necker,_Jacques portait by Joseph Duplessis Finance Minister to Louis XVI 1788-1789
   Comptroller General of Finances
(France: 1681-1791) - extremely corrupt

on to the rigorous banking system of the late nineteenth and early 20th. Centuries to the most modern stock market software systems, it is patently obvious that they all should ideally demand the following basic criteria:

(a) line items in accounts and inventories must be completely accurate, and precisely named, down to the most specific details;
(b) line and summary calculations cannot and must not contain any errors whatsoever. Zero tolerance;
(c) accounting and inventorial procedures must be completely standardized across the board, from one site to another, from one city to another and one nation to another, regardless of historical period. Otherwise, the accounting system in place in that historical era collapses for lack of complete conformity. And all too many did! See above. We know that Mycenaean Linear B was consistent across the board, regardless of the site were the scribes used it, whether Knossos, Phaistos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae or elsewhere.
(d) Accounting systems, if they are be at all effective and rendered zero-tolerance, must be subject to audit, regardless of the historical era in which they are in use. Rita Roberts and I are convinced that such an auditing system was securely in place in Minoan/Mycenaean society in which Linear B was the standard language of accounting and inventory.

This is the administrative palatial accounting and inventorial system which Rita and I believe was operative in the Minoan/Mycenaean era when Linear B was the standard accounting language. Regardless of site, Knossos, Phaistos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae or elsewhere, it would appear that the administrative palatial accounting and inventorial offices were configured as follows:

The Efficient Audited ZERO-TOLERANCE Minoan + Mycenaean Palatial Office of Inventories and Accounting:

There was a large administrative palatial accounting and inventorial office (or room, if you must insist), especially at the metropolis of Knossos (pop. ca. 55,000), in which a relatively large number of scribes (possibly 10-40) ranged themselves for their daily work along a very long table or tables, all of them on the same side of each table, for the simple reason that each of the scribes must have had each of his tablets audited, either by the scribe to his left or right, or by both, to ensure zero-tolerance for line itemization and mathematical accuracy. If scribes had been seated on opposite sides of their table or tables, it would have been much more difficult to audit one another’s inventorial tablets, as they would have had to pass their work across the table(s), thereby adding to the risk of error, when zero-tolerance is demanded. That would have been an unacceptable scenario. Think of it this way: would anyone in their right mind nowadays allow for any deviance from the standardized international online stock market system? Never! Likewise, the Mycenaean system must have been based on the same general principles, and the pretty much the same specific accounting criteria put into practice. Otherwise, the system would have collapsed. Such a system makes perfect sense, especially for Mycenae an Greeks who were, after all, Greek. The ancient Greeks were notorious for their insistence on accuracy and logic, right from the outset, all the way through to the rise of their astonishingly consistent philosophical systems in the age of Plato and Aristotle, and far beyond.

Zero-Tolerance on any Linear B Inventorial Accounting tablet based on the template of Knossos Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231:

Given the strict criteria for Mycenaean accounting procedures we have proposed above, Knossos Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231 must stand up to scrutiny down to the very last detail. But there are problems with it which immediately leap to the fore. The scribe has scratched out, i.e. erased all the text to the left of the and below the number 2 (if it is the number 2). What does this tell us? If we assume our hypothesis is correct, and we are pretty much convinced it is, it tells us a great deal. First, it tells us that he was aware he had made a gaffe, and a big one at that. But how did he become aware of this? He was audited by another scribe or scribes, and according to the standard office procedure we have outlined above, by the scribe to his left or right, or by both of them. Take your pick. But the principle of zero-tolerance must apply. Perhaps he fell asleep at the switch after a long day slogging through numerous accounts, and writing down inventories on at least 5 tablets. Very demanding and exhausting work. Any accountant, past or present, can tell you that. However, if the standard practice was for fellow scribes to audit every single tablet they inscribed, zero-tolerance would prevail.

So the next step in our decipherment of this extremely tricky tablet (one among countless hundreds or thousands in any given fiscal year or “weto” in Mycenaean Greek) is to make a supreme effort to put ourselves in the same place as any Linear B scribe having to make a full inventory of anything anywhere in the Mycenaean Empire, and not only that, to assume one of our fellow accounts has caught us out and put us squarely on spot. Let us imagine the conversation:

Scribe A (the fellow who inscribed this tablet, KN 1507 E d 231) to Scribe B:
Well, I am done with this tablet. It is the end of a long day, and I am getting very tired. I may have made a mistake. Audit it.

Scribe B:
Hmmm. Let’s see. (reads the original figures on the tablet). Good gods, you wrote the same number for both the rams and the ewes! 38! That seems a remote possibility. Yes, you do look tired, and I can hardly blame you. What is the number of ewes? We have to get it right.

Scribe A:
Oh my gods, it is just 2 ewes! How could I have missed that!

So he scratches out all the Linear B numeric strokes for tens, i.e. 3 horizontal strokes & 6 for units (vertical strokes), leaving the number 2 (2 vertical strokes). Voilà. The calculation is completely accurate. We have zero-tolerance.        

Scribe B:
Good! It is fine now. Maybe we should go for a beer or two as soon as work is over, which is pretty soon.

Scribe A:
Great Idea!


To all our VISITORS: it took me 6 HOURS to compile this complex post. Please show your appreciation by tagging it with LIKE, assigning the number of STARS it deserves, or even re-blogging it!


Richard  


The Homophone HA, used less often than AI, but equally significant: Click to ENLARGE:


HA homophone series Linear B 


This makes for entertaining reading, though possibly somewhat perplexing to some.
 
Let no-one be under any illusion that the Linear B homophone HA is any less significant than AI, regardless of the fact that it appears less often in Linear B texts on extant tablets. The homophone HA is not a diphthong! This homophone (HA) takes an enormous leap forward, specifically and exclusively in the Linear B syllabary, by explicitly expressing initial or even internal aspirated A’s. This incredible achievement eclipsed even the ancient Greek alphabet, which, need I remind you, was always written in CAPS (uppercase) alone, and hence, was utterly incapable of expressing any aspirated, let alone, unaspîrated vowels.

"What” I hear you indignantly explain, "Of course, they had aspirated and unaspirated vowels.” Yes, they did. But they never expressed them. Search any ancient alphabetical text in any dialect whatsoever for aspirated or unaspirated vowels, and you search in vain. Search Linear B, and voilà, staring us squarely in the face, is the aspirated A. Astonishing? Perhaps... perhaps not. But what this tells us unequivocally is that the ancient Greeks, even after the appearance of the alphabet, must have pronounced aspirated and unaspirated vowels, because in Mycenaean Greek, the aspirated A is squarely in the syllabary.
"But”, I hear you exclaim again, "If those Mycenaeans were so smart, why didn’t they also have a homophone for the aspirated E, which pops up all over the place in Medieval manuscripts in Classical Greek?”  The answer is that Mycenaean Greek almost certainly had no use for the aspirated E, since all classical Greek words beginning with an aspirated E invariably begin with an aspirated A in Mycenaean Greek, as for instance, Mycenaean "hateros” versus classical Greek "heteros” (well, in most dialects, if not all). In other words, Mycenaean Greek grammar has no homophone for aspirated E, simply because they never used it, nor were they even aware of its existence. 

Still, the fact remains that, at least where the aspirated A is concerned, Linear B was one step ahead of ancient alphabetical Greek. Both aspirated and unaspirated initial consonants were a feature introduced into written classical Greek alphabet only in the Middle Ages, when monks & other scribes began making extensive use of lower case letters. And, sure enough, along with the aspiration and non-aspiration of initial vowels (most often A, E & U), they also introduced all those other crazy accents we all must now memorize: the acute, grave, circumflex and susbscripted iota, just to make reading ancient Greek wretchedly more complicated. Don’t you wish they had left well enough alone? I often do. But this was not to be, since from the Middle Ages, and especially from the Renaissance on, almost all Occidental languages (Greek & French being two of the worst offenders) used accents liberally. Apparently only the Romans never bothered with accents ... but even here we cannot be sure, as they too wrote only in CAPS (uppercase).  Even English, which is the Western language most adverse to accents, always uses them in borrowed words from French, Italian, Spanish etc.  So you just can’t win.
    
Once again, amongst the ancient languages, at least as far as I know, Linear B alone was able to explicitly express the initial aspirated A, just as Linear B had the common sense to separate every word on the tablets from the next with a vertical line (|). After that, "something got lost in translation” (so to speak), and for at least 2 millennia, when all of a sudden everyone in the whole world went bonkers for accents.

Such are the vagaries of linguistics.


Richard

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