Tag Archive: roundels



Linear A, examples of writing, reposted from Mnamon, Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean:

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Mnamon examples of writing Linear A

This post on Linear A tablets and roundels from Mnamon is amazing! You really have to see it for yourself. The graphics quality is astounding, and the explanations of the tablets are clear and precise.


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.


Haghia Triada roundels & noduli:

Linear A nodulae with syllabogram SI from Haghia Triada

From: The Haghia Triada administrative documents:

http://www.aegean-museum.it/musint2/en/crete/documents.inc.php

Descriptions from this site (quoted):

Although the writing has not been deciphered neither the language has been interpreted (sic, poor grammar) various data may be obtained from the tablets. First of all, a list of Linear A signs may be hypothesized, which, with its 97 symbols, reveals a syllabic script of a simple typology (consonant + vowel and vowels): the signs are, in fact, too many, to represent a complex syllabic system (as the Near Eastern Cuneiform and the Aegyptian Hieroglyph). To these syllabic signs a long series of "logograms", representing each one a word, are added. 

Types of seals represented:

nodulae and roundels from Haghia Triada

Roundels:

The roundel is a characteristic document of the Neopalatian Minoan [1] administration, beside the tablet. It is a round clay disk (classified as Wc) with seals impressions along the edge - from one to six impressions - and, on most cases, one inscription on one or both sides. Frequently the inscription consists of a logogram, sometimes also of a sign-group. It seems to represent the last act [2] of an administrative transaction and probably functioned as a receipt. 

The seals stamped on roundels fully coincide with seals stamped on the other different documents. At Haghia Triada 22 roundels have been found, one of them being without (an) inscription. 

Nodules:

It is (sic, They are) the most widespread Aegean Bronze Age document, both geographically and chronologically. These clay small object (sic, objects) (defined as noduli by J. Weingarten) were not always inscribed but only sealed. They appear in two shapes: dome (classified as We) (fig. 4) and disk (classified as Wf) (fig. 5).  At Haghia Triada 54 noduli have been found, in dome shape, and only 7 are inscribed. 

Types:
1 Flat-based nodule:
This type of document is rarely inscribed but regularly sealed. Its characteristic is the negative impression on its reverse (or base) which shows that it had been placed upon a folded piece of parchment around which a thin thread was wound which was also wound into the clay. It appears in two different shapes: standing (fig. 6) or recumbent (fig. 7) (both classified as Wb). At Haghia Triada 76 flat-based nodules have been found, only 2 having a carved inscription. 

2 Hanging nodule [3]:

This small clay piece is characterized by string holes which show that it was fastened to another object by a string. They may present one or two holes. 
Those with two holes (classified as Wd) have an elongated shape (fig. 8), while those with one hole (classified as WA) present five slightly different shapes: pendant, pyramid, cone, dome, pear (fig. 9) [4]. At Haghia Triada 936 single-holes have been found, 851 being inscribed, and 11 two-hole, only 2 being inscribed. 

Comments by Richard Vallance:

[1] Neo-palatial Minoan administration: This is the Minoan administration at Haghia Triada dating from the Middle Minoan MM ca. 1750-1550 BCE & Late Minoan LM1A, ca. 1550-1500 BCE. Documents in Linear A inscribed during the LM1A period may have been inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan.  
[2] “the last act”. This is ambiguous English. Does it refer to the “the most recent” of the Haghia Triada administration? And if so, does this mean the act or acts date from the Late Minoan LM1A period?  And if so, are these acts inscribed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan?
[3] The nodules illustrated in my decipherment of Figure 9 above are hanging nodules.
[4] See my 3 decipherments in Figure 9 at the outset of this post. If the syllabogram SI is the first syllable of a Mycenaean-derived New Minoan word, it could represent any of the 3 decipherments I have proposed. If on the other hand, SI represents any Old Minoan word, it is indecipherable.  

Haghia Triada pianta genrale

Linear A seals: Part 2 + Minoan grammar, nominative singular masculine in u:

linear_a_sealsR

Linear A seal HM 570.1g confirms beyond doubt that the word situ is New Minoan, i.e. Mycenaean-derived for “wheat”, a tight match with Mycenaean sito.     But it establishes a lot more than just that. Since there are well over 200 Minoan     words, whether Old Minoan or Mycenaean-derived New Minoan, all of which terminate in u, the circumstantial evidence is very strong that u is the nominative masculine singular of Minoan nouns and adjectives regardless.  I have no idea what jetana means, as it is clearly Old Minoan.


Linear A seals: Part 1 + Minoan grammar, enclitic ne = in/on:

linear_a_sealsL

On these Linear A seals we find the word patane, apparently a variant of patos (Greek) = path. But how can we account for the divergence from standard Greek spelling? In the Mycenaean dialect, the preposition “in” was proclitic and expressed as eni, hence eni pati (locative singular). But as I have already pointed out several times in previous posts, when any word is imported from a source superstratum language (in this case, Mycenaean) into a target language (in this case, the Minoan language substratum), its orthography must be changed to comply with the spelling conventions of the target language. This phenomenon also occurs in English, where 10s of thousands of Norman French and French words are imported, but where in a great many cases, the French spelling must be adjusted to conform with English orthography. To cute just a few examples of French orthography adjust to meet the exigencies of English spelling, we have:

French to English:

albâtre = alabaster
bénin = benign
cloître = cloister
dédain = disdain
épître = epistle
forêt = forest
fanatique = fanatic
gigantesque = gigantic
gobelet = goblet
loutre = otter
maître = master
plâtre = plaster
similitude = similarity
traître = treacherous

and on and on. This phenomenon applies to every last substratum language upon which a superstratum from another language is imposed.

Likewise, in the case of Old Minoan, it is inevitable that the orthography of any single superstratum Mycenaean derived word has to be adjusted to meet the exigencies of Minoan orthography.

The most striking example of this metamorphosis is the masculine singular. Mycenaean derived words in Minoan must have their singular ultimate adjusted to u from the Mycenaean o. There are plenty of examples:

Akano to Akanu (Archanes)
akaro to akaru (field)
kako to kaku (copper)
kuruko to kuruku (crocus/saffron)
mare (mari) to maru (wool)
Rado to Radu (Latos)
simito to simitu (mouse)
suniko to suniku (community)
Winado to Winadu (toponym)
woino to winu (wine)
iyero to wireu  (priest)

But these same words terminate in u in Minoan. And there are well over 150 in the extant Linear  A lexicon of slightly more than 950 words. 

As we can clearly see on Linear A seal HM 570.1a, the word patane is typical of several Minoan words, all of which also terminate in ne. These are:

aparane
asamune
dakusene
dadumine
jasararaanane
kadumane
namine
parane
patane
qetune
sikine
wisasane

It distinctly appears that all of these words are in the Minoan dative/locative case, and that the enclitic ultimate therefore means “in” or “on”. This will have to be substantiated by further research, but for the time being, let us assum that this conclusion is at least tentatively correct.

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