Tag Archive: sacrificial



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 %.

 


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.


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.


The famous “Bulls Head” sacrificial Rhyton, Ashmolean Museum, translated:

KN 872 M o 01 libation cup and Nestor

This is one of the most well-known of all Linear B tablets. It was unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans from the debris at Knossos in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, so much of the text is missing or badly mutilated (left truncated) that it is difficult to translate it. In addition, the words “neqasapi” and “qasapi”, which are variants of one another, are to be found nowhere in Tselentis or any other Mycenaean Greek lexicon, including the most comprehensive of them all, that of L.R. Palmer in The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts (1963). However, I was able to make sense of the right side of the tablet, which fortunately is largely intact. The Bulls Head is not just a bulls head, it is a sacrificial Bulls Head rhyton, as you can see from my archaic Greek text, here transliterated into Latin characters, “rrhuton kefaleiia tauroio” = “a rhyton of the head of a bull”. There are also 3 kylixes or cups with handles, presumably made of gold. So I was able to extricate enough text to make reasonable sense of this fine tablet.


The homophone supersyllabogram AI = goat:

Kn 913 D k 01 AI Aiza

The supersyllabogram AI is the only homophone (not a regular syllabogram) which qualifies as a supersyllabogram. But it presents an unusual special case. As you can see from the Linear B text, the scribe uses the supersyllabogram for “goat” actually “billy goat” and then, strangely enough (as it would first appear, the ideogram for the same, “billy” goat, followed by the number 1. Then on the second line he uses the ideogram for “she goat”, again followed by the number 1 and by the syllabogram PA right truncated.

If all this seems a mystery to you, it is not to me. The syllabogram PA right truncated on the second line almost certainly means pasi teoi = to all the gods, which in turn implies sapaketeriya = sacrificial rites. That is precisely the reason why the scribe repeats “billy goat”, first as a supersyllabogram and then as an ideogram on line 1. This is no ordinary billy goat. And she is no ordinary she goat. This is a “sacrificial billy goat to all the gods”. The reason why the scribe does not even bother to repeat the supersyllabogram AI for “goat” on the second line is that the SSYL for “goat” on the first line includes both the billy goat and the she goat, his partner. No Linear B scribe in his right mind would ever repeat the same supersyllabogram, in this case AI, twice on the same tablet, for the simple reason that the scribes routinely omitted text (and in this case the SSYL AI on the second line) to save precious space on the tiny Linear B tablets, which rarely (like this one) exceeded 15 cm. (6 inches) in width.

This is the only possible decipherment. I am so sure of it that I would bet my life on it... well, not literally.

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