Tag Archive: saffron



Translation of Linear B tablet Knossos KN 854 K j 11 by Rita Roberts:

Knossos tablet KN 854 K j 11 by Rita Roberts

 


Rita Roberts’ decipherment of Linear B tablet KN 669 K j 21 (Knossos) on grains and saffron:

Rita Roberts decipherment Linear B KN 669 K j 21 Knossos

This is the latest in the most recent run of Linear B tablets deciphered by Rita Roberts, who is in her second term, second year of university. The tablets she must now decipher are much more challenging than anything she has ever encountered before. Given that she is up against tablets that get progressively more and more difficult, her progress towards total mastery of Linear B is nothing short of first rate. Because she forgot to provide a free translation of Line 2, Rita scored 90 % on this tablet. But that is, as we say in French, un petit péché.


Linear A haiku: the saffron goddess, her crimson dress adorned with ivy:

Minoan Linear A haiku sea sarai the saffron goddess

In this haiku, all of the words except sarai = “flax or saffron” (the latter in this context) are Mycenaean-derived New Minoan (NM1). The onomatopoeia of the 3 phrases rolls off the tongue. Not only is her dress adorned with ivy, apparently she is as well.


							

The first ever complete and entirely unique decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 123 Haghia Triada RECTO olives saffron flax wine

This decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 RECTO (Haghia Triada) is entirely unique and is the first ever of its kind. It incorporates several key features never before seen in any of the failed attempts at deciphering this tablet. These are:

1. It accurately identifies the crops as (a) olives (b) wine and (c) saffron/flax;

2. It accurately identifies what all previous decipherers” have erroneously assumed to be fractions as crop shares;

3. It accurately identifies the supersyllabogram PU, which no one has ever before been able to decipher as the Old Minoan word, punikaso = Phoenician or in the case of wine = purple, equivalent to Linear B ponikiyo.

4. It clearly and accurately identifies the shares of crops, usually 8 shares per;

5. The Old Minoan Linear A word kiro appears to mean they owed, which suits the context to a T;

6. the combination of the number 8 with harvesting fits the season exactly, the month for harvesting being lunar August (at least if the Minoans counted counted their lunar months from the first month in the year, which certainly appears to be the case).

7. Since the total 20 + is right-truncated on the last line, I have to assume that it refers to 20 or more months, given that 9 months are mentioned above, with the ninth month implying that 8 preceded it, for a total 17. The number 4 with the unknown character probably also references months, bringing the potential total to 21. Thus a grand total of 20+ months is not out of the question.

This is the first ever successful decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 123 (RECTO) in toto.

 

 


RESEARCH paper: Supersyllabograms in the agricultural sector of the Mycenaean economy, by Rita Roberts academia.edu:

This essay constitutes Rita Robert’s first foray into major research in ancient Mycenaean linguistics on academia.edu. Rita has composed this highly scholarly article as the major component of her mid-term examination in her second year of university, exactly half way to her degree. Keeping up this pace, she is bound to perform outstandingly in her final essay of her second year, and in her third year thesis paper, which will be considerably more demanding than this study, and about twice as long.

I strongly recommend you to download this study here:

supersyllabograms in agriculture in Linear B academia.edu

It makes for engaging reading in ancient linguistics research.

You can reach Rita’s academia.edu account here to view her other papers:

rita roberts academia.edu

 


After 117 years, the Linear A vocabulary for 3 major grains (bran, wheat, barley) and for flax is conclusively deciphered:

Although decipherment of Linear A vocabulary for the primary Minoan grains has seemed beyond reach for the past 117 years, I believe that I may have actually cracked the vocabulary for at least 3 major Minoan grain crops, kireta2 (kiretai)/kiretana (attributive) = barley, dideru = einkorn wheat, kunisu = emmer wheat and for sara2 (sarai) = flax, while concurrently tackling 3 more grain crops, rumata(se), pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina (painina) (attributive), which I may or may not have managed to accurately identify. More on this below.

How did I manage to accomplish this feat? My first breakthrough came with the code-breaker, Linear A tablet HT 114 (Haghia Triada), on which appears the word kireta2 (kiretai). It just so happens that this is a match with the ancient Greek word, kritha(i) for barley, here Latinized:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 114 Haghia Triada

Armed with this invaluable information, I then devised a procedure to extract the names of the other 2 major grains, dideru (Linear B equivalent, didero), and kunisu and for sara2 (sarai) from all of the Haghia Triada tablets. I selected the tablets from Haghia Triada because they mention grains far more often than any other extant Linear A tablets do, regardless of provenance, with the sole exception of Zakros ZA 20, which is a very close match with the many Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada dealing with grains.

The procedure I have adopted is tagged cross-comparative extrapolation (CCE). I scanned every last word related to grain on every last Linear A tablet from Haghia Triada, HT 1 – HT 154K on Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A texts in phonetic transcription HT (Haghia Triada) for the recurrence and numerical frequency of each of these words. It strikes me as very odd that no one in the past 117 years since the first discovery of Linear A tablets at Knossos has ever thought of this or a similar cross-comparative procedure. While it is practically useless to try and extrapolate the meaning of each and every grain merely by examining them in context on any single Linear A tablet, regardless of provenance, because even in single tablet context, and even in the presence of other words apparently describing other type(s) of grain, we get absolutely nowhere, the outcome from cross-correlating every last one of these words on every last tablet from Haghia Triada paints an entirely different picture, a picture which is both comprehensive and all-embracing. Clear and unambiguous patterns emerge for each and every word, including the total incidence of all statistics for them all. The result is astonishing. The table below makes this transparently clear:

Minoan ancient grains

We see right off the top that all of the Haghia put together mention akaru, which means field, the equivalent of Linear B akoro, no fewer than 20 times! Additionally, the generic word for wheat, situ, corresponding to Linear B sito, surfaces 5 times. But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Cross-comparative extrapolation of the next 4 grains has proven to be much more fruitful. The first of these is of course kireta2 (kiretai) kiretana (attributive) for “barley”, which appears 149 times (!) on all of the Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada. I was definitely on to something big.

But the preliminary step I needed to take, before I actually attempted to identify the next 2 most common grains cultivated in the pre-Mycenaean and Mycenaean Minoan era, was to conduct a Google search on the 2 most common grains after barley grown in Minoan Crete. These are einkorn and emmer respectively. Returning to my cross-comparative extrapolative scan, I discovered the words dideru and kunisu recurring 40 times each. It just so happens that one previous researcher (whose name unfortunately escapes me for the time being, but whom I shall fully acknowledge when I publish my summary data on academia.edu) has accurately identified both of these types of wheat. As can be seen from the table above, these are dideru for “einkorn” and kunisu for “emmer” wheat respectively.

Moving on, fully realizing that sara2 (sarai) runs rampant on the Haghia Triada Linear A tablets, I discovered that this word recurs no less than 1321 times. Astonishing! But what does it mean? The answer was not long coming. The next most common crop the Minoans cultivated was flax, for the production of linen. Flax is not a grain, but is derived from flax flowers and seeds. This fully explains why sara2 (sarai) recurs with such astonishing frequency. Unlike the aforementioned grains, which would have been grown on a relatively restricted number of plots, in this case not exceeding 4o each, the number of flax flowers required to produce a sufficient flax harvest would have had to be very high… hence 1321. These stunning frescoes illustrate a male Minoan flax flower and a female flax seed gatherer:

Minoan flax gatherers

Even from these 2 frescoes, we can easily see that the flax gatherers were kept busy picking what was required, a large flax crop, in this case running to 1321 flax seeds and flowers. No surprise here.

As a result of my exhaustive cross-comparative extrapolation of the first four Minoan crops, I have been able to define 3 of them for certain as grains, kireta2 (kiretai), dideru and kunisu, and one of them, sara2 (sarai) as flax. It is practically certain that all 4 definitions are correct. Hence, I have managed to isolate for the first time in 117 years the actual names of 4 major Minoan crops, barley, einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and flax.

However, when it comes to the next 5 crops, we run up against inescapable semiotic problems. What does each of these signifiers signify? There is no easy answer. On the other hand, I would have been remiss were I not to make a stab at extrapolating the names of these crops as well. It just so happens that the next most common grains after barley, einkorn and emmer cultivated by the Minoans were millet and spelt. And the next two words I extrapolated were rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). But if one of them appears to be millet, the other is spelt, or vice versa. That is the conundrum. But the problem is compounded by the mystifying cumulative total statistics for each of these words, 1039 for rumata(se) and 1021 for pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive). Why on earth are there so many recurrences of these 2 crops, when there are only 40 instances of dideru and kunisu? It does not seem to make any sense at all. Yet there is a possible explanation. While dideru and kunisu reference einkorn and emmer crops as crops per se, it would appear that rumata(se) and pa3ni (paini)/pa3nina/painina (attributive) refer to the seeds derived from the crops. It is the only way out of this impasse. However, it is not necessarily a satisfying answer, and so I have to reserve judgement on these definitions, which are interchangeable at any rate.

Next we have the ligatured logograms dare and kasaru, either of which might refer to the next most common crops, durum and lentils. But there is no way for us to corroborate this conclusion with any certainty. The verdict is out. Finally, the last word, kuzuni, might refer to 2 other, less common Minoan crops, either sesame or vetch for fodder. But once again, which one is which? Your guess is as good as mine.

Conclusions:

Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Every last one of these words identifies a Minoan crop. While most of them are grains, three of them are certainly not. One of them is clearly flax (sara2/sarai) The other two may or may not be lentils or sesame. But they probably are one or the other, if they are not on the other hand durum or vetch. In short, there several permutations and combinations for the last 5. Yet the circumstantial evidence for the first 4 appears quite solid enough to justify the definitions we have assigned, barley, einkorn, emmer and flax. So at least this constitutes a major breakthrough in the identification of these 4 for the first time in 117 years.

I shall eventually be publishing a much more comprehensive draft paper on this very subject on my academia.edu account, either this summer or autumn. I shall keep you posted.


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. 
 

A partial rational translation of another Minoan Linear A tablet on crops:

Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt has correctly pointed out that this decipherment I have assayed of what I took to be one Linear A tablet is in fact two entirely unrelated Linear A tablets, and  as such it must be considered as completely invalid. I am truly grateful to Ms. Leonhardt for bringing this serious gaffe to my attention. Once I have cleared the matter up, I shall repost my decipherment of both of these tablets in two separate posts.

a-partial-translation-of-another-minoan-linear-a-tablet

This Linear B tablet clearly deals with various crops, with the lead in crop being grains or wheat, just as one would expect on either a Mycenaean Linear B tablet. By the same token, there is no reason to suppose that a Minoan Linear A tablet dealing with crops would not deal first and foremost with grains and wheat. The units of measurements identified on this tablet accord with those tentatively tabulated by Andras Zeke on the

minoan-language-blog

I have already tentatively deciphered both adu and adaru in my Glossary of 107 Minoan Linear A words to appear in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 16 (2016), which is to be published sometime in 2018, since the publication date of this compendious international annual always lags behind by at least 18 months from the approximate date of submission of articles by authors, which in my case was November 2016.


Archaeology and Science annual: the Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, the last & most formidable frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B:

cover-as-2015

For the past 65 years since Michael Ventris first deciphered Linear B, one phenomenon has eluded historical linguists and philologists. This is the supersyllabogram, which is always a single syllabogram, being the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of a particular Mycenaean word in any one or more of the major economic sectors of the Mycenaean economy: agriculture, military, textiles and the vessels and pottery sector, along with a few religious supersyllabograms. Supersyllabograms are always independent; they always stand alone on extant Linear. My discovery, isolation and classification of supersyllabograms represents the final frontier in the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B. Some 800 tablets from Knossos alone contain primarily supersyllabograms, with a subset of these incised with supersyllabograms and nothing else. It is difficult to decipher the former, and impossible to decipher the latter without fully accounting for the presence of supersyllabograms. The decipherment of supersyllabograms accounts for the last and most difficult remaining 10 % of Mycenaean Linear B to be deciphered.

inset-as-2015

editors-as-2015

intro-article-as-2015

You may also download The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B here:

archaeology-and-science-download

This article is 35 pages long (pp. 73-108) in a 29 cm. x 22 cm. format, which is far oversized compared with the standard north American format for research journals (ca. 20 cm. vertical), meaning that if it had been published in the standard north American format, it would have run to some 50 pp., which is the size of a small book.

The Editorial Board consists of 21 peer reviewers, all of them matriculated professors and researchers at the Ph.D. level or higher, from Ancona, Belgrade, Belgium, Bologna, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A., Moscow, Münich, Philadelphia, U.S.A., Rome, Warsaw & Trieste. Every author must pass muster with the majority of these peer reviewers if his or her article is to be published in Archaeology and Science. That is one tall hurdle to overcome.

Note also that I am ranked in the top 0.5 % of all researchers and publishers on academia.edu

richard-vallance-on-academia-edu

 


What do all those supersyllabograms in Linear B associated with the ideogram for “saffron” mean?

In response to a recent query by a research colleague of mine regarding the use of 4 key supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B (A, TI, RO & WE) related to the harvesting and production of saffron, I am reposting this table:

ssyls-in-linear-bassociated-with-saffron

It is clear that each of these 4 supersyllabograms functions in its own unique way. I sincerely hope that this reposting clears up any ambiguities that may have previously persisted.


The Minoan Linear A word, kuruku, almost certainly means “crocus” :

minoan-linear-a-kuruku-crocus-or-saffron

Moreover, it is more likely than not pre-Greek and not proto-Greek. This implies that the Mycenaean Linear A word, kuruku or kuroko, is also pre-Greek.

Nothing surprising there at this point.

Minoan Costume History synopsis: a wonderful site!


Minoan Costume History synopsis: a wonderful site!

Minoan costume history

You simply have to check this site out! I have never seen such an in-depth study on Minoan costume, female and male alike, on the Internet. Here is just a small excerpt:

An era of great development, contemporaneous with the civilization of ancient Egypt and Phoenicia, and which may be dated about 2000-1500 B.C., had preceded the civilization that came from Asia Minor into Crete and Greece. Such fragments of Cretan culture as have come down to us reveal a beauty of technique and a delicate sense of form to which no contemporaneous civilization provides any parallel. (italics mine). It is certainly true that the Minoans were far more style-conscious than people of any other contemporaneous civilization, such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Hittites. No question about it.

Owing to the lack of written records, the processes and methods of manufacture are still wrapped in obscurity, but although we are thus reduced to surmise regarding the materials used, the dress of that time is of the highest interest in view of its connexion with the costumes of other peoples. Our attention is especially attracted by the dress worn by the women. The slim, wiry figures of the men are clothed almost universally with a loincloth, richly patterned and splendidly decorated. Here and there we see wide cloaks that clothe the whole body, giving it a large appearance. Women also, it would seem, wore the short loincloth, but we find them wearing in addition skirts put together in an almost fantastic manner that betrays a highly developed knowledge of the technique of dressmaking. These skirts are constructed in tiers, separated by strips of rich ornamentation. 

Illustrations from this site (there are many more, just as striking as these!)

Minoan loving cup

male saffron gatherer

Minoan seated ladies in grandstand

Minoan fountain



10 Mycenaean Linear B & Minoan Linear A words for plants & spices (grand total = 27):

Linear B and Linear A plants and spices

This chart lists 10 Mycenaean Linear B & Minoan Linear A words for plants & spices, with the Linear B in the left column, its Minoan Linear A in the middle column, and the English translation in the right column. It should be noted that I had to come up with a few Mycenaean Linear B words for plants on my own, because they are nowhere attested on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance. Nevertheless, the spellings I have attributed to these words are probably correct. See the chart above. While most Mycenaean Linear B words and their Minoan Linear A words are equivalent, some are quite unalike. For instance, we have serino for celery in Mycenaean Greek and sedina in Minoan, and kitano in Mycenaean Greek versus tarawita in Minoan. There is a critical distinction to be made between Minoan Linear A kuruku, which means crocus, from which saffron is derived, and kanako, its diminutive, referring to its derivative, saffron,  which is identical in form and meaning to its Mycenaean Linear B counterpart. The ultimate termination U in Minoan Linear A always refers to larger objects. Hence, kuruku must mean “crocus” while its diminutive, kanako, means “saffron”, just as in Mycenaean Greek. This latter discovery is my own.

I wish to emphasize as strongly as I can that I did not decipher these words in Minoan Linear A. Previous researchers were able to do so by the process of regressive extrapolation in most of the cases. Regressive extrapolation is the process whereby later words in a known language, in this case Mycenaean Greek, are regressively extrapolated to what philologists consider to have been their earlier equivalents in a more ancient language, in this case, the Minoan language, which is the best candidate which can be readily twinned with Mycenaean  Greek. The primary reason why all of these words can be matched up (relatively) closely in the Minoan language and in Mycenaean Greek is that they are all pre-Indo-European. In other words, Mycenaean Greek inherited most of the words you see in this chart from the Minoan language. It is understood that these words are not Greek words at all, not even in Mycenaean Greek. Almost all  of them survived into classical Greek, and are still in use in modern languages. For instance, in English, we have: cedar, celery, cypress, dittany, lily & olive oil, all of which can be traced back as far as the Minoan language (ca. 3,800 – 3,500 BCE), or some 5,800 years ago.

It is to be noted, however, that I am the first philologist to have ever written out these words in both the Linear A and Linear B syllabaries.

This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A words we have deciphered to at least 27.


Supersyllabogram A for amphora with the aromatic and dye saffron UPDATE

Introduction:

The supersyllabogram A for amphora is usually associated with vessels, and in that context it means that the vessel concerned is clearly an amphora, as illustrated below:

vase A  

This, the standard use of A as a supersyllabogram for vessels, is fully documented in my article, An Archaeologist’s translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris), with an introduction to supersyllabograms in the vessels & pottery Sector in Mycenaean Linear B, to be published in the February 2016 issue of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448. Following is the text of my discussion of the standard use of the SSYL A for amphora from this article:

Yet the most astonishing characteristic of supersyllabograms in the pottery and vessels sector of the Minoan-Mycenaean economy is this: the majority of them are attributive, and dependent on the ideograms they qualify. Attributive dependent supersyllabograms always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute of the ideogram. For instance, the syllabogram a inside the ideogram for a vessel with 2 handles is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word apiporewe, unequivocally identifying the vessel as an amphora. But why even bother noting this, when it is obvious that the ideogram in question is in fact that for an amphora? Again, I repeat, the Mycenaean scribes never used any device without a reason. In this particular case, the reason, I believe, is apparent. Any scribe who places the syllabogram a inside the ideogram for what is probably an amphora anyway, does so on purpose to draw our attention to the fact that he is tagging said vessel as a highly valuable and very likely ornate specialty amphora fashioned specifically for the palace elite, and not any old amphora at all, as we see illustrated here in Figures 12 and 13: click to ENLARGE  

Fig. 12

l fig 12 minoan-amphora

Fig. 13:

m fig 13 MERI amphora

The distinction is crucial. I can conceive of no other reason why any Mycenaean scribe would resort to such a ploy other than to identify the vessel in question as a precious commodity.  Similarly, the simplified and streamlined syllabogram sa inside the ideogram for a vessel on a stand is, in my estimation, almost certainly the supersyllabogram for an unknown pre-Greek, possibly Minoan word for raw flax, the agricultural crop the ancient Greeks called rino = linon, from which linen (being the selfsame word in both Mycenaean and ancient alphabetical Greek) is derived. Both of these supersyllabograms are incharged, a term I have had to coin to describe the presence of syllabograms inside ideograms, given its complete absence in  previous research on so-called  “adjuncts” to Linear B ideograms, in other words, supersyllabograms.

END of discussion

The supersyllabogram A with the ideogram for – saffron:

Yet after my submission of this article to Archaeology and Science, I discovered another use of the same supersyllabogram, the vowel a, this time in conjunction with the ideogram for saffron, as illustrated by these 3 tablets from Knossos: 

saffron

Translations of these tablets:

KN 669 K j 21
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: yo wheat 195 + saffron in amphorae 43 + saffron 45
line 2: (syllabogram truncated right, probably ma for -ama-) yo wheat 143 + danetiyo + wheat 70 + saffron 45

Translation:

line 1: yo? 195 units of wheat + 43 small amphorae filled with saffron & 45 units of saffron harvested (the units being very small)
line 2: ma for -ama? = at the same time, meaning along with yo? 143 units of wheat +  
70 units of wheat on loan + 45 units of saffron (harvested)

NOTE that the amphorae containing saffron would have to be small, very much like perfume bottles, given that saffron threads would not take up much space. 
 
KN 851 K j 03
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: syllabogram truncated right, uncertain, possibly -i- ) yo wheat + epikere  + wheat (right truncated, amount unknown)
line 2: ama
line 3: saffron in small amphorae 46 (or possibly more due to right truncation)

Translation:
line 1: i? yo? uncertain amount of wheat well planted (from the earth) + uncertain amount of wheat
line 2: along with
line 3: 46 (or more) units of saffron in small amphorae

KN 852  K j 01
Linear B Latinized:
line 1: dawo amaepikere + wheat 10,000 (or more, being right truncated)
line 2: saffron in amphorae 70 + saffron 20

Translation:
line 1: i? yo? along with (= ama, prefix of amaepikere) 10,000 units of well planted wheat from Dawos (Dafos)
line 2: 70 units of saffron in small amphorae + 20 units of saffron (harvested)  

This application of the supersyllabogram a for saffron I find truly intriguing. Yet again, it clearly designates an amphora, but in this context a small amphora which contains saffron, which takes up little space. Now since saffron is an aromatic which is usually refined to delicate threads plucked from the flower of the same name, as illustrated here:

saffron-extract-benefits

it naturally follows that, if it is stored in an amphora, represented by the supersyllabogram a, the amphora must be small and capped with a stopper with a handle to prevent the saffron from blowing away. I am not sure how the Minoans and Mycenaeans fabricated the caps with handles for a small amphora filled with saffron, but it strikes me that they (the caps) would have been made of pottery of some kind. The cap with a handle would have had to be fashioned so that it was air tight. It is scarcely any wonder that the Minoans and Mycenaeans would have stored saffron in this fashion, as this extremely precious and expensive aromatic would have been used as a dye or its finely woven threads would have been woven into textiles, often ritually offered to divinities, as well as being used in perfumes, medicines, and body washes. See Wikipedia, Saffron: click to READ:

wikipedia saffron

There exists a stunning fresco the "Saffron Gatherers" fresco of the "Xeste 3" building. According to Wikipedia, this is one of many Minoan style frescoes depicting saffron; they were found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini. which illustrates the harvesting of saffron, of which we see here a close up detail: click to ENLARGE

Cueilleuse_de_safran,_fresque,_Akrotiri,_Grèce



A Lovely Ode to the Archangel Michael in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Ode to the Archangel Michael Akero Mikero in Mycenaean Linear B

NOTE that the English & French translations of my Ode to the Archangel Michael appear in the next post. Have you ever wondered what Mycenaean Linear B poetry would have sounded like? I know I have, many times over. I invite you to simply read aloud the Latinized version of the Ode in Mycenaean Linear B, even if you do not understand it. The point is to enjoy the music of the poetry, not to worry about your pronunciation or your accent. Nobody really knows how any ancient Greek dialect sounded anyway.

Here a few hints on how to bring out the music in the Mycenaean Greek.

1. Whenever you see the ending, oyo (genitive singular), pronounce it like “oiyo”, but in a single breath. It will sing that way.
2. If you put a little stress on the second-last syllable (penultimate) of words such as “peDIra ”“euZOno” “doSOmo” & “paraDEso”, this will also assist the melody of the poem.
3. Be sure to pronounce all “u”s & “eu”s (euzono) as you would “u” in French, if you can.
4. The disposition of the phrase “para paradeso para meso”  is very peculiar for Greek poetry... “meso ” should be on the same line as the previous words. But I did this deliberately, again for melodic reason. If you read this phrase like this, “PAra paraDEso PAra MEso”, it should sound very nice.
5. The word “mana” (“manna” in English) is obviously not Mycenaean, and not even Greek. It is Hebrew. But I could take liberties introducing this word into a Christian poem. So I did.
6. Recite “pamako atanatoyo” (medicine of the immortal...) like this “PAmako aTAnaTOyo”...

So long as you are consistent and satisfied with how it sounds to you, that is all you need. Yes, and do read it aloud. Otherwise, you will not benefit from hearing the music and the harmony of the Mycenaean Greek, which is after all the earliest of the ancient East Greek dialects, the great-great-grandfather of dialects such as the Ionic & Attic. Besides, you can always allow yourself the pleasure of admiring the pretty Linear B script, however weird it may look to you at first. Just give it a chance.

Being a poet of sorts myself, I decided to write this lyric ode, somewhat along the lines of Sappho (although I cannot even remotely claim a foothold on her astonishing lyrical powers!) It is by no means inconceivable that poetry may very well have been composed in the Mycenaean era, ca. 1450 – 1200 BCE. Simply because we do not have any evidence at all of such activity does not mean that the Minoan/Mycenaean scribes never wrote any poetry at all. The problem lies not with the non-survival of any Mycenaean poetry, but with the impossibility of conserving anything written on papyrus in a humid environment, such as that of Minoan Crete and of Mycenae.

It is indeed fortunate, fortuitous and a great asset to us today that so many Egyptian papyri have been preserved intact since a distant period equal to that of the Mycenaean civilization at its apogee. Call it what you like, the extremely arid sand of Egypt was far far more favourable to the survival of ancient papyrus than the moist climate of Mycenaean Crete and the Mycenaean mainland. That is the real reason why we have no extant literature from their great civilization. But given the astonishing levels their civilization reached in so many areas, in art, architecture, fresco painting, the textile industry, crafts of all kinds, international commerce and even science, it strikes me as passingly strange that no literature of any kind survives, apart from the thousands of Linear B inventory, accounting and ritual tablets, which can hardly be called literature in any sense of the word.

There are those who contend that in fact the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad was derived from an earlier Mycenaean epic poem, no doubt in a much simpler and more earthy guise, stripped of much of the telling Homeric metaphorical language which is his hallmark even in the Catalogue of Ships. You can count me among these. For this reason, it strikes me as a distinct possibility that, if the Mycenaeans were able to tackle even a mini-epic poem, even if it were a much shorter, stripped down version of its descendant (if ever there was) of the Catalogue of Ships in the Iliad, they surely would have been up to the task of composing considerably shorter poems along the lines of this one you see posted here. Of course, they would never have written about angels and archangels. But that is beside the point. Simply by successfully composing this lyric poem, I believe I have demonstrated that such poetry was, at least conceivably, within the grasp of soi-disant Mycenaean bards. We shall never know, but it is well worth the speculation.

A comment on the phrase epi pedira euzona. As a preposition, epi should take the dative. But here I have used the accusative plural. My reason is this: in archaic Greek, prepositions were less common than adverbs, and in many cases, what we would recognize as a preposition in classical, say, Attic Greek, could very well have been an adverb in Mycenaean Greek. This is how it should be read in this context... pedira euzona is thus to be seen as accusative of aspect or aspectual accusative, reading literally something like this:

with his feet on them...    

I welcome comments on any aspect, as suggested above or otherwise, of my stab at composing a lyric poem in Mycenaean Linear B, Christian though it be.

English and French versions to follow in the next post.


Richard


How to Insert Logograms and Ideograms into Linear B Text

Insertion of Logograms:

Now that we have learned how to type Linear B in a document, the only thing left for us to do is to insert logograms and ideograms as required into our text.

In Linear B, a logogram is either
(a) a homophone such as rai, which also means “saffron”
-or-
(b) a combination of two or three syllabograms, one on top of the other, which combine to form the word which they represent. Linear B scribes often resorted to this short-cut in order to save precious space on the tiny tablets they inscribed. 

The procedure for each of these two different types of logograms is not the same.

For (a), it is simple. Since the logogram, such as rai for “saffron”  is already a homophone, it is on the Linear B keyboard. So you just type it, as we see here:

(First switch from your default font to Linear B as per the instructions in the last post): Click to ENLARGE both examples

Linear B apudosi rai delivery of saffron

Linear B arepa mare ointment wool
NOTES:
(1) right after you insert the logogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the logogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside. In other words, the logogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.
(2) You can easily see that the logogram for “ointment” is actually the Linear B word for ointment.
 
In the sentence, The Queen has wool, the logogram = the syllabogram MA with RE underneath = mare = wool. Note that the logogram is not spelled the same as the word for -wool = mari. For the logogram for honey = meri, see below.

Insertion of Ideograms:

The procedure for the insertion of ideograms is identical to method (b) above for logograms such as arepa, mari (above) & meri (below) for ointment, wool & honey respectively.

1 Insert (from the Insert Menu) - Picture – From File, as illustrated here in the introductory text to Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE

Linear B honey tiripode

NOTE:
Right after you insert the ideogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the ideogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside it. In other words, the ideogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.

Richard

Coriander in Linear B. How does it measure up? Big time! Click to ENLARGE

measurmenrt of Coriander in Linear B on 3 tablets from Scripta Minoa

The translation of these three sequential * tablets is a straightforward affair ( * sequential because I have already translated KN 416). As I mentioned in a previous post, the Minoans & Mycenaeans at Knossos, Phaistos Lykinthos, Surimos, Pylos, Mycenae and elsewhere were crazy about coriander, because that is all they ever talk about on their inventory tablets referencing spices. The only thing that perplexed me at the outset on these tablets was the reference to crimson on tablets KN 417 L e 01 & KN 418 L e 11. I simply could not figure out why the total no. of grams for crimson were at variance with those for coriander. It is obvious to any experienced cook or chef that I know next to nothing about spices. This is unquestionably the reason why initially I could not figure out what the totals for crimson and coriander meant. I strongly suspected that the colour, crimson, was an instance of synecdoche, a literary device where the part represents the whole, in other words, the scribe is referring to a spice which is crimson coloured. Since coriander is green, the crimson spice must be another. That spice must be saffron, since saffron is vividly crimson in colour. So it appears our little conundrum is resolved. I freely admit I had to look these spices up on Google, then Wikipedia, just to confirm my suspicions, and thankfully, they turned out to be right.

So the two spices referenced on these tablets are coriander and saffron.

This is the last of our posts on the metric style measurement system used by the Linear B scribes at all of the locales mentioned above, and others besides.

Richard




Minuscule Units of Measurement & yet Another Major Breakthrough in Supersyllabograms in Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Minuscule Units of Measuerment for spices saffron etc
Upon close examination of the syllabogram WE in the context of dry weight in Mycenaean Linear B, in this particular instance, dry weight of saffron, I have come to the conclusion that the line(s) transversing the syllabogram WE at an approximate angle of 105 - 110 º are actually equivalent to the tens (10 & 20), while the black circles in the upper and lower portions of WE are equivalent to the 100s (100 & 200) in the Linear B numeric system. Once again, the scribes would never had added these lines and circles to the syllabogram, unless they had good reason to. And they surely did. There is a striking resemblance between the approximately horizontal lines to the 10s, and of the black circles to the 100s in that system, as can be seen from the actual placement values for 10s and 100s immediately above the syllabogram WE. As if this is not impressive enough, there is even more to this syllabogram.

It is in fact a supersyllabogram. Its meaning is identical to the same SSYL for crops in the agricultural sector, namely; WE is the first syllable of the Mycenaean Linear B word weto, which literally means “the running year”, in other words “the current fiscal year”. This makes perfect sense, since the scribes at Knossos, Phaistos, Mycenae, Pylos, Thebes and other Mycenaean locales only kept records for the current fiscal year, never any longer. The most astonishing feature of this supersyllabogram is that it combines itself as a SSYL with the Linear B numeric system, meaning that it alone of all the SSYLS refers to both the number of minusucle items (in this case, saffron, but it could just as easily refer to coriander or other spices) and the total production output of the same items for the current fiscal year. The Linear B scribes have truly outdone themselves in this unique application of the supersyllabogram, distilling it down to the most microscopic level of shorthand, thereby eliminating much more running text from the tablet we see here than they ever did from any other tablet, including all of those sporting “regular” supersyllabograms. In this instance alone (on this and the few other tablets on which it appears), this unique “special” SSYL is a supersyllabogram with a specific numeric measurement value at the minuscule level, something entirely new, and seen nowhere else in all of the extant Linear B literature.

Quite amazing, if you ask me.

NOTE: the assignment of a value approximating 1 gram for the single unit, i.e. the simple syllabogram WE with no traversing lines or black circles, is just that, nothing more than an approximation. I had to correlate the single unit with something we can relate to in the twenty-first century, so I chose the gram as an approximate equivalent. One thing is certain: the unit WE is very small, indicating as it does minuscule dry measurement weight.  

Richard


Mycenaean Linear B Units of Measurement, Liquid & by Weight: Click to ENLARGE

Mycenaean Linear B Units of Measurment, Liquid & by Weight A

Aside from the fact that we cannot be at all sure how much each of these units of measurement is supposed to represent, I am still operating on the premise that the Mycenaean system of measurement is 10-based or decimal, hence, something along the lines of the modern metric system. However the units are configured, it is quite certain that in the case of these two tablets, the units must be small, because the items measured, saffron (on the left) and olive oil (on the right) are usually dispensed in small amounts. Since saffron is very light, I assume that the weight is something like 10 grams, while the liquid measurement for the olive oil is in the range of about 2 litres, or whatever amount the Minoans & Mycenaeans used to house these commodities.

Richard


2 Collages of Minoan Goddess, her worshippers, Saffron Gatherers & other beauties (Click to ENLARGE):

The Minoan Snake Goddess and her Worshippers

Minoan collage worshipping the Snake Goddess

1. Minoan Priestess (modern representation) 2. Minoan Snake Goddess 3. Minoan worshipper with incense box 4. Procession of Mycenaean women (Pylos)

Saffron Gatherers and Minoan Beauties:

Minoan collage the Saffron Beauties

1. detail from the fresco, Knossos, Les Parisiennes 2. Saffron gatherer: notice her open bodice, in the same style as that of the Minoan Priestess & Snake Goddess in the first collage.  3. Minoan Princess with a feather crown (Heraklaion Museum)  4. elegant fresco of a saffron gatherer  

 

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