Tag Archive: scales

summer haiku d’été – fish scales in teal = écailles de poisson

fish scales in teal,  
they sway and you sway, 
their oceanic fern

fish scales

écailles de poisson,
ils oscillent, tu oscilles,
leur fougère de mer

Richard Vallance

KEY POST: 2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?

In this post we compare two vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). The key question here can be posed in three different ways:

1. Does one of these two decipherments measure up significantly more than the other?
2. Does either measure up? 
3. Does neither measure up?

Here are the two decipherments, first that of Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 Slavic

and secondly, my own decipherment:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 by RIchard Vallance Janke

According to option 3 above, it is of course possible that neither of these translations forms a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text (whatever it actually means). On the other hand, it is much more likely that option 1. above is applicable, namely that only one of the two decipherments at least approaches a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text , although we can never really know how faithfully until such time as Minoan Linear B is properly and fully deciphered. And that will not happen anytime soon, due to the extreme paucity of extant Linear B tablets and fragments (< 500), of which the vast majority are fragments, and thus ineffectual in providing any impetus to even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. However, all is not lost. Far from it. There quite a few (almost) full intact Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which are very much more susceptible to contributing positively to at least a partial decipherment of Linear A. To date, the Linear A tablets which I have been able to decipher, more or less accurately, are HT 13, HT 14, (HT 17), HT 21, HT 31, HT 38, HT 91, HT 92, HT 94 and HT 132 (all from Haghia Triada)
ZA 1 ZA 8 ZA 10 (Zakros) 
GO Wc 1 (Gournia) 
and the Troy spindle whorls

I have also managed to decipher one or two words on several other tablets from Haghia Triada, Zakros and elsewhere, without however being able to decipher the remainder of the integral text, which utterly escapes me, and is therefore still to be considered undecipherable, at least for the time being. There is no telling whether or not either I myself or someone else will be able to decipher more words from the rest of these tablets or even some of the tablets entire in the near future. Only time will tell, but I believe the prospects are much better now than they were even a few months ago, i.e. prior to May 2016, when I embarked on the exciting journey to decipher as much of Minoan Linear A as I could. It is no small achievement, I believe, for me to have been able to decipher at least the 12 Linear A tablets listed above, if indeed my decipherments approach cohesive accuracy, both internally and by means of cross-correlative regressive extrapolation from almost identical to similar Mycenaean Linear B tablets.

With respect to my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) above, I wish to make the following highly pertinent observations. I leave it up to you to decide for yourself (yourselves) whether or not the assumptions I have meticulously made with specific reference to what appear to be derivational standard units of measurement in Minoan Linear A are in fact that. Immediately pursuant to my highly accurate decipherment of HT 31 (Haghia Triada) on vessels and pottery, for which Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the quasi Rosetta Stone (as I have re-iterated many times since that decipherment), I turned my attention to three words which appeared over and over on several Minoan Linear A tablets, these being reza, adureza & tereza. Philologists such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog had previously and consistently “deciphered” these three terms as being toponyms or place names, but I was immediately suspicious of such an interpretation, given that both adureza and tereza have the prefixes adu and te prepended to what strikingly appears to be their own root, reza. Subsequent research revealed two more terms most likely derived from the root, reza = the standard unit of linear measurement in Minoan Linear A (as far as I can tell... more on this to come). These are dureza and kireza. So the total number of terms relative to measurement of large, not minute, quantities in Minoan Linear A appear to be 5. That is quite a tally.

+ units of measurement in Minoan Linear A: exact values unknown

reza = standard unit of measurement (linear)
adureza = dry unit of measurement (something like a “bushel”)
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown) [1]
kireza = dry measurement for figs (a basket) [2]
tereza = liquid unit of measurement (something like “a gallon” or at the bare minimum “a litre” [3]  

[1] While I have been utterly unable to surmise what standard unit of measurement dureza is supposed to represent, even the standard units for reza, adureza & tereza are mere approximations. For more on this see the concluding paragraph of this post.  
[2] While I am virtually certain that kireza is the standard unit for the measurement of a basket of figs, this still begs the question, what size is the basket? At any rate, it is pretty obvious that the basket size cannot be larger than can reasonably be carried on one shoulder, since that is the way baskets are carried in practically every culture, ancient or modern. So in this case, the approximation for the standard unit of measurement figs, kireza, is considerably more accurate than all of the others.      
[3] Obviously, in light of [1] above, my guesstimates for the standard units of dry and wet measurement (adureza and tereza respectively) are just that, and nothing more.   

rawa tiri wanaka

Now if we compare the variables in the prefixes to the root, reza (adu, du, ki & te) with the similar practice of suffixes appended to word roots in Mycenaean Linear B, which is the direct opposite practice we have just propounded for Minoan Linear A, we nevertheless discover that the same level of consistency and coherence applies equally to both languages, as clearly illustrated by the following table, in which the prefixes listed above for Minoan Linear A appear at the end, preceded by no fewer than three roots (which are invariable) and appear in front of highly variable suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B. The roots are, respectively, raw, which references anything to do with people, tri, which references anything related to the number 3 and wana, which references any connotation of kingship or royalty in Mycenaean Greek.

While the practices for affixing are appositive in Minoan Linear A (which prepends affixes to the root) and in Mycenaean Linear B (which appends suffixes to the root or stem), the procedure the two languages follows is one and the same, flipped on its head either way you view it, i.e. from the perspective of Mycenaean Linear B or vice versa, from that of Minoan Linear A. The underlying principle which defines this procedure is the cognitive frame, as propounded by my colleague and friend, Eugenio R. Luján. So let us simply call the procedure (whether from the perspective of Minoan Linear or its opposite in Mycenaean Linear B) just that, the cognitive frame, which is also the template for the procedure, actually proceeding forward in both languages, each in its own way. Either way, the procedure works like a charm. As Eugenio R. Luján so succinctly summarizes it in his article, Semantic Maps and Word Formation: Agents, Instruments, and Related Semantic Roles, in Linguistic Discovery (Dartmouth College), Vol 8, Issue 1, 2010. pp. 162-175, and I quote:

... The methodology of semantic maps has been applied mainly to the analysis of grammatical morphemes (affixes and adpositions) pg. 162

and again,

Previous work on semantic maps has shown how the polysemy of grammatical morphemes is not random, but structured according to underlying principles....

Although the semantic map methodology has not been applied to the analysis of word formation patterns, there is no reason to suppose that derivational morphemes behave differently from grammatical morphemes. In fact, taking into account the findings of the intensive work done in the field of grammaticalization in the last thirty years or so, we know now that lexical and grammatical morphemes constitute a continuum, and their meanings are organized in the same way—inside a cognitive frame,... pg. 163 

and most significantly,

In contrast to the lexicon, the number of derivational morphemes and word
formation patterns in any given language is limited. pg. 163.

I wish to lay particular stress on this last observation by Eugenio R. Luján, because he is right on the money. In terms of the way I have expounded my own explanation of how the procedure of the cognitive frame works, as I see it, what he is actually saying here is this: the derivational morphemes (i.e. the prefixes in Minoan Linear A and the suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B) is limited, and in fact very limited in comparison with the orthographic and grammatical lexicon in either language, or for that matter, in any language, ancient or modern.

All of this brings us full circle back to my own original assumption, namely, that adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza are all derivational morphemes of reza in Minoan Linear A and that the suffixes appended to the roots raw, tri and wana in Mycenaean Linear B are also derivational morphemes. The gravest problem with the decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) advanced by Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih is that it does not take the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes into account at all. So instead, the authors advance entirely different meanings for each of these terms (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza), entirely oblivious to the the fact that they all share the same root, reza. This factor alone throws profound doubt on their decipherment.

On the other hand, my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) takes the procedure of the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes fully into account, with the very same procedure applied to derivational morphemes in Mycenaean Linear B, though in the opposite direction). For the sake of consistency, let us refer to the the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes in Minoan Linear A as regressive, given that the variables (the prefixes, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza) precede the root, reza, and the same frame as progressive in Mycenaean Linear B, in light of the fact that the root or stem is followed by the variable suffixes (derivational morphemes). Be it as it may, prefixes and suffixes are both classed under the umbrella term, affixes, and again, I repeat, the procedure is the same either way. An affix is an affix is an affix, whether or not it comes first (prefix) or last (suffix).

For this reason alone I am convinced that my decipherment of HT 13 is on the right track, even if it is not totally accurate... which it cannot be anyway, in light of the fact that the standard units of measurement for large quantities in Minoan Linear A (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza) will never be known with any measure of accuracy, given that we can have no idea whatsoever that the “standard” units for anything in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B can ever be really determined. The farther we as philologists or historical linguists go back diachronistically in the historical timeline, the less determinable are units of measurement or, for that matter, different kinds of textiles or pottery, few of which we can know with any measure of certainty either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B.


A Glossary of 134 Minoan Linear A words more or less accurately deciphered to date (the largest ever glossary of Linear A) accounting for 26.7 % of all intact Minoan Linear A terms in Prof. John G. Youngers Linear A texts in phonetic transcription = 510:

Minoan Linear A Glossary134 


Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a high level of certainty (75-100%) are in BOLD.
Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a moderate degree of certainty (60-75%) are in italics.
Minoan Linear A words for which the decipherment is uncertain (< 50%) are in plain text.

All terms in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B have been Latinized for ease of access to persons not familiar with these syllabaries. 

NOTE that words which share the same prefix, suffix or internal syllabograms have these underlined. Such words are clearly inter-related.

*47nuraja = “ to all the gods”? (See also iqa*118) – 1 of these may mean the same thing as pasiteoi “to all the gods” in Mycenaean Linear B
adaro = barley = Linear B kirita
adu = so much, so many, all (persons, things, esp. grain/wheat), referencing all  accounts relevant to them. In the case of grains & wheat, adu would refer to all the “ bushel-like” units of wheat accounted for. In the case of the men measuring the wheat, it would appear that they are surveyors or comptrollers. Cf. Linear B, toso, tosa.
adureza = unit of dry measurement (grain, wheat, barley, flour)
aka = wineskin (two syllabograms overlaid)
akipiete = (in) common, shared, allotted, allotment = Cf. Linear B kekemena ktoina = small plot of land
akii = garlic
apu2nadu = grain workers/measurers? Cf. dadumata = Linear B sitokowo
ase (plural) = bushels?
asasumaise = cattle-driver or shepherd = Linear B qoukoro -or- qorokota 
atare = grove of fig trees -or- figs overseer -or- fig gatherer (See also, datara & uta2 (utai) ?  = Linear B opisuko
atade = gold? leaves? gold leaf? = Linear B kuruso? (See also, noja)
awapi -or- tasaza = silver Cf. Linear B akuro
dadumata = grain/wheat measurer? = Linear B sitokowo
daminu = messenger? = Linear B akero?
darida = large vase  
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere
daru = scales?
datara= figs overseer -or- fig gatherer (See also, atare & uta2 (utai) – 1 of these 3 = Linear B opisuko
datu = small olives See also qatidate = olive trees = Linear B erawa
daweda = medium size amphora with two handles
dikise = a type of cloth = Linear B any number of types of cloth
ditamana = dittany (medicinal herb)
dumitatira2 (dumitatirai) = right or inner spindle wheel on one side of the distaff
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown amount)
iqa*118 = “to all the gods”? (See also *47nuraja) – 1 of these may mean the same thing as pasiteoi “to all the gods” in Mycenaean Linear B
jedi = man/men = Linear B atoroqo. See also kupa3nu = kupainu 
kadi = next (in a series) (Zakros ZA 15)  
kana = first (in a series) (Zakros ZA 11)
kanaka = saffron = Linear B kanako
kapa = follower or (foot) solder = Linear B eqeta
karopa3 (karopai) = kylix (with two handles & smaller than a pithos) 
keda = cedar
kidaro = municipality? = Linear B damo -or- watu? 
kidata = to be accepted (for delivery to) = Linear B dekesato
kidema*323na = type of vessel (truncated on HT 31)
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed 
kita2 (kitai) = scented olive oil?
kukani = (deep) red wine Cf. Linear B wono mitowesa
kunasa = (honey) wine?
kunisu = bushel? (Cf. ase)
kupa -or- sa*301ri = planter = Linear B pu2te/pute  
kupa3nu = kupainu = person =  See also jedi. Linear B atoroqo. 
kura = large amount of wine = Linear B pithos+ wono?
kuro = total
kuruku = crocus
idamate = king or god? Or may be the name of said persona Cf. Linear B wanaka
maru = wool (syllabograms superimposed) = Linear B mari/mare
mitu = a type of cloth 
nasi = a type of cloth
nere = larger amphora size
nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza
noja = gold? leaves? gold leaf? = Linear B kuruso? (See also, atade)
nudu*331 = flax? = Linear B rino?  
orada = rose 
pa3ni (paini) = amphora for storing grain?
pa3nina = grain or wheat stored in an amphora for grain
pajare = in pay, hired = Linear B emito
pazeqe = small handle-less cups = Linear B dipa anowe, dipa anowoto
pimitatira2 (pimitatirai) = left or outer spindle wheel on one side of the distaff
pitakase = harvested or field of = Linear B akoro
puko = tripod = Linear B tiripode (100 % certain)
qajo = double-edged axe or labrys = Linear B dapu
qaqaru = crop yield?
qapa3 = qapai = large handle-less vase or amphora 
qatidate = olive trees See also datu = small olives = Linear B erawa
qareto = Linear B onato = “lease field
quqani = medium size or smaller amphora
ra*164ti = approx. 5 litres (of wine) 
rairi = lily 
reza = 1 standard unit of measurement
sajamana = with handles = Linear B owowe
samaro = bunch of (figs, grapes etc.)
sa*301ri -or- kupa = planter = Linear B pu2te/pute  
sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre
saru = large olives
sata = a type of cloth
sedina = celery
supa3 (supai) = small cup = Linear B dipa mewiyo
supu = very large amphora
tarawita = terebinth tree
tasaza -or- awapi = silver Cf. Linear B akuro
tejare = a type of cloth
teki = small unit of measurement for wine @ 27 1/2 per tereza
tereza = larger unit of liquid measurement (olive oil, wine)
teri = offering -or- being delivered (to the gods) = Linear B dedomena, dosomo, qetea (due to the gods)
tesi = small unit of measurement
tisa = description of pot or pottery = Linear B amotewiya/yo
ti?redu = spice(s) (coriander)
udimi = a type of cloth 
usu = a type of cloth
uta2 (utai) = figs overseer -or- fig gatherer (See also, atare & datara) – 1 of these 3 = Linear B opisuko 


Asasumaise = name of cattle-driver or shepherd
Idamate = king or god? Or may be the name of said persona (bis)
Kaudeta? (See also toponyms)
Sirumarita2 = Sirumaritai


Almost all the toponyms do not require decipherment as they are either identical or almost identical in Mycenaean Linear B:

Akanu = Archanes (Crete)
Dawa (Haghia Triada)
Dikate = Mount Dikte
Idaa = Mount Ida
Kato = Zakoro (Linear B)
Kaudeta? (See also eponyms)
Kudoni = Kydonia
Meza (= Linear B Masa)
Paito = Phaistos ( =Linear B)
Radu = Lato (= Linear B Rato)
Setoiya = Seteia (= Linear B) 
Sukirita/Sukiriteija = Sybrita
Winadu = Linear B Inato


This Glossary accounts for 26.7 % of all intact Minoan Linear A terms.

The principle of cross-correlative cohesion operates on the assumption that terms in Minoan Linear A vocabulary should reflect as closely and as faithfully as possible parallel terms in Mycenaean Greek vocabulary. In other words, the English translations of Minoan words in a Minoan Linear A Glossary such as this one should look as if they are English translations of Mycenaean Greek terms in a Linear B glossary. I have endeavoured to do my best to achieve this goal, but even the most rational and logical approach, such as I take, does not and cannot guarantee reciprocity between Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B terms. It is precisely for this reason that I have had to devise a scale of relative accuracy for terms in this Linear A Glossary, as outlined in KEY at the top of it.

The best and most reliable Linear B Lexicon is that by Chris Tselentis, Athens, Greece. If you wish to receive a  copy of his Lexicon, please leave a comment in Comments, with some way for me to get in touch with you.

Minoan Linear A tablet from Zakros, sukini = a type of fine wine no. 40:

Here we see the famous Cup Bearers fresco from Knossos, which I myself was thrilled to see myself on May 2, 2012, when I visited the site.

Cup Bearers Fresco Knossos

Minoan Linear A tablet from Zakros deals with sukini = a type of fine wine. This is the fortieth Minoan Linear A term I have deciphered to date.

 ZAKROS WINE scales wine sukini

Translation of most of the RECTO of Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada):

Linear A tablet HT 13 Haghia Triada partial translation

A partial decipherment of the recto side of Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) holds up quite well under scrutiny. I was able to decipher lines 1, 3 and 4 with reasonable accuracy, the tail end of 5.(idu) and the beginning of 6. (nesi) to extract the toponyms (place names) Kydonia and Idunesi. To date, this is the most complete translation I have managed of a Linear A tablet. One thing that stood out was the total amount of teki = 27 1/2, which would appear to be the amount of teki (plural) per tereza, but I cannot be sure. If this is the case, then teki is a small measurement of wine = 27 1/2 per tereza. I suspect that this small standard amount of wine would be the amount measured out in a large kylix or small wine amphora to be served at a palace feast. But this only the case if teki is a small unit of measurement.        

The VERSO almost completely escapes me, at least for now. Perhaps some day... But for now I am satisfied with my translation of the RECTO.


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