Tag Archive: ships

Cretan pictograms – 41-52: military and textiles (possibly/probably/definitely) known:

Cretan military and textiles pictograms

Cretan pictograms dealing with the military and textiles/cloth are the last of the possibly/probably/definitely known pictograms out of a grand total of around 165, thus accounting for 31.5 % of all Cretan pictograms. So the number of possibly/probably/definitely known pictograms is significantly higher than had been previously thought. Of the military + textiles/cloth pictograms, 41. 42. 48. & 51. are definite, the remainder being probable/possible.

Linear A haiku: the hollow ships on the vermilion sea:

Linear A haiku hollow ships on the vermilion sea



Mycenaean palace administrative hierarchy (POST 1,300):

Mycenaean citadel

Although we will never know the exact details of the Mycenaean palace administrative hierarchy, the table above gives us a pretty good idea of the power-base hierarchy from the King or wanax on down to the higher administrative officials, the mid-level officers and lower-level administrators, followed by the subaltern freemen, craftsmen and farmers and finally by the slaves. The names of each of the positions top-down follow in Latinized Linear B:

Minoan and Mycenaean political structure diagram, by me

1. wanaka = King. The official residence of the King, or the Palace was called the wanakatero.
2. rawaketa = Leader of the Host, i.e. Commander-in-Chief. Sometimes, as in the case of Agamemnon, the General who lead the host (i.e. the army) into the Trojan War, the King and Commander-in-Chief are the selfsame person.
3. qasireu = prince potentate (slightly below the wanax & the rawaketa in the power hierarchy.
4. eqeta = the followers, professional foot soldiers and the personal guard of the wanax and the rawaketa. Cf. the Praetorian Guards of the Roman emperors.
5. teretai = aristocrats, called aristoi = the best people in later ancient Greek. These are the wealthy, upper class people protected by the wanax and rawaketa.
6. konosia rawaketa = (literally) the palace of Knossos for the Commander-in-Chief, i.e. his official residence, but in Knossos only. In Mycenae, his official residence would have been called the rawaketero.
7. konosia qasireu = (literally) the palace of Knossos for the prince potentate, but in Knossos only. In Mycenae, his official residence would have been called the qasireuo.
AT THE NEXT LEVEL, we find the mid-level administrators:
8. porokorete = the district governors, meaning the rulers of the districts in the Mycenaean Empire, such as the district of Mycenae itself, and the districts of Knossos, Phaistos, Pylos and the Hither Provinces (the closer provinces, such as Tiryns, Pylos, Argos, Lerna etc.) and of the Farther Provinces (Thebes, Orochomenos, Eutresis etc.)
9. korete = so-called mayors or chief administrators of cities or primary settlements, such as Knossos, and the centres of the Hither and Farther Provinces. These officials reported directly to the porokorete.
10 the freemen or woko of the cities or primary settlements, such as craftsmen, artisans, farmers and tenant farmers, fishermen
and finally, AT THE LOWEST LEVEL
11. chattel (privately owned workers) doeroi = slaves, temple slaves = rawaiai or temenoio doeroi and nawoio doeroi = galley slaves.
P.S. This one is specially for you, Rita!

Cretan hieroglyphic seals (Middle Minoan I & II, ca. 2100-1700 BCE):

Cretan hieroglyphic seals

On the first of these seals there appear 4 ideograms (?) which appear to be precursors of Minoan Linear A syllabograms, but there is no way of knowing whether or not this is the case.

Just added to my academia.edu page, Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, and its Profound Implications in the Regressive-Progressive Reconstruction of Unattested, Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek Vocabulary and Grammar, here:

The Iliad of Homer in academia edu Richard Vallance
This is the first of a series of several papers I shall be publishing this year and next (2016) on my hypothesis underpinning the theoretical and proposed actual links between the archaic Greek of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (lines 459-815). These papers are of extreme significance to the methodology, process and procedure of regressive extrapolation of Mycenaean Greek vocabulary or grammatical constructs derived from the most archaic Greek in the Iliad, considered by many researchers to be an in)direct offshoot of Mycenaean Greek itself. Vocabulary or grammatical constructs thus derived are then progressively applied to reconstruct parallel elements missing from any attested Linear B sources regardless.

I cannot stress too much the extreme significance of this particular line of research I am pursuing in the reconstruction of numerous elements (possibly even into the hundreds) of Mycenaean Greek derived from these sections alone of the Iliad.


New article on academia.edu. My translation of Sappho’s Ode, “The Moon has set, and the Pleiades...” from Aeolic Greek to Mycenaean Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, English and French, here: Click to OPEN

This article with my translation of Sappho’s Ode, “The Moon has set, and the Pleiades...” into two archaic Greek dialects (Linear B & Linear C), as well as into English and French, is the first of its kind ever to appear on the Internet.

Osbert sapho ou  la poésie lyrique
It will eventually be followed by my translations of several other splendid lyrics by Sappho, as well as by serial installments of my translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and several haiku which I have already  composed in parallel Mycenaean Linear B, English & French (I kid you not!)

If you would like to keep up with my ongoing research on academia.edu, you should probably sign yourself up with them, and follow me. Additionally, you can follow anyone else you like, especially those researchers, scholars and authors who are of particular interest to you (not me). And of course, once you have signed up with academia.edu, which is free, you can upload your own research papers, documents, articles, book reviews etc. to your heart’s content.

Oh and by the way, we have a surprise coming up for you all, a research paper by none other than my co-administrator, Rita Roberts of Crete. 


The Archangel Michael in Mycenaean Linear B, Ancient Greek, English & French: Click to ENLARGE

The Archangel Michael

I found this stunning painting of The Archangel Michael on the Internet, and I could not resist posting it here on our blog, with his name emblazoned in in Mycenaean Linear B, ancient New Testament or Koine Greek, English & French. The problem with the Mycenaean Linear B text is that you cannot say Archangel, and so I wrote his name as Mikaro akero ouranoyo, which literally means, “Michael, the messenger of the sky” or “Michael, the messenger of heaven”, where akero = messenger (nominative sing.) & ouranoyo = of heaven (archaic Greek genitive sing., also often found in Homer, the Iliad, especially in Iliad II, The Catalogue of Ships). After all, the Mycenaean Linear B meaning of akero was “messenger”. And when you come right down to it, that is what it literally means in the New Testament as well. The word “Michael” is not Greek at all, but Hebrew, here translated into Greek. “Michael” in Hebrew means, “who is like God”, and who is referred to only three times in the Old Testament, always in the Book of Daniel, where he is called “Prince of the First Rank” as follows:

... but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. 


At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered.

How beautiful are the feet of those who walk with God.

Perhaps you can guess who my angel, or more to the point, my patron saint is. Yes, you are right. He is none other than Michael Ventris. How strange & wonderful that his name is the same as that of the Archangel! 

my patron saint Michael Ventris
How astonishing! I just realized that I am posting this beautiful image of the Archangel Michael on the 23rd. anniversary of my recovery from alcoholism, March 25, 1992. Although I have not attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for 18 years now, I credit AA for bringing me around to my first real experiences with God, though it has been a slow and slogging path towards his grace, at least until this year, when He suddenly burst in on my soul, and has illuminated me with His Light since then.

Matthew 5:14-16
14: You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
15: No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a light is put on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
16: In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
(NLT: New Living Translation)


Our own Page in PARTNERSHIP on Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies (Greece)

Click here to visit our own page in our professional partnership with Koryvantes, Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies:

KORYVANTES Category Linear B & The Iliad

Koryvantes has done an extremely professional job of designing our page on his magnificent site, and we hope we have done the same for his Association on ours, here:


We URGE all of our visitors to visit Koryvantes, The Association of Historical Studies, in Greece, as often as possible, since their research into ancient Greek warfare and weaponry is of the very highest order. Koryvantes discusses Greek warfare and weaponry from all historical eras, right down from the Mycenaean to the Byzantine, accompanied b magnificent illustrations of Greek warriors and weapons. His site is a must see! 

Koryvantes is a MAJOR contributor and attendee at numerous International Conferences and Meetings all over Europe!


The Famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos on Papyrus! Minoan Literature? Did any Exist?

Click to ENLARGE

Replica of the Dolphin Fresco Knossos on papyrus

Here you see a magnificent reproduction of the famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos reprinted on Papyrus, which I purchased for the astonishing price of 10 euros while I was visiting the site on May 2, 2012. The colours on this papyrus version are so vibrant no photograph can fully do justice to them. Nevertheless, the photo turned out wonderfully, and if you would like to use it yourself, please feel free to do so. I even framed it to enhance it.

Papyrus in Minoan/Mycenaean Crete?

The very idea of reprinting one of the amazing Knossos frescoes onto papyrus may seem blasphemous to some, but certainly not to me. It raises the very astute question: did the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, ever produce any literature as such? Consent is almost unanimous on the Internet and in print – No! They did not write any literature. But not so fast! It strikes me as peculiar - indeed very peculiar – that a civilization as advanced and sophisticated as that of Knossos, in both the Minoan Linear A eras (Middle Minoan – early Late Minoan) and in the Mycenaean Linear B era (Late Minoan), may very well have had a literature of its own, for these reasons, if none other:

(a) Creation Myths:

Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites and other proto-literate civilizations, at least had a religious literature, whether or not it was composed on papyrus (as with Egypt), here at Wikipedia:

The sun rises over the circular mound of creation as goddesses pour out the primeval waters around it

Egyptian Creation Myth Sunrise_at_Creation 

or on baked clay tablets, as with the Babylonians, here:

The Enûma_Eliš Epic (Creation Myth) ca. 1,000 lines long on 7 tablets: 

Enûma_Eliš Creation Myth


When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called.

the famous Sumerian Myth of Gilgamesh on 7 Tablets here:

Epic of Gilgamesh

and the Sumerian & Akkadian Myths, including that of Gilgamesh, here:

Akkadian Gilgamesh:

Akkadian cuneiform-gilgamesh

(b) The implications of the astounding achievements of the highly advanced Minoan Civilization for a putative literature of their own:

Just because the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, left behind no literature as such on their administrative inventory tablets, does not necessarily mean that they never wrote any literature at all. That strikes me as bordering on nonsensical, since Knossos always had the closest economic and cultural ties with Egypt and with all of the other great civilizations contemporaneous with her. Egypt, above all, set great store on the inestimable value of Knossian, Minoan and Mycenaean artifacts such as gold, in which the Mycenaean artisans were especially gifted, lapis lazuli, of which the finest quality in the entire known world issued from Knossos; Minoan & Mycenaean pottery and wares, which again were of the most splendid designs; Minoan textiles and dyes, again the finest to be found, and on and on. In fact, the Minoans were rightly renowned as the among the very best dyers in the entire known world.

But why stop there? Why should such an obviously advanced civilization as the Minoan, with its understanding of the basic principles of hydraulics, quite beyond the ken of any other contemporary civilization, and with its utterly unique airy architecture, based on the the most elegant geometric principles, again quite unlike anything else to found in the then-known world, not have a literature of its own? To me, the idea seems almost preposterous.

(c) If the Minoans & Mycenaeans did write any literature, what medium would they most likely have used for it?

The question remains, if they did have a literature of their own, it too was most likely religious in nature. But on what medium would they have written it down? - certainly not on their minuscule tablets, as these were so tiny as to virtually exclude the composition of any religious literature such as that of the origin of mankind (very much in currency at that era in the other civilizations mentioned above). Again, the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B used their tiny tablets solely for ephemeral annual accounting and inventories. Still, I can hear some of you objecting, “But the Babylonians and other civilizations wrote down their creation myths on tablets!” Fair enough. Yet those tablets were larger, and they were deliberately baked to last as long as possible (and they have!), quite unlike the Minoan & Mycenaean ephemeral administrative tablets, which were never baked.  And, as if it isn’t obvious, one civilization is not necessary like another, not even in the same historical era. This is especially so when it comes to the Minoan civilization – and to a very large extent to its cousin, the Mycenaean, versus all others at the time, since clearly the socio-cultural, architectural and artistic defining characteristics of the former (Minoan/Mycenaean) were largely very much at odds with those of the latter, (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria etc.), much more ostentatious than the Minoans... except for one thing...

We are still left with the question of medium. If the Minoans, writing in Linear A and later in Linear B, did have a literature, and let us assume for the sake of argument that they did, which medium would they have used? Before I get right down to that, allow me to point out the Knossos was, as it were, the New York City of the Bronze Age, the metropolis at the very hub of all international trade and commerce on the Mediterranean Sea. All you need to do is look at any map of the Mediterranean, and you can see at a glance that Knossos was located smack dab in the centre of all trade routes to all other great civilizations of her day and age, as we quite clearly see on this composite map: Click to ENLARGE

Minoan Trade Routes 1600-1400 BCE

Is it any wonder that no-one was particularly bent on attacking her, or any other city on the island of Crete, such as Phaistos, since after all everyone everywhere strictly depended on Knossos as the very nexus of international trade? No wonder the city was never fortified. This pretty much how Knossos looked at her height: Click to ENLARGE


No walls or fortifications of any kind in evidence! That alone is a very powerful indicator of the critical commercial value of Knossos as the very hub of international commerce in her era. But more than anywhere else, the archaeological evidence powerfully evinces a very close trade relationship between Knossos and Egypt, since Minoan jewelry, textiles, pottery and wares have shown up in considerable amounts – sometimes even hordes - in Egyptian archaeological sites. The Egyptians clearly placed extreme value on Minoan goods, as exquisitely crafted as they were. So what? - I hear you exclaim.

So what indeed. These major trading partners each must have had something to trade with the other that the other was in desperate need of. And in the case of Knossos and the Minoans, the Egyptian commodity they would probably have needed most of all would be, you have it, papyrus. The Cretan climate was not dry enough for them to produce it themselves. So they would have had to rely exclusively on Egypt for what was, after all, one of the most precious commodities of the entire Bronze Age.

If we accept this hypothesis – and I see no reason why we should not at least seriously entertain it – then the Minoans may very well have used papyrus and ink to record their religious literature. There is some evidence, however second-hand and circumstantial, that they may have composed religious texts, and possibly even a religious epic, on papyrus.

This evidence, although only secondary, if we are inclined to accept it as such – is the high incidence of the names of Minoan and Mycenaean deities and priestesses, and even of religious rites, on the Linear B accounting and inventory tablets from Pylos, over all other Minoan/Mycenaean sites. Why on earth even bother mentioning the names of so many gods so frequently on minuscule tablets otherwise dealing almost exclusively with anything as boring – yet naturally economically vital - as statistics and inventories of livestock, crops, military equipment, vases and pottery, and the like? There was nothing economically useful about religious rites or babbling on about deities. So why bother, unless it was a matter of real significance to the Minoans and Mycenaeans? But ostensibly, it was. Chuck economics, at least where religion is concerned, they apparently believed. This cannot come as any surprise in the ancient world, and of course, in the Bronze Age itself, where religions and superstitious beliefs were rampant, playing an enormous and absolutely essential rôle in virtually every civilization, every society, great or small. This composite of Minoan/Mycenaean deities, which were were found in droves on every single Minoan/Mycenaean site, makes this blatantly obvious: Click to ENLARGE 

Minoan goddesses TOP Mycenaean goddesses B

(d) The implications of a putative Minoan & Mycenaean military literature in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad: 
Given this scenario, I am seriously inclined to believe that not only did the Minoan and Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside for the time being) keep track of religious rites, and possibly even compose a creation myth of their own on papyrus, but that they may very well have also written down a stripped down written version of their oral military epic, their own story of the Trojan War, and if so, the most accurate version of the events of that war. Their original history of the Trojan war would have almost certainly been much more factual than the version of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad, which must have been derived from it, had it existed. This would go a long way to explaining why the Greek of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad is written in the most archaic, and the most-Mycenaean like Greek in the entire Iliad – not to say that Mycenaean Greek does not appear elsewhere in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, because, surprise, surprise, it most certainly does.  

There is one passage in The Catalogue of Ships which really brings this sort of scenario to the fore. I refer specifically to lines 645-652, which read as follows in the original Greek and in my translation: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships Role of Knossos and Crete in the Trojan Wariliad-2-615-652 (1)

It is passingly strange that Homer bluntly states, in no uncertain terms, that Knossos and Crete were major contributors to the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War, since everyone these days, archaeologists and literati alike, assume without question that Knossos fell long before the Trojan War (ca. 1450-1425 BCE). So who is right?  Homer? - us? -anyone? How on earth can we resolve the blatant discrepancy? We cannot, nor shall we ever. But the fact remains that this extremely important passage in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad leaves me quite unsettled. Since Homer is obviously convinced that Knossos and some 100(!) Cretan cities did figure prominently in the Trojan War, where on earth did he get his information from? I for one believe it is quite conceivable that rewrites on papyrus of some Minoan documents from Knossos and possibly even Phaistos may still have been in existence when Homer wrote the Iliad, or that at least stories of their prior existence were still in circulation. If you think correlatively as I always do, this hypothesis cannot simply be dismissed out of hand.

For my in-depth discussion of this very important question, please refer to this post:

RipleyBelieveitorNot Knossos in the Trojan War

(e) If the Minoans and Mycenaeans wrote some sort of religious and/military literature of their own on papyrus, there is absolutely no evidence that they did! 

This leaves us with only one final consideration. If the Minoans and Mycenaeans actually did compose documents on papyrus, where are they all? The answer to that stares us in the face. While the scribes would have taken great pains to assiduously preserve documents on papyrus in dry storage while the city of Knossos was still flourishing, these same documents would all have rotted away entirely and in no time flat, once Knossos and the Minoan civilization had collapsed. Crete was not Egypt. Egypt’s climate was bone dry; the climate of Crete was, and still is, Mediterranean. Ergo, the whole argument against the Minoans and Mycenaeans ever having had a literature of their own, composed on papyrus scrolls is de natura sua tautological, as is the argument they did. 50/50. Take your choice. But since I am never one to leave no stone unturned, I much prefer the latter scenario.

NOTE: This post took me over 8 (!) hours to compile. So I would appreciate if at least some of you would tag it LIKE, comment on it, or better still, reblog it!
For all the intense work Rita and I put into this great blog of ours, it often shocks me that so few people seem to take much interest in some of our most compelling posts. I am merely letting you know how I feel. Thanks so much. 



Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic  Greek?  

Does that surprise you, if you are a Linear B translator? It surprised my translator colleague, Rita  Roberts, and myself, for quite some time – well over a year. But not any more. There are two inescapable reasons why we have been able to come to the conclusions we have reached. These are:
(a) that the Linear B scribes very frequently used what Rita and I call supersyllabograms, a term which describes a peculiar phenomenon common to only a subset of syllabograms which have defied decipherment for the past 63 years since 1952. We shall be deciphering almost all of the 31 supersyllabograms, a substantial subset of the full set of 61 syllabograms (over 50 %). Only a very few supersyllabograms still defy decipherment, at least for us, but someone in the near future may find the keys to even those ones. Enough of that for now. We will be publishing our complete peer-reviewed research paper later on this year. So folks will just have to wait.
(b) that the Linear B scribes very often left unsaid (i.e. omitted) from their tablets what was perfectly obvious to them (see my Comments on Knossos tablet M 10 E x 233 below for the full text), since they all assiduously followed the same strict guidelines for transcribing accounts and inventories, and all used the same formulaic language for their transcriptions. To visualize how all this directly influences Rita Roberts’ methodical and accurate translation of Knossos Tablet M 10 E x 233, click on this image of the tablet to ENLARGE it:

KN M 10 E x 233 fragmenrt  one Ram

From the red outline to the right, you can see that I have filled in the rest of the missing section of this Linear B tablet. I am confident that the tablet in its entirely did in fact look almost exactly as you see here, because there is only 1 ideogram (for ram) only partially missing, while the word, SURI on the second line is clearly the Mycenaean place name, SURIMO, or in Greek, Syrimos. Since this tablet is clearly all about an offering TO the god Dikataro (dative!) or Zeus, and no one in their right mind would sacrifice more than one ram or animal to any of the gods, livestock being indispensable to their livelihood, it follows that one ram and one ram only was sacrificed to the god. Ergo, there cannot possibly be much more on the truncated right side of this fragment than the outline in red I have tacked on to its end.      

Does Formulaic Language in Mycenaean Linear B Tablets Have Anything to do with Formulaic Archaic Greek in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey?

Surprise, surprise. It does. And so does Arcado-Cypriot in its alphabet or in Linear C.

My Hypothesis runs as follows.

If this premise does not hold water for some translators of Linear B, recall that Homer also heavily relied on formulaic phrases. He appears to have picked up that habit, not only from the Mycenaean Greek scribes who preceded him by 400-600 years, but also from the Arcado-Cypriot scribes, who wrote in the Linear C syllabary and in the Arcado-Cypriot Greek alphabet at the very same time as he was composing the Iliad – a fact that all too many historians and linguists completely overlook. 

Recall that Linear C had already evolved from the almost exclusively accounting and inventorial syllabary (Linear B ) to a literary one, with many of their tablets simultaneously composed in both Linear C and in alphabetic Arcado-Cypriot Greek. The lengthy legal document, the famous Idalion tablet, ca. 400 BCE, was one such tablet, written in both Linear C and alphabetic Greek. But Linear C had been in constant use from ca. 1100 BCE (long before Homer!) non-stop all the way through to ca. 400 BCE, when the Arcado-Cypriots finally abandoned it in favour of the Greek alphabet alone. 

My point is simply this: I for one cannot believe that Homer was not even remotely familiar with documents in the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet or possibly even in Linear C, because there were plenty of them around at the time he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey (if he did). So even if he was not at all familiar with Mycenaean Linear B, he certainly must have known about, and may very well have read documents in Arcado-Cypriot. But that is not all. In spite of the fact that he almost certainly did not know Linear B, being familiar as he most likely was with the vocabulary and grammar of Arcado-Cypriot meant that he automatically had some inkling of Mycenaean Greek. Why so? - simply because of all the ancient Greek dialects (archaic or not), no two were more closely related than Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, not even Ionic and Attic Greek – not by a long shot. This alone implies that even if Homer consciously knew nothing about Mycenaean Greek, its vocabulary and grammar, unconsciously he did, because every time he borrowed formulaic language from Arcado-Cypriot, he was in effect borrowing almost exactly the same vocabulary and phrases from Mycenaean Greek.

But there is more – much more – to this than superficially meets the eye. Homer was in fact very familiar with Mycenaean society, and with Mycenaean warfare, because he mentions both so often in the Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, and even occasionally in the Odyssey, that is obvious to all but the most recalcitrant translators of ancient Greek that he frequently resorts to Mycenaean vocabulary, phrases and even grammar (especially for the genitive and dative cases), even if he is not conscious of it. It stares us in the face. To illustrate my point, allow me to draw your attention to the numerous instance Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary and grammar in just one of the serial passages of Book II of the Iliad I have already meticulously translated into twenty-first century English. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships 565-610 Linear B Linear C

Now if you compare my scholia on the word, thalassa, on line 614 with the Linear B tablet below from Knossos, you can instantly see they are one and the same word! Since Linear B had no L+vowel series of syllabograms, the scribes had to substitute the R+vowel syllabograms for Mycenaean words which would have otherwise begun with L. Also, Linear B never repeats consonants, as that is impossible in a syllabary. Similarly, Linear B was unable to distinguish between variants of consonants, such as we find T & TH in the Greek alphabet. So the Mycenaean tarasa is in fact equivalent to the Homeric thalassa, given that on Linear B fragment KN 201 X a 26:

Knossos fragment KN 201 X TARASA the SEA

t = th, r = l & s = ss, hence tarasa = thalassa, down to the last letter.  

Anyway, for the time being, I rest my case. But with respect to the relationship between formulaic language in Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot, whether in Linear C or alphabetic on the one hand, and Homer’s use of formulaic language on the other, there is more to come on our blog this year – much more. It is highly advisable for all of you who are experienced translators of either or both Mycenaean Linear B and Homeric Greek to read all of my translations in series of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, wherein he uses the most archaic Greek in all of the Iliad. Otherwise, you may experience some difficulty following my thesis on formulaic language and the hypotheses upon which it is based.

As for the rest of you folks, who are not translators, but who frequently read the posts on our blog, just enjoy and assimilate the essentials, and forget the rest, because all of the technical stuff I delve so deeply into doesn’t matter anyway unless you are a translator. Still, you may be asking, why delve into so much detail in the first place? Great question. It is all for the benefit of our fellow translators and decipherers, to whom we absolutely must address so many of the posts on our pointedly technical blog. Nevertheless, our blog is open to all to enjoy and read, as far as each of you wishes to take yourself. As I said just now, keep what you like and leave the rest. You will always learn at least something truly valuable to yourself. Otherwise, why would you be a regular visitor to our blog in the first place?           

Keep posted.


What Are the Symbols on the Wisconsin U.S.A. Shard & What Might They Mean?


A Shard from Wisconsin, U.S.A. (A: Top Left), Minoan Pottery (B, C & D) Click to ENLARGE:


Is the shard from a giant storage container something like the Minoan pithos?

In response to James’ newest post, illustrating a shard from Wisconsin, allow me to make the following observations and comments. In the first place, leaving aside all consideration of pictographs or script (whatever the symbols are on this shard), from a strictly archaeological point of view, the shard seems to conform most closely in its apparent thickness to the giant Minoan pithoi or storage jars found at Knossos. These pithoi are huge (I know, I have seen them myself). They were used to store such commodities as wine, grain, olive oil etc. This observation might lead us to the conclusion that the Wisconsin shard is also from a North American vessel of the approximate configuration of a pithos, but there is really no way to know. What I am saying is simply this: just because the shard looks as if it is approximately the same thickness as a Minoan pithos does not necessarily mean that it comes from a pithos at all.  What kind of vessel it comes from I simply cannot tell. Since I am a linguist, and not an archaeologist, I leave it up to Rita Roberts, our resident archaeologist, and specialist in Minoan wares, to shed further light on this issue. It is not up to me to draw any conclusions either way (or any way, for that matter), due to my ignorance of the archaeological implications of such ancient artifacts, no matter what their provenance, Asian, Australasian, Mediterranean, European, North or South American etc.  

I have eliminated the other examples (B & C) of Minoan pottery in the illustration above for the simple reason that they appear to be too thin. But here again, I may very well be deceived by appearances. Only Rita Roberts is qualified to determine whether the apparent thickness of the Wisconsin shard falls within the parameters of thickness for Minoan pithoi, and in order for her to accomplish this, she would need a precise measurement of the thickness of the Wisconsin shard from James. So James and Rita, the ball is in your court.

Snake Goddess or Priestess or...?

Click to ENLARGE:

Minoan Egyptian Hindu snake goddesses

As for the appearance of what looks like a snake goddess or priestess or someone of that kind on the Wisconsin shard, may I make the following observations? It all boils down to one thing: there were snake goddesses all over the place in the ancient world, as can be seen above. However, in all fairness to James, the Minoans were the most obsessed of all ancient civilizations with the worship of the snake goddess, so there is a very remote possibility that the snake goddess or snake priestess or whatever the symbol on the Wisconsin shard might be of Minoan origin, but I for one certainly would not count on that. Just because a snake symbol on an archaeological artifact from one part of the world (Wisconsin, U.S.A) looks like a similar symbol on an artifact from another, far-off region of the world, does not imply that they are (even remotely) the “same” symbol or, and this is even more critical, that they are from the (relatively) “same” historical period, as I go on to elaborate in the next section, carbon-dating.          	

The Absolute Necessity for Carbon-Dating (yet again):

On the other hand, as I pointed out in a previous post, the necessity for carbon-dating is absolutely paramount for both the tablet and the shard. Although carbon-dating is most likely to reveal that they both originate from the same pre-historical or historical period, there is still the possibility that they do not, and in that case, we would find ourselves at an impasse yet again. Without carbon-dating, however, there is simply no way to come close to an accurate determination of the approximate historical timeline within which these artifacts fall. Moreover, given that we are dealing with an enormous timeline, from paleolithic to as recent as the early modern era, when North American aboriginals still held sway all over the North American content (say, from as early as 10,000 BCE to as late as the 18th. century AD), the chances that these artifacts would actually fall within the timeline of the Minoan civilization (ca. 1900 – 1200 BCE, or about 700 years) is about 1/17, if we operate solely from this hypothesis, excluding all others, namely, that the total timeline rounds out to about 12 millennia (12,000 years, BCE to AD).  If we were to extend the timeline further back in time, the odds would get even worse. If we were to restrict the timeline to, say, 5,000 BCE until today, the timeline is still 7 millennia, leaving us with odds of about 1/10, which is to say that there is still a 90% chance that the Wisconsin artifacts do not fall within the entire timeline of the Minoan/Mycenaean civilization, i.e. 1,900 – 1,200 BCE (700 years).  There is simply no way around this road block, unless we do carbon-dating, and even then, the chances that the Wisconsin artifacts are contemporary with the Minoan/Mycenaean era are still only 1 in 10, in the best case scenario, or 1 in 17 in a more realistic timeline of 12,000 years.

Chronological and Geographic Considerations:

Moreover, even if carbon-dating of the Wisconsin artifacts does result in an approximate timeline of something like 2,000 – 1,000 BCE, this is only an indication that the Wisconsin artifacts versus any and all artifacts of the Minoan/Mycenaean civilization share the same timeline, give or take a few centuries (!), and nothing more. In other words, we are dealing with rough chronological simultaneity, but beyond that, what else can we say?  Add to this the fact that, even if carbon-dating should result in an almost perfect chronological alignment, we are still faced with such an enormous geographical distance between the sites (Wisconsin, U.S.A. versus Crete) that the chances of these two far-flung sites sharing the “same” or similar civilization are very remote indeed. I hasten to add that Minoan ships, with their extremely low gunwales and profile, were suitable only for navigation in the Mediterranean in the spring and summer only, trade routes pretty much lying dormant for the winter.  Here we see two images of a Cycladic/Minoan/Cretan ship, one a model and the other a fresco. Click to ENLARGE:

Minoan Ship and Fresco

Note the extremely low gunwales. James, being a former naval officer, as I recall, fully appreciates the implications of such a configuration for seaworthiness on the high Atlantic. After all, if the Wisconsin artifacts are conceivably Minoan, Cypriot or of a related Mediterranean civilization, the people had to cross the Atlantic even to get to the Eastern shores of North America, let alone having to trek another 3,000 kilometres or more to get to Wisconsin!   

Yet, for all I have to say here, it is not up to me to draw any conclusions in the archaeological sphere, as I am not qualified to do so. I leave that task to our esteemed colleague, Rita Roberts.

The Pre-Historical or Historical Significance of the Wisconsin Artifacts in their own right: 

On a final note, regardless of the timeline of the Wisconsin artifacts, once verified by carbon-dating, they are bound to be of great historical significance in and of themselves, without the need to take into account reference to any other ancient or more recent civilization whatsoever. This is the prime consideration I believe James should keep uppermost in mind. Again, it is up to Rita to confirm or dissent on this point, but it strikes me that any and all major archaeological finds, regardless of where in the world they are unearthed, must perforce be evaluated in their own geological, historical and geographic context, as telling sign posts to the very civilization they represent, and to none other. To illustrate: just because the Minoan civilization was contemporaneous with much of the ancient Egyptian does not mean they were the same or even similar civilization, regardless of geographical proximity, because they were not. The same could be said for the Sumerian and Hittite Empires, also co-existent with the Minoan/Mycenaean. And yet all of these Empires were situated smack dab in the same geographical area of the world!... not 10s of thousands of kilometres apart.

I shall turn my attention to address the linguistic implications of the Wisconsin tablet and shard in the next post.


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