Tag Archive: taxation



Linear B tablet, Pylos ER 312, tax collection for wheat for the temple in the palace:

Linear B Pylos tablet ER 312

This most fascinating of Linear B tablets, Pylos ER 312, clearly deals with the temple in the palace (both words in the locative singular). The tablet deals with taxation of seed for wheat and for wheat as such, where the units of wheat a large, and measured in something like bale-like units. Now it is obvious that in the Minoan/Mycenaean era, wheat and other grain crops were not measured in bales, but there was a standard large unit of measurement for them, which probably approximated bales. As the tax collector is mentioned, we know this tablet deals exclusively with taxation for wheat seeds and wheat. The taxes raised by the tax collector are for the temple in the palace. In line 7, we have worokiyoneyo eremo, which prima facie is somewhat mystifying. However, as my research colleague, Alexandre Solcà, points out, eremo is the adjective corresponding to the noun, eremo, the latter signifying desert. So the attributive of this word probably means devoid of. It certainly makes sense in context, given that the word preceding it is worokiyoneyo (genitive singular) for “of an offering , so the sense would be, literally, devoid of an offering, hence, a free offering. This clears up any ambiguity in the text.

 

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This is a beautifully illustrated Mycenaean Linear B tablet on 5 carpenters who owe the tax collector:

KN 826 A c 11 and tax collection

The illustrations at the top are (left) several designs for Minoan houses (Knossos). Notice that many of them are 3 stories high, which is unusual for the ancient world, except for Rome, with its shabby multi-storied insulae (islands) or apartment buildings, which frequently collapsed. Such can scarcely be said of the Minoan houses, which were built to withstand earthquakes. You can see this for yourself from the top left picture, where the windows in the last 2 houses on the bottom display the heavy wooden beams, both vertical and horizontal, used to reinforce the windows. A cute clay model of a Minoan house at Knossos appears at the top right. The Minoans at Knossos were just as fussy about their typical beautifully fluted Minoan columns and sturdily reinforced doors, as can clearly be seen in these two photos I took when I was in Knossos on May 2, 2012:

Knossos, Third Palace, Late Minoan IIIb ca. 1450 BCE reinforced windows and doors

Knossos, Third Palace, Late Minoan IIIb ca. 1450 BCE fluted columns

I am particularly impressed by the text in Mycenaean Greek, which is easily rendered into Archaic Greek.

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