Tag Archive: terebinth

Linear A vase rim inscription PE Zb 3 (Petras), terebinth trees:

Linear A vase rim Petras PE Zb 3 on tereebinth trees

The Linear A vase rim inscription PE Zb 3 (Petras) deals with terebinth trees, kitanasijase (instrumental plural), either surrounded by a (stone) enclosure or growing in a field. The inscription is entirely in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan. Since the Linear A word for terebinth tree, kitano (nominative masc. sing.) is all but identical to the Linear B word kitano, we can be quite certain that this tablet is inscribed in New Minoan.

On a passing note, I would like to point out that I have already deciphered over 60 Linear A tablets more or less accurately. That is far more than anyone has ever even attempted to decipher in the past.

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.

Severely damaged tablet on textiles, KN 1530 R t 01:

KN 1530 R t 01 textiles damaged

Because Knossos tablet KN 1530 R t 01 on textiles is so severely damaged, it is impossible to make any sense at all out of lines 1 & 2, while only the right side of line 3 makes any sense, in so far as it clearly sets down 11 units of textiles and (apparently) a liability, if that is what the supersyllabogram O means in this context, i.e. O = opero = liability. Line 4 is muddled on the left side. It is difficult to establish whether or not the word on the left side, which is partially missing, is a person’s name, but if it is, and we insert “i” as the missing letter, then we have Waisio in Linear B or Waisios in Archaic Greek. The middle part of this line is garbled. The word kitano means “a terebinth tree” and seems out of place in this context, unless the pistachio from this tree is used to create a pale green dye for the cloth. The right side of line 4 makes sense, in so far as it clearly sets down 11 units of textiles and (apparently) a liability, if that is what the supersyllabogram O means in this context, i.e. O = opero = liability.

Supersyllabograms for olive oil in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy:

Recently, I ran several posts on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, in which as it turns out I erroneously claimed that the supersyllabograms which these posts represented were centred on saffron. I could not have gone more wrong! So I have had to delete all these posts. And if anyone of you who are into Linear B or who are specializing in the syllabary have relied on these posts or have used them as references for your own research, you should at once discard these references, as they are all completely invalid!

As it turns out, while I was busy researching PDF documents for my references and notes and for the bibliography for my next major article, The Decipherment of Supersyllabograms in Linear B, which is to be published in Archaeology and Science, Vol. 11 (2015), to be released in the spring of 2017, I discovered to my horror, and then to my huge relief, that the prestigious Linear B scholar, José L. Melena,  had already deciphered both of the supersyllabograms, A & TI 42 years ago in 1974, I had grossly miscalculated to be related to saffron as actually being related specifically to olive oil. I was suspicious of my own decipherments all along, and I should have listened to my intuition, my “gut feelings”. The problem is that the ideogram for olive oil and that for saffron look so much alike that they can easily mislead the unwary, meaning in this particular case, me.  So I have had to go back to the drawing board, and start from scratch.   

To add insult to injury (though I scarcely let that bother me, as I try my damnedest not to be too egotistical), I found out that not only had Melena deciphered the SSYLS A & TI for olive oil, but he had deciphered 4 more as well! These are KU, PA, SI & WE. Boy, had I ever been sloppy, or more to the point, woefully unobservant.  Such is life. But all's well that ends well, as Shakespeare says.

My own decipherments of all 6 supersyllabograms for olive oil in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy follow:

Table 7 fb Supersyllaograms for olive oil in Myenaean Linear B

As it turns out, Melena himself,  in spite of his remarkable insight into the workings of the more esoteric points of Linear B (including notwithstanding supersyllabograms), made a  few rather gauche errors in his attempts at deciphering some of these supersyllabograms. This is because, to my mind at least, he overstretched himself by seeking out putative meanings which, to be blunt, were much to complex and far-fetched to suit the recipe. For instance, he assigned the meanings TI = tithasos =  “domestic” and A = agrios =  “wild” to the supersyllabograms A & TI, which he typified as referring “probably to distinct kinds or qualities of olives.”  But this notion stretches ones belief. Why anyone would bother cultivating wild olives, which would be difficult to grow under the best of circumstances I cannot imagine. So my alternate decipherments are, for A = aporowewe =  “an amphora (of olive oil)”, which makes eminently more sense, as the Minoans at Knossos and the Mycenaeans at Pylos always stored their olive oil in enormous amphorae or pithoi. For TI I combine TI =  timito = “the terebinth tree” with the ideogram for olive oil. But why would I do that, I hear you ask? It is really quite simple. Since the terebinth tree produces pistachio, I reasoned that the Minoans and Mycenaeans had a sweet tooth for olive oil and pistachio paste. Et voilà! Makes sense.

Moving on to PA, I agree wholeheartedly with Melena’s interpretation, but I take it one step further than he does. He deciphers PA as parayo in Linear B = palaios in ancient Greek, meaning “old”. Old olive oil? Yuk! Methinks not. What the scribes are clearly referring to is vintage olive oil, like vintage wine. Now that makes a lot more sense. As for his decipherment of SI with olive oil, he is way off the mark, once again because he unnecessarily complicates matters by looking for love in all the wrong places. Taking his cue from the Linear B word for a pig (!) = siaro, he bizarrely concludes that SI adjoined with the ideogram for olive oil references a gooey unguent comprised of pig fat and olive oil. OMG! No no no! SI clearly refers to Linear B siton, which means “wheat”, which when milled with olive oil yields none other than olive bread. Olive oil bread was in the distant past and is today a staple of the Greek diet. His interpretation of the SSYL WE as weto = “this year’s crop or harvest or harvest” is of course correct, referring to the harvesting of olive oil. The other interprration wetoiwetoi is also feasible, but less so. But we are all far from perfect, Melena and myself being right there in the pack, as this post so abundantly makes clear. We make the best with what we have by way of intellectual resources, and consequently hope for the best. Just because I have deciphered all 36 supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B does not mean that I necessarily have all of them, let alone 80% to 85 % of them “right”. Besides, there is no way of our ever knowing as philologists, no matter who we are, what the Linear B scribes at Knossos, Pylos etc. actually intended ALL of these supersyllabograms to mean. We can be certain of a only a few. We can establish with probability that a number of them are quite likely to be what we ascertain them to be. But we can and must be less certain of others, and even very doubtful of a few which, for all intents and purposes, practically defy any really convincing decipherment. And there lies the perennial conundrum. 
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