Tag Archive: tripods

Linear B seal BE Zg 1 as erroneously interpreted by Gretchen Leonhardt, corrected here:

Linear B seal BE Zg 1

Gretchen Leonhardt, a self-styled Linear B expert, has erroneously deciphered Linear B seal BE Zg 1.  As she so often does, she misinterprets syllabograms, all to often blatantly violating their phonetic values. It is clear from this seal that the last syllabogram must be either ru or ne, and  certainly not me, by any stretch of the imagination. Leonhardt is also in the habit of recasting the orthography of Linear B words she interprets to suit her own purposes. In this instance, she translates what she mistakenly takes to be the word on the VERSO to be dokame as dokema in Latinized Greek, flipping the vowels. But the second syllabogram is clearly ka, and cannot be interpreted as anything else.  The problem with Ms. Leonhardt’s so-called methodology in her decipherment of any and all Linear B tablets is that she runs off on wild tangents whenever she is confronted with any word that does not meet her preconceptions. In this instance, she is desperate to cook up a meaning which appeals to her, no matter how much she has to twist the Linear B orthography. She indulges in this very practice on practically every last Linear B tablet she “deciphers”, interpreting Linear B words to suit her fancy, except in those instances where she is faced with no alternative but to accept what is staring her in the face.

For instance, allow me to cite some of her translations of certain words on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952.  She has no choice but to accept tiripode as signifying “tripod”, eme as  “together/with” and qetorowe as “four year”, even though it properly means “four”, in line with the Latin orthography, quattuor. Linear B regularly substitutes q for t. As for her so-called decipherment of apu, she should know better than to translate it as  “to become bleached/white”. After all, how could a burnt tripod be bleached white, when scorching turns pottery black? It is astonishing that she would overlook the obvious here. What is even more damning is the indisputable fact that apu is the default aprivative preposition for “from/with” in Mycenaean, Arcadian, Arcado-Cypriot, Lesbian and Thessalian, as attested by George Papanastassiou in The preverb apo in Ancient Greek:

preposition apo in ancient Greek dialects

Then we have mewijo, which she interprets as “a kind of cumin”. Why on earth the Mycenaeans would have bothered with naming a specific kind of cumin when the standard word suffices, is completely beyond me. In fact, the alternative word she has latched onto is extremely uncommon in any ancient Greek dialect. Finally, she bizarrely interprets dipa, which is clearly the Mycenaean equivalent to the Homeric depa, as “to inspect”, another wild stretch of the imagination. Sadly, Ms. Leonhardt is much too prone to these shenanigans, which mar all too many of her decipherments. She ought to know better.

This of course applies to her decipherment of Linear B seal BE Zg 1. Finally, we can also interpret the figure on this seal as representing the Horns of Consecration ubiquitous at Knossos. 

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:


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 70 Minoan Linear A terms MAXIMUM I shall be featuring in my article on the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A in Vol. 12 (2016) of Archaeology and Science: 

Here is a list of the 70 out of 106 Minoan Linear A terms I shall be zeroing in on in my article in Vol. 12 (2016), “Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris), the ‘Rosetta Stone’ to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) vessels and pottery” of the prestigious international annual, Archaeology and Science ISSN 1452-7448 (release date spring 2018), to be submitted by Nov. 15, 2016.

In an article of this nature, which is to be the first of its kind in the world ever to deal with the partial (by no means definitive) decipherment of Minoan Linear A, I must of necessity focus on those Minoan Linear A words which offer the greatest insight into the vocabulary of the language. It is, of course, impossible to decipher the Minoan language, and anyone who dares claim he or she has done so is skating on very thin ice, actually, no ice whatsoever. All we can hope to do at the present juncture is to decipher some of the vocabulary, that and nothing else. This is possible because the syllabary has already been deciphered, though as far as I know, no researchers or decipherers to date have taken any note of this vital factor. It is precisely because the syllabary itself has been deciphered that we have any access at all to Minoan vocabulary. We must recall that for Michael Ventris, the decipherment of Mycenaean Linear B was far more difficult at the outset, because no-one in the world, including himself, knew what the Linear B syllabic signs signified. It took him two years or so to figure them out and he never actually got them until he realized that Linear B was a very early form of Greek, which we now know as Mycenaean Greek.

But the situation is far different with Minoan Linear A. We can read the syllabary. We can “read” the words, but we cannot understand what they mean... at least to date. I have taken upon myself to decipher, more or less accurately (probably more often less than more) as many Minoan Linear A words as I possibly can. Even after months of strenuous travail, I have only been able to extrapolate the potential meanings of 106 Minoan Linear A words from a lexicon of about 510 intact Linear A words in John G. Younger’s Lexicon. These terms I have managed to decipher more or less accurately thus amount to only 20 % of the complete lexicon. But 20 % is far more than anyone else has managed to decipher  to date.  

Here then are the 70 terms (MAXIMUM) excerpted from my complete Glossary of Minoan Linear A:           


Minoan Linear A words deciphered with certainty (90% - 100%) are in BOLD.
Minoan Linear A words deciphered with a reasonable degree of certainty (75% - 85%) are in italics.

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. 

Terms to which I shall assign special treatment are followed by an asterisk (*). 

adureza = unit of dry measurement (grain, wheat, barley, flour)
aka = wineskin (two syllabograms overlaid)
akii = garlic
darida = large vase *  
daropa = stirrup jar = Linear B karawere * 5
datara = grove of fig trees *
datu = 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) 10
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown amount)*
kanaka = saffron = Linear B kanako
kapa = follower or (foot) solder = Linear B eqeta *
karopa3 (karopai) = kylix (with two handles & smaller than a pithos) *
kaudeta = to be distributed (fut. part. pass.) approx. = Linear B, epididato = having been distributed (aorist part. pass.)15 
keda = cedar
kidema*323na = type of vessel (truncated on HT 31) *
kidapa = (ash) wood, a type of wood. On Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01 *
kireta2 (kiritai) = delivery = Linear B apudosis
kiretana = (having been) delivered (past participle passive) = Linear B amoiyeto 20
kireza = unit of measurement for figs, probably 1 basket *
kiro = owed = Linear B oporo = they owed
kuro = total             
kuruku = crocus
maru = wool (syllabograms superimposed) = Linear B mari/mare 25
mitu = a type of cloth 
nasi = a type of cloth
nere = larger amphora size *
nipa3 (nipai) or nira2 (nirai) = figs = Linear B suza *
orada = rose 30
pazeqe = small handle-less cups = Linear B dipa anowe, dipa anowoto *
puko = tripod = Linear B tiripode *
qapa3 = qapai = large handle-less vase or amphora *
qatidate = olive trees See also datu = olives = Linear B erawo *
qareto = Linear B onato = “lease field” * 35
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 * 40
sara2 (sarai) = small unit of measurement: dry approx. 1 kg., liquid approx. 1 litre 
sata = a type of cloth
sedina = celery
supa3 (supai) = small cup = Linear B dipa mewiyo *
supu = very large amphora * 45
tarawita = terebinth tree
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) *
tesi = small unit of measurement * 50
tisa = description of pot or pottery = Linear B amotewiya/yo
udimi = a type of cloth 
uminase = harbour (cf. French “Le Havre”), famous Atlantic port in France * 
usu = a type of cloth


Sirumarita2 = Sirumaritai 55


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

Akanu = Archanes (Crete)
Dikate = Mount Dikte 60
Idaa = Mount Ida
Kudoni = Kydonia
Meza (= Linear B Masa)
Paito = Phaistos ( =Linear B) * 65
Radu = Lato (= Linear B Rato)
Setoiya = Seteia (= Linear B) 
Sukirita/Sukiriteija = Sybrita
Uminase = Linear B Amnisos * 
Winadu = Linear B Inato 70


This Glossary accounts for 20 % 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.

Are there any words in Mycenaean Greek of putative Minoan origin? It should surely not strike us as so surprising that there are. After all,  

kidapa = ash? (Linear B tablet KN 894 N v 01)

Several Minoan Linear A words very likely survived into Mycenaean Linear B. The problem is, if they did, we do not know which ones did.... except perhaps kidapa, which has a distinctly Minoan feel to it. Cf. kidata = to be accepted (for delivery to) = Linear B dekesato

The path towards a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A: a rational approach: PART A

Before May 2016, I would never have even imagined or dared to make the slightest effort to try to decipher Minoan Linear A, even partially. After all, no one in the past 116 years since Sir Arthur Evans began excavating the site of Knossos, unearthing thousands of Mycenaean Linear A tablets and fragments, and a couple of hundred Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (mostly the latter), no one has even come close to deciphering Minoan Linear, in spite of the fact that quite a few people have valiantly tried, without any real success. Among those who have claimed to have successfully deciphered Linear A, we may count:

Sam Connolly, with his book:

Sam Connolly Beaking the Code Linear A

Where he claims, “Has the lost ancient language behind Linear A finally been identified? Read this book and judge for yourself”. 

Stuart L. Harris, who has just published his book (2016):

Sam Harris Linear A decipherment

basing his decipherment on the notion that Minoan Linear A is somehow related to Finnish, an idea which I myself once entertained, but swiftly dismissed,, having scanned through at least 25 Finnish words which should have matched up with at least 150 Minoan Linear A words. Not a single one did. So much for Finnish. I was finished with it.

and Gretchen Leonhardt


who bases her decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablets on the ludicrous notion that Minoan Linear A is closely related to Japanese! That is a real stretch of the imagination, in light of the fact that the two languages could not be more distant or remote in any manner of speaking. But this is hardly surprising, given that her notions or, to put it bluntly, her hypothesis underlying her attempted decipherments of Mycenaean Linear B tablets is equally bizarre.

I wind up with this apropos observation drawn from Ms. Leonhardt’s site:    If a Minoan version of a Rosetta Stone pops up . . , watch public interest rise tenfold. ‘Minoa-mania’ anyone?”. Glen Gordon, February 2007 Journey to Ancient Civilizations.

Which begs the question, who am I to dare claim that I have actually been able to decipher no fewer than 90 Minoan Linear A words

Minoan Linear A Glossary

since I first ventured out on the perilous task of attempting such a risky undertaking. Before taking even a single step further, I wish to emphatically stress that I do not claim to be deciphering Minoan Linear A. Such a claim is exceedingly rash. What I claim is that I seem to be on track to a partial decipherment of the language, based on 5 principles of rational decipherment which will be enumerated in Part B. Still, how on earth did I manage to break through the apparently impenetrable firewall of Minoan Linear A?  Here is how.

In early May 2016, as I was closely examining Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada),

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

which dealt exclusively with vessels and pottery, I was suddenly struck by a lightning flash. The tablet was cluttered with several ideograms of vessels, amphorae, kylixes and cups on which were superimposed with the actual Minoan Linear A words for the same. What a windfall! My next step - and this is critical - was to make the not so far-fetched assumption that this highly detailed tablet (actually the most intact of all extant Minoan Linear A tablets) was the magic key to opening the heavily reinforced door of Minoan Linear, previously locked as solid as a drum. But was there a way, however remote, for me to “prove”, by circumstantial evidence alone, that most, if not all, of the words this tablet actually were the correct terms for the vessels they purported to describe? There was, after all, no magical Rosetta Stone to rely on in order to break into the jail of Minoan Linear A. Or was there?

As every historical linguist specializing in ancient languages with any claim to expertise knows, the real Rosetta Stone was the magical key to the brilliant decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822 by the French philologist, François Champellion

Francois Champellion Rosetta Stone Schiller Institute
It is truly worth your while to read the aforementioned article in its entirety. It is a brilliant exposé of Monsieur Champellion’s dexterous decipherment.

But is there any Rosetta Stone to assist in the decipherment of Haghia Triada tablet HT 31. Believe it or not, there is. Startling as it may seem, that Rosetta Stone is none other than the very first Mycenaean Linear B tablet deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952, Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952.  If you wish to be informed and enlightened on the remarkable decipherment of Pylos Py TA 641-1952, you can read all about it for yourself in my article, published in Vol. 10 (2014) of Archaeology and Science (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448 

Archaeology and Science, Vol. 10 (2014), An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952. pp. 133-161, here: 

Archaeology and Sciene Belgrade

It is precisely this article which opened the floodgates to my first steps towards the partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. The question is, how? In this very article I introduced the General Theory of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear A (pp. 148-156). It is this very phenomenon, the supersyllabogram, which has come to be the ultimate key to unlocking the terminology of vessels and pottery in Minoan Linear A. Actually, I first introduced in great detail the General Theory of Supersyllabograms at the Third International Conference on Symbolism at The Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, on July 1 2015:

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens

Role of SSYLs in Mycenaean Linear B

This ground-breaking talk, re-published by Koryvantes, is capped off with a comprehensive bibliography of 147 items serving as the prelude to my discovery of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B from 2013-2015.

How Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) serves as the Rosetta Stone to Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada):

Believe it or not, the running text of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is strikingly alike that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). So much so that the textual content of the former runs very close to being parallel with its Mycenaean Linear B counterpart. How can this be? A few preliminary observations are in order. First and foremost, Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) cannot be construed in any way as being equivalent to the Rosetta Stone. That is an absurd proposition. On the other hand, while the Rosetta stone displayed the same text in three different languages and in three different scripts (Demotic, Hieroglyphics and ancient Greek), the syllabary of Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) is almost identical to that of Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris). And that is what gives us the opportunity to jam our foot in the door of Minoan Linear A. There is not point fussing over whether or not the text of HT 31 is exactly parallel to that of Pylos Py TA 641, because ostensibly it is not! But, I repeat, the parallelisms running through both of these tablets are remarkable.

Allow me to illustrate the cross-correlative cohesion between the two tablets right from the outset, the very first line. At the very top of HT 31 we observe this word, puko, immediately to the left of the ideogram for “tripod”, which just happens to be identical in Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Linear B. Now the very first on Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is tiripode, which means “tripod”. After a bit of intervening text, which reads as follows in translation, “Aigeus works on tripods of the Cretan style”, the ideogram for “tripod”, identical to the one on Haghia Triada, leaps to the for. The only difference between the disposition of the term for “tripod” on HT 31 and Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is that there is no intervening text between the word for tripod, i.e. puko, on the former, whereas there is on the latter. But that is scarcely an impediment to the realization, indeed the revelation, that on HT 31 puko must mean exactly the same thing as tiripode on Pylos Py TA 641-1952. And it most certainly does. But, I hear you protesting, and with good reason, how can I be sure that this is the case? It just so happens that there is another Linear B tablet with the same word followed by the same ideogram, in exactly the same order as on HT 31, here: 

Linear A 19 confirmation that puko means tripod

The matter is clinched in the bud. The word puko in Minoan Linear A is indisputably the term for “tripod”, exactly parallel to its counterpart in Mycenaean Linear B, tiripode.

I had just knocked out the first brick from the Berlin Wall of Minoan Linear A. More was to come. Far more.

Continued in Part B.


Confirmation yet again that Minoan Linear A puko = tripod (3rd. Time):

Linear A 19 joins

Minoan Linear A tablet 19 consisting of 2 joins confirms yet again that Minoan Linear A puko = tripod (3rd. Time). Prof. John G. Younger’s interpretation that puko = “bronze” simply does not hold up under even cursory scrutiny, as the following illustration makes perfectly clear.

6 Minoan tripods

Minoan tripods were almost always made of pottery, rarely of bronze. I could find only 1 Minoan tripod made of bronze in my Google image search. So the interpretation “bronze” for puko must be ruled out once and for all.

Linear A tablet tagged “19” & the Minoan word for “tripod” = puko (confirmation):

Linear A 19 joins puko = tripod

This tablet confirms that the Minoan Linear A word for  “tripod” is puko. The co-incidence with the same word plus the ideogram for  “tripod” on Haghia Triada tablet HT 31 is too great for it to be otherwise.

Linear A KURO = Linear B TOSA = “total” POST 1 of 3

KURO = total HT 31 Haghia Triada

The Minoan Linear A word kuro unquestionably means “total”, primarily because it is always followed by numerics, sometimes in large numbers. It is of course the equivalent (though not exact) of the Linear B tosa = “so many”, i.e. “total”. I say not exact, since the Mycenaean Linear for “total” is plural, and I strongly suspect that the Minoan Linear A counterpart is singular. I am also of the opinion that Mycenaean Linear B inherited syllabograms which always end in a vowel directly from Minoan Linear A, because I am firmly convinced that Minoan Linear A words always ended in a vowel, never a consonant. Since the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms all end in a vowel, whereas Greek words almost never do, terminating instead in consonants, it stands to reason that the Linear B syllabary is a direct calque on the Linear A syllabary. The newly ensconced Linear B scribes at Knossos simply took over a big chunk of the Linear A syllabary, without even bothering to account for Greek ultimate consonants. This may look weird or positively perverted to us, but we must recall that the scribes, many of whom worked in the transition period from Minoan Linear A to Mycenaean Linear B, would not have wanted to “re-invent the wheel”. After all, both the Linear A and Linear B tablets were first and foremost inventories, so why rock the boat?  The older Minoan scribes had to learn Mycenaean as fast as possible. They must have found Mycenaean very strange to their ears, since almost all of the words ended in a consonant. Be it as it may, it appears the younger scribes were quite willing to adapt the Minoan Linear A syllabary willy-nilly, and have done with it.

CONCLUSIONS: All of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabograms inherited from Minoan Linear A end in vowels, in spite of the fact that (even archaic Mycenaean) Greek words almost always end in consonants because, in short, Minoan Linear A words (probably almost) invariably ended in vowels. If this is the case, this amounts to an extremely important discovery over the nature of the Minoan language. As far as I know, no previous researchers in Minoan Linear A have ever taken this basic premise into account. But I stand my ground on this one.  Finally, since almost all Minoan Linear A words probably ended in an ultimate vowel, the word kuro is very likely to be either masculine or neuter, based on the (untested) assumption that gender in Minoan Linear A would have assigned O ultimate to masculine or neuter and A ultimate to feminine ultimate. However, fair warning! There are a great number of Minoan Linear A words which terminate in U ultimate, and these may be in the masculine, while those words ending in O may be in the neuter, or vice versa. I shall have to test this hypothesis over the next few years, as I attempt to gradually decipher at least some Minoan Linear A vocabulary. I shall also be addressing other key characteristics of Minoan Linear A orthography in future posts.

On the Mycenaean Linear B tablet tosa pakana = “so many swords” i.e. “the total” number of swords, tosa is in the plural, the exact opposite of kuro in Minoan Linear A, at least if my hypothesis is right.

Linear A tabletr An1938_706_o tossa pakana

Another consideration I would like you all to take into account is this: I personally do not care one jot what class of language Minoan Linear A falls into, whether or not it be Indo-European, for reasons which will become crystal clear in near future posts. In a nutshell, it is precisely because almost all philologists and specialists in Minoan Linear A try to pigeon hole the language into a particular class of languages that they are getting nowhere with its decipherment. Why not instead just accept the language for what it is( whatever it is!), by gradually deciphering as many words as we conceivably can, even if these amount to no more than a couple of dozen or so and, in addition, by reconstructing in so far as possible the grammar of Minoan Linear A, which may in turn provide further clues to other “undecipherable” vocabulary. You never know.

Minoan Linear A puko = “tripod” versus tiripode in Mycenaean Linear B: the first step towards decipherment of Minoan Linear A:

Linear A Tablet HT 31 puko tripod
Even first glance at Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 makes it clear that the Minoan Linear A word for “tripod” is puko, as the first line on the recto side (left) illustrates. The word puko immediately precedes the ideogram for tripod. This is highly significant, because on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) the very same configuration occurs,

A Pylos Tablet 641-1952 Ventris

Minoan tripods in Linear B tiripode and Linear A puko and supaira = cup

with the Mycenaean Linear B word tiripode appearing at the head of line 1, followed by 3 more words, Aikeu keresiyo weke = “Aigeus is working on 2 tripods of Cretan origin”, again followed in turn by the ideogram for “tripod” and the number 2, accounting for the translation here. The only difference between Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) and Linear B Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is that there is intervening text on the latter, and no text on the former. But this does not make any real difference between the disposition of the word for “tripod” on each of these tablets, puko in Minoan Linear A and tiripode in Mycenaean Linear B, since the word for “tripod” on both tablets is followed by its ideogram, which is practically identical on both tablets.

linear A tablets Hagia Triada rectangular vertical longer than horizontal wide

Linear A tablets ZAkros rectangular with vertical longer than horizontal is wide

I believe it is important to take note of the fact that almost all Minoan Linear A tablets are rectangular in shape, with the vertical almost always longer than the horizontal is wide, as is illustrated in these 2 composites of Linear A tablets from Haghia Triada and Zakros. How this will affect the decipherment of Minoan Linear A I cannot say, but it may (or may not) play an important role. 

It is highly advisable that visitors to this blog refer back to my previous post on this same question here:


In the next post, I shall put forward my tentative decipherments for the next five types of vessels mentioned on Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) with possible correlations between at least some of them with the vessel types mentioned on Linear B tablet Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris). But that is merely the beginning. Other Minoan Linear A tablets lend further credence to our translations, as we shall see in the next few posts. These translations make for the first inroads into at least the eventual partial decipherment of Minoan Linear B, a task which I intend to undertake with all due diligence in the next few years. 

Just added to academia.edu: A Significant Breakthrough in the Decipherment of Linear B: The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, Presentation by Richard Vallance Janke at the Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, July 1, 2015.

To read the full text of my talk, with its comprehensive bibliography of 147 items related to this ground-breaking discovery in Mycenaean Linear B, click on this LINK:

breakthrough in decipherment ofx Mycenaean Linear B title
Of particular interest is item 139 in the bibliography:

139. Vallance Janke, Richard.  “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”, TBP in Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448, February 2016. approx. 30 pp.

In partnership with The Association of Historical Studies, Koryvantes (Athens), our organization, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (WordPress), conducts ongoing research into Mycenaean archaeology and military affairs and the Mycenaean Greek dialect. This study centres on a  fresh new decipherment of Pylos tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) by Mrs. Rita Roberts from Crete, who brings to bear the unique perspectives of an archaeologist on her translation, in all probability the most accurate realized to date. We then introduce the newly minted term in Mycenaean Linear B, the supersyllabogram, being the first syllabogram or first syllable of any word or entire phrase in Linear B. Supersyllabograms have been erroneously referred to as “adjuncts” in previous linguistic research into Mycenaean Linear B. This article demonstrates that their functionality significantly exceeds such limitations, and that the supersyllabogram must be fully accounted for as a unique and discrete phenomenon without which any approach to the interpretation of the Linear B syllabary is at best incomplete, and at worse, severely handicapped.
Keywords: Mycenaean Linear B, syllabograms, logograms, ideograms, supersyllabograms, adjuncts, Linear B tablets, Pylos, Pylos TA 641-1952 (Ventris), decipherment, translation, pottery, vessels, tripods, cauldrons, amphorae, kylixes, cups, goblets

which is as you can see the abstract of my own article about to appear in the February 2016 issue of the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal, Archaeology and Science = Arheoologija I Prirodne Nauke (Belgrade) ISSN 1452-7448


An Archaeologist’s Thoroughly Researched Translation of Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 (Ventris)

This Linear B Tablet PY 641 is by far the most difficult one I have had to translate. It was the first ever Linear B tablet which Michael Ventris deciphered in 1952. I was in my teen years then and knew nothing of his great achievement and in fact nothing about the Linear B Ancient script writings whatsoever.

I am aware that many scholars have translated this tablet such as the archaeologist Carl Blegen, and also Prof. John Chadwick, who assigned the first range of standard values to ideograms for the vessels on Linear B Tablet 641.

Ref: Chadwick, John. The Decipherment of Linear B (2nd edition) London: Cambridge University Press 1970. ISBN 521-09596. pg. 117.

I now submit my translation of this very important Linear B tablet from the great Minoan Palace at Pylos: Click to ENLARGE

Pylos Tablet 64l Burnt from legs up


Aigeus a worker is making tripods of the Cretan style.
There are 2 Tripods with three legs and two handles,
1 Tripod with a single handle on one foot,
1 Tripod with the legs burnt from the legs up *,
3 Big pots with two handles,  
2 Big pots with three handle,
1 Smaller pot with four handles,
1 Small type of cup/ goblet with three handles,
1 Small type of cup/goblet without handles.

Kylix two handled stemmed Cup

As an archaeologist working on Minoan pottery for the past ten years, I feel that adding a few descriptions of the pottery vessels mentioned on this Linear B tablet will further our understanding of their important shapes and uses. Also, we must remember that due to the lack of sufficient room on these very small clay tablets, the Minoan scribe recording so many items would not have been able to write all the details for us to read in our modern times. But of course, his fellow Minoan scribes understood exactly what the pottery items were.

The following is my idea of what I believe the Minoan scribe has listed on this Linear B tablet PY 64l and what they were used for.

Tripods - Sometimes referred to as Cauldrons and were mainly used for cooking purposes and for boiling water
Tripod in color and b&w

Pithoi - Because the Linear B word mezoe means ‘greater/bigger’, I interpret these pots which have three and those with four handles as being Pithoi. They were used for the storage of large quantities of agricultural produce such as grain crops, olive oil and wine. These huge pots could have as many as eight handles.

Large Pithoi in storage at Knossos  

Large Pithoi (singular, pithos) in storage at Knossos

Amphorae – (singular, amphora) These pots having two handles or even three handles were used for the storage and transport of oil or any other liquid substances.

Minoan Amphora
      Early Minoan Amphora from Knossos

Amphora – mewijo means smaller. The other amphora listed on this tablet with four handles was most likely used for the storage of perfume.

With regard to the Linear B word dipa meaning “cup”:

After further research into archaeological reports and illustrations at The Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Centre for East Crete and The History of Minoan Pottery by Philip Betancourt 1985 Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, I found that the two cups listed on this tablet PY 64l can only mean a (type of cup). I therefore interpret them as being goblets, although the one with three handles possibly being a kylix Both were drinking vessels.

goblets found at knossos after Macdonald & Knappett 2007

Late Helladic IIIA2 three handled kylix courtesy Mitrou Archaeological Site Credit photo Winn Burke


Congratulations to Rita Roberts for her excellent translation of Pylos Tablet 641-1952 (Ventris), which she has grounded on her thorough research as an archaeologist into every last type of vessel illustrated by Prof. John Chadwick’s classification of ideograms for vessels. What is particularly impressive here is her insistence on checking one by one all of the ideograms (which are after all symbolic representations of the real thing) against prominent archaeological finds of each type. This very effective approach is novel, in so far as all of translators to date of tablet Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris), whether or not they were archaeologists themselves, have never taken the trouble to cross-correlate the various ideograms with their actual hardware counterparts. By taking this critical step in gathering concrete evidence to back up her choices for the name of each and every type of vessel on this extremely significant tablet, Mrs. Roberts has provided us empirical evidence as confirmation of the types of vessels named and flagged by ideograms on the tablet. Why no one has done this in the past is beyond me... and beyond Mrs. Roberts as well.

At any rate, it was this technically challenging tablet which I assigned to Rita Roberts as the final step in her Secondary School Level studies. I am delighted to announce that Mrs. Roberts has achieved a mark of 98% for the extreme thoroughness of her research, especially in the archaeological sphere. Rita is thus granted her Secondary School Matriculation with all its attendant rights and privileges. I shall be designing a Secondary School Graduation Certificate on fine linen 25% cotton paper, beautifully framed, to send to Rita Roberts. I shall also post her Certificate right here on our blog for all to see. It goes without saying that I myself shall not attempt to translate this famous tablet, because to be perfectly honest, I could not have come up with a translation as thoroughly researched or as minutely detailed and accurate as this one by Rita Roberts.

Mrs. Roberts is now at the first year level of university studies, and as such, she is now confronted with even greater challenges, being obliged as she is to translate tablets (much) more complex than Pylos 641-1952 (Ventris), to master all of the logograms and ideograms in Mycenaean Linear B, and to thoroughly learn all of the vocabulary in the military sphere from the comprehensive English – Mycenaean Linear B – Archaic Greek – Modern Greek Lexicon of Military Affairs she and I are to publish by June 2015. In effect, her studies for the first two semesters of her first year will focus primarily on the translation and the mastery of Mycenaean Linear B tablets on military affairs.

She is also hereby granted the status of co-moderator of this blog.


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”
(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
(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

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.


Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris): The Brilliant Translation by Michael Ventris (Click to ENLARGE)

Linear B Tablet Pylos 641-1952 translation & drawing by Michael Ventris 1952

This is the first ever translation of Pylos Tablet PY 641-1952 (Ventris) by Michael Ventris himself, and the first tablet in Mycenaean Linear B ever translated into English. A bit of background is in order. It was actually the archaeologist Carl Blegen, who had just unearthed this tablet along with several others at Pylos in 1951-1952, who was the first person to recognize that it was almost certainly written in Greek, because he correctly translated the very first word as tiripode, which was clearly the Greek word for “tripod”, no matter how archaic the dialect. That dialect we now call Mycenaean Greek, which is so closely related to Arcado-Cypriot Greek, later written in both Linear C and in the archaic Arcado-Cypriot alphabet (ca. 1100 to 400 BCE) as to be its kissing cousin. These two dialects were more closely allied than any other ancient Greek dialects, including the Ionic and Attic, a fact which proves to be of enormous import in any decipherment or translation in either Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (or alphabetic). We must keep this fact firmly in mind at all times when translating any tablet in either of these dialects, which are both firmly ensconced in the East Greek class.

As for Michael Ventris’ meticulous decipherment of this justly famous tablet in his beautiful handwriting, it still holds its own as one of the finest to this day. The only flaw of any significance was his translation of the word “Aikeu”, which he interpreted as meaning “of the Aikeu type”, for want of any more convincing alternative. But in retrospect we can scarcely blame him for that, as we have nowadays the privilege and the insight to peer back through the looking glass or the mirror, if you like, into the past 63 years ago, to pass judgement on his decipherment, armed as we are with a clearer understanding of the intricacies of Mycenaean Greek and of Linear B. To do so would be paramount to violating the integrity of his decipherment which was the very finest anyone could have come up with in the earliest days of the decipherment of Linear B, of which he was the avowed master par excellence.

We shall turn next to two modern translations of the same tablet, one by Rita Roberts of Crete and the other by Gretchen Leonhardt of the U.S.A, holding them up in the mirror of Ventris’ own inimitable decipherment, to see how they both stack up against his own, and against the other. I shall be rating each of the 3 translations on its own merits and demerits on the basis of several strict criteria for decipherment, one of which was recently introduced by Ms. Gretchen Leonhardt herself, a criterion which must stand the test of theoretical validity, as well as measure up to firm empirical evidence, as we shall soon see. 


Our 100th. POST! Linear B Tablet 641-1952

Yes, this is our 100th. POST! Linear B Tablet 641-1952, and a very significant post this is, considering that this tablet was the very first Linear B tablet ever translated into English by none other than Michael Ventris himself, after the archeologist, Carl Blegen, working at the site of ancient Pylos, informed Ventris that when he applied Ventris’ final grid to this tablet, he discovered to his amazement that the first word spelled, “tiripode”, as we can see here (CLICK to enlarge):

Pylos Tablet Ta641-1952 Ventris

which he instantly realized was in all probability Greek, the one language no one as yet believed  Linear B represented… with the exception of Michael Ventris himself, who having given up on Etruscan and other possibilities, was beginning to suspect that indeed Linear B had to represent Greek, in spite of all his instincts crying out that it was not.  All of this happened in early June 1952. Of course, Blegen’s translation of the first word on Pylos Tablet 641-1952, burst open the floodgates, so that by July 2, 1952, Ventris had completely deciphered the tablet.  And the rest is history…. but to say the least, earth-shattering history, which was to push back Greek civilization a further 700 years! …. from ca. 800 BCE (which had previously been considered  the terminus post quem of the earliest Greek civilization utilizing writing (the primitive Greek alphabet as such) to 1,500 BCE, at the height of the Mycenaean-Minoan thalassocracy.



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