Tag Archive: Trojan War


senryu – Minoan seal = cachet minoen


senryu – Minoan seal = cachet minoen

Minoan Seal  –
Achilles slays Hector,
thrust cut to the neck

Minoan sealstone senryu 620

cachet minoen –
Achille tue Hector
d’un seul coup au cou

Richard Vallance

This exquisite Minoan seal, dated ca. 1500 BCE, was uncovered in an olive grove near the Mycenaean city of Pylos in 2015. Nothing so exquisite as this seal stone was ever to surface in ancient Greek art until the Classical Period in Athens, ca. 450-400 BCE. The workmanship is simply astonishing!  

Ce cachet minoen exquis, daté d’à peu près 1500 av J.-C., a été découvert dans une oliveraie près de la ville mycenéene de Pylos en 2015. C’est indubitablement le chef-d’oeuvre le plus magnifique à paraître dans le monde de la Grèce antique avant la période classique à Athènes, à peu près 450-400 av J.-C. La qualité du travail est carrément étonnante !

Team discovers a rare Minoan sealstone in the treasure-laden tomb of a Bronze Age Greek warrior (Click here to read):

Minoan sealstone discovered at Pylos



Proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield:

Trojan roundel in proposed Mycnaean-derived Linear A

This is my proposed decipherment of a Trojan roundel in Linear A illustrating a bronze shield. It is highly probable that a roundel of Trojan origin inscribed in Linear A would have been entirely composed in Mycenaean-derived New Minoan Linear A, since after all the Trojan War occurred near the end of the Mycenaean Era (ca. 1250-1200 BCE). Given the late date, it is improbable that it would have been inscribed in Old Minoan. Why it is inscribed in Linear A rather than in Linear B, which would have been the expected syllabary, remains a mystery. However, there is evidence that Mycenaean scribes switched back and forth between Linear A and Linear B indiscriminately.


PINTEREST boards of interest related to Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B:

This is a reasonably comprehensive directory of PINTEREST boards of interest related to Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B. To visit each board, simply CLICK on its banner, and sign up, if you like:  

MAJOR BOARDS

Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B: Progressive Grammar & Vocabulary (Click BANNER to visit): 

Minoan Linear A Linear B


Knossos & Mycenae, Sister Civilizations

Knossos & Mycenae sister

Cultura Minoica

Cultura minoica

Antiche scritture

Antiche scritture


Minoan

Minoan

Minoan | Mycenaean

Minoan Mycenaean

SCR Lineare prealfabetica

SCR Lineare

Minoan: the Art and Culture of Knossos, Crete


Minoan Art and Culture

Archaeology  – Minoan

Archaeology Minoan

Minoan Civilization

Minoan Civilization

Minoan & Mycenaean Arts & Architecture

Minoan & Mycenaean Arts & Architecture

Mycenaean, Minoan, Hittite

Mycenaean Minoan Hittite



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.
AT THE NEXT LEVEL, we find
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!


2 Haiku in Mycenaean Linear B, archaic Greek, English & French on the Mycenaean invasion of Troy: Click to ENLARGE =

2 haïkou en linéaire B, en grec archaïque, en anglais et en français sur l’nvasion mycénienne de Troie: Cliquer pour ELARGIR

Mycenaean expedition to Troy warships

 The latinized Linear B texts of these haiku read as follows:

soteria *
aneu Akireyo
mene Toroya

Omero
Toroyade
peree

* Note that the archaic dative termination -i- does not appear in Mycenaean Greek.  

 

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.

Richard


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:

Koryvanteslogopng

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!

Richard


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

Proemium:

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

role-of-knossos-in-the-trojan-war-according-to-homer

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. 


Richard

  


LOL! A Trojan Horse or a Bunch of Lawyers – The Tucan War: Click to ENLARGE

RealTrojanHorse





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KORYVANTES: Who we are

KORYVANTES”, The Association of Historical Studies, is a Cultural Organization, researching and applying experimentally the Military Heritage of the Greeks from the Bronze Age to the late Byzantium.Koryvantes” has participated in Academic conferences of Experimental Archaeology (University of Warsaw 2011, Academy of Pultusk 2012, University of Belgrade 2012, Organization Exarc / Denmark 2013 ), while our studies have been published in academic literature (British Archaeology Report Series) and Special International Journals (Ancient Warfare Magazine ).Koryvates” has participated in International Archaeological Festivals (Biskupin / Poland 2011 , Lyon / France , 2012 ) and International Traditional Archery Festivals ( Istanbul 2013 Amasya 2013 , Biga 2013 , Kiev 2013) , presenting high quality shows to thousands of viewers.Koryvantes” has participated in major international TV Productions (History Channel, BBC2, BBC 4, ITV), on the thematics of warfare and culture of ancient Greece.

Since 2008, we have spearheaded research and the practical study of Greek Warfare at an international level, reconstructing and testing weapons, armour and fighting techniques of 3,300 years of Greek History.

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Text minimally revised by Richard Vallance Janke to reflect Canadian English. 

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and follow them if your are a student, researcher, professor or an aficionado of Mycenaean History and Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek Military History, and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I fully expect that KORYVANTES will be profoundly interested in my translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships, which I expect to finish by spring 2015.

KORYVANTES IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTNER SITE LINEAR B, KNOSSOS & MYCENAE HAS EVER PARTNERED WITH! We shall be reblogging a great many posts from KORYVANTES, and we are certain that they shall be doing the same with many of ours.

English-Myceneaen Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon:

My research colleague, Rita Roberts and I, shall soon be compiling the first major LEXICON of our all-new, extremely comprehensive English-Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon which is to be published in its entirety sometime in 2018. When it is published, it will be by far the largest and most comprehensive Linear B & Linear C Lexicon on Mycenaean Linear B and the first ever on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C ever published.  Published FREE in PDF format, it is bound to at least double the currently attested (A) Mycenaean vocabulary of some 2,500 words, logograms and ideograms to at least twice that many attested (A) and derived (D) lexical entries, to at least 5,000, if not 6,000 – 7,000 words.

The Military section of this Lexicon is to be published first, meaning that KORYVANTES, The Association of Historical Studies, will benefit fully from the largest vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B Military Terminology ever assembled online or in print. It will be published on its own sometime later this year as a prelude to our full lexicon, under the title, An English-Mycenaean Linear B/Mycenaean Linear B-English Lexicon of Military Terminology (PDF).      

Richard 


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.

Richard


Ripley’s Believe it or not! The telling contribution of the Minoans & of the great metropolis of Knossos to the Trojan War according to Homer. Iliad II, “The Catalogue of Ships” - lines 615-652: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad 2 615-652
With reference to the great Minoan civilization, to Knossos, a metropolis of some 55,000 citizens (the size of Classical Athens), Phaestos & some 100 (!) Minoan cities in prominence in these few lines of the Iliad (according to Homer), this is far and away the most significant passage in the entire “The Catalogue of Ships” as far as we as researchers into Mycenaean Greek and its civilization, should truly be concerned with. Click to ENLARGE:

Role of Knossos in the Trojan War according to Homer
There are several points of note we feel we must raise here:

(a) It is hugely surprising that Homer should take so much trouble to refer to so many Minoan cities and settlements under the Mycenaean aegis, at least as far as the Trojan War is concerned. This is because Knossos at the acme of its power was supposed to have fallen no later than 1400 BCE, but the Trojan War took place at least 200 years later! (ca. 1200 BCE). So what is going on with Homer? Is he off his rocker? I sincerely doubt that, when it comes to perhaps the greatest Epic poet of all time. Either Homer is truly confused with his “historical facts” or Knossos did not fall around 1400 BCE, but hung on as a major Minoan/Mycenaean centre of economic and maritime naval power for at least another 200 years, or... or what? What on earth can we make of this bizarre scenario? – bizarre to us, that is. I find it positively intriguing that Homer should be so insistent on mentioning by name several Minoan cities and outposts, and that he should then go on to inform us that there were at least 100 of them overall. This is simply astonishing!

(b) The memory of the great Minoan civilization on the island of Crete appears not to have faded one jot by Homer’s era, another point of contention in our modern historical understanding of the time lines for the height of the magnificent Minoan maritime empire and for the Mycenaean Empire. Homer’s emphatic references to the major contribution of the Minoan Cretans to the expedition against Troy flies straight in the face of all modern archaeological evidence to the contrary. So who has got their “historical facts” right or wrong, Homer or we ourselves today? Or perhaps no-one has got it “right”, neither Homer nor we ourselves. This is just one exasperating instance of the innumerable glaring discrepancies between Homer’s interpretation of the so-called “historical facts” and our own, where the toponyms, the disposition of the geographical and cartographic features of the expedition and a great many other finicky details of the Trojan War are concerned, and refuse to go away.

(c) The question is – as it always has been – can we reconcile these perplexing paradoxes? The answer is bluntly, NO. I for one suspect that Homer (or whoever “wrote” the Iliad, whether or not this was one author or multiple authors) must have known a good deal more about the recent Trojan War, from his perspective a mere 400 years or so after it, than we credit him for. It would be risky at best, and pure folly at worst to dismiss his observations out of hand. The primary reason for my asserting this is simply that he gives us so much detail, not only about the Minoan participants in the Trojan War, but about the participation of all of the other Argives or Achaeans in it.

Just because he mentions so many place names that no longer exist does not mean they never existed. And even if he has got his geography all wrong, can we blame him for that? I hardly think so. After all, were there any competent cartographers anywhere in the ancient world at the time Homer lived, whenever that was – somewhere between 800 & 700 BCE? When I say, were there any good map makers at the time, I mean precisely that. How do we know? How can we know, in the patent absence of evidence to the contrary? I am quite serious when I say this, since only about 10 % of all ancient Greek literature alone – never mind that of other great ancient civilizations – survives to this day. That is a pitiable resource-base of primary documentation we have to reply on. When I speak of primary documentation, I mean in any form whatsoever, whether or not this be engravings on signets, tablets such as those in Mycenaean Linear B or Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, monuments or burial stones and the like, on buildings or edifices, on shards or pottery, in actual writings by the ancient Greek authors, etc. etc. Frankly, we really do not have much to go on.

(d) Archaeological data, while accurate where it has been decisively confirmed, is never the same as written records, and cannot be relied upon to convey the same core of what we nowadays call “information”, however reliable that information may or may not be. This includes historical information, and, if anything, primary historical information is itself subject to all sorts of contradictions, anomalies and paradoxes which cannot ultimately be resolved, no matter how much of it we have at our disposal. Quantity can never replace reliability or the presumed lack of it of primary sources.

Yet Homer is, let’s face it, a primary, if not the primary, literary source for the Mycenaean War against the Trojans. What then? I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Yet I for one dare not draw any, for fear of trapping myself in a quandary of conflicting “evidence” between confirmed reliable archaeological findings and the much more unstable and inconsistent historical written records we are nevertheless fortunate enough to still have on hand. Still, the astonishing detail Homer provides us in this single brief passage alone from “The Catalogue of Ships” in Book II of the Iliad begs the question. How did he come to be consciously aware of all these historical details, however “right” or “wrong” the majority of researchers take them to be. Perhaps it might be better for us all if we just dropped the notion of “right” or “wrong” where the ancient authors in general are concerned, and above all else, in the case of Homer, who really does seem to know what he is talking about. In other words, I believe that we should take what he has to say with much more than a grain of salt. Rather, we should be taking much of what he says quite seriously. But in what regards and in what applications to modern interpretations of the Trojan War and the deep, dark recesses of Mycenaean history I cannot, I dare not say. For all of this, somehow, somehow deep down inside, I instinctively, intuitively suspect he knew a lot more than we possibly can ourselves, if for the sole reason that he lived only a mere 4 centuries from the actual events in the Mycenaean War, while we live at the historical remote in the time line of events exceeding 3,200 years!
  
(e) Finally, and especially in light of that huge gap between ourselves and the Mycenaean era, we are in no position to understand with anywhere near the insight Homer must have had what the Mycenaean Trojan War was all about anyway. After all, Homer was Greek in the so-called “dark ages” of archaic Greece (another misnomer, if ever there was one); so he, being Greek, and living at that time, must have been immersed, not only in the mythology of the Trojan War – if indeed it ever was mythology to him, which I sincerely doubt – but in the historical facts as probably most of the Greeks of his era then understood them. Sadly, we shall never know how much they still knew about the Mycenaean War against the Trojans, nor how accurate their knowledge of it was. But the fact remains, they did indeed know about it, and if the Iliad is any indicator of their knowledge of it, they were consciously aware of a hell of a lot more about that great event in human history than we can ever hope to understand today. How the ancient Greeks understood and related to the world they lived in is beyond our ken. But we still must endeavour to understand their world on their own terms, in so far as this is humanly possible. This is a basic tenet of modern historical research. Do not judge ancient civilizations – or for that matter, much more recent ones – on our terms, but try to understand them on theirs. A huge bill to fill? You bet. But we must do the best we can; otherwise, we learn nothing of any real value even to ourselves in our modern society, with all its technological and scientific marvels. Science and technology cannot unearth the past, any more than we can in good conscience dig up the graves of the dead without desecrating them. 

Am I giving up the search for understanding the far-flung past? Far from it. I am merely saying that we have to watch ourselves at every turn, no matter how sophisticated the scientific and technological tools, marvels as they are, at our command. To summarize, it takes real human empathy to actually try to relate to civilizations long-since dead and gone. I myself always try to imagine what a life I would have been living, were I Minoan or Mycenaean. To my mind, that sounds like a good place to start.... indeed the right place.

Richard     


A Map of the Mycenaean Empire (ca. 1600-1200 BCE) with Mycenaean Settlements Named in Linear B, Latinized Linear B & English (Click to ENLARGE):

Map of Mycenaean and Minoan Greece

A few notes on this map. The capital cities, Knossos in Crete & Mycenae on the mainland Peloponnese, are flagged with a red star. The purple star beside Mycenae is also found beside the name of Troy, to indicate that the Mycenaeans conquered Troy, although quite when is uncertain (ca. 1300-1250 BCE?). Even if the conquest were as early as 1300 BCE, that would have left only another century before the collapse of Mycenae itself. In fact, what remained of the great Bronze Age Greek cities, Knossos (which had fallen into disrepair and eventually into ruins long before 1200 BCE – almost certainly no later than 1425-1400 BCE), then Mycenae itself, along with its satellite Mycenaean cities and settlements (Pylos, Tiryns, Thebes and Athens) all collapsed right around 1200 BCE. It is doubtful that they all fell on account of the Dorian invasion, since it is highly unlikely the Dorians ever got anywhere near Thebes or Athens. So this leaves the whole question of how and why the Mycenaean Empire fell so suddenly wide open to speculation. Note that all of the Minoan & Mycenaean locales tagged on this map are attested (A) on Linear B tablets from Knossos, Phaistos, Zakros, Mycenae, Pylos or Thebes.

Richard


 


An Analysis of the Archaic Greek in the Iliad: Book II (Lines 1-34) [Click to ENLARGE]:

Analysis of the archaic Greek in the iliad-book-2-lines-1-34

This post takes the text of the first 34 lines of Book II of the Iliad, which appear in the previous post with my translation into English, and extrapolates from that text most of the archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary which appear in it. And there is quite a lot. For instance, the archaic Mycenaean genitive appears in line 18 (i9ppoda/moio Linear B IQODAMOYO), dative in line 3. (nhusi\n Linear B NEUSI) and accusative in line 19. (pannu/xion… …a1ndra Linear B PANUKIO… ….ADARA), to cite just 3 examples in the first 34 lines alone. Archaic forms of all parts of speech are found throughout Book II of the Iliad, but they occur far more frequently in the Catalogue of Ships (Lines 484-789) than anywhere else. The significance of this cannot be overestimated. The liberal use of archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary, above all in the Catalogue of Ships, provides extremely strong circumstantial evidence that Catalogue of Ships is of Mycenaean origin, and was recited by Mycenaean bards, not as myth but as historical fact. Apparently, the Trojan War did in fact occur around 1200 BCE. It is my belief that the Trojan War, although it culminated in victory for the Greeks, was in fact a Pyrrhic victory, because it completely exhausted the military and naval resources of Mycenae and its subject cities (Pylos, Tiryns, Orchomenos, Thebes & Athens),

Mycenaean Empire

resulting in the inevitable utter destruction of Mycenae and all its satellite cities, which were no longer able to defend themselves against the invasion of the barbaric Dorian hordes. It strikes me as singularly strange that this entirely plausible explanation for the destruction of Mycenaean civilization is almost never mentioned in historical literature of early ancient Greece.

Richard

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