Tag Archive: vase



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.


The failures of Gretchen Leonhardt’s translation of Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris): (Click to read)

Leonhardt Pylos TA 641-1952

Gretchen Leonhardt’s translation of Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is unfortunately riddled with errors in interpretation and with lexical errors, all of which are frankly inexcusable. This sad state of affairs is attested to by her own Poll, in which she asks her readers:

poll

We note that her own translation has garnered only 1 vote versus 5 votes for “Janke’s” translation, which is not his translation at all, but rather that of Rita Roberts, Crete, who is a professional archaeologist, and whose translation is published in Richard Vallance Janke’s in-depth and thoroughly meticulous article recently published in the prestigious international hard-cover annual,

Archaeology and Science Vol. 10 2014 translation
  
ISSN 1452-7448

It is to be stressed that Mrs. Roberts, as a life-long archaeologist, is eminently qualified to decipher the famous Ventris tablet (Pylos Py TA 641-1952). Her translation surpasses even that of Michael Ventris himself:

Archaeologists translation Pylos 641-1952 Ventris

Not only that, it flatly contradicts the translations Mrs. Leonhardt, who is not an archaeologist, brings to bear on practically every single word on this tablet, with the sole exception of those terms which are so transparent that it is impossible to interpret them otherwise than they appear. Such words are tiripode, qetorowe (quattuor in Latin) , dipa (with this word, Ms. Leonhardt’s translation flatly defies logic) and apu, in which case she is so far off the mark that it is amazing she cannot have seen how far astray she has gone in interpreting this preposition, apu, common to Mycenaean Greek, and the Arcadian, Cypriot, Lesbian & Thessalian dialects [NOTE below]. Now what is particularly striking here is the fact that the Arcadian and Cypriot dialects are practically identical, and that their parent, Arcado-Cypriot, is the dialect of the Linear C syllabary, in which once again apu appears. So how Ms. Leonhardt could possibly cook up her translation of apu as “to become bleached or white” simply baffles me beyond credulity. Why on earth would anyone fashioning pottery such as tripods, vases and cups ever want to bleach them?

And there is more, much more. Her translation falls prey to several more startling errors, of which I have flagged only a few:
[1] aikeu, which she claims is somehow “related to aikia (here Latinized) | injurious, insulting treatment...” But how on earth would insulting or injurious treatment have anything remotely to do with fashioning pottery? It is quite beyond me.
[2] anowe, which she falsely interprets as “last year’s, one year”, again flying in the face of reason, flatly flying in the face of the definition Chris Tselentis, who is a professional Greek lexicologist, attributes to it in his excellent Linear B Lexicon:

Chris Tselentis anowe without handles

which in this case is to be interpreted as “without handles”.
[3] apu. See above.  
[4]dipa, which she, for some bizarre reason which totally escapes me and which Tselentis would find ludicrous, interprets as “to inspect, inspection”. She should make up her mind. Is this a verb or a noun? At any rate dipa is clearly the Mycenaean Greek equivalent of the Homeric depa, which everyone knows means “a cup”. Period.
[5] See [4]. No further comment.
[6] mewijo, which she imagines is “a kind of  cumin”. In the first place, Mycenaean Greek never makes a distinction between kinds of cumin. It just has the one word, kumino, and that’s that. At any rate, why bother parsing the word down to a specific “kind of  cumin”? Additionally, it is particularly difficult to imagine why anyone would put cumin in a tripod or cup, since it would simply blow away. OK, I grant that it would probably stay put in a vase, but... mewiyo, again according to the Greek expert Tselentis, simply means “small(er)”.  
[7] Mezoe she has as “barley”, but here again she is in flat contradiction with Tselentis, who has it that kirita means “barley”. I for one am not about to question the expertise of a Greek-born lexicologist.
[8] owowe, she would have us believe, “is perhaps related to damage, hurt” (italics mine). But here again, Tselentis defines owowe as “with handles”, which makes perfect sense in light of  [2] above, anowe, which means “without handles”. These two words are clearly opposites. Anowe is after all a-privative. 

There are plenty of other such errors in her translation, but I simply leave these aside for our readers versed in ancient Greek to interpret as they see fit.

NOTE:
Buck, C.D. The Greek Dialects. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press. xvi, 373 pp. ISBN 1-85399-556-8... apu pg. 352. Arcadian, Cypriot, Lesbian & Thessalian


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

Cretan hieroglyphic seals

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



Russet Minoan Linear A tablet on amphorae with the new word tesi = a small unit of measurement:

russet Minoan Linear A tablet

While I have already deciphered, more or less accurately, the following words on this russet Minoan Linear A tablet on amphorae, daweda = medium size amphora, pa3ni or paini = amphora for the storage of grain, daru = scales?, Kudoni = Kydonia & reza = standard unit of measurement, there is one new word on it, tesi = a small unit of measurement (as is attested by its small number = 3.5).

This brings the total number of Linear A words I have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 90.


Vase with Minoan Linear A inscription on it (undecipherable):

Vase with Minoan Linear A inscripton below the rin

There is simply insufficient text in the Minoan Linear A inscription just below the rim of this vase for me to be able to decipher it.


Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada) mostly translated, with 2 new words, Kaudeta (person’s name) & pa3ni (paini) = type of vase? nos. 74 & 75

Linear A Haghia Triada HT 13

Most of the terms on Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada), apart from 2 new words, Kaudeta (person’s name) & pa3ni (paini) = type of vase?, have already been deciphered; so I have been able to translate most of this tablet, which is a first! We have certainly come a long way since we started deciphering Minoan Linear A a month ago, when our Glossary of Minoan Linear A had only 16 words in it. Now at 75, we have almost 5 times as many terms.  I shall display the full Glossary of 75 terms in the next post.

These two new words, Kaudeta and pa3ni (paini) are nos. 74 & 75 in a glossary in which I have managed to decipher 75 terms in Minoan Linear A, more or less accurately.

In the next post featuring the full Glossary of Minoan Linear A (75 terms), i shall explain the concept of cross-correlative cohesion between Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B.


Minoan Linear A terms for large (qapa3 = qapai) and small size (pazaqe) handle-less vessels:

handle less  vase

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 31 (Haghia Triada) contains two terms for handle-less vessels. These are qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” (more commonly the former), and pazaqe for a “small handle-less cup”. The latter were very common in both Minoan & Mycenaean times, which explains why  so many of them are mentioned on this tablet (3,000). Cross-correlative retrogressive extrapolation from Pylos tablet Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) confirms that the decipherment qapa3 = qapai for a “large handle-less vase/cup” is correct. As for pazaqe, it is plain that the handle-less cups are very small, since there are so many of them (3,000).  These are illustrated to the top right of the figure above.

This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A terms we have deciphered, more or less accurately, to 60. It is at this point that we hit a brick wall, at least for the time being, as there is simply no way for me to decipher Minoan Linear A tablets with no ideograms on them. Unfortunately, these account for the majority of Linear A tablets. But the fact that we have been able to decipher as many as 60 Minoan words is a vast improvement over any previous attempts by any researchers in Minoan Linear A to decipher anything at all. The best anyone has managed to date has been restricted to eponyms and toponyms, and the finest work done in this respect was achieved with great insight by Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog:

Minoan Language Blog




Yet another Minoan Linear A tablet with 3 words I have already deciphered:

KUKANI deep red wine no. 2

Here you see yet another Minoan Linear A tablet which features not just 1, but 3 Minoan Linear A words I h ave previously deciphered. These are adu = “prefix for measurement”, daweda = “medium size amphora” (see illustration below) and kukani = “deep red wine”. It is gratifying to discover that 3 words I have recently deciphered appear on a second Linear A tablet. It is wide open to speculation  whether or not this confirms my decipherments. Still, a second tablet can do no harm to our cause.  

l-fig-12-minoan-amphora


Linear B tablet Knossos KN 797 T e 01 & the supersyllabogram WE = leather undertunic or chiton + vase & WI:

In our previous post, I stated that I had never seen any occurrence of the supersyllabogram WI incharged in the ideogram for “hide”. Immediately after, I discovered not one, but two, examples of this supersyllabogram (WI), one on tablet Knossos KN 797 T e 01

Linear B Knossos tablet KN 797 T e 01 leather hide or undertunic

& the second on a multi-image illustration,

AMOTA

with the text on one Linear B tablet from Knossos (top), which we have previously translated, the second (left) on a Linear B fragment, the third (bottom left) with the Linear B word, “apudosi” = delivery on a fragment, and the fourth (right), being a vase with Linear B on it. Since the Linear B syllabograms -tawa– are left-truncated, we cannot guess at what the word is for which they are the last two syllabograms or syllables. The second word on this vase is clearly the name of the artisan who manufactured it: Kethereous.


Associative Versus Attributive Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B: Appendix H

Appendix H neatly summarizes the rôle of supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B. Click to ENLARGE:

H Appendix
I wish to stress one thing in particular. There is a marked difference in associative supersyllabograms, which account for the greatest number of SSYLS in Mycenaean Linear B, and attributive supersyllabograms, which appear primarily in the textiles and vessels (pottery, amphorae, cups etc.) sectors of the Late Minoan III & Mycenaean economies.

Associative supersyllabograms inform of us of some element, usually a land tenure factor, which relates to the ideogram itself, or which circumscribes its environment, especially in the livestock raising sub-sector of the agricultural sector. For instance, the supersyllabogram O, which you see in this Appendix, plus the ideogram for sheep + the number of sheep accounted for in the inventory of any particular tablet, informs us that the sheep are being raised on a lease(d) field, more specifically a usufruct lease field (i.e. a lease field which a farmer tenant cultivates for the use of his own family and village neighbours, with a taxation imposed by the overseer). In other words, the supersyllabogram is associated with the raising of x no. of sheep. The scribe could have simply informed us that x no. of sheep were raised, and left it at that. But he did not. By adding just one syllabogram, in this case a simple vowel = O, he has given us a great deal more information on the raising of the sheep (rams & ewes) on this particular tablet. And he has done all of this without having to resort to writing it all out as text. Since it was critical for the scribes to use as little space as possible on what were (and are) extremely small tablets, the use of supersyllabograms as a substitute for wasteful text is illustrative of just how far the scribes were willing to go to save such invaluable space. They did not do this only occasionally. They did it a great deal of the time, and they always followed the exact same formula in so doing. Not only are syllabograms such as O (on a lease field), KI (on a plot of land) & NE (in their sheep pens) in the field of sheep husbandry associative, they are all what I designate as dependent supersyllabograms, since they are meaningless unless they are immediately adjacent to the ideograms they qualify. No ideogram, no supersyllabogram. Period.

To illustrate the radical difference between a Linear B tablet on which a supersyllabogram + an ideogram is used, and another on which the text is spelled out, take a good hard look at this comparison: Click to ENLARGE

Knossos Tablet KN 933 G d 01 supersyllabograms and text

This comparison between the real tablet from Knossos using only supersyllabograms and ideograms (left) and a putative one using text in full (right) is precisely the reason why so many scribes much preferred the former formulaic approach to inscribing tablets to the latter discursive and space wasting technique. A textual version of this tablet would have been twice as long as the actual tablet. Even if no one nowadays has ever managed to decipher dependent supersyllabograms until now, that cannot conceivably mean that the Linear B scribes did not know what they were, since otherwise, they would never have used them so liberally in the first place. In other words, using SSYLS for no reason at all is tantamount to a reductio ad absurdum. There are thousands of supersyllabograms found on 700 tablets from Knossos. They are there because all of the scribes, as a team or, if you like, as a guild, all understood each and every supersyllabogram to mean one thing and one thing only in its proper context. In other words, supersyllabograms are standardized and always formulaic. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Homer, who also heavily relied on formulaic expressions, though for entirely different reasons. My point is that formulaic language is a key characteristic of ancient Greek texts, right on down from Mycenaean times through to Attic and beyond. We should never overlook this extremely important characteristic of ancient Greek, regardless of period (1450 – 400 BCE).   

Attributive dependent supersyllabograms always appear inside the ideogram which they qualify, never adjacent to it. They always describe an actual attribute (usually known as an adjectival function) of the ideogram. For instance, the syllabogram PO inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the first syllabogram, i.e. the first syllable of the Mycenaean word ponikiya = “purple”, hence the phrase = “purple cloth”.  Likewise the syllabogram TE, when it appears inside the ideogram for “cloth” is the supersyllabogram for the Mycenaean word tetukuwoa, which means “well prepared” or if you like, “well spun”. Hence, the syllabogram TE inside the ideogram for cloth must mean one thing and one thing only, “well-prepared cloth”. I have discovered, identified & classified well over a dozen examples of associative supersyllabograms. 

Neither type of dependent supersyllabogram, associative or attributive, was ever isolated and tabulated in Mycenaean Linear B until I systematically studied, deciphered and classified scores of them on some 700 tablets from Knossos.

Richard


The Linear B “Attendants” Tablet – a Tough Nut to Crack! (Click to ENLARGE):

linear-b-attendants-tablet-apiqoro-kowa-kowo-ta2
This has got to be one of the most difficult Linear B tablets to decipher, not because most of it isn't all that hard to translate, but for that last syllabogram TA, which I am sure must have stumped practically everyone who has ever tried to tackle it.  However, upon consulting the most comprehensive Linear B Glossary on the Internet, A Companion to Linear B, Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World [Bibliothèque de lInstitut linguistique de Louvain ― 127 (2011)]  I discovered, to my utter astonishment, the two entries you see flagged just under the tablet itself in this post, TAPA EOTE, which is in early ancient Greek, tapa\ e1ontej. What we need to understand in this context is that the Linear B scribes frequently used abbreviations to save valuable space on what were, after all, (very) small tablets. For instance, on the Heidelberg Tablet HE FL 1994, the scribe has used the single syllabobgrams KO PA & MU to stand in for KONOSO, PAITO & MUKENE respectively, thereby saving a great deal of space. I shall be translating this fascinating tablet as well sometime in April or May. Another reason why I believe we can lend credence to my translation is this: attendants actually do appear on Minoan frescoes, such as this one from Knossos (Click to ENLARGE):

Minoan_procession_fresco_crete_Knossos
My explanatory commentary below goes a long way to clarifying and lending further credence to my decipherment. So unless you actually read the commentary, you will not get a full grasp on the decipherment.     

We notice that in the fresco above, the one woman, almost certainly a priestess has 7 attendants, all male, which might go some way to explaining why there are 41 attendants for only 32 people. If for instance the priestess in a procession of 32 people has, as in the fresco we see here, 7 attendants, and everyone else coming up the rear has 1 attendant, for a total of 38 attendants, the total is very close to the 41 given on this tablet.  But it is also possible that the priestess would have an acolyte following right behind her, and if her acolyte were to have 3 attendants, we would then have our 41. Of course all this is pure conjecture on my part, but the possibility still remains, and at any rate we cannot conjecture how many attendants would follow in a particular procession, as processions were probably held very often at Knossos, Chania, Mycenae, Pylos and other Mycenaean centres for different festivals. All ancient cities without exception held frequent festivals, which were almost all religious in nature, festivals for the city's patron goddess, for spring sowing and autumn reaping of crops, feasting festivals for the "wanaka" or King and his Queen, and in the case of Knossos and the Mycenaean fortress towns, for the Snake Goddess of fertility, without whom the population would not have been well replenished... at least for the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

Another equally feasible interpretation for some festivals at least, is that many of the attendants would have been musicians, just as in the fresco above, where we see a lyre player on the left and/or libation bearers, such as the 1 on the right in this fresco holding a rhyton, probably filled with mead or wine. So if that were to be the case, and 31 people had 1 attendant each, that would leave, for instance, possibly 4 musicians and 6 libation or "cup bearers"(again giving a total of 41 as in this case). Processions proliferate on Minoan/Mycenaean frescoes... and the number of attendants would have surely varied widely, depending on the type of festival. Of course, we shall never really know, as the extensive research into Minoan/ Mycenaean festivals to date has never been able to shed sufficient light on the arcane "mysteries" of Minoan/Mycenaean religious rites, processions and festivals, nor is it likely that future research will get much further, barring the unearthing of a considerable number of new tablets dealing specifically with religious matters.

Still, I feel quite confident that I have come up with a sound decipherment of the final syllabogram TA on the Linear B “Attendants” Tablet, but I would love to receive feedback from any and all researchers into Linear B tablets concerning other equally feasible interpretations of that pesky little syllabogram.

CAVEAT:

On the other hand, this translation crams an awful lot of significance into one pesky syllabogram, TA. The solution could be a lot simpler. So if I can come up with any alternative simpler decipherment(s), I will let you all know. One should never take anything for granted. 

Richard

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