Tag Archive: weight



Linear A tablet HT 38 (Haghia Triada) with 2 supersyllabograms, dealing with wine:

Linear A tablet TA HT 38 Linear A

This intriguing tablet apparently deals with containers for wine, ranging from a type of vase (daropa) to a wine-skin (aka) to cloth, which appears to have been treated to be water-proof. Since the ideogram for pig appears immediately to the left of aka, we can surmise that the wine-skin is made of pigs hide. The notion that cloth containers could have been water-proofed is somewhat in doubt, but the overall decipherment of HT 38 appears sound enough.

 


Guess what! All 17 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A panned out!

To my great surprise and definite relief, it appears that all 7 of the conjectural units of measurement in Minoan Linear A have panned out. Looks like I hit gold in the Klondike!


klondike-gold-rush-map


Measurement of 17 conjectural units total of dry and liquid volume & weight in Minoan Linear A:

Each entry below is classified by UNIT of measurement + amount + tablet + measurement type (dry or liquid + volume or weight):

GRAINS:

adaru 40 ARKH 5 volume or weight
adu 680 HT 92 dry volume LARGE
(a fair candidate for a unit of measurement)
dame 20 HT 86 + 74 HT 120 dry volume
kidata 134 HT 40 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
kunisu 20 HT 86 weight
kupaja 16 HT 116 weight
nudu*331 207 HT 40 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
pa3nina 12 HT 93 dry volume + darida = vase
pase 20 HT 18 weight
pura2 (purai) 40 HT 116 volume or weight
pitakase 161 HT 21 dry volume LARGE
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
qanuma 12 HT 116 weight
sara2 (sarai) 5 HT 121 + 10 HT 114 + 20 HT 90 + 41 HT 101 + 976 HT 102 volume
(the most likely candidate for a true unit of measurement)
sikine 12 HT 116 weight
(a good candidate for a unit of measurement)
tuqirina 40 HT 129 volume or weight

OLIVES:

itaja 10 HT 28 liquid volume

WINE:

ra*164ati 38 HT 17 liquid volume

I have extracted all 17 of these conjectural units of measurement, dry in the case of grains (barley and wheat), and liquid in the case of olives and olive oil and wine from all of the Minoan Linear tablets I isolated from the total store of relatively intact Linear A tablets I meticulously scanned from Prof. John G. Younger’s Lexicon of Minoan Linear A tablets and fragments (mostly the latter, which I of course naturally omitted as completely unreliable sources of any terminology whatsoever in Minoan Linear A). I have omitted any so-called unit of measurement which occurs 5 times or less on the Linear A tablets I scanned, as these are much more likely not to relate to measurement at all. 

The total number of these putative units of measurement compares favourably with total number of 16 units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, as illustrated in the table below.

all-mycenaean-standard-potential

However, it must be stressed that all 17 of the Minoan Linear A apparent units of measurement are spelled out in full, whereas all 16 of the Mycenaean Linear B units are represented by symbols, the exact opposite practice. To complicate matters further, Minoan Linear A uses symbols to represent very small (fractional) units of measurement,

minoan-fractional-units

again in a practice appositive to Mycenaean Linear B, in which the units of measurement are > unity and usually (quite) large. This introduces the distinct possibility that a few, some or even all of 17 the so-called units of measurement in Minoan Linear A I have isolated above are not units of measurement at all.

I shall have to thoroughly investigate the inevitable ramifications of this real dilemma before I even dare add a single, let alone more than one of these so-called units of measurement to the Glossary of 110 Minoan Linear A words I have compiled. At most, I doubt that more than 4 or 5 of the 17 terms in this list are likely to qualify for inclusion in the Minoan Linear A Glossary, although this estimate may turn out to be too conservative. We shall soon see.   


KEY POST: 2 vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). Does either measure up?

In this post we compare two vastly different decipherments of Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 (Haghia Triada). The key question here can be posed in three different ways:

1. Does one of these two decipherments measure up significantly more than the other?
2. Does either measure up? 
3. Does neither measure up?

Here are the two decipherments, first that of Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 Slavic

and secondly, my own decipherment:

Minoan Linear A tablet HT 13 by RIchard Vallance Janke

According to option 3 above, it is of course possible that neither of these translations forms a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text (whatever it actually means). On the other hand, it is much more likely that option 1. above is applicable, namely that only one of the two decipherments at least approaches a faithful semantic and semiotic map of the original Linear A text , although we can never really know how faithfully until such time as Minoan Linear B is properly and fully deciphered. And that will not happen anytime soon, due to the extreme paucity of extant Linear B tablets and fragments (< 500), of which the vast majority are fragments, and thus ineffectual in providing any impetus to even a partial decipherment of Minoan Linear A. However, all is not lost. Far from it. There quite a few (almost) full intact Minoan Linear A tablets, all of which are very much more susceptible to contributing positively to at least a partial decipherment of Linear A. To date, the Linear A tablets which I have been able to decipher, more or less accurately, are HT 13, HT 14, (HT 17), HT 21, HT 31, HT 38, HT 91, HT 92, HT 94 and HT 132 (all from Haghia Triada)
ZA 1 ZA 8 ZA 10 (Zakros) 
GO Wc 1 (Gournia) 
and the Troy spindle whorls

I have also managed to decipher one or two words on several other tablets from Haghia Triada, Zakros and elsewhere, without however being able to decipher the remainder of the integral text, which utterly escapes me, and is therefore still to be considered undecipherable, at least for the time being. There is no telling whether or not either I myself or someone else will be able to decipher more words from the rest of these tablets or even some of the tablets entire in the near future. Only time will tell, but I believe the prospects are much better now than they were even a few months ago, i.e. prior to May 2016, when I embarked on the exciting journey to decipher as much of Minoan Linear A as I could. It is no small achievement, I believe, for me to have been able to decipher at least the 12 Linear A tablets listed above, if indeed my decipherments approach cohesive accuracy, both internally and by means of cross-correlative regressive extrapolation from almost identical to similar Mycenaean Linear B tablets.

With respect to my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) above, I wish to make the following highly pertinent observations. I leave it up to you to decide for yourself (yourselves) whether or not the assumptions I have meticulously made with specific reference to what appear to be derivational standard units of measurement in Minoan Linear A are in fact that. Immediately pursuant to my highly accurate decipherment of HT 31 (Haghia Triada) on vessels and pottery, for which Mycenaean Linear B tablet Pylos Py TA 641-1952 (Ventris) is the quasi Rosetta Stone (as I have re-iterated many times since that decipherment), I turned my attention to three words which appeared over and over on several Minoan Linear A tablets, these being reza, adureza & tereza. Philologists such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog had previously and consistently “deciphered” these three terms as being toponyms or place names, but I was immediately suspicious of such an interpretation, given that both adureza and tereza have the prefixes adu and te prepended to what strikingly appears to be their own root, reza. Subsequent research revealed two more terms most likely derived from the root, reza = the standard unit of linear measurement in Minoan Linear A (as far as I can tell... more on this to come). These are dureza and kireza. So the total number of terms relative to measurement of large, not minute, quantities in Minoan Linear A appear to be 5. That is quite a tally.

+ units of measurement in Minoan Linear A: exact values unknown

reza = standard unit of measurement (linear)
adureza = dry unit of measurement (something like a “bushel”)
dureza = unit of measurement (unknown) [1]
kireza = dry measurement for figs (a basket) [2]
tereza = liquid unit of measurement (something like “a gallon” or at the bare minimum “a litre” [3]  

NOTES:
[1] While I have been utterly unable to surmise what standard unit of measurement dureza is supposed to represent, even the standard units for reza, adureza & tereza are mere approximations. For more on this see the concluding paragraph of this post.  
[2] While I am virtually certain that kireza is the standard unit for the measurement of a basket of figs, this still begs the question, what size is the basket? At any rate, it is pretty obvious that the basket size cannot be larger than can reasonably be carried on one shoulder, since that is the way baskets are carried in practically every culture, ancient or modern. So in this case, the approximation for the standard unit of measurement figs, kireza, is considerably more accurate than all of the others.      
[3] Obviously, in light of [1] above, my guesstimates for the standard units of dry and wet measurement (adureza and tereza respectively) are just that, and nothing more.   

rawa tiri wanaka

Now if we compare the variables in the prefixes to the root, reza (adu, du, ki & te) with the similar practice of suffixes appended to word roots in Mycenaean Linear B, which is the direct opposite practice we have just propounded for Minoan Linear A, we nevertheless discover that the same level of consistency and coherence applies equally to both languages, as clearly illustrated by the following table, in which the prefixes listed above for Minoan Linear A appear at the end, preceded by no fewer than three roots (which are invariable) and appear in front of highly variable suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B. The roots are, respectively, raw, which references anything to do with people, tri, which references anything related to the number 3 and wana, which references any connotation of kingship or royalty in Mycenaean Greek.

While the practices for affixing are appositive in Minoan Linear A (which prepends affixes to the root) and in Mycenaean Linear B (which appends suffixes to the root or stem), the procedure the two languages follows is one and the same, flipped on its head either way you view it, i.e. from the perspective of Mycenaean Linear B or vice versa, from that of Minoan Linear A. The underlying principle which defines this procedure is the cognitive frame, as propounded by my colleague and friend, Eugenio R. Luján. So let us simply call the procedure (whether from the perspective of Minoan Linear or its opposite in Mycenaean Linear B) just that, the cognitive frame, which is also the template for the procedure, actually proceeding forward in both languages, each in its own way. Either way, the procedure works like a charm. As Eugenio R. Luján so succinctly summarizes it in his article, Semantic Maps and Word Formation: Agents, Instruments, and Related Semantic Roles, in Linguistic Discovery (Dartmouth College), Vol 8, Issue 1, 2010. pp. 162-175, and I quote:

... The methodology of semantic maps has been applied mainly to the analysis of grammatical morphemes (affixes and adpositions) pg. 162

and again,

Previous work on semantic maps has shown how the polysemy of grammatical morphemes is not random, but structured according to underlying principles....

Although the semantic map methodology has not been applied to the analysis of word formation patterns, there is no reason to suppose that derivational morphemes behave differently from grammatical morphemes. In fact, taking into account the findings of the intensive work done in the field of grammaticalization in the last thirty years or so, we know now that lexical and grammatical morphemes constitute a continuum, and their meanings are organized in the same way—inside a cognitive frame,... pg. 163 

and most significantly,

In contrast to the lexicon, the number of derivational morphemes and word
formation patterns in any given language is limited. pg. 163.

I wish to lay particular stress on this last observation by Eugenio R. Luján, because he is right on the money. In terms of the way I have expounded my own explanation of how the procedure of the cognitive frame works, as I see it, what he is actually saying here is this: the derivational morphemes (i.e. the prefixes in Minoan Linear A and the suffixes in Mycenaean Linear B) is limited, and in fact very limited in comparison with the orthographic and grammatical lexicon in either language, or for that matter, in any language, ancient or modern.

All of this brings us full circle back to my own original assumption, namely, that adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza are all derivational morphemes of reza in Minoan Linear A and that the suffixes appended to the roots raw, tri and wana in Mycenaean Linear B are also derivational morphemes. The gravest problem with the decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) advanced by Pavel Serafimov and Anton Perdih is that it does not take the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes into account at all. So instead, the authors advance entirely different meanings for each of these terms (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza), entirely oblivious to the the fact that they all share the same root, reza. This factor alone throws profound doubt on their decipherment.

On the other hand, my own decipherment of HT 13 (Haghia Triada) takes the procedure of the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes fully into account, with the very same procedure applied to derivational morphemes in Mycenaean Linear B, though in the opposite direction). For the sake of consistency, let us refer to the the cognitive frame or map of derivational morphemes in Minoan Linear A as regressive, given that the variables (the prefixes, adureza, dureza, kireza & tereza) precede the root, reza, and the same frame as progressive in Mycenaean Linear B, in light of the fact that the root or stem is followed by the variable suffixes (derivational morphemes). Be it as it may, prefixes and suffixes are both classed under the umbrella term, affixes, and again, I repeat, the procedure is the same either way. An affix is an affix is an affix, whether or not it comes first (prefix) or last (suffix).

For this reason alone I am convinced that my decipherment of HT 13 is on the right track, even if it is not totally accurate... which it cannot be anyway, in light of the fact that the standard units of measurement for large quantities in Minoan Linear A (reza, adureza, dureza, kireza and tereza) will never be known with any measure of accuracy, given that we can have no idea whatsoever that the “standard” units for anything in either Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B can ever be really determined. The farther we as philologists or historical linguists go back diachronistically in the historical timeline, the less determinable are units of measurement or, for that matter, different kinds of textiles or pottery, few of which we can know with any measure of certainty either in Minoan Linear A or Mycenaean Linear B.

     

Kunisu, another Minoan Linear A word which might mean “bushel” or alternatively “emmer wheat/farro”:

kunisu grains wheat yield

Kunisu is yet another Minoan Linear A word which might mean “bushel” or alternatively “emmer wheat/farro”. I am uncertain whether this is the suitable term for “bushel” in Minoan Linear A or whether ase is. The former (kunisu) is masculine, indicating a large amount, and can be either singular or plural. The latter, ase, is probably feminine plural. Because kunisu denotes something large, as apparently all words ending with ultimate U in Minoan Linear A do, it may be the better candidate for “bushel”. But I am leaving my options open. One thing is certain. As Prof. John G. Younger points out in his Linear A Texts in phonetic transcription, kunisu does not mean the same thing as Konoso in Mycenaean Linear B. Take a good look at the two words in their original syllabaries side by side at the bottom of the figure above. They do not even look alike. I am full agreement with Younger on this point.

This brings the total number of Minoan Linear A words we have deciphered more or less accurately to eighty-one (81).


Mycenaean Linear B Units of Measurement (Liquid, Dry & Weight): Click to ENLARGE

Units of Mesurement in Mycenaean Linear B

This table illustrates the syllabograms, logograms & ideograms used to represent units of measurement, liquid, dry and by weight. As can clearly be seen, the exact values many of the units are uncertain. I have hazarded a guess that the unit of measurement in this table which is represented by the ideogram for sheep may very well be the agricultural unit, a hogshead, in which case it is a liquid unit of measurement. Even that unit is variable, ranging anywhere from 46 to 65 US imperial gallons, with several stops in between. So if the Mycenaean measurement is anything like a hogshead, then it is probably just as unreliable, especially in light of the fact that the Mycenaean unit is ancient. Ancient units of measurement were notoriously variable. After all, if merchants could cheat, they would. There is nothing new in that practice!

The following units of measurement, which are syllabograms – RO, PE, ZE, MO & O, are all also supersyllabograms (more on this in subsequent posts). The meanings of ZE, MO & O are clear, and well established. ZE always means “a pair of” (wheels etc.) or “a team of” (horses, oxen etc.), while MO always means “a single” wheel etc., and O always refers to “deficit”. 

The meaning of PE is unclear. The meaning of PE as a supersyllabogram varies from sector to sector of the Mycenaean economy. In the field of agriculture, sub-field livestock/sheep, it is periqoro in Mycenaean Linear B Latinized, which means “an enclosure, i.e. a sheep pen”, whereas in the wine-making sector it appears as perusinowo (Latinized), meaning “last year’s (wine)”. Prof. Lynne Ribaud, who initially compiled this table of units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, assigned the value “a bunch of...”, presumably referring to “a bunch of grapes”, but this meaning is very uncertain.

Since these accounting terms are extremely common in Linear B inventories, anyone wishing to truly master Linear B must become familiar with all of them.  

Andras Zeke of Hungary, the owner of the now defunct

Minoan Language Blog
(a terrible pity, since it was such a magnificent blog) has taken a further step in the right direction, by hazarding more exact estimates of the values of several of the these measurement units, as illustrated here: Click to ENLARGE

Mycenaean-measurement-systems Minoan Language Blog
I have always greatly admired his extremely meticulous logical approach to the analysis of both the Linear A and Linear B syllabaries, and so I am inclined to accept the measurement values he assigns at their approximate face value, although I have no way of verifying his overall accuracy. Other Linear B researchers must have already cross-checked his findings, but as of now I am unaware of the results of any such findings. If anyone reading our blog is aware of other research into the units of measurement in Mycenaean Linear B, please advise me as soon as possible.


Richard


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