MASt @ CHS – Friday, June 26, 2020: Summaries of Presentations and Discussion

2020.08.07 | By Rachele Pierini and Tom Palaima

Summaries of Presentations and Discussion by Elizabeth Barber, Thomas Palaima, Rachele Pierini, and Brent Vine

§0. Rachele Pierini began the June seminar meeting of MASt @ CHS (the fifth in the series, begun November 8, 2019 and continued December 12, January 24, and April 27) by welcoming participants to the talk. As an example of the kinds of topics we have discussed in prior meetings, on December 12 our brief minutes list:

  • to-pe-za (Paolo Sabattini) with discussion of the etymology of the Tarpeian Rock
  • discussion of the etymology of Hermes (Laura Massetti)
  • discussion of di-u-ja-wo (Roger Woodard)
  • discussion of PY Ta 716 with a particular focus on a-mo-te-wi-ja (Tom Palaima).

§1. On June 26, besides many of the ‘historical family members’ of MASt (Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner, Sarah Morris, Roger Woodard, Brent Vine, Doug Frame, Georgia Flouda, Vassilis Petrakis), we were delighted to have joining us also Elizabeth Barber, Gloria Ferrari Pinney, Richard Firth, Hedvig Landenius Enegren, Christina Skelton, Nicholas Blackwell, Cassandra Donnelly, Alex Roy and Anthony Snodgrass. Regrets included Eric Cline and Marie Louise Nosch. Our thanks to Garrett Bruner, PASP INSTAP archivist, Jill Curry Robbins, and Keith DeStone for their patient help in producing this complicated piece of scholarship, collaborative in the best sense. Lana Koelle, CHS program manager and librarian, literally has made all of our meetings happen transglobally.

§2. Tom Palaima presented the etymological controversy concerning the Mycenaean word pe-re-ke-u and some broader epistemological implications of this specific issue and other word-units in the Linear B lexicon likewise related to cloth. Elizabeth Barber provided an authoritative reconstruction of the stages, techniques and processes for cloth working (weaving, plaiting, felting, etc.) in both prehistoric and historic textile production (with an emphasis on Mycenaean and later Greek terminology). In addition, she explained the methodology behind her pioneering masterpiece Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Finally, Rachele Pierini delivered a presentation on problems associated with interpreting the linguistic idiosyncrasies attested on tablets from the Room of the Chariot Tablets (RCT) at Knossos and their significance. She highlighted and stressed that the relative chronology we can reconstruct from these features fits better with a higher chronology for the Bronze Age Aegean. Brent Vine offered substantial comments and so was invited to write them up in full detail.

Topic 1: The Etymology of Mycenaean pe-re-ke-u and a-ke-te-ri-ja and Related Forms.

Presenter: Tom Palaima.

§3. Palaima addressed sample cases relating to his concerns with contextual controls over proposed etymologies for terms in what we call Mycenaean Greek in the Linear B texts. Many such terms have no clear IE etymology and have as possible sources the many non-Greek languages that must have existed in Crete and the Greek mainland preceding and during the period 1600–1100 BCE.

§4. He now adds that his late-life concerns have been with him ever since the days when he was studying mathematics before turning to Classics, ancient Greek and Linear B. They can be summed up nicely in this remark by Alice Kober from her Earle lecture at Hunter College April 9, 1948 (Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory = PASP, Box 55.2) (Dürig 2020:44):

There is a definition of scholarship which states that a scholar is a person who learns more and more about less and less until finally he knows everything about nothing. It is supposed to be funny, but as a matter of fact, it comes very close to stating a deep philosophical truth. The more one knows, the more one becomes aware of how much more there is to learn. Only the ignorant know everything about anything, or, to put it more accurately, they think they know.

§5. He boiled things down to three main questions:

  1. When do we need a new etymology for a word that occurs in the Linear B texts?
  2. If a proposed etymology is technically sound, what criteria do we have for determining whether it is to be preferred over other technically sound etymologies?
  3. To what extent does a Mycenaean term have a set identification (given spelling ambiguities, which from our vantage point are more ambiguous than they would have been to the tablet-writers) and a single fixed meaning in all contexts?

§6. With regard to the third question, he alluded to his discussion (Palaima 2020:127–128) of the term ka-zo-de as *kalkh-yondeon Thebes tablet Av 104 (TFC 4:6), which he has related to the root of the loan word attested in historical Greek *kalkhā (κάλχη) used both for the murex, i.e., the marine mollusk, and for the purple dye which is extracted from it; and not as *khalk-yonde ‘to the bronze place’, i.e., bronze workshop (cf. historical Greek χαλκός and Mycenaean ka-ko, ka-ke-u, ka-ki-jo, ka-ke-ja-pi and ka-ko-de-ta DMic 1:307–309). Brent Vine adds that we should add to the basic /khalk-/ words here ka-zaon KN Sp 4452, which in context is clearly an adjectival form in the nominative singular feminine showing the same kind of palatalization (representing *χαλκyα cf. Aeolic χάλκιος DMic 1:334 s. ka-za).

§7. In specific then we looked at:

pe-re-ke-u  pe-re-ke-we  pe-re-ke  pe-re-ko and the possible connection of  pe-re-ku-ta


pe-re-ku-wa-na-ka with /pelekus/

and very quickly at: 

a-ke-te-ri-ja  a-ze-te-ri-ja  ἀσκέω  ἀκέστρια (5th c BCE)  ja-ke-te-re a2-ke-te-re

and the contexts in which these terms occur and the related terms with which they occur. We spent much more time on the first group of words.

§8. A recent article by Michael Lane (Lane 2011) raises anew the debate about the linguistic interpretation of the Mycenaean word pe-re-ke-u and related forms. (Readers may consult Killen 1996–1997:123–127 for a succinct discussion of some of the primary evidence for the interpretation of terms related to Mycenaean word units with the root represented as pe-re-k- as either ‘weave’ or ‘plait’ and, if ‘plait’, what kind of material is being worked on.) The widely accepted interpretation before Lane’s paper for the words pe-re-ke-u (and dative singular or nominative plural pe-re-ke-we), pe-re-ke, and pe-re-ko[ was that they reflect the same root found in the alphabetic Greek πλέκω, commonly translated as ‘to weave’, and that pe-re-ke-u corresponds to an occupational noun commonly translated generically as ‘weaver’. (NOTE: the translation ‘weave’ is problematical. It should be ‘plait’. And ‘weaver’ should be ‘plaiter’.) However, Lane (2011:83) views the interpretation of pe-re-ke-u (and related terms like pe-re-ke) in the Linear B texts as being derived from πλέκω (whether ‘to weave’ or ‘to plait’ and whatever materials are being plaited) as unacceptable based on two main arguments:

  1. in Mycenaean Greek there is already a word for ‘weaver’, i.e. i-te-u, /histēus/;
  2. nouns in ēus seem to require, in Greek, the o-grade of the verbal root from which they derive, but in pe-re-ke-u, /plekēus/ an e-grade would be present. Alternatively, the form pe-re-ke-u could derive from an s-stem, like o-pi-te-u-ke-e-u/opiteukhehēus/ from /teukhes-/, which would explain the vocalism e in the form. Except when the aspiration precedes the vowel /a/, Linear B does not have a special sign that would represent specifically in spelling the aspiration arising from the disappearance of intervocalic -s-.

§9. If Lane’s arguments are sound, the -ēus noun form of the verb πλέκω would require, as Palaima explained, that the form should appear in LB texts either as *po-ro-ke-u or *pe-re-ke-e-u. One point seemingly in favor of Lane’s proposal is his observation that in historical Greek nouns in -ēus generally are formed from the o-grade noun, not from the corresponding verb in e-grade. So, as Palaima pointed out, we get in Buck and Petersen’s Reverse Index (Buck and Petersen 1944: 28–31):

ἀμοιβεύς NOT *ἀμειβεύς
ὁλκεύς NOT *ἑλκεύς
τοκεύς NOT *τεκεύς
and even: πλοκεύς Epicharmus 5th c. BCE

and in compounds:

-τομεύς  NOT  *-τεμεύς
-στολεύς NOT *-στελεύς
-νομεύς  NOT *-νεμεύς
-φορεύς  NOT *-φερεύς
-δοχεύς  ΝΟΤ *-δεχεύς etc.

The potential historical-period exceptions in Buck and Petersen’s Reverse Index are: -αγγελεύς and ἀλειφεύς. Lane thus proposes to derive pe-re-ke-u from an unattested verb *plēkō, ‘to shear, strip of (wool)’.

§10. Palaima led us in exploring Lane’s assumption on the basis of Linear B data. He also set the stage for Elizabeth Barber to explain the practical realia of cloth-making technology and the vocabulary in Late Bronze Age Greek, Homeric and historical Greek that relates to it.

§11. It became clear that key parts of Lane’s argument are untenable.

§12. Regarding Lane argument 2, a group of Mycenaean words in -ēus, although personal names, show a possible formation from an e-grade of the root: e-te-re-u, o-pe-te-re-u, ne-qe-u, pe-qe-u. In Mycenaean possible e-grade forms are:

o-pe-te-re-u *Ὀφελτρεύς ???
ne-qe-u taken as from < *νείχwω νείφω
pe-qe-u perhap *Πεκwεύς < πεκw– cf. πέσσω cf. a-to-po-qo *ἀρτοποκwος > ἀρτοκόπος
e-re-e-u PY Nn 831.4 (S106-H 1)
e-re-e-we PY An 723.1 (S172-H 1); Cn 1197.5 (S131-H 1); Jn 881.1 (S310-H 2)
e-re-e-wo PY Cr 591.2: e-]ṛẹ-ẹ-ẉọ (]ẹ-[ ]) (Cii) (cf. ]ẹ-ẉọ); Na 262.B (S106-H 1).

The various case forms of e-re-e-u may be explained either as derived from an ethnic related to ἕλος ‘swamp’ or ‘marshy land’ used as a toponym (PY Jn 829 dat. loc. e-re-i nom. Ἕλος Il. 2.594) in Messenia /hEleheus/ or, connected with our discussion here, as related to the infinitive e-re-e ‘to row’ (IE *h1erh1, *h1reh1) and the agent noun e-re-ta as ‘rowers’ and here ἐρεhεύς. Cf. later Greek ἐρετμόν ‘oar’, ἐρέτης ‘rower’, ἐρέσσω ‘row’ (with the agent noun generating the verb ‘to row’ and the instrument ‘oar’). But does historical τρι-ήρης justify our thinking of an s-stem noun in Mycenaean times *eros, *erehos that would generate e-re-e-u in the manner of o-pi-te-u-ke-e-u from *teukhos, *teukhehos? Brent Vine draws our attention to the recent analysis of compound stems in -ηρης by Alain Blanc (2018). Blanc (2018:448ff.) concludes that they are not based on an old simplex s-stem, but rather directly on the verbal root.

§13. We discussed whether Mycenaean had any other potential instances of -eus nouns from verbal stems or their corresponding e-grade noun stems. Brent Vine offered a clear example of a noun in -eus from an s-stem showing a graphic rendering comparable to that in pe-re-ke-u, i.e., ze-u-ke-u-si /zeugeusi/ (DMic 2:458 s.v.) on PY Fn 50.9, dative plural of*ze-u-ke-u (NOTE not *ze-u-ke-e-u) derived from *ze-u-ko, alph. Gk. ζεῦγος, an s-stem noun also attested in Linear B on PY Ub 1318 (ze-u-ke-si dative plural, DMic 2:458 s.v.). Vine explained that this shows that it is possible to form a noun in –eus from an s-stem noun, directly from the root and not from the root plus –es-. Thus, it is likely that in Mycenaean Greek an unattested *pe-re-ko, /plekos/ was the actual s-stem word from which pe-re-ke-u derived in Mycenaean times, with no need of an alternative etymology. A neuter s-stem πλέκος actually is attested in alphabetic Greek, and not too late (Aristoph.+).

§14. We should add that the word unit po-ro-ko (perhaps, but not surely /plokos/) is found fully or partially preserved at Pylos only in two contexts where it is clearly a personal name of a ka-ke-u ‘worker of copper or bronze’ (PY Jn 658.6 and Jn 725.5). It also occurs at Knossos as a shepherd’s name. We now know it appears only a single time in the Knossos tablets, owing to Melena’s recent painstaking work on the tablets and their relationship with Evans’ handlists (KT6:123; Dv 5049 = former Dv <1416>). Brent Vine subsequently added that “the same morphological pattern is also attested in alph. Gk., as in (e.g.) neut. s-stem σκῦτος (Hom.+) à σκυτεύς (Aristoph.+).”

§15. Regarding 1., Palaima made two points. First, the term pe-re-ke-u was at the start (Evidence, 97) reasonably correctly translated as ‘plaiter’, but subsequently has been widely mistranslated—or we might say unknowingly loosely translated—as ‘weaver’. If, as Barber believes (see below), it does refer to ‘plaiting’ or ‘braiding’ rather than ‘weaving’, the artificial problem of ‘synonymity’ raised by Lane disappears. /plekēus/ would not be ‘synonymous’ with /histēus/. Lane (2011:81–82) himself also argues, along with Beekes (2010 2:1540 s.v. ὑφαίνω), that yet another later Greek word for ‘weave’ is attested in the Mycenaean word-unit e-we-pe-se-so-me-na.

§16. Moreover, if ‘synonymity’ were truly a problem, then by proposing that pe-re-ke-u comes from *plēkō, ‘to shear, strip of (wool)’, but ultimately “from a stem *pleH1ḱ- connoting ‘flaying, stripping, tearing’”—our English word ‘flaying’ being cognate, Lane might be hoisting himself on his own petard. *plēkō would be ‘synonymous’ with later Greek δέρω IE *der-‘flay’ and therefore ‘unnecessarily redundant’. The root of δέρω is attested, although not indubitably, in Mycenaean Greek on PY Un 718 o-wi-de-ta-i (read, in Palaima’s view most suitably for its tablet context, as ὀϝι-δέρτᾱhι ‘sheep-flayers’; DMic 2:58 s.v. and Duhoux 2008:345 with alternative reconstructions) and on KN Fh 353 and Fh 5432 de-ma-si (δέρμασι) ‘leather hides’ (DMic 1:165-166 s.v.) in an oil context where oil to be used ‘for leather hides’ would be a suitable entry, given that on two other tablets by the same tablet-writer (H 141 tablets Fh 5428 and Fh 5435) reference is made to a wi-ri-ne-we (DMic 1:434 s.v.). This is most likely dative singular of *ϝρινεύς = ‘tanner’, literally ‘someone who has to do with a human or animal skin, especially a cowhide’. In one case (Fh 5428) a *wi-ri-ne-u is recorded with an allocation of 355 liters of oil. The large quantity would suit industrial purposes.

§17. Second, the issue of ‘synonymity’ has epistemological implications. In Palaima’s opinion, apparent or real ‘synonymity’, i.e., words having the same meaning within a specific cultural sphere, especially in the Mycenaean Greek lexicon where ‘loan words’ from a pre-Greek Aegean substrate language or from pre-Greek Cretan language(s) or from the languages of surrounding ‘high cultures’, is well attested. Palaima cited Barber’s table (1991:278, table 12.1) in Prehistoric Textiles. In it Barber analyzes cloth-making terminology. The results indicate that the historical Greek lexicon has many cases where there are two or three words for the same item. Most conspicuous are the three words used for the word ‘wool’ itself (Barber 1991:260):

  1. λῆνος (lēnos) Latin lāna, Hittite ḫulana, etc.;
  2. ἔριον (erion), Hom εἶρος (eiros), Attic (pl.) ἔρεᾱ (erea), Myc. we-we-e-a = werwe(h)e(h)a (DMic 2:425 s.v.) ‘woolen’, an inherited IE word with Latin cognate, i.e. vervēx ‘wether’ (Vaan 2008:668–669 s.v.);
  3. μαλλός (mallos), and related terms in later Greek and Hesychius, which, according to Barber (1991:259), “have no accepted etymology, but … should have something to do with the Linear B ‘monogram’ for wool, MA+RU” and “may well be from a local Aegean word.” We should note that Beekes (2010 2:899 s.v. μαλλός) points out weaknesses with both proposed IE and Arabic etymologies for μαλλός and opts for a pre-Greek origin citing the geminate -λλ- as a pre-Greek feature. See the prominent Cretan collector’s name ma-ri-ne-u (Duhoux 2008:261–262) reconstructed as /Mallineus/: “its radical comes perhaps from the word for ‘flock of wool’.”

§18. Also we might consider that absolute synonymity does not exist in and of itself, except rather artificially, as we all generally agreed, within scientific spheres. When interpreting Linear B texts, the different semantic and functional features of every single term should be investigated, even though they may seem redundant within the corpus. Furthermore why should we assume, when there is no guarantee, that individual scribes during the Mycenaean palatial period used terminology consistently and precisely? The nature of the Linear B tablets would call for professions or obligatory work roles of individuals to be recorded fairly accurately. However, in many cases the tablet records are self-mnemonic, essentially notes that scribes made for themselves and their close associates to refer to later.

§19. Palaima also stressed that in the history of Mycenology, the tendency has been to universalize solutions to word meaning. However, given the peculiar perceptions of language(s) in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and, insofar as we know, the absence of standardized rules of ‘spelling’ in Linear B writing, individual contexts should be examined carefully.

§20. Concluding this part of his talk, Palaima took up other occurrences of the sign sequence pe-re-k-.

§21. pe-re-ku-wa-na-ka and pe-re-ku-ta are no longer taken as related to /pelekus/ = in historical Greek a ‘two-edged axe’, used both for tree-felling and in combat. The sequence pe-re-ku- is now explained as derived from *gweh2‘to go’ in zero-grade forms (*gwh2-u-) prefixed with *presº or *preiº. So pe-re-ku-ta PY An 172.2 (Hand 1) /presgu-/ or /prei(s)gu-/= *πρεσγύτᾱς; and pe-re-ku-wa-na-ka PY Va 15.2 /presgu-wanaks/ ‘elder wanaks’. Ruijgh 1967:321 n. 138 compares historically attested names Πρεσβυχάρης  and Εὐρυάναξ (HP:46, 465).

§22. Regarding pe-re-ke on KN L 520.1 Lane claims that it is “widely understood to be a finite verbal form having a stem in common with pe-re-ke-u.” Yet his note cites no example of such wide understanding and DMic (2:104 s. pe-re-ke) states just the opposite: “Probablemente Nom. pl. referido al tipo de tejido simbolizado con el ideograma *164, aunque sin interpr. gr. satisfactoria.”

§23. It is, however, virtually unparalleled for a verb to be placed in this unusual position, although both Leonard Palmer (1963:297, 444) and John Killen (1996–1997:126) have argued for an interpretation of pe-re-ke as a verb. Nonetheless, Killen’s careful use of rhetorical phrases such as “it does not seem entirely inconceivable” indicates the tenuous nature of various underpinnings of the argument for a verbal form on tablet L 520.

Here is the text of KN L 520:

KN L 520.1

.1  do-ti-ja ,          LANA 18        pe-re-ke     *164  3
.2  ka-ma              LANA 12                           *164  2
.3  sa-mu-ta-jo     LANA 24                          *164  4

do-ti-ja is a toponym or feminine ethnicon. ka-ma is a toponym or less likely a personal name.

sa-mu-ta-jo is a personal name (a ‘collector’) found at Pylos, Knossos and Mycenae. If pe-re-ke were to be a verb, the word units in column 1 are then assumed to act somehow as the subject in each line:

.1 The site of do-ti-ja does the verbal action indicated by pe-re-ke on the quantity of wool indicated by LANA (here 54 kg.; LANA as a metrogram = ca. 3kg., Melena 2014:155) with the end result being 3 cloth items represented by ideogram *164.

.2 And the minor site or responsible individual ka-ma does the action pe-re-ke on 36 kg. of wool producing 2 cloth items *164.

.3 And finally the collector sa-mu-ta-jo does pe-re-ke work on 72 kg. of wool and the end result is 4 cloth items *164.

The basic idea here is that since the proportions between amounts of wool and units of the ideogram *164 are in all three lines 6:1, the wool is the raw material allotment and the ideogram *164 is the finished product. *164 iconographically resembles an “unnamed spotted garment” (Melena 2014:144). Reading the text this way comes very close to a mixed logographic-phonetic syntax that is not found anywhere else in the Linear B texts. Hence the hyper-cautious phrasing by Killen cited above.

§24. This is why the interpretation by Duhoux (1976:94 and n.248) that makes pe-re-ke a nominative plural adjective has been preferred. He proposes that pe-re-ke is descriptive and adjectivally reinforces the ‘spotted’ nature of the ideogram *164 (an image of a ‘spotted’ garment). Duhoux refers to the lexicographical tradition *πρῆκες = tachetés  = ‘spotted, dappled’; cf. πράκες = πρόκες πράκνον· μέλανα cf. περκνός. See Beekes (2010 2:1178 s.v. περκνός) for the posited adjective *περκός = Linear B pe-ko (DMic 2:96–97 s.v.) used to describe livestock as ‘dark’ on the underbelly; ‘de color negro’. Alternatively, Luján (1996–1997:362) has proposed two other possibilities:

(1) πλήξ nom. plur. πλῆκες ‘un tipo de vendaje’ as found in the fragments of the Greek medical doctor Soranus (2nd c. CE) in his treatise on bandages Fasc. 22 and 24 (LSJ s.v.);

(2) *πλέκες connected with the root of πλέκω ‘doblar’ ‘to fold or bend’ and in view of the many types of garments whose Greek names are formed on the root πλ-, citing πέπλος, διπλοΐς.

The first suggestion Luján himself questions because of the hapax nature and because the one preserved reference is chronologically late. To the second suggestion Beekes (2010 2:1174 s.v. πέπλος) adds the possibility of the root being *pl- ‘skin, hide’, citing πέλμα (2010 2:1168 s.v. πέλμα) < PIE *pel-mn ‘skin, hide’. However, Luján adds that “[n]either solution is compelling.”

§25. One group of key texts for seeing how wool is allotted and who is working on the wool is the Mycenae texts Oe 121 129 130 (Hand 56). In them wool is given out in quantities in the following ways:

—6 kg. to ka-ke-wi Oe 121. ka-ke-wi is now interpreted by Palaima in this context as kalkhēwi = ‘to the murex-dye-man’, which makes much better sense than to the khalkēwi ‘to the bronze-worker’.
—15 kg. to i-te-we-ri-di a dative of *histēwris Oe 121 (Duhoux 2008: 285 ‘to the feminine worker at the upright loom’).
—12 kg. to di-du-mo ne-wo , ka-na-pe-we = dative of knapheus Oe 129 ‘to di-du-mo the felter’
—12 kg. to qa-da-wa-so pe-re-ke-we = dative of plekeus Oe 130 ‘to qa-da-wa-so the plaiter’

§26. In private discussions, Elizabeth Barber (pers. comm. August 30, 2019) commented that these references fit how the actual practitioners of making cloths would have worked:

—the small quantity of 6 kg. to the ‘dyer’, because he does not dye everything, and murex dye is rare and precious; so he only gets a smaller targeted WOOL allocation;
—15 kg. to the female ‘weaver’; and
—12 kg. each to the knapheus = a ‘felt-maker’, because a mere ‘fuller’ of already-woven cloth would not need raw wool, but the man making cloth/rugs from scratch by the felting process would; and to the ‘plaiter’.

§27. By way of introducing Barber’s fuller discussion of textile matters, Palaima concluded with a quick survey of textile-related texts and of problems:

(1) in interpreting the terms a-ke-ti-ri-ja and a-ze-ti-ri-ja (and a2-ke-te-re, on which see Palaima’s discussion as cited by Pierini in note 4 below) and their possible relationship to the Greek historical terms ἄκος and ἀσκέω;

(2) inherent in interpreting a-ke-ti-ri-ja and a-ze-ti-ri-ja everywhere as ‘finishers’ or ‘decorators’ and

(3) with regard to the relationship of these terms to later uses of the words ἀκεστής ἄκος ἀκέομαι ἀκέστρια ἀσκητής and ἀσκέω.

§28. Palaima here made one general but important point. In a brilliant comparative study of terms for work and power that are found in the Linear B texts and in the historical Greek lexicon, Morpurgo Davies (1979:103) proposes:

If Killen (1979:165–166, 180) is right in giving to a-ke-ti-ri-ja the value askētriai ‘decorating women in the textile industry’, the later Greek equivalent ἀσκητής has a very different meaning ‘one who practices all arts and trades ’.…”

The a-ke-ti-ri-ja are also known in the Mycenological literature now as ‘finishers’. Morpurgo Davies (1979:105) connects these “terminological losses” to “a change in the pattern of craft specialization.”

§29. The way this has been rephrased by Morpurgo Davies is misleading. It makes it seem that the ἀσκητής in historical times is a kind of ‘jack of all trades’, i.e., ‘one who practices all arts and trades’ as the occasion demands, with the implication that he is a specialist in none, whereas in Mycenaean palatial times the feminine form identifies a very particular specialist: ‘a final decorating finisher’. The idea then is that the arts and crafts intimately associated with the Mycenaean palatial centers aimed at producing particular luxury products that required hyper-specialists. Once the palatial centers disappeared with the destructions at the end of LH III B into the beginning of III C (roughly ca. 1230–1170 BCE), such specialty production ceased and crafts personnel over time became generalists or ‘jacks of all trades’ who manufactured commonplace objects.

§30. In fact, however, what the LSJ says is that an ἀσκητής is a specialist, but can be so in any specific art or trade. That is, the term can be applied to a person with highly developed technical skills and meticulous competence in any particular area, such as bronze-working, ship-building, wall-building, armor-making and so on. Chantraine (2009 s. άσκέω) says that in Homer the term is used for working with wool, metal, bow-making, building.

§31. The point here is that Killen may not be right in claiming the a-ke-te-ri-ja are ‘decorators’ and Morpurgo Davies in rephrasing is misleading. The LSJ says this complex of words applies to any art or trade. So the proposed change from Bronze Age to the historical (through Homer) period here may be exaggerated and misrepresented.

§32. Palaima Bibliography

Barber, E. J. W. 1991. Prehistoric Textiles: The Develop­ment of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Princeton.

Beekes, R. 2010. Etymological Dictionary of Greek 1–2. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Se­ries 10. Leiden and Boston.

Blanc, A. 2018. Les adjectifs sigmatiques du grec ancien: Un cas de métamorphisme dérivationnel. Innsbruck.

Buck, C. D. and W. Petersen. 1944. A Reverse Index of Greek Nouns and Adjectives. Chicago.

Chantraine, P. 2009. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque: Histoire des mots. Completed by J. Taillardat, O. Masson, J.-L. Perpillou; ed. A. Blanc., C. de Lamberterie, J.-L. Perpillou. Librairie Klincksieck Série Linguistique Book 20. Paris.

DMic 1 and 2 = Aura Jorro, F. 1985 and 1993. Diccionario micénico 1 and 2: Diccionario Griego-Español. Madrid.

Duhoux, Y. 1976. Aspects du vocabulaire économique mycénien (cadastre-artisanat- fiscalité). Amsterdam

Duhoux, Y. 2008. “Mycenaean Anthology.” In A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Texts and Their World, Vol. 1, ed. Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies, 243–393. Bibliothèque des Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain 120. Louvain-la-Neuve.

Dürig, R. 2020. Deciphering the Silence: A Literary Journey to Alice E. Kober. PhD dissertation, University of Plymouth. Submitted.

Evidence = Ventris, M. G. F. and J. Chadwick. 1953. “Evidence for Greek Dialect in the Mycenaean Archives.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 73:84–103.

HP = Bechtel, F. 1917. Die historischen Personennamen des Griechischen bis zur Kaiserzeit. Halle.

Killen, J. T. 1979. “The Knossos Ld(1) Tablets.” In Colloquium Mycenaeum, ed. E. Risch and H. Mühlestein. 151–181. Geneva.

Killen, J. T. 1996–1997. “The Find-Places of the Tablets from the Western Magazines at Knossos: Some Matters Arising.” Minos 31–32:123–132.

Lane, M. 2011. “Linear B pe-re-ke-u, pe-re-ke, and pe-re-ko: contextual and etymological notes,” Kadmos 50:75–100.

Luján, E. R. 1996-1997. “El léxico micénico de las telas.” Minos 31–32:335–369.

Melena, J. L. 2014. “Mycenaean Writing.” In A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and Their World, Vol. 3, ed. Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies, 1–186. Bibliothèque des Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain 120. Louvain-la-Neuve.

Morpurgo Davies, A. 1979. “Terminology of Power and Terminology of Work in Greek and Linear B.” In Colloquium Mycenaeum, ed. E. Risch and H. Mühlestein. Geneva. 87–108.

Palaima, T. 2020. “Porphureion and Kalkhion and Minoan-Mycenaean Purple Dye Manufacture and Use,” in Alatzomouri Pefka : a Middle Minoan IIB Workshop Making Organic Dyes, ed. V. Apostolakou, T. M. Brogan, and P. P. Betancourt, 123–128. INSTAP Prehistory Monographs 62. Philadelphia.

Palmer, L. R. 1963. The Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts. Oxford.

Ruijgh, C. J. 1967. Études sur la grammaire et le vocabulaire du grec mycénien. Amsterdam.

TFC 4 = Aravantinos, V. L., M. del Freo, L. Godart, and A. Sacconi. 2005. Thèbes: Fouilles de la Cadmée IV. Les textes de Thèbes (1–433): Translitération et tableaux des scribes. Biblioteca di “Pasiphae” 4. Pisa.

Vaan, M. de. 2008. Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 7. Leiden and Boston.

Topic 2: The Weaving Process in Ancient and Today’s Textile Industry and Some Notes on Mycenaean and Alphabetic Greek Textile Lexicon.

Presenter: Elizabeth Barber.

§33. Barber made clear that for a complete and systematic view on textile-related vocabulary in the Aegean context, it is essential to reconstruct and know the materiality of the weaving procedure. When reconstructing the vocabulary of textile production, one should bear in mind each and every step of the production process in order to know in advance the variety of technical terms needed to name these phases. This was the preliminary assumption that led to the compilation and explanation, in Barber’s work, of the complete vocabulary in the Greek lexicon for the different phases of the weaving process. In the majority of cases, nevertheless, examples of synonymity can still be observed within the surveyed material, and many times the same meaning is expressed by a Greek and a Non-Greek root.

§34. 1. Bronze Age people, from Britain to China, including the Mycenaeans, had 3 basic techniques for making the large, floppy, fiber-based coverings we call cloth: plaiting, weaving, felting.

§35. Plaiting and weaving both produce textiles by interlacing yarns (usually, spun yarns). But yarns are so limp that you can only interlace them by introducing tension to make the yarns sit still” for the interlacing. Plaiting and weaving differ in how this tension is introduced, and by details of the resulting structures.

§36. For weaving, tension is introduced by stringing half the threads onto a framework (a loom) so they are held taut and parallel. This is the warp or foundation. The other half of the thread is then inserted, over and under, crossways into the warp, one row at a time. This is the weft. These threads thus lie at right angles (90 degrees) to the closed edges (selvedges) of the finished cloth. Weavers can work only where their loom—usually big and heavy—is set up.

§37. For plaiting, there is no distinction of warp and weft—all threads interlace in the same way and in the same general direction (all running obliquely through the textile from start to finish). All threads are tensioned by being attached in a single bunch to something a short distance away (a tree, your big toe, whatever), while the plaiter holds the other end of the entire bunch and pulls them tight. The simplest form of plaiting is 3-strand braiding (where your head forms the tensioning device for braiding your hair). So unlike weaving, which requires a loom, plaiting requires no equipment (although a fixed post for the far end can be used, and little spools can be used to help control the component yarns). Also unlike weaving, the final threads lie at a steep angle (often 45 degrees) to the finished edges (see Figures 1 and 2). And, highly significantly, plaiters can work anywhere, for example, in the stables where horses are always in need of various straps.

Figure 1 Plaited bands
Figure 1 Plaited bands: get your eye on a red or white thread and follow its path through the band. Below: replica of fancy Bronze Age Central Asian band. Photo by E. Barber.


Figure 2 Bronze Age clothing
Figure 2 Bronze Age clothing made by sewing plaited bands together. (Caucasoid herders buried at Zaghunluq, Uyghur Autonomous Region.) Photo by I. Good, used with permission.


§38. Because one has to hold and manipulate all the threads by hand, plaiting is usually used to make relatively narrow bands and strips. Loom-woven cloth, however, can easily be made either narrow (as bands) or as wide as you make your loom. It is easy to put patterns into either plaited or woven textiles, although the patterns will look different because the underlying structures are different.

§39. Cloth can also be made by felting sheeps wool. (Sheeps wool is virtually the only fiber that will felt!) Felt is made not from yarn but from unspun fluff, which is mashed together until the tiny scales on the fibers become inextricably locked together. So it has no warp or weft or strands of any sort—no regular structure. It is possible, however, to felt a piece of woven wool after it has been woven. This is called woven felt, as opposed to fiber felt. Such a process can be part of what is known as fulling, although fulling often involves adding a special clay (fullers earth) to the woven cloth to make it denser (and is thus much more often used in cold climates than in warm ones).

§40. 2. For weaving, the Mycenaeans used the warp-weighted loom (Figure 3), on which the warp-tension is produced by stretching the warp threads between a top beam of wood and heavy weights tied onto bunches of warp threads near the floor. [This loom is upright” but not vertical! A crucial part of its design is that it leans back at maybe a 30-degree angle. Barber refers to seeing lots of erroneous depictions by modern illustrators who dont understand how it works!] In order to be able to tie the

Line drawing.
Figure 3 Diagram of warp-weighted loom, labeled in both English and Classical Greek (from Prehistoric Textiles [fig. 12.3 on p. 270]). Line drawing by Mark Stone. Re-labeling by Garrett Bruner.

weights on, the weaver must first attach each warp thread firmly to the top beam. The only efficient way to do this is to weave a band, called a heading band, in which the weft of the band is pulled out in very long loops to make what will be the warp threads of the future cloth (Figures 4 and 5). This firmly-woven band, with its cargo, is then lashed firmly across the top beam so that the newly-made warp threads for the future cloth hang down. These are then separated—one forward, the next one back, etc.—to form the primary shed. The weights are then hung on. This whole long process can be called dressing the loom. Only then can the weaving begin.

Sketch based on a black and white photo.
Figure 4 Lapp woman weaving the heading band (to the right of her right leg) for her warp-weighted loom. She is just pulling out to sufficient length a loop of future warp to hook it over the pegs. Note the similarity of the pattern on the heading band (in her case, red and white) to the most typical Mycenaean edge-pattern. Sketch after a photo in Hoffman 1964:66 Figure 26.


Figure 5 Typical Mycenaean edge-pattern
Figure 5 Typical Mycenaean edge-pattern which Barber used to make a heading band, set next to a Knossos fresco fragment in the Ashmolean. Photo by E. Barber.

§41. 3. Considering more specifically the Linear B material, it is possible to isolate some technical terminology referring to different phases of the textile production. It is important to note that the general tendency in collective lexica is to trace back all these terms to more general meanings. In addition, we must admit the possibility that two terms, even apparently coincident, could have different meanings according to their context of attestation. When you look at the amounts of wool allotted to the various participants on the Linear B tablets, it makes practical as well as contextual and etymological sense to distribute the meanings as follows:

histeus etc.: ‘weaver’ –making big cloth on a loom;

plekeus: ‘plaiter’ –making narrow bands and straps by hand;

knapheus –principally a ‘felter’ (who needs and is given large amounts of wool; no extra wool is needed for fulling a cloth already made!);

a-ze-ti-ri-ja –woman who weaves the special heading-band-cum-warp to dress the loom so the weaver can begin.

§42. The term a-ze-ti-ri-ja can be related to the alphabetic Greek ἄσμα, which probably indicates the above-mentioned heading band. We could call her the ‘dresser’ or ‘preparer’. Her principal function is to prepare the loom for weaving, not to decorate anything (although the heading band can easily be made decorative by using colored yarns).

§43. The translation ‘preparer’ then makes good sense in the contexts of the other kinds of workshops where it is found, such as metalworking. This interpretation clearly stands in contrast with Killens (1979:151–181) proposal to interpret this occupational name as ‘decorators’ or ‘finishers’ in a final stage of work. On the contrary, these women would be essential to the preliminary phase of the weaving process.

§44. This interpretation is partly based on the attestation of the masculine forms singular a-ke-te and plural a-ke-te-re, related to feminine a-ke-ti-ri-ja, in texts related to the bronze production, since the two terms are considered variant spellings of the same word. These two hypotheses, however, show a semantical affinity, paralleled by the English verb to dress. These workers could be in charge of dressing the loom, in the sense of preparing it’ with the headband, rather than decorating it. The semantic field is the same, but the specific meaning varies significantly. The LH III Mycenaeans (as opposed to the MM and LM I–II Minoans) donot seem to have decorated their cloth except sometimes with fancy edgings (whether woven or plaited). The fancy cloth you see in Knossos paintings is all Minoan, regardless of the wearer. Remember: the words robe and rob are etymologically the same!

Figure 6 Late Bronze Age Aegean bands Worksheet
Figure 6 Late Bronze Age Aegean bands.


§45. Worksheet comparing Late Bronze Age evidence for Aegean bands, whether woven or plaited.

§46. Figure 6 top row: Ceiling pattern from tomb of Menkheperraseneb (Th86; mid-15th c. BCE), as published by Davies and Davies (Plate 30B), but hand-colored by Barber according to their color key. Most Egyptian tomb paintings used their full palette of red, yellow, green, and blue (plus black and white), but this painting is highly unusual in using only red and blue (on white). Aegean textiles, especially for export, seem generally to have used only red, blue, and white—presumably because these were the only colors they could easily make colorfast. (Yellow was marginal; green was impossible until the Iron Age [using iron as the mordant]). Egyptian border patterns are extremely regular, but this one changes pattern in mid-stream! Presumably the painter was copying something that had only these colors and did these weird things: a textile with an edgeband. (Color Plate 3 of Barber 1991 shows 5 Egyptian ceilings copied from Aegean textiles, redone in their full glory; more shown in b/w in Barber 1991:chapter 15.) This particular pattern, with its particular changes, is found on one of the only pieces of textile to survive in early Greece, the belt-band from Lefkandi.

§47. Figure 6 2nd row: Barber’s reweaving of three of the patterns—chevrons, diamonds, and tent-like zigzags—on the band from Lefkandi (originally dated ca. 1000 BCE). What survived is a delicate-looking linen band full of patterned holes, making it look like lace. After much observation, Barber determined that the linen itself is in plain-weave (so: woven, not plaited), the holes having been left by a second set of thicker threads that disintegrated. Barber used yellow for the edge pattern and green for the inner pattern, just so she could distinguish them as she worked. But Barber guessed that the missing threads would have to have been wool yarn in the red-purple-blue range of colors. (Decades later, someone found enough fiber left to determine that the missing threads were red wool. Bingo!) So ignore the colors—just look at the pattern. It matches Menkheperraseneb’s edging. It also matches many, many of the patterns you find on…

§48. Figure 6 3rd group (patterns labeled 1–16): LM IIIA pottery from Knossos: diamonds and tented zigzags everywhere.

§49. Figure 6 bottom-most right: Kilt of a Keftiu visitor recorded in the tomb of Rehkmire (Th100; early 15th c. BCE; see Barber 1991:334–335 for others). The kilt is sewn together from narrow patterned bands, at least 3 of which have tented zigzags. (The fringe made by the warp-ends of the bands runs down the edge of the overfold, most easily seen here near the top of the kilt. Exactly the same structure is visible on another nearly contemporary Indo-European kilt: the warrior carved on the King’s Gate at Boghazköy, Barber 1991:337.)

§50. Barber Bibliography

Barber, E. J. W. 1991. Prehistoric Textiles: The Develop­ment of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Princeton.

Davies, N. de Garis, and N. Davies. 1933. The Tomb of Menkheperrasonb, Amenmose, and Another. London.

Hoffmann, M. 1964. The Warp-Weighted Loom. Oslo.

Killen, J. T. 1979. “The Knossos Ld(1) Tablets.” In Colloquium Mycenaeum, ed. E. Risch and H. Mühlestein, 151–181. Geneva.

Topic 3: Linguistic idiosyncrasies and chronology on Linear B tablets from the RCT at Knossos

Presenter: Rachele Pierini

§51. This presentation is part of a broader research on the linguistic idiosyncrasies on the tablets from the Room of the Chariot Tablets (RCT) at Knossos. The research as a whole aims to enter the ongoing debate on the chronology of the RCT, and thus the Bronze Age Aegean, by analyzing specific linguistic elements commonly understood as idiosyncratic on the documents from this deposit. Although these idiosyncrasies do not provide direct evidence for an absolute chronology, their connection with either Linear A (LA) or the earliest reconstructable stages of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) opens up the field for two different kinds of considerations. First, it allows linguistic phenomena to enter the debate on chronology, thus expanding the area of the inquiry. Second, it provides a further tool to crosscheck archaeological results. Snodgrass (1965) has provided an exemplar model of this collaboration. By crosschecking archaeological and textual data on Mycenaean weapons, he has added weight to the hypothesis of dating the earliest LB documents before 1400 BCE. Fruitful cooperation between subjects potentially increases the chance to anchor particular data to a particular dating.

§52. This presentation focuses on the linguistic analysis of particular idiosyncrasies from those documents that, according to the latest edition of the Knossos tablets (KN VI), belong to the RCT. Subjects such as archaeology (Driessen 1990), epigraphy (Tomas 2003; 2017), palaeography and phylogenetic systematics (Firth-Skelton 2016), and prosopography (Landenius Enegren 2008) have long demonstrated that the RCT is a peculiar deposit and that Mycenaean archives do belong to different chronological periods. Yet this data has received little attention from a linguistic perspective and Mycenaean tablets keep being largely approached as they were synchronic to each other. As a result, idiosyncrasies are often interpreted as errors or abnormalities.[1] This scenario significantly changes by approaching these linguistic idiosyncrasies through the lens of diachrony. Such an analysis shows that they actually are either ‘non-Greek’ elements, i.e. LA influences on Linear B (LB) phonetics, or archaisms, i.e. particular features inherited from PIE that both later LB deposits and alphabetic Greek do not show any more.

§53. Accordingly, the peculiar forms attested on tablets from the RCT can be grouped into three typologies: (i) Non-Greek elements, i.e. words derived from the ‘Minoan’ language (noted by Linear A) or influenced by Minoan phonology; (ii) Archaisms, i.e. features attesting the earliest stages of Proto-Indo-European, unattested in later deposits; (iii) LB innovations, i.e. specific phonetic phenomena represented through additional signs of the LB signary.

Defining the corpus and the dataset: a selection of linguistic idiosyncrasies from the RCT

§54. The first issue we face is the identification of the find-spots of LB inscriptions at Knossos, mainly because of the unsystematic and contradictory nature of the primary sources (recently Del Freo 2016). After a long debate, we now rely on two robustly argued, precise, and up-to-date works by Firth (Firth 1996–1997; 2000–2001).[2] In KN VI, 281 tablets are indicated as coming from the RCT. A further document, i.e. V 52, is tentatively related to the RCT. A second issue is the “124”-related documents. Hand “124” is not a scribal hand stricto sensu but, rather, a graphic style. It is typical of tablets from the RCT (their ductus is highly homogeneous) and commonly understood as related to a sort of scholastic practice. However, we cannot explicitly say that all the tablets by “124” come from RCT. By adding these further tablets, the whole corpus of RCT-related tablet is almost doubled. Pierini lists below the 281+1 tablets from the RCT, which are as follows (in bold, tablets with relevant features that will be discussed in the next sections):

Ag          87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 204, 321, 322, 324.

Ai           63, 115, 190, 194, 213, 1805.

B (2)       101, 164.

Ce           50, 59, 61, 76, 113, 139, 144, 152, 156, 162, 163, 166, 283.

E (1)      132, 165, 288.

F (1)       51, 71, 148, 153, 157, 193.

K            93.

L            104, 178, 192.

Np (1)    49, 80, 85, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 276, 277, 278, 286, 294.

Og (1)    180, 1804.

Sc           70, 78, 82, 99, 103, 112, 130, 135, 141, 142, 189, 197, 207, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, 229, 230, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 266, 298.

Uc          160, 161.

Ud          109, 124.

Uf (1)     79, 111, 120, 121, 198, 311.

U (1)      95, 96, 172.

Vc          53, 54, 55, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 72, 73, 74, 81, 83, 94, 102, 106, 108, 110, 123, 125, 126, 127, 129, 143, 170, 171, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 179, 181, 183, 184, 185, 188, 191, 195, 199, 200, 201, 203, 205, 206, 208, 210, 211, 212, 215, 216, 285, 287, 289, 290, 291, 293, 295, 297, 303, 312, 316, 317, 7558.

Vd          62, 136, 137, 138, 7545.

V            52 (??), 56, 57, 60, 77, 114, 117, 118, 145, 147, 150, 159, 280, 282, 337.

Ws          8493, 8496, 8500, 8712.

Xd          58, 75, 84, 86, 92, 97, 98, 100, 105, 107, 116, 119, 122, 131, 133, 140, 146, 149, 154, 167, 168, 169, 182, 186, 202, 209, 214, 292, 296, 299, 300, 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 313, 314, 318, 319, 320, 323, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 5097.

§55. This section lists particular phonetic and morphological elements, thus complementing Driessen’s (2000) preliminary linguistic inquiry. As we will see below, the dataset might be broadened once we will have a clearer picture of the diachronic development within the Mycenaean tablets. Idiosyncrasies we will focus on at this stage of the research read as follows: 1) Ai 213: ]a2-ta; 2) B(2) 101: a3-te-re; 3) Ce 50: a-qi-ru and ro-ru; 4) Np (1) 49: ri*65-no (ri-u-no on Xd 149); 5) Sc 103: ki-ra2-i-jo; 6) Sc 238: me-nu-wa (also on V 60); 7) Vc 94: ki-je-u; 8) Vc 201: ta-ra-sa-ta; 9) V 60: a-ni-o-ko (and me-nu-wa); 10) V 118: a2-ke-te-re; 11) V 145: u-du-ru-wo; 12) V 280: wo-de-wi-jo and i-ku-wo-i-pi; 13) Xd 149: ri-u-no.

i. Non-Greek elements

§56. Typically observed in Linear A and Linear B forms such as LA qa-qa-ru and LB qa-qa-ro, the alternation between u and o is actually to be found also within the LB corpus. In particular, we observe the phenomenon in personal names and place names. RCT tablets attest some personal names and place names ending in –Xu that we find in other LB archives with a final –Xo. These phonetic features could (i) derive from a confusion by Greek speakers of originally Minoan sounds, although such processes currently lack a global linguistic study, not only in the Aegean context, or (ii) reflect two different stages of the borrowing process of a foreign term into the Greek language, namely a thematization (the evolution of a non-Greek u-stem to an o-stem). The question to address is: are these variant spellings or, rather, outcomes of a phonetic evolution?

§57. Although the language that LA encodes (Minoan) is still poorly understood, we have some clues to go through LA texts. In particular, by comparing anthroponyms and toponyms in LA and LB, the phonetic value of 16 LA signs has been established (Olivier 1975; Godart 1984). Further comparisons based on phonetic or declensional alternatives have led to the identification of an additional group of another 14 signs having common phonetic values in LA and LB (Duhoux 1989). More recently, the backward projection of LB phonetic values to LA signs has been further legitimized and, in addition, it has been highlighted that ca. 72% of sign has a shared phonetic value in LA and LB (Steele-Meissner 2017). Further to the question of the effectiveness of the LB signary on writing the Greek language (Palaima-Sikkenga 1999), what emerges from such a tentative reading of LA texts is that LA shows ‘abundance’ of a-, i-, and u- signs and ‘scarcity’ of e- and o- signs. The actual number of vowels in the LA script (or the language it encodes) is a vexata quaestio. Proposals include that it was (i) a three-vowel system, i.e. a, i, u (Palaima-Sikkenga 1999), (ii) a four-vowel system, i.e. a, i, u, e (Finkelberg 2001), (iii) a five-vowel system, i.e. a, i, u, e, o (Beekes 2014), and (iv) a three-plus vowel system, i.e. a, i, u as principal vowels and e, o as the result of secondary developments (Davis 2014). Reconstructing the vowel system is not a straightforward issue in Indo-European (IE) studies either. Without exceeding the purpose of this presentation, for example Villar (1993) highlights that PIE might have had u, a, i, e as vowels and that, in the Greek language, a is mainly related to (i) expressive words like onomatopoeias and nicknames, and (ii) its phonological opposition with o. Within this backdrop, a first glance to LA vowel system seems to add weight to the hypothesis of a non-IE origin of Minoan, which Duhoux (1978) has put forward on the basis of a morphosyntactic analysis of LA texts. However, what can shed new light on the LA vowel system are further inquiries focusing on issues such as the identification of a consistent vowel system and how it works. The following example might give some clues for future research.

§58. KN Ce 50, a LB tablet from the RCT, record the personal names a-qi-ru and ro-ru. KN Da 1123, a LB tablet from the East West Corridor record a-qi-ro. Likewise, the place name (i) u-du- ru-wo appears as such on a tablet from the RCT but as o-du-ro-we on a tablet from NEP, and (ii) ri-*65-no and ri-u-no are the spelling from two tablets from the RCT whereas ri-jo-no the spelling we see on tablets from NEP and East West Corridor.

§59. The alternations between ri-*65-no / ri-u-no / ri-jo-no as well as u-du-ru-wo / o-du-ro-we seem to reflect a phonetic adaptation. The differences between a-qi-ru and a-qi-ro might well reflect also a thematization process since the ending is involved. Particularly relevant is that the place name u-du-ru-wo is attested only on tablets from the RCT and NEP (there is the ethnic adjective o-du-ro- wi-jo on NEP and Thebes tablets). As a gloss by Hesychius confirms, u-du-ru-wo was a Minoan site whose exact location is yet-to-be determined. The data about its presence only in the RCT and NEP points toward its being a Minoan site gradually losing its prominence. Should further archaeological inquiries being successful in locating this site, we will have a further tool to crosscheck linguistic and archaeological evidence to provide new data for the chronology of the Bronze Age Aegean.

§60. Another possibly Minoan sound pattern Pierini put forward is to be found in the personal name ta-ra-sa-ta (KN Vc 201). The consistency of the vocalism a, not common in PIE, can reflect a Non-Greek origin or pronunciation of the word. To this respect, Hedvig Landenius Enegren remarked the Greek origin of this specific name is uncertain. In addition, Landenius Enegren made clear that, on the basis of statistical correlations, the individuals recorded on the RCT tablets prove unrelated to the other personal names attested at Knossos.

§61. In this respect, Tom Palaima remarked that this form might correspond to a masculine a-stem agent noun, like ra-wa-ke-ta, thus reflecting a completely Greek origin. Palaima bases his argumentation on the fact that all the -Ca-ta nouns in the DMic reverse index on-line by Aura Jorro ( seem to show this formation, but, of course, this needs to be examined carefully.

ii. Archaisms

§62. We can isolate, on the RCT tablets, two kinds of archaisms: a) morphological and b) phonological archaisms. Within the former category fall the examples of o-stem singular genitives in -Xo, such as wo-de-wi-jo, recorded on the tablet KN V 280. The form, together with the other genitive me-no, is part of a time indication which is usually translated as ‘in the month of the rose’. The very same expression is attested in a later deposit (NEP) as wo-de-wi-jo-jo me-no, the sole difference being the genitive ending -Xo-jo. Although such -Xo forms have been long interpreted as scribal errors (namely haplographies), some considerations sustain the hypothesis of proper genitives belonging to a prior stage of the Mycenaean Greek. First, the PIE ending *-osyo might be either heteromorphematic (thus, *-os-yo) or monomorphematic (*-o-syo), but comparative data point toward the former hypothesis. The material that Pierini put forward is (i) the Hittite ending -as, (ii) the Greek compound Θεοσδοτος, (iii) the Sanskrit compounds rathaspathi ‘maître du char’ and rtaspati ‘maître de la vérité’. Second, this earliest stage *-os would occur in ancient texts or in names that are conservatives, such as place names. Third, if we assume the change *-os>*-osyo, we might also put forward the hypothesis that words already ending in -yo might have resist (at least initially) the addiction of a further -yo (haplology, rather than haplography).

§63. In this respect, Brent Vine expressed some skepticism about the Greek and Sanskrit material presented by Pierini. The compound Θεοσ-δοτος could, in fact, represent a secondary development of *Θέσ-δοτος created by analogy (see the attested form Θέσφατος). As for the two Sanskrit forms, they prove problematic for the Vedic phonology and meter, and are unlikely to represent archaisms. Doug Frame objected that, although metrically problematic and morphologically unusual, the only possible explanation for the first members of these compounds is that they are, indeed, singular genitives.

§64. Within the phonological archaisms, Pierini included the retention of -y- in intervocalic position, that can be observed in the form ki-je-u on KN Vc 94. The later correspondent to this spelling, ki-e-u, attested in Pylos (PY An 724), shows that the intervocalic -y- has already evolved into an aspiration -h-. Finally, Pierini examined the noun i-ku-wo-i-pi on V(2) 280, which is an obscure term whose poignancy escapes us. Nonetheless it is apparently related to the word for ‘horse’, which appears as hippos in alphabetic Greek and as i-qo in all the other Mycenaean attestations of this word.

iii. Linear B Innovations

§65. Michel Lejeune made the fundamental distinction between ‘doublets’ and ‘complexes’ (Mém. III). The former refers to signs such as a2, which are used in particular phonetic contexts instead of the basic-sign, a in this particular case. The latter refers to signs such as ra2, whose graphic alternation requires two signs, i.e. ra-ja. Whereas basic-signs are usually inherited from LA, most of the ‘doublets’ and ‘complexes’ are LB innovations. Within the -a series, basic signs common to LA and LB (AB signs) are as follows: AB 01 (da), AB 03 (pa), AB 06 (na), AB 08 (a), AB 16 (qa), AB 17 (za), AB 31 (sa), AB 54 (wa), AB 57 (ja), AB 59 (ta), AB 60 (ra), AB 80 (ma). LB ‘doublets’ within the -a series are B 25 (a2), B 33 (ra3), B 43 (a3),[3] whereas for example the -o series shows the ‘complexes’ signs B 68 (ro2), B 90 (dwo), B 91 (two). AB ‘doublets’ and ‘complexes’ within the -a series are as follows: AB 48 (nwa), AB 66 (ta2), AB 66 (ra2), AB 85 (au). Finally, although there is no agreement on its phonetic value, AB *34 might be read as a5 (Melena 2014). The first question to address is whether ‘doublets’ and ‘complexes’ were used to express substratum (Minoan) or Mycenaean sounds. The abundance of a-signs in LA is a factor to take into account in the inquiry. LB has four signs for a (one basic sign and three ‘doublets’) and this sound has a strong presence within complex signs too. Sign 8 is the basic-sign for a. a3 has the phonetic value of ai; and the fourth ‘doublet’ is transcribed as au since this is its phonetic value. By introducing new signs, LB might have singled out some phonetic differences that had no expression in the LA script. The occupational noun a3-te-re /aiter/ ‘inlayer’ is an example of the ‘doublet’ a3. It has an attestation on the RCT tablet B(2) 101 and another occurrence in Pylos. The use of a3 seems to be consistent throughout the Mycenaean archives and it does not seem to undergo changes because of chronological or areal factors. The personal name ki-ra2-i-jo from the RCT tablet Sc 103 is an example of the ‘complex’ sign ra2. A Pylos tablet show the variant spelling ki-ri-ja-i-jo. The chronological gap seems to highlight a development on the pronunciation (and graphic rendition) of this cluster.

Figure 7 Inscribed handle of the cauldron
Figure 7 Inscribed handle of the cauldron from Mycenae’s Grave Circle A. From Palaima 2003, pl. XXXI Figure 1b.

§66. Particularly interesting is the case of a2, which appears in the fragmentary word ]a2-ta (Ai 213) and in the noun a2-ke-te-re /hakestēre/ *hακεστῆρε, ‘restorer?’ (V 118, see above for further details on the meaning of this term).[4] As a ‘doublet’ of a, its specialized value has long been linked to the aspiration, i.e. interpreted as corresponding to ha. However, recent analyses have highlighted two elements. First, the presence of a2 in LB texts is closely related to geographical and chronological elements (Pierini 2014; Nosch forth.). Second, its phonetic value can be further specified. An etymological analysis of its dossier (Pierini 2014) shows that a2 seems to be related to a cluster of s/j/w + vocalized resonant (, , , > a), e.g. a2-te-ro /hateros/ (cf. Attic ἕτερος ‘the other one’) that stems from IE *sm̥-. Such a result is consistent with two factors. First, s, j, and w underwent changes at different stages of the Greek language, which explains why the use of a2 on Mycenaean tablets is linked to the chronology of the documents. The personal name me-nu-wa provides an example. In Knossos, it appears as such on Sc 238, V(2) 60 (see above, nr. 6 and 9) and a further tablet by “124”, i.e. Xd 7702, whereas in Pylos it appears three times written as me-nu- a2 (Hands 15 and 21) and once as me-nu-wa (Hand 1). Second, the reconstruction of a vocalized resonant in its etymology is consistent with the lack of a2 in a number of Mycenaean words that have long been considered ‘exceptions’ or provided with alternative etymological explanations. These terms are the nouns a-ni-o-ko ‘chariooter’ (cf. hom. hēniokhos) and a-mo ‘wheel’ (cf. hom. harma‘chariot’), as well as the personal name a-wo-i-jo (‘Morning’, cf. Greek hēōs ‘sunrise’). The noun a-ni-o-ko, on V(2) 60 (see above, nr. 9), is a compound of a-ni-ja ‘reins’ (cf. Greek hānia) and the verb hekho (to hold). These three terms with a (and not a2) stems from roots having s indeed but also a long vowel (and not a vocalized resonant): a-ni-ja is from *ānsia, a-mofrom *ar-sm-,[5] and a-wo-i-jo from *āusos-.

§67. The main implication of the research presented by Pierini is that the linguistic material from the RCT tablets does represent a basis for the establishment of a relative chronology of the Mycenaean texts and the Bronze Age Aegean context. The connection highlighted between the earliest LB tablets and the earliest stages of the Greek language allows to consider the most archaic features attested in the texts as evidence of a material antiquity of the documents.

§68. Pierini Bibliography

Beekes, R. S. P. 2014. Pre-Greek: Phonology, Morphology, Lexicon. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 10. Leiden-Boston.

Chadwick, J. 1958. “Error and Abnormality in the Mycenaean Noun-Declension.” La Parola del Passato 62:285–291.

Consani, C. 2003. Sillabe e sillabari fra competenza fonologica e pratica scrittoria. Chieti-Pescara.

Davis, B. 2014. Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions. Leuven-Liege.

Del Freo, M. 2016. “I find-spot e la cronologia dei documenti in lineare B.” In Manuale di epigrafia micenea, ed. M. Del Freo & M. Perna, 183–197. Padua.

DMic 1 and 2 = Aura Jorro, F. 1985 and 1993. Diccionario micénico 1 and 2: Diccionario Griego-Español. Madrid.

Driessen, J. M. 1990. An Early Destruction in the Mycenaean Palace at Knossos: A New Interpretation of the Excavation Field-Notes of the South-East Area of the West Wing. Leuven.

Driessen, J. M. 1999. “The Northern Entrance Passage at Knossos. Some Preliminary Observations on its potential Role as Central Archives.” In Floreant Studia Mycenaea. Akten des X. Internationalen Mykenologischen Colloquiums in Salzburg vom 1.-5. Mai 1995, ed. S. Deger-Jalkotzy, S. Hiller, and O. Panagl, 205–226. Vienna.

Driessen, J. M. 2000. The Scribes of the Room of the Chariot Tablets at Knossos. Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of a Linear B Deposit. Salamanca.

Duhoux, Y. 1978. “Une analyse linguistique du linéaire A.” In Etudes minoennes I : le linéaire A, ed. Y. Duhoux, 65–129. Louvain.

Duhoux, Y. 1989. “Le linéaire A: problems de déchiffrement”, in Problems in Decipherment, ed. Y. Duhoux, T. G. Palaima, and J. Bennet, 59–119. Louvain-La-Neuve.

Finkelberg, M. 2001. “The language of Linear A: Greek, Semitic, or Anatolian?” In Greater Anatolia and the Indo-Hittite language family. Papers presented at a colloquium hosted by the University of Richmond, March 18-19, 2000, ed. R. Drews, 81–105. Washington, DC.

Firth, R. J. 1996-1997. “The Find-places of the Tablets from the Palace of Knossos.” Minos 31/32:7–122.

Firth, R. J. 2000–2001. “A Review of the Find-Places of the Linear B tablets from the Palace of Knossos.” Minos 35/36:53–290.

Firth, R. J., and C. Skelton. 2016. “A Study of the Scribal Hands of Knossos Based on Phylogenetic Methods and Find-Place Analysis.” Minos 39:159–214.

Godart, L. 1984. “Du linéaire A au linéaire B.” In Aux origines de lhellénisme: la Crète et la Grèce: hommage à Henri van Effenterre, 121–128. Histoire ancienne et médiévale 15. Paris.

Ilievski, P. I. 1965. “Non-Greek inflections or scribal errors in the Mycenaean texts.” Živa Antika 15:45–59.

KN VI = The Knossos Tablets. Sixth Edition. A Transliteration by José L. Melena, with the collaboration of Richard J. Firth. 2015. Philadelphia.

Landenius Enegren, H. 2008. The People of Knossos: Prosopographical Studies in the Knossos Linear B Archives. Uppsala.

Melena, J. L. 2014. “Filling Gaps in the Mycenaean Linear B Additional Syllabary: The Case of Syllabogram *34.” In Ágalma. Ofrenda desde la Filología Clásica a Manuel García Teijeiro, ed. A. Martínez Fernández, B. Ortega Villaro, H. Velasco López, and H. Zamora Salamanca, 207–226. Valladolid.

Mém. II = Lejeune, M. 1971. Mémoires de philologie mycénienne II. Rome.

Mém. III = Lejeune, M. 1972. Mémoires de philologie mycénienne III. Rome.

Maurice, N. 1985. “Fautes de scribes: pour une critique verbale appliquée aux textes mycéniens.” Minos 19:29–50.

Nosch, M.-L. forthcoming. “Observations on Sign a2 in Linear B in the Various Chronological Phases of the Knossos Linear B Archives and the Mainland Linear B Archives.” Minos forthcoming.

Olivier, J.-P. 1975. “‘Lire’ la linéaire A.” In Le monde grec. Pensée, littérature, histoire, documents. Hommages à Claire Préaux, ed. J. Bingen, G. Cambier, and G. Nachtergael, 441–449. Brussels.

Palaima, T. G., and E. Sikkenga. 1999. “Linear A > Linear B.” In Meletemata. Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener As He Enters His 65th Year, 3 vols., ed. P. P. Betancourt, 2:599–608. Liege and Austin.

Palaima, T. G. 2003. “The Inscribed Bronze ‘Kessel’ from Shaft Grave IV and Cretan Heirlooms of the Bronze Artist Named ‘Aigeus’ vel sim. in the Mycenaean Palatial Period.” In Briciaka: A Tribute to W.C. Brice, ed. Y. Duhoux, 188–201. Amsterdam.

Perpillou, J.-L. 1977. “Repentirs de scribes.” Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes 51:237–248.

 Pierini, R. 2014. “Ricerche sul segno 25 del sillabario miceneo.” In Donum Mycenologicum: Mycenaean Studies in Honour of Francisco Aura Jorro, ed. A. Bernabé and E. R. Luján, 105–137. Louvain-la-Neuve and Walpole, MA.

Ruijgh, C. J. 1967. Études sur la grammaire et le vocabulaire du grec mycénien. Amsterdam.

Snodgrass, A. M. 1965. “The Linear B Arms and Armour Tablets—Again.” Kadmos 4.2:96–110.

Steele, P., and T. Meissner. 2017. “From Linear B to Linear A: The Problem of the Backward Projection of Sound Values.” In Understanding Relations Between Scripts: The Aegean Writing Systems, ed. P. Steele, 93–110. Oxford.

Tomas, H. 2003. Understanding the Transition between Linear A and Linear B Scripts. PhD dissertation, University of Oxford. Unpublished.

Tomas, H. 2017. “From Minoan to Mycenaean Elongated Tablets. Defining the Shape of Aegean Tablets.” In Aegean Scripts. Proceedings of the 14th International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies, Copenhagen, 2–5 September 2015, ed. M.-L. Nosch and H. Landenius Enegren, 115–126. Rome.

Villar, F. 1993. “The Indo-European vowels /a/ and /o/ revisited.” In Comparative-Historical Linguistics: Indo-European and Finno-Ugric, ed. B. Brogyanyi and R. Lipp, 139–160. Amsterdam.

Vine Commentary:

§69. Brent Vine suggested a different interpretation of the spelling with a- (as opposed to a2) in RCT a-ni-o-ko (and related forms, likewise KN, PY a-ni-ja, KN a-ni-ja-pi, PY a-ni-ja-e), related to the possibility that so-called “aspiration-anticipation” — as in Pr.-Gk. *ihero- (cf. Ved. iṣirá-) > *hihero- > ἱερός, Pr.-Gk. *ēhmeno- (cf. Ved. ā́ste ‘sits’, ptcple. āsāná-) > *hēhmeno- > ἥμενος, and a number of other forms — was a post-Mycenaean development. As argued by Nussbaum (1998:138, with n. 136; similarly Lejeune 1972: 90–1, with n. 3), this is the likely conclusion to be drawn from the spelling of KN, PY a-mo, never †a2-mo (and likewise for related forms: a-mo-ta, a-mo-te-jo-na-de, etc.), and especially KN a-na-mo-to, a-na-mo-ta (7x altogether), never †a-a2 or †a-a-: thus a-mo reflects /arhmo/ (< PIE *h2ér-smn̥), and not yet /harhmo/ or /harmo/. In the same way, a-ni-ja and related forms were probably vowel-initial (not h-initial), e.g. /anhiai/ (so also Bernabé and Luján 2006:303, s.v. a-ni-ja), and would thus not have been spelled with a2-. The long vowel in alphabetic Greek forms (Hom. ἡνία etc.) results from compensatory lengthening in a sequence *‑Vns- (Lejeune 1972:128; the PIE root is *h2ens-, cf. Lat. ānsa ‘handle’ [with automatic vowel-lengthening in Latin before /-ns-/], Lith. a̜sà ‘id.’, etc.); this development, too, could have been post-Mycenaean. In any case, the spelling with a- rather than a2 need have nothing to do with vowel length.

§70. With regard to points (ii) and (iii) under (ii) Archaisms, Brent Vine expressed some skepticism about the Greek and Sanskrit material presented by Pierini. (For the Sanskrit forms, he benefited greatly from consultation with his UCLA colleague Stephanie Jamison.) For θεόσδοτος (θεόσδοτα, Hes. Op. 320+): the truly archaic first compound member related to θεός is clearly the isolated athematic stem θεσ-, as in the morphologically parallel participial form θέσφατος (Iliad+), as well as in other forms, such as θέσκελος (Iliad+) and θέσπις (Od.+, cf. θεσπιδαής [Iliad+]). Compounds with thematic first member θεο- are exceedingly frequent, including θεόδοτος (Pindar, Bacchylides); but such a form is unusable in hexameter poetry, where (as in the Hesiod passage) θεόσδοτα (following the caesura κατὰ τρίτον τροχαῖον) could be an artificial form created on the basis of a “Διόσδοτος” (so e.g. Frisk GEW, Chantraine DELG, and Beekes EDG, all s.v. θεός, as well as West 1978:238 ad loc., comparing the Boeotian personal name Θεόζοτος).

§71. For RV r̥tas-pati- (8.26.21a; unaccented since vocative in context) and ráthas-páthi- (5.50.5b, 10.64.10c, 10.93.7b): there are several considerations that argue against taking the first members of these forms as relics of primordial archaisms with “short” thematic gen. sg. forms. A striking feature is that all three attestations of ráthas-páti- occur in metrically anomalous contexts: 5.50.5b is a heptasyllable (in an octosyllabic context), of a type that does not conform to any of the regular heptasyllabic patterns (cf. Vine 1977); 10.64.10c and 10.93.7b (with identical phraseology: ráthaspátir bhágo ~ ráthaspátir bhágaḥ) are irregular 11-syllable verses in 12-syllable (Jagatī) contexts, and 10.93 is noteworthy as a hymn with so many difficulties of meter and syntax that “it is generally agreed that some of the problems may be due to faulty transmission” (Jamison and Brereton 2014:3.1544). Tellingly, Arnold (1905:101) sought to emend all three instances of ráthas-páti-, although his own solution is itself problematic. In contrast (and somewhat similar to the opposition between θέσφατος with athematic first member and θεόσδοτος with anomalous thematic first member), double-accented compounds with second member -páti- (a special subtype) are very well attested with athematic gen. sg. first member, as in RV bŕ̥has-páti-, bráhmaṇas-páti-, mánasas-páti-, vánas-páti-, and others. All in all, it seems preferable to follow Wackernagel (1905:246–247) in interpreting r̥tas-pati- and ráthas-páti- as artificial secondary creations (insofar as these forms are correctly transmitted) based on bŕ̥has-páti-, bráhmaṇas-páti-, etc., replacing expected *r̥ta-pati- and *rátha-páti- (forms with metrically inconvenient sequences of light syllables). The pattern then repeats itself in post-Vedic times: forms with athematic gen. sg. first members (jágatas-páti-, divas-pati-, etc.) serve as the basis for analogically generated vrajas-pati- (BhP.), with thematic first member. At the very least, data like RV r̥tas-pati- and ráthas-páti- (much less post-Vedic vrajas-pati-) cannot bear much weight in support of another theory.

§72. Vine Bibliography

Arnold, E. V. 1905. Vedic Metre in its Historical Development. Cambridge.

Beekes, EDG = Beekes, Robert S. P. 2010. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 10. Leiden.

Bernabé, A., and E. R. Luján. 2006. Introducción al griego micénico: Gramática, selección de textos y glosario. Monografías de filología griega. Zaragoza.

 Chantraine DELG = Chantraine, P. 1999. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque: Histoire des mots. Paris.

 Frisk GEW = Frisk, H. 1960–1972. Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Heidelberg.

Jamison, S. W., and J. P. Brereton. 2014. The Rigveda: The Earliest Religious Poetry of India. New York.

Lejeune, M. 1972. Phonétique historique du mycénien et du grec ancien. Paris.

Nussbaum, A. J. 1998. Two Studies in Greek and Homeric Linguistics. Göttingen.

Vine, B. 1997. “On the heptasyllabic verses of the Rig-Veda.” Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 91.2:246–55.

Wackernagel, J. 1905. Altindische Grammatik. Vol. 2.1, Einleitung zur Wortlehre, Nominalkomposition. Göttingen.

West, M. L. 1978. Hesiod: Works and Days. Oxford.


1. Firth’s and Driessen’s (1999) reconstructions differ about the unity (or not) of the North Entrance Passage (NEP), possibly representing an agglomerate of different deposits, rather than just one. Firth divides the northern part of the palace into two deposits, the ‘actual’ NEP and the North-West Insula (NWI), an area surrounding the Room of the Bügelkannen. On the basis of some stirrup jars and double amphorae found in both the NEP and the Room of the Bügelkannen, tablets from NEP are dated to LM IIIB. He then takes into account some textual evidence of the NEP tablets (subjects of the records, scribal hand, isolation of the deposit), and draws a parallel with the RCT (NEP and RCT had similar function, NEP is slightly later in dating). Driessen considers the whole area of NEP and NWI as a unique sector of the palace. The whole NEP area incorporates three deposits, i.e. (i) the Room of the Flower Gatherer (I1) and the Room of the Bügelkannen (I4, I5), (ii) the Spiral Cornice Room (I2), (iii) the Area of the Bull Relief (I3). By noticing several scribal relations among these areas, he considers mainly the palaeographic and textual evidence. Common to Firth’s and Driessen’s analysis is the acknowledgement of a stronger relation between two sub-areas, i.e. I2 and I3.

2. Chadwick 1958 was the first to read as scribal errors the -Xo forms of the o-stem genitive singular (see below §5). On errors and abnormalities, see also Ilievski 1965, who provides the first attempt to classify scribal errors in Mycenaean tablets; Maurice 1985, who analyzes lexical and morphosyntactic scribal errors and puts forward an attempt to classify lapsus; Consani 2003, who uses psycholinguistic categories of the speech to classify errors on the Linear B tablets. For a different approach to textual anomalies, see Lejeune (Mém. III) and Perpillou 1977.

3. The sign for a3 is commonly understood to be a LB innovation. However, Palaima 2003 argues that the handle of a cauldron from the Grave Circle A at Mycenae might bear an example of AB 43 (see Fig. 7). Caution is needed, as Palaima himself remarks, for two main reasons. First, the cauldron dates to LH IB, which means that the incision might be either an early example of the LB script (the earliest widely suggested date for its creation is MM III – LM IA) or a late example of LA. Second, isolated signs on vessels might not belong to a script but, rather, appear similar to syllabary signs just by chance.

4. Highlights from Tom Palaima on the meaning of a2-ke-te-re in a diachronic perspective: “Ruijgh (Études 54-55 n. 40 and 65 n. 84) explains that we see within our tablets different stages of the development yV > hV > V. So an original ja-ke-te-re still preserving the etymological y (Ruijgh Études 65 n. 84 cites Frisk under ἄκος) becomes a2-ke-te-re /hakestēre/ *hακεστῆρε, ‘restorer?’ [Note: the term is only found once and in the dual on KN V 118, as indicated by the numerical entry ‘2’. It is also interesting that the a2 here is written over an erased a-.] Chantraine s.v. ἄκος has an elegant explanation, relying on Lejeune’s early treatment, pointing out that in later non-Ionic or Attic dialects the term shows aspiration in compounds and so he posits as root *yēk-/yǝk- meaning to ‘calm, pacify’. The term derived from this root is never applied to the practitioner of ‘calming and pacifying’ a sick person for which ἰατρός and ἰατήρ had already occupied the field. But it is used in the sense of ‘soothe’ an anxious horse or then ‘repair’ a cloth. Thus it can be viewed as bringing something into a normal and desirable state from which it had somehow departed. Attic ἄκος is explained as coming from a psilotic dialect like Ionic. Hence the meaning ‘restorer’. And in later Greek specifically a seamstress.”

5. Before the decipherment of LB, the etymology of the alphabetic Greek ἅρμα was reconstructed as follows. First, the noun stems from *ar- (cf. ἀραρίσκω). Second, the root *ar- is added the suffix *-smn̥-, i.e. *ar-smn̥. Third, the sibilant of the suffix moves from the central position to the beginning part of the word (*ar-smn̥ > *sar-mn̥). Finally, the sibilant undergoes the last change and evolves into h (*har-mn̥). Summing up: *ar-smn̥ > *sar-mn̥ > *har-mn̥ > ἅρμα. The alphabetic Greek nouns ἁρμή and ἁρμός have received the same etymological explanation, the only difference the vowel of the suffix in the second step, i.e. ἁρμή stems from *ar-smā and ἁρμός from *ar-smo. Mycenaean a-mo challenges this reconstruction since this word and all the other LB derived nouns consistently show a (not a single attestation of a2 in this family words has come to light). Lejeune (Mém II 209) has proposed a slightly different etymological explanation for a-mo, i.e. *ar-mn̥. As regards the root *ar-, it is worth highlighting that, although no certain evidence for the length of the a is provided, the vowel a is reconstructed as such in the root and is not the secondary development of a vocalized resonant. These observations, altogether, reinforce the hypothesis that the a2 encodes a group originally made of a cluster of *s / *j / *w + vocalized resonant.

Annotations loading . . .

We're trying out a new look. 🎉 Let us know what you think! Hide.