MASt @ CHS – Friday, November 6, 2020: Summaries of Presentations and Discussion

2020.12.23. | By Rachele Pierini and Tom Palaima

§0.1. Rachele Pierini opened the November session of MASt@CHS, which was the sixth in the series and marked one year of MASt seminars—you can read here further details about the MASt project. Pierini also introduced the presenters for this meeting: Anne Chapin, who joined the team for the first time, and the regular members Vassilis Petrakis and Tom Palaima. Finally, Pierini welcomed the rest of the participants: Gregory Nagy, Roger Woodard, Leonard Muellner, Hedvig Landenius Enegren, and Georgia Flouda.

§0.2. Anne Chapin delivered a presentation about the visual impact of textile patterns in Aegean Bronze Age painting, focusing on the exploitation of artistic elements and design principles by Aegean artists. Vassilis Petrakis presented some implications that the study of stirrup jars and their trade provides for the reconstruction of Mycenaean societies, both in mainland Greece and Crete. Finally, Tom Palaima prepared the ground for the opening discussion of the next MASt session, presenting the controversial figure of the *a-mo-te-u on Pylos tablets through his appearance on PY Ta 711. In the next meeting, Palaima will lead us in a survey of Greek literary and linguistic material to reconstruct the functions and prerogatives of this Mycenaean official.

§0.3. While Chapin’s summary will be included in the summary of a future meeting, in the following paragraphs we report on the communications of Petrakis and Palaima and add an appendix on the practice of “washing with cinders.” The latter topic arose during the discussion, and Landenius Enegren and Pierini have provided additional information on the practice as carried out in south and central Italy during the 20th century CE.

Topic 1: Some thoughts on the significance of the occurrence of the adjective wa-na-ka-te-ro /wanakteros/ on Late Minoan III inscribed transport stirrup jars

Presenter: Vassilis Petrakis

§1. Inscribed stirrup jars are a special category of Linear B documents: they bear permanent inscriptions (mostly painted before firing in the same manner as other decorative elements on these containers) and they appear (unlike tablets and even inscribed nodules) to have moved between different regions in the Late Bronze Age III southern Aegean, between ca. 1350–1200 BCE (during the ceramic stylistic phases termed Late Minoan / Late Helladic IIIA2 and IIIB). The ‘stirrup jar’ is essentially a Minoan ceramic invention whose first appearance can be traced to the beginnings of the Neopalatial period (ca. 1700–1600 BCE). Its basic concept lies in the covering of the ‘neck’ of the jar with a clay disk, which then takes the shape of a false-neck (hence the modern Greek name of the jar: ψευδόστομος) with handles on either side that resemble the stirrups on either side of a horse’s body into which riders insert their feet. The stirrup is attached with two or three vertical handles to the ‘shoulder’ of the jar. The short true spout (either vertically, parallel to the stirrup or at a slight angle) is located a bit off-center on the same zone. There is considerable variety in the size/capacity, fabrics and decoration of these jars, although horizontal painted bands or lines were always popular. Interestingly, stirrup jars of fine clay were not inscribed: Linear B (or, indeed, any) inscriptions appear only on the bulky, coarse-ware, ‘transport’ variant (hereafter TSJ), the one that Arne Furumark classified as type 164 in his shape repertoire of Mycenaean pottery.

§2. We are fortunate enough to know the Late Bronze Age name of these containers, the majority of which are, of course, not inscribed. The sign-group ka-ra-re-we is noted in very informative contexts on one Knossian and one Pylian document (KN 778.1 and PY Fr 1184.3) and has been almost unanimously associated with the Hesychian gloss χλαρόν· ἐλαιηρὸς κώθων (Hesych. χ 502 H.-Cunn.), an ‘oil vessel’ (ka-ra-re-we are explicitly associated with perfumed oil on PY Fr 1184). Given the form of the Late Bronze Age name, it is likely that the Mycenaean form was */khlareus/ (Nominative Plural */khlarēwes/), a term of unsurprisingly non-Greek etymology, possibly a Minoan loan, like the vessel itself.

§3. TSJs are relatively sizeable (12–14 liters is a typical capacity). Although originally considered Mainland ceramic products (hence their consideration by Furumark), an array of chemical and petrographic analyses conducted since the 1960s have consistently revealed that the overwhelming majority of these TSJs were produced on Crete.[1] This Cretan production includes virtually all of the inscribed examples, indicating a largely decentralized production involving many areas on the island, mainly grouped in its west (especially around modern Chania, named Kudōnia spelled ku-do-ni-ja in the Knossos Linear B records) and south-central part (where the fertile Mesara plain is located), although a few finds were more difficult to locate within Crete (see Haskell et al. 2011 passim with references).

§4. While their production was a Cretan affair, their destinations were more widespread, although it appears likely that their seaborne traffic was aimed primarily towards Boeotia (Thebes) and the Argolid (Mycenae, Tiryns and Midea). Examples are erratically found elsewhere, as in Eleusis (Petrakis 2014a), Orchomenos or Kreusis, but it might be possible that these represent the final deposition of jars that might have either gone astray or had a rather long afterlife beyond their initial shipment. A general overview of the movement of inscribed TSJs is provided in Figure 1.

§5.0. Painted Linear B inscriptions on these jars include painted sign-groups usually placed on the ‘shoulder’ of the vessel (a practical choice perhaps reflecting the usual placement of the jars in cargo, see van Alfen 1996–1997:255–256, fig. 1), although the undecorated area around the “belly” (at the level of the maximum diameter of the usually ovoid/piriform body) was also used when the length of the inscription was excessive. In terms of their structure, they show an interesting variation that has led to their classification by distinct types or formulae. In 2010, Yves Duhoux and Vassilis Petrakis arrived independently and simultaneously at the same classification, essentially differing only in their numbering order and mode (Petrakis 2010; Duhoux 2010).[2] This presentation was focused on those examples where the sign-group wa-na-ka-te-ro or the single sign wa occurs:

§5.1. Two examples (TH Z 839 and TI Z 29) record a personal name (hereafter PN) followed by an ethnic adjective and the sign-group wa-na-ka-te-ro (attested on TH Z 839 and safely reconstructed on TI Z 29 as well). These inscriptions (both painted on the ‘belly’ of the jar) are classified as Type IV/ Formule ε:

TH Z 839: ka-u-no , o-du-ru-wi-jo , wa-na-ka-te-ro ,

TI Z 29:                                ]ri-jo, wa-na-ka[

§5.2. One example from Eleusis (EL Z 1) has a more complex structure. Its inscription, placed on the shoulder, is divided into two “lines” by a rule line as if on a Linear B tablet. The upper “line” (.1) records a place-name (hereafter TN) well-known from the Knossos tablets, while the lower “line” records a PN followed by a single wa and is classified as Type V / Formule δ:[3]

EL Z 1                  .1 da-*22-to

                .2 da-pu2-ra-zo , wa ,

§5.3. One example from Khania (KH Z 43) records a PN (with no further modifications) followed by wa and is classified as Type VI / Formule γ:

KH Z 43         ze-ta-ro , wa

§5.4. One further unclassified document attests only wa– incised (not painted as usual) on the disk of a jar found at Khania (KH Z 16). Due to the fragmentary nature of this inscription, it is not possible to conjecture on whether this incised sign supplemented an extant inscription (perhaps painted) on another part of the jar.

§6. The degree of confidence we have about the provenance of these inscriptions varies. TH Z 839 has been repeatedly tested and has been shown to be a product of west Crete, perhaps close to the area of modern Chania. This firmly agrees with the Light-on-Dark style in which this vase is painted, which is characteristic of west Cretan TSJs (although the style has also been identified on a local TSJ from Kastri on Kythera, see Haskell et al. 2011:76 and entry for KY01 in Table 27) and with the ethnic adjective o-du-ru-wi-jo derived from *o-du-ru, a well-attested TN associated on the Knossos tablets with ku-do-ni-ja /Kudōnia/, the Late Bronze Age name of Chania. EL Z 1 has been analyzed chemically but has proved to be ambiguous, assigned to Richard Jones’ “Group X” (“a composite of several overlapping reference groups” apud Haskell et al. 2011:81) and plausibly located within west-central Crete in the Rethymnon-East Crete range, perhaps Rethymnon itself, being preferred (Haskell et al. 2011, entries for EL01 in Tables 19 and 27). Although this assignment should not be endorsed without hesitation (see comments in Petrakis 2014a:203–206), it is fair to say that we lack a better alternative; moreover, the Rethymnon assignment would explain the typological affinities of the Eleusis jar with west Cretan TSJs (Haskell et al. 2011, entry for EL01 in Table 27). The Tiryns and Khania pieces have not been analyzed but it seems reasonable to assign a west Cretan provenance to them. TI Z 29 includes the probable reconstruction si-ra-]ri-jo, derived from the TN si-ra-ro, another west-Cretan place-name associated often with ku-do-ni-ja on the Knossos tablets, while the fabric of KH Z 43 may well be local according to Birgitta Hallager (mentioned in Hallager 2011:419), whose experience in handling LM III west Cretan pottery is unsurpassed.

§7. We may also be certain that wa on EL Z 1 and KH Z 43 jars is an abbreviation of wa-na-ka-te-ro. This is brought forward by a comparison between the more complete TH Z 839 on the one hand and EL Z 1 and KH Z 43 on the other, although even this might have been sufficient. There is also compelling evidence from Knossos as well:[4] wa-na-ka-te-ra and wa alternate in the context of the production-target and delivery (respectively) of textiles produced by workers at a locality named se-to-i-ja. The texts (assigned to the same ‘scribe’ [103] and found in adjacent areas of the West Magazines of the Knossos palace) are as follows (the relevant entries are highlighted in light blue):

KN Lc(1) 525                                                                   (103)
            .A                   ‘wa-na-ka-te-ra’   tela3+TE 40   LANA 100[
            .B         se-to-i-ja , /   tu-na-no    tela1 3   LANA [

KN Le 654                                                                       (103)
            .1         sup. mut.
            .2            ]si-ja  [
            .3         a-mi-ni-si-ja [
            .4         se-to-i-ja ‘wa’  2[
            .5         tu-ni-ja  2[
            .6           we-we-si-jo  1[

§8. Let us now proceed to an etymological “fact.” wa-na-ka-te-ro is unanimously identified as the spelling of the adjective /wanakteros/, derived from /wanaks/ with the employment of the binary contrastive suffix */-tero-/(whose use for the formation of the comparative degree is secondary in Greek). This suffix, whose use and meaning is well documented among conceptual contrastive pairs in many IE languages (cf. later Greek δεξιτερός : ἀριστερός / ἀγρότερος : ὀρέστερος / πρότερος : ὕστερος, cf. also μάτε ἐρσεναιτέραν μάτε θηλυτέραν from a mid fourth-century BCE decree banning the prosecution of exiles from Olympia;[5] Latin dexter : sinister; Avestan fratara– : úttara etc.) is also otherwise documented in Mycenaean Greek (spelled <-te-ro>), as in the Pylian a-po-te-ro-te /amphoterōthen/ (PY Va 15.2) and a2-te-ro /hateron/ (PY An 519.10; erased on An 614.1; Ma 365.2).[6] To this short list we may now confidently add the most explicit case of a Mycenaean contrastive pair well known from later Greek: po-ro-te-ra : -u-te-ra /proterā : husterā/ ‘former : later, next’ modifying temporal stages of an a-pu-do-si /apudosis/ ‘delivery, payment’ on MY X 2.1, a document from the Late Helladic IIIA2 Petsas House at Mycenae. It is indeed far more likely, as stressed many times by Palaima, that this choice is inextricably linked to the significance of the title itself as designating the ruler of the Mycenaean palatial states (far less likely a deity, as the /wanaks/ should indicate the same person in all contexts; the topic merits further discussion but this lies beyond the scope of this paper). In other words, the employment of the /-teros/ suffix “marks out the wa-na-ka in contradistinction to all other members of Pylian society” (Palaima 2006:62). This “political” use of the contrastive force of this suffix finds a parallel in the genitive plural ta-mo-te-ro-ne *δαμοτέρων from an inscription from Kourion in Cyprus (Karageorphis and Mitford 1964:74–75).

§9. The adjective wa-na-ka-te-ro /wanakteros/ modifies a diverse assortment of nouns (explicit or implicit) in our extant Linear B documentation: personnel (a potter, a fuller and an /entesdomos/, a ‘maker of /enteha/’ perhaps an armorer), javelin shafts and an exceptional landholding (a temenos) at Pylos, textiles and perhaps also textile workers at Knossos and again textile workers at Thebes (see Petrakis 2016:68–70, Table 1 for a detailed overview). The adjective seems to modify personal names on the inscribed TSJs, but the precise function of these named individuals is not presently clear.

§10. One thing should be clarified, however: /wanakteros/ cannot mean ‘palatial’ (one suspects that the similarity with adjectives such as ανακτορικός is, for modern Greek scholars, the source of such confusion). This would be, in fact, a redundant, superfluous specification in the Linear B documentation: since these documents are always produced within the context of palatial book-keeping, all economic activity recorded therein is implicitly ‘palatial’ by definition. We also remain ignorant as to whether the Mycenaean administrators had a conception of the “palace system”—as we understand it—which they indicated by a specific lexical item. Rather, we are almost compelled to assume that /wanakteros/ indicates a more direct association with the person of the ruler himself. A meaning ‘pertaining to the /wanaks/’ is preferable.

§11.0. Given the above, the question set firmly at the meeting was the following: since the occurrence of /wanakteros/ in these inscriptions must be properly placed within the context of the production and “consumption” of the containers that carried them, one is prompted to ask whether either the production or the mobility of these TSJs could be in any sense ‘palatial’. In order to answer this, we need to take a careful look at (1) the context of TSJ production and (2) the context of transportation.

§11.1. It is often assumed that KN K 700 supports the idea of palatial control of TSJ production, as it records large quantities of the “ideogram” *210vas+KA (a recognizable, but still somewhat ill-drawn sketch of a stirrup-jar with the spout placed at an odd oblique position):[7]

KN K 700                                                                          ( — )

            .1         ] 300   *210vas +KA 900[

            .2         ] 300   *210vas +KA 900   da-mi[

Although the scale of the 1800 stirrup jars recorded on this fragmentary tablet in two “batches” of such jars seems impressive, it is not impossible that this fragment (from around the middle of an elongated table) records these jars in a “metrogrammatic” function, i.e., as measurement units for another commodity (which, in this case, is not known), which might be “measured by jars.” A similar function for another vessel sign, *209vas+A (A for *a-(pi-)po-re-u /am(phi)phoreus/) is commonly attested on the honey records of the Gg tablets, where honey is “measured by amphoras.” This fits the mention of ka-ra-re-we on PY Fr 1184.3 where these jars are mentioned as the (prospective) containers where 18 units of perfumed oil (OLE+WE) are to be placed, thus providing a very clear example where the jars are of interest only as containers (i.e., they are not the actual subject-matter of the document):

PY Fr 1184                                                                        (H2)
.1  ko-ka-ro , a-pe-do-ke , e-ra3-wo , to-so
.2 e-u-me-de-i                          OLE+WE 18
.3 pa-ro , i-pe-se-wa , ka-ra-re-we 38

.1  Kok(k)alos delivered so much oil
.2 for Eumedes: 518.4 liters  OIL WITH WE-UNGUENT             
.3 under control of i-pe-se-wa 38 khlarēwes

(trans. after Duhoux 2008:311)

This leaves us with the very fragmentary KN K 778, where the context of the reference of 180 ka-ra-re-we is quite unclear. Here speculation may be fruitless under our present understanding, but nothing compels us to see this as a record of the production of these jars either.

Taking a broader perspective, it would seem indeed surprising if the palaces actually controlled pottery production of any shape or type. While we have records of potters, both anonymous (PY An 207.7; MY Oe 125; ke-ra-me-ja on KN Ap 639.7 may be a PN) and named (qe-ta-ko on PY Cn 1287.4 and pi-ri-ta-wo on PY Eo 371.A / En 467.5), detailed examination of the evidence from Pylos has shown that the consumption needs of the palace could have been covered by very few artisans, not necessarily attached, so that the palace had no need to be involved in ceramic production (Whitelaw 2001). Perhaps it is relevant to observe that in “pantry” assemblages at Pylos and Mycenae Petsas House, the evidence shows overwhelming focus on specific shapes, such as kylikes and one-handled cups (Pylos) or kylikes, conical cups and fine stirrup jars (Petsas House, Apotheke A). There is no positive evidence that TSJ production (decentralized in any case, see Haskell et al. 2011 passim) was subject to any particular palatial involvement.

§11.2. TSJ mobility is part of a greater deafening silence in our records, where references not just to trade, but to any transaction occurring between palatial centers, is almost completely absent (see Bendall 2007:270–274 for the exposition of some facets of the problem). The only exception is MY X 508, the single Linear B document recovered from the “House of the Shields” at Mycenae. There, an amount of pu-ka-ta-ri-ja (a term that refers to textiles at Knossos) is recorded with the annotation te-qa-de /Thēgwansde/ ‘towards Thebes’ (presumably, but most likely, Boeotian Thebes). Even this exceptional document (which needs to be contextualized), however, may indicate overland communication between the Mycenae and Thebes administration, and not necessarily an overseas route like the one followed by most TSJs (inscribed—including the ones with wa-na-ka-te-ro or wa– or not).[8]

§12. Although there are certainly many ingenious ways to overcome the oddity of this lack of textual evidence for trade (by assigning it to the fortunes of discovery or recovery or by assuming that references to trade are either implicit or elusive), the silence itself must be considered significant. Let us follow the most provocative, but still more economical, interpretation: that the Mycenaean palaces did not control trade for basically the same reason they did not control pottery production: there was sufficient economic ‘gravity’ in the palace institutions and exotic items were coming in without need for specific economic action. Thus, the palaces were getting what they wished without investing the (indeed incredible—by premodern standards) energy needed to maintain maritime routes. Basically, the palaces were taking advantage and elaborating upon standard routes that had existed before their establishment. The need to place things under palatial control (and within written documents) initiated upon the arrival of these items (e.g., metals) within palatial territories, not before.

§13. In the context of the above, it might be relevant to note that the most active regions in the production of TSJs (particularly the inscribed pieces) are west and south central Crete, prosperous areas whose textual “profile” in the Knossos Linear B documentation suggests their economic importance, a certain degree of autonomy for west Crete (see also Petrakis 2014b) and the activity there of “collectors,” named individuals of important economic capacity that lack titles (and were therefore not fully admitted into the palatial system—the latter might have occurred on either palatial or their initiative) (see Bennett 1992; Driessen 1992).

§14. These negative conclusions, that palaces were not actively involved in either TSJ production or overseas mobility, lead to a paradox: how can someone considered /wanakteros/ be recorded on an item whose existence and movement lay primarily outside the realm of canonical palatial activity? An answer may lie in the aforementioned divergence between /wanakteros/ and ‘palatial’ and in the possibility that /wanakteros/ had a broader semantic ‘catchment’ even potentially extending beyond the borderlines of the ‘palace economy’ proper into the (economic) world beyond. This notion of an ‘extra-palatial’ /wanakteros/ may not be inappropriate given the etymology of the adjective and the truly and quintessentially exceptional nature of the ruler himself, the bearer of the title /wanaks/. The /wanaks/ is the only individual to appear as appointing (or, just conceivably, conducting the burial ceremony) of a high official, the da-mo-ko-ro named au-ke-wa on PY Ta 711.1 (see Palaima’s summary here below) or a ceremonial initiation vel sim. (on PY Un 2.1) or appearing as recipient of offerings interchangeably with deities (on the Pylian Fr tablets of perfumed oil). In fact, the /wanaks/ is the only conceivable agent within the Mycenaean palatial world who might have been able to move on and off the palatial / extra-palatial “watershed,” potentially extending his interests and activities into areas of economic activity that were left outside the selective interests of the various Mycenaean literate administrations (the ‘palaces’ proper). Quite appropriately then, his is the only administrative vocabulary item that occurs on inscribed TSJs.

Discussion following Petrakis’s presentation

§15. The light shadow falling upon the etymology of /wanakteros/, for which the segmentation /wanakt-eros/ (i.e., not involving /-teros/, but rather /-eros/) is also possible, is removed by the observation made by Brent Vine in his comments made in advance of the actual meeting, to the effect that PIE *-ero– (as in ἐλεύθερος, πενθερός, etc.) does not have the contrastive/oppositional value of *-tero-. According to Vine’s comments, the clear contrastive meaning of /wanakteros/ compels us to accept the /wanak-tero-/ segmentation “at least functionally”, although the exact trajectory by which /wanakteros/ was formed is not yet clear. Two possibilities can be hypothesized. First, /wanak-teros/ may show the ancient stem /wanak-/ preserved in Dorian ϝάνακε ‘Dioskouroi’, ϝανάκειον ‘temple for the Dioskouroi’ and similar forms, attested in inscriptions and later sources but generally considered early.[9] Second, the phonologically regular outcome of /wanakt-teros/ would probably have yielded a sibilant or affricate sequence with
/-s(s)eros/ or /-tseros/, whence restoration to /wanakteros/ out of a desire to make /-teros/ more transparent. In this case, some speakers could have justified a synchronic stem /wanak-/ on the basis of nom. sg. /wanaks/, interpreted as /wanak-s/.

§16. It is certainly significant that /wanakteros/ is the only adjective derived from a Mycenaean title using this suffix, and this is to be contrasted with formations employing /-ios/ spelled <-i-jo>, as in ra-wa-ke-si-jo /lāwāgesios/ from ra-wa-ke-ta /lāwāgetās/ or e-qe-si-jo /hekwesios/ from e-qe-ta /hekwetās/. The possibility that the employment of this suffix might be associated with the form of the noun (athematic /wanaks/ versus thematic agent nouns in /-tās/) was considered by Palaima, Woodard, and Nagy, but no compelling pattern suggesting this development was identified. Palaima raises the interesting possibility that Homeric βασιλεύτερος might be suggestive of the use of a similar derivative during the palatial or post-palatial Bronze Age (14th–11th centuries BCE) with the possible meaning ‘pertaining to a /gwasileus/’ (the LBA form of later Greek /basileus/ retaining the original labiovelar), an individual whose role within society on the local level is unique in the same way that the /wanaks/ on the palatial level is unique. This cannot be excluded, although our understanding of the Mycenaean /gwasilēwes/ is still quite insufficient, but it appears that the extant Homeric use of βασιλεύτερος is as comparative ‘more kingly’, rather than contrastive, as strongly suggested especially by the context of its use in Iliad 10.239 (cf. 9.160, 9.392; Od. 15.533) and the superlative βασιλεύτατος (Il. 9.69).

§17. Petrakis Bibliography

Bendall, L. M. 2007. Economics of Religion in the Mycenaean World. Resources Dedicated to Religion in the Mycenaean Palace Economy. Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph 67. Oxford.

Bennet, J. 1992. “‘Collectors’ or ‘Owners’? An examination of their possible functions within the palatial economy of LM III Crete.” In Olivier 1992:65–101.

Driessen, J. 1992. “‘Collector’s items’: Observations sur l’élite mycénienne de Cnossos.” In Olivier 1992:197–214.

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

Duhoux, Y. 2010. “La fonction des vases à étrier inscrits en linéaire B.” Kadmos 49:47–92.

Hallager, E. 2011. “The Linear B inscriptions and potter’s marks.” In The Greek-Swedish Excavations at the Agia Aikaterini Square Kastelli, Khania, 1970–1987 and 2001: Results of the Excavations under the Direction of Yannis Tzedakis and Carl-Gustaf Styrenius, Vol. 4, The Late Minoan IIIB:1 and IIIA:2 Settlements, ed. E. Hallager and B. P. Hallager, 415–428. Stockholm.

Haskell, H. W., R. E. Jones, P. M. Day, and J. T. Killen. 2011. Transport Stirrup Jars of the Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean. Prehistory Monographs 33. Philadelphia.

Karageorghis, J. V., and T. B. Mitford. 1964. “A royal inscription from Curium.” Bulletin de Correspondance Héllenique 88.1:67–76.

Melena, J. L. 2014. “Mycenaean Writing.” In A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and Their World, ed. Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies, 3:1–186. Bibliothèque des Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain 133. Louvain.

Olivier, J.-P., ed. 1992. Mykenaïka: Actes du IXe Colloque International sur les Textes Mycéniens et Egéens, Centre de l’Antiquité Grecque et Romaine de la Fondation Hellénique des Recherches Scientifiques et École Française d’Athènes. Bulletin de Correspondence Héllenique Supplément 25. Athens.

Palaima, T. G. 2006. “wanaks and related power terms in Mycenaean and later Greek.” In Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer, ed. S. Deger-Jalkotzy and I. S. Lemos, 53–71. Edinburgh Leventis Studies 3. Edinburgh.

Petrakis, V. 2010. wa-na-ka-te-ro: Σπουδές στην Οικονομική Οργάνωση και Πολιτική Γεωγραφία της Υστερομινωικής ΙΙΙ Κρήτης με Αφορμή τη Συνθετική Ανάλυση των Ενεπίγραφων Ψευδόστομων Αμφορέων που Μνημονεύουν τον Ηγεμονικό Τίτλο. PhD diss. (unpublished), University of Athens.

Petrakis, V. 2014a. “Appendix: the inscribed stirrup jar (EL Z 1).” In The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis: The Bronze Age, ed. M. B. Cosmopoulos, 2:177–216. Library of the Athens Archaeological Society 296. Athens.

Petrakis, V. 2014b. “Some notes on the place of ku-do-ni-ja in Late Minoan III political geography.” DO-SO-MO: Journal of Minoan-Mycenaean and Classical Studies 10:55–80.

Petrakis, V. 2016. “Writing the wanax: spelling peculiarities of Linear B wa-na-ka and their possible implications.” Minos 39:61–158, 407–410.

Ruijgh, C. J. 1999. “wanax et ses dérivés dans les textes mycéniens.” 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, 1 :521–535. Vienna.

van Alfen, P. G. 1996–1997. “The Linear B inscribed stirrup-jars as links in an administrative chain.” Minos 31–32:251–274.

Vine, B. 2009. “A yearly problem.” In East and West: Papers in Indo-European Studies, ed. K. Yoshida and B. Vine, 205–224. Bremen.

Whitelaw, T. 2001. “Reading between the tablets: assessing Mycenaean palatial involvement in ceramic production and consumption.” In Economy and Politics in the Mycenaean Palace States: Proceedings of a Conference held on 1–3 July 1999 in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge , ed. S. Voutsaki and J. Killen, 51–79, references at 239–254. Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 27. Cambridge.

Figure 1. Map showing the movement of inscribed transport stirrup jars (TSJs). Uncertain provenance within Crete has been omitted. Drawn and annotated by Vassilis Petrakis.

Topic 2: IE *h2er– Greek *ar– and Order

Presenter: Tom Palaima

§18. What I cover here today is mainly the Linear B data. Related evidence in Homer and Hesiod and beyond will be taken up next time. My debt to other scholars like Gregory Nagy, Brent Vine, Roger Woodard, Rachele Pierini, Laura Massetti, and the late Kees Ruijgh I hope is obvious.

§19. My intention here is to further our exploration of the ideology promulgated by Mycenaean palatial states and particularly how the term *a-mo-te-u may fit into the self-conception of the palatial elites as those who promote “nurturing” and “satisfaction” and do so by simultaneously creating structure and order and by making the component parts of their regions ‘fit together’ (Palaima 2012b with earlier references). This includes the recent strong argument by Vine (1998) and furthered by Massetti (2013–2014) that the basic term used in historical Greek for excellence in different forms of social behavior, namely ἀρετή, is connected with the same root as is found in *a-mo-te-u.

§20. Massetti (2013–2014:123) proposes:

Greek ἀρετή ‘fitness, excellence᾽ can be traced back to idg. *h2er- or *(h1)ar ‘fit, be fitted’ (gr. ἀραρίσκω, ἁρμόζω), as Prellwitz (1931) and Vine (1998) have suggested.

Beekes (2010 s.v. [pp. 128–129]) pronounces Vine (1998) “formally excellent” on this point.

§21. Overall, as I have argued elsewhere (Palaima 2012a:699), the elites of the Mycenaean palatial centers sought to impose and maintain kosmos within a chaotic and largely uncooperative world, as they organized and maximized the human and material resources of their regions. The term kosmos itself does not show up in the Mycenaean lexicon. Its use to designate an official or magistrate, the kind of lexical item that might show up in the Linear B texts, is confined to archaic Crete, and translated literally as ‘ruler’ or ‘regulator’ (LSJ s.v. III; Gagarin and Perlman 2016:67–73) or, as Petrakis kindly points out, ‘magistrats suprêmes de l’État’ (Genevrois 2017:199–203).

§22. For the personal name ko-sa-ma-to that occurs on two Pylos tablets (Eb 915.A and Ep 212.8) and on Knossos tablet Ga(1) 685, Melena (2014:105) proposes a compound with °/kosm(o)/ and /aithos/° vel sim. The root may also be found in a possible man’s name occurring in the dative ko-sa-ma-ne on PY An 615.16. Now we will rejoin our discussion of *a-mo-te-u and related terms already in progress.

§23. Pylos tablet Ta 711 is the heading tablet for the Ta series (see now Palaima and Blackwell 2020). The Ta series consists of twelve tablets that all together constitute an inventory record of sacred sacrificial implements, ritual vessels, fire implements, and elaborate inlaid and iconographically decorated tables, thrones and stools. The thrones and stools (five and eleven in number, respectively) were used no doubt as socially differentiating prestige seating on the occasion when the wanaks either appointed or buried (te-ke) an individual named au-ke-wa as da-mo-ko-ro (Ta 711.1).

§24. On Ta 711 after the occasion-defining header, two single qe-ra-na *204VAS= /gwhe-rānā/ ‘ewer’ (for hot water?) (Melena 2014:33) are designated as wa-na-se-wi-ja (having to do with the wanasseus, an official connected with the wa-na-sa, the feminine correlate to wa-na-ka) with other identifying features described in the first and third entries. Ruijgh (1967:128–129) complicates matters a bit by hypothesizing that the wanassa refers to a deity because ϝάνασσα is used as a divine epithet in historical Pamphylia and Cyprus. But using this line of argumentation would lead us to a false conclusion about the term ἄναξ, and there is no compelling reason to apply it to wa-na-se-wi-ja.

§25. The second entry is also of a single qe-ra-na, but it is identified as a-mo-te-wi-ja DMic 1 s.v. ‘of the type of the *arhmoteus’ (cf. ἁρμόττω) cf. Ea 421 and Ea 809 below. See Ruijgh (1967:129): “Pour ἀρμὁτεύς, litt. ‘homme aux roues’, on hésite entre les valeurs ‘fabricant de roues’ et ‘conducteur du char’.” And he even proposes that a-mo-te-wi-ja might be based on a personal name, citing an historical anthroponym Ἁρματεύς.

This entry for the a-mo-te-wi-ja qe-ra-na, as is seen in Figures 2 and 3, is shoehorned in on line .2 between the entry (four words and an ideogram) at the start of line .2 for the first wa-na-se-wi-ja vessel and the entry (five words and an ideogram) in line .3 for the second wa-na-se-wi-ja vessel. The a-mo-te-wi-ja qe-ra-na is only further described by the single word
 ko-ro-no-we-sa koronōwessa ‘decorated with a κορώνη or κορῶναι’, i.e., somehow ‘curved’, ‘with curved tail’ (of a ship or cattle), even possibly ‘with a curved crown’ or ‘with crescent-shaped elements’ (Duhoux 2008: 317; Beekes 2010, 1: 758-759). There is no ideogram or numerical entry, both deemed by the tablet-writer as unnecessary.

§26. In both cases, a literal interpretation seems soundest: ‘man having to do with the wanassa’ and ‘man having to do with the chariot wheel’.

Figure 2. Pylos tablet Ta 711. Black-and-white photo taken by Émile Seraf in Athens in the 1960s. Labeled and enhanced by K. Pluta. Photo Archives of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory, University of Texas at Austin. Courtesy Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati.
Figure 3. Pylos tablet Ta 711. Drawing and transcription with color-coding of the ideogram *204VAS that is called a qe-ra-na and of the key sociopolitical terms wa-na-ka and da-mo-ko-ro and the personal name au-ke-wa.

§27. The term *a-mo-te-u is ‘the person who is involved with the a-mo = fundamentally an object that is the result of joining’. Accordingly, as explained above, *a-mo-te-u may have a literal and practical meaning: the specialist who is preoccupied with chariot wheel and chariot manufacture = ‘wheelwright’. But let us keep in mind that the Linear B term for a chariot is i-qi-ja = ‘horsey thing’.

§28. Support for this strict meaning is provided by PY Vn 10.2 where the term a-mo-te-jo-na-deis used to specify the destination for the delivery of large pieces of selected tree cutting sent by the du-ru-to-mo (literally the ‘oak-tree cutters’) and specified as a-ko-so-ne or pieces in the form of ‘axles’ of raw wood:

*ἀρhμοτεyωνα-δε DMic 1 s.v. ‘lugar donde hay ruedas’ y por extensión semántica ‘taller de carros’

A likely related agent-noun formation occurs on KN X 770 as the title or trade name of an individual named wi-tu-ri-jo: wi-tu-ri-jo , / a-mo-te-re [ dative of ἀρhμοτήρ.

§29. However, we might compare historical ἁρμοστής (Dorian ἁρμοστήρ) where the root specifying ‘joining’ is used metaphorically as the title of a Spartan governor in dependent cities (Beekes s. ἁρμόζω). Consequently there was early support among Mycenologists for viewing this term as a ‘nombre de funcionario o título, comparable con ἁρμοστής de época clásica’ (DMic 1:61 s. a-mo-te-wo [genitive singular form]).

§30. Brent Vine points out, however, that an interpretation /arhmostēwos/ for a-mo-te-wo requires that this eus-stem be based not only on the verb corresponding to alphabetic Greek ἁρμόζω, Attic ἁρμόττω (which, to be sure, is attested in the Mycenaean perfect participle a-ra-ro-mo-te-me-na) but more precisely on its to-participle stem *arhmosto-, which may or may not be attested in Mycenaean a-na-mo-to, depending on how that form is interpreted. This sort of eus-formation can be paralleled (cf. probably PY Ub 1318 e-pi-u-ru-te-we, dat. sg. or nom. pl., ‘cape’ vel sim., i.e., *epi-wrut-eus based on a to-participle *epi-wru-tos ‘covered’); but this formation type is quite rare, as opposed to the vast majority of eus-formations built on nominal stems. On the whole, it seems preferable to take *a-mo-te-u as based simply on the men-stem a-mo (oblique stem /arhmot-/), thus genitive singular /arhmotēwos/ and not /arhmostēwos/; cf., in alphabetic Greek, a form like στρωματεύς ‘coverlet’ (Antiphon+), based on στρῶμα ‘mattress’ (Theognis+). (Similarly DMic loc. cit.: “*ἀρμοτεύς, mejor que *ἀρμοστεύς”.) Only slightly different is Perpillou’s conception (1973:266–267), according to which the form is decompositional, based on a thematized first compound member /arhmoto-/, comparable to alphabetic Greek ἁρματο- in compounds like Homeric ἁρματοπηγός ‘wheelwright’.

§31. Also we have records of land assigned for ‘holding’ to individuals through the agency of the *a-mo-te-u (here in the genitive form a-mo-te-wo) of the lāwāgetās:

PY Ea 421 an individual whose name ends ]te-i-jo holds land from the ra-wa-ke-si-jo-jo a-mo-te-wo

PY Ea 809 an individual likely named ke-re-te-u holds land from the ra-wa-ke-si-jo-jo a-mo-te-wo

Given the military associations of the Mycenaean lāwāgetās, interpreting the term in a literal and practical sense as ‘the specialist in the object resulting from joining, i.e., the chariot wheel’ would not be out of place. But the context would not rule out a metaphorical title, especially if a prime duty of the lāwāgetās is, as Nikoloudis (2008:588, 590–593) has argued, integrating new peoples into the community within the population of a palatial territory. An official who embodies, promotes and effects ‘inextricable union as the result of seeing to joining’ would—pardon the pun—fit right in.

§32. PY Jn 829 a-mo-ta-jo a personal name in a list of individuals receiving allocations of bronze, in this case a rather large quantity AES M 5 = patronymic form Ἀρμοταῖος preferred to the alternative interpretation as the Mycenaean form of Harmostaios or Armostaios tentatively proposed in Docs2, 530 cf. historical Ἁρμόστᾱς. Interpreting the Linear B name in this way, however, is morphologically problematical with regard to explaining the /-st-/; cf. §30 above on /arhmot-/ preferred to /arhmost-/.

§33. PY Nn 831.3 a-mo-ke-re[ nominative RESTORE –we PY Fn 324.2 ]mo-ke-re-we-i dative RESTORE a- = *a-mo-ke-re-we *Ἀρμοκλέϝης Cf. Hdt. 9.17 Ἁρμοκύδης = ‘he who is famous with respect to the chariot wheel’. Other –klewēs compound names in Linear B refer to public fame with regard to ‘one’s hands’ ke-ro-ke-re-we-o and with the help of (war)ships na-u-si-ke-re-[we (Neumann 1994:146) and as public fame that is ‘true’—and most likely prevailing—*e-te-wo-ke-re-we.

§34. Yet another key term in the Linear B lexicon connected with ‘joining’ is a-to-mo. It is attested at Knossos and at Pylos and interpreted as ἀρθμός arthmos, either the title of a functionary or the word for a collective organization, a ‘union’ or a ‘guild’. It occurs in contexts that refer to other power terms. See its use in historical Greek meaning ‘a bond, league or friendship’ (Aeschylus Pr. 119 and Homeric Hymn to Hermes 524). a-to-mo appears on the following tablets:

KN C 979 SUS 1 other individuals on parallel tablets in this set have the title du-ma (Docs2 423)

KN V 56.b  e-qe-a-o a-to-mo 16 line a. has ko-no-si-jo (cf. e-qe-o a-to-mo on PY Aq 64.8)

SEE BELOW i-za-a-to-mo-i

On PY Aq 64.8 po-ki-ro-qo e-qe-o a-to-mo ZE 1 the header for this section of 7 entries is qa]-ṣị-re-wi-jo-te = γwα]σιλήwjοντες nominative plural ‘performing as basileus’ and the entries contain important titles mo-ro-qa and ko-re-te.

PY Jn 832.9 a-to-mo ka-ke-we a-ke-te[  = arthmos ‘bronzesmiths’ a-ke-te(-re)

The heading on line .1 is: ro-u-so , ka-ke-we , a-ke-te-re = at the site ro-u-so ‘bronzesmiths’ a-ke-te-re

The heading on line .4 is: a-ta-ra-si-jo , ka-ke-we = ‘smiths’ without a ta-ra-si-ja (weighed-out allotment)

Jn 881.6 ]jo a-to-mo[  fragmentary rather large amounts of bronze

         o-pi-su-ko AES M 4 N2  = ‘overseers of figs’ BRONZE 4.5 kg.

Other terms on the tablet are ke-ro-te (γέροντες)and o-pi-ko-wo (highly debated, but clearly a compound of the preverb o-pi and whatever ko-wo here means).

Jo 438 lat. sin. ]-jo a-to-mo [      AUR P 3 

Among entries on the recto surface are ko-re-te and po-ro-ko-re-te and mo-ro-qa and qa-si-re-u connected with second order centers pa-ki-ja-ni-jạ  ka-ra-do-ro  ti-mi-ti-ja  pi-*82.

§35. We will see how the above thoughts and data fit in with Homeric and other historical Greek evidence next time.

§36. Palaima Bibliography

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

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

Docs2 = Ventris, M., and J. Chadwick. 1973. Documents in Mycenaean Greek. 2nd ed. Cambridge.

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

Gagarin, M., and P. Perlman. 2016. The Laws of Ancient Crete c. 650–400 BCE. Oxford.

Genevrois, G. 2017. Le Vocabulaire Institutionnel Crétois d’après des Inscriptions (VIIe–IIe s. av. J.-C.): Étude Philologique et Dialectologique. Hautes Études du Monde Greco-Romaine 54. Geneva.

LSJ = Liddell, H. G., R. Scott, H. S. Jones, and R. McKenzie. 1996. Greek-English lexicon With a Revised Supplement. Oxford.

Massetti, L. 2013–2014. “Greek ἀρετή, ved. r̥tā́-, av. aṣ̌a e l’eccellenza come ordine aggiustato.” Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 67.2:123–148.

Melena, J. L. 2014. “Mycenaean Writing.” In A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and Their World, ed. Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies, 3:1–186. Bibliothèque des Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique de Louvain 133. Louvain.

Neumann, G. 1995. “Wertvostellungen und Ideologie in den Personennamender mykenischen Griechen.” Anzeiger der phiosophisch.-historischen Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 131:127–166.

Nikoloudis, S. 2008. “The Role of the ra-wa-ke-ta. Insights from PY Un 718.” In Colloquium Romanum: atti del XII colloquio internazionale di micenologia, ed. A. Sacconi, M. Del Freo, L. Godart, and M. Negri, 2:587–594. Pasiphae 2. Pisa and Rome.

Palaima, T. 2012a. “Kosmos in the Mycenaean Texts: The Response of Mycenaean ‘Scribes’ to the Culture of Kosmos.” In Kosmos: Jewellery, Adornment and Textile in the Aegean Bronze Age, ed. M.-L. Nosch and R. Laffineur, 697–703. Aegaeum 33. Leuven and Liège.

Palaima, T. 2012b. “Security and Insecurity as Tools of Power in Mycenaean Palatial Kingdoms.” In Études mycéniennes 2010: Actes du XIIIe colloque international sur les textes égéens, ed. P. Carlier, C. de Lamberterie, M. Egetmeyer, N. Guilleux, F. Rougemont, and J. Zurbach, 345–356.Biblioteca di “Pasiphae”: Collana di filologia e antichità egee 10. Pisa and Rome.

Palaima, T., and N. Blackwell. 2020. “Pylos Ta 716 and Mycenaean Ritual Paraphernalia: A Reconsideration.” Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici NS 6:67–95.

Perpillou, J. L. 1973. Les substantifs grecs en -ευς. Paris.

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

Vine, B. 1998. Aeolic ὄρπετον and Deverbative *-etó- in Greek and Indo-European. Innsbruck.


[1] This is not to deny that significant production of stirrup jars took place on the Greek Mainland as early as the fifteenth century BCE (during the Late Helladic IIA stylistic phase) and continued throughout the rest of the Mycenaean period. It is the transport variety of these jars that is predominantly Cretan, and the inscribed TSJs are virtually exclusively Cretan.

[2] The correspondences are as follows (abbreviations used are PN = Personal Name or Anthroponym and TN = Toponym; asterisks indicate types/formules where only one example is known):

Petrakis 2010Duhoux 2010Structure
IαPN (rubric Nominative) only
IIζPN (rubric Nominative) + TN + PN (Genitive)
III*β*TN (in rubric Nominative?)
IVεPN + ethnic adjective (both in rubric Nominative) + wa-na-ka-te-ro
V*δ*Two lines: .1 TN; .2 PN (rubric Nominative) + wa
VI*γ*PN (rubric Nominative) + wa

[3] For comments on the reading order of EL Z 1, the only example of Type V / Formule δ inscription see Duhoux 2010:86–87 and Petrakis 2014a:189–195.

[4] The abbreviation wa (for the same term wa-na-ka-te-ro) is also marked upon the seal impression of a string-nodule (a three-sided lump of clay with a string through it) from Pylos, PY Wr 1480.α, where it modifies javelin shafts (pa-ta-jο | do-ka-ma on facets .β-.γ). On a document from the probably early ‘Room of the Chariot Tablets’, KN F(1) 51 verso .1, wa alternates with di-we /Diwei/ ‘to Zeus’ on line .2 of the same text, and so might better stand for the dative /wanaktei/ (spelled wa-na-ka-te or wa-na-ke-te).

[5] Nagy added also Homeric θηλύτεραι applied to γυναῖκες in Il. 8.520 or θεαί in Od. 8.324.

[6] za-we-te-ro/-ra (KN Ga(1) 519.a; possibly on Ga 461.a; Gg 5637.2), often considered as a further example of this suffix, may be ruled out following the compelling argumentation presented by Brent Vine (2009:209 with n.12, 211). Also somewhat problematic is the formation po-ku-te-ro /pokuteros/ ‘that pertaining to the po-ku’ (KN C(4) 911.6 modifying da-mo /dāmos/; the term appears without informative context on X 5732).

[7] The “ideogram” *210VAS is modified as ka-ra-re-we on KN K 778.1 (which records 180 such jars).

[8] Petrakis made the point of an “overland” route between Thebes and Mycenae rather strongly in his oral presentation. Palaima made the point that contact between the two centers would rather involve at least some overseas travel, either around Euboea or through the Corinthian gulf. Palaima adds that the occurrence of an inscribed stirrup jar in Kreusis (KR Z 1) might support this scenario, a possibility that Petrakis does consider very attractive. This would make MY X 508 at least theoretically relevant to the TSJ trade, although the possibility that the singletons from Kreusis, Orchomenos (OR Z 1), and Eleusis (EL Z 1) may be suggestive of a later mobility of these jars (i.e., postdating their initial shipment to a major center, either Thebes or Mycenae) cannot be excluded either. For the hypothesis that EL Z 1 might have ended up in Eleusis in a rather erratic way see Petrakis 2014a:209–211.

[9] Petrakis notes, in this regard, that, wherever evident, the stem of Mycenaean /wanaks/ is */wanakt-/ (genitive /wanaktos/ spelled wa-na-ka-to and wa-na-ko-to, dative /wanaktei/ spelled wa-na-ka-te or wa-na-ke-te). See Petrakis 2016 for a full survey of these spellings.

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