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π€ͺ   𐂁

Linear B ideograms meaning “man” and “woman,” respectively.

 

As a correction to a statement I made in an earlier post, Linear B does appear to have had some diphthongs, but they are separate signs, and the script still does not represent all the sounds (such as the liquid /l/, /g/, and /h/) that the spoken language must have had.

I am slowly working on Orestes: The Outcast, the second book in the trilogy, but also trying to get the word out there about The Young Lion and Helen’s Daughter.  If you read and liked either book, please pass the word along (and let me know your thoughts, of course!).

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The earliest textile fragment found in mainland Greece was discovered in Mycenae’s Grave Circle B (circa 1600-1550 B.C.), and is a piece of thin linen that either belonged to a garment or was part of the shroud itself.

Ri-no (π€ͺπ€œ) and ma-ri (𐀔π€ͺ) are the Mycenaean Linear B words for linen and wool, respectively.  The skilled women who worked flax were called rineja, and those who worked wool were called wewesijeja.

Tablets from Pylos, Mycenae, and Knossos give us additional details about the Mycenaean textile industry, and list other jobs related to textile production: dyers, spinners, finishers, sheep-shearers, and fullers.  Most of these tasks were done by women; at Mycenae, men called kanapeu did the fulling.  The textile workers lived on large plantations around the palace, and the palace administration both trained and looked after them; the Linear B tablets list rations for large groups of women and their children, who worked alongside them.

You can read more about Mycenaean textiles here.

Remember, if there is a particular topic you would like to see highlighted on this blog, please drop me a line in the comments.

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𐀓    π€¬    π€±

ku-ru-so

The Mycenaean word ku-ru-so corresponds with modern Greek chryso, and was most likely pronounced khruso.  And below, you can see an example of Mycenaean gold work: a golden octopus ornament found at Mycenae.

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π€˜    𐀏    𐀙

Mu  ka  na

Mycenae.

Through an inscription at Kom-al-Hetan dating from the time of Amenhotep III, we know the Egyptians referred to Mycenae as m-w-k-i-n-u, or Mukana.  The Mycenaean Greeks would have written it as Mu-ka-na, as Linear B does not support diphthongs, but they would have said it as Mukānai, with the ā becoming Δ“ at a later time.

Mukānai is not a Greek name; it is either pre-Greek Pelasgian or Minyan, which the Mycenaean Greeks kept when they inhabited the site.  It's difficult to be sure, since, despite various legends, no one is absolutely certain how the site got its name.


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𐀷    π€™   π€

wa  na  ka

 

The wa-na-ka, or wanax, was the title of a Mycenaean Greek king.  From the Pylos Linear B tablets, it seems that, depending on the context, the term meant either the earthly ruler, or a powerful male deity, perhaps Poseidon or Zeus.  It has also been suggested, and is quite likely, that the wanax served as a priest-king as well as chief administrator and war leader.

The Pylos tablets do not name the wanax directly, but a Pylian aristocrat named Enkhelyawon controlled vast holdings comparable with those of a wanax, and thus may have been the king of Pylos sometime around 1200 B.C.

Readers: if there is a particular topic you would like me to cover, please indicate your desire in the comments.

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A few examples of Mycenaean armor survive, none more famous than the Dendra panoply found in an Argive tomb near Midea in 1960.  It is constructed from fifteen separate pieces of bronze, which would have been padded inside with leather, and held together with leather thongs.  It looked something like a barrel when worn, and would have been quite cumbersome.  The cuirass was formed of two pieces, and was hinged on the left side.   When worn, the armor would have protected the wearer from the neck to the knees; the wearer would have supplemented this protection with greaves and arm guards.   Even with this supplemental protection, however, the back of the heels were still vulnerable.  So the legend of Achilles' heel might have some truth behind it.

Armor of this type dates to around 1400 B.C., and was inventoried at Pylos, Tiryns, and Knossos, with the Linear B symbol 𐂫.  It would not have been widely worn, except by the elite, and perhaps only on ceremonial occasions.  By the time of the Trojan War, in 1250 B.C., warriors would have worn bronze scale armor, leather, and/or laminated linen for protection.

March 2012

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