Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2013.01.36 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.01.36

Pierre Carlier (ed.), Études mycéniennes 2010. Actes du XIIIe colloque international sur les textes égéens, Sèvres, Paris, Nanterre, 20-23 septembre 2010. Biblioteca di Pasiphae. 10.   Pisa; Roma:  Fabrizio Serra editore, 2012.  Pp. xxviii, 611.  ISBN 9788862274722.  €280.00 (pb).  

Contributors: Additional editors: Charles De Lamberterie, Markus Egetmeyer, Nicole Guilleux, Françoise Rougemont and Julien Zurbach.

Reviewed by Jörg Weilhartner, Mykenische Kommission, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

This volume, dedicated to the memory of Pierre Carlier, represents the proceedings of the 13th International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies held at several locations in and around Paris on September 20-23, 2010. Like its precursors, this monograph contains important, up-to-date contributions to the broad topic of Mycenaean epigraphy and related scripts. It is divided into five parts: Nouveaux textes et instruments de travail, Épigraphie et histoire, Langues et écritures, Conclusions et comptes rendus, Index.

Part 1 begins with two reports on what happened in the fields of Cretan-Hieroglyphic, Linear A and Linear B (3-21), and in the fields of Cypro-Minoan and the Cypriot syllabic script (23-40), from 2006 to 2010. These thoroughly researched reports refer to new (partly unpublished) finds and the (intended) publication of texts. Although the Kaukania pebble (OL Zh 1) is listed without question mark (18-19) this find should still be approached with reasonable caution.1 More detailed reports are found on the excavation of tablets from Ayios Vasileios, Laconia (41-54) and Iklaina, Messenia (75-77), as well as a detailed description of two tablets found among ceramic material from excavations in Kastro-Palaia/Volos, Thessaly, (55- 73), are most appreciated. Without doubt, the discovery of Mycenaean clay tablets in Laconia2 and in Thessaly will have considerable impact on our understanding of the geography of Mycenaean palatial centres in the Greek mainland. Godart (79-106) and Olivier (107-121) provide some valuable insight in the forthcoming publication of the corpus of the Mycenaean inscriptions from Pylos. Sacconi (123-142), on the other hand, reports on the supplementary volume to her Corpus delle iscrizioni vascolari in lineare B (1974). Both monographs are eagerly awaited although they will provoke much discussion (and some confusion) in terms of classification of scribes. Within this context, one notes with regret that “l’esprit de Gif” (referring to the first Colloque International sur les Textes Mycéniens held in Gif-sur-Yvette in 1956), which was much referred to during the 2010 conference, has somewhat evaporated. The last paper of this part is devoted to another work in progress: the compilation of an index of numerical references in the Linear B documents (143- 163). This paper includes an up-to-date bibliography of all text editions and articles on the publication of new texts and joins of fragments.

Part 2 covers epigraphy and history. Bernabé (167-176) criticizes – correctly in my opinion – what has been written about to-pa-po-ro(-i) in the editio princeps of the new Thebes tablets; he, in turn, proposes a new interpretation of this term as *στορφαφόροι/‘rope-bearers’. However, as the first element of the compound is likely to appear on PY Ub 1318 I would suggest that Chadwick’s interpretation of this term as *τορπαφόροι/‘basket-carriers’ is still to be preferred.3 Civitillo’s paper (177-194) discusses the tricky question of how to use prosopographical information of the tablets from Knossos as a means to reconstruct the relationship between Greek and non-Greek population in Mycenaean Crete. Concentrating on personal names in the KN L series, she cautions about using Greek and non-Greek anthroponyms as an ethnic criterion. Duev (195-205) examines the textual evidence of di-wi-ja and e-ra. His statement (195) that “only Potnia, Diwija and Zeus, deities with clear Indo-European etymology, are attested to both on the mainland and on Crete, including the collection from the ‘Room of the Chariot Tablets’” seems somewhat misleading (compare his tables 1 and 2). On what grounds the suffix –de should indicate a “cult role of the place” e-ra (199) remains unclear to me. Nor do I see any evidence for a “repeated presence of Hermes and Potnia” at this place (200). In spite of his statement (197) that “the fact remains that no examples of the use of theonyms as personal names have been discovered in any Linear B tablets”, Duev (201) takes a-re as a theonym on KN Fp(1) 14 and, wrongly in my opinion, as an anthroponym on KN Mc 4462. Some of the information given in the tables is in need of explanation (e.g. a-ma- tu-na) or supplementation (e.g. e-ne-si-da-o-ne). Duhoux (207-225) explores a special category of small tablets that he calls “mini-tablettes”. Due to the relationship of these tablets with the KN Sc series, the persons named on these tablets may be interpreted as warriors/charioteers. Firth’s paper (227-242) on the text of KN Ln 1568 brings up interesting questions about technical aspects of the textile industry of the palace of Knossos. He suggests (237-239) to view pa as a unit of weight and, accordingly, speaks in favour for a transliteration as PA on this tablet. In my opinion, his interpretation (236 n. 28) of TELA+KU as a textile that has been washed (cf. κλύζω) is difficult to reconcile with the appearance of this ligature in non-Greek Linear A (cf. TELA+ZO). The contribution of Franceschetti (243-268) is a useful reference for scholars who want to gain an overview of the logograms of vases attested in the Linear B tablets. Nakassis (269-283) examines potential instances of indirect labour mobilisation in Mycenaean Pylos; he makes a strong case for connecting some high-ranking functionaries to the obligation of providing groups of workers for the palatial authority. According to the Linear B evidence, the women of Pylos usually have no economic power in their own right (outside the religious sphere) and they are not attested within the realm of political structures. Against this background, it would have been of great interest to treat the issue of the woman named ke-sa-da-ra and “her 20 subordinates” (281) with greater detail. In the following paper, Nikoloudis (285-302) convincingly shows that the links between individuals recorded in the Ea series from Pylos and tanning operations are much stronger than previously thought. However, her suggestion (296) that the ‘sacrificial hearth of Dionysos’ (PY Ea 102) could have played a role in the process of leather-production seems hard to believe. On page 289, Nikoloudis argues tentatively for a reconstruction as ra-wa-ke- si-jo e-[u-me-ne on PY Ea 59.4. The reason why she decided to prefer a reconstruction as ra-wa-ke-si-jo e-[te- do-mo later on in her paper (293, 301) remains unexplained. Another person modified by the term ra-wa-ke-si- jo seems to appear on PY Ea 1424 [+] Xa 1438.4 Given that the syllabograms ja and jo are quite distinct signs, one wonders if i-ma-di-ja on PY Ea 816 really is a scribal error for masculine i-ma-di-jo (see PY Ea 29). One can hardly imagine that a scribe having in mind to write ‘Alexandra’ writes ‘Alexander’ instead. In any event, other examples of female and male variants of the same name do exist (e.g. e-ri-qi-ja/e-ri-qi-jo). Nosch (303-344) contributes an elaborate paper on textile logograms. As these logograms are not included in Les idéogrammes archéologiques du linéaire B (Paris 1979), she adds an appendix of the textile logograms, following the path of the seminal monograph of F. Vandenabeele and J.-P. Olivier. The contribution by Palaima (345-356) looks at the hierarchical structure and functioning of the Mycenaean palatial centres, drawing on parallels from other countries and time periods (esp. the Carolingian and Hittite state). The picture he presents will, without doubt, provoke further discussion. Palmer (357-382) thoroughly examines the references to deer in the Linear B texts. Although her analysis is based on the textual evidence she also deals with imagery and archaeozoological material. An excellent overview on the specific findspots of the inscribed as well as uninscribed sealings from the Northeast Building and the Wine Magazine at Pylos is given by Shelmerdine (383-402). She points to several clusters of sealings, giving some insight into how they circulated. This study is complemented by two detailed tables containing all relevant information about each sealing. In the last contribution of part 2, Varias García (403-418) collates all Linear B tablets referring to honey written syllabically or logographically. His main focus lies on the interpretation of some terms recorded on the KN Fs series. In my opinion, the ligature *211VAS+PO (405 with n. 9) more likely refers to a vessel-name beginning in po- rather than to the adjective *po-ro-pa-to which is not attested in the Linear B corpus.

Part 3 is devoted to linguistic and textual problems. It starts with Dubois’ paper (421-425), which deals with the letter digamma on an inscription from Arcadia and the prefix ὐ- = ἐπι-. Egetmeyer’s contribution (427-434) “Sprechen Sie Golgisch?” is a useful paper for all who lack the knowledge he has of this elusive language from Cyprus. García Ramón (435-454) gives some valuable insight into his manual of Mycenaean grammar (A concise Handbook of Mycenaean, in preparation) by dealing with three individual questions on morphology, syntax and onomastics. The parallels cited by him are very illuminating. Guilleux (455-473) suggests various approaches on how to explain the syntagma e-ma- a2 a-re-ja on PY Tn 316. She draws heavily on literary (and epigraphic) sources from the first millennium. Unfortunately, do-po-ta and i-pe-me-de-ja are wrongly included (457) in the list of those deities who receive a vessel and a human being as an offering. Kölligan (475-488) deals with the personal names po- no-qa-ta, a-no-ze-we and da-i-pi-ta referring to Homeric poetry and the onomastic material of first millennium Greek. Following the tradition of Chantraine and Lejeune, Lamberterie (489-509) gives two examples to illustrate the ways in which the Mycenaean evidence can be used for interpreting the etymology of Greek words. In her stimulating paper, Morpurgo Davies (511-522) reviews the problems in providing correct phonological renderings of Mycenaean words. By pointing out that in most instances a certain level of uncertainty will remain, she explores what can be learned from morphological data about phonology. Petrakis (523-536) presents some ideas that he will pursue in a forthcoming monograph. Rejecting a monogrammic nature of sign *145/LANA, he views monograms as rather recent inventions. Steele (537-544) gives a summary of the undeciphered Cypro-Minoan inscriptions from Late Bronze Age Cyprus (and Ugarit). She also deals with the ‘Opheltas’ inscription, which is now generally assigned to this corpus. Thompson (545- 561) writes sophisticatedly in defence of the term ideogram for, at a minimum, some signs, acknowledging (560), however, that “[t]he vast majority of the Linear B sematograms could be identified either as logograms or as ideograms”. As the present volume shows, both terms are widely used among Mycenologists. Personally, I prefer to use the term logogram as a general heading. In the last paper of this chapter Waanders (563-573) looks from a morphological point of view at verbal forms attested in the Linear B tablets. After the contribution by Bader (577-580), which has a more personal touch, one gets some information on the transliteration of syllabograms (*34/*35, *65) and the logograms (*233 (PUG)/*233bis (GUP), *141 (AUR)/*141bis) (581-582).

An index of Cretan-Hieroglyphic, Linear A, and Linear B texts and words mentioned in the volume concludes this book. All page numbers in the index from 229 onwards should be reduced by 2. At times, one notes some problems with Greek letters and minor inconsistencies in the layout (e.g. one/no space after full stop and colon, length of hyphen).

In conclusion, the editors of this valuable volume are to be congratulated for publishing this excellent collection of contributions within two years’ time. Without doubt, a wide spectrum of scholars will make use of the many important papers of this book.

Table of Contents

Nouveaux textes et instruments de travail
M. del Freo, Rapport 2006-2010 sur les textes en écriture hiéroglyphique crétoise, en linéaire A et en linéaire B, 3- 21
M. Egetmeyer, A. Karnava, M. Perna, Rapport 2006-2010 sur les écritures chypriotes syllabiques, 23-40
V. Aravantinos, A. Vasilogamvrou, The first Linear B documents from Ayios Vasileios (Laconia), 41-54
E. Skafida, A. Karnava, J.-P. Olivier, Two new Linear B tablets from the site of Kastro-Palaia in Volos, 55-73
C. W. Shelmerdine, Iklaina tablet IK X 1, 75-77
L. Godart, Du nouveau à l’horizon du Linéaire B, 79-106
J.-P. Olivier, Πυλιακά παραφερνάλια, 107-121
A. Sacconi, Il supplemento al corpus delle iscrizioni vascolari in lineare B, 123-142
F. Aura Jorro, The index of numerical references in Linear B documents, 143-163

Épigraphie et histoire
A. Bernabé, TH Av 101 and Mycenaean to-pa-po-ro(-i), 167-176
M. Civitillo, Ethnicity and language: Once again on personal names from Knossos, 177-194
R. Duev, di-wi-ja and e-ra in the Linear B texts, 195-205
Y. Duhoux, Les mini-tablettes linéaire B, 207-225
R. Firth, An interpretation of the specification of textiles on Ln 1568, 227-242
A. Franceschetti, Gli ideogrammi dei vasi in lineare B: analisi dell’ortografia, delle forme e dei materiali, 243-268
D. Nakassis, Labor mobilization in Mycenaean Pylos, 269-283
St. Nikoloudis, Thoughts on a possible link between the PY Ea series and a Mycenaean tanning operation, 285-302
M.-L. Nosch, The textile logograms in the Linear B tablets: Les idéogrammes archéologiques des textiles, 303- 344
Th. G. Palaima, Security and insecurity as tools of power in Mycenaean palatial kingdoms, 345-356
R. Palmer, Deer in the Pylos tablets, 357-382
C. W. Shelmerdine, Pylos sealings and sealers, 383-402
C. Varias García, The word for ‘honey’ and connected terms in Mycenaean Greek, 403-418

Langues et écritures
L. Dubois, Un vieux préfixe grec, 421-425
M. Egetmeyer, „Sprechen Sie Golgisch?“ Anmerkungen zu einer übersehenen Sprache, 427-434
J. L. García Ramón, En travaillant à une grammaire du mycénien: 1. a-pi-e-qe /amphihenkwe/ «(on) mentionna, (on) énuméra». 2. Absence d’augment et mode injonctif. 3. di-ri-mi-jo: Drimios, fils de Zeus, 435-454
N. Guilleux, L’Hermès Areias des sources mycéniennes et les malheurs d’Arès avec les Aloades, 455-473
D. Kölligan, Three Mycenaean warrior names, 475-488
Ch. de Lamberterie, L’ apport du mycénien à l’étymologie grecque, 489-509
A. Morpurgo Davies, Open problems in Mycenaean phonology and the input of morphology, 511-522
V. Petrakis, Reverse phonetisation? From syllabogram to sematogram in Aegean scripts, 523-536
Ph. Steele, The diversity of the Cypro-Minoan corpus, 537-544
R. Thompson, In defence of ideograms, 545-561
Fr. Waanders, Aperçu des formes verbales dans les textes mycéniens: remarques sur la morphologie verbale et sur la distribution et les valeurs des thèmes temporels, 563-573

Conclusions et comptes rendus
Fr. Bader, L’esprit de Gif, 577-580
Comptes rendus des réunions, 581-582
Index des textes, 585-600
Index des groupes de signes et des mots, 601-611


1.   See J. Driessen, Chronology of the Linear B Texts, in A companion to Linear B. Mycenaean Greek texts and their world I, eds. Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies, Louvain-la-Neuve 2008, 76.
2.   It is not clear to me on what grounds text HV Rb 1 (found in sector 2) should confirm the relation of the term e-pi-zo-ta to (offensive) weapons. The hoard of bronze swords found in situ (in sector 1) seems to date prior to the Linear B tablet. Cf. Ergon 2010 [2011], 35-37. In addition, it should be noted that the quasi-join Ra(2) 1028 [+] 7498 (referred to as possible parallel evidence) is now rejected. Cf. L. Godart et al., 501 raccords et quasi-raccords de fragments dans les tablettes de Cnossos post-KT V, Minos 25-26, 1990-1991 [1993], 376.
3.   M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek, Cambridge 19732, 491.
4.   J. L. Melena, 63 joins and quasi-joins of fragments in the Linear B tablets from Pylos, Minos 35-36, 2000-2001 [2002], 379.

Read comments on this review or add a comment on the BMCR blog

Read Latest
About BMCR
Review for BMCR
Support BMCR

BMCR, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010