Linear B

Sun May 17 23:12:57 2009
Many of the surviving Linear B tablets are quite similar in their content to
Linear A tablets.
They are often accounting records of inventories or disbursements and follow the same pattern that combines syllabograms (usually for names or titles), logograms (for commodities) and numbers (for quantities).

The Phoenician script used to write Linear B does not correspond exactly to the Greek language. Each syllabogram represents a consonant-vowel combination. As a result they are unable to represent some sounds in the Greek language—double consonants, consonant endings or the differentiation between “L” and “R.” This, as well as the similarity between some syllabograms and logograms and the use of syllabogram abbreviations can make reading Linear B tablets challenging.


The accepted interpretation of the above tablet reads “O-pi-ri-mi-ni-jo (received) armor, chariot, horse.” With O-pi-ri-mi-ni-jo probably representing a masculine Greek name “Opiliminios” (which could also mean “[he who lives] beyond the lake” in Greek). As there are no numbers associated with the logograms so we assume there is only one of each chariot, horse and suit of armor. However, there appears to be some latitude for interpretation. The syllabograms for ri, mi, ni, and jo are similar to, respectively, the logogram for woman (or man), an older logogram for a jar or vase, the syllabogram abbreviation for figs, and the logogram for barley. It is possible that in addition to the chariot, horse and armor, there was a dispensation of supplies (figs and barley) as well as a slave, servant, assistant or driver.

In either case this leads us to believe that military supplies were centrally owned and coordinated by the palace complex and that they were dispensed to individuals as needed who were then in some way responsible for those supplies and equipment.


~ by severalfourmany on May 17, 2009.

2 Responses to “Linear B”

  1. Thanks I found this blog really useful, I’ll recommend it to friends.

  2. Reblogged this on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae and commented:
    Interesting commentary on the difficulties inherent in the Linear B syllabary to accurately represent Greek orthography.

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