V011 13 January 2001, 1st Revision 27 May 2001

Do Inscriptions in Linear A Script belong to different languages ?

J. Faucounau
Member of the Linguistic Society of Paris, France

NOTA : In this paper, Greek letters have been written in the Latin Alphabet, with the following code: E = epsilon H = eta W= omega G = gamma Ph = phi X = ksi Z = zeta F = digamma h = initial aspiration


Two problems are hindering, in our opinion, a full decipherment of the Linear A inscriptions : a)- the lack of texts of some length b)- the possibility of several dialects or even languages, written in (almost) the same script.

This second point cannot be better illustrated than with the findings of the Tomb IX at Mavro Spelaio, near Knossos. This tomb, consisting of a hall and four chambers, has been excavated in 1926/1927 by E.J. Forsdyke (See Bibliography 3). It has given two inscribed artifacts, written in Linear A : the "Gold Ring from Knossos" KN Zf 13 (See Fig.1), and the "Silver Pin" KN Zf 31. Even a quick examination shows that both scripts ( and probably languages) are quite different : for instance, it suffices to look at the shapes of Signs A and TE. (See Fig.2).

The Gold Ring is the most enigmatic document. First, its function is not very clear. It may be a finger-ring indeed (as thought by J.P.Olivier), but its use as an amulet seems more probable, because it has not been found around a finger's bone, but among several gold beads, apparently coming from a necklace. This was Forsdyke's opinion, who called this piece of jewelry a "signet-ring, possibly talismanic"... Secondly, its inscription has been spirally written, from exterior to center, as the one of the Phaistos Disk. The direction of reading remains, nevertheless, the regular Linear A 's one, from left to right.

This remarkable similarity with the Proto-Ionian artifact that the Phaistos Disk is, on one hand (See our paper in ANISTORISTON of Jan.2000), the particulars of the script on the other hand, open the POSSIBILITY for the inscription to be written in GREEK.

A careful comparison of its signs with the signs of the other "Minoan" Scripts (LinearB, Linear A, and Cypro-Minoan) seems to support this hypothesis (See Table 1).

NOTA : As we consider as premature the numbering of the Linear A signs in GORILA, we have kept the numbers used by Carratelli, Packard, Raison-Pope, etc. The references of the Cypro-Minoan signs are the usual ones, with the phonetic values that we have advocated (See Bibliography 1).

With the values of our Table, the reading of the inscription is the following :

1)- A-RE-JO-NE      DI-KO-PI-KE 
Engl. : "To (eventually : for the sake of)  Areion the rower"

NOTA : The ending -IGX of *DI-KWPIGX proves the Proto-Ionian origin of the word.
(See Bibliography 2)

POST-SCRIPTUM : A further research has lead us to envisage another
possibility for the 6th sign of the inscription. We now believe that its
value might correspond to a "Proto-Greek" DJE-sound which later became ZE in
Greek. In a similar way, the 8th sign could be KJE instead of KE.
As a consequence, the second word would have to be read : di-ze-pi-kje,
corresponding to Greek *DIZ-EPh-IQIH(S) : "Searcher for/ captor of horses".

2)- PA-JA-TA-RI  (or PA-JA-SU?-RA? )
Greek : "*PhAIA-TALIS (a feminine Proper Name)  (or *PhAI(A)-SULH ?)
Engl. : "Phaia-talis ( has given this amulet  -eventually : to some God or Goddess ?-)

3)- I-TE     RI-MU      A-JA-SO
Greek :  hI(S)TH   LIMOU   AIA(D)-SW(S)
Engl. : "(May the God or Goddess let him) resist hunger (and) come back unharmed to land !"

NOTA : A possible variant would be : Greek AIA SW(W) : "May Aia save him !", but
 the hereabove solution seems better.


The determination of the controversial phonetic values NE and JO of two Linear A signs, thanks to the KN Zf 13 Inscription, allows us to read another complete inscription, carved on a Gold Pin. This artifact is of unknown origin and has been referenced: CR Zf 1 (See Figure 3 and Table 2 of Signs).

This reading shows a language which seems to be both "Pre-Indoeuropean" and "Proto-Greek". We mean that a)- on one hand, it appears as agglutinative, using "particles" like for instance a -NE particle, identical to the "attributive particle" (or "definite article") of the Hurrian language (See Speiser (7) p. 98 and ss) b)- on the other hand, its vocabulary has been passed over in Greek, where those words or roots have NO clear IE-etymology, e.g. Greek AMAFW : "to harvest".

Here is our analysis of the text:

NOTA : Greek CW means "Greek corresponding words", i.e. Greek words showing the same
 (pre-IE) root.

1)- A-MA-WA-NE : "To the (-NE) female harvester (probably the Goddess Demeter)
Greek CW : AMAFW : "to harvest"

2)- KA-NI-JA-MI : "Kaniya-mi" : a Proper Name,  with the probable meaning : "I am from the "Reeds-country", from 'Canaan' ".
Greek CW :  KANNA : "reed" -- KANEION : "Basket"

3)- I-JA : "Let Her relieve the pain !" (Imperative expressing the wish, the prayer)
Greek CW :  IAOMAI : "to relieve pain", Mycenaean : I-JA-TE

4)- ZA-KI-SE-NU-TI , maybe to be read Za-Kisse-Nu(s)ti(s)  : a Proper Name meaning "the one who wishes to sleep"
Greek CW : ZA- : "very much" -- KISSAW : "to wish" -- NUSTAZW : "to doze off" .

5)- A-TA-DE, probably to be read AT(L)DE : "Let him to be like a youngster !" (Imperative of wish).
Greek CW : ATALLW : "to jump as a young person or animal" -- ATALOS : "young" , etc.

This interpretation of the inscription CR Zf 1 as a supplication to DEMETER (?) is supported by the vegetal decoration of the Gold Pin, which, in our opinion, represents a Wild Rose (Rosa Canina). The Gold Pin would have been an offering to the Goddess, in contrast with the Gold Ring KN Zf 13 which seems more probably - taking into account its location inside a tomb - an amulet, worn by a seaman (after some kind of consecration to a Divinity ?).

These two inscriptions show the existence of at least to kinds of languages written c. 1600 BC in Linear A : Greek (of which the existence was obvious in the Aegean since the Proto-Ionic decipherment of the Phaistos Disk), and a kind of "Proto-Greek Hurrianoid Language", corresponding to the "Pre-IE Strata" of the Kretschmerian Theory. But one may as well expect to find in other Linear inscriptions the "Proto-IE Language" (conventionally called "Pelasgic"), also forecast by Paul Kretschmer whose work has been very regrettably ignored by the majority of linguists !..

Where is Goetze's unpublished manuscript ?

In 1970 or 1971 (I don't remember the exact date), during a meeting with a French Hittitologist (now deceased), I learned about the existence of an unpublished manuscript written by Albrecht GOETZE. The well-known Germano-American Hittitologist, I was told, had been the only scholar to be able to study some 25 tablets, written in Hittite Cuneiform and privately owned. These tablets were related to the "History of the Arzawa Kingdom" (Such was, I understood, the title of Goetze's manuscript). As I was also told that the manuscript was almost achieved and would be published soon, I patiently waited for its publication, then forgot about the whole thing. Only a few years ago, while moving my personal archives, I remembered my conversation and began an inquiry. A long and difficult research showed me that Goetze's manuscript had never been published and that almost no one was to-day aware of its existence!.. It seems that after a refusal by C.Gadd in 1960 (approximate date) of his manuscript, A. Goetze did not insist to have it published, and it was not even found in the papers he left when he died (information kindly given by Prof. Gary Beckman). From the snatches of information I have collected, it seems that Goetze's 1960-paper presented the tablets and gave the main conclusions that could be deduced from them, concerning the History of Western Turkey during Hittite times. Written c.1960, it had been sent by A. Goetze to C. Gadd for publication in the "Cambridge Ancient History", but was never published. Where it is to-day is a complete mystery, and I would greatly appreciate if someone could give me some information about what happened in 1960/1961 with this paper.

Jean FAUCOUNAU JFaucounau@village.uunet.lu

1)- FAUCOUNAU J. "The Cypro-Minoan Scripts" in "ARCHAEOLOGIA CYPRIA" 1994 , p. 93-106

2)-  -"-  , "Proto-Ionic Words" (to be published)

3)- FORSDYKE E.J. "The Mavro Spelaio Cemetery at Knossos" in "ANNAL of the B.S.A. 28 (1926-1927) p. 243-296

4)- GODART L. & OLIVIER J.P. , "Recueil des Inscriptions en Lin. A", Vol. 4 (1982)

5)- OLIVIER J.P., "La bague en or de Mavrio Spelio" in "Hommages a Charles Delvoye" (1982) p. 15-26

6)- OLIVIER, GODART & LAFFINEUR, "Une epingle minoenne en or..." in B.C.H. 105 (1981) p. 1-25

7)- SPEISER E.A., "Introduction to Hurrian" ASOR Vol  XX (1941)

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