The Decipherment of Linear B: BE Zg 1 and 2

· Linear B Decipherments

Two amber talismans from Bernstorff, Germany

BE ZG 1.a

BE Zg 1, side A

BE ZG 1.b

BE Zg 1, side B

BE Zg 2

BE Zg 2







German anthropologist and cultural historian Hans Peter Duerr states that the Minoans visited the British Isles, presumably for the tin in Cornwall, from which the North Frisian coast, a rich source of amber, is not much farther. Since its inundation in 1362, the “lost city” of Rungholt, on the Frisian island, Sudfall, has been a rich source of archaeological information. Under the bronze-aged peat layer were found pithoi, such as those carried aboard Minoan/Mycenaean ships during the 14th and 13th centuries BCE. Moreover, Duerr, while visiting the Rungholt site in 1994, claims to have found in the mud some amber artefacts [“Interview”] with Lin A/B inscriptions [“Bernstein”], which have yet to be attested as genuine.

A second article states that the talismans were found in 2000 at the Bavarian archaeological site, Bernstorff, which is believed to be at least 3,400 years old.  Consequently, I have updated my earlier assignments from RUngholt Zg 1 and 2 to the attested BErnstorff Zg 1 and 2.  Among the Bernstorff finds were gold artefacts, such as the diadem (below) and about 30 pieces of raw amber [Tureček]. The diadem is significant for its similarity to the shape at the bottom of BE Zg 2.


Gold diadem

Nevertheless, I suspect that the second article confounds the two discoveries and that the inscriptions were found at Rungholt. However, I am unable to access Bernstorff [2005], The Secret of the Bronze Age, to verify the claims of archaeologists Manfred Moosauer and Traudl Bachmaier.  Setting aside the problematic issue of conflicting claims, let us turn to decipherment; while the authorship of either talisman is unknown, they appear to share a common theme.

BE Zg 1

Scribe unknown

α. [carved visage]
β. do-ka-me

    1. do-ka-me | δόκημα (dokema) | a vision

β. δόκημα

  • a vision

Notes: Perhaps this talisman honors a deity or a royal person. Cf. οἱ δοκήμασιν σοφοί (oi dokemasin sophoi) “the wise in appearance” [L&S 2nd]. Cf. also do-ka-ma [PY Wr 1480] and do-ka-ma-i [PY An 1282].

BE Zg 2

Scribe unknown

α. pa-nwa-ti

  1. pa-nwa-ti | φανότη(ς) (phanotes) | brightness, clarity

α. φανότη

  • brightness, clarity

Notes: While pa-nwa-ti is not found on any known LinB transcriptions, one validation for its morphological structure is  ti-nwa-ti[ [PY La 633].  Cf. also inflection φᾶνητιαω (phanetiao) “to desire to show oneself, to wish to appear” with ti-nwa-ti-ja-o [PY Ad 684].  Nevertheless, when comparing pa-nwa-ti to pa2-nu-wa-so [KN As 1516] and pa2-nwa-so [KN Dl 943], pa-nu-wa-ti is plausible, as is the root, φανός (phanos) “bright, clear” or “famous”.  The brightness may not only refer to the gold diadem but also to the fame-seeking person who wears it.  Cf. the name, Robert “bright fame”.

Moreover, the acquisition of knowledge, through the collateral vehicles of φάος (phaos) “light” and φης (phes) “speech”, is central to Greek thought; both manifestations, as well as pa-wi-no and pa-si, are rooted in pa-wo > ΦΑΩ (phao) “to make known”.  See also KN Wm 8499.

Finally, at least one element in pa-nwa-ti is consistent with Japanese;  a search for /nwa/, with pattern anywhere, yields at least 100 results.  Nevertheless, there is just one instance of /nwa/ in LinA (see [SY Za 4]),  so it is reasonable to assume that pa-nwa-ti belongs to LinB.


  1. Bernstein [Brownstone]. Ret. on 17 Dec 2012. <>.
  2. Das Bernstein gesicht von Bernstorf. (PDF).  Ret. on 07 Jan 2013
  3. Interview: Rungholt.  Geo Magazine.  22 Nov 2005.  Ret. on 10 Apr 2012.  <>.
  4. Tureček, Napisal Igor, Bronze Age Inscriptions on the Ambers of Bernstorf.  Ret. on 09 Jan 2013

Entry added on 10 Apr 2012.
Updated on 04 May 2013 * 20 Feb 2016

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