The Decipherment of Linear B: KN Wm 8499

· Linear B Decipherments

KN Wm 8499

KN Wm 8499

KN Wm 8499

KN Wm 8499

The Philosopher’s Seal

A philosopher’s maxim
Scribe 103

The original transcribed order (pi-mo-no , na-ki-zo , pa-wo) has been changed to facilitate decipherment.

α.  pi-mo-no
β.  pa-wo
γ.  na-ki-zo

1. na-ki-zo | ναξο(ς) (naksos) | a solid
2. pa-wo | φαῦο(ς) (pauos) (Aeolic) | light, daylight
3. pi-mo-no | πήμονο(ς) (pemonos) | the bane of (gen. of πήμων)

α.  πήμονο
β.  φαῦο
γ.  ναξο

α.  The bane of
β.  light
γ.  [is] a solid.

Notes:  I infer that the bane of light is a solid because light cannot penetrate a solid.  This seal antedates Thales, the “Father of Philosophy”, by 300-600 years.

Hapaxi > na-ki-zo * pa-wo * pi-mo-no


  1. Chadwick, John et al. 1998. Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos, Vol. IV (8000-9947). Cambridge University Press.


Comments RSS
  1. Is that a good idea, or a just a cop-out? I will have to investigate this myself in the next few days and post my interpretation of this fragment, which, oddly enough, I had never seen. One thing is certain: you cannot flip the thing upside down, so why reverse the order? Strange!


    • This is not a two-sided tablet fragment; it’s a three-sided seal, which means that it can be rotated backward or forward. The direction of rotation and the order in which the words are to be read are matters of interpretation. Consequently, there are six possibilities:

      pi-mo-no , na-ki-zo , pa-wo
      pi-mo-no , pa-wo , na-ki-zo
      na-ki-zo , pa-wo , pi-mo-no
      na-ki-zo , pi-mo-no , pa-wo
      pa-wo , pi-mo-no , na-ki-zo
      pa-wo , na-ki-zo , pi-mo-no

      Since I cannot consult Scribe 103, I must use the sense of the words as my guide; hence, pi-mo-no , pa-wo , na-ki-zo.

      • Gretchen, I cannot understand why you would rotate Linear B tablets backward to facilitate decipherment. That violates the nature of the script, which, like classical Greek, Latin, and so many modern occidental languages, reads only left to right and top to bottom; thus, there are only three possibilities. Reading any Linear B tablet backwards is simply affording oneself a reason for “discovering” a decipherment that only works that way. And I cannot buy this.

        I shall, of course, endeavor to translate the three tablets in standard linear fashion. I may not succeed, of course, but such is life. And thanks for giving me the proper order; it saves a lot of needless work.


        P.S. I am delighted that you are now relying on Aeolic Greek for translations.

        • I’m relying on a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object; therefore, I cannot speak to the direction of rotation or the order of the words. Nor can you. This seal is located at Herakleion Museum, so perhaps Rita would be willing to verify the word order to facilitate your own decipherment.

          Richard, you have stated that the rotational direction of my decipherment

          violates the nature of the script, which, like classical Greek, Latin, and so many modern occidental languages, reads only left to right and top to bottom; thus, there are only three possibilities.

          Where do the boustrophedon script of Greece and the right-to-left script of Cyprus fit in your scheme?

          And I’m not “relying on Aeolic Greek for translations”; I’m simply keeping my mind open about the implications of the dialect.

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