Class G comprises the series Ga, Ge, Gf, Gg, Gm, Gn, Go, Gp, Gq and Gv. The series Ge and Go are attested at Mycenae; Ga, Gg, Gm and Gv at Knossos; Gn at Pylos; Gq at Khania; Gf and Gp at Thebes.

Texts of the Class G records various commodities, among which several aromatic plants and spices have been identified with various degrees of certainty, such as sa-sa-ma /sāsama/ ‘sesame seed’ (acrophonic abbreviation SA); ku-mi-no /kumīnon/ ‘cumin’ (KU (?)); ko-ri-ja-do-no /korijadnon/ (see ko-ri-a2-da-na KN PY Un 267, MY Ge 605; see also the variant spelling ko-ri-ja-da-na) ‘coriander (seed)’ (KO); ma-ra-tu-wo /marathwon/ ‘fennel’ (MA); ku-pa-ro /kupairos/ ‘cyperus’ (*125 CYP); me-ri /meli/ (*135 ME + RI) ‘honey’.

Besides the recognisable commodities attested on the tablets from Knossos – i.e. the above-mentioned coriander, cyperus and honey – two items of uncertain nature, such as po-ni-ki-jo and ki-ta-no, deserve special attention, and various tentative interpretations have already been advanced. Both terms are attested exclusively at Knossos.

In particular, on G texts from Knossos the term po-ni-ki-jo is recorded by scribes H 136 and H 137, usually in small quantities, with a few exceptions. In Documents, this is indicated as being the name of an unidentified spice measured by weight. As regards its possible interpretation – Myc. po-ni-ki-jo phoinīkion (?): φοινίκεος ‘purple-red, crimson’ (?) (cf. DELG s.v. φοῖνιξ, Φοῖνιξ), it is always worth remembering Chadwick’s comment (1976: 121):

‘Finally, this is an item, again recorded only at Knossos, which can be reconstructed as the Greek word phoinikion. But its meaning is not easy to guess. One meaning is ‘Phoenician’: but were the Phoenicians of Syria, later such adventurous traders, already so called? And what was this product which the Cretans called by their name? It can hardly have been imported from there since the records show that it was grown in some areas of Crete. The word was also used to mean ‘dark red’; but this too offers no clue. The noun phoinix also means a palm-tree, and it seems to be so used in the description of furniture (…). Dates therefore seemed a possible identification of the product: but unfortunately although date-palms grow in Crete, the climate does not allow the fruit to ripen. Phoinikion thus remains a mystery.’

However, ‘palm-date’ is generally considered to be the most likely interpretation, after Melena’s study in 1976. Recently, it has also been hypothesized that the term could refer to alkanet, a plant used as a dye thanks to its red colouring agents. This may have been used for colouring perfumed oil, as postulated by Foster, and perhaps also for treating textiles, as thought of by Murray – Warrer.

The term ki-ta-no appears on several tablets of the series Ga, attributed to scribe H 221 (Kn Ga 1530+; see also X 1385: ki-ta-no[). These belong to set Ga(5), which probably originally comprised about ten tablets discovered in the Queen’s Megaron, in the east wing of the Palace of Knossos.

As recalled by Privitera, according to one line of interpretation ki-ta-no has been hypothesized to be an aromatic vegetable substance (as possibly suggested by the presence of *123 arom) used at Knossos in the production of perfumed oils, besides other products such as coriander and aromatic cyperus.

However, although the term has been tentatively interpreted as possibly referring to a number of different products, such as cinnamon (: κιττώ (??))or oregano (:*γίτανον (??)),it remained fundamentally obscure until Melena drew attention to the Hesychian gloss κρίτανοϛ· τέρμινθοϛ (kritanos: terminthos) (it is also worth remembering that terms referring to vegetation are often of pre-Greek origin (Minoan?), as the presence of the suffix -(i)nthos may suggest). The Mycenaean attestation could therefore actually represent a variant form, perhaps kirtanos, referred to ‘terebinth’, that is to say to pistachio nuts.

Most of the class G documents come from the west wing of the Palace of Knossos, an area which was probably specialized in the collection and distribution of substances and raw materials used in the industry of perfumed oils and in religious offerings.

As mentioned above, four groups of documents attested at Knossos belong to class G: the series Ga deals with various types of spices (accompanied by *123 AROM); the series Gg, with allocations of honey (me-ri, ME + RI), accompanied by a particular type of amphora (*209vas); the series Gm with wine (*131 vin); and Gv with fruit trees (*176 ARB).

In total, sixty-three tablets are grouped in the series Ga, thirty-one in Gg, three in Gm and three in Gv.

Class G is therefore of special interest for various reasons. Principally, it enhances our knowledge of the Mycenaean administrative system and of the collection and redistribution of agricultural products (many of which were also used in the production of perfumed oils) within its economic institutions, and so allows us to reconstruct the entire productive process.

The process probably began with the collection of raw materials; these were then passed to perfumers, inventoried and finally redistributed in their final form as finished products.

One famous tablet from Pylos, Un 267, records amounts of cyperus, fruit, wine, honey and spices given by an important functionary of the court called a-ko-so-ta, Alksoitās (alternatively Arksotās) to another individual called tu-we-ta, Thuwestāi (dat.), Thuwestās (: Thyestēs), a perfume-maker. The text may be translated as: ‘Alksoitās gave to Thuwestās, the unguent-boiler, spices to be boiled for unguent.

It is interesting to notice that such commodities are also often given as offerings to gods and this may shed light on cultual practices.

Since Mycenaean texts deal precisely with administrative records, they may provide information both on a-pu-do-si /apodosis/, ‘delivery’ ‘payment, and o-pe-ro /ophelos/, ‘deficit’, often abbreviated to o.


Ga 416                Ga 421              Ga 1536             Ga 7367             Gg 701               Gg 708              Gg 708 verso

Data License. The 2D+ and 3D-models of artifacts presented in the database of paitoproject are for scientific, non-profit use of scientists. All 2D+ and 3D-models are subject to copyright laws with all rights reserved.
Reproduction, publication or commercial use of these 2D+3D-datasets is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. For further information, contact: Prof Alessandro Greco