Preliminary Notes (Dagv group)

The series Da, Db, Dc, Dd, De, Df, Dg and Dv constitute a homogeneous group of texts which deal with the inventory of the flocks of sheep of the Palace. They were compiled by the most important scribe of the Palace of Knossos, H 117. This group comprises about 670 tablets, some of which are complete and others fragmentary.

Each of the above-mentioned series deals with a particular type of flock: the documents which fall into the series Da deal with flocks of sheep made up of rams (OVISm), while the Db and Dc-Dg series may record both rams and ewes (OVISm – OVISf) or flocks of various types of sheep, including sheep differentiated not only by sex, but also as being young, old or missing (pa OVISm, pe OVISm , o OVISm). The series Dv comprises tablets which cannot be classified with precision, due to their fragmentary state (Greco 2010).

All these documents were found in the same place in the Palace of Knossos, the East West Corridor, located in an area just to the east of the great central court (conventionally known as J1) (Olivier 1967; Driessen 2000). They are dated approximately between LM IIIA2 and LM IIIB (between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 13rd century BC) (Firth-Skelton 2016; Firth-Melena 2016a).

All texts show a homogeneous structure (link to class D-): they typically present on the left a shepherd’s name in larger characters, the inscription then continues on the right on two lines; the top line contains a collector’s name and the logogram for the animal (sheep), followed by a numeral, while a toponym appears in the lower section.  (Greco 2010, 148).


Preliminary Notes (series Da)

The Da series comprises 131 palm-leaf tablets compiled by the scribe H 117 (Olivier 1967; Aurora 2015, DAMOS, Database of Mycenaean at Oslo). It includes all the documents dealing with flocks made up exclusively of rams. Twelve tablets in this group mention the toponym pa-i-to (Phaistòs) (Olivier 1988; Greco 2010).


Da 1156 +

This tablet suggests that at Phaistos, a shepherd called a-re-ke-se-u /Aleksēus/ managed 100 rams under the direct control of a collector called we-we-si-jo – prob. Werwesios (this might be interpreted in the light of Hom. /eiros/ εἶρος ‘wool’). Clearly, this person must have been one of the most important functionaries of Knossos.

He occurs in the archive no less than forty times, and it would seem that he dealt with both the management of flocks and the production and collection of wool (see Od 502). It seems likely that he was in charge of many ateliers of weavers and cloth-workers.

His figure appears therefore to be distinct from other collectors. It seems, in fact, that he may have managed both the palatial interests and his own, controlling the whole production chain from sheep breeding and wool collection to the final fabrication of luxury garments, “à la minoenne”.

Another distinctive characteristic of this individual is that he is found associated with Phaistos in many texts. According to a hypothesis sustained by Cuccuzza (Cucuzza 2003), he may actually have lived in the important centre of Ayia Triada, only 3 km away from Phaistos, which has yielded, among many other finds, the famous sarcophagus on display at the Museum of Heraklion.

.A        we-we-si-jo     OVISm  100

.B        a-re-ke-se-u , / pa-i-to

 Aleksēus, (at) Phaistos, under the supervision of Werwesios, 100 rams.

 We-we-si-jo: masculine anthroponym, in the nominative singular, of a collector. The term collector denotes a small group of functionaries involved in the management of both flocks of sheep and textile production. The currently available evidence does not allow us to investigate the functions of this figure more in depth (but see introduction to Class D-). However, as regards we-we-si-jo, it seems clear that he was one of the most important collectors; in fact, he is involved both in the management of flocks and the sector of wool production and weaving, and it seems likely that he managed a very large area in central-southern Crete.

Etymon: The interpretation of his name as, possibly, /Werwesios/, in the light of Hom. εἶρος  ‘wool’, is particularly interesting, considering his involvement in the management both of large numbers of animals and the activity of wool weaving and production.

A-re-ke-se-u: anthroponym of Greek origin, in the nominative singular /Aleksēus/. This is probably the name of a shepherd in charge of flocks under the supervision of the collector we-we-si-jo.

Etymon: the interpretation as *Ἀλεξεύς, prob. hypocoristic of /Alexandros, Alexanōr/ Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλεξάνωρ, is unanimously accepted.

Pa-i-to: toponym, in the locative (/nominative of rubric). This is a place name of pre-Greek origin, generally interpreted as /Phaistos/ (: Φαιστόϛ). The geographical localization in the plain of the Mesara, to the south of river Ieropotamos, is unanimously accepted.

⇒  Further information on LiBER

The tablet Da 1156 + belongs to a group of highly homogeneous texts compiled by scribe H 117. It measures ca. 10-14 x 2-2.5 x 1 cm (Olivier 1967).  

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