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: 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 numerical entry, while a toponym appears in the lower section.  (Greco 2010, 148).


Preliminary Notes (series Dd)

The Dd series includes 48 palm-leaf tablets written by the scribe H 117 (Olivier 1967; Aurora 2015, DAMOS, Database of Mycenaean at Oslo). They record rams, ewes and old sheep. The first word of the text is the shepherd’s name, written in a larger size, while the following part of text is smaller and arranged in two lines. On the upper line, the name of the collector is recorded, while, on the lower one, the place name. The logograms are distributed on two lines: the male and female animals on the upper one and the old animals on the lower one. There are, however, two exceptions: KN Dd 1342 e KN Dd 1468+. In the first tablet, rams are recorded using a larger logogram, while ewes and old sheep are written smaller and on two registers. In KN Dd 1468+, the text is written on only one line.

The distinction between adults and old animals is interesting. The difference seems to be related to the productivity of the animals. In modern times, sheep are productive for breeding to about 4-5 years, and maximum to 7 years for wool production. In Mycenaean times, as living condition would have been less favourable, the sheep would have been exploited up to 5-6 years and then considered old and destined for slaughter (Halstead 1999, 153-154; Greco 2002, 218). Similarly, in the Ancient Near East some Neo-Babylonian texts record sheep too old for breeding and therefore intended for sale or slaughter (Greco 2010, 54-55).


Dd 1429 +

KN Dd 1429 records a flock assigned to Phaistos (pa-i-to), under the supervision of the collector u-ta-jo, an anthroponym largely attested in Class D. Indeed, he was undoubtedly one of the ‘great’ collectors of Knossos (together with we-we-si-jo), managing a large number of flocks, located in almost every province of the Knossos kingdom (Greco 2000, 4-7; Greco 2010, 60-61). In the Dagv group, he appears 29 times in centres belonging to the Phaistos district (5 times in da-wo, 6 times in e-ko-so, 7 times in e-ra, 3 times in pa-i-to, 3 times in ku-ta-to and 5 times in da-*22-to), as well as to localities placed in other regions (4 times at qa-mo, qa-ra, su-ri-mo and ru-ki-to, 8 times at ra-ja, ra-su-to, ri-jo-no, tu-ni-ja and do-ti-ja and, finally, 3 times at *56-ko-we) (Del Freo 2016, 625-633). The area of his interests can be located in the central-western part of Crete; for this reason, u-ta-jo has been considered a ‘regionally based’ official of the palace (Bennet 1992; Greco 2000, 4, 7; Greco 2010, 61).

The name of the shepherd in charge of managing the accounted sheep is only partially preserved (]za-ra-ro), but it also appears in Dk(2) 1070, again in fragmentary form: this tablet was written by scribe 119 and was found in deposit J1. However, unlike KN Dd 1429 (where, as mentioned, pa-i-to is attested), KN Dk(2) 1070 refers to the different locality of ku-ta-to. Thus, the scholars consider unlikely that ]za-ra-ro was the same individual in the two tablets (Greco 2010).

The composition of the flock entrusted to the shepherd ]za-ra-ro is well known: it included 100 sheep, of which 54 males (OVISm), 43 females (OVISf) and 3 elders (pa OVISm). The males and females are reported on the upper line on the right, the elderly sheep, instead, are noted on the lower one, next to the place name.

.A        ]                      u-ta-jo     OVISm   54     OVISf   43

.B        ]za-ra-ro  /  pa-i-to     pa   OVISm   3

At Phaistos, Zàlaros (?), under the supervision of Urtaios (?), 54 rams, 43 ewes, 3 old animals.

U-ta-jo: masculine anthroponym, in the nominative singular (/nominative of rubric), 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 function of this figure more in depth (but see introduction to class D- and Greco 2010). However, as regards u-ta-jo, it seems clear that he was one of the most important collectors, since he is involved in the management of many flocks and it seems likely that he managed a large area covering most of the central-western part of Crete (Bennet 1992, 92; Greco 2010, 61).

]za-ra-ro: masculine anthroponym in the nominative singular case (or nominative of rubric) referring to the shepherd who managed the flocks recorded in the document. The same name also appears in KN Dk(2) 1070, in relation to the locality of ku-ta-to. For this reason, scholars interpret the two anthroponyms as homonyms, ruling out the possibility that they could be the same man (Greco 2010).

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.

pa: determinative, acrophonic abbreviation of pa-ra-jo, corresponding to the Greek adjective παλαιός, -α, -ον, ‘old’, often in opposition with ne-wo, νεός, -α, -ον, ‘new’. When it precedes OVISm, it specifies the sheep which had passed the productive age and, therefore, were sold or slaughtered (Halstead 1999, 153-154; Greco 2002, 218).


⇒  Further information on LiBER

The tablet KN Dd 1429 belongs to a homogeneous group of texts compiled by scribe H 117. It measures about 10-14 x 2-2.5 x 1 cm (Olivier 1967). Thanks to the epigraphic study carried out on the tablet by the team of the Linear B pa-i-to Epigraphic Project, it was possible to take measurements of the tablet, which is 10,4 cm long, 2,6 cm high and 1,34 cm thick.

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