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 ewes and rams (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 numeral, while a toponym appears in the lower section.  (Greco 2010, 148).


Preliminary Notes (series Dv)

The Dv series comprises 280 palm-leaf tablets compiled by the scribe H 117 and deals with the inventory of the flocks of sheep of the Palace. However, it has been impossible to determine in detail the characteristics of the flocks recorded, due to the fragmentary state of the documents included in this class (Olivier 1967; Aurora 2015, DAMOSDatabase of Mycenaean at Oslo); only eight documents in this series mention the toponym pa-i-to (Phaistos) (Greco 2010, 148). In fact, the fragmentary nature of these texts allows us to formulate hypotheses concerning only the number or sex of the sheep recorded.


KN Dv 1509 +

Like most of the tablets of Knossos written by the scribe H 117 dealing with sheep husbandry, KN Dv 1509+ is written following a regular format, that can be reconstructed despite the fragmentary nature of the text: on the left, the name of the shepherd is written larger, while, on the right, the upper register records the name of the official in charge of supervising the management of the flock, the collector we-we-si-jo, noted in genitive singular (we-we-si-jo-jo), smaller than the rest of the text and followed by the number of rams, unfortunately fragmentary too (OVISm 120[).

Not much can be said about the shepherd mentioned in the tablet, who does not seem to appear elsewhere in the documentation from Knossos dealing with animal husbandry (Greco 2010, 146-147). Contrary, Landenius-Enegren (Landenius-Enegren 2008, 47) has proposed that the anthroponym o-ki-ro may also be found in tablet KN Dk(1) 7902 (H 120), where the sequence [-]-ki-ro can be read (KT VI s.v. for the text of the document). However, as pointed out by Greco, the vestigia of the syllabogram before the sequence -ki-ro do not appear to be compatible with the syllabogram by scribe H 120 (Greco 2010, 146-147).

Unlike o-ki-ro, the name we-we-si-jo (Werwesios) appears about forty times in the documentation of Knossos, both in sheep breeding and in the production of textiles. He is, therefore, considered by scholars to be one of the most important collectors of Knossos (about the role of collectors. It has been hypothesised that Werwesios, unlike many other collectors whose tasks were mainly limited to sheep-breeding, was also involved in the collection of wool, as well as in the manufacture of fabrics and luxury clothing, since groups of weavers and garment finishers probably worked under his direction (Greco 2010).

In addition, at least in this tablet, the noun we-we-si-jo also presents important features from a palaeo-epigraphic point of view. Indeed, comparing KN Dv 1509+ with documents KN Da 1163+, Db 1344+ and Dd 1157, Greco recalls that it is possible to “… detect some obvious similarities in the sequence of syllabograms that make up the name we-we-si-jo, and in particular the succession – and the contiguity – between the lower loop of the syllabogram we and the left stretch of the syllabogram si, very close to it”.  Moreover, the scholar continues, “…in all the cases reported here, the central cross of the syllabogram si occurs lower than the hypothetical guideline on which the word was transcribed.” (Greco 2010, 390-391). This evidence is particularly significant not only because it allows us to establish a palaeographic continuity between the mentioned texts, but also because it allowed the scholar to propose a new reading for another extremely fragmentary document, KN Dv 9600, where we are able to read only ]ẉẹ-ma-na ỌṾỊṢx[.

In this regard, Greco suggests that the sequence ]ẉẹ-ma-na, hardly legible, covers in this text the place usually “occupied” by the name of the collector. Though this has also been hypothetically reconstructed as ]we-ri-jo or ]we-ri[]-jo, nevertheless, with all the reservations imposed by the nature of the documentation, given the presence of the palaeographic features mentioned above also in the syllabograms preserved on KN Dv 9600, it is perhaps possible to propose the reading we]-we-si-[jo]-jo, a factor that could lead to ascribe this text to the typology of KN Dv 1509 + (Greco 2010, 390-391).

.A                       we-we-si-jo-jo         OVISm 120[

.B        o-ki-ro  /             pa-i-to  ,                             [

Okiro, (at) Phaistos, 120 rams under the supervision of Werwesios

o-ki-ro: masculine anthroponym in nominative case (or nominative of rubric) referring to a shepherd. According to the interpretation proposed by Landenius-Enegren, the same name is also to be reconstructed in the fragmentary tablet KN Dk(1) 7902 (H 120), where it is possible to read [-]-ki-ro (Landenius-Enegren 2008, 47, 80). However, as pointed out by Greco, what remains of the sign preceding the sequence -ki-ro does not seem to be compatible with the syllabogram AB 61 o, as usually written by scribe H 120. For this reason, the name o-ki-ro should rather be considered an hapax in the Linear B documentation from Knossos (Greco 2010, 146-147).

We-we-si-jo: masculine anthroponym, in the genitive 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 evidence currently available does not allow us to investigate the functions of this figure more in depth (Greco 2010). 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 large flocks as well as the sector of wool production and weaving, and it seems likely that he managed a very large area in central-southern Crete, especially at Phaistos.

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

Pa-i-to: toponym, in locative (/ nominative of rubric). This is a place name 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

Tablet Dv 1509+ belongs to a group of homogeneous texts compiled by scribe H 117. Therefore, it seems likely that this tablet originally measured ca. 10‒14 x 2‒2.5 x 1 cm (Olivier 1967).

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