Preliminary Notes (So series)

The So series currently includes twenty-seven tablets, all of which are palm-leaf shaped. All of them were found in the Arsenal (L), except for tablets So 894 and So 1053, which were found in the NEP (I3) (Lejeune 1968, 33-37; Olivier 1967; Bernabé et alii 1990-1991; Bernabé 2016b, 511). This group of texts includes three sets, namely So, So(1) and So(2): So comprises 9 texts not yet assigned to a specific scribal hand, while So(1) and So(2) include documents written by the scribes H 129, H 130, H 131 and H 231, for a total of 18 texts (KT VI). Some tablets have been attributed to scribal hands, although with margins of uncertainty: So 4447 may have been written by H 129, while So(2) 4431 and So(2) 4443 by H 131.

With a few exceptions (So 894, So(1) 4436, So(2) 4446), the So series includes one-line tablets (So 4447, 5789, 8182, So(1) 4429, 4432, 4437, 4441, 4448, 4449, So(2) 4431, 4434, 44384439, 4445) or two-line tablets with no ruling (So 1053, 4435, 4487, 8251, 8561, So(1) 4430, 4440, So(2) 4433, 44424443).

The common element of the So series is the presence of the logogram *243 rota, which refers to a-mo (cf. Gr. *ἂρμο, /armo/, wheel); the neuter plural a-mo-ta is also attested in this series (DMic s.v.; Bernabé et alii 1990-1991; Bernabé 2008, 208-209; Bernabé 2016b).

The logogram rota may also be accompanied by the abbreviation ZE (cf. Gr. ζεῦγος, /dzeugos/, a “pair”) and, only in a few cases, by MO (cf. Gr. μόνος, /monwon/, “one”): this has suggested that the wheels were usually recorded in pairs but could also be counted individually if necessary (Docs2; Melena 1987b; Bernabé 2016b, 511).

The number of the wheels usually follows the logogram and the related abbreviations. More information may be provided by several adjectives. Among the most frequent notations is the type of wood used for manufacture, such as e-ri-ka, pte-re-wa or ki-da-pa – willow wood (cf. Gr. ἑλίκας), elm wood (cf. Gr. *πτελέϝας > πτελέας) and another  unidentified type of timber; the specification of the wheel type is also very frequent, for example o-da-ke-we-ta and te-mi-dwe-ta are technical terms which were probably related to the type of spokes that completed the wheels with teeth or with “feet” respectively (cf. Gr. *ὀδατ-ϝεντ-ς and *τερμίδ-ϝεντ-ς); the Mycenaean form ka-ko-de-ta is attested in So 894 and is generally interpreted in the light of Greek χαλκόδετα, bound with bronze , that is with bronze clamps (< χαλκός, bronze, + δέω, to bind) (DMic s. vv.; Bernabé et alii 1990-1991; Bernabé 2008, 208-209; Bernabé 2016b).

The quality of the recorded artefact is often mentioned too (a-ro2-a, better, cf. Gr. *ἄρροhα; wa-ra-wi-ta, damaged, cf. Gr. *ϝραϝιστα, also interpreted as ‘wheels derived from a booty’) (see DMic s.vv.).

The So tablets may also provide indications concerning the administrative state of the wheels during the manufacturing process. In fact, some texts may specify whether the wheels have already been delivered (de-do-me-na, cf. Gr. *δεδομένα, delivered), if they are still being processed (wo-zo-me-na, cf. Gr. *ϝορζομένα), or if there are any shortages (o-pe-ro, cf. Gr. *ὄφειλω); others may also include references to the year of manufacture (ne-wa, pe-ru-si-nwa, i.e. new or of the past year, cf. Gr. *νέϝα > νέα and *περυσινϝα > περυσινός) and to the type of contract with the craftsmen in charge of the production. The forms o-pa and/or ta-ra-si-ja refer to the relationship between the Palace and the self-employed, the contract between the palace and dependent and/or semi-dependent employees which implied also the delivery of the raw materials necessary for the production (in this regard, see in particular DMic s. vv.; Aspects, 89-111; Melena 1983; Bernabé et alii 1990-1991, 167-168, 171; Nosch 1997-2000, 27-44; Nosch 2000; Killen 1999; 2001b, 161-180; Nosch 2006, 161-182; Bernabé 2008, 210-211; Sacconi 2008, 691-705).

In one single document, namely the tablet So(1) 4448, which will be discussed below in detail, the toponym Phaistos (pa-i-to) – perhaps the place of destination or (more likely) the place of origin of the wheels recorded (see below, as well as Barnabé 2016, 518) – is recorded.


KN So(1) 4448

KN So(1) 4448 is a palm-leaf shaped tablet, found in the Arsenal (L) and unanimously attributed to the scribal hand H 130 (KT VI).

The document, organised on a single line of writing records three pairs of wheels (rota ZE 3) made of elm wood (pte-re-wa, cf. Gr. *πτελέϝας > πτελέας). The document also specifies that the spokes of the registered wheels were fitted with feet (te-mi-dwe-ta, cf. Gr. *τερμίδ-ϝεντ-ς) at the end, a technic plausibly used to fasten the wheel rim to the wheel spokes (DMic s.v. and supra).

As reminded above (supra, series So), the mention of the locality of Phaistos (pa-i-to) is particularly interesting: the toponym appears in the locative case (infra, philology) and suggests that these artefacts had some kind of relationship with this place; however, the nature of this relation is not clear. It has been hypothesised that the toponym could indicate either the place of delivery or (more likely) the place of origin of the wheels (Bernabé 2016, 518).

It may also be worth remembering that this toponym appears also on Sd 4413 which deals with partially assembled chariots. This has led scholars to look for some link between the two documents: since Sd 4413 records chariots already assembled, but still without wheels, and related to the locality of Phaistos and although their precise number is not preserved, it would be tempting to postulate that the wheels recorded in So(1) 4448 were those intended to be fitted on the chariots recorded in Sd 4413.

pa-i-to  ,  a-mo-ta  ,  pte-re-wa  ,  te-mi-dwe-ta     rota     ZE   3

In Phaistos, three pairs of wheels (made) of elm wood, equipped with feet.

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 (DMic s.v.). In this case, the term could indicate the place of destination or, more likely, the place of origin of the wheels (Bernabé 2016, 518).

a-mo-ta: nominative (of rubric) neuter plural of a-mo, unanimously interpreted in the light of Gr *ἂρμο, wheel (but cf. Gr. ἂρμα, chariot, by semantic translation) (DMic s.v.).

pte-re-wa: singular genitive of a feminine noun generally traced back to *πτελέϝaς (from *πτελέϝa > πτελέa), from elm, and used to describe the type of timber used in the manufacture of wheels (DMic s.v. and Bernabé 2016, as well as Bernabé et alii 1990-1991 and Bernabé 2008, 208-211); the noun is also attested in the Se series to denote the material used in the manufacture of the wagon body, indicated by the logogram *241 cur (class S).

te-mi-dwe-ta: the term indicates a specific type of wheel and, more in detail, it refers to the procedure used to secure the spoke to the rim; it is unanimously traced back to the Greek *τερμίδ-ϝεντ-ς (cf. classic Gr. τερμίς, Hom. τερμιόεις) and means equipped with feet, (DMic s.v.; Bernabé et alii 1990-1991; Bernabé 2008, 208-211; 2016).

ZE: an acrophonic abbreviation used to denote a pair of wheels (cf. Gr. ζεῦγος, /dzeugos/, pair) (Bernabé et alii 1990-1991; Bernabé 2016; on ZE see in particular Melena 1987b).


⇒ Further information on LiBER

A slightly irregular palm-leaf shaped tablet, with ends slightly tapered and rounded. Unlike the other documents written by the scribe H 130 (19 x 3 x 1.7 cm ca.), KN So 4448 measures 17 x 2.5 x 1.5 cm ca. (Olivier 1967, 79).

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