Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-vpsfw Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-24T13:34:26.634Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

WHAT IS THE ‘ARCHANES FORMULA’? DECONSTRUCTING AND RECONSTRUCTING THE EARLIEST ATTESTATION OF WRITING IN THE AEGEAN

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2021

Silvia Ferrara*
Affiliation:
University of Bologna
Barbara Montecchi
Affiliation:
University of Bologna
Miguel Valério
Affiliation:
University of Bologna

Abstract

This article examines the earliest attestations of writing on Crete at the beginning of the second millennium bce, the so-called ‘Archanes formula’. The aim is to reassess its origin, purpose, significance and ‘reading’ through a multi-step analysis taking in details of palaeography, correlations with iconographic seal motifs, and material culture. Key issues are considered, namely the extent to which is it comparable with the Linear A ‘libation formula’ a-sa-sa-ra-me, or, conversely, whether it should be singled out as a separate writing tradition. To address these questions, the ‘Archanes formula’ is brought under close scrutiny, vis-à-vis the graphic repertoires of Cretan Hieroglyphic and, in parallel, Linear A. Our conclusions point towards a strong connection with the Cretan Hieroglyphic milieu, in terms of sign shapes and direct links to seal imagery. In this light, the earliest writing in the Aegean is revisited not so much as a script in itself, nor as a prequel to Linear A religious sequences, but as a direct manifestation of the iconic glyptic practices of the Hieroglyphic tradition.

Τι είναι ο «λογότυπος των Αρχανών»; Αποδόμηση και ανακατασκευή της πρώτης βεβαίωσης γραφής στο Αιγαίο

Αυτό το άρθρο αναλύει τις πρώτες βεβαιώσεις γραφής στην Κρήτη στην αρχή της δεύτερης χιλιετίας π.Χ., οι οποίες φέρνουν το λεγόμενο «λογότυπον των Αρχανών». Ο στόχος είναι να επανεκτιμηθεί η προέλευση και η σχέση της με τα Κρητικά Ιερογλυφικά και Γραμμική Α, μέσω παλαιογραφικής ανάλυσης των σχετικών γραφικών σημείων και της σύγκρισης με μοτίβα σκαλισμένα σε σφραγίδες και με άλλα αρχαιολογικά ευρήματα της μεσομινωικής εποχής. Τα συμπεράσματά μας δείχνουν μια πολύ ισχυρή σχέση με τα σχήματα των σημείων των Κρητικών Ιερογλυφικών και των εικόνων των σφραγίδων της μεσομινωικής I-II περιόδου. Ταυτόχρονα, η ευρέως διαδεδομένη άποψη ότι ο «λογότυπος των Αρχανών» είναι ο πρόγονος του «λογοτύπου χόων» της Γραμμικής Α a-sa-sa-ra-me αποδεικνύεται ότι βασίζεται σε υποθέσεις περισσότερο από ότι σε πραγματικές αποδείξεις. Ως εκ τούτου, οι πρώτες επιγραφές στο Αιγαίο δεν επανεξετάζονται τόσο σαν μια γραφή από μόνη της, ούτε ως ένας πρόδρομος των θρησκευτικών τύπων της Γραμμικής Α, αλλά ως άμεση εκδήλωση των πρακτικών σφραγίδας της Ιερογλυφικής παράδοσης της Κρήτης.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens, 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

REFERENCES

Alexiou, St. and Brice, W.C. 1976. ‘A silver pin from Platanos with an inscription in Linear A: Her. Mus. 498’, Kadmos 15, 1827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anastasiadou, M. 2016. ‘Drawing the line: seals, script, and regionalism in Protopalatial Crete’, AJA 120.2, 159–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boltz, W.G. 1994. The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System (New Haven, CT).Google Scholar
Boltz, W.G. 2000. Monosyllabicity and the Origin of the Chinese Script (Berlin).Google Scholar
Bossert, H.Th. 1931. ‘Die Beschwörung einer Krankheit in der Sprache von Kreta’, OLZ 34, 303–30.Google Scholar
Bouillon, H. 2015. ‘On the Anatolian origins of some Late Bronze Egyptian vessel forms’, Anatolia Antiqua 23, 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brice, W.C. 1983. ‘The “libation vessels” inscribed in Linear A’, in Heubeck, A. and Neumann, G. (eds), Res Mycenaeae. Akten des 7. Internationalen Mykenologischen Colloquiums in Nürnberg vom 6–10 April 1981 (Göttingen), 5562.Google Scholar
Brice, W.C. 1997. ‘Notes on the Cretan Hieroglyphic script’, Kadmos 36, 93‒6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brice, W.C. and Henle, J.E. 1965. ‘Studies in the structure of some ancient scripts IV and V’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 48.1, 5680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Civitillo, M. 2016a. ‘La cosiddetta “formula di Archanes” del contesto della glittica minoica pre- e proto-palaziale: analisi comparata’, L'Incidenza dell'Antico 14.2, 71116.Google Scholar
Civitillo, M. 2016b. La scrittura geroglifica minoica sui sigilli: il messaggio della glittica protopalaziale (Pisa and Rome).Google Scholar
Davis, B. 2014. Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions (Aegaeum 36; Liège).Google Scholar
Decorte, R.P.-J.E. 2017. ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic and the nature of script’, in Steele, P.M. (ed.), Understanding Relations between Scripts: The Aegean Writing Systems (Oxford), 3356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Decorte, R.P.-J.E. 2018a. ‘The origins of Bronze Age Aegean writing: Linear A, Cretan Hieroglyphic and a new proposed pathway of script formation’, in Ferrara, S. and Valério, M. (eds), Paths into Script Formation in the Ancient Mediterranean (SMEA n.s., suppl. 1; Rome), 1349.Google Scholar
Decorte, R.P.-J.E. 2018b. ‘The first “European” writing: redefining the Archanes script’, OJA 37, 341–72.Google Scholar
Del Freo, M. 2008. ‘Rapport 2001–2005 sur les textes en écriture hiéroglyphique crétoise, en linéaire A et en linéaire B’, in Sacconi, A., Del Freo, M., Godart, L. and Negri, M. (eds), Colloquium Romanum. Atti del XI colloquio internazionale di micenologia, Roma 20–25 febbraio 2006, vol. 1 (Pisa and Rome), 199222.Google Scholar
Duhoux, Y. 1989. ‘Le Linéaire A: problèmes de déchiffrement’, in Duhoux, Y., Palaima, Th.G. and Bennet, J. (eds), Problems in Decipherment (Louvain-la-Neuve), 59119.Google Scholar
Evans, A.J. 1894. ‘Primitive pictographs and a Prae-Phoenician script, from Crete and the Peloponnese’, JHS 14, 270372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Evans, A.J. 1909. Scripta Minoa: The Written Documents of Minoan Crete with Special Reference to the Archives of Knossos, vol. 1: The Hieroglyphic and Primitive Linear Classes (Oxford).Google Scholar
Ferrara, S. 2015. ‘The beginnings of writing on Crete: theory and context’, BSA 210, 2749.Google Scholar
Ferrara, S. 2017. ‘Another beginning's end: secondary script formation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean’, in Steele, P.M. (ed.), Understanding Relations between Scripts: The Aegean Writing Systems (Oxford), 732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferrara, S. 2018. ‘De la figure à l’écriture. Tradition, iconographique et naissance du Hiéroglyphique en Crète minoenne’, Terrain 70, 82103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferrara, S., Montecchi, B. and Valério, M. forthcoming. ‘The making of a script: Cretan Hieroglyphic and the quest for its origins’, BASOR 384.Google Scholar
Finkelberg, M. 1990‒1. ‘Minoan inscriptions on libation vessels’, Minos 25‒6, 4385.Google Scholar
Flouda, G. 2013. ‘Materiality of Minoan writing: modes of display and perception’, in Piquette, K.E. and Whitehouse, R.D. (eds), Writing as Material Practice: Substance, Surface, and Medium (London), 143‒74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Godart, L. 1999. ‘L’Écriture d'Archanès: hiéroglyphique ou linéaire A?’, in Betancourt, Ph.P., Karageorghis, V., Laffineur, R. and W., D. Niemeier, (eds), Meletemata: Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener, vol. 1 (Aegeaum 20; Liège), 299302.Google Scholar
Grumach, E. 1963‒4. ‘Studies in the structure of some ancient scripts III: the structure of the Cretan Hieroglyphic script’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 46, 346‒84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grumach, E. 1968. ‘The Minoan libation formula – again’, Kadmos 7, 726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grumach, E. and Sakellarakis, J. 1966, ‘Die neuen Hieroglyphensiegel vom Phourni (Archanes) I’, Kadmos 5, 109‒14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hooker, J. 1992. ‘Early Balkan “scripts” and the ancestry of Linear A’, Kadmos 31, 97112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Houston, S.D. (ed.) 2004. The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process (Cambridge).Google Scholar
Jasink, A.M. 2009. Cretan Hieroglyphic Seals. A New Classification of Symbols and Ornamental/Filling Motifs (Pisa and Rome).Google Scholar
Karetsou, A., Godart, L. and Olivier, J.-P. 1985. ‘Inscriptions en linéaire A du sanctuaire de sommet minoen du Mont Iouktas’, Kadmos 24, 89147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Karnava, A. 1999. ‘The Cretan Hieroglyphic script of the second millennium bc: description analysis, function and decipherment perspectives’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Université Libre de Bruxelles).Google Scholar
Karnava, A. 2015. ‘In the land of Lilliput: writing in the Bronze Age Aegean’, WorldArch 47.1, 137‒57.Google Scholar
Karnava, A. 2016. ‘On sacred vocabulary and religious dedications: the Minoan “libation formula”’, in Alram-Stern, E., Blakolmer, F., Deger-Jalkotzy, S., Laffineur, R. and Weilhartner, J. (eds), METAPHYSIS: Ritual, Myth and Symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age. 15th International Aegean Conference, University of Vienna, 22–25 April 2014 (Aegaeum 39; Leuven), 345–55.Google Scholar
Knappett, C., Del Freo, M. and Zurbach, J. 2017. ‘A fragmentary libation table with inscription in Linear A from Petsophas, Palaikastro (Pk Za 27)’, SMEA n.s. 3, 7382.Google Scholar
Levi, D. and Carinci, F. 1988. Festòs e la civiltà minoica II Fascicolo secondo (Rome).Google Scholar
Meißner, T. and Steele, P.M. 2017. ‘Linear A and Linear B: structural and contextual concerns’, in Nosch, M.-L. and Landenius Enegren, H. (eds), Aegean Scripts: Proceedings of the 14th International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies, Copenhagen, 2–5 September 2015, vol. 1 (Rome), 99114.Google Scholar
Militello, P. 1990. ‘Due iscrizioni minoiche da Phaistòs’, Sileno 16, 325‒41.Google Scholar
Montet, P. 1929. Byblos et l'Egypte: quatre campagnes de fouilles à Gebeil, 1921–1922–1923–1924. Atlas (Paris).Google Scholar
Monti, O. 2005. ‘Considérations sur quelques termes des texts votifs linéaires A’, Kadmos 44, 1922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olivier, J.-P. 1989. ‘Possible methods in deciphering the pictographic Cretan script’, in Duhoux, Y., Palaima, T.G. and Bennet, J. (eds), Problems in Decipherment (Louvain-la-Neuve), 3958.Google Scholar
Olivier, J.-P. 1996. ‘Les Écritures crétoises: sept points à considérer’, in De Miro, E., Sacconi, A. and Godart, L. (eds), Atti e Memorie del Secondo Congresso Internazionale di Micenologia. Roma–Napoli, 14–20 ottobre 1991 (Rome), 101–13.Google Scholar
Olivier, J.-P. and Godart, L. 1996. Corpus Hieroglyphicarum Inscriptionum Cretae (ÉtCrét 31; Paris).Google Scholar
Olivier, J.-P., Rethemiotakis, G. and Dimopoulou, N. 1993. ‘Une Statuette en argile MR IIIA de Poros/Irakliou avec inscription en linéaire A’, BCH 117.2, 501–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Owens, G.A. 1996, ‘Evidence for the Minoan language (1): the Minoan libation formula’, Cretan Studies 5, 163206.Google Scholar
Peirce, C.S. 1931. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vol. 1, ed. Hartshorne, C. and Weiss, P. (Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
Perna, M. 2014. ‘The birth of administration and writing in Minoan Crete: some thoughts on Hieroglyphic and Linear A’, in Nakassis, D., Gulizio, J. and James, S.A. (eds), KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia W. Shelmerdine (Philadelphia, PA), 251–9.Google Scholar
Perna, M. 2019. ‘A seal in the British Museum with a Cretan Hieroglyphic inscription (CR (?) S(1/1) 07)’, Kadmos 58, 4959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pope, M. 1961. ‘The Minoan goddess Asasara – an obituary’, BICS 8, 2931.Google Scholar
Powell, B.B. 2009. Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization (Oxford).Google Scholar
Reich, J.J. 1968. ‘The rôle of the naturalistic signs in the Minoan hieroglyphic script’, in Gallavotti, G. (ed.), Atti e memorie del 1° congresso internazionale di micenologia. Roma 27 settembre–3 ottobre 1967, vol. 1 (Rome), 448‒61.Google Scholar
Robertson, J.S. 2004. ‘The possibility and actuality of writing’, in Houston , 16‒38.Google Scholar
Sbonias, K. 1995. Frükretische Siegel: Ansätze für eine Interpretation der sozial-politischen Entwicklung auf Kreta während der Frühbronzezeit (BAR 620; Oxford).Google Scholar
Sbonias, K. 2010. ‘Seals from the cemetery’, in Vasilakis, S. and Branigan, K. (eds), Moni Odigitria: A Prepalatial Cemetery and its Environs in the Asterousia, Southern Crete (Philadelphia, PA), 201309.Google Scholar
Schoep, I. 1999. ‘The origins of writing and administration’, OJA 18.3, 265–76.Google Scholar
Schoep, I. 2006. ‘Looking beyond the first palaces: elites and the agency of power in EM III–MM II Crete’, AJA 110.1, 3764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steele, P.M. and Meißner, T. 2017. ‘From Linear B to Linear A: the problem of the backward projection of sound values’, in Steele, P.M. (ed.), Understanding Relations between Scripts: The Aegean Writing Systems (Oxford), 93110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trigger, B. 2004. ‘Writing systems: a case study in cultural evolution’, in Houston 2004, 3968.Google Scholar
Tsipopoulou, M. and Hallager, E. 1996. ‘Inscriptions with Hieroglyphs and Linear A from Petras, Siteia’, SMEA 37, 746.Google Scholar
Valério, M. and Ferrara, S. 2019. ‘Rebus and acrophony in invented writing’, Writing Systems Research 11, 6693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weingarten, J. 1995. ‘Sealing studies in the Middle Bronze Age, III: the Minoan hieroglyphic deposits at Mallia and Knossos’, in Pini, I. and Poursat, J.-C. (eds), Sceaux minoens et mycéniens. IVe symposium international 10–12 septembre 1992, Clermont-Ferrand (Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel Beiheft 5; Berlin), 285311.Google Scholar
Younger, J.G. 1996‒7. ‘The Cretan Hieroglyphic script: a review article’, Minos 31, 379400.Google Scholar
Yule, P. 1980. Early Cretan Seals: A Study of Chronology (Mainz).Google Scholar