(Original post from 1999. -Ed.)
JOSÉ L. MELENA
REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES AT PASP
University of Texas at Austin
October 16 – November 5, 1999
The staying at the PASP premises followed the kind invitation of its director, Professor Thomas G. Palaima, to do work there and the invitation from the Department of Classics to participate in the teaching of a seminar on Mycenaean Greek religious texts.
Research in PASP was devoted to three points:
- the presentation of the results of the reconstruction work on Mycenaean tablets from Knossos and Pylos;
- the search for early material concerning the Knossos tablets in the PASP files; and
- the discussion and interchange of ideas on Mycenaean topics with scholars and students.
My visit also furnished the opportunity to assist with the organization of the CIPEM Conference in May, 2000, the planned related Exhibition on Old and New World Writing, the publication both of the Proceedings of the Conference, and the publication of the fourth volume of the Palace of Nestor, with the editio maiorof the Pylos tablets. Discussions were held with the Benson Library Staff, and the University of Texas Press, accordingly.
A scale model of the Archive Rooms 7 and 8 at Pylos was constructed with the aid of a member of PASP, Kevin Pluta, and is now deposited in the PASP premises as a paedagogical tool for envisaging further research on the recovering of the original arrangement of the tablets in the shelves and bench.
a) The presentation of the results of the reconstruction work on Mycenaean tablets from Knossos and Pylos was done by means of participating in the Seminar GK 390 (Fall 1999) «Greek Religion: Linear B» on October 27th, with the talk «Mycenaean Religious Texts: The Significance of New Joins and Readings», with a special bearing on the new evidence concerning the god Dionysos at Pylos, and the religious interpretation of the Qa series and its logogram *189, as ‘hides from sacrificial victims’.
On October 29th a more general presentation for the Faculty of Classics was given, in the framework of Classics Colloquia, on «Reconstructing the Archives at Knossos and Pylos».
On November 3rd, some additional topics, pertaining mainly to Mycenaean sealings, were addressed during the Seminar GK 390 (in which I also participated for the first time on October 20th, when the discussion was the textual evidence for later Greek hieros and related terms.
All the presentations were supported with plenty of slides on Mycenaean records, a series of duplicates of which is now deposited at PASP for teaching purposes.
b) The search for early material concerning the Knossos tablets in the PASP files was prompted by the existence of the files formed by Alice Kober’s material reinforced by the seminal material gathered by Emmett L. Bennett on the occassion of his visits to Heraklio, Crete, in 1950 and 1954.
It was possible, therefore, to determine that much of the material classified as agrapha and published by John T. Killen and Jean-Pierre Olivier from 1962 onwards was already known and photographed by Professor Bennett in 1950 and mainly in 1954, but never edited after. This new evidence has an enormous bearing on the reconstruction of the museological stories of the fragments and ultimately for the determination of the find-spots of the tablets. Accordingly, a systematic search for photographs of agrapha was done by reviewing every slip in the files, without having completed it. Subsequent study will reveal if further search is required or punctual needed information can be supplied by means of e-mails and photocopies.
A main aim of the search was the gathering of evidence concerning the fragments transcribed for the first time by E. L. Bennett in 1950 (5000-6068), for which a revision of every concerned slip with references to the negatives of 1950 and 1954 (now destroyed because of the self-combusting nature of nitrate) was done for a cross-checking with the only extant concordance by E. L. Bennett of the 1954 material, still to be done. Such a work was done on behalf of the study in progress carried by Richard Firth, Bristol, and will be eventually published in Minos along with the acknowledgment to the PASP for having provided the means for completing it.
It was possible to ascertain also the steps of Bennett’s work in 1950 and 1954, sometimes complemented with the oral information provided by Bennett himself who visited the PASP from October 26-29.
- ELB controlled in 1950 for the first time after the WW II the Linear B material from Knossos deposited at the Museum of Heraklion, and discovered a good number of tablets not recorded by Evans and therefore not included in the final draft of SCRIPTA MINOA II. ELB claims that he copied and transcribed the 5000-6068 fragments, numbered them, and photographed them at the last moment.
- Nevertheless, a close examination of the 1950 photographs shows that no numbering was done before the photographs were taken, and even that there were two phases in the photographing:
Thus negatives A and B were taken first, but there was a third phase of photographs -negative C- which discloses joins of A-B independent pieces.
- That no numbering was inked in 1950 is reinforced by the existence of a series of detail photographs -no references- taken in 1954, in which there are no numbers on the spots where the number does appear in subsequent photographs.
- The inking of numbers was done during 1954 as clearly proved by the instances of numbering of joined pieces, very often with the only number in the ‘wrong’ component of the resulting piece.
- The final photographic coverage of the pieces in 1954, with the numbers already inked on them, is extant in what is called Thermofax (exposure 2 minutes, Intensity 10, Magnification 7x) from negatives no. 8.7 to 11, with individuals referred by means of a slant (/) followed by number.
A great part of the Thermofax positives was cut down and glued onto slips and filed, but there is a paste-up with the remains concerning the 5000-6068 fragments, which, along with the Concordance and the notes taken in the revision, will aid to establish the former groupings of tablets.
All the new evidence will be introduced in the magnetic Corpus KTTcolor and exploited for determining the find-spots.
c) The discussion and interchange of ideas on Mycenaean topics with scholars and students, so enriching to the Visitor, covered a lot of topics. The PASP visit provided the best opportunity for discussing with Professor Emmett L. Bennett the last pending questions on the establishment of the final text of the Pylos Tablets. Along the same lines, further examination of the Pylos Mb and Mn tablets was done at the suggestion of Professor Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, with the gain in improving readings. Professor Cynthia W. Shelmerdine has now joined to the Editorial Team and a determination of her task was outlined as well as the way and rhythm of her contribution to the Corpus.
Likewise, the frame for future collaboration with PASPian Kevin Pluta in order to build a model for the original arrangement of the tablets at the Archive from the spilling charts of the documents, was also established with profit.
Last, but not least, intense and fluid communication of the Visitor with Professor Palaima on many topics resulted not only in an enrichment of the Visitor’s knowledge, but also led to the discovery of a Bronze Age bronze dagger from Luristan on display, along with a diminutive case with a series of amazing dressed fleas, at the Buckhorn Museum, San Antonio, Texas.
Vitoria, November 11th, 1999
José L. Melena