Manolis Stavrakakis and the Treasures of PASP

Report of Manolis Stavrakakis July 2012 as  Short Term Scholar in the Classics Department, University of Texas – Austin  Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP)

‘The treasures of PASP’

The title I am giving to this short report, ‘The treasures of PASP’, has a literal and a metaphorical meaning.

Its literal meaning stems from the variety, importance and number of the materials of the PASP Collection and Archives.

Its metaphorical meaning refers to the person who has created it, Professor Tom Palaima, as he is himself one of the ‘treasures’ of PASP and the ‘soul’ of the Program.

There are two themes with which I will refer in my experience as a short-term visiting scholar at the University of Texas in Austin. One is my studying at PASP and the other is the life in Austin.

As a Ph.D. student at the Architectural Association, under Mark Cousins’ supervision – to whom I am indebted for his support to work on this topic, his contribution, as well as his encouragement to go to Austin – I started exploring the connection between Michael Ventris’ architectural education and his decipherment. I received the ‘Michael Ventris Extraordinary Award in Architecture’ in July, 2011 so that I could travel for one week to Austin and work at PASP on the correspondence of Michael Ventris and Emmett Bennett.

It was there that I had the chance to meet for the first time with Professor Tom Palaima and discuss my Thesis with him. Had it not been for Tom Palaima’s enthusiasm and generosity I would not have been able to return to the PASP for a whole month, in July 2012, and I would not have been able to continue with my research. Up to today Tom Palaima’s invitation to work with him has been the most generous gift that this Ph.D. has offered to me.

My studying in PASP can be described within three different themes. Continue reading

Report on Visit – Dimitri Nakassis

(Original posted in 2010. -Ed.)

My short visit to UT and PASP gave me the opportunity to present aspects of my dissertation research and new ideas stemming from it. I gave a talk to the department on Thursday November 12th about the extent to which the model of the activities of Pylian elites based on the Linear B evidence, which I developed in my dissertation, can shed light on thorny problems in the analysis of Mycenaean archaeology. On Friday, I lectured to Tom Palaima’s undergraduate class on Aegean Prehistory (AHC 378) about the composition of Mycenaean society and the extent to which older managerial models should be modified in light of the prosopographical analysis from my dissertation.

My visit also allowed me to meet with faculty and students from UT and at other institutions. I met with Tom Palaima and Cynthia Shelmerdine to discuss a variety of topics, including of course things Mycenaean. I also discussed the Archaic symposium with Adam Rabinowitz, and Cypriot archaeology with former fellow PASPian and colleague at Trinity Unviersity in San Antonio, Nicolle Hirschfeld. I had the chance to talk to several graduate students at UT Classics, including Dygo Tosa, Mary Jane Cuyler and Alissa Stoimenoff, and Jamie Aprile from UCLA, and the undergraduates from Tom’s Aegean Prehistory class.

On Friday night I attended a fascinating lecture with Tom and recent UT Classics Ph.D. John Friend on “Dionysus in 69 in ’09: Looking Back, Looking Forward” (by Richard Schechner), which taught me a lot about modern theatre and the adaptation of Greek drama.

Otherwise, the weather in Austin was fantastic, and I managed to eat Texas barbecue at two of my favorite places, Rudy’s on 183 North and The Salt Lick in Driftwood.

Report on Visit – Ruth Palmer

(Original posted in 2010. -Ed.)

Report on Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, 2009 visit by Ruth Palmer

I wish to thank Tom Palaima and the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, for bringing me to Austin, and providing the opportunity to work in PASP and present my work to such an energizing audience of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and visiting scholars. Sharing meals with students and faculty also provided an opportunity to talk in a less formal setting than a classroom or lecture hall. Adams House, the bed and breakfast at which I stayed, was very comfortable and accommodating. I had spent nine months in 1993-94 at UT Austin as a postdoctoral fellow working on my book, Wine in the Mycenaean Palace Economy, so my return to Austin was like a homecoming.

I was invited to teach a class of Tom’s upper level history course, AHC 378, on the status and occupations of the women workers in the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, on Monday Nov. 30, and give a Classics colloquium on my current research project, “What the scribe saw: artistic representations of deer and the invention of the Mycenaean deer ideogram,” on Thurs. Dec. 3. I was aided greatly in the deer presentation through access to the resources of PASP concerning the forms of the deer ideogram.

During my visit I had the opportunity to attend lectures by other visitors, first Lisa Fentriss’ talk on Monday evening on her work at Villa Magna, where the excavators have uncovered an amazing wine producing facility which served as the focal point in the villa of Marcus Aurelius. This reminded me of some of the Minoan wine pressing facilities from LM I, which, although of much humbler dimensions, were also show pieces attesting to the owner’s agricultural wealth. I also attended Elpida Hadjidaki’s class Wednesday afternoon where she presented the results of her excavation of the Minoan shipwreck found in the gulf of Mirabello, and the problems faced by underwater excavations. And on Wednesday evening, I went to Joe Carter’s talk on the evidence for settlement in the periods leading up to and through the Roman occupation of the Chora of Metapontum.

I also took part in many enjoyable conversations over lunch and dinner, notably dinner at Mothers with Tom Palaima on Monday and on Tuesday night, with Tom and Debbie Lee, who was my student at Ohio University. At lunch Tuesday with Adam Rabinowitz, we discussed drinking and dining rituals and the symposium. At a picnic lunch with the students from the history class on Wednesday, they had great questions and comments. Over coffee that afternoon, Jenny Moody told me about her research on climate change in Crete, and the evidence for the two species of deer brought to Crete in the Bronze Age and later. This was vital information for my research, and I am grateful to her for pointing this out. At dinner Wednesday night with Cynthia Shelmerdine, we talked about the excavations at Iklaina and another of my students who had taken part this summer. On Thursday night, five of the graduate students took me out to a wonderful café, whose name I don’t recall, and talked about their coursework and fieldwork. This was a wonderful, invigorating conclusion to a great visit. Since I have relatives living in the Austin area, I hope to come back to Austin and be able to work at PASP, and continue to communicate with the students and scholars I met here. This visit was an amazing and invigorating experience for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Ruth Palmer
Associate Professor
Department of Classics and World Religions

Report on Visit – Vassilis Petrakis

(Original posted in 2011. -Ed.)

Vassilis Petrakis visited PASP and UT Classics from March 26th to April 30th and worked on the Mycenaean material for his current projects on Linear B monograms, analysis of references to kingship ideology and preparation of the Linear A ‘archive’ of Kato Zakros for final publication. Dr Petrakis was also actively engaged in the Linear B seminar directed by Professor Tom Palaima.

 Vassilis reports:

My visit to the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory has been a most exciting opportunity to visit what is arguably the current ‘cosmological center’ of Linear B studies.

The excellent facilities, the abundance of research resources (including the proximity of the Classics and PCL library collections) and, most importantly, Tom Palaima’s keen interest and natural hospitality made my 5-week stay a most memorable time and one of my most intense periods of research in the field of Aegean writing systems.

My project on the Linear B monograms, which is planned to result in a monograph under the working title Monogrammata Mycenaea, benefited directly from my access (a) to the archives of Emmett Bennett Jr, particularly those few unpublished notes for articles that were never fully developed, and (b) from the examination of the excellent 1:1 photographs of tablets from Pylos, Knossos and Mycenae. The latter particularly reduced my need to have autopsies of the documents down to a few problematic cases. I was also able to test a few ideas from this forthcoming word on the Linear B seminar.

During my stay here, I was able to pursue my interest in Mycenaean kingship through discussions and presentations. It is always a rare opportunity and honor to be able to discuss this specific topic in the UT Classics Department, which hosted my stay.

I participated in the Spring Colloquium of the Classics Department with a talk on ‘Changing Perspectives on Late Bronze Age Aegean kingship: Anthropology, Mycenology and Aegean Archaeology‘ (April 8th, 2011), which served as a basis for testing the impact of some new ideas and a great opportunity to get precious feedback. Extended sessions with Tom Palaima on the ‘Minoan’ components of what we have come to consider as the ‘Mycenaean’ kingship ideology were particularly stimulating for me.

Although this was not planned from the outset, I was also able to use PASP’s facilities to lay down some basic work towards the final publication of the Linear A ‘archive’ from the Minoan palace of Kato Zakros. This project, which will be ascribed within my participation in the Zakros study seasons directed by Lefteris Platon (University of Athens), will be supported by the Institute of Classical Studies (University of London) through the Michael Ventris Memorial Award for Mycenaean Studies (2011-2012).

My participation in the Linear B seminar directed by Tom Palaima lasted over 5 sessions (each for the relevant weeks of my stay here). In these, I was able to present topics on religion, economy/ trade and warfare and discuss extensively with students.

During my first session (March 28th), issues of craft-specialization, socio-economic structure and Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age were addressed, focusing on the survival (or non-survival) of the Linear B technical and political terminology into the 1st millennium BC alphabetic testimonia.

For the next two sessions (April 4th and 11th), I made a short presentation on the evidence for theonyms in the Linear B records, discussing their use, distribution and later Greek survivals. Specific tablets were discussed in order to present a method of working with Mycenaean texts through photographic corpora, transcriptions and lexica. We also focused on the semantic nuances of some specific terms, such as po-ti-ni-ja.

The fourth session (April 18th) was devoted to a short presentation on ancient trade and some theoretical approaches to it, leading into a discussion of the infamous ‘gap’ in direct references to ‘trade’ in the Linear B records. Various topics, including evidence for loanwords and the use of ‘foreign’ ethnic adjectives were brought up a propos student reports read at the seminar.

My last session (April 25th) with the Linear B seminar included a presentation of Mycenaean warfare. We discussed some iconographic, archaeological (including osteoarchaeological) evidence for war and violence, before focusing on certain patterns in the texts which imply the military concerns of the Linear B administrations. We commented somewhat more extensively the Pylos ‘o-ka tablets’ and the records of chariot parts.

In all the above cases and with the constant help of Tom Palaima, many topics were covered so as to help students towards their final papers. The students themselves had a wide range of interests, including anthropology, field archaeology, Homer, Semitic studies and Indo-European languages. My participation in the Linear B seminar has been an unforgettable experience, which is even more valued since the opportunities to actually teach Linear B become fewer and fewer world-wide.

Over lunch, dinner and between other activities, I was especially pleased to be able to talk with colleagues about their current and future research. I discussed the social significance of drinking in early Greece with Adam Rabinowitz and various topics with Jamie Aprile, Stephen White and Nicolle Hirschfeld.

It was a particular pleasure to be able to talk extensively with Aren Wilson-Wright and Will Bibee on Semitic loanwords and possibilities (or probabilities) of ex Oriente transfer of ideology and practice into the Aegean.

Outside of PASP, I managed to ‘catch’ glimpses of really nice Austin weather (usually comfortably warm and only occasionally humid) and, especially, to attend some truly wonderful musical experiences, like hearing Jimmy LaFave at Threadgill’s south of the river and the LP’s playing at Ten Thousand Villages on SoCo.

These were always accompanied with exquisite Texan flavors. I will be sorry to miss some morning coffee rituals at Quack’s Cafe, which typically heralded the beginning of a productive day. Two visits to Polvos on South First Street helped me understand what a Tex-Mex taverna is like.

None of the above would have been conceivable without Tom Palaima’s amazing hospitality, which in a miraculous way made you only do things you already wanted to do. Tom created an ideal environment for me to work and this is a true luxury, and one that is becoming hard to find.

Although this may sound like one of those typical ‘acknowledgement’ comments, I do, however, feel obliged to note that his role in the promotion of Mycenaean studies is undeniably seminal, as it was evident to this visitor that the success of PASP has been achieved through the personal commitment and skill of its director. This reflects on the University’s academic reputation enormously and is more than anything else responsible for the excellent impression UT Austin made on me.

I also want to thank students and staff who helped make my stay so rewarding: Dygo Tosa and Kelly McClinton in PASP, Beth Chichester, who handled computer and audiovisual matters, Gina Giovanonne and Joe Sosa in the Classics Library, Maree Norfleet Williams in the Classics Department administrative offices, and the chair of the department Stephen White.

I do carry with me back in Greece the memory of a special experience and will always feel privileged to have been invited here.

Finally a special thank to Julie Strong and her husband Stuart who made my living in Austin so pleasant.

VP the LP’s 2nd greatest fan

VP sad day of departure superhero vision

VP on side of UT Tower

VP man who likes things BIG

VP in Shepler’s

VP alcove of UT Tower

Petrakis traveling bard in SoCo

Report on Visit – Jerry Eisenberg

(Original post from 2008. -Ed.)

In September Jerry Eisenberg, editor of Minerva, visited and worked with the unpublished material on the Phaistos Disk in the Bennett archives. Here is Dr. Eisenberg’s report:

It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity of working with the archives of Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., housed at your Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory, during my visit this past week. They were invaluable for my work on the Phaistos Disk – a good deal of the material that I unearthed will be presented in a paper that I will be giving at the International Conference on the Phaistos Disk that I will be chairing in London on October 31-November 1 at the Society of Antiquaries.

I was so pleased to find so many documents on the disk in Bennett’s files, including some surprising discoveries in the unpublished manuscripts that were sent to Dr. Bennett over the years. A good number were contributions from scholars that were not represented in my already extensive files.

Your own participation in the forthcoming Conference on the Phaistos Disk will obviously be a great asset and I am certain that your paper on some of the intriguing decipherments of the disk from the unpublished manuscripts in the Bennett archives will prove to be of considerable importance to the scholars who attend.

I was overwhelmed by the extent of the holdings that you have brought to the university, especially the archives of Dr. Bennett and those of Alice Kobler. Your incredible enthusiasm for your work and in the progress of your students in their studies speaks for itself. Needless to say, I now know the meaning of the much-touted Texas hospitality and hope to have the pleasure of doing further research at the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory in the near future.


Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Minerva, The International Review of Ancient Art & Archaeology,
Chairman, The International Conference on the Phaistos Disk
New York, New York 10022

Report on Visit – Jörg Weilhartner

(Original post from 2008. -Ed.)

Jörg Weilhartner visited PASP and UT Classics from October 25th to November 22nd and worked on the Mycenaean material. He holds a research fellowship at the University of Salzburg/Department of Classical and Aegean Archaeology, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Jörg reports:

My research at PASP focused on my work concerning a structural analysis of the Linear B logograms and abbreviations. This work benefited greatly from the rich inventory of the library housed at PASP including publications (including offprints from many decades back) which are not easy to access elsewhere and an archive of photos in the scale 1:1 of all Linear B tablets. Additional support was provided by the kind courtesy of Tom Palaima and his readiness to furnish me with a lot of files that are of invaluable help for further research. Next to my proper research I took the unique advantage of reading the correspondence of Alice E. Kober and Emmett L. Bennett that gives insight into the crucial state immediately before the decipherment on a very personal and touching level.

In addition, I participated in the teaching of the Mycenaean seminar and offered two seminar sessions on Mycenaean religion and on the logograms and abbreviations of the Linear B script. This afforded an opportunity to share and discuss ideas on Mycenaean topics with Tom and his graduate students. I also offered a general talk to the classics department and related faculty on Arthur Evans’ contribution to the understanding of Linear B and I attended Prof. Thür’s talk about Law in the New Hypereides Fragment.

During my stay I met at length with Tom Palaima and Cynthia Shelmerdine to discuss my work and many other Mycenaean topics for which I am very grateful. I also met with Mary Jane Cuyler to discuss possible patterns within the abbreviations.

The general life , and weather, in Austin was wonderful. Everyone was welcoming, and I have good memories of American Halloween, the Austin parks and botanical gardens, and dinners with faculty and students.

I am much obliged to Tom Palaima and his students and the staff of the Classics Department at UT Austin for providing a pleasant stay and an unforgettable experience.

Brooke Rich, Alissa Stoimenoff, and Jörg

Dygo Tosa, Jörg, and Abigail Turner

Jörg, Mary Jane Cuyler, and Tom

Jörg and Mary Jane Cuyler

Jörg and Tom

Jörg and Tom

Jörg, Tom, and the Linear B seminar

Report on Visit – Carlos Varias Garcia

(Original post from 2008. -Ed.)

Already this past summer for the entire month of May, 2008, Carlos Varias Garcia worked on the Mycenae material in PASP, in moving further along on what will be his definitive monograph on those texts.

Tom Palaima, Carlos Varias Garcia, Carolyn Palaima at the Cactus Cafe to hear legendary Texas singer songwriter Billy Joe Shaver. Note that Carlos is wearing a reminder that pickin’ and singin’ started with Homer.

Report on Visit – Alison Fell

(Original post from 2005. -Ed.)

Alison Fell, A.H.R.C Research Fellow, Middlesex University, London, U.K.

Alison Fell is a Scottish novelist and poet currently based in London, U.K. She has publsihed 7 novels, 4 poetry collections and 3 anthologies of experimental fiction. She has been a Writing Fellow in Sydney, Australia, and at the University of East Anglia, University College London, Middlesex University and from September 2006 will be Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has read her work all over the U.K., and on British Council and publishers tours of Canada, the U.S., Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and Italy. Her literary archive was acquired by the National Library of Scotland in 2005.

Her novels cover a wide range of themes, from ‘The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro’, set at the Heian Court of 11th century Japan, to ‘The Mistress of Lilliput’, a Swiftian satire featuring Mrs. Gulliver’s travels, and the prize-wining ‘Mer de Glace’, a modern tragedy on mountaineering themes set in the French Alps. Her most recent novel is ‘Tricks of the Light’, and her most recent poetry collection is ‘Lightyear’, which tracks the calendar changes of time and the elements in an exploration of the fundamental links between humans and nature.

‘Deciphering the Decipherers’

For the last three years I have held a Research Fellowship at Middlesex University, funded by the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Council. During this time I have been researching and writing a novel around themes of decipherment. A major aspect of this work – and the one which brought me to PASP in the spring of 2005 – has been my attempt to decipher the brief and brilliant life of Alice E. Kober.

Before coming down to Austin I spent time in public archives in New York City, where I managed to uncover hitherto unknown details of Kober’s life and family circumstances, some of which were touching to say the least. The 1930 Census, for instance, shows the Kober family living in a block of 6 storey tenements in the South Bronx, which housed 48 families in each block. Across the landing lived a family of Italian immigrants with 5 daughters and 2 sons – in no more than 2 rooms, one imagines! No wonder, then, that Alice developed superhuman powers of concentration. Another riveting document was the Passenger Manifest of the ‘Statendam’, on which the Kobers sailed from Europe in May 1906. This revealed that Katarina, Alice’s mother, must have been pregnant when she set out – so Alice was conceived in Hungary and born in Manhattan., a true child of the New World.

Research for a novelist is rather different from scholarly research, and while I have great admiration for Alice Kober’s contribution to Linear B scholarship, my search has necessarily focussed more on character, motivation, background, and any life-details that can be gleaned from records, correspondence, or personal reminiscences. At PASP Tom Palaima kindly gave me full access to all the Kober materials. I was able to see the famous ‘cigarette carton’ files in which Alice catalogued the L.B. signs and sign-groups, and even to watch Sue Trombley at work with a sable paintbrush, flicking the dried skeletons of silverfish from the fragile yellowed paper. I pored over her Hunter College reports – straight As in Maths, Greek, Latin and German, Ds in Gym: not a Jock, then – and pounced on visual descriptions in a personal memoir written by one of Kober’s ex-Brooklyn College students, Eva Brann. I also read Kober’s unpublished monograph on the element ‘Inth’ in Greek, a manuscript whose margins are packed with the noted comments of those scholars whose opinions Alice most prized – Johannes Sundwall, for instance, and John Franklin Daniel, editor of The American Journal of Archaeology, and mentor and friend to Alice. One of my aims in visiting PASP was to access Kober’s correspondence with Daniel. (My novelist’s nose, I expect, always seeking evidence of relationship). When the file – which had been mislaid for some years – turned up, among the items therein was an early student notebook from the University of Pennsylvania, which we couldn’t at first attribute, as both Kober and Daniel had connections with the University – Daniel was awarded his PhD on the Cypro-Minoan scripts in 1941, and Kober attended Professor Speiser’s courses in Old Persian and Akkadian that same summer.Finally Tom Palaima’s graphology skills pinned the handwriting down as Daniel’s.

Previous to my visit, I had acquired copies of Kober’s correspondence from the archives of the Guggenheim Foundation, and also from the U. of Pennsylvania Museum, where in 1948 J.F. Daniel was planning to set up a Minoan Script Research Centre, which Alice Kober was to direct. (Something which sadly never came to be, owing to Daniel’s sudden death in Turkey in the December of that year, at the age of 38.) Those letters have filled some sequential gaps in the PASP collection, just as the Daniel correspondence and other items from PASP have filled gaps in mine. All the materials – addresses, certificates, etc – unearthed in the New York archives are now documented at PASP, complete with microfilm roll-numbers. I hope this material will help other scholars and biographers, and contribute to the overall picture of Alice Kober and the forces that formed her, not just as a scholar, but as a woman.

Since PASP is so clearly an archive of international importance, I was dismayed to discover that these days University funding passes on by without a second glance, alighting graciously on Petrochemical Sciences or Information Technology. In the heart of Bush country, does Mycenology stand a chance? Perhaps, as Tom Palaima remarked – not entirely in jest – the only answer is a return to the Monastery system. Certainly what stays in my mind from that final Saturday at PASP is an image of the three of us beavering away, monkish, among the cramped shelves. The fledgeling Alice Kober Fan Club, gossiping about our girl as though she were still alive and kicking. It’s a club that deserves more members.

Alison Fell July 2006

Report on Visit – José Luis García Ramón

(Original post from 2005. -Ed.)

José Luis García Ramón, Professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the Universität zu Köln, visited PASP and UT Classics for two weeks October 29-November 12.

Professor García Ramón offered four seminar sessions in Tom Palaima’s Mycenaean seminar on the following topics:

Mycenaean onomastics: Personal names (and oxen names).

  • Recognition, interpretation.
  • Greek personal names: Word formation.
  • Greek personal names: Meaning, naming motives.
  • Personal names and Mycenaean society.
  • Personal names and Greek Poetry
  • Oxen names.

Mycenaean onomastics: Religious names

  • Recognition, interpretation.
  • Formal aspects.
  • Mycenaean religious names attested in 1st millenium.
  • Mycenaean religious names not attested in 1st millenium.

Mycenaean onomastics: Geographical names

  • Recognition, interpretation.
  • Mycenaean place names and 1st millenium place names.
  • Greek place names: word formation.
  • Greek place names: meaning, naming motives.
  • Non-Greek geographical names: word formation.
  • Place names and Greek prehistory.

Mycenaean Onomastics: the new Theban Texts.

He also offered a departmental colloquium entitled:

“The Mycenaean Bechtel: New Developments in Early Greek Onomastics.”

José Luis offered an extra evening seminar on Greek dialects, and joined Prof. Palaima in offering a final special two-hour seminar on Interpretations of the Thebes Tablets.

José Luis also met at length with:

(1) dissertators Dimitri Nakassis (Pylian Prosopography and Agency Theory) and Stephie Nikoloudis (the Mycenaean ra-wa-ke-ta) to discuss problems relating to their research work;
(2) discuss with Dimitri Nakassis and Joanne Gulizio their article in progress on Greek and non-Greek deities;
(3) Prof. Paula Perlman to discuss Cretan historical dialect issues and inscriptions;
(4) Profs. Carole Justus and Sara Kimball, and Prof. Emeritus Winfred Lehmann to discuss Hittite and Indo-European matters; and he attended Prof. Bridget Drinka’s talk at the UT Linguistics Circle.

Despite such a rigorous academic schedule, José Luis managed to:

(1) visit San Antonio;
(2) examine items in the forthcoming Harry Ransom center Exhibition on “Technologies of Writing”;
(3) attend a UT women’s basketball game (where he learned the Hook ‘Em Horns sign that he cannot use in his native country unless he wants to start a fight);
(4) sit with Clifford Antone and blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins listening to Alvin Crow and his band and club owner James White perform hard core country music at the Broken Spoke;
(5) hear Ruthie Foster, Sara Brown, Carolyn Wonderland and Cindy Cashdollar perform women’s blues at Antone’s;
(6) catch another evening of Austin music at the Continental Club.

José Luis’s stay at Adams House B&B in Hyde Park placed him in a warm and friendly and attentive atmosphere.

We thank Richard Lariviere, dean of Liberal Arts, for supporting our distinguished visiting scholar program. Special thanks to Leslie Crooks in the dean’s office, Classics department administrative associate Stephanie Scott, Kurt Heinzelman and Elizabeth Garver of the Harry Ransom Center, Stephie Nikoloudis of PASP, associate athletics director Chris Plonsky, and Classics chairperson Cynthia Shelmerdine.

Thanks also to Christina Skelton for taking photos.

Report on the Activities at PASP – José Melena

(Original post from 1999. -Ed.)

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:

  1. the presentation of the results of the reconstruction work on Mycenaean tablets from Knossos and Pylos;
  2. the search for early material concerning the Knossos tablets in the PASP files; and
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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