Left:  Linear A tablet KH 5 from Khania, photograph taken by the author.

Right:  Linear A tablet KH 10 from Khania, photograph taken by the author.


Hurrians and Hurrian in Minoan Crete: Indices & glossaries 4

A photograph of Linear A tablet KH 5 from Xανιά / Khaniá is printed on the front-cover.

The name Khaniá is Hurrian Ḫan=i=a ‘He (a God/the King) creates/created (the palace)’.

 KH 5.1-2: a-da-ki-si-ka , a-ra-u-|da ,

 KH 5.2:      wi-sa-sa-ne                     HORD+E  2   VINb+9   2

KH 5.3:    wi-na-du ,                        OVIS+na  1

KH 5.3-4: ku-pa-do                         HORD [ ]  5 A FIC          2 JB

Linear A a-da-ki-si-ka (KH 5.1) represents a beautiful Hurrian name, for it can be analysed as Hurrian ašd=a-kizzi=ḫḫ(i)=a, consisting of the a-stem ašd=a ‘woman’ and the essive -a of kizzi=ḫ(ḫ)i ‘jewel’, so that it can be translated as ‘The woman (is/shines) like a jewel’ or more specifically ‘The woman (is/shines) like a hairpin of precious metal’, if we take into account that kizzi/uḫu at Qaṭna is the designation of a golden pin and that Linear A ja-ki-si-ki-nu (AK Zf 9) is written on a silver hairpin from Arkhanes, that can be analysed as ya-kizz=i=ḫḫi=nnu ‘as it is a jewel’.

The second sequence a-ra-u-|da (KH 5.1-2) is a Hurrian ‘one-word’ personal name or perhaps a toponym Arau in the directive case, with directive suffix -da ‘to, for’, or the ablative case, with ablative suffix -dan ‘from’. The personal name Arau (wr. A-ra-ú),  analysis ar=av, translation ‘I give (the boy)’, is actually attested at Old Babylonian Sippar (Dekiere 6, 917 Beischrift), cf. Th. Richter, VHN, 584-585, sub 1.1.2: Names with verbal forms of the Mitanni-paradigms. The scribe knew, whether he meant the directive or the ablative case, but we do not, since a final -n is not expressed in Linear A and B. If Arau represents a toponym, the ablative is more likely, since ar=au=dan could then refer to the provenance of a-da-ki-si-ka (KH 5.1), but if the tablet is about a transaction between persons, a-ra-u-|da means either ‘for Arau’ or ‘from Arau’. Linear A a-mi-da-u (ZA 10a.3) from Kato Zakro and a-mi-da-o (HT? 170a.5) from Hagia Triada belong to the same type of Hurrian personal names. They can be analysed as amm=e/id=au ‘I shall reach (something)’, 1st person singular future indicative of the verb amm- ‘to reach (something)’, or as am=e/id=au ‘I shall observe (something)’, from am- II ‘to observe’.

Comparing Linear A wi-sa-sa-ne (KH 5.2) with dP/Wiša(i)šapḫi and its analysis *P/Wižaiža=ve+ġe » P/Wižaiža=p+ḫe, we see that the name of the mountain is Piša(i)ša or Wiša(i)ša and that o=ve+ġe » o=p+ḫe reflects the genitive suffix + the ethnic suffix. As a result Linear A wi-sa-sa-ne may well consist of the name of the mountain Wišaša / Wišaiša + the alternative Hurrian ethnic suffix -n(n)i/e as we encounter in Mašrian(n)i ‘Egyptian’, derived from the country-name Mašria. Linear A wi-sa-sa-ne (KH 5.2) may well be an ethnic used as a personal name, translation ‘The one of (Mount) Wišaša’.

Linear A wi-na-du (KH 5.3) may be interpreted as the Hurrian sentence-name P/Win-ašdu, analysed as p/win-aždu and be translated ‘Lift (the child), oh woman !’, ‘Pick (the child) up, oh woman !’. Linear A ku-pa-do (KH 5.3) can be analysed as an Old Hurrian verbal ‘one-word’ name ḫub=ad=o=m, with root-extension -ad- of unknown meaning, ‘He/She (a numen) destroyed (the deceased child)’ or as an Old Hurrian imperative ḫub=ad=o ‘Destroy (the deceased child) (oh numen) !’.


Linear A tablet KH 10 from Khaniá.

KH 10.1.                                                             ] ´

            2.                                                          ] vest.              GRA  10

            3.         i-pa-sa-ja   ,  qa-85 = ḫa-85[   ]  or  qa = ḫa  TAL  [   ]

              3-4.              a-ki-pi-e-te                                                       GRA  90

The Linear A personal name i-pa-sa-ja (KH 10.3) at Khania, is a perfect equivalent to the Hurrian hypocoristic anthroponym Ipšaja at Nuzi (wr. Ip-ša-a-a, Ip-šá-a-a), cf. I.J. Gelb, NPN, 72; P.M. Purves, NPN, 220, s.v. ipš, ipša-, with hypocoristic suffix -ya.


With regard to the consonant cluster -pš- in Ipšaja the orthographic conventions of Linear A and B require that the labial occlusive -p- must always be expressed in the script. That is in this case only possible by usage of a mute vowel -a, borrowed from the syllable to which it belongs. In other words the cluster -pša- can only be expressed in Linear A by writing -pa-sa-. So the Linear A form offers the spelling that is expected.

In fact this form offers an external confirmation of the orthographic conventions as part of the decipherment of Linear B by M. Ventris.

Ipšaja, the name of 18 persons at Nuzi, may well be a hypocoristic of e.g. Ipša-ḫalu (wr. Ip-ša-ḫa-lu, Ip-šá-ḫa-lu, Ip-ša-ḫa-a-lu), the name of 77 persons at Nuzi, cf. I.J. Gelb, NPN, 71-72; cf. P.M. Purves, NPN, 220.

The Tušratta letter offers some verbal forms with the root ipš- (Mit. III 19-20): …..   ú-na-a-la-an (19) še-e-ni-íw-wu-ú-a  ti-i-ḫa->ni<-níš-ḫa-la-an  ip-šu-ši-i-la-an (20) = un=a=l(la)=an šen(a)=iff=u=va  tîḫan=>ni<=i=šḫ(i>)a=l(la)=an  ipš=oš=i=l(la)-an.


I translate I. Wegner’s German translation (Einführung, 156-157, 160) into English: ‘And they (i.e. the things) come to my brother [Amenhotep III] and the indicated (things) have been pleasant.’ [The reading concerning >ni< is based on the passage ip-šu-ši-i-in  ti-i-ḫa-níš-ḫi-i-in (Mit. IV 49).]   -  Commentary:

un=a=l(la)=an consists of the root un- ‘to come’ + marker of intransitivity -a- + shortened suffix -l- of the enclitic personal pronoun 3rd person plural -lla- as marker of the subject of the intransitive sentence + connective -an.

šen(a)=iff=u=va consists of the root šen(a)- ‘brother’ + the suffix of the possessive pronoun 1st person singular -iff- + thematic vowel -u- + dative suffix -va

tîḫan=>ni<=i=šḫ(i>)a=l(la) consists of the root tîḫan- ‘to indicate’ + -i- + -šḫ(i>)a- + l(la) + an. Derivation of the word is not clear, but it seems to be a substantive in -šḫi, which led to the translation ‘the indicated (things)’.

ipš=oš=i=l(la)-an consists of the verbal root ipš- (meaning unknown, provisionally translated as ‘to be pleasant’ [German ‘gefällen’]) + the suffix -oš- indicating the past or perfect tense + marker of transitivity -i- + shortened suffix -l- of the enclitic personal pronoun 3rd person plural -lla- as marker of the subject of the intransitive or antipassive sentence + connective -an. The verbal form ipš=oš=i=l(la)-an is antipassive. Lexically the verb ipš- has been marked as a transitive form by the vowel -i-, but syntactically it is intransitive, since no direct object is expressed. The enclitic personal pronoun of the 3rd person plural -l(la)- functions as subject marker in the absolutive, in this case in an antipassive construction.

Linear A a-ki-pi-e-te (KH 10.3-4) from Khaniá seems to contain the Old Hurrian verbal element {ag=i=b-} ‘he / she brings’ and the theophorous element -Te, hypocoristic of -Tešub, comparable with Akip-Tešub (wr. A-kip-te-šub) and the assimilated form Akit-Tešub (wr. A-ki-it-te-šub) at Nuzi, cf. I.J. Gelb, NPN, 16. The unassimilated form Akip-Tešub, analysis {ag=i=b-Tešub}, translation ‘Tešub, he (-b-) brought (the child)ʼ,  contains the consonant cluster -pt-, which poses no problems in cuneiform writing, since that script has not only syllabic signs of the type consonant+vowel (CV), but also of the types VC and CVC. That is an essential difference with the Aegean syllabic scripts of Class A and B.

If a Minoan scribe wanted to write the normal form Ag=i=b-Te with Linear A, he needed to write ‟a-ki-pe-te”, because every occlusive always had to be expressed in Linear A and B. This means that the consonant cluster -pt- had to be expressed as -pe-te, if -e is the vowel following -t-. But what could a scribe do, if a syllabic sign for pe failed in Linear A or if it was so rare that it was hardly ever used. To date a Linear A equivalent of Linear B sign *72 = pe has not yet been recognized.

The rare Linear A sign 63 may perhaps be a candidate for the value pe. It is attested at Hagia Triada, Knossos and Kato Zakro, but not yet at Khania, where a-ki-pi-e-te occurs. The Linear A sequence 103-63-54 (HT 37.4) from Hagia Triada would indeed provide a plausible Hurrian formation ki-pe(?)-re, that can be interpreted as Hurrian ki-be-re or ki-be-le ‘Jäger, Fallensteller’ [‘hunter, bird-catcher, fowler’], cf. Th. Richter, BGH, 200, s.v. ke-bi-ri [Boǧ.], {kev=i=ri/e}, ‘someone who has set up (a trap)’ (G. Wilhelm 1991b, 164; I. Wegner – V. Haas, 1999a, 199) and kebli / kebe/ili (?) [Alalaḫ VII; Boǧ.; Mari] ‘Jäger, Fallensteller’ [‘hunter, bird-catcher, fowler’]; cf. also Th. Richter, VHN, 439, s.v. kebali / kebeli (same meaning), from verbal root kib-/ke(b)- ‘to place, to set’. The ending -i-ri marks a participle and the ending -li indicates a profession.

Could the Minoan scribe from Khania have used the same orthographic solution as cuneiform scribes had at their disposal, if they wanted to make clear that the vowel e was required, if they had used an i-containing syllabic sign. They could, for instance, write pi-e to express pe. In cuneiform this orthographic solution was frequently used. The high number of writing variants in cuneiform is partly the result of the habits of scribes and their preferences. It is clear that Minoan scribes tried to use the space on their very small tablets as economically as possible, so if a scribe used a cuneiform-like solution, as I suspect he did in the case of a-ki-pi-e-te (KH 10.3-4), it must have been out of necessity.

It cannot be excluded that some scribes have been familiar with reading cuneiform texts, although they did not need that much more complicated script for their bureaucratic administration. The Minoan palaces may have kept diplomatic relations with rulers in the Near East and possibly with the capital of Mitanni. They may even have corresponded with these rulers. Apart from some Near Eastern seals and the alabaster lid of a vessel with the Egyptian hieroglyphic cartouche of Hyksos pharaoh Chian of the 15th dynasty, found in the Palace of Knossos, there is, as far as I know, no written cuneiform evidence found in Minoan Crete. If Akipei (wr. A-ki-be-e-i) at Nuzi (cf. I.J. Gelb, NPN, 15; P.M. Purves, NPN, 198) can be interpreted as a genitive {agib=e=(w)i} ‘The one (the child) of Agibʼ, it is unlikely that Akipei at Nuzi can be related to Linear A a-ki-pi-e-te

Since the  theophorous element -te is hypocoristic for -tešup and -teḭa, the name is in fact equivalent to the Nuzi personal names Akip-tešup (wr. A-kip-te-šup), assimilated Aki(t)-tešup < Akip-tešup (wr. A-ki-it-te-šup, A-ki-te-šup), Akip-teḭa (wr. [A-ki]p-te-ia), assimilated A-ki-te-ia < Akip-te-ia) and Akitte assimilated < Akip-te (wr. A-ki-it-te) and its variant Akitti (wr. A-ki-it-ti), cf. I.J. Gelb, NPN, 16-17; P.M. Purves, NPN, 198.

The names with single writing of -t-, A-ki-te-šup and A-ki-te-ia, may be interpreted as imperative instead of indicative, analysis {ag=i-Te(šub)} and {ag=i-Teḭa}, respectively, so that they can be translated as ‘Bring (the child), oh Tešub ! ʼ.

Th. Richter (VHN, 366-368) interprets the transitive verbal root ag- / akk- as ‘(herauf)bringenʼ [‘to bring upʼ] and the intransitive root as ‘heraufkommen, erscheinen > geboren werdenʼ [‘to come up, to appear > to be bornʼ].

The root ak-, /ag-/, occurs frequently in the Tušratta letter and was first translated by F. Bork, Mitannisprache, 124, as ‘darbringenʼ, ‘abliefernʼ, by G.R. Meyer, AOF XII (1937-39), 368, as ‘bestimmenʼ, but by E.A. Speiser, JAOS LIX (1939), 298 and n. 36, as ‘guideʼ, ‘directʼ, on account of comparison with Urartian agu ‘guideʼ, ‘directʼ.

E.A. Speiser and others regarded -p-/-b- as a root-complement, but since publication of the Hurrian-Hittite bilingual Kirenze (KBo 32) -b- has been recognized as the Old Hurrian marker of the 3rd person singular indicating the subject of the verb.

This element is frequent in Hurrian personal names, with several variants, of which the most frequent are akap- {ag=a=b-} and akip- {ag=i=b-}, but occasionally also akipei (wr. A-ki-be-e-i), cf. P.M. Purves, NPN, 198. Other compound names with the element akip- {ag=i=b-} at Nuzi are Akip-apu, Akip-matka, Akip-ninu, Akip-pašaḫ, Akip-šali, Akip-šarri, Akip-šatna, Akip-šenni, Akip-tašenni, Akip-tilla, Akip-tirwi, Akip-tura(e).

The Linear A name a-ki-pi-e-te was in the first edition translated ‘Tešub is guiding’, ‘Tešub is directing’. Now I prefer ‘Tešub brought (the child)’. Compare e.g. Th. Richter, VHN, 46, s.v. Akip-šarri (wr. A-ki-ip-LUGAL), analysis {ag=i=b-šarri}, typology, lexicon ag-, šarri, ‘Der Götterkönig brachte (Jungen) herauf’ [‘The King of Gods brought (the boy)’], name of a weaver at Mari.

If a-ki-pi-e-te (KH 10.3-4) is indeed a variant writing for *a-ki-pe-te, analysed as Old Hurrian {ag=i=b-Te(šub)}, required Linear A orthography for {ag=i=b-Te(šub)}, this interpetation is satisfactory because of the variants -Tešub, -Teḭa and -Te.

However, another explanation is possible as well, since it has become clear that -tte and -tti can also be optional allomorphic enclitic personal pronouns replacing the normal enclitic personal pronoun -tta indicating the 1st person singular in ‘one-word’ personal names, cf. Th. Richter, VHN, 595-596. See the variants Ullutta at Šuššarrā and Ullutti at Mari and Tigunāni, that can be translated as ‘Destroy me !’.

In fact I.J. Gelb (NPN, 17) and P.M. Purves (NPN, 198) offer the personal name Akitta (wr. A-ki-it-ta) and the variants Akitte (wr. A-ki-it-te) and Akitti (wr. A-ki-it-ti) at Nuzi. These names can be analysed as an imperative {ag=i=tta/e/i} and be translated as ‘Bring me (oh numen) !’ If Akitta is an assimilated form < Ag=i=b=tta, Akitte < Ag=i=b=tte, Akitti < Ag=i=b=tti, we are dealing with indicatives ‘He / She (a numen) brought me’. Consequently, Linear A a-ki-pi-e-te (KH 10.3-4) can also be analysed as the indicative {ag=i=b=tte} and be translated as ‘He / She (a numen) brought me’. 

ISBN: 9789083275451

Author: Peter G. van Soesbergen

Publisher: Peter G. van Soesbergen

Pub date: 18 Sep 2022

Edition: Third completely revised and extended edition

Language: English

Number of pages: 522

Weight: 1238g

Height: 297mm

Width: 210mm