Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Psychro inscription - how to make a real theory about a fake tablet?

Back to blogging again, I am going to present yet another post off the track - about something associated with Minoan Crete, yet not being exactly... Minoan. The inscription (or at least its material) we will discuss does not comes from the Minoan era, but from the Classic age. It was originally considered to be one of the so-called 'Eteocretan' finds - text from Crete written in Greek letters, but recording an indigenous language. The Psychro inscription, this almost-surely fake tablet shall be perfect for an "April's fool's" post.

Since I love theorycrafting - even if it is about something entirely non-scientific, like fantasy literature - I will present a fancy theory of this 'Minoan' inscription made in the 20th century. Just for fun, and just for the sake of April 1st.

So, let us assume that we have just found a small brick, incised with a few Greek words and some strange other signs. Where we did find it - it does not really matter (perhaps in our workshop...?). What we can make it out on it, are about 4-5 words in Greek letters: yet they do not give out anything meaningful (okey, we failed composing a Doric text, because our poor knowledge - the Ionic and Doric words and grammar were badly mixed up). So, what if we assume it is Eteocretan?! No one would ever call our text into question any longer. As long as scientists know nothing (or almost nothing) of the true Eteocretan language, we are safe.

At last, we can go to the three strange signs the author of the tablet used as its monogram. A truely ingenious invention, really, a true Linear D. Problem is, the unfortunate author forgot about Linear B going extinct about 1000 years earlier. But it is just a minor flaw... what if a secret sect of crypto-Minoans kept its knowledge safe, hidden from the preying eyes of the evil Greeks and Romans?

But how do these signs read? They are barely legible in Linear B !! The 'scribe' that wrought these signs was either completely analphabetic in any of the Cretan writing systems, or was incredibly resourceful, since the signs can be interpreted as being 'evolved' from Linear B. At least something we did right when making (if the Greek text was already ruined...).

Let us now theorize an evolution of these signs from Linear B. Let's say the three signs represent the first word of the Greek-like text (why just the first word? It is sooo sloppy - but we are lazy...). So if it sounds epioi - then why not work out a theory to read the signs as I-PI-WI ?

I went so far with this funny 'nonsense' to actually make this theory work! you shall see the figure below, stating that such a derivation is of course, perfectly possible. And the 1000 years of time gives us a comfortable time-gap to derive anything we wanted wherever we wanted. Isn't it comfortable, to make any theory work you wish?

Lessons we have learnt today? Boys and girls, do not jump into deciphering anything that gets in your hands and looks ancient! Much more importantly, do not accept everything from other scholars without criticism. This tiny piece of Roman brick has already fooled many renown specialists of Minoan language and culture - something truly hilarious, knowing the facts about its origins...

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