Kafkania pebble

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The Kafkania pebble is a small rounded river pebble about 5cm long with Linear B symbols and a double axe symbol inscribed on it. It was found in Kafkania, some 7 km (4.3 mi) north of Olympia, on 1 April 1994 in a 17th-century BC archaeological context. If it were genuine, it would be the earliest written testimony on the Greek mainland, and by far the earliest document in Linear B.


The pebble bears a short inscription of eight syllabic signs in Linear B, possibly reading a-so-na / qo-ro-qa / qa-jo. The reverse side shows a double-axe symbol. The inscription is identified by some[who?] to be in Mycenean Greek, though this identification remains disputed. It has been suggested that such an isolated example of Linear B script indicates at best an early stage of Mycenaean writing at the time of origin.[1]

G. Owens suggests that the inscription is Minoan in origin rather than Mycenaean. In this scenario, a Minoan could have written the text for a Mycenaean. No evidence exists that the Mycenaean Greeks wrote before the Linear B archive of Knossos.[2]


The inscription is possibly a modern forgery.[3][4][5][6] Many arguments point to this:[3]

  • Inscriptions on pebbles are otherwise unknown in Mycenaean and Minoan epigraphy.
  • The "rays" surrounding the axe have no parallels in Myceanaean or Minoan iconography.
  • Most of the symbols are "carefully executed", but one appears to be a "random graffito".[3]
  • Its context, imbedded in a wall, is peculiar and unprecedented.
  • Linear B is otherwise consistently written left-to-right, but this inscription is apparently written in boustrophedon.
  • The writing style appears anachronistic.
  • It is unlikely on historical grounds that Linear B writing existed in the northwest Peloponnese at this period.
  • Finally, the pebble was apparently discovered on the morning of April Fool's Day.[7] If it is indeed a forgery, the symbols spelling a-so-na may spell out the name Iasonas, the first name of the son of Xeni Arapojanni and Jörg Rambach, the alleged discoverers of the pebble.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Floreant studia Mycenaea. p. 557
  2. ^ G. Owens, S. Benett, Minoan Inscriptions in Mycenaean Greece, DO-SO-MO: Fascicula Mycenologica Polona p52-69, 2005
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas G. Palaima, "OL Zh 1: QVOVSQVE TANDEM?" Minos 37-38 (2002-2003), p. 373-85 full text
  4. ^ Hellemans, Geert (2004). Étude phonétique et graphique du [j] (jod) en grec mycénien. Leuven: Ph.D. dissertation. hdl:1979/33. , p. 35.
  5. ^ John G. Younger, review of Yves Duhoux and Anna Morpurgo Davies, A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World, 1 in American Journal of Archaeology Online Book Review, 113.4 (October 2009) full text
  6. ^ J. Driessen, "Chronology of the Linear B Texts" in Yves Duhoux, Anna Morpurgo Davies, eds., A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World, 1:76 (2008) full text "This pebble remains something of an enigma since neither its date, nor its context, nor its nature can be easily fitted into a general historical framework; hence I remain sceptical and await further discoveries."
  7. ^ Minos: 2003, p. 489; Meletemata: Studies in Aegean archaeology presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as he enters his 65th year, vol. 2, 1999; Polemos: Le contexte guerrier en Egée à l'âge du Bronze. Actes de la 7e Rencontre égéenne internationale, Université de Liège, 14-17 avril 1998, 1999, p. 400.


  • Arapojanni, Xeni; Rambach, Jörg; Godart, Louis (2002). Kavkania: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung von 1994 auf dem Hügel von Agrilitses. Mainz: von Zabern. ISBN 3-8053-2934-2. 

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