The Haghia Triada administrative documents

The administrative documents (Neopalatial Period) from Haghia Triada are kept mainly in the Herakleion Archaeological Museum in Crete. Two different major types may be recognized:

Tablets (fig. 1)

This type, a page shaped clay tablet, is the main source of information on Linear A. It is identified through the acronym of the site of its finding followed by a progressive number, according to the conventions proposed in GORILA (L. Godart - J.P. Olivier, Recueil des inscriptions en Linéaire A). Although the writing has not been deciphered neither the language has been interpreted, various data may be obtained from the tablets. First of all, a list of Linear A signs may be hypothesized, which, with its 97 symbols, reveals a syllabic script of a simple typology (consonant + vowel and vowels): the signs are, in fact, too many, to represent a complex syllabic system (as the Near Eastern Cuneiform and the Aegyptian Hieroglyph). To these syllabic signs a long series of "logograms", representing each one a word, are added.

At Haghia Triada 147 tablets have been found, only two of them being actually kept in the Pigorini museum.

fig. 1
Fig. 1 - Representation of tablets in Linear A

Sealed documents (fig. 2)

fig. 2
Fig. 2 - Representation of various sealed documents

This type, which presents a wide variety, has been conventionally divided into more sub-groups (cf. Hallager 1996: 23):

  • Roundel (fig. 3)

    The roundel is a characteristic document of the Neopalatian Minoan administration, beside the tablet. It is a round clay disk (classified as Wc) with seals impressions along the edge - from one to six impressions - and, on most cases, one inscription on one or both sides. Frequently the inscription consists of a logogram, sometimes also of a sign-group. It seems to represent the last act of an administrative transaction and probably functioned as a receipt.

    The seals stamped on roundels fully coincide with seals stamped on the other different documents. At Haghia Triada 22 roundels have been found, one of them being without inscription.

fig. 3
Fig. 3 - Illustration of a roundel: top view and side view
  • Nodulus

    It is the most widespread Aegean Bronze Age document, both geographically and chronologically. These clay small object (defined as noduli by J. Weingarten) were not always inscribed but only sealed. They appear in two shapes: dome (classified as We) (fig. 4) and disk (classified as Wf) (fig. 5).

    At Haghia Triada 54 noduli have been found, in dome shape, and only 7 are inscribed.

fig. 4
Fig. 4 - Representation of a dome nodulus
fig. 5
Fig. 5 - Representation of a disk nodulus
  • Flat-based nodule

    This type of document is rarely inscribed but regularly sealed. Its characteristic is the negative impression on its reverse (or base) which shows that it had been placed upon a folded piece of parchment around which a thin thread was wound which was also wound into the clay. It appears in two different shapes: standing (fig. 6) or recumbent (fig. 7) (both classified as Wb). At Haghia Triada 76 flat-based nodules have been found, only 2 having a carved inscription.

fig. 6
Fig. 6 - Representation of a flat-based nodule (standing)
fig. 7
Fig. 7 - Representation of a flat-based nodule (recumbent)
  • Hanging nodule

    This small clay piece is characterized by string holes which show that it was fastened to another object by a string. They may present one or two holes.

    Those with two holes (classified as Wd) have an elongated shape (fig. 8), while those with one hole (classified as WA) present five slightly different shapes: pendant, pyramid, cone, dome, pear (fig. 9). At Haghia Triada 936 single-holes have been found, 851 being inscribed, and 11 two-hole, only 2 being inscribed.

fig. 8
Fig. 8 - Representation of a hanging nodule with two holes
fig. 9
Fig. 9 - Representation of a hanging nodule with one hole only

We remind also: a) the direct sealing (classified as Wg), only 1 having been found at Haghia Triada, a lump of clay placed direcly into objects, whose different imprints are preserved on the reverse of the seal; b) miscellanous sealings (classified as Wy), likely variants of one of the above main types, which present no particular characteristic.

All these documents have been found scattered in five main locations of the site, four inside the "villa" and one outside:

fig. 10
Fig. 10 - 1) Villa. North-western quarter; 2) Villa. South-western quarter; 3) Villa. Room 59; 4) Villa. Room 72
fig. 11
Fig. 11 - Lebete House. Above the threshold of the door in the western wall of Room 7; in Room 9