Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Linear B ideogram \*86

Cat. No.



LM IIIB (mid to later 13th century)


Knossos, the Palace of Minos



Linear B clay tablet

Accession Number

Herakleion Archaeological Museum; Athens National Archaeological Museum


Evans 1921: 643, fig. 477, no. 57; Marinatos 1933: 180, pl. 16.69; Wedde 2000: 96-97, 122, 319, no. 604

Sign showing a truncated ship. Bow section with a crescentic hull. Within the area enclosed by the keel and gunwale there are two vertical parallel lines. The left end is terminated by a vertical stroke extending above the gunwale which represents the mast. There is a stay running from the masthead to the bow. Decorative element at the stempost is a stylized bird in flight.

Probably a Minoan vessel (Wedde type IV). Script signs tend to fossilize a particularly significant image of a specific object. Wedde argues that "the architecture employed in this representation, as well as in the other signs discussed, supports the contention that a reduction of the ship to a short-hand image involved retaining the bow as particularly expressive, and not the stern."(Wedde 2000: 97). The bird in flight figurehead goes back to the device on Minoan ships, many of which are depicted on the talismanic sealstones. It seems that the bird substituted the earlier fish emblem of the Cycladic longboats, the analogy possibly being connected to the newly-invented sail of the Minoan ship.

Evans, A. J. 1921. The Palace of Minos. Vol. I. London: Macmillan.

Marinatos, S. 1933. “La marine créto-mycénienne,” BCH 57: 170-235.

Wedde, M. 2000. Towards a Hermeneutics of Aegean Bronze Age Ship Imagery. Peleus Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Griechenlands und Zyperns, vol. 6. Bibliopolis: Mannheim and Möhnsee.

  • copyright icon © Click for fullscreen