Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


19 May 2013

Disclosed Intellectual Capital Aspects in Creto-Mycenean Palatial Linear B Clay Tablets

Dimitrios G. Mavridis in Tsounis, N. (ed.), 2011. Proceedings of the International Conference on Applied Economics 2008: 611-621.


While the Bronze Age Culture in Crete is known as the “Minoan Culture” according to Evans, the same culture in the Greek Mainland is called Helladic, that in the Aegean Islands Cycladic and that in Asia Minor Anatolian Culture. In the present work the main focus is put on those mentioned Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic and Anatolian or Hellenic Bronze Age (HBA) cultures. The preferred time period is the so called “palatial” period (3100-1050 B.C.) and especially the Neo-Palatial (ca. 1750-1470 B.C.) and Post-Palatial period (ca. 1490-1050 B.C.). These palatial time periods highlight the importance of the palaces in Crete (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros), in Mycenae, Pylos, Tiryns, Thebes and in other locations in the Mediterranean. Those palaces have been the centers for all organized expressions of life whether profane secular (cultural, political, economic, local and distant trade) or purely sacral religious. Therefore the central palast administration (IC Intellectual Capital) had to take into account the many obligations concerning needs for sacral or religious dignitaries, deities, shrines and persons. They organized also secular official banquettes and festivals (RC Relational Capital); they took care about the various army provisions and last but not least they managed the many workshops, technician, scribes, workers (male and female) and inventories.

Consequently palaces were powerful centers for production, consumption and distribution for several kinds of items, like consumables (perfumed and edible oil, foodstuff), durable goods like metal (copper), textiles, raw materials, vessels, furniture, metals, weapons, military equipment and various animals. In order to keep control of all this sacral disbursements and secular transactions and movements the palast established an efficient palatial administration, accounting and reporting system (SC Structural Capital). This has been served by professional scribes or accountants (HC Human Capital as active knowledge) using a special accounting system consisting of a standardized set of 87 syllabograms (called Linear B signs), some ideograms and a decadic system of numbers (IC Innovation Capital). The recorded data were “drawn” on clay tablets and concerned all possible transactions; they provided information for various time designations, different locations (toponyms) and recipients (PC Process Capital). The scribes or accountants were responsible for only few types of goods (“departmentalization”), known by their own used “clay-marks” or handwriting type. The used clay tablets were most probably recording documents with short time evidence (maybe one or two years), because they were only dried under the sun, not burned in furnaces, like the Sumerians did). This means either that the inventories were quickly renewed or that the scribes copied the tablets each year, if it was necessary. But all those clay tablets found in the various palaces and places came to us only because when the palaces have been destroyed the clay tablets had been “hardened” by the fires which enemies had put.

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