Linear B TWO normalized
Günter Neumann put forward a hypothesis that caught my eye at the 2nd International Congress of Mycenology in 1991, which was published in Attí e memorie del secondo congresso internazionale di micenologia vol. 1 Filologia in 1996. The article, written in German, is “Zur Schaffung der Zeichen *91 two und *62 pte von Linear B”.
He proposes that *91 / two is an acrophonic abbreviation for the profile of a larnax from the Greek word σορός ‘vessel for holding; a cinerary urn or coffin’ with a Mycenaean pronunciation of *tworós.
PY An 261 TWO variant (after Neumann 1996)
Kerameikos Larnax Profile (after Neumann 1996)
Some of the larnakes from Crete fit this profile as well:
Note the lid’s side-view profile on this larnax at the Sitia Archaeological Museum (photo: Kim Raymoure)
TWO’s internal horizontal lines could represent the handles of the lid and larnax as shown here, so I do see the visual connection Neumann is suggesting.
The side-view profile of this larnax at the Sitia Archaeological Museum shows the top-to-bottom slendering and the feet in Neumann’s larnax profile (photo: Kim Raymoure)
TWO’s use in Linear B is restricted to its phonetic value, parallel with /tu-wo/ in o-two-we-o on PY An 261 and o-tu-wo-we on the PY Jn series. In the available Linear B corpus, there is no ideographic use of TWO, so if Neumann’s suggestion is correct, the acrophonic abbreviation is pre-Mycenaean.
This immediately made me wonder what the symbol might’ve looked like in Linear A or the Cretan Hieroglyphics. I’m going to run the latter part of this question past András Zeke who knows his hieroglyphs much better than I do. For Linear A, after some contemplation and sifting through the inscriptions, the nearest match seems to be:
*344 from HT96 (after GORILA)
John Younger lists this as a logogram. I agree, and I think it may form a conceptual digram with *323 which precedes it. When put together, the 2 symbols, isolated together by vertical delimiters, appear, when considering Neumann’s side-view profile of the larnax, to most resemble the lid (*323) and footed larnax (*344) of the larnakes shown above.
*323 *344 from HT96, side-view of lid and larnax?
Some immediate complications with this interpretation:
*323 appears prior on HT96 with *317; how to interpret?
*323 also appears on HT31 in a long sign group (ki-de-ma-*323-na) implying a plausible phonetic rather than ideographic value. It is also of interest to note, however, that HT31 is a tablet dealing with a variety of different large containers; contextually relevant to a larnax lid.
Neumann, Günter, 1996 Attí e memorie del secondo congresso internazionale di micenologia vol. 1 Filologia “Zur Schaffung der Zeichen *91 two und *62 pte von Linear B”