Further Discussion of pa-sa-ro on Pylos Ta 716: Insight from the Agia Triada Sarcophagus

Nicholas G. Blackwell, Thomas G. Palaima

The Linear B word unit pa-sa-ro is a confounding hapax that appears as the first word on tablet Ta 716 from the Palace of Nestor at Pylos. We argue that the Linear B term is related to ψαλόν in later Greek. The use of ψαλόν in the historical era suggests an open, U-shaped item – akin to a headstall or cavesson – for controlling an animal’s head, typically a horse. The pair of pa-sa-ro on Pylos Ta 716 are ritual instruments necessary for leading and controlling sacrificial victims (the identity of which is not recorded) to slaughter. The pa-sa-ro are listed first followed by pairs of two other ceremonial implements, wa-o ‘hammer axes’ and qi-si-pe-e ‘sacrificial’ knives. Palaima and Blackwell (2020) translate pa-sa-ro as a “bridle device.” Here, we increase our understanding by probing the precise form of the Mycenaean object through an unexpected source: fourteenth-century BCE iconography from Crete. An overlooked feature on the well-known bull sacrifice painting on the Agia Triada sarcophagus can plausibly be interpreted as an image of a pa-sa-ro. This identification also signals the type of animal likely intended for slaughter at Pylos using the equipment recorded on Ta 716. It adds another temporal marker to the sequence of ritual actions that led to the moment of sacrificial slaughter on the Agia Triada sarcophagus.

Nicholas G. Blackwell is Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Department of Classical Studies of Indiana University at Bloomington

Thomas G. Palaima is Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor and Director, Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) at the University of Texas at Austin

Full Bibliographic Reference

Blackwell N.G. , Palaima T.G.  2021, Further Discussion of pa-sa-ro on Pylos Ta 716: Insight from the Agia Triada Sarcophagus, SMEA NS 7, …

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Pylos Ta 716; psalon; bull sacrifice; Ayia Triada sarcophagus; “bridle”