Eteocretan Logo

Eteocretan Language Pages

Praisos #3


This inscription was found, according to Guarducci, by R.C. Bosanquet in June, 1904. It is much later than the two Dreros inscriptions and the 1st and 2nd Praisos inscriptions, being written dextrorsely throughout and in the full standard Ionian alphabet with the addition of Ϝ (w). It is probably from the 3rd century BCE.

It is in the Iraklion Museum: Ἐπιστημονική Συλλογή, inventory #101.


  • R.C. Bosanquet, 1903-1904, Epigraphical notes on Praisos #3 in R.S. Conway, A third Eteocretan fragment (the neikar-inscription), Annual of the British School at Athens 10, page 117-116.
  • R.M. Burrows, 1903-1904, Letter in R.S. Conway, A third Eteocretan fragment (the neikar-inscription), Annual of the British School at Athens 10, pages 124-125.
  • N. Platon, 1934, Ἐτεοκρητικαί ἐπιγραφαί Πραισοῦ (Σητείας), Μοσῶν 3, pages 163-167.
  • M. Guarducci, 1942, Inscriptiones Creticae III, Rome, pages 140-141.
  • Y. Duhoux, 1982, L'Étéocrétois: les textes - la langue, Amsterdam, pages 75-79.
  • R.A. Brown, 1984, Pre-Greek Speech on Crete, Amsterdam, pages 228-231.

This is not an exhaustive bibliography. The above, however, are those whom I believe have actually seen the inscription itself.


PhotographFacsimile of text
Maximum dimensions: width 200mm;
height 415mm; thickness 60mm.
facsimile of text

The right hand side of the stone is undamaged; but the left side as well as the bottom is badly damaged. On the right hand side there are small spaces of about one letter's width at the ends of lines 2, 3 and 4; these presumably correspond with word endings.



In standard Greek script In modern Roman script
  1. --ξ̣.ν̣νυμιτ
  2. --α̣ταρκομν v
  3. --.ηδησδεα v
  4. --σ̣ωπειραρι v
  5. --ε̣ν τασετϜσευ
  6. --ννασιρουκλεσ
  7. --ιρερμηι̣αμαρφ
  8. --ε̣ιρερφινσδαν
  9. --μαμδεδικαρκ
  10. --ρισραιραριφ
  11. --.ν̣νεικαρξ
  12. --ταριδοηι
  13. --ενβα
  14. --δ̣νασ
  15. --.--
  16. ---
  1. -x̣.ṇnumit
  2. --ạtarkomn v
  3. --.ēdēsdea v
  4. --ṣōpeirari v
  5. --ẹn tasetwseu
  6. --nnasiroukles
  7. --irermēịamarpʰ
  8. --ẹirerpʰinsdan
  9. --mamdedikark
  10. --risrairaripʰ
  11. --.ṇneikarx
  12. --taridoēi
  13. --enba
  14. --ḍnas
  15. --.--
  16. ---

Note: Roman 'x' is used in the transcription strictly as a Roman 'x', i.e. = [ks]. It is not the phonetic symbol for a velar fricative.

Line 1
the initial ξ (x) and the 3rd letter ν (n) are both damaged but certain; I could not, however, read the intervening letter.
Line 2
The initial α is slightly damaged but certain.
Line 3
The initial letter was too damaged to for me to to hazard a guess at it.
Line 4
The initial σ (s) is damaged but certain.
Line 5
The initial letter is badly damaged but is probably ε. There is a definite space between the ν (n) and first τ (t).
Line 7
The ι (i) in μηια (mēia) is damaged but certain.
Line 8
The initial letter is damaged but is almost certainly ε.
Line 11
The first two letters are badly damaged. I could make nothing of the first letter, but the second is almost certainly ν (n).
Line 14
The initial δ is damaged but certain.
Line 13
The one surviving letter was too damaged for me to hazard a guess at it.



Once again the major difficulty in reading this inscription is the lack of word dividers. However, the space in the line 5 must at least indicate a sentence ending; it could, indeed, be a form of paragraphing.

Lines 2, 3 and 4 each have a small space at the end of the line; the space is about one letter's width. It is possible that these correspond with word endings, the scribe feeling it awkward to end a line with just the initial letter of the next word.

The element -μιτ- (-mit-) occurs in Line 1, just as it also does in the Praisos #1 and Praisos #2 inscriptions. In Line 2 we find the element κομν (komn) which also occurs in Dreros #1.

The sequence -ηια (-ēia) in Line 7 is reminiscent of the ending of τυπρμηριηια (tuprmēriēia) in Dreros#2 which, it was suggested, corresponds to Greek καθαρὸν γένοιτο "may it become pure". It may be that -ηια corresponds a Greek optative form "may it be...".

In line 6 the form -ουκλεσ (-oukles) is reminiscent of the termination -οκλεσ (-okles) found in Praisos #1. Also the sequence ιρερ (irer) which occurs twice in Praisos #2 also occues twice in this inscrption, namely in Lines 7 and 8.

The diphthongs αι [ai̯] and ευ [eu̯] apparently occur here as they did in Praisos #2. Also we find in this inscription ει (ei) and ου (ou), but these are probably to be understood as the standard 3rd century digraphs ει = /iː/ and ου = /uː/ and, together with the use of η = /eː/ and ω = /oː/ shows a differentiation of long and short vowels in Eteocretan. The occurrence of η (ē) in Dreros #2 suggests that this distinction had always been part of the language, but the archaic Cretan alphabet was not able to indicate this distinction except with /e/ ε and /eː/ η.

It should, perhaps, be made clear that in an inscription in the Ionian alphabet of the 3rd century BCE, there is no doubt that ξ in the first line does denote /ks/. The considerations that applied in the case of Praisos #1 do not apply here.

Surprising, perhaps, is the occurrence of Ϝ in Line 5, particularly as comes between τ and σ. I inspected the letter very carefully to see if it could be a damaged Ε; but I have no doubt this is not so and that the letter is certainly Ϝ.

The sequence /tws/ is hardly pronounceable. I have suggested in the The Archaic Cretan Greek Alphabet page and the Praisos #1 page that Ϝσ (ws) is a digraph for [sʷ], i.e. a labialized sibilant. But it may equally well be that τϜσ (tws) is a graphy for a labialized dental affricate [ʦʷ] which, of course, could still be the sound denoted by semk in Praisos #1. Is this affricate from an earlier (Minoan?) /tw/? (I am reminded of the sound change */tw/ → */ts/ → /tt/ or /ss/ (according to dialect) which occurred in primitive Greek, and of the Japanese ponunciation of /tu/ as [ʦɯ])

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!
Created August 2003. Last revision:
Copyright © Ray Brown