Their fates sealed in fire
3,500 years before
we found them
at a place we now call Haghia Triada
or ‘The Holy Trinity’
on the plane of Mesara.
I went there
just wanting to see where they’d been found
‘Dissi-looken! Dissi-looken!’ pointed out
a helpful local man who spoke German
but not English
He spelled it out in syllables
like an inscription from one of the tablets itself.
We haven’t managed to decipher them
the entire known corpus of Linear A
would fit onto two sides of A4 paper.
What’s the hope then?
We know a lot, from what we’ve got:
the word for ‘total’
names of places and personnel.
remnants of a lost race:
I can’t forget them.
in the wet clay of a once-real day
tell us everything we need to know
we are merely
scratching the surface
of something so profound
we only glimpse it in a heartbeat
remembered in a whisper
etched in clay.
© 2021 experimentsinfiction.com. All Rights Reserved.
Written for dVerse
Tonight, Merril hosts Poetics, and has asked us to:
…write about a historical artifact…You may write about any object—a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past. You can write in any form or free verse.
There was really only one choice for me. As a Classics student, I became fascinated (perhaps a little obsessed?) with the Linear A script from Bronze Age Crete, which remains undeciphered to this day. The script was mainly found etched into clay tablets which were later baked in destructive fires deliberately started, perhaps by invaders.
The largest hoard of tablets comes from Haghia Triada on the Mesara Plain close to Phaistos. I visited the site during a study trip to Crete in 2006. There was also a famous Minoan sarcophagus discovered here (see featured image) depicting Minoan funeral rituals. But for me, the most moving artefacts ever recovered from Bronze Age Crete are those clay tablets. Perhaps that’s because, as a writer, I feel some kind of intimate connection with the scribes who wrote thousands of years ago.
Featured image: Haghia Triada Sarcophagus By Jebulon – Own work, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons