For the next plant, I only have a partial, uncertain analysis. Everything in this post should be read as what it is: speculation – even though I’m fairly certain of one aspect: the identification of the mnemonic as the Golden Fleece or perhaps the ram Chrysomallos, who later provided said fleece. Let me show you why:
Two white, curled, ridged horns are clearly visible, even though the ink has faded and green coloring from the other side shines through. The roots are drawn closely together, as if to suggest a single surface which flows down. The shade of brown used is slightly different than in the other plants. Especially in the older, brighter scans, it almost appears golden.
These two horns, and the vertical “flow”, can also be seen in depictions of the Golden Fleece. A final common aspect is found in the fleece’s “legs”, which dangle on the floor and kind of flow towards the side. Perhaps this is what the artist tried to mimic in the bottom of his roots.
My best guess for the label is NALKRIOR. This allows for some connection with the mnemonic, especially if the syllables are switched: the ram’s name is KHRYSOMALLOS, while the Greek name for the fleece is chrysómallon déras.
Finally, my guess for the plant is pepper. The type that you grind onto a steak, not the “chili” kind – those all came from the New World. Our “ram’s horns” are left white, which is a sign that they do not represent leaves. So we are looking for a “fruit” or product that looks a bit like ram’s horns. Also, they are connected to long, flowy stalks without any central trunk visible. This seems to indicate some kind of vine, climbing plant… Both of these elements are found in pepper plants. The fruit looks rugged, and sometimes curls up like ram’s horns. The plant itself is often grown by letting it climb on tall columns.
This partial analysis of plant A2 leaves us with just one plant remaining on line A: A5. Since I know almost nothing about this plant, I’ll add it to this post.
A few vague ideas:
The roots look very mnemonic. This is the first instance I see of two separate roots connected by a “bridge”.
It is possible, though not necessary, that the leaves are not part of the mnemonic image. If we look at the roots alone, I can make some sense of the top left one. Its four rightmost “legs” are separate from the three left “legs”. Knowing how mnemonics work here, I would not be surprised if the group of four are the legs of an animal. In that case, the group of three could be two tusks and a trunk, which would make the top root an elephant facing left. In that case, a scene like the one pictured in the coin below is not unimaginable. It appears to have been quite common on coins. It features Alexander taking on some elephant riders. Once again, this is to be considered a very careful suggestion, since for now there aren’t enough elements to justify this interpretation.
The label is difficult, since I’m more familiar with the first glyph when it has a mark on top. The last glyph looks a bit like the one I read as /p/, but not quite the same. I’ll just list a bunch of possible readings:
Suggestions of how to analyse these plants are always welcome. For example if my attempted label readings ring a bell. Just leave a comment or mail: koengheuens “AT” gmail.com
This concludes our analysis of the first row. Discussions of the other plants can be found here: