An Underlying Assumption

A correspondent raised an abnormally interesting question about the Tiryns ivory inscription. On what warrant can I or Cohen et al., for that matter, think the markings on this inscription map to any variant of a alphabetic cuneiform alphabet like that from Ugarit? In other words, on what grounds may I assume that something that looks morphologically like a known variant on an alphabetic M is as a matter of fact an M. After all, the Tiryns ivory inscription is so short that we cannot be certain of its interpretation or even that it has a cogent interpretation. In addition, its archeological provenience is so far from the mother lode of cuneiform inscriptions of any kind that there may not be any reason to think that it relates to those other writings at all.
It’s hard to know how to address such a concern. I suppose there are two things one might say. First, evidence to the contrary not forthcoming, it’s hard to defend any methodological approach to the inscription that does not assume mapping from the unknown to the known. Second, an interpretation based on the assumption that some or all of the markings on the inscription map to some variant of alphabetic cuneiform is disprovable should evidence to the contrary be forthcoming. The real problem here is that neither Cohen nor I noted this issue in our studies of the inscription. At least I have the opportunity to fix that.