THE HELLENIC ROOTS OF THE ALPHA-BETA ,ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW THAN THE TODAY OFFICIAL ONE
The deception that alphabetical script was discovered by the Phoenicians is a long-lived one. For the past 14 years [the Greek scholarly magazine] Davlos has published numerous articles on this problem. This prompted that we submit a relevant article for his mainstream daily so that this important issue would become known to a wider audience. Davlos’publisher [Dimitris I. Lambrou] wrote the article that follows, and it was originally published in a prime position in the Sunday edition of Apogevmatini on 21 November 1999 (pages 42-43). This article summarizes the strong evidence against the “Phoenician Deception,” and proves that the greatest discovery in the history of civilization is Greek. We believe it necessary to republish this article in [this issue of] Davlos exactly as it appeared in the daily.
A) A Scientific Monstrosity
According to linguistic theory, an “alphabet” is defined as “the sum of symbols following a specific sequence and order used to ascribe the essential utterances of a language, under the condition that each utterance represents only one symbol and vice-versa”. Consequently, in alphabetical script (as an example, in the writings of the people of Europe, America, Australian, as well as the other parts of the world) each letter represents one essential sound.This is not true for the imperfect alphabets expressed through syllables where each symbol represents a syllable (with two or more voiced sounds). For example, in Greek Linear A and B, there is a symbol that represents the syllable ko (k + o), a symbol that represents the syllable po (p + o), etc. In Phoenician writing (which has only consonants and no vowels), this situation is even worse, as far as we can tell from the small amount of existing samples. In Phoenician, each symbol is not equivalent to one specific syllable, but to a variety of syllables, and thus the reader can use his imagination when attempting to decipher the sounds. For example, there are consonants which can be read as either ba, bou, be, bi, bo, etc. Others that can be read as gou, ga, ge, go, and so on. Consequently, Phoenician script does not constitute an alphabet, and is not even an advanced form of syllabic script nearing the perfection of the equivalent Greek syllabic writings.
It is truly amazing to think that, in the academic world of the past 150 years, the almost contradictory term of “Phoenician alphabet” has been established, which, in reality refers to a type of writing that has nothing to do with an alphabet. It is even more unbelievable to think that the scientific dogma that Greek came from Phoenician has been enforced. Not only is Phoenician not an alphabet, it is a less advanced form of writing than Greek Linear A and B. So, professor G. Babiniotis’ statement that “Phoenician writing is something like a syllabic alphabet” must be rejected and replaced with the correct characterization of Phoenician as a “purely concise syllable system of writing,” as stated by the former president of the Greek Society of Philologists, Pan. Georgountzos (see “The Alphabet: A Greek Discovery” by Pan. Georgountzos, Davlos, issue 142, October 1993, page 8242).
The Greekness of the Alphabet
a) Archaeological Evidence
The theory that the alphabet is a Phoenician discovery has been maintained through the argument, among other things, that certain symbols of Phoenician writing are similar to the letters of the alphabet. For example, the Phoenician alef is the reverse or sideways Greek “A.” This argument was a strong one until about 100 years ago, when linguists and historians still maintained that the Greeks did not know how to write before 800 B. C.! Around 1900 A.D., however, Arthur Evans excavated the Greek Minoan Crete and discovered the Greek Linear writings, whose symbols corresponded to 17 of the 24 letters of the Greek Alphabet.
Given that (A), the most ancient evidence of the Greek scripts (Linear A and Linear B) that were later discovered in Pylos, Mycenae, Menidi and Thebes — but also in more northern areas up to the Danube river as well — were dated to before 1500 B.C. And (B), that the Phoenicians and their writings appear in history no earlier than 1300 BC, Evans was the first person to express doubts about the theory that the Greeks received their script from the Phoenicians. He put forward the scientific suspicion that it was probably the other way round.The doubts pertaining as to who was first — the Phoenicians or the Greeks — in discovering writing, became a certainty when French professor, Paul Fore, an internationally acclaimed specialist on Prehistoric Archaeology, published a report in Nestor (an American Archaeological Journal of the University of Indiana — 16th year, 1989, page 2288). In this report, he submits and deciphers plates with Greek Linear writing found at the cyclopean wall of Pilikates, in Ithaca, dated, through the use of modern scientific methods, back to 2700 B.C., The language of these plates was Greek, and the decoding by professor Fore resulted in the following syllabic text, expressed phonetically: A]RE-DA-TI. DA-MI-U-A-.A-TE-NA-KA-NA-RE (ija)-TE. The phonetic equivalent of this is translated, always according to the professor, as: “Ιδού τι εγώ η Αρεδάτις δίδω εις την ανασσαν, την θεάν Ρέαν: 100 αίγας, 10 πρόβατα, 3 χοίρους” [Here is what I, Aredatis, gives to the queen- goddess Rea, 100 goats, 10 sheep, 3 pigs]. (See, “Davlos” magazine, issue 107, November 1990, page 6103). Thus, Fore proved that the Greeks were writing and speaking Greek at least 1400 years before the appearance of the Phoenicians and their script in history.But, the archaeological excavations in Greece during the last 15 years have given us many more great surprises: The Greeks were writing using not only Linear A and B, but also a type of writing identical to that of the alphabet since at least 6000 B.C. In fact, at Dispilio, in the lake of Kastoria, in northern Greece, professor G. Houmouziadis discovered a plate with writing very similar to that of the alphabet, which was dated, using radioactive Carbon-14 and visual photothermal methodology, back to 5250 B.C. (see Davlos, issue 147). Three years later, N. Samson, a curator of the Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Department, discovered shards of vases (“ostraka”) with letters identical to the present Greek alphabet while excavating at the “Cyclop’s Cave,” on the deserted island of Yioura, near the inhabited island of Alonnissos, in the Northern Sporades island complex. These vases were dated to 5,500 to 6,000 B.C. with the same methods (see “Davlos,” issue 185, May 1997). The same archaeologist, while performing excavations on the island of Milos, discovered vessels of the proto-cycladic period (mid-3rd millennium B.C.) with letters identical to the Greek letters: “X,” “N,” “M,” “K,” “Ξ” [ksi],”Π” [p], “Ο,” & “Ε.” (See N. Samson’s interview in Davlos, issue 204, December 1998, page 12749.)
It is apparent that these archaeological discoveries have given a “comical’ character to the so-called “Phoenician Theory” on the discovery of writing. In addition, these archaeological discoveries have revolutionized chronological dating of Greek history as it is taught today, as well as the world history of civilization itself. (See also the book by Con. Koutrouvelli, “Re-establishing the Chronology of Prehistoric Times based primarily on astronomical information from Ancient Writers,”Davlos Publishing, 1999.)
b) The somewhat mathematical proof
While the house-of-cards which provided “proof”‘ of the so-called “Phoenician alphabet” was being torn down by archaeological discoveries, another overwhelming piece of evidence surfaced. This evidence was offered to us by the 20-year long discreet and timid research of the Greek Language and Writing by a great researcher, Elias Tsatsomoiros. Unfortunately E. Tsatsomoiros passed away on December 19th 1991, after having, however, completed his revolutionary work, History of the Genesis of the Greek Language-from the hunter-gatherer to the time of Zeus-the Deciphering of the Greek Alphabet. The undersigned [writer of this article] had the honor of publishing and editing this work (Davlos Publishing, 1991), but also the honor of having worked closely with the researcher for more than a decade. We had long discussions on the numerous problems arising from the research, and we had published a series of articles in Davlos magazine. This memorable researcher proved in a remarkable way that every letter of the Greek alphabet contained a consistent code meaning, which is literally introduced either exactly or metaphorically within the general meaning of the Greek word it belongs to, as a partial meaning. Consequently, every (ancient) Greek word is basically an acronym (similar to D(imosia) E (picheirisi) H(lektrismou) [=ΔΕΗ in Greek, or as U(nited) N(ations), in English], where every letter provides a significant or less significant notional element, and then, they all together provide the logical definition of the meaning expressed by the word. The “significant difference” of each word’s meaning is usually provided by the first letter.
Obviously, there is not enough space in this article to present the code meaning of the letters of the Greek alphabet as a whole, as they are analyzed in this revolutionary volume of research in the field of human speech. As an example, I will choose only one of the 24 letters of our alphabet, “Ypsilon” = “Y” or, small case, “u” (pronounced, long-e “eepsilon,” the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet, and familiar to us as “Y” in the so-called “Latin” alphabet– which is nothing more than a variation of the Greek “Chalcidean” alphabet). Ypsilon, therefore, as its shape indicates, has the code meaning of “a cavity” οr, if reversed, of a “convexity.” This meaning is introduced into the words containing this letter, and sometimes, by extension into the meaning of liquids (which, through their natural flow end up filling the “cavity”). I will quickly mention some of the names of vessels and liquids (such as the amphiconical κ-Υ-πελλο which is dated back to 2700 B.C. and is displayed at the Heraklion Museum). One may add to the words mentioned there, many others, such as kot-Y-li, go-Y-ttos, tr-Y-blion, p-Y-xis, amphore-Y-s, b-Y-tion, l-Y-chnos, procho-Y-s, ske-Y-os, etc, all having the meaning of a curved object. Also, some other words such as k-Y-hsis (rounding of the stomach of an eng-Y-os [pregnant] woman); k-Y-ma (curving on the surface of the ocean); cr-Y-pti (curving of the ground); the preposition [h-Y-po] Y-po (meaning under a certain level); h-Y-per (preposition meaning above a certain level); Y-psos =height; and all of the hundreds of words that have h-Y-po or h-Y-per as a prefix, as well as thousands of others. This discovery, which unfortunately has been officially ignored, is a continuation of the forgotten Platonic approach to the problem of language (see Plato’s Cratylus).
- Completely rejects the theorem that the Greek language came from another language (the so-called “Indo-European”), since it is proven to be the only non-conventional language of the world. In other words, the only language where a relationship between the “word” (as a form) and the “meaning of the word” is established.Consequently, it is proven that Greek is the first and only created language of the human species which provided the basis for all “conventional” languages, as are all the other languages of the world (where there is no causative relationship between the form and the meaning). These other languages are a corrupt form of Greek.This theory proves, without a doubt, that the alphabet was created by the Greeks so that the 24 or 27 code letters would aid in attributing the meanings of the Greek words (and only of these).
- Comparatively, this theory shows that the symbols of the Phoenician writings and their nouns, e.g., “alef” =ox, “beth” = hut, “gimel = camel, etc., not only do not contain coded meaning, but are also associated or refer to [the] primitive animal conditions [one would expect in a culturally backward society].
The Herodotus Extract
All the Greek writers who mention the alphabet (they called it “grammata”) consider it a very ancient Greek invention (by Prometheus, Palamedes, Linus, etc). The theory of the Phoenician alphabet was always, and is still, based on an exception to this general rule. This exception is an excerpt from Herodotus, that he himself presents as his ‘personal opinion’ (“ως εμοι δοκεει” = “as it seems to me”). This opinion was formed based on the sayings of others, as he himself mentions in the previous paragraphs (“αναπυνθανομενος” = taking information from others). Let us have a look at the Herodotus’ excerpt (History, E 58):
[58. As far as the Phoenicians, they, who arrived with Cadmus, including the Gefiraioi, had lived in many other places and introduced also arts (new and unknown) to the Greeks; in fact, and also (some) writing, which had not been known to the Greeks before that, as I think, first this writing which was used by all the Phoenicians. With the passing of time, however, the Phoenicians changed this type of writing along with their language.]
The most important thing about this excerpt is that in the critical phrase “… ama tin foni metevallon kai ton rhithmon ton grammaton,” it is disclosed that the Phoenicians-Gefiraioi that went to Viotia with Cadmus brought some form of writing with them. But, as the Phoenicians “changed their language”(they learned Greek, in other words), they also changed their writing (they started writing, therefore, with the existing ancient Greek writing that already existed in Viotia). Although this statement was made by Herodotus, the translators, subsequently, provided the translation [meaning] that the local Greek Viotes and not the Phoenician emigrants changed their language and writing and adopted the Phoenician!
This generally incoherent reference to the alphabet, as it has been saved, has been obviously altered and meddled with, who knows by whom and when. Let us look at the suspicious continuation of the text, as it has arrived to us:
Around them (the Phoenicians) lived at that place during that year (year of Cadmus) Ionian Greeks, who received through contact or through teachings by the Phoenicians their writings, changing their own writing which they used little. When using this writing and since this writing had been introduced to Greece by Phoenicians, they called it Phoenician, as was just.
According to E. Tsatsomoiros (Davlos, issue 118), this reference, in other words that the Ionian Greeks living around the Phoenicians received the Phoenician writing and, using a few of its letters, since they had altered them and since it was just, they called it Phoenician-to pay tribute to the people who brought it to Greece, is a striking contradiction. Consequently, one can assume that this is a forged paragraph, hypothetically explanatory, which aims to reduce the previous statement “…as they changed their language, they changed their writing,” to an unimportant statement. This is how the “Phoenician Theory” was substantiated and is maintained as an obvious forgery.
The “Phoenician Theory” was established in Europe during a time, when, as the renowned British classical scholar, S. G. Rembroke (The Legacy of Greece, Oxford University Press, 1984) wrote, “The Phoenicians were given an intermediary role “that is not based on any historical information”. A role, in other words, of the transporter of wisdom and civilization from the “chosen” people of Israel to the “uncivilized” nations, and specifically the Greeks. This, of course, could be forgiven, since this was established around the end of the Medieval Ages, when religious fanaticism and backwardness had reached such a point that the daughter of Agamemnon, Iphigenia, is presented as the daughter of Iephtha; Deukalion is presented as Noah; Appis is a consul of Joseph; Apollo, Priam, Tiresias, and Orpheus are corrupted personae of Moses; the story of the Argonauts is the crossing of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine, and other similar distortions. The above are noted by Rembroke.
And we conclude: At the time, Hellenism was in comatose spiritual condition regarding national and historical awareness, and therefore totally unable to defend its history and civilization, and for this reason could not react and did not react. Today, it is with our tolerance that our language is deemed “Indo-European,” and our writing “Phoenician,” our Athena and our Socrates are presented as “Blacks,” and our civilization as “African.” What spiritual situation are we in now? [i.e., What’s our excuse this time?]
On page 13745 of this article, is a picture of a piece of shard [pottery] dated to 6,000 B.C., found on the islet of Youra of the North Sporades island complex with Greek alphabetical writings. One can see the letters “A,” “Y,” & “D” [alpha, eepsilon, and delta ], almost identical to the Greek letters of the classical alphabets. This finding proves that the Greek alphabet is older than the Greek Linear writings. This finding also completely and definitely disproves the false theory that the Greeks got their alphabet from the Phoenicians, who made their historical appearance around 1300 B.C., in other words about 4,500 to 5,000 years after the creation of this plaque at Youra.
On page 13747 are shown letter-symbols from the Proto-cycladic vessels of Milos (mid-third millennium B.C.). One can distinguish the [letter] “X” [chi] to the left and the [letter] “N” to the right. These letters are written just as the letters of the Greek alphabet are written today. Other vessels were also found with “M,” “K,” “Ξ” [ksi], “Π” [p], “O,” and “E.”
- This article appeared in the January 2000 issue of Davlos, pp.13741-13750, and was written by Dimitris I. Lambrou, publisher. (Emphasis not in original was added. Translation by staff.)
B) ANOTHER SUPPORTIVE THESIS TO THE ABOVE MENTIONED
Dr. Fischer in his book “ Glyphbraker” presents a meticulous and scholarly account of his decipherment of the Phaistos Disk that was based on the glyph correspondences between the Phaistos Disk and symbols of Linears A and B. His work has been endorsed by “ The National Geographic” and is by far the most credible and realistic decipherment of the Phaistos Disk to-date.
In his book, Dr. Fischer concludes that “the Minoan language of ancient Crete is the oldest documented language not only of Europe but also of the entire Indo-European language family… it was a Hellenic tongue, sister to Mycenaean Greek [Minoan Greek]… the Phaistos Disk indicates a preference for the written word in ancient Crete (it also suggests widespread literacy)… [and] the Hellenes were the first in the Aegean, indeed in Europe, to use writing…” (pp. 119-120)
The Minoans spoke and wrote in Greek, at least 1300 years prior to the appearance of the Phoenicians! Some may argue that the Phaistos Disk is “written” in pictorial script (glyphs) and it is syllabic, not alphabetic. This is true. However, the relation of the Phaistos Disk to the syllabic Linear A and B scripts is stunningly similar, thus proving the continuity and evolution of these writing scripts. Furthermore, the similarity of the Minoan writing symbols to the Phoenician scripts (i.e. Proto-Sinaitic, ca. 1700 BCE; and Phoenician ca. 700 BCE), which are also syllabic and not alphabetic, suggest a relative connection that should not, and must not, be taken lightly or go unnoticed.
Hence, the question at hand is, did the birth and early evolution of the Greek alphabet begun in the East (Phoenicia) or the West (Crete)?
The ancient historian Diodorus of Sicily mentions in his writings that Dosiades, a writer of epigrams, told him that the letters were invented by the Cretans (“Dosiades de en Kriti phisin evrethinai auta [grammata].) (Diodorus, II 783.14)
Furthermore, according to the “On-Line Encyclopedia Britannica”, the late Sir Arthur Evans, the brilliant archaeologist and scholar who dedicated most of his life excavating, deciphering and documenting the advanced civilization of the Minoans, argued ingeniously that “the alphabet was taken over from Crete by the Cherethites (Kereti=Cretans) and Palestu (Philistines=Pelasgoi) who established for themselves settlements on the coast of Palestine. From them it passed to the Phoenicians, who were their neighbors, if not their kinsfolk.”
This is a statement and scientific observation of great importance, and has far reaching implications in the quest to identify not only the origins of the alphabet, but the origins of civilization in the Mediterranean.
Unfortunately, Evans’ theory of the origin of the alphabet laid dormant (and frankly, in my opinion, purposely ignored) until recent archaeological findings in Israel regarding the Philistines, a race that, until recently, we only knew from Old Testament references, have shed new light on the migrations, settlements and cultures of the people in the Mediterranean basin, and has stirred renewed interest in the relation between the Levantines (Middle Easterners) and the Minoan Greeks.
Will, finally, Evans be exonerated and his theories be proven right? Well, we are now almost certain that, despite previous theories that the Minoans migrated from the Levant, recent scientific and archeological findings are proving that it was the other way around!
As we understand and analyze these new findings, not through the prism of narrow nationalistic, ethnic or political interests, but in true and responsible scholarship, old misconceptions will tumble and the truth will prevail.
In early 2007, in an article that appeared in “The Israel Exploration Journal”, distinguished Harvard professors Lawrence E. Stager and Frank Moore Cross commenting on several Philistine inscriptions found in the ancient city of Ashkelon in Israel, wrote that the inscriptions “reveal, for the first time, convincing evidence that the early Philistines of Ashkelon were able to read and write in a non-Semitic language, as yet undeciphered… perhaps it is not too bold to propose that the inscription is written in a form of Cypro-Minoan script utilized and modified by the Philistines — in short, that we are dealing with the Old Philistine script.” Cross further states that the script had some characteristics of Linear A, the writing system used in the Aegean from 1650 B.C. to 1450 B.C. This undeciphered script was replaced by another, Linear B, which was identified with the Minoan civilization of Crete and was finally decoded in the mid-20th century.
Hence, these Cretan migrants brought with them not only the Minoan Greek language, but also the linear script, the early Hellenic syllabic alphabet that planted the seed for the evolution of a regional rooted alphabet.
To wit, excavations at Tel Miqne in Israel in 1996 unearthed a Philistine dedication inscription of the seventh century BCE, written in a script dubbed by scholars “Phoenician-Canaanite”, in the absence of a more precise alternative nomenclature.
This tablet of Ekron, as it is commonly known today, is written in none other than a “Philistine” (i.e. Cretan) script that most likely evolved from the Minoan linear scripts, and was eventually adopted by both the Canaanites and the Phoenicians “their neighbors [and] their kinfolk”, according to Evans.
Furthermore, Aaron Demsky in an article published in “Biblical Archeology” suggests that the inscription of the tablet of Ekron names one of the Philistine kings as “Akys” (Greek: Acheos = Hellene), and his patron deity as “Ptnyh” (Greek: Potnia = Divine Lady => Great Goddess of the Aegean.), further confirming the Hellenic origin and lineage of the Philistines, their language and their writing (pp. 53-58.)
Sr. Arthur Evans may have finally been proven right! The letters of the so-called “Phoenician” alphabet were first used by the Philistines and had Minoan Hellenic roots!