Johan Jarnaes, a citizen of the small Norwegian town of Kongsberg, is the one making this assertion. Kongsberg is situated 80 km to the west of the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Johan Jarnaes holds university degrees in history, archaeology and languages. On a late evening in autumn 1987 Johan was out for a walk in the outlying fields surrounding the small town of Kongsberg. Due to the low sunlight he discovered some strange, unknown, signs on a flat granite slab. The slab was part of a farmyard belonging to a friend of his. Johan had been on the spot many times, but neither he nor his friend, the owner, had seen these signs before. The signs were revealed only because Johan happened to pass there just at the moment the sun was setting, thus throwing a beam of light onto the slab.
PICTURE 1. Johan Jarnæs and the author on the granite slab.
PICTURE 2 and 3. The 5 characters.
Jarnaes found the characters sensational since they reminded him at first sight of characters from the classical Greek alphabet. Furthermore he discovered 12 circular cup shaped marks with a diameter of 4 to 8 cm as well as a drawing that apparently was an illustration of a boat! There were also other engravings on the granite slab. The engraving techniques indicated that they had originated in various different eras. In addition to the previously mentioned characters, signs and drawings, Johan discovered an even more peculiar one which had no resemblance to any of the others. The lower part Johan later recognised as a “bag for water or wine”. The strangest was, however, that on the outside of the “bag” a horizontal parallel wavelike drawing was visible. Jarnaes came to the conclusion that the wavelike drawing was apparently meant to describe water! On the top of the bag there was an even stranger sign that reminded him of the letter V in the Latin alphabet. The most mysterious in this whole figure was that the three parallel wavelike lines were identical with the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic sign for water!
Picture 7. The boat.
The boat was, for Jarnaes, a familiar drawing on many granite slabs in south-western Norway as well as in the Swedish county of “Bohuslan”. The carving technique was very similar to the above mentioned engravings from Kongsberg. Consequently Jarnaes could determine the time period to be the bronze age, 1500 – 2000 BC.
Jarnaes was most surprised. What could these inscriptions possibly mean? They reminded him of characters in the ancient Greek alphabet, but there were also clear indications that the characters were almost a 1000 years older. The origin of the Greek alphabet can be determined with great accuracy to 750 BC.
What happened at Kongsberg before 1623?
The town was founded in 1623 because a shepherd found a large lump of silver. The silver mining led to the rapid growth of Kongsberg which soon became a town of 10,000 inhabitants. By 1958 the silver load had been exhausted and mining was discontinued. In accordance with “the official opinion”, the town of Kongsberg had had no history before 1623. This opinion was, however, not shared by Jarnaes and hisfriends in the “Kongsberg Archaeological Society”. For more than 30 years the society has carried out its own research in order to establish the fact that the town did have a history before 1623. Amongst Jarnaes’ friends were experts in many fields, such as languages, history, archaeology, geology, and astronomy. Jarnaes has summarised the results of this research in a book.
“Before Kongsberg was founded”
This book is very interesting to read. A lot of findings were made, not only from the Bronze Age, but also from earlier periods. The most sensational were the numerous discoveries that showed clear indications of prehistoric mining! It is likely that the silver mines of Kongsberg were amongst the richest in Europe! In addition to that, the silver from Kongsberg is almost 100% pure! The common way to produce silver in the Bronze Age, as it is today, is by smelting ores containing lead and silver, a most costly procedure. The silver produced in this manner will contain a certain amount of lead that gives it a grey colour in contrast to the Kongsberg silver that is bright and shining. Another sensational finding was stone settings carefully positioned in accordance with an astronomical or mathematical pattern! In one case the settings constituted a solar calendar. It is absolutely clear that the population of Norway at that time was rather primitive and could not possibly have had such skills. This knowledge is characteristic of an advanced culture! From where could the knowledge have come?
Linear A characters of the writing system belonging to the Minoan civilisation of Crete!
Jarnaes’ idea that the characters could belong to the classical Greek alphabet could not be correct because they were all consonants, whilst the Greek language was particularly rich in vowels. The findings on the granite slab at the farm
“Langkjern” were made in 1987. The enigma remained unsolved until the Norwegian linguist; Kjell Aartun came to Kongsberg in 1994. He is internationally well known in scientific linguistic circles. Amongst others, Kjell Aartun has received a prize from “The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters” for his research on ancient languages of theMediterranean and theMiddle East. Aartun determined that the characters belonged to the Minoan writing system Linear A, fromCrete.
The first words ever written in Norway, in Artun’s interpretation, were “The pure and the soft”. Concerning the other strange images, Aartun determined that the two were of the same hieroglyphic signs that were found on the Phaistos Disc; “The Wine Bag” and “Coral”. Those who have bought the disc as a souvenir will easily be able to recognize them. In accordance with Aartun’s deciphering, the two signs mean: “The place for visitors” that is, a ritual place to be used by visitors. For Jarnaes one more enigma needed to be solved: The wave-shaped lines on the bag, resembling the Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Minoans had very close trade connection with Egypt and it is most likely that they knew the Egyptian language and writing. The hieroglyphs read: WATER and, in the southern countries of the Mediterranean, water was regarded as the most precious gift. Even if the Minoans did not habitually make petroglyphs, stone carvings, such as the Scandinavians used on their numerous cult sites, were not unknown to them. It is believed that the Scandinavian “Helleristninger” petroglyphs were made in order to call on the favour of the gods.
“The pure and the soft”
Who could have written these words on a granite slab at Kongsberg 2000 years before the Norwegians knew the art of writing? The Minoans? If so, what were they doing in Norway, and what did the words mean. In Jarnaes’ opinion both of Aartun’s translations could have a clear meaning. In the Bronze Age, the Minoans were the most skilled tradesmen in the Mediterranean area. They were trading with all countries including the ones in the Middle East. One of their specialties was trading in metals; bronze, gold, silver, lead etc. We have information from Egyptian hieroglyphs that the Egyptians, who possessed gold in great quantities, were willing to pay twice the weight of gold for one unit weight
of silver. It is not likely that our ancestors, primitive as they were at that time, knew the real trade value of pure silver. The metal was soft and not very useful for practical purposes; what they needed was bronze. That could have made the long journeys extremely profitable for the Minoans. This made it worthwhile to carve the words “The pure and the soft” on that granite slab near Kongsberg! The “pure and soft” was silver of course! The Minoans would have wanted to thank the gods for the costly goods in the same way as their Norwegian “trade counterparts” – “When in Rome do as the Romans do”!
PICTURE 5 / Bryce‘s list.
The five characters compared with the catalogue of Minoan Linear A made by William Bryce.
How were the Minoans able to travel to Norway, and how did they know they could find silver there?
For those of our ancestors who lived alongside the DrammenRiver, around 3.700 years ago, it must have been an impressive sight to see the large Minoan Vessels sailing up the river! The boats were at least 35 meters long and the large sails, of the same type as we know from the Viking ships, were 20 meters high. In comparison, the largest Viking Ship, Gogstadskipet, was only 26 meters. Arriving up the river, at the place today named Hokksund, the sails were lowered and the crew started to use the oars. They rowed up the side river to Vestfossen. The land was much lower in the Bronze Age; consequently the waterway was navigable all the way up to Fiskum, only 5 km from where Kongsberg is situated today. From Fiskum there is a small valley and gorge leading directly to the target.
PICTURE 6 Map of the area depicting the route.
On the map you will be able to follow the possible navigable route, The Drammen Fjord, the DrammenRiver up to Hokksund, Vestfossen and on to Fiskum. We know that the Minoans were highly skilled sailors who were constantly navigating the entire Mediterranean. Their ships were already, in the Bronze Age, of a most sophisticated design. They were equipped with a keel so they could sail against the wind. We never did succeed in finding a wreck or even any remains of a Minoan ship. Not until quite recently have we been able to collect sufficient information that enables us to reconstruct a ship with a high degree of probability. In particular, the present excavations at Santorini have given us such information. Large wall-paintings, that were preserved by being buried in lava in some houses there, depict Minoan ships leaving the harbour. This is the largest and most famous of them.
PICTURE 8: The Flotilla , Wall painting from Santorini,
This wall painting was sealed by the lava in the house where it was found; consequently it is much better preserved than any painting from the Minoan palaces.By analysing the perspectives in all these paintings, the Greek archaeologists have been able to determine the sizes of the ships and to make reconstructions. The paintings can be seen in a museum at Santorini that was built specially for this purpose. A good aid in these reconstructions was the many images of ships found on fragments of pottery as well as on seal stones. If we compare the design of the Minoan ships with the ships of the other seagoing nations of the Mediterranean in the same era, in particular the Phoenicians and the Egyptians,
these were unable to match the ships of the Minoans in seaworthiness and manoeuverability. History has underestimated the ships of the Minoans because the secrets behind their design had been lost. After the fall of the Minoan civilization, many years would pass until ships of an equally sophisticated design could be made, actually 1500 – 2000 years, until the era of the Vikings. It is therefore not unlikely that the Minoans might have left some of their know-how during their stay in Norway. We are almost sure their ships were technically not inferior to Viking ships made 2000 years later. With these the Vikings cruised all the oceans; they often visited the Mediterranean, and they discovered America 500 years before Columbus!
PICTURE 10. Norwegian Viking Ship.
Thanks to the superiority of their ships, the Minoans had complete domination of the sea in this era. They could even defend the long coastline of Crete without coastal fortifications. The Minoans were tradesmen, not warriors; therefore there was no war in this era that lasted for 1500 years! Their superiority came to an end with the great tsunami caused by the volcanic explosion and eruption at Thera (Santorini). This was the beginning of the end for the Minoan civilisation.
The heirs of the Minoans as seafaring nations, who took over the trade in the area, were the Phoenicians and the Egyptians. The Phoenicians were also tradesmen. Even if they had less sophisticated ships than the Minoans, we have evidence that they were in Cornwall, England, where they, amongst others, became involved in mining. It is likely that the Minoans, also like the Vikings,used a solar compass to navigate their way on the oceans. We know the Vikings was in America 500 years before Columbus, why not also the Minoans? I am almost sure that future research will come to that conclusion!
Were the Minoans in America 3000 years before Columbus?
How else could one be able to explain the following:
We have evidence that traces of cocaine have been found in Egyptian mummies. We know for sure that the plant from which cocaine is extracted only existed in South America until a few hundred years ago! Who could possibly have brought it there other than the Minoans! They were the only ones who possessed ships with the ability for such an ocean crossing! Do we have evidence for the following? :
1. That the Minoans really came to Kongsberg in the Bronze Age,
2. That prehistoric mining did take place at Kongsberg in the Bronze Age,
3. That the signs on the granite slab really were characters of Linear A,
4. That Aartun’s deciphering is correct.
Nine years have passed since I got involved in what later for me became “The battle of Kongsberg”, the reason I got involved was an article in “Aftenposten”, Norway’s leading newspaper. Since my schooldays I was very interested in the
“Minoan Enigma”. I was lucky enough to have a teacher who was a great enthusiast of Minoan history. The rise of this civilisation is one of history’s greatest enigmas! The fall of the Minoans happened after the eruption at Thera (Santorini), not as a direct result of the tsunami itself but after most of their fleet was lost; they became an easy victim for the Greek warriors from the mainland, the Mycenaeans, who destroyed their palaces and most other traces of a civilisation that was thousands of years ahead of its time. The Greek history is one of war; the Minoan’s was one of peace! Until quite recently we had no indication of from where the Minoans had come. The civilisation was suddenly just there, indicating that the Minoans must have originated from somewhere in the Mediterranean region, but from where? When I read the article I found it quite natural to involve myself further in the mystery, not necessarily in order to
solve it but to try to understand more.
We have determined that the Minoan ships may have been of a construction sophisticated enough to sail the great oceans but unfortunately this is not enough evidence to establish that they actually were in Kongsberg in the Bronze Age. The characters are there, on the granite slab, but we have no evidence of how they got there. Having involved myself in the mystery for some years I suddenly got unexpected help from our neighbours in the east.
It appeared that the Swedish archaeologist, Oscar Montelius, put this theory forward more than a hundred years ago! What gave him the idea was the narrow time span between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age that really was there “from one day to the next!” Some sudden influence must have been involved. His theory was not immediately accepted, but his idea has occupied the Swedish archaeological class ever since.
In the spring of 2005 a book was issued from Oxford University Press:
“The Rise of Bronze Age Society” ISBN: 0-521-60466-4
Authors: Kristian Kristiansen, Professor of archaeology at theUniversity ofGothenburg, and Thomas B. Larsson, professor of archaeology at theUniversity ofUmeå.
Both professors had occupied themselves with the subject until they got the chance to start a more comprehensive research project that lasted for 6 years. During the research period the two professors had examined thousands of texts and objects, in particular the stone carvings, (petroglyphs) that are to be found on both sides of the Norwegian/Swedish border in the Norwegian county of Oestfold and the Swedish county of Bohuslan. Kristiansen and Larsson had good support from all the universities in Sweden as well as from the Swedish radio that for a decade been broadcasting a program called “Stenristarne” “The stone carvers”. This program aimed at educating and motivating the people to be aware of and to report the discovery of objects that could be classified as “archaeological findings”
Résumé of the researches:
In the Bronze Age an advanced culture had suddenly arisen in the southern Scandinavian countries with clear influence from the countries of the Aegean; first the Minoans, later also the Mycenaeans and the classical Greeks. The researchers concluded that it was most likely not only that the areas were visited by people from the south, but also that the population had visited the southern countries over a period that lasted about 1000 years! According to Kristiansen, inscriptions in both Minoan and Mycenaean Linear A and B have been found. Whilst the result did not cause any great surprise in Swedish and Danish archaeological circles, the Norwegians were thoroughly shocked! Therefore this revolutionary thesis has passed unheeded in Norway, even if the truth is that we shall have to rewrite history! The same survey explains and supports Jarnaes’ many findings at Kongsberg, in areas where indications of
old silver mines, astronomical and mathematical stone settings, are strong indications of the presence of an advanced culture.
PICTURE 9, Stone carving from Oestfold, Norway.
In their book, the two professors claim that the stone carvings, the petroglyphs of Scandinavia, depict ships from the Mediterranean.
Prehistoric mining at Kongsberg.
I have myself, together with Jarnaes, visited the areas around Kongsberg and made photographs of what Jarnaes claims were residues of prehistoric mining. From several other European countries, we have also found evidence and detailed information of prehistoric mining. The pictures I took are all very similar to findings in Spain and in Serbia. I even had contact by e-mail with archaeologists in Serbia who supported my theories. What is rather special, with the Kongsberg silver, is that it could be found in a pure condition directly on the surface. Who could possibly believe that such findings could remain unnoticed right up to 1623? As soon as the source was depleted, the stone material, that had
been picked out together with the silver, was filled back into the ”mines”.
What surprised me most was that Jarnaes’ finding should cause such a stir in the established archaeological circles that they succeeded in sabotaging further research for many years. To start with, Jarnaes reported the findings to the historical institute of Oslo University. They immediately sent a young archaeologist to Kongsberg in order to examine the site. The young man became very enthusiastic with what he saw. He could establish that the incised mark indicated that the carving was most likely from the Bronze Age. The local newspaper reporter, who was there at the same time, printed the news in the next day’s newspaper, referring to the young man by name. The very next day an extremely angry professor from Oslo arrived on the spot; he was the senior person in the Archaeological and Historical Institute. He demanded that the newspaper reverse all they had written the day before. He determined, there and then, that there were no such things as Bronze Age discoveries or prehistoric mining at Kongsberg. Everything that was printed in the newspaper “was caused by the inexperience of his young assistant!” The Minoan signs were letters of the Latin alphabet and what Jarnaes claimed were prehistoric mines had nothing to do with mining whatsoever!
Death sentence to Norwegian Archaeology and Science
It took me some considerable time to get to the bottom of the motivation and the strange attitude of the established Norwegian archaeological scientists for the categorical rebuttal of Jarnaes’ findings. I will deal with this, in detail, later.
”The Battle of Kongsberg”
Here is a brief summary:
In connection with the “official silver mining of 1623” , a special ”museum of silver mining” was established at Kongsberg. The chief of this museum had spent his life writing “The history of silver mining in Kongsberg”. If Jarnaes’ claim could be proven, his “life’s work” would totally disintegrate. If, in addition to this, evidence could be found that the Minoans came to Kongsberg for silver, and that the characters on the granite slab were Linear A, the catastrophe would be
complete and the old chap would have made a complete fool of himself! The resistance was so severe that it lasted right up to 2007, until the case came under further scrutiny. Jarnaes never gave up; he continued to send e-mails with pictures and even videos to experts in other countries. In 2007 one of these experts became involved and started further research. Costs were covered from foreign sources! One of the tests that the Norwegians had neglected to undertake, in all this time, was the obvious Radiocarbon 14 dating! The very first test blew “the 1623 limit” miles away!
I am not able to tell anything more at this time, because the research is ongoing. However I have sufficient information to be convinced that Jarnaes will come out of the battle with flying colours! The loser is the Norwegian archaological establishment. They have sabotaged progress on one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the history of Norwegian Archaological science for more than 20 years, for no other motive than to protect a colleague! This case will, in due time, force them to rewrite history!
The five Linear A characters.
It is more than 100 years since Arthur Evans came up with the first clay tablets with Linear characters from Knossos. The name “Minoan” is Evans “invention”. The Egyptians, from whom we have a lot of information about the Minoans, called them:
“The civilisation of the Keftiu”.
The younger Linear B version was deciphered in the early 50ties by Michael Ventris. The older Linear A was more problematic.
During the 20th Century, a lot of work was done by Jean Pierre Olivier and Louis Goddard as well as William Bryce. They made complete catalogues of every known character, around 120. Each character has in some cases several variations
Linear A characters were meant to be written on papyrus or soft clay, not to be cut into stone! Taking that into consideration there is no more inaccuracy to be found in comparing the Kongsberg carvings with the characters in the catalogues, than you find if you compare the main character with the different variations of the same in the Bryce List.
Archaeology has recently acquired new tools, some of them inherited from Medicine, such as radar and laser scanning of archaeological sites and reading molecular DNA of up to 5,000yr old bones. In February 2007, the prestigious
Stanford Research Institute issued a report on behalf of the Archaeological society of the USA. The survey used the new technique of molecular DNA analysis on bones collected from excavations in various countries in the Mediterranean. The DNA patterns were then compared with bones from Minoan tombs. The result concludes that the origin of the Minoan civilisation is most likely to be the countries east of Turkey, somewhere between Iran and Iraq. Enough Minoan genetic material was also found in Southern Scandinavia to support the theories of the book, “Rise of Bronze Age society”.
The leading Athens Newspaper Kathimerini;
DNA sheds light on The Minoans
Crete’s fabled Minoan civilization was built by people from Anatolia, according to a new study, by Greek and foreign scientists, that refutes an earlier theory that said the Minoans’ forefathers had come from Africa. The new study – a collaboration by experts in Greece, the USA, Canada, Russia and Turkey – drew its conclusions from the DNA analysis of 193 men from Crete and another 171 from former Neolithic colonies in central and northern Greece. The results show that the country’s Neolithic population came to Greece by sea from Anatolia – modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria – and not from Africa, as maintained by US scholar Martin Bernal. The DNA analysis indicates that the arrival of Neolithic man in Greece from Anatolia coincided with the social and cultural upsurge that led to the birth of the Minoan civilization, Constantinos Triantafyllidis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University told Kathimerini. “Until now we only had the archaeological evidence – now we have genetic data too and we can date theDNA,” he said.
Is it possible to decipher Linear A?
There have been many attempts to decipher Linear A. The problem, to start with, is that we do not know even what class of language it could possibly be. After almost 100 years of research there seems to be an agreement that 90 % of the characters of Linear B also occur in Linear A. It is also most likely that most of the sound values are identical. The one and only thing the linguists are in agreement about is that the language is not Greek. Some scientists suggest that it is Indo-European, similar to the languages from Anatolia; Huerrian, Uertian, Luvian, Hiti and Indo-Iranian. The second group (Aartun and Cyrus Gordon) is of the opinion that Linear A is a Semitic language.
Having been engaged with the enigma for all these years, I must admit that I have changed my opinion and updated the article several times since it first appeared in the local Cretan newspaper “Anatoli” in 2002.
The reason is first and foremost the new information, the book by the Swedish professors and the DNA report from Stanford.
In addition to that I have spent more time studying the various aspects of the case on my own. Thanks to the Internet, everybody who is interested in the subjects can take part and add information to the discussion.
This website is open to everybody.
Linear A Texts: Homepage
Having followed the discussion for some years, I am not very optimistic that we shall be able to decipher Linear A for some time. I believe the situation will not improve until we discover more material.
In Jarnaes own blog,
You will find more information. Jarnaes and I have different views on Aartun’s deciphering.