For teaching purposes only; do not review, quote or abstract.
[References for this review may be found at <Nyland>]
††††††††††††††††† [Note:† All Basque words are in Italics and Bold-faced Green]
LINEAR-B / BASQUE ASSOCIATION *
††††††††† While digging in Knossos on the isle of Crete, the archaeologist Arthur Evans found a number of tablets and seal stones that were inscribed with writing. He identified three different types of script, which he called hieroglyphic, Linear-A and Linear-B. At the time, no attempt at decipherment could be made because there was too little material to work with. Not until many more clay tablets with Linear-B writing had been found in subsequent digs on Crete and on the Greek mainland, had it become possible to make an attempt at deciphering. Michael Ventris, a young English architect announced in 1952 that he had succeeded in deciphering Linear-B and had proven that this old writing was archaic Greek. He identified 89 Linear-B characters and established phonetic values for most of them, which was adequate to translate many of the tablets (see Nyland 2001 for details).
††††††††† The majority of the tablets he worked with had come from the once beautiful Pylos palace of King Nestor, located on the west coast of the Peloponnisos in south Greece.† This site had been destroyed through violent human activity and a very hot fire. The heat of the fire had baked the soft clay tablets into indestructible pottery tablets. The deciphering of the writing gave Ventris no idea about the circumstances of the attack, and the fate of the inhabitants remained unknown to him.
††††††††† Almost all of the Pylos tablets appeared to relate to one village, in which the majority of the landholders had religious titles. This indicated that Ventris was dealing with a very unusual settlement, similar to later religious centers in Europe.† They were established to introduce a new religion and social order in areas where an older religion had been practiced before.
THE LINEAR-B PUZZLE
††††††††† The 89 characters used in the writing revealed that Ventris was dealing with a syllabic script.† Most of the phonetic values were represented by one consonant and one vowel, e.g., in-di-vi-du-al or Ca-na-da. This contrasts to pictographic, or ideographic, scripts where one symbol represents one word.† Examples are Chinese with thousands of characters, or an alphabetic script like English in which a small number of characters represents the sounds which make up the words. To find out how Ventris deciphered the script, please refer to John Chadwick's "The Decipherment of Linear B" (Penguin Books). By agglutinating the phonetic values he had obtained, Ventris was able to show that the language used was an early form of Greek. The job of deciphering was still not completely finished when Ventris was tragically killed in a car accident and his work was written up for popular consumption by his co-worker Chadwick.
††††††††† The syllabic system of writing is reminiscent of the ancient Ogam inscriptions of Ireland written on stone and the Benedictines' manual the "Auraicept na n'Eces", in which most syllables had been made up of vowel-consonant-vowel, the first three letters of Basque words, using the acrophonic principle. This possible similarity prompted Edo Nyland to apply the Basque language to the sentences that Ventris had worked out. In the back of his book, Chadwick included some tablets in transcription and of these, a few are selected. The following results are fascinating.† Each example shows two possible translations of the text.† The first done by Michael Ventris is from ancient Greek.† The second is from Basque, using Nylandís (2001) technique:
THE PYLOS TABLETS
PYLOS TABLET PY Fr 1184
†† Transcribed text: ko-ra-ro a-pe-do-ke e-ra-wo to-so e-u-me-de-i pa-ro i-pe-se-wa ka-ra-re-we.
†† Ventris' translation: Kokalos repaid the following quantity of olive oil to Eumedes: 648 liters of oil. From Ipsewas, thirty-eight
†† stirrup jars (?).
†† Translation from Basque:
††††††††† Within each word made up with the symbols, the vowel of the preceding morpheme is the same as the first vowel of the following morpheme; which is called vowel interlocking. When the archaic Greek word starts with a consonant, the first vowel is often missing and must be recovered by testing all five vowels, in which case a dot has temporarily been placed in the spot of the missing letter. A slash indicates where the vowel interlocking is broken.
PYLOS TABLET PY Ta722
††††††††† Transcribed text: ta-ra-nu a-ja-me-no e-re-pa-te-jo a-to-ro-qo i-qo-qe po-ru-po-de-qe...
†††††††††††††††† Ventris' translation: One footstool inlaid with a man and a horse and an octopus and a griffin in ivory.
†††††††††††††††† Translation from Basque:
PYLOS TABLET PY Sa 794
††††††††† Transcribed text: ka-ko de-de-me-no no-pe-re-e.
††††††††† Translation from Basque:
While remembering the terror, we had to recover from the defeat by gently giving very good care to the afflicted and performing surgery.
KNOSSOS TABLET KN Gg 702
††††† ††††Transcribed text: pa-si-te-o-i me-ri da-pu-ri-to-jo po-ti-ni-ja-me-ri.
††††††††† Translation from Basque:
.pa †††† ipa
The northerners have started the work of burying in the forest after a nightmare of agony during which they gored, destroyed, and drowned mercilessly while robbing. When we were left alone many were still shivering and frightened after this nightmare of agony.
††††††††† This last tablet came from Knossos.† It was probably written 200 years before the other three from Pylos. It is included here to show that double-speak was not only practiced in Pylos, but may have been a regular feature of their writing. In this case, the northerners may well be the Achaeans themselves who are thought to have conquered Crete at that time. It looks like the Achaeans received in Pylos the same treatment they had meted out in Knossos, only at the hands of very different people.
.mu - uka - ena
PYLOS WAS PREPARING FOR THE ATTACK
††††††††† Many of the tablets found at Pylos described preparations for an attack that had obviously been expected from the direction of the sea. Michael Wood in his book "In Search of the Trojan War" wrote the following:
††††††††† "One of the most important tablets is entitled: 'Thus the watchers are guarding the coasts : command of Maleus at Owitono... 50 men of Owitono to go to Oikhalia, command of Nedwatas.... 20 men of Kyparssia at Aruwote, 10 Kyparissia men at Aithalewes.... command of Tros at Ro'owa: Kadasijo a shareholder, performing feudal service.... 110 men from Oikhalia to Aratuwa. Some of the last tablets written at Pylos speak of rowers being drawn from five places to go to Pleuron on the coast. A second list, incomplete, numbers 443 rowers, crews for at least fifteen ships. A much larger list speaks of 700 men as defensive troops; gaps on the tablet suggest that when complete, around 1000 men were marked down, the equivalent of a force of 30 ships".
††††††††† It was all to no avail. The first attackers appear to have targeted the priests but did no burning. This allowed the scribes enough time to describe the attack on their tablets when the second wave of attackers arrived who devastated the palace with fire and beat anyone they could find. The old story that the Dorians came over land from the north and devastated the palaces may well be true, but they may have done it in cooperation with the Sea Peoples' attacks in boats. The only strangers for whom we have good evidence are the Sea Peoples and their main goal was to stop the advance of the new philosophy of the jealous male gods, and not to take slaves or even to plunder, which was incidental. The attacks were successful because, like the Hittite empire, we know that the Achaean civilization came to an abrupt end. Only Athens was apparently able to ward off the attacks.
THE BASQUE CONNECTION
††††††††† Edo Nyland has explained how the Saharan language was spoken in all of Europe as a common language, because almost the entire population of Europe had migrated from the Sahara when the formerly productive land became a desert (see Climate). With the coming of the new cults of the sky gods from Anatolia, all of them promoted male domination.† Priests had been sent to many parts of Europe with orders to destroy the ancient religion of the Goddess, wipe out the tribal system, create nations, introduce private landownership and invent new languages with different scripts for each new nation. This meant that every new language had to be based on the old Saharan language because there was no other from which to work. The newly created languages are known today as the Indo-European "family" of languages. The old Saharan language survives as Basque in Europe and in a more compromised form as Dravidian in India and Ainu in Japan.
††††††††† With this background, it is not difficult to suggest that the tragic turmoil in the eastern Mediterranean was the result of a religious war. The aggressively expanding new religion had to be stopped and the people of the Goddess united in one massive effort to eliminate the culprits, an effort which involved more than 1,000 ships. The Hittite empire was destroyed by the Kirrukaska (called Kaska in the clay tablets) from the Black Sea coast and the Sea Peoples from the south. The Egyptians documented a great deal of this war on the walls of Ramses III's temple at Medinet Habu and other places. According to these descriptions, the Sea Peoples had come from their islands in the midst of the Great Green Sea, now known as the Atlantic Ocean. The travels of Odysseus describes the homecoming of one or more of these groups, which must have been composed of Irish, Scots, Phaikians (Vikings), Berbers and Canary Islanders, possibly in concert with the Sardinians and the Corsicans. The much later crusades to the Holy Land must have looked like a replay in miniature.
DOUBLE-SPEAK IN BASQUE AND GREEK
††††††††† The amazing characteristic of the syllabic system is that it allows the linguist to apply one language, Basque, to the script and come up with one translation, while another language, Greek, may produce a very different story from the same characters, as the examples above show. Nyland (2001) found the same in "Olla Vogala" in which two lines of the writing are in Latin, which were then translated into two lines of archaic Dutch, both telling the same story about birds. Applying Basque to all four lines produced a quite different and coherent bird story. That Basque was involved in Linear-A and -B has been proposed long ago. In 1931 a booklet was published by the Oxford University Press entitled "Through Basque to Minoan" in which the author, F.G. Gordon, tried to interpret the script with the use of Basque. He identified each sign as an object and then gave its name in the language assumed. His incomplete and pre-maturely published efforts had such a negative influence upon future linguists that the use of Basque for any early language has been ridiculed until now. Yet Gordon had taken the first steps on the right track.† All Indo-European and Semitic languages and Sumerian and Akadian, are based on the old Saharan language, which survives today in mostly unaltered form as Basque.