Thursday, July 17, 2008

Antiquity of Oued Mertoutek Inscription

Antiquity of the oued mertoutek InscriptionControversy surrounds my dating of the Mande/ Libyco-Berber/Ancient Libyan inscription found at Oued Mertoutek by Wulsin(1940).

I have proposed a 2nd millennium date for this documentwhile Wulsin dates the inscription to the 5th century of theChristian era.At Oued Mertoutek Wulsin found an engraving of an ovicaprid(sheep/goat) with an ancient Libyco-Berber inscription placedinside the figure.

Although the patina for the inscription andthe goat/sheep figure were the same , Wulsin claimed that the goat/sheep figure dated to the 1st-3rd millennium BC, and the writing dated back to the horse period of the "Saharan Rock Art" which he assumed was 500-600 AD. The separate dates for the Oued Mertoutek engraving areclearly inconsistent, given the identical patina of the figureand the writing.

There is no way the figure and inscription couldbe separated by 1500-2500 years and still show identical patina.Reason, dictates summary rejection of Wulsin's hypothesissupporting the late introduction of writing to the Sahara.Wuslin based his dating of the Libyco-Berber writing on the Oued Mertoutek engraving on the Hamitic paradigm.

This paradigmmaintains that writing, the horse and other cultural featureswere given to Africans by Semitic speaking culturally superiorpeople from the East. In Wulsin's day, researchers believed thatthe horse arrived in North Africa and the Sahara around 500 AD.If we accept the discredited Hamitic hypothesis for theintroduction of writing to the Sahara, we would have to push theday for the introduction of writing back 800-1400 years. Because1) the chariot period which is associated with Libyco-Berberwriting is believed to have begun in the 2nd millennium BC; and2) archaeological and epigraphic evidence suggest that writingexisted in the Sahara by at least 800 BC.Close (1980) and Galand have reported that an inscribed pottery vessel with Libyco-Berber inscriptions was found atTiddis, which dates back to 300 BC. This is 800 years earlierthan Wulsin's date for the Oued Mertoutek inscriptions.

In addition, Close (1980)claims that other evidence indicatesthat Libyco-Berber inscriptions can be pushed back to between600-700 BC. This archaeological evidence clearly contradict Wulsin's estimation of the Oued Mertoutek inscription's age.Other evidence for the antiquity of the Oued Mertoutekinscription comes from there association with Saharan chariots.The inscriptions and chariots share the same patina.

These chariots have been dated to around 1200 BC according to Desanges(1981, p.433). Originally, researchers believed that the Saharan chariotswere introduced into the Sahara by Egyptians and/or the Peoplesof the Sea. This hypothesis is now discredited because there arefew similarities between the Saharan and Aegean portrayals ofChariots (Desanges, 1981,p.432).

In addition, whereas the Horse Period was considered to be500-600 AD in Wulsin's day, today the horse period is datedbetween 1500-500 BC (Sahnouni,1996, p.29). The horse depicted inthe Sahara was not the Arabian horse typified by the Berber andTaurag horsemen. Barbary horses drew the Saharan chariots horses (Desanges, 1981, p.432).

This horse is smaller than theArabian horses which were not introduced into Africauntil the Christian era. The lack of similarity between theSaharan, and eastern chariots, and the horses that drew themindicate the unique nature of Saharan civilization.The archaeological evidence makes it clear that Wulsin(1940, p.129) made a mistake in his dating of the Oued Mertoutek inscription. The fact that the contemporary epigraphers date theLibyco-Berber inscriptions back to 700 BC and those associatedwith the Saharan chariots date to 1500 BC, support my contention that the Oued Mertoutek inscriptions date to the 2ndmillennium, just like the goat/sheep figure which shares thesame patina as the writing according to Wulsin (1940, p.128)himself.

Some researchers refuse to date the Libyco-Berberinscriptions earlier than 700 BC, because the Semitic alphabet was not used until around 800 BC. They claim that Libyco-Berber can not be any older than 800 BC because the Semitic alphabet issuppose to be the parent of the Libyco-Berber writing.

This is a false analogy. Firstly, this view has to berejected because the Libyco-Berber script includes many signswhich are different from Semitic scripts. Although these signsare not found in the Berber alphabet, they are found in the IndusValley, Linear A and Egyptian pottery signs.

J.T. Cornelius (1954, 1956-1957) illustrated how theLibyco-Berber signs are identical to the Egyptian, South Indianand Linear A writing. Moreover, a cursory comparison of theThinite postmarks from Upper and Lower Egypt compare favorably tothe Libyco-Berber signs ( Petrie, 1900; van de Brink, 1992).

All of these writing systems date to the 3rd millennium BC. Secondly, these writing systems correlate well with Wulsin'sdating of the goat/sheep figure at Oued Mertoutek.

This congruency supports a 3rd millennium date for the Oued Mertoutek inscriptions, and explains the fact that both the goat/sheep and Libyco-Berber inscriptions share the same patina.

In conclusion, the Oued Mertoutek inscription probably datesback to the 3rd Millennium BC. Two factors dispute Wulsin'sdating of the Oued Mertoutek inscription: 1) the archaeological evidence which has pushed back the dating of Libyco-Berberinscriptions to between 300-700 BC; and 2) the dating of theHorse Period in Saharan history to 1500 BC, rather than 500-600AD. The dating of the Horse period in the Sahara isnow pushed back to 1500 BC.

This factor alone disconfirms thehypothesis of Wulsin, that the Oued Mertoutek inscription waswritten around 500-600 AD, because Wulsin had formed thisconclusion based on the dating of the Horse Period of SaharanRock Art. Changes in the dating of the Horse Period from those accepted by Wulsin 50 years ago automatically changes our dating of the Oued Mertoutek inscription.The ancient origin of Libyco-Berber writing is further confirmed by the common symbols shared by the Oued Mertoutekinscriptions, and contemporary 3rd Millennium writing systems inMesopotamia, Crete, Egypt and the Indus Valley. This along withthe same patina for the goat/sheep figure and Oued Mertoutekinscription is congruent with the determination that the OuedMertoutek inscription is 5000 years old.

Based on the Patina of of the Oued Mertoutek monument I can give it an early date.Below is a Saharan inscription with the bar and dot pattern.The fact that the Vai script has dot and bar signs make it clear that ancient African writing systems did have dot and bar symbols.The Mande did not have writing in ancient times.

Dr. Leo Wiener in Africa and the Discovery of America, suggested that the Olmec probably used a Mande writing system [18]. Dr. Wiener after comparing the writing on the Tuxtla statuette was analogous Manding writing engraved on rocks in Mandeland. Wiener (1922) and Lawrence (1961) maintain that the Olmec writing was identical to the Manding writing used in Africa. [19]

There are many inscriptions written in this script spreading from the Fezzan to the ancient Mande cities of Tichitt There are many inscriptions written in this script spreading from the Fezzan to the ancient Mande cities of Tichitt.The Tichitt dwellings were built by Mande speaking people and date back to 2000-800 BC.

Researchers claim that the inscriptions are along the chariot routes and other sites in Dar Tichitt.. This suggest that some of the inscriptions may date back to 1500-2000BC, this is the date for the appearance of the horse in the Sahara.(See: Nicole Lambert, Medinet Sbat et la Protohistoire de Mauritanie Occidentale, Antiquites Africaines, 4(1970),pp.15-62;Nicole Lambert, L'apparition du cuivre dans les civilisations prehistoriques. In C.H. Perrot et al Le Sol, la Parole et 'Ecrit (Paris: Societe Francaise d'Histoire d'Outre Mer) pp.213-226;R. Mauny, Tableau Geographique de l'Ouest Afrique Noire. Histoire et Archeologie (Fayard);R.A. Kea, Expansion and Contractions: World-Historical Change and the Western Sudan World-System (1200/1000BC-1200/1250A.D.) Journal of World-Systems Reserach, 3(2004), pp.723-816 ).

The writing found among the Vai and along the Chariots routes leading to Tichitt is related to the Mande, Saharan and Libyco-Berber writing. Many of these inscriptions like the inscription at Oued Mertoutek date back to Olmec times.


Close, A.E. (1980). Current research and recent radiocarbondates from northern Africa", , 21,pp.145-167.Cornelius, J.T. (1954). The Dravidian Question, Culture>, 3 (2), pp.92-102.Cornelius, J.T. (1956-1957). Are Dravidian DynasticEgyptians?, India, 1956-1957, pp.89-117.Desanges, J. (1981). The Proto-Berbers. In of Africa II> (Ed.) by G.M. Mokhtar (pp.423-440). Berkeley,CA:UNESCO.Petrie, W.M.F. (1900). Dynasties>, London: Egypt Exploration Society. No.18.Sahnouni,M. (1996). Saharan rock art. In ,(Ed.) by Theodore Celenko (pp.28-30). Bloomington,IN:IndianapolisMuseum of Art.van den Brink, E.C.M.(1992). Corpus and numerical evaluationof the Thinite potmarks. In Dedicated to Michael Allen Hoffman> (pp.265-296). Oxbow Books.Park End Place, Oxford: Egyptian Studies AssociationPublication. No.2.Wulsin,F.R. (1940). Northwest Africa>. Papers of the Peabody Museum of AmericanArchaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Vol.19 (1).

Mayan Universities and the Olmecs

The Mayan people had Universities where they taught students their history, culture and civilization generally. Landa wrote in Yucatan before and after the Conquest:

"The people of Yucatan were as attentive to matters of religion as of government, and had a High Priest whom they called Ahkin May , or also Ahaucan May , meaning the Priest May, or the High Priest May. He was held in great reverence by the chiefs, and had no allotment of Indians for himself, the chiefs making presents to him in addition to the offerings, and all the local priests sending him contributions. He was succeeded in office by his sons or nearest kin. In him lay the key to their sciences, to which they most devoted themselves, giving counsel to the chiefs and answering their inquiries. With the matter of sacrifices he rarely took part, except on it festivals or business of much moment. He and his disciples appointed priests for the towns, examining them in their sciences and ceremonies; put in their charge the affairs of their office, and the setting of a goodp. "13see:

According to the Yucatec Maya, the Tutul Xiu, a group of foreigners from Zuiva, in Nonoualco territory taught the Yucatec how to read and write (Tozzer,1941 , p.28). The fact that the foreigners brought the Maya writing and other secret knowledge that was transmitted by hereditary clans or specialists would explain why the Maya had institutions where branches of this knowledge could be taught.

Stross (1982) believes that the Mixe-Zoquean speakers transmitted writing to the Maya, other scholars suggest the Toltecs. Although the Toltecs may have conquered the Maya I seriously doubt that this nomadic group gave secret language to the Maya since they appear in Mexico a 1000 years after the Mayan people employed writing to record their history.

Epigraphic evidence make it clear that the Mayan people received writing from the Olmec. This is supported by the bilingual Olmec-Mayan bricks found at Colcomalco,Mexico.It is interesting to note that the people who taught the Maya writing originated at Zuyua or Zuiva made it necessary for the Maya to set up centers of learning where elites could study this writing system and the arts.

This resulted from the fact that a class of skilled scribes were necessary to record business transactions and inscribe Mayan monuments and artifacts.Landa mentions the fact that the heads of Mayan towns had to know a secret language(s) due to periodic interrogations (examinations?) of the chiefs. These interrogations determined if a chief was fit to remain head of a Mayan town (Roys,1967).

In the Chilam Balam of Chummayel , Zuiva is spelt Zuyua . This text declares that the “head chiefs” of a town were periodically examined in the language of the Zuyua.The language of Zuyua was suppose to have been understood by the mayan elites.

Scholars are not sure about the meaning of the mysterious term zuyua. But it has affinity to Olmec terms. The actual sound value of /z/ in zuyua is /s/. If we compare zuyua, with Olmec su-yu-a and zuiva and su-i-wa we find interesting meanings that suggest that zuyua was probably a secret code known only by the Chiefs., rather than a placename. Su-yu-a can be translated as the “Shaper of Life”, while Su-i-wa means “The Shaper of Good” or “The Thing which hurries your welfare”.

These translations of suiwa and su-yu-a , because they are associated with leadership, and the role of both secular and religious leaders made them semantically appropriate terms to interpret zuyua or zuiva, since a priest or head chief is a shaper of the welfare of his people it was only natural that this group of specialists probably had to know secret terms and symbols to manifest their great power.

This makes it clear that the Tutul Xiu or “The Xis who are very good supporters of the Order” who came from Zuiva in Nonoualco were Mande speaking Olmec scholars who passed on writing and a leadership association to the Maya, when they entered Yucatan. Universities such as Colcalmalco, were constructed to ensure the traiing of Mayan elites to become Zuyua and support the needs of Mayan government and religion.

References:Roys,R.L. (1967). The Book of Chilam Balam Chumayel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Steede,N. (1984). Preliminary Catalogue of the Comalcalco Bricks. Cardenas, Tabasco: Centro de Investigacion Pre-Colombina.

Stross,B. (1982). Maya Hieroglyphic writing and Mixe-Zoquean, Anthropological Linguistics 24 (1): 73-134.

Olmec/Mande related to Mixe and Mayan Languages

Some Olmec became part of the Mixe nation and thus were recognized as Mixe, eventhough they spoke a different language. The best representative of this reality were probably the Otomi speakers.

Mayan tradition make it clear that they got writing from another Meso-American group. Tozzer noted that the Yucatec Maya claimed that they got writing from a group of foreigners called Tutul Xiu from Nonoulco (Tozzer, 1941). Xiu is not the name for the Zoque, Mexicans or Toltecs.
The fact that there is no evidence that 1)the Zoque were in the ancient Olmec land 3200 years ago, 2)there is no Zoque substrate language in Mayan, 3) you can not read the Epi-Olmec inscriptions using the Justenson and Kaufman method, an 4)there is no such thing as "pre-Proto-Zoque" falsifies Justenson and Kaufman hypothesis that the Olmec were Mixe speakers.

Brown has suggested that the Mayan term c'ib' diffused from the Cholan and Yucatecan Maya to the other Mayan speakers. This term is probably not derived from Mixe-Zoque. If the Maya had got writing from the Mixe-Zoque, the term for writing would Probably be found in a Mixe-Zoque language. The research indicates that no word for writing exist in this language.
Due to the lack of evidence for a Mixe origin of the Olmec writing Houston and Coe (2003) believe that that the Olmec must of spoken another language. They suggest that the language may have been Huastec (Houston & Coe, 2003).

The Huastec hypothesis is not supported by the linguistic evidence. The linguistic evidence suggest that around 1200 B.C., when the Olmec arrived in the Gulf, region of Mexico a non-Maya speaking group wedged itself between the Huastecs and Maya. (Swadesh 1953) .This linguistic evidence is supplemented by Amerindian traditions regarding the landing of colonist from across the Atlantic in Huasteca .

A study of the Mixe languages make it clear that they were influenced by the Mande speaking Olmecs.

Mixe ...................Malinke-Bambara

Cahp heaven sa

ci squach si

su night suco:n to leave ta, tyo it place taKahp small town ka, suffix joined to the name of a localitykam planting field ga, gba, kako/ku head ku(n) koh to plant, build ko ‘to create’ko:ng king, lord ko ‘person deserving respect’koya tomato koyakok maize flower kakats black maize kakushi calendar priest jose ‘priest of a cult’may ‘to divine’ ma ‘happy issue; to understand’koya tomato koyakok maize flower kakats black maize kakushi calendar priest jose ‘priest of a cult’may ‘to divine’ ma ‘happy issue; to understand’ni:p to plant mgba po:b white bo, po (superlative of white)poh,po’ wind fo ‘arid air’purap cultivating tool faalo , faaro ‘hoe’shi day,sun si-soro
It is interesting to note that the so-called Mixe loan words found in the Mayan languages show correspondence to Malinke-Bambara terms.

Mayan....Mixe-Zoquean...English..Malinke-Bambara*pat.................bark, skin.......fatachowen...pMZ. *cawi.....monkey.......sulame'.... pZO..*m 'a....deer.....m'na 'antelope'....pZO..*sah......... 'insect wing'c'iwan...pMi...*ciwa.....squash........ SI koya... Mi...koya........tomato......koya to'.....pMi...:to:h.....rain......tyo, dyo 'precipitation,2
This list of words make it clear that the so-called Mixe loan words in the Mayan languages may be the result of a Mande substratum in these languages.
The Mixe make it clear that cultivation takes place on the humid bottom land they call ta : k kam /b]. This Mixe word can not be explained in Mixe-Zoque. But when we look at this word from the perspective of the Olmec language we find that it comes from three Malinke-Bambara words [b]ta ka ga 'this is the place of cultivation':
ta 'place'ka 'to be'ga 'terrain of cultivation, act of planting, to plant'
The loans in Mixe make it clear that they were probably hunter-gatherers when the Olmec (Malinke-Bambara) speaking people carne to Qaxaca in search of minerals to make their giant heads and jade for their many artifacts.
The Mixe appear to have used the loan ko 'head of something' , to construct many words in Mixe. For example:
Mixe..............................Bambarako ca'ny 'chief snake'......kun-sa 'head snake'kocu 'of the night'........ku su 'head night'kodung 'mayor'................ku(n)dugu 'head of land, chief'

The Mixe term for calendar priest or kushi is probably also a loan from Olmec. The Olmec (Malinke-Bambara) term for 'time' is sinye and san means 'year, sky'. Thissuggest that the Mixe term kushi 'calendar priest, head priest', may come from the combination of Olmec ko 'head' and sinye 'time' or ko-sinye 'head time (keeper)'.
The Mixe nativization of ko-sinye > kushi , would not be too surprising, since the Mixe,if they were originally hunter-gatherers would have had no need for a person to recordthe seasons " a calendar priest", until they began the domestication of the cropsintroduced to Qaxaca by the Olmec people when they settled the region to exploit the richmineral deposits found in this part of Mexico.
Otomi is considered a Mixe-Zoque language. Otomi were described by the early Europeans as Negroes.
This is interesting because Dixon (1923) and Marquez (1956, pp.179-180) claimed that the Otomi had probably mixed in the past with Afficans. Quatrefages (1889, pp.406-407) alsobelieved that Afficans formerly lived in Florida, the Caribbean and Panama.
It is interesting to note that the Otomi language is genetically related to Olmec/Mande.
In both Olmec/Manding and Otomi the words are formed by adding two different terms together or an affix. Manual Orozco (p.129)records ka-ye as the Otomi word for 'holy man'. This term is formed by ka 'holy' and ye 'man'. Another word is da-ma 'mature woman'. This word is formed by ma 'woman' and da 'mature,ripe'.
Otomi and Olmec/Manding share grammatical features. The Otomi ra 'the', as in ra c,'the cold' agrees with the Manding -ra suffix used to form the present participle e.g., kyi-ra 'the envoy'.
The Otomi use of bi to form the completed action agrees with the Manding verb 'to be'hi. For example, Otomi hi du 'it died' and hi zo-gi 'he left it" ,is analogous to Manding a bi sa. Otomi da is used to form the incomplete action e.g., ci 'eat': daci 'he will eat'. This agrees with the Manding da, la affix which is used to form the factitive or transitive value e.g., la bo 'to take the place'. In addition Otomi ? no , is the completive e.g., bi ?no mbo ra'he was inside his house'. This shows affinity to the Manding suffix of the present participle -no, e.g., ji la-sigi-no 'dormant water'.
The Mezquital Otomi pronominal system shows some analogy to that of Manding, but Neve y Molina's, Otomi pronouns show full agreement:
First Second ThirdOtomi ma i,e aManding n', m' i,e a
Here are a few other Malinke- Bambara and Otomi cognate terms from the basic vocabulary:
English ......Otomi...... Mandingson/daughter... t?i,ti...... de,dieyes ..........da............ dobrother........ ku.......... korosister....... nkhu........... ben-klip........... sine ...........sinemouth.......... ne ..............neman........... ta/ye........... tye/kye
The Otomi and Manding languages also have similar syntax e.g., Otomi ho ka ra 'ngu'he makes the houses', and Manding a k nu 'he makes the family habitation (houses)'.
In conclusion, the widespread adoption of Olmec/ Malinke-Bambara lexical and grammatical features in the Mayan, Mixe languages indicate a close relationship among the speakers of these languages in Pre-Classic Mexico. The shareddiffused grammatical, lexical and phonological features discussed in this paper are probably the result from an extended period of bilingualism in ancient Mexico involving the Malinke-Bambara speaking Olmecs, and their Mayan and Mixe neigbors.
The comparison of Yucatec and Mixe to the Malinke-Bambara languages is a valid way to illustrate the ancient relationship between the Pre-Classic Maya and Olmec people who spoke a Manding language related to Malinke-Bambara.
It is clear that the Mixe were hunter-gathers when they came in contact with the olmecs. The genetic relationship between Otomi and Olmec/Mande make it clear that the so Olmec speakers became part of the Mixe nationality. As a result, when Lipp records the tradition of people entering the Mixe region who spoke a Mixe language different from their own they were accurately speaking about the Olmec whoes descendants are the Otomi speakers.
References:Delafosse, M. (1899). Vai leur langue et leur systeme d'ecriture", L' Anthropologie,10, .Delafosse, M. (1955). *La Langue Mandingue et ses Dialectes (Malinke, Bambara,Dioula). Vol I. Intro. Grammaire, Lexique Francais-Mandingue). Paris: Librarie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner.Justeson,S., William, N.M., Campbell, L, kaufman, T.S., The Foreign impact on Lowland Mayan languages and Script. Middle American Research Institute, Publication 53. New Orleans: Tulane University, 1985.Kaufman, T. (1976). Archaeological and inguistic correlations in Mayaland and associated areas of Meso-America. World Archaeology, 8, lO1-118.Manuel Orozcoy y Berra's Geografia da las lenguas y Carta Ethgrafica de Mexico, 1975.Scotton,C.M. & Okeju,J (1973). Neighbors and lexical borrowings. Language. 49,871-889.Sharer,RJ (1996). Diversity and Continuity in Maya civilization: Quirigua as a case study", in (Ed.) T. Patrick Culbert, Classic Maya Political History, (p.187). New York: Cambridge University Press.Swadesh, M. (1953). The Language of the Archeological Haustecs.Swadesh,M. Alvarez, C. and Bastarrachea, JR (1970). "Diccionario de Elementos del Maya Yucatec Colonial. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Centro de Estudios Mayas..

Olmec/Mande Origin of Mayan Writing

Some researchers maintain that Mayan writing is of Mixe-Zoque origin. These researchers cite the Mixe-Zoque words for writing : [i]tunja and [i]haypa as if they have something to do with Mayan writing. These terms have nothing to do with Mayan writing.

But the Mande term for writing is clearly the source for the Mayan term for 'writing'.B. Stross (1973) mentions the Mayan tradition for a foreign origin of Mayan writing.

This idea is also confirmed by Mayan oral tradition mentioned by Tozzer ( 1941), and C.H. Brown (1991) that claimed that writing did not exist among the Proto-Maya.Terrence Kaufman has proposed that the Olmec spoke a Mixe-Zoquean speech and therefore the authors of Olmec writing were Mixe-Zoquean speakers.

This view fails to match the epigraphic evidence. The Olmec people spoke a Manding (Malinke-Bambara) language and not Zoquean.There is a clear African substratum for the origin of writing among the Maya (Wiener, 1922).

All the experts agree that the Olmec people gave the Maya people writing (Schele & Freidel, 1990; Soustelle, 1984). Mayanist also agree that the Proto-Maya term for writing was *c'ihb' or *c'ib'.

Figure 1. Mayan Terms for Writing

Yucatec c'i:b'
Chorti c'ihb'a
Mam c'i:b'at
Lacandon c'ib'
Chol c'hb'an
Teco c'i:b'a
Itza c'ib'
Chontal c'ib'
Ixil c'ib'
Mopan c'ib'
Tzeltalan c'ib'

Proto-Term for write *c'ib'

The Mayan /c/ is often pronounced like the hard Spanish /c/ and has a /s/ sound. Brown (1991) argues that *c'ihb may be the ancient Mayan term for writing but, it can not be Proto-Mayan because writing did not exist among the Maya until 600 B.C.

This was 1500 years after the break up of the Proto-Maya (Brown, 1991). This means that the Mayan term for writing was probably borrowed by the Maya from the inventors of the Mayan writing system.Tozzer (1941) supports the linguistic evidence that the Mayan language was introduced to the Maya by non-Mayan speakers.

Tozzer noted that the Yucatec Maya claimed that they got writing from a group of foreigners called Tutul Xiu from Nonoulco.The Tutul Xiu were probably Manding speaking Olmecs. The term Tutul Xiu, can be translated using Manding as follows:Tutul , "Very good subjects of the Order". Xiu , "The Shi (/the race)"."The Shis (who) are very good Subjects of the cult-Order".The term Shi, is probably related to the Manding term Si, which was also used as an ethnonym.

The Mayan term for writing is derived from the Manding term *se'be. Below are the various terms for writing used by the Manding/Mande people for writing.

Figure 2.Manding Term for Writing

Malinke se'be
Serere safe
Bambara se'be
Susu se'be
Dioula se'we'
Samo se'be
Sarakole safa
W. Malinke safa

Proto-Term for writing *se'be , *safâ

Brown has suggested that the Mayan term c'ib' diffused from the Cholan and Yucatecan Maya to the other Mayan speakers. This term is probably derived from Manding *Se'be which is analogous to *c'ib'.

As you can see [i]haypa and [i]tunja have nothing to do with the Mayan writing. If the Mixe were the Tutul Xiu, the Maya would have adopted their term for writing, instead of the Olmec/Mande term.

Linguistic Continuity and African Languages

Granted there may have been changes in the Vai script, for example the modern writing is much more wavy than the ancient symbols but basically they are identical.

You can read the Oued Mertoutek inscription and Olmec inscriptions generally because of linguistic continuity of the Mande languages.

I discussed this feature of African languages in a peer reviewed article published years ago see: Clyde A. Winters, Linguistic Continuity and African and Dravidian languages, International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 23 (2), 1996:34-52.

The rate at which languages change is variable. It appears that linguistic change is culture specific. Consequently, the social organization and political culture of a particular speech community can influence the speed at which languages change.Based on the history of language change in Europe most linguists believe that the rate of change for all languages is both rapid and constant (Diagne, 1981, p.238).

The idea that all languages change rapidly is not valid for all the World's languages.The continuity of many African languages may result from the steady state nature of African political systems, and long standing cultural stability since Neolithic times (Diop, 1991 ; Winters 1985; Anselin 1992a, 1992b).

This cultural stability has affected the speed at which African languages change.The political stability of African political institutions has caused languages to change very slowly in Africa (Winters 1996). Pawley and Ross (1993) argue that a sedentary life style may account for the conservative nature of a language Diop, 1987, 1991; Niane, 1984).

This leads to the hypothesis that linguistic continuity exist in Africa due to the continuity or stability of African socio-political structures and cultural systems. This relative cultural stability has led African languages to change more slowly then European and Asian languages. Diop (1974) observed that:First the evolution of languages, instead of moving everywhere at the same rate of speed seems linked to other factors; such as , the stability of social organizations or the opposite, social upheavals. Understandably in relatively stable societies man's language has changed less with the passage of time (pp.153-154).

In Nouvelles recherches sur l'egyptien ancien et les langues Negro-Africaine Modernes , Diop wrote that:The permanence of these forms not only, constitute today a solid base...upon which...[we are to re-]construct diachronic African [languages], but obliges also a radical revision of these ideas, a priori...on the evolution of these languages in general (p.17).There is considerable evidence which supports the African continuity concept.

Dr. Armstrong (1962) noted the linguistic continuity of African languages when he used Glottochronology to test the rate of change in Yoruba. Comparing modern Yoruba words with a list of identical terms collected 130 years ago by Koelle , Dr. Armstrong found little if any internal or external changes in the terms. African languages change much slower than European languages (Armstrong, 1962). For example, African vocabulary items collected by Arab explorers who visited Mande speaking people over a thousand years ago are analogous to contemporary lexicaal items (Diagne,1981, p.239).

Arab explorers including al- Bakri (c.1054-55), Ibn Battuta (c.1352), and Ibn Khaldun (c1394) collected Manding lexical items (J.S. Trimmingham, A History of Islam in West Africa, Oxford,1962: pp.60-83). Below is a comparison of Medieval and Contemporary Manding terms

Medieval Manding …………English…………Contemporary Manding

Ma……………………………great, grand…………….ma
Dugu……………….village, land………………dugu
Ba ( r )…………….great…………………
Gana………………war chief………….gana, kana
Magha………..master, chief……….maga

The grammar of Mande languages has not changed either. Mahmud al Kati caste called [i]tyindiketa[/i] “cutters of grass” which was responsible for the collection of grass for the horses (Trimmingham, p.78). Let’s break down this term

tyi ‘herbe’
-n- first person particle
di ‘smooth surface’
ke ‘cut’
ta ‘man’

Thus tyindiketa means literally ‘the grass my smooth surface cut man”, i.e., “the man (who) cuts the grass of my smooth surface”.

This linguistic pattern agrees with the SVO pattern of modern Manding. It also shows that “Old Manding” and “Modern Manding” are identical. This supports Obenga’s theorem that sedentary living causes ‘enduring correspondence and regular similarities’ among complete forms, morphemes and phonemes with African languages.

In addition there are striking resemblances between the ancient Egyptian language and Coptic, and Pharonic Egyptian and African languages (Diagne, 1981; Diop, 1977; Obenga, 1988, 1992a, 1992b, 1993,).The fact that Mande terms collected over a thousand years ago have not changed over this period of time highlights the continuity of Mande vocabulary items and explains the steady state linguistic reality of the Malinke-Bambara language. It is this slow process of change within the Mande languages which allow me to read ancient Olmec and Saharan

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Horse Rock Inscriptions and Writing in Saharan Africa

The horse period is dated between 2000 and 1200 BC. These dates correspond to the archaeological research.There were two horses common to Africa. A horse introduced to Africa by the Hysos and a native small size horse common to much of North and West Africa.Most researchers believe the horse was introduced to Africa/Egypt by 1700BC. This is an interesting date, and far to late for the introduction of the horse given the archaeological evidence for horses at Maadi and the Saharan zone.Saharan Africans used the donkey and later horses as beast of burden. A domesticated Equus was found at Hierakonpolis dating to around the 3600 BC at Maadi in the Sahara (Fekri A Hassan, The predynastic of Egypt, Journal of World Prehistory,2(2) (1988) .145; J. McArdle, Preliminary report on the predynastic fauna of the Hierkonpolis, Project Studies Association, Cairo. Publication No.1 (1982), p.116-120.)

The horse was also found at other sites in the Sahara. Skeletons of horses dating to between around 2000 BC, have been found ((A.Holl, Livestock husbandry, pastoralism and territoriality: The west African record, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 17(1998):143-165).In the Sahel-Saharan zone the first carts were driven by cattle and date between 4000 and 3000 BP between the Tichitt and Tagant region according to Joaquim Soler Subils. It is in the Tichitt region that we find many Libyco-Berber inscriptions, horses, mounted horses and of course the cattle driven carts see: J.S. Subils, Sub-Zone1: Mauritania-Western Sahara web page .

In many of these scenes the Mande are riding horses to hunt ostriches.Daniel McCall said the African horse is small in size and lived in the Sahara during the 2nd Millennium BC (D.P. McCall, The cultural map and time profile of the mande-speaking people. In D. Dalby (Ed.), Papers on the Manding (Bloomington,In:1976)pp.76-78). African calvary used these horses up until rise of the empire of Ghana according to the Arab historian al-Bekri.Sahelian-Saharan rock art depict horse being rode horseback by personages or people captuing horses.

At Buhen, one of the major fortresses of Nubia, which served as the headquarters of the Egyptian Viceroy of Kush a skeleton of a horse was found lying on the pavement of a Middle Kingdom rampart (W.B. Emery, A master-work of Egyptian military architecture 3900 years ago" Illustrated London News, 12 September, pp.250-251). This was only 25 years after the Hysos had conquered Egypt.The Kushites appear to have rode the horses on horseback instead of a chariot.

This suggest that the Kushites had been riding horses for an extended period of time for them to be able to attack Buhen on horseback. This supports supports the early habit of Africans riding horses as depicted in the rock art.This tradition was continued throughout the history of Kush. The Kushites and upper Egyptians were great horsemen, whereas the Lower Egyptians usually rode the chariot, the Kushite calvary of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty usually rode on horseback (W.A. Fairservis, The ancient kingdoms of the Nile (London,1962) p.129).

The Muzzolina work does not hold because he based his dating of the horse in Africa is based on dating the introduction of the horse to Africa to the Hysos, and that the Libyco-Berber writing was created by "Berbers" who introduced writing to West Africa and the Sahara. This is pure speculation. First we see the oldest examples of Libyco-Berber writing appearing in the Sahara, not North Africa.

Secondly, Saharan Africans preferred horseback riding instead of using chariotss. Therefore the association of writing to the expansion of Fezzanese from the Fezzan to Mauritania after 1000BC is not supported by the archaeological evidence for the horse in the Sahara.Maadi is not irelevent to this discussion. As we have discussed earlier the Proto-Mande speakers originally lived in the Sahara and Nubia before hey migrated into West Africa and the Fezzan.

As a result, the fact that 1) horses were found at Maadi and throughout the Sahara between 4000 and 5000 plus BP; and the Kushites were horseback riding is important in understanding the antiquity writing in Africa.Researchers have assumed that the Libyco Berber writing appear around 700 BC because it is associated with horses and horses they claim do not appear in rock art until 200-1500 BC.

The archaeological evidence of horese in the Sahara at this early time make it clear that horses were in Africa years before the Hysos arrived on the Continent, and that a horse native to Saharan Africa was alread in existence before this time as well.Secondly we have Kushites horsebackriding at Buhen in 4th millennium BP. This shows that while Asians used the horse for chariots Africans had long recognized that they could ride the horse. As a result, the presence of writing and Saharans horseback riding support a probably much earlier origin than the late horse period (e.g., 700 BC) assigned these inscriptions by some researchers.

Finally, we know that the bovidian period of Saharan Africa goes back to 6000 BC. The antiquity of cattle herding among the Mande speakers support the antiquity of the Oued Mertoutek inscription.In summary, horses existed in Africa before the Hysos entered Egypt. This horse was native to Africa and used by Mande calvary up until the rise of the Ghana empire.Saharan use of the horse for transportation can not be dated back to the introduction of the chariot (a cart pulled by a horse) because Saharans already had carts before the Hysos entered Egypt.

The rock art makes it clear that Africans early possessed carts pulled by cattle. Since they had carts pulled by cattle there was not need to use this animal to pull chariots since they already had their own technology.The rock art from the Sahara and North Africa make it clear that people here preferred horseback riding instead of using chariots for transportation.

This tradition of horeseback writing in Saharan Africa make it clear that the dating of the Libyco-Berber writing after 1000 BC is probably to late, and fail to accurately reflect the date of writing in Saharan Africa, a view supported by the Oued Mertoutek inscription.The early presence of horses and writing; and writing associated with the Oued Mertoutek inscription make it clear that the Mande speaking people had been familiar with writing long before they traveled to Mexico to found the Olmec civilization. It was this writing that the Olmec used to leave us inscrib objects throughout Olmecland.