Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gebel Sheikh Suleiman Inscription

Williams (1987) and Trigger (1980) have failed to discuss the entire inscription on the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman relief. These scholars ignore the Proto-Saharan inscription, and describe only, the relief from left to right as follows: a serekh topped by a falcon looking over a victorious battlefield, sacred bark and a bound prisoner .

In reality we find more than these figures on the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription which appears to date back to the A-Group period of Nubia over 5000 years ago. This is obvious when we examine the photograph of the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman relief.From left to right on this relief we see a falcon on a serekh sign surmounting a house/ palace. In front of this village/ palace scene we see a prisoner bound by Stj bow ( the sign for the Steu).

Facing the prisoner bound by Stj bow ( the sign for the Steu). Facing the prisoner bound by the stj sign we see a bird over a circle with the letter X inside. Besides this scene we have another bird setting a top the letter X within the circle sign facing a victorious battle scene which includes a man bound to a sacred bark. Over the sacred bark we find 21 Proto-Saharan signs. These signs agree with the Egyptian pottery symbols (see figure 3).

The Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription is an obituary written about a king called Fe .As noted above Homburger found that the Manding languages are closely related to the Coptic language. Using the Manding language we can read the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription.

Reading from right to left we read:

1. i gba lu2. fe kye nde

2 1/2. ka i lu

3. fe fe tu

4. be yu su (su su) tu

5. su se lu gbe

6. po gbe tu

Below is the translation of the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription:
"1. Thou family habitation, hold (it) upright. 2. Fe's estate (is on) the shore (of the watercourse). 2 1/2. Cut thou (sepulchre) habitation for the family (here). 3. Fe preferred to be obedient to the order. 4. Lay low the (celebrity) in the large hemisphere tomb (and) offer up libations that merit upright virtue.6. Pure righteousness (is) King (Fe).

"This King Fe, of Gebel Sheikh Suleiman, may relate to Pharoah Pe-Hor (Throne of Horus) since in African languages /f/ and /p/ are often interchangeable. It is interesting to note that there is an inscription on a storage jar from Cemetery L of Qustul, Nubia that reads Pe-Hor (Williams 1987, p. 164). This Pe-Hor may be the Fe, of the Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription.


Trigger, B G.(1980) Nubia Under the Pharoahs, Boulder,Colorado: Westview Press .

Williams, B The A-Group Royal Cemetery at Qustul: Cemetery L, Chicago:Oriental Institute University of Chicago, 1987.

Thinite Writing

Recently Edwin van den Brink provides a detailed discussion of pot marks dating to the Thinite period from Lower and Upper Egypt. There is continuity between these signs from the Thinite period through Dynaties O and I down to the Saharan/Libyco-Berber rock inscriptions and Vai Syllabary.

Although it is alleged that Africans were always illiterate, archaeological, historical, and epigraphic evidence indicate that Africans invented many writing systems. And that these writing systems were used from ancient times all the way up to the present (Bekerie 1994).The original inhabitants of the Sahara where the Egyptian or Kemitic civilization originated were not Berbers or Indo-Europeans (Winters 1985b). This was the ancient homeland of the Dravidians, Egyptians, Sumerians, Niger-Kordofanian-Mande and Elamite speakers is called the Fertile African Crescent (Anselin 1989, p.16, 1992; Winters 1981,1985b,1989, 1991,1994).The inhabitants of this area lived in the highland regions of the Fezzan in modern Libya and Hoggar until after 4000 B.C. We call these people the Proto-Saharans (Winters 1985b, 1991). The generic term for this group is Kushite.

The Proto-Saharans were called Ta-Seti and Tehunu by the Egyptians. In the archaeological literature they were called A-Group and C-Group respectively. Farid (1985, p.82) noted that:We can notice that at the beginning of the neolithic stage in Egypt on the edge of the Western Desert corresponds with expansion of the Saharian Neolithic culture and the growth of its population .The Fertile Saharan Crescent is an arc shaped series of highland regions in the Saharan zone of Africa. The Saharan zone is bounded on the north by the Atlas mountains, the Atlantic Ocean in the West, the tropical rain forest in the south and the Red Sea in the East.
It was here that the ancestors of the founders of the river valley civilizations in Africa, the Middle East, China and Indus Valley developed their highly organized and technological societies (Winters 1983a, 1985b). The discovery of Intercultural style vessels from Susa (in Iran),Sumerian, Egyptian and Indus Valley sites suggest a shared ideological identity among these people (Kohl 1978). In fact the appearance of shared iconographic symbols and beliefs within diverse areas suggest cultural and ethnic unity among the people practicing these cultures. The common naturalistic motifs shared by the major civilizations include, writing (symbols), combatant snakes , the scorpion, bull and etc. This evidence of cultural unity is explained by the origin of these people in the Proto-Sahara (Winters 1985a, 1989).

The Proto-Saharans or Kushites used similar terms for writing. In general the term for writing was formed by the labial stops /p/ and /b/. For example:
Dravidian par 'write'

Manding bo, bu 'make a stroke', sebe 'write'

Elamite tipu 'to write'Galla tafa 'to write'

There are also other corresponding terms for 'mark', or 'draw' that begin with velar stops:
Dravidian kiri, kuri 'write, draw, mark'

Egyptian hti 'carve'

Manding kiri, kiti 'mark'

In Egyptian we have several terms for write 0 ss #, 0 zs # , and 0 ssw #. During the Old Kingdom writing was referred to as 0 iht # .The Egyptian term for writing 0 ssw # is analogous to the Mande terms 0 sewe # or 0 sebe # 'writing, trace, design'.

In Dravidian among other terms we have rasu 'write', and shu 'writing' in Sumerian. The Egyptian term 0 zs # is also closely related to Sumerian 0 shu #.

Writing systems among African people were mainly devised for two purposes. Firstly, to help merchants keep records on the business venture they made. Secondly, the Proto-Saharan script was also used to preserve religious doctrines or write obituaries.The scarcity of documents, written for historical preservation among ancient African groups resulted from the fact that the keeping of history, was usually left in the hands of traditional (oral) historians. These historians memorized the histories of their nation and people for future recitation before members of their respective communities. This oral history was often accompanied by music or delivered in poetic verse and remains the premier source for the history of most African nations even today.It is obvious that the first inscriptions were engraved in stone by the Proto-Saharans , or a stylus was used to engrave wet clay (Winters 1985b).

The use of the stylus or stick to engrave clay is most evident in the pottery marks found on the pottery excavated at many ancient sites which possess similar symbols impressed on the pottery.This view is supported by the fact that the term for writing in Dravidian and Egyptian include the consonants /l/, /r/ or /d/.A "u", is usually attached to the initial consonants (Winters 1985b).

For example:
Sumerian ru, shu

Elamite talu

Dravidian carru

Egyptian drf

These terms agree with the Manding terms for excavate or hollow out 0 du #, 0 do #, 0 kulu #, 0 tura #, etc. The Sumerian term for writing was 0 du #.

This show that the Proto-Saharan term for writing denoted the creation of impressions on wet clay and hard rock.The origin of writing among the Proto-Saharans as an activity involving the engraving of stone is most evident in the Egyptian language. This hypothesis is supported by the Egyptian words 0 m(w)dt #. The term 0 md t # means both '(sculptor's) chisel' and 'papyrus-roll, book'. The multiple meanings of 0 md t # makes it clear that the Egyptian, and probably other descendants of the Proto-Saharans saw a relationship between engraving stone and the creation of books.

Other Egyptian lexical items also support the important role Proto-Saharans saw in engraving rocks, and writing. In addition to md t we have, 0 hti # 'carve, sculpture' and 0 iht # 'writing'.

The fact that iht is an Old Kingdom term for writing, almost identical to hti, is further evidence that writing involved the engraving of stone.POTTERY INSCRIPTIONSThe Proto-Saharan writing was first used to write characters on pottery (Winters 1980), to give the ceramics a talismanic quality .

Similar signs appear on Chinese, Harappan, South Indian Megalithic, Libyan and Cretan pottery (see figure 1). These signs were invented by the Proto-Saharans for purposes of communication. These pottery signs agree with the so-called linear Egyptian signs mentioned by Petrie (1921, p.83). They frequently appear on Egyptian pottery .

The Egyptian pot marks in Upper and Lower Egypt. Petrie (1900) was the first to record the Egyptian potmarks. These potmarks are found on pottery dated to Dynasties O to I (van den Brink 1992). These Thinite potmarks published by van den Brink (1992) agree almost totally with the Oued Mertoutek, Gebel Sheikh Suleiman, Harappan, Proto-Elamite and Proto-Sumerian (see figure 3).

It is clear that a common system of record keeping was used by people in the 4th and 3rd millennium B.C. from Saharan Africa, to Iran, China and the Indus Valley. Although the Elamites and Sumerians abandoned the Proto-Elamite writing and the Uruk script respectively, in favor f cuneiform writing, the Dravidians, Minoans (EteoCretans) and Manding continued to use the Proto-Saharan script (see figure 2) (Winters 1985c).The pottery signs were symbols from the Proto-Saharan syllabic writing. David (1955) was sure that the Dravidian and Cretan writings were analogous to the Egyptian pottery script.Moreover Dr. J.T. Cornelius (1956-57) used epigraphic evidence to show that the graffiti marks on the South Indian Megalithic pottery has affinity to other ancient scripts including the Libyan, Egyptian and Cretan signs.The languages of the Dravidians, Elamites, Sumerians and Manding are genetically related (Winters 1985d, 1989b, 1994). N. Lahovary (1957) noted structural and grammatical analogies of Dravidian, Sumerian and Elamites. K.L. Muttarayan (1975) provides hundreds of lexical correspondences and other linguistic data supporting the family relationship between Sumerian and Dravidian. C. A. Winters (1980, 1985d, 1989b, 1994) and L. Homburger (1951) have provided evidence of a genetic relationship between the Dravidian languages and the Manding Superset of languages. Dr. Homburger has also proven that the Manding and Coptic languages are closely related. The oldest Proto-Saharan inscriptions come from Oued Mertoutek and Gebel Sheikh Suleiman. These inscriptions are over 5000 years old (Wulsin 1941; Winters 1983a ).Here pictures of the Gebel Shaikh Suleiman relief from Arkell (1961, p.39) and Hinkel, 1978, photo between pp.56-57) are published as you can see they are found above boat.

The presence of the same inscriptions found on the pots, recorded on the Gebel Shaikh Suleiman relief make it clear that these marks were not only engraved on pottery they also were engraved on rocks.


Arkell,A.J. (1961). A History of the Sudan. University of London.

Hinkel,F.W. (1978). Exodus from Nubia. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Patrie,W.M.F. (1900). The Royal Tombs of the First Dynasties. London: EES.

Van de Brink, Edwin C.M. . (1992) Corpus and numerical evaluation of the Thinite Potmarks. In The Followers of Horus: Studies Dedicated to Michael Allen Hoffman. Egyptian Studies Association Publication, No.2: pp.265-296.Oxford: Oxbow Books.

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

REFERENCESAnselin, A. (1981). Le Question Peule. Paris: Editions Karthala.Anselin, A. (1982). Le Mythe D' Europe. Paris: EditionsAnthropos.Anselin, A. (1989). pour une morpologie elementaire du Negro-Africain, Carbet, no.6, pp.98-105.Anselin, A. (1992a). L'ibis du savoir-l'ecriture et le mythe en ancienne Egypte, ANKH, no.1, pp.79-88.Anselin, A. (1992b). Samba. Guadeloupe: Editions de L'Unite de Recherche-Action Guadeloupe.Anselin, A.(1993). Anamneses. Guadeloupe: Editions de l'UNIRAG.Armstrong,R.G. (1962). Glottochronology and African linguistics. Journal of African History,3(2), 283-290. Crawley,T. 1992. An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Delafosse,M. (1901). La Langue Mandigue. Paris.Diagne,P. (1981). In J. Ki-Zerbo (Ed.), General history of Africa I: Methodology and African prehistory (233-260). London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.Diop, C.A. (1974). The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Westport, Conn.:Lawrence Hill and Company.Diop,C.A. (1977). Parentè gènètique de l'Egyptien Pharaonique et des languues Negro-Africaines. Dakar: Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire.Diop, C.A. (1978). Precolonial Black Africa. Wesport, Conn. :Lawrence Hill and Company.Diop, C.A. 1981. A methodology for the study of migrations. In African Ethnonyms and Toponyms, by UNESCO. (Unesco: Paris) 86--110. Diop, C.A. (1991). Civilization or Barbarism. Brooklyn,N.Y.:Lawrence Hill Books.Labov,W.(1965). The social motivation of a sound change. Word, 19, 273-309.Labov.,W. (1972). The internal evolution of linguistic rules. In Stokwell,R.P. and Macaulay, R.K.S. (Eds.) Linguistic change and generative theory (101-171). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Lord,R. (1966). Comparative Linguistics. London: St. Paul's House.Meillet, A. 1926. Introduction à l'etude comparatif des languages Indo-Europeennes. Paris.Moitt,B. (1989) CHIEKH Anta Diop and the African diaspora: Historical continuity and socio-cultural symbolism. Presence Africaine, 149/150, 347-360.Ngom,G. (1986). Rapports egypte-Afrique noire: aspects linguistiques, Presence Africaine, no.137/138, pp.25-57.Niane,D.T.(Ed.). (1984). Introduction. General History of Africa IV (1-14). London: Heinemann Educational Books.Obenga, T. (1973). L'Afrique dans l'antiquite-Egypte pharaonique-Afrique noire. Paris: Presence Africaine.Obenga, T. (1978a). Africa in antiquity, Africa Quarterly, 18, no.1, pp.1-15. Obenga,T. (1978b). The genetic relationship between Egyptian (ancient Egyptian and Coptic) and modern African languages. InUNESCO (Ed.), The peopling of ancient Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script (65-72). Paris: UNESCO.Obenga, T. (1988). Esquisses d'une histoire culturelle de l'Afrique par la lexicologie, Presence Africaine, no.140, pp.1-25.Obenga, T. (1992). Le chamito-semitique n'existe pas, ANKH , no.1, pp.51-58.Obenga, T. (1993a). Origine commune de l'Egyptien Ancien du Copte et des langues Negro-Africaines Modernes. Paris: Editions L'Harmattan.Obenga, T. Origine Commune de l"Egyptien ancien du coptes et des langues negro-africaines modernes. Paris: Editions l'Harmattan.Olderogge, L. (1981). Migrations and ethnic and linguistic differentiations. In J. Ki-Zerbo (Ed.),General History of Africa I: Methodology and African History (271-278). Paris: UNESCO.Pawley,A. & Ross,M. (1993). Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history. Annual Review of Anthropology, 22, 425-459.Pfouma, O. L'abeille royale, Carbet, no.6, pp.98-105.Robins, R.H. (1974). General Linguistics. Bloomington: Indiana State University Press.Ruhlen, M. 1994. The origin of language. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Senghor, L.S. (1961). Negritude and African socialism, African Affairs, pp.20-25.Toukara, B. (1989). Problematique du comparatisme , egyptien ancien/langues africaines (wolof), Presence Africain, no.149/150, pp.313-320.Winters,Clyde Ahmad (1977). "The influence of the Mande scripts on ancient American Writing systems", Bulletin l'de IFAN, T39, serie b, no2, (1977), pages 941-967.Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (1979c). "Manding Scripts in the New World", Journal of African Civilization 1, no1 , pp. 61-97.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1980a). "The genetic unity of Dravidian and African languages and culture",Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Asian Studies (PIISAS) 1979, Hong Kong:Asian Research Service. 3, no1,pp. 103-110. Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (December, 1981/ January 1982a) "Mexico's Black Heritage", The Black Collegian,pp. 76-84.Winters,Clyde Ahmad (1983a).The Ancient Manding Script",In Blacks in Science:Ancient and Modern, (ed) by Ivan van Sertima, (New Brunswick:Transaction Books ) pages 208-214.Winters,Clyde Ahmad(June 1984c) "Further Notes on Japanese and Tamil ,International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 13, no2, pp. 347-353.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1985a). "The Proto-Culture of the Dravidians, Manding and Sumerians", Tamil Civilization 3, no.1 , pp. 1-9.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1985b). "The Indus Valley Writing and related Scripts of the 3rd Millennium BC", India Past and Present 2, no.1 ( 1985b), pages 13-19.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1986). The Migration Routes of the Proto-Mande", The Mankind Quarterly 27, no1 , pp. 77-96.Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (1986b). "Blacks in Ancient America", Colorlines 3, no.2 , pp. 26-27.Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (1986c). "Dravidian Settlements in ancient Polynesia", India Past and Present 3, no2,pp. 225-241.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1986b). Common African and Dravidian place name elements, South Asian Anthropologist, 9, no.1 pp.33-36.Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (1989)"Tamil,Sumerian and Manding and the Genetic Model",International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics ,18, no.l.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1991). The Proto-Sahara. The Dravidian Encyclopaedia. (Trivandrum: International School of Dravidian Linguistics) pp.553-556. Volume 1.Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1991b). Linguistic evidence for Dravidian influence on trade and animal domestication in Central and East Asia, International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 20, no.2, pp.91-102.

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.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mojarra Stela 1: Lines 1-3

Granted Mojarra 1 was published before the side Mojarra inscription, but I never got around to deciphering the text.

The first column of the Mojarra inscription reads as follows:Row 1 (reading right to left).

(1) i ta ki yo.(1a) i po Ki se. (1b) i ta ki yo.1/1b.

Thou sacre raising (as) a vital spirit exist (now).1a. Thou the pure Protector / or You (art) Pure Kise.

2)Ba da Yo

The Great Da Yo.

3. Se po Da Yo

The victorious and Pure Da Yo

4. Po tu

Pure birth (was on)

5. 8 5 3 3 5

May 21 ,143 AD

6. Se Gyo(Thou art)

Se gyo Snake

(Se gyo is a surname given to an enfant whose people ascribe the intervention of a divinity.)

Translation :"Thou sacre raising exist (now). Thou (art) the Pure Protector. The Great Da Yo. The victorious and pure Da Yo's pure birth ( was on ) May 21 143 AD. Thou (art) the Se Gyo. Thou Snake"

Row 2

Ni Po

Kyu gyo

Po tu

Yo po bo po ta

Monkey Tu


pa po


Se lu la

Tu ku tu

Yo Pe"

(1)The pure house, (2)the big hemisphere sepulcre (burial Pyramid?) is a talisman. (3)Pure King Yo, is pure moral gradeur (and) a pure Propriety. (4) The Monkey King. (5) Yo (6) has much purity (7) the devotee is pure. (8) To realize and hold upright a good situation. (9) The king and Governor is obedient to the law. (10) (Oh) Yo Pe."

Row 3

Po tu

Pe pe Ngbe

Yo Pe

Papa Po gbe Papa

Yo Pe

Pe po pe

Da Yo da

"The pure King (he has) Prodigious purity and virtue. The pure Yo, very much purity and virtue (is due) Yo Pe. Very much admiration for Da Yo at this moment the king."lu ma tu gyoYo Pe[/b]"Hold upright spiritual tranquility for the ruler and cult leader: Yo Pe."

The first date in Mojarra 1, relates to the birth of Yo Pe who was recognized as Se Gyo. The inscription makes it clear that Yo Pe was recognized as a god and the leader of his people's religion.To understand the designation of Yo Pe as Se Gyo (Se Jo) is explained by Mande traditional culture.

Reading the signs as Pe gyo tells us that Yo Pe was considered a powerful religious specialist in addition to be the King.

The "loopy" sign is not an Initial Series character. It was just a description of the potent supernatural power Yo Pe possessed.As Se gyo, Yo Pe appears to have had great knowledge of sorcery or nyama.

Se (foot, foundation) represents the beginning of knowledge. The se symbolizes beginning, an advance of success and power. The se represents man's progression in pursuit of knowledge.

Since Se, means foundation and gyo, is spiritual knowledge. Se gyo would = "foundation of spiritual knowledge".P.R. McNaughton's The Mande Blacksmiths: Knowledge, Power and Art in West Africa. This book gives us keen insight into Mande traditional beliefs and helps explain much of Olmec social concepts and religion.

Nyama is occult power or special energy of supernatural origin. Nyama is considered source of power behind every task. Among the Mande the pinnacle of potency is the knowledge of sorcery. Sorcery is important among the Mande says McNaughton because "for the vast majority [of Mande] sorcery provide a means for analyzing situations and a tool for responding to them, and these people can be quite open about their use of it" (p.13).

In the above transliteration of the signs in the “loopy” figure I gave the following interpretation:

(1) i ta ki yo.(1a) i po Ki se. (1b) i ta ki yo.1/1b. Thou sacre raising (as) a vital spirit exist (now).1a. Thou the pure Protector / or You (art) Pure Kise.

Instead of translating this middle sign as i po ki se, I believe it should read i po kilisi. In the Friday decipherment of the loopy sign I failed to include transliteration of the dot sign: li. The lexical item li, is represented by the black dot inside the middle symbol. Since "li" is in the middle of the figure I am reading the se sign as si, instead of se, thus we have Kilisi. Reading the signs as follows i po kilisi, we have "Thou pure secret speech".Kilisi means secret speech. Kilisi is a potent formula of human sounds rich with supernatural energy. It is kilisi that provides an object with nyama.In relation to the serpent/snake in the inscription it does not relate to a date.

Before the sa or snake we have se gyo "Foundation of spiritual knowledge". I believe that Ye Po was a Satigi[/]: Master of Snakes.Among the Mande the snake is used in divination. The snake diviner studies the reptiles movements which he mystically interprets to answer clients questions. The Satigi, communicated with snakes for numerous purposes, e.g., to forsee future events and obtain secret knowledge, because he shares a supernatural bond with the serpent. The Satigi is recognized as one of the most powerful diviners of the Mande people who has the ability to perform supernatural acts (McNaughty, p.52).

This suggest that Se gyo Sa (Snake) may be interpreted as The Se Gyo and Sa(tigi).In Row 2 we read the following:

Row 2Ni PoKyu gyoPo tuYo po bo po taMonkey TuYopa poTaSe lu laTu ku tuYo Pe

" (1)The pure house, (2)the big hemisphere sepulcre (burial Pyramid?) is a talisman. (3)Pure King Yo, is pure moral gradeur (and) a pure Propriety. (4) The Monkey King. (5) Yo (6) has much purity (7) the devotee is pure. (8) To realize and hold upright a good situation. (9) The king and Governor is obedient to the law. (10) (Oh) Yo Pe."

The monkey figure probably has an important meaning in this inscription and may represent an emblem. Among the Mande [b]sulaw monkeys indicates the initiates awareness of his own animality. This suggest that Sula tu in row 2, should read "A king aware of his animality".In conclusion it is safe to say that Yo Pe had immense supernatural power, thus his nickname "Se Gyo". He was also a Satigi, and thus could see into the future and obtain supernatural knowledge via his snake totem.

As a result of this I do not believe that Se gyo Snake, is a day sign. These signs probably related to the immense supernatural powers of Yo Pe.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nubians were never members of the Meroitic Confederation

The Noba are believed to have spoken a Nubian language. The Nubian language is not related Meroitic.Welsby in The Kingdom of Kush wrote, "Early scholars of the [Meroitic] language hoped that it may have been related to Old Nubian but this has been shown not to be the case, although both are agglutinative, lack gender and the place of inflexions taken by post-positions and suffixes. Whether it was related to the language of the Kerma culture is another unknown, as no inscriptions in Kerman have come to light"(p.190).

Lazlo Torok, in The Kingdom of Kush:Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization , wrote "Since so far no bilingual text has been discovered nor any related language found, very little of Meroitic can be understood. Some linguists see a relationship between Berber and Chadic on the one hand and Meroitic, on the other. Others regard it as related to Nubian. On geographical grounds, it has been suggested that Meroitic may be related to the following language groups(in describing order of probability). Eastern Sudabic; Nilo-Saharan; Cushitic/Omotic; Kordofanian. The efforts based on such assumptions produced, however, very few results, if any. While the linguistic classification of Meroitic remains obscure, there is hardly any doubt that it was originally spoken in the northern Butana" (p.50).As you can see Meroitic has not been found to be related to Nubian, other languages in the Nilo-Saharan family ,or any other language spoken in the area.

The Nubians or Nobatai lived in the area from Aswan to Maharraqa called the Dodekaschoenas which was first under the rule of the Ptolemies and later the Romans. Most researchers believe that by 200 BC most of the region was occupied by Nubians. Ptolemy, noted that in the mid-2nd Century AD that the Nubae lived on the Westside of the Nile, and that they were not subjects of the Kushites.

David O'Connor makes it clear in Ancient Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa (1993), that the Nubians or Nobatai "adopted a Romano-Egyptian culture very different from that of Meroitic Lower Nubia" (p.72).

Welsby, in The Kingdom of Kush,also believes that the Dodekaschoenas was not fully occupied by Meroites. But there were some Meroites in the major cities.

When the Romans left the area in AD 270, the Diocletian agreement was between the Nobatae and the Romans, not the Romans and Kushites. This makes it clear that the Nubian speakers were Western oriented and not Meroites. In fact the oldest known Noba inscriptions were written in Greek and Coptic, not Meroitic.
The Noba/Nubians were enemies of the Kushites of Meroe. Above is a bound Nubian captive. This artifact was discovered at Meroe in 1911. On the chest of the figure are the following inscriptions: Qo-ne Qore nob o lo. This reads: " The honorable Nubian King arrive(d) as a captive". Another small brone Noba figure was inscribed with the words : E de qe Nob. This inscription reads: "Act indeed to register the Noba (prisoner)".

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nubian Speakers were not Kushites of Meroitic Civilization

The Nubian language can not be used to decipher Meroitic because the Nubians were not members of the Meroitic confederation. They were not Kushites. In fact we only see Nubians in Meroitic art as conquered people.

The textual evidence from the Romans suggest that the Noba/Nubians entered Nubia long after the Kushites had founded the Napatan and Meroitic civilizations, so eventhough they live in Nubia today, they are not representative of Kushite people. The Kushites were often in conflict with the Nubians.

In addition, Egyptian documents make it clear that the Blymmes also entered the area after the founding of the Napatan and Meroitic civilization, so even if some people claim that the Beja=Blymmes this is conjecture. Consequently, even if Beja= Blymmes, they do not represent the Kushite people who founded the Napata and Meroe civilizations, because both the Noba and Blymmes entered Kush after its founding.

Claude Reilly's Sudani and meroitic Hypothesis

I found the article about Claude Reilly the “Champollion of Meroitique” very interesting. Although he is being given credit for presenting a method to decipher Meroitic, I already deciphered Meroitic years ago. Reilly believes that he can decipher the Meroitic language language using the Proto-NorthEastern Sudanic, which he has reconstructed.

According to Reilly, since the people presently living in the Sudan today speak languages associated with the Nilo Saharan Superfamily of languages, the Meroites probably spoke a language associated withthis family. This was a radical decision, because research has shown that none of the attested Meroitic terms accepted by mainstream scholars are related to any living language in the Sudan (there are some Meroitic terms borrowed from Egyptian).

Because there are no cognate Meroitic terms and lexical items in the Eastern Sudanic Languages, Reilly has begun to reconstruct Proto- Eastern Sudanic, and attempt to read Meroitic text using his Proto-Eastern Sudanic vocabulary. Even if I hadn’t deciphered the Meroitic writing this method would never lead to the decipherment of this orany other language.

Proto-Northern Eastern Sudani can not be used to read Meroitic because there is no documented evidence this group of languages was ever spoken in the Meroitic Empire. Reilly claims that lexicostatistics or glottochronology allows him to read Meroitic. Lexicostatistics is used to fit datable events among languages that theoretically are descendant from a common ancestor.The basic vocabulary is that part of the lexicon that shows slow change. These terms relate to basic cultural practices and universal human experiences.Reilly can not use this method to read Meroitic because there are only 26 attested Meroitic terms accepted by the establishment. None of these terms are cognate to Nubian or Taman terms except the name for a Meroitic god.

With only 1 cognate Meroitic and Northern Eastern Sudani languages, there is no way you can date the time Meroitic speakers and Nilo-Saharan speakers spoke a common ancestral language. Reilly claims to be able to decipher Meroitic using a method that compares basic culural words to date the time languages separated, can not be used to read Meroitic, because none of the attested Meroitic terms have Nilo-Saharan cognates. The absence of Meroitic and Nubian cognates prevents any fruitful comparisons between these languages.Paper

There are three ways to verify a protolanguage is congruent with reality 1) there is documentary evidence of the ancestor or near ancestor of the target language that allows comparison of adctual terms and grammars to the construct (i.e., reconstructed lexical items and grammars); 2) written evidence in the form of inscriptions exist from systematic excavation that compare favorably to the contruct; and 3) the power of prediction that this or that construct will conforms to objective reality.

Reilly's ideas that he can read Meroitic based on Kushite names from Kerma, which he calls proto-Meroitic names (even though he knows full well that a protolanguage is artificial and comes from reconstruction); and a list of Northern Proto-Eastern Sudani terms from the Nubian, Nara, Taman and Nyima languages meets none of these standards. This meets none of the standards because there is no documentary evidence for Northern Proto-Eastern Sudani dating to the Meroitic period. Moreover, the principle language he hopes to use to read Meroitic text: Nubian, was not spoken in the Meroitic Empire. A fact Reilly admits in his own paper where he notes that Nubians invaded the Meroitic Empire during the declining days of the empire.

Theodora Bynon, Historical Linguistics, wrote that ,"a protolanguage is no more than a theorectical construct designed to link by means of rules the systems of historically related languages in the most economical way. It thus summarizes the present state of our knowledge regarding the systematic relationships of grammars of the related languages....When dealing with past language states it is possible to assess the distance between construct and reality only in cases where we possess documentated evidence regarding an ancestor or a near ancestor, such as is provided by Latin, in the case of the Romance languages"(p.71).

We can reject Reilly's claim he can use this protolanguage to read Meroitic because there is no documented evidence of Northern Eastern Sudani speakers ever living in the historic Meroitic Empire, until after the Meroitic Empire was in decline. The absence of documentary evidence of any Nilo-Saharan language spoken in the Meroitic Empire during the Meroitic period precludes any possibility that Reilly's alleged Proto-Northern Eastern Sudani has any relationship to Meroitic or reality for that matter.

Before my decipherment of Meroitic the attested vocabulary of Meroitic was only 26 terms. Researchers proved decades ago that none of these terms have Nubian and Nilo-Saharan cognates. This makes Reilly's ideas about deciphering Meroitic using Proto-Northern Eastern Sudani a farce.

This is a farce because we do have document evidence of Meroitic, but none for the Nilo-Saharan languages. As a result, any proto-term from Northern Eastern Sudani Reilly compares with Meroitic will be conjecture since there is no documented evidence of Nilo-Saharan languages being spoken in the Meroitic

Empire.H.H. Hock, in Principles of Historical Linguistics (1986), observed that there are two major arguments against the idea that comparative reconstructions recover the "prehistoric reality" of a language.The first principle, is that languages change over time. This makes it almost impossible to "fully" reconstruct the lexcical items and grammar of the ancestral language. Secondly, there are few, if any dialect free languages. Constructs resulting from comparing lexical items and grammars from an available set of languages,produce a dialect free protolanguage, that is unnatural and "factually incorrect as shown by the insights of the wave theory" (p.568).

First, it must be stated that no “dead “ language has been deciphered using a proto-language. These languages were deciphered using living languages, Coptic in the case of Egyptian, Oromo and(Ethiopian) Semitic was used to decipher the Mesopotamian Cuneiform scripts. The basic problem with using a proto-language to read a dead language results from the fact that the proto-language has been reconstructed by linguist who have no knowledge or textual evidence of the alleged proto-language.

Secondly, there are subgroups in anyfamily of languages. This means that you must first establish the intermediate proto-language (IPL) of the subgroup languages in the target language family. Once the IPLs have been reconstructed, you can then reconstruct the superordinate proto-language (SPL). You can only reconstruct the SPL on the basis of attested languages. In addition, before you can reconstruct the IPLs and SPL a genetic relationship must be established for the languages within the Superfamily of languages, e.g., Nilo Saharan.

The problem with Reilly’s method, is there is no way he can really establish the IPLs in Eastern Sudanic because we have not textual evidence or lexical items spoken by people who lived in the Sudanin Meroitic times. As a result, the languages spoken by people in this area today may not reflect the linguistic geography of the Sudan in the Meroitic period.

This is most evident when we look at modern Egypt. Today the dominant language is Arabic, and yet Arabic has no relationship to Egyptian. If we accept Reilly’s method for deciphering Egyptian we would assume that once me reconstructed proto-Semitic , we could read Egyptian—but as you know Egyptian is not a Semitic language.

Secondly, researchers have compared the “attested Meroitic” terms to all the Nilo-Saharan languages. The results were negative, they do not relate to any Eastern Sudanic language. If the lexicalitems attested in Meroitic are not cognate to Eastern Sudanic terms, there is no way to establish a genetic relationship between these languages. Absence of a genetic relationship means that we can not reconstruct the imagined IPLs of Meroitic sister languages, sincethese researchers failed to find a connection between Meroitic and the Eastern Sudanic. As a result, Reilly’s reconstructions of Nilo-Saharan can offer no insight into the language spoken by the Meroites.

Granted, by comparing languages and associating them with a particular time period you can make comparative reconstructions that may eliminate dialectal diversity. But Reilly can not do this because none of the attested Meroitic terms have Nubian cognates. This along with the fact that we have no textual evidence of Nilo-Saharan during the Meroitic period demonstrating that Nilo-Saharan languages were spoken in the Meroitic Empire, especially Nubian,precludes using proto-Northern Eastern Sudani terms to read Meroitic.

Using proto-Northern Eastern Sudani terms to read Meroitic will fail to provide a linguistically realistic situation in Nubia 2000 years ago. This is especially true for Nubian, which was not spoken in the Meroitic Empire. The Nubian speakers lived far to the north of the Meroitic Empire, a fact Reilly acknowledges in his paper.

Literacy in the Napatan and Meroitic Civilizations

Ancient Kush extended across a large part of the Sudan. In this vast region encompassing the Napatan and Meroitic civilizations there were many different nationalities, that spoke a myriad of languages.

Due to the ethnic diversity of the Napatans, it is clear that at least from the Napatan period of Kush the rulers of the empire had decided that no single language spoken in the empire would be used to record political, administrative and religious information. To maintain an equilibrium within and among the Napatan nationalities Egyptian was used as the lingua franca of the empire.

The leaders of the Napatan empire probably used Egyptian because it was an international language, and few Kushites were of Egyptian ethnic origin.Egyptian remained the lingua franca for the Kushites during the Napatan and early Meroitic periods in Kushite history. After the Assyrians defeated the Egyptians the ethnic composition of the Kushite empire began to change. As a result, many Egyptians began to migrate into Kushite, to avoid non-Egyptian rule.

Beginning with the Assyrian defeat of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty large number of nomadic people from the Middle East began to migrate into Egypt. These people began to take over many Egyptian settlements, while other Egyptians fled to Nubia and Kush to avoid non-Egyptian rule.Other political and military conflicts after the Assyrians led many Egyptians to migrate out of Egypt into Nubia and Kush. Herodotus’ mentions the mutiny of Psamtik I’s frontier garrison at Elephantine—these deserters moved into Kush.

Moreover, the archaizing trend in Kush among the post Twenty-Fifth Dynasty Kings testify to a possible large migration of Egyptians into Kush.In 343 BC Nectanebos II, fled to Upper Egypt. Later according to the Natasen period stela we evidence of other Egyptians migrating into Kush from Egypt (Torok, 1997, p.391).

Between the 260’s-270’s BC Upper Egyptian Nationalists were fighting the Ptolemy (Greek) rulers of Egypt. The rebellion was put down by Ptolemy II. This military action led to Egyptians migrating out of Egypt into Kush (Torok, pp.395-396). These rebellions continued in Egypt into the 2nd Century BC (Torok, p.426).

Between Ptolomy II and Ptolemy V, the Greeks began to settle Egypt. This was especially true in the 150’sBC and led to many Egyptians migrating back into Egypt. By the time the Romans entered Egypt, many Egyptians had already left Egypt and settled. Roman politics also forced many Egyptians to migrate into Kush. This was compounded by the introduction of the Pax Agusta policy of the Romans which sought the establishment of Roman hegemony within territories under Roman rule . This led to the emigration of many Romans into Egypt.The Kush was a multi-ethnic society. It included speakers of many languages within the empire.

During most of Kushite history the elites used Egyptian for record keeping since it was recognized as a neutral language.As more and more Egyptians, led by Egyptian nationalists, fled to Kush as it became under foreign domination the Egyptians formed a large minority in the Empire. Because of Egyptian migrations to Kush, by the rule of the Meroitic Queen Shanakdakheto, we find the Egyptian language abandoned as a medium of exchange in official records, and the Meroitic script takes its place.By the rise of Greeks in Egypt, the cultural ideology , like the people were changing.

This is supported by the transition from Demotic writing (7th 5th Centuries BC) to Coptic (4th BC-AD 1400). The Coptic people are the best evidence for the change in the Egyptian population.After the Egyptians became a sizable minority in Kush, the Kushites abandoned Egyptian as a lingua franca. Egyptian was replaced by the Meroitic writing.

Due to the fact that Meroite leaders were trying to maintain unity within the Meroitic Confederacy/Empire they did not record any ethnic lexical items in the Meroitic inscriptions , that I have read so far, except ethnonyms and toponyms.

The Kushana Hypothesis and Meroitic Writing

I have deciphered Meroitic based on the most logical path to the decipherment of any dead language. Maurice Pope , made it clear that before a dead language can be deciphered you must have the right theoretical structure to base your inquiry upon it (p. 191). There were three preliminary conditions that must be met before any decipherment: (1) confidence that a script can be deciphered; (2) location of proper names must be determined; (3) the grammatical rules of the target language must be known.

Conditions #1 and #2 were met by Griffith when he deciphered the Meroitic script in 1910, and his discovery of the proper names of the Meroitic gods and individuals in the Meroitic text.

Griffith also discovered the directions in which the Meroitic writing was written. The recognition for the solubility of Meroitic was reinforced by the publication of it because it provided up-to-date material on Meroitic and the idea of using the comparative method to decipher Meroitic.

Condition #3 was met in 1978 when Hintze published his work on Meroitic grammar. This allowed me to test other languages similar to Meroitic to find the cognate language.

I chose Kushana for two reasons. Firstly, Philostratus in , claimed that the Gymnosophists of Kush, who settled along the Nile, descended from the Brahmins of India, having been forced to migrate after the murder of their King. This passage pointed to the Kushana, who left China in 176 B.C., after the murder of their king. The Kushana were of high caste.

The Meroites and Kushana often referred to themselves as Kuš . Because both of these groups called themselves Kushana, it suggested that they may be related, given the Classical tradition for a migration of "Indians" to Kush. Moreover, C.B. Rawlinson, in "Notes on the early History of Babylonia," pp. 221-222, discussed the Kushites of Asia and Africa.

Using the evidence of classical traditions pointing to the Kushana as possible settlers of Meroë gave me the confidence to compare Kushana to Meroitic. This comparison proved fruitful.

The key to understanding the use of Kushana/Tokharian to write Meroitic depended on the multi-lingual/ethnic character of the Kushana language. Although this language is considered Indo-European, I believe that it was used as a trade language in Central Asia to give the people of the region a common medium of exchange.

The Meroitic empire was made up of many groups: the Kusa/Kushites, Blemmyans, Medes, and Reherahas according to Hakem and Millet. I believe that the Meroites recognized the possibility of using Tokharian, which I believe was a trade language , in Meroitic Kush to unite the diverse people living in the region because it was not of Egyptian origin.

There is disturbing linguistic evidence that hinders the proper placement of Kushana/Tokharian in the I-E family. This results from the fact that it is more closely related to the western branch of I-E, than Indo-Iranian its closest neighbor. The Tokharian isoglosses in I-E are ranked as follows: (1) Germanic, (2) Greek, (3) Indic, (4) Baltic, and (5) Iranian.

The Tokharian lexicon has also been influenced by Tibetan, Chinese, and Uighur. This is suggestive that Tokharian was a trade language and that Greek and Slavic words came into the "lingua franca" after the Greek conquest of Bactria. The borrowing pattern in Tokharian is consistent with the spread of the Greek language by a small politically dominant minority of Greek settlers into a far larger and previously long-established non–I-E speaking majority. My decipherment of Meroitic is based on the Kushana theory.

The Kushana theory is that a group of “East Indian” scholars introduced the Meroitic writing system to the Meroites.

The Kushana hypothesis was based on the following evidence, 1) no African language has been found to be a cognate language of Meroitic 2) the Classical literature says that the Kushites lived in Asia and Africa; 3) the Gymnosophists, or "naked sages" of Meroe came from India.

Before I began work on Meroitic, other researchers had already falsified the African theory for Meroitic's cognate language. Meroitic is not related to languages spoken in this area. Griffith and Haycock tried to read Meroitic using Nubian and failed. K.H. Priese tried to read the Meroitic text using Eastern Sudani; he also failed.

The fact that not even Nubian, a language spoken by a people who were engaged in constantly conflict with the Meroites , failed to be the cognate language of Meroitic made it clear that we must look elsewhere for the cognate language spoken by the Meroites.

The idea that the Meroites spoke Nubian has been revised by Rilly. Recently Rilly has suggested that we may be able to read Meroitic using Proto-Eastern Sudanic. We must reject this alledged break through in Meroitic linguistics on two points, he believes Nubia can be used to interpret Meroitic when the Nubians were never part of the meroitic Confederation; and 2) you can not read a dead language based on proto-terms because a proto-language is purely theorectical and can not be proven as ever existing in the real world.

Flavius Philostratus, the writer of the Vita Apollonii, Vol.1 , claimed that the Gymnosophists of Meroe originally came from India (see F.C. Conybeare, Philostratus:The Life of Apollonius of Tyana(p.45),1950). Given the fact that the Kushana had formerly ruled India around the time that the Meroitic writing was introduced to the Kushite civilization, led to the hypothesis that the ancestors of the Gymnosophist may have been Kushana philosophers.

The historical evidence of the Kushana having ruled India made the Classical references to Indians in Meroe, an important source for the construction of alternative theories about the possible location ofthe cognate language of Meroitic.

There is external evidence, which supports my theory. A theory explains observed phenomena and has predictive power. I have theorized that due to the claims of the Classical writers that some of the Meroites came from India (F.C Conybeare (Trans.), Philostratus: The life of Apollonius of Tyana Vol.2, (1950) pg.271). According to the Life of Apollonius, the Indian Meroites were formerly led by a KingGanges, who had "repulsed the Scythians who invaded this land [India from] across the Caucasus" (Conybeare, Vol.1, Pg.273). Pilostratus also made it clear that the Indians of Meroe came to this countryafter their king was killed.

The presence of this tradition of an Indian King of the Indian-Meroites conquering the Scythians predicts that the Indian literature should record this historical episode. This prediction is supported by aJaina text called the Kalakeharya-Kathanaka, which reports that when the Scythians invaded Malwa, the King of Malwa, called Vikramaditya defeated the Scythians (H. Kulke & D. Rothermund, History of India(London, Routledge: 1990, pg.73). This king Vikramaditya may be the Ganges mentioned in the Life of Apollonius.Confirmation of the Ganges story,supports the Classical literary evidence that their were Indianized -Meroites that could have introduced the Tokharian trade language to the Meroites.

In addition to the classical mention of the Indians settling Meroë, we also have a horde of Kushana coins that were found on the floor of a cave at the present monastery-shine at Debra Demo in modern Ethiopia in 1940. Moreover, there were other Indians in North Africa in addition to Kush/Meroe. For example, at Quseir al-Qadim there was a large Indian speaking community (see: R. Salomon, "Epigraphic remains of Indiantraders in Egypt", Journal of the American oriental Society, (1991) pp.731-736; and R. Salomon, Addenda,Journal of the American Oriental Society, (1993) pg.593). These Indians were in Egypt writing messages in their own language, around the time we see a switch from Egyptian hieroglyphics to the Meroitic writing system. All of this supported the traditions of the Meroites that speak of a knowledge of the Kushana/Indians among the Meroites.

The evidence that the Classical references to an Indian-Meroite King who conquered the Scythians is supported by the Indian literature, provides external corroboration of the tradition that some of the Meroites were of Indian origin. The presence of Indian traders and settlers in Meroe (and Egypt), makes it almost impossible to deny the possibility that Indians, familiar with the Tokharian trade languagedid not introduce this writing to the Meroites who needed a neutral language to unify the diverse ethnic groups who made up the Meroite state. In relation to the history of linguistic change and bilingualism, itis a mistake to believe that linguistic transfer had to take place for the Meroites to have used Tokharian, when it did not take place when they wrote in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

In summary the classical literature makes it clear that there was a connection between the Gymnosophists (of Meroe) and the Indians. The fact that historical events mentioned in the classical sources are found in the Indian literature confirm the view that there were Indian-Meroites who could have introduced the Tokharian trade language to the Meroites. The fact that the Nubians who were probably not part of the"Meroitic state", used hieroglyphics and Coptic to write their language without abandoning their native language support the view that the Meroites could have also used Tokharian to write Meroitic. And that eventhough the Kushites wrote Meroitic inscriptions in Tokharian, theywould not have had to abandon their own language.

The evidence presented above provides internal and external validity for my theory based upon the sources I have cited previously. The sources I have used are impartial, to disconfirm my hypothesis someone needs to show that my propositions are not fully informed[i.e., there were no Indians North Africa and Kush when the Classical writers maintained they were] and present rival explanations based on the evidence. The fact that the claims made by the Classical writers issupported by the Indians themselves if further strong confirmation of the Kushana hypothesis.

The hypothesis based on the classical literature, was enough to support the original Kushana Hypothesis. The predicting power of the original theory, matches the observed natural phenomena which was confirmed elsewhere by cognate place names, ethononyms, lexicalitems and grammatical features, indicate that my theory has not be falsified.

The ability to reliably predict a linguistic relationship between Kushana and Meroitic, was further confirmation of the Kushana Hypothesis, because the linguistic connections were deducible from prediction. I controlled the Kushana Hypothesis by comparing the statements of the classical writers, with historical, linguistic anthropological and toponymic evidence found not only in Africa, but also India and Central Asia [where the people also used Tokharian as a trade language to unify the various people in Central Asia]. I constructed three testable hypotheses in support of the Kushana theory, and it seems only fair that these variables must be disconfirmed, to falsify the Kushana Hypothesis.

Hypothesis 1: If the meroites used a writing system of non-African origin a tradition mentioning this fact will exist. (Hypothesis confirmed. Classical literature mentions Indian scholars in ancient Meroe.)

Hypothesis: 2. If the classical literature mentions Indians who lived in Egypt influencing the Meroites their should be historical evidence relating to this tradition. (Hypothesis confirmed .Classical literature mentions a King who left his country is mentioned in the Jaina text called the Kalakeharya-Kathanaka.)

Hypothesis: 3. If Classical literature is true about the Indian origin of the Gymnosophists Indians will be found living near the Meroites around the time the Meroitic inscriptions appear. (Hypothesis confirmed. Artifacts and coins with Indian inscriptions have been found in Egypt and Ethiopia.) Failure to disconfirm this theorem, implies validity of myprediction.

My confirmation of the above , and 1) the presence of Kushites in Africa and Asia; 2)the presence of Kushana sages in India who may have migrated to Meroe;3) cognate lexical items; 4)cognate verbs and 5) cognate grammatical features; indicates systematic controlled, critical and empirical investigation of the question of Kushana representing the Meroitic cognate language.

You can read more about my decipherment of Meroitic in the following articles:

Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (Juin 1984b). "A Note on Tokharian and Meroitic", Meroitic Newsletter\Bulletin d"Information Meroitiques , No.23 , pages 18-21.

Winters,Clyde Ahmad. (1989b). "Cheikh Anta Diop et le dechiffrement de l'ecriture meroitique",Cabet: Revue Martinique de Sciences Humaines et de Litterature 8, pp. 149-152.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad.(1998). Meroitic funerary Text. Part1,Inscription Journal of Ancient Egypt 1,(1), pp. 29-34.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad.(1998). Meroitic funerary Text. Part1,Inscription Journal of Ancient Egypt 1,(2), pp. 41-55.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1999). The inscriptions of Tanyidamani.Nubica IV und Nubica V., pp.355-388.

You can read more about my decipherment at thefollowing web site:

I have written a short dictionary of Meroitic terms that you can find at the following web site:

My most recent article discussing Meroitic history and deciphering Meroitic documents titled the Meroitic Evidence for a Blemmy Empire in the Dodekaschoinos can be found at the following site: Enjoy.