Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aは日本語です)(その1)

フランシス・ローレライ

 古代ギリシャの哲人プラトンの著述には海中に沈んだ島「アトランテイス」が登場しますが、その実態は、エーゲ海のクレタ島やサントリーニ島を中心とする古代ミノア文明圏だとする説があります。
 古代ミノア文明に関しては、固有文字が2種類発見され、線文字A、Bと称されます。線文字Bは解読され、古代ギリシャ語と判明。線文字Aは未解読ですが、音声から判断する限り、日本語にそっくり。
 個々の文字を分析した結果、日本語をしゃべる民族が線文字Aを発明したとの結論です。また幾つかの原文を日本語として解読したところ、文字の刻まれた媒体(器や針)に通じる文脈で意味が通じるので、日本語と確信します。例えば金の指輪は、60との数字から還暦祝いの奥様(?)からの贈り物。金の長い針については、KA-NIとの記述から、カニの肉をほじり出す道具と判明しました。
線文字Aと日本語の繋がりが立証できれば、日本語の歴史は遥か昔、紀元前2000年のエーゲ海にまで遡り、日本の文化や歴史に関し、新たな洞察が得られる事になるでしょう。

(ABSTRACT)

The following is an attempt to highlight the remarkable similarities that can be found in the language of the ancient Minoans of Crete as recorded in the Linear A script and the Japanese language, in a suggestion to researchers that Linear A may not necessarily be an Indo-European language found in Europe and the Mediterranean area, and that therefore they should try to expand the scope of candidates when trying to find the language underlying Linear A.

In the opinion of this writer, the language underlying Linear A must be an old form of Japanese. Such a contention may sound far-fetched, but is readily verifiable and in line with the views of Gretchen Leonhardt. It can be demonstrated that Linear A symbols were invented by people who spoke a language that shared basic words with Japanese, and the meaning of Linear A texts can be interpreted in Japanese to a high degree of “refinement” so as to recognize a play on words, including puns and hidden meanings.

At the same time however, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Minoans may have left their linguistic legacy in countries other than Japan as a result of their probable dispersal, dissemination and migration from the Eastern Mediterranean to different regions in the world.

Therefore, there could be other candidates for the language underlying Linear A or descended from the ancient Minoan tongue, and these claims need not be mutually exclusive. For this writer, the Japanese language is the key that fits best in terms of unlocking the secrets of Linear A, but other keys may also do a good job. What is important is that the Linear A text interpretations should all agree in the end and, in that case, all the strong candidates should be languages that are related.

Why people (with the exception of Leonhardt) never thought of Japanese as a possible candidate is well understandable. Scholars who form the mainstream of researchers in Linear A may be versed in the classic languages of Europe, such as Greek and Latin, or of the Middle East, but perhaps not in the Japanese language, so they might not have recognized striking similarities in Japanese. Simply put, the strongest point for this writer is that he happens to be a native speaker of the Japanese language.

Moreover, the geographic distance from Crete to Japan in ancient times must have appeared as a formidable barrier between languages in the Mediterranean region and the Far East. However, we must allow for the possibility of a process of Minoan migration that may have taken years and decades, if not centuries.

It is only because of the internet and IT in the 21st century that Linear A texts, footage and photos of sites in Crete and other islands in the Aegean, not to speak of the work of researchers around the world, have become easily accessible without frequent travel. As a result, linguistic analysis and mutual collaboration is now unimaginably efficient, allowing for much more flexible thinking and a wider range of choices and possibilities.


I. Overview


1. Introduction

(1) The Minoans gave birth to a bronze age civilization on the island of Crete in the Aegean circa 3000 BCE that centered around the palace of Knossos and reached their peak in the 2nd millennium BCE.

In the Pre-palatial Period (2600-1900 BCE), they built their wealth and enjoyed prosperity on the basis of trade in the Mediterranean region with partners such as Egypt, importing copper, tin and gold.

Around 1900 BCE, new cities and palaces were built in Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros, marking the beginning of the Proto-palatial Period (1900-1700 BCE), during which the Minoans expanded their sphere of influence to colonize islands such as Thera, Rhodes, Melos and Kythera.

In and around 1700 BCE, there was a great disturbance on Crete, thought to have been an earthquake or war caused by outside invaders. The 4 palaces were destroyed and had to be rebuilt, and this marked the start of the Neo-palatial Period (1700- 1400 BCE).

Then, circa 1628 BCE, the Thera (Santorini) volcanic eruption took place, causing tsunamis to sweep over Crete, wreaking havoc and destruction.

Circa 1450 BCE, there was a transition of writing systems from Linear A (yet undeciphered) to Linear B (representing an old form of Greek), and this was evidently caused by the influx of Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland who became the new rulers in Crete.

Crete continued to flourish under the Mycenaeans and its golden age continued until about 1375 BCE, when Knossos Palace was apparently destroyed by an earthquake.

This civilization is thought to have finally disappeared during the Bronze Age collapse, circa 1177 BCE, together with other civilizations such as the Mycenaeans and the Hittites.

Some theorize that the lost civilization of Atlantis, described by the Greek philosopher Plato, must have been none other than the Minoan civilization.

(2) Excavations on Crete have revealed 2 ancient languages written down as Linear A and Linear B. They more or less use the same written symbols or letters. Linear B was deciphered and identified as ancient Greek in between 1951 and 1953, but Linear A, probably its immediate ancestor, has yet to be decoded and understood, i.e. the underlying language is unknown. It is believed that Linear A came into use around 1800 BCE.

On the basis of Linear B, basically ancient Greek, experts believe they can read out Linear A by applying the same phonetic rules as in Linear B, so that Linear A may be read out loud to reproduce the language as it must have been spoken by the Minoans.

Nevertheless, Linear A has long frustrated those who have tried to identify and understand it as being related to any of the known languages in Europe or the Mediterranean on the basis of these phonetic transcriptions.

(3) Consequently, researchers are beginning to entertain the idea that, if there are any existing languages descended from Linear A, they should be found outside the realm of the Indo-European languages.

In that case, the scope of research should be expanded to cover languages in areas geographically distant from Crete and the Mediterranean, to see if any exotic language outside the Indo-European domain may possibly fit its description.

(4) This may include Japanese, as it is a language based on syllables, just like Linear A, and because there seem to be striking similarities in the way the 2 languages sound, when spoken or read out loud.

This is all the more true because Japanese seems to be a language in a category of its own, together with Korean, which closely resembles Japanese, so that the 2 languages form an isolated language group in Northeast Asia, and researchers are curious to know how they came into being.

In Japan, experts have pointed out that the Japanese language seems to be related to languages such as Mongol and Turkish, judging from word order and, as a group, these may be referred to as the Altaic languages. They also consider another linkage, i.e. with the Polynesian languages, and that the Japanese language must have developed under these two important sources of influence.

In this context, the contention to be expounded here, that the language underlying Linear A is Japanese, or that the Minoan language was one of the most important ancestral languages of Japanese, must pertain to the Altaic influence from the Eurasian continent.



2. Geographic Names in the Aegean


If a Japanese speaker takes the time to carefully peruse through a map of Crete and also of the Aegean Sea with focus on the Cycladic Islands, there will be many geographic names, including islands, that sound as though they might have come right out of the Japanese language so as to arouse curiosity, such as follows:

(1) ZAKROS This is the name of a mountain range on Crete, and it means pomegranate in Japanese.

(2) MATALA This is an ancient port, close to Phaistos. It is known for the man-made caves dotting the cliffs along the shore that were used as dwellings by the ancients. The name evokes the Japanese word MADALA, and this means dotted or pock-marked. There is a strange deity in the form of a bull who appears in the Bull Festival of Oh-Sake Shrine, close to Ho-Ryu-ji Temple in Kyoto, and whose name is MATALA.

(3) CHANIA This city is located on the northwestern coast, just before a large promontory or headland, and is the 2nd largest city in Crete. The whole island of Crete may be described as a caricature of a man standing with his feet on the eastern end, head on the western end, and head turned northwards, toward the Greek mainland. Then Chania will be located at the base of the nose, and nose in Japanese happens to be, HA-NA.

(4) SEITAN LIMANIA Beach

This is a beautiful, secluded beach rather close to Chania, known for its turquoise blue waters. It is apparently called Satan’s Harbors in English, but SEITAN means “clear blue” in Japanese, and the color of the waters there, as recognizable in photos and you-tube programs, may easily convince Japanese speakers that the name must have Japanese roots.

(5) MALIA To continue on with the above metaphor on Crete island, this city on the northern coast is located just at the base of the male genitalia, i.e. MALA, in more vulgar Japanese terminology. The ”I” may have been thrown in just for purposes of obliteration, and for CHANIA, likewise.

(6) KNOSSOS This may correspond to KU-NI-SU(くにす、国巣。The country’s nest ) in Linear A.

The Japanese word “kuni” is said to have appeared in the Yayoi era to denote a unit group of hamlets, and eventually developed into what may correspond to the notion of a country or kingdom, whose areas were then limited to cover particular regions in Japan, such as Izumo. Thus, the resemblance with the first syllable in the word Knossos is very interesting.

(7) KEFTIU The Minoans were apparently called the Kef-tiu, according to records kept in ancient Egypt. When this word is transcribed into Japanese of an older style, “kef” may be pronounced as “kyo,” and so Kef-tiu may have been the original form of the city’s name, Kyoto.

(8) NAXOS This is the island in the Aegean on which Theseus is supposed to have abandoned Ariadne, despite his originalintention of taking her back to Athens. He was compelled to do this at the behest of the deity Dionysus who had fallen in love with her. In Japanese, the name may be translated as Crying Island or Wailing Island, and this may very well describe the scene on the island after Theseus had left for Athens, leaving Ariadne behind.

(9) KEA, KYTHERA, MILOS, THERA

These are islands in the Aegean where Linear A inscriptions have been found. Interestingly enough, they all seem to sound very Japanese.

THERA must be the older name for the island of Santorini, known for the cataclysmic, volcanic earthquake in ancient times thought to have devastated Crete with ensuing tsunamis and to be behind the decline and disappearance of the Minoan people. In Japanese, it means temple, or a place of worship.

KYTHERA is a Japanese surname, and Japanese people will associate MILOS with the word milo, that means “take a look.”

(10) NEA KAMENI This is the name of the small, round island located in the middle of the Santorini island group and known to be at the center of volcanic activity. KAME means turtle in Japanese and, as this very well describes the shape of the island, complete with what appear to be the fins of the creature, the ancients, who spoke proto-Japanese, may have decided to name it, New Turtle Island.

(11) MIKONOS This island name evokes the word MIKOTO in Japanese, that means the words of the sacred one, and which is often attached to the end of names of deities.

(12) ALASHIYA This was the name of Cyprus in the Bronze Age, when it was known for the production of copper. The ancient language of Cyprus was written in the Cypro-Minoan syllabary, which was similar to Linear A, and could be related to the Minoan tongue. In Japanese, ALASHI means storm, and ALASHIYA, storm shelter.

There is an interesting parallel in the Story of Wenamun from a literary Egyptian text in papyrus, circa 1000BCE. Wenamun, a priest of Egypt, is sent to Byblos for business and, blown off course on his return sea journey to Egypt, finds shelter on Alashiya.


3. Similar Cultures


Furthermore, if one takes time to compare the characteristics of the Minoans and the Japanese people, one will find many similarities, perhaps owing to common factors in the living environment, as follows:

(1) Island people living close to volcanoes and on land prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Latitude 35 degrees north, running across southern Crete, crosses just north of Hiroshima. Temperate climate and plenty of water, with mountainous terrain rich in verdure, with diverse flora and fauna.

(2) Seafaring nations with attachment to fish and other sea creatures that were important in their diet, and which achieved economic prosperity through trade with other countries in the Mediterranean region.

(3) Worship of a Goddess.

(4) No city walls. The palace of Knossos has been described as a labyrinth because the pathways and chambers are designed like a maze that would confuse visitors; Japanese castles are known for the typical maze-like construction, so designed to confuse strangers and enemies.

(5) Possibly, a Communist-like mentality, with egalitarian values.

(6) Minoan Art

(a) Urns bearing horizontal decorations marked with ropes, somewhat resembling Jo-mon pottery from ancient times in Japan.

(b) Chrysanthemum Design

In the palace of Knossos, there is a room with frescoes of a school of dolphins on the upper walls, below which are the entrances decorated on 3 sides with repeated use of a symbolic flower design, resembling a chrysanthemum with 12 petals. This has an uncanny resemblance to the emblem of the Imperial family of Japan, which is a chrysanthemum with 16 petals.

(c) Brightly colored frescoes depict people and animals that may remind observers of traditional Japanese paintings and wood-block printings, as well as present- day manga and anime.

(d) Young females with elaborate facial make-up, including white foundation and lipstick, and attire somehow resembling kimonos in length, that may recall the Maiko ladies, i.e. young apprentice geishas in Kyoto.

(7) Lovers of Sport

Minoans are known for the strange custom of bull-leaping; Japanese Olympic gymnasts are a source of national pride. Scenes of boxing have also been depicted in Minoan frescoes.

(8) Dancing (Bon-Odori)

Women dancing in unison, all with both hands high in the air, in synchronized fashion, seems to be a favorite theme in sculpture and for adorning ornaments, notably the golden signet ring from Isopata, Crete (Heraklion Museum).

Anyone who has stayed in Japan over a summer to watch the Bon-Odori festival will appreciate striking similarities with Bon-Odori dancing that mimic the same movements and gestures.

(9) Obsession with Hatti, or the Number 8

The Minoans seem to have an affinity with bees, as they kept them for honey and often used them in designing ornaments. As discussed later, the words KU-RO and KI-RO may be rooted in the abdomen of bees, striped in black and yellow.

Some scholars point to the possibility that Minoans may be descended from the ancient Hatti people in Anatolia and thus the obsession with bees, as they are called HA-TCHI in Japanese.

This word also denotes the number 8, perhaps because bees, with their head, tail and 6 legs, point in 8 directions. If Minoans gave the word HA-TCHI the same meaning, their obsession may extend to the number 8, as in their “figure of 8” shields.

The Japanese are known for an obsession with the number 8, written as 八 and read either as Hatchi or Ya, as in Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto and the deity Hatchi-Man, worshipped in many shrines across Japan.



II. Written Language 


The following analysis has been conducted on the basis of the list of Linear A symbols as presented by Gia Kvashilava in his paper "On Decipherment of the Inscriptions of Linear A in the Common Kartvelian Language" (ATINER Conference Presentation Series LNG2018-0153). The numbers are according to E. Bennett.

(By the way, we may infer that, if Gia is correct in his analysis of the language behind Linear A, Japanese and the Kartvelian languages must be related to each other.)

1. Linear A Symbols Represent Japanese Words

The efforts of researchers such as John Chadwick, Alice Kober and Michael Ventris have led to the conclusion that Linear B inscriptions from excavations led by Sir Arthur Evans on Crete were in fact an archaic form of the Greek language, and so the phonetics of the Linear B symbols are now well known and established.

Because Linear A shares many symbols with Linear B, the latter writing system is considered to be an offshoots from Linear A, that must predate Linear B. This has led to the established view that Linear A symbols must represent the same sounds as the corresponding Linear B symbols.

Consequently, Linear A symbols are known to represent either a vowel or a syllable, formed by a consonant plus a vowel, and they are thus similar to Japanese hiragana.

(1) Some of the Linear A symbols, judging from their visual effect, seem to be old prototypes of Japanese hiragana (or katakana) letters that represent the same sound. A most convincing example, with uncanny resemblance, may be the symbol for JU, pronounced YU in Japanese.

(2) We may also notice that, for many of these Linear A signs and others, the phonetic sounds point to certain short words in the Japanese language that can be visualized in the images thrown by these signs or symbols, when construed as pictograms fraught with meaning.

(3) After a careful examination of the Linear A symbols, the phonetics represented and their connotation in Japanese, we are led to discover a simple rule by which these letters were created.

That is to say, the ancient Minoans chose a group of short words with 1 or 2 syllables, such as hand or ear; then they decided to represent each word with a simple, consistent sign.

Eventually, these graphics became Linear A symbols that represent the first syllable in each of these words.

Sign for horse or U-MA ⇒ Linear A symbol for U

The inevitable conclusion is that the people who invented the Linear A script spoke the Japanese language, as illustrated below.

(Symbol) (Image)  (Corresponding Japanese Word)

A (*08) : Upheld barbell≈ ア (A-geru = Raise)
E (*38) : Easel for supporting a picture (E = Drawing, picture)
U (*10) : Horse’s head with long neck (U-ma = Horse)

AU(*85) : Fish on a hook, head pulled out of water (A-o = Blue, U-o = Fish)
DE(*45) : Ornate building (Den = Palace, De-kai= Big)
DU(*51) : Mammal with hump, looking left ≈ 丑   (U-shi = Cow or bull)

JU(*65) : Drooping flower ≈ ゆ (Yu-reru = To stir, sway or shake)
KA(*77) : Circle with cross inside (Ka-me = Turtle, Ka-gami = Mirror)
KI(*67) : Minoan rhyton or conical container ≈ き, キ (Ki = Container)

KO(*70) : Nail pointing downwards (Ko-ko = Right Here)
KU(*81) : Bird, wings spread ≈ く (Ka-rasu = Crow, Ka-mome = seagull)
MA(*80) : Head of opium goddess (Ma-mono = Demon, Ma-yaku = Narcotic)

ME(*13) : Young sprout ≈ め   (Me = Sprout)
MI(*73) : Ear, plant bearing fruit, snake (Mi-mi = Ear, Mi = Fruit, Mi = Snake, as Zodiac sign)
MU(*23) : Person notices creature on arm ≈ む (Mu-shi = Insect)

NA(*06) : Slug crawling, leaving tracks/ Tongue ≈ ナ (Na-mekuji = Earth slug / Na-meru = Lick)
NE(*24) : Mouse running through, 王 ≈ 子  (Ne-zumi = Mouse)
NI(*30) : T or Y, with marks on each shoulder (Ni = Luggage)

PO(*11) : Side view of breast (OP-PAI = Breast. P ⇒ B Be-ni = Pink. Cf. Minoan fashion)
PU(*29) : Outburst from mouth or rear end (Pu = Fart sound)
QA(*16) : Flower on stem (Ha-na = Flower)

QE(*78) : Face with surprised expression (Ke ? (interjection)
QI(*21) : Sheep’s head ≈ 未     (Hi-tsuji = Sheep)
RA(*76) :  Double Z’s or S’s (Aquarius sign) (Ra-sen = Lines repeating)

RI(*53) : Glance of right eye ≈ り (Ri = Reason)
RO(*02) : Cross, oar or punt ≈ ろ (Ro = Punt)
SA(*31) : Y or Y with curved tail (Sa-ru = Monkey)

SE(*09) : Fork/Inverted Scorpio sign (Se-ou = Back-pack, Se-sori ≈ Sa-sori = Scorpion)
SI(*41) : Vertical line beneath wicket (Shi-ta = Below, underneath)
SU(*58) : Spiral, labyrinth (Su = Nest, Shi-ro = Castle)

TA(*59) : SU, walls crumbling (Tao-reru = Fall)
TE(*04) : Palm leaf      (Te = Hand)
TI(*37) : Woman’s breast (Ti-ti = Breast, for nursing)

TU(*69) : Downward arrow (Tsu-chi = Earth, Tsu-ma = Wife)
WA(*54) : People upholding circle (Wa = Harmony)
ZA(*17) : Circle on altar   (Za = Seat)

ZE(*74) : Sound of waves, or centipede ≈ ぜ (Za-za = Sound of waves, Za-zamushi = Edible insect)
ZO(*20) : Upwards arrow (So-to = Outside)
ZU(*79) : Head (Zu = Head)


2. 12 Signs of the Oriental Zodiac

One of the more interesting side-observations is that, the signs of the Oriental or Chinese zodiac must be rooted in the Minoan civilization. This is because, in certain cases, the special “eto” kanji, that represent each of the auspicious animals for every 12 year cycle, seem to be rooted in Linear A symbols, i.e. the Linear A symbols created out of simple caricatures of those animals.

(1) The “eto” kanji differ from the kanji (Chinese characters) in everyday use in Japan, and the reasons for this divergence from ordinary kanji when they represent the 12 animals of the Oriental zodiac remain unclear. That is why the Oriental zodiac is considered to be very ancient, with roots other than just from the Chinese mainland.

In fact, one way of explaining the 12 “eto” kanji to Westerners may be to recall the 12 signs of the zodiac in Western astronomy, popular in culture but not directly related to the writing system.

(2) Below, 5 Linear A symbols have been identified as possible roots of some of these “eto” kanji. Their pronunciation somehow matches the first syllable in the corresponding animal’s name in Japanese.

(Kanji) (Pronounced) (Animal) (Linear A) (Design)

子    ; NE ; Mouse ; NE (*24) ; 王, Mouse on twig
丑 ; USHI ; Bull ; DU (*51) ; Humped bull
巳    ; MI ; Snake ; SU (*73) ; Snake
午    ; UMA ; Horse ; U (*10) ; Horse
未    ; HITSUJI ; Sheep ; QI (*21f) ; Sheep


(3) The kanji “子” and “王” may have common roots in the Linear A symbol (*24) or “王”. The reason goes as follows:

(a) The Linear A symbol “王” started as a caricature of a mouse (the middle horizontal line) clasping onto a twig, and so it came to take on the sound NE, or the first syllable in the word NEZUMI, that meant mouse in the ancient Minoan tongue, which was an archaic form of the Japanese language.

(b) At the same time, people noticed that “王” resembled the head of a double axe placed horizontally, and the double axe was symbolic of the Minoan king.

(c) Some Minoan migrants from ancient Crete reached China, where they passed on the Linear A writing system to the Chinese. The Chinese used Linear A as a point of reference when they developed their own writing system.

(d) The Chinese were looking for an ideogram to represent the idea of king, and the Minoans suggested the symbol “王,” because of its resemblance with a double headed axe, symbolic of sovereign power, and this was accepted by the Chinese.

(e) Since “王” came to signify “king,” the Chinese needed a different ideogram to represent “mouse,” and they decided on “子,” an instant contraption created out of “王” from Linear A.

(f) Because of this, the sign of the mouse that used to be represented by the Linear A symbol “王,”now representing “king” in kanji, was given a special place in the Oriental zodiac, to be at the head or beginning of each 12 year cycle, but written as “子” in China.

(g) So the ancient Minoans left their footprints not only in Japan and probably in Korea, but also in China.

The word “天王” meaning Japanese emperor and “天子” denoting the Chinese emperor, must have common roots and have the same meaning.


3. Other Resemblances

(1) No distinction between the sounds L and R.

(2) Consonant Z and Dakuten

(a) In Japanese, the syllables formed with Z + vowels, are represented by hiragana that show the heavy Z sound with a “dakuten” or 2 diagonal slashes, akin to “close quotation marks,” that appear on the top right hand side of each letter, as
ざ じ ず ぜ ぞ.

(b) In Linear A, there is a similar presentation in the symbols for Zu and Ze, as they both have 3 dots aligned vertically on the right hand side. Zo has an arrow with the tip pointing upward. So the 3 dots and the arrow tip may have all changed into “dakuten” as they were transformed into hiragana.

(3) Consonant W

(a) In modern Japanese, the syllabics formed with W + vowels have all but disappeared from hiragana and katakana through disuse, except for Wa and Wo, because people no longer distinguish the sounds Wi, Wu, We, from the vowels I, U, E.

(b) There is a similar situation in Linear A, as only the 2 symbols, Wa and Wi, are known to date. Their symbols show a marked similarity with the katakana symbols, ワ (Wa) and ヰ (Wi). This latter Wi symbol is an older form that has all but disappeared from written Japanese.


III. Text Interpretations in Japanese


1.Balanced Ledger Tablets

(1) Linear A is known for clay tablets that present balanced ledgers, i.e. lists of what are presumably nouns followed by the amount of commodities supplied, in primitive numerals. The nouns probably indicate the respective sources of origin, i.e. the names of suppliers or farms and factories.

Many of these tablets have been found in Haghia Triada, hence the HT preceding the numbers of these tablets. The word GORILA with page numbers refers to the online resources provided by the Ecole francaise d’Athenes, as compiled by Olivier and Godart.

(2) KU-RO and KI-RO

We will now turn our attention to the words KU-RO and KI-RO that often appear at the bottom of a list and which have been cited by Gia Kvashileva as key words in finding the language underlying Linear A.

(a) At the bottom of each list, the total amount is registered, as can be ascertained by simple addition, and this sum is very often preceded by the word KU-RO. For this reason, notwithstanding the difficulty of deciphering Linear A, it has been known from the times of Chadwick that KU-RO must mean, total.

KU-RO means “black” in Japanese and so the original meaning of KU-RO in the Minoan tongue may also have been “black.”

Black happens to be the color of the crow or blackbird (ΚΟΨΙΧΟΣin ancient Greek), known to have the habit of gathering things that look shiny, and the Minoans may have decided to use KU-RO to express the idea of a gathered sum.

At bottom of the list, underneath KU-RO and followed by a number, is found the term PO-TO-KU-RO (HT 131. GORILA I : 226-227) that may be read as MO-TO-KU-RO (もとくろ、元黒、元倉) in modern Japanese, and given the meaning of final source, grand warehouse, or grand total.

(b) KI-RO is another term that often appears at the bottom of a list and Gia Kvashilava interprets this to mean subtraction or lessening. He in turn draws from translations of KI-RO by other researchers including Younger, as “owed,” “deficit” or “balance.” This is very interesting because KI-RO means “yellow” in Japanese, and often signifies “caution.”

Nowadays, the Japanese would rather use the term AKA-JI, meaning “in the red,” for such ideas as represented by KI-RO in Linear A.

(HT 30) (GORILA I : 56-57)
KI-RO : きいろ、黄色 (yellow)

(c) The Minoans may have attached the additional meaning of “total” to the word KU-RO (meaning black) and “deficit” to the word KI-RO (meaning yellow) because, while they kept bees for their honey, they observed their abdominal parts, striped in black and yellow, and thought the black stripes gave the impression of “fullness” and the yellow stripes, “emptiness.”

(d)A word that sounds similar but with a different meaning is the verb KI-RU meaning “cut” or “cut off” in Japanese. The past participle type adjectives appearin Linear A as follows:

(HT 85) (GORILA I : 130-133))
KI-RE-TA : きれた、切れた (Cut in pieces, truncated)

(HT 114) (GORILA I : 186-187 )
KI-RI-TA : きりた、切った (Cut in pieces, truncated)

(3) Headings (not followed by a number)

(HT 13) (GORILA I : 26-27)
KA-U-DE-TA : KOU-DETA (こう出た) (This is the result)

(HT 28) (GORILA I : 52-53)
U-MI-NA-SI : UMI-NO-SI(うみのし、海野氏)

(Si corresponds to Mr., and UMI-NO, meaning Ocean-fields, is a Japanese surname. He may have been the landowner who collected a fixed percentage of the produce as rent from tenant farmers. UMI-NO-SI may have been purposely misspelled to read UMI-NA-SI, meaning, “unproductive,” as a hidden slur.)

(HT 87) (GORILA I : 136-137)
QI-TU-NE MA-KA-RI-TE (きつね 間借りて)

 (“Using the fox’s room/land.”The word “fox” may have used to identify the factory or land that gave rise to the produce.)

(4) Other Words (followed by numbers)

(HT 13) (GORILA I : 26-27)
RE-ZA ; TE-TU ; TE-KI ; KU-DO-NI ; DA-SI-? ; I-DU-NE-SI

(These words may be people’s names and SI may be equivalent to the Japanese SI (氏) that indicates clan or family name.

If so, the word TE-TU (meaning, iron) found in other Linear A texts may also be a name, and this idea has been applied in interpreting the writings on the Silver Pin from Mauro Spelio (TE-SU) and the Phaistos Disc (TE-TU), with the suggestion that in these latter texts, the name may possibly refer to the hero Theseus.)

(HT 122) (GORILA I : 209)

U-DE-ZA ; PA-I-TO ; MA-DI ; TE-KI ; JA-MI-DA-RE ; SI-DA-RE ; PA-DE ; KU-PA-NU ; PA-TA-NE ; RA-DU ; KU-PA-NU ; DA-RI-DA

Many researchers believe PA-I-TO must be Phaistos. In any case, JA-MI-DA-RE and SI-DA-RE sound very Japanese, and akin to the last DA-RI-DA, with DA-RE or DA-RI meaning “who?” in Japanese.

So the terms JA-MI-DA-RE, SI-DA-RE and DA-RI-DA may simply have been used as fill-ins for 3 different suppliers whose names were unknown. In English, this may sound like JA-MI-Who, Family-Who and Mr. Who.


2. The Libation Formulas


In Minoan times, they apparently performed libation rituals where they offered oil and other liquids, and on the cups, ladles and tables that were used, there are inscriptions of a stylized nature.

About 30 of these texts have been found, and they are made available from Linear A sources such as the GORILA website. They vary in length from a single word to about 10 words, and are very similar to one another, with different variations.

Reading them as Japanese is not difficult, and they seem to convey prayers or requiems to console those who have passed away.

They may not mention names of any individuals, for these prayers must have been for general purpose, i.e. to serve all those who wished to honor and appease the spirit of their loved ones.

Here, the unknown symbol *301, akin to an inverted R, looks like a bird perched on a branch when turned 45 degrees counter-clockwise, so we shall read it as TO as in Tori, bird in Japanese.

(TL Za 1)

A-TA-I-*301(TO ?)-WA-JA O-SU-QA-RE
あ(な)たいと  わ や    おつかれ
あなた     いとほし    お疲れ様
Dearest, poor darling, deepest condolences for your fatigue.

J/A-SA-SA-RA-ME   U-NA-KA-NA-SI 
癒やさせらめん あなかなしい
Let it be healed.   In deep sadness, wailing in sorrow,

I-PI-NA-MA      SI-RU-TE
いきなま(生き様)   知るて
We recognize and remember the way that you lived.


(KO Za 1)

A-TA-I-(TO ?)-WA-JA TU-RU-SA   DU-*314-RE
あなたいとわや    (う)つるさ   つ(か)れ
あなた いとほし    移るさ      その疲れ
Dearest, poor darling, You will be relieved of your fatigue.

I-DA-A  U-NA-KA-NA-SI  I-PI-NA-MA  SI-RU-TE
いざや   あな悲しい    生き様     知るて
Hark, In deep sadness, we recognize and remember the way that you lived.


(SY Za 2)

A-TA-I-(TO ?)-WA-JA JA-SU-MA-TU
あなたいとわや      やすまず
あなた いとほし     休まず
Dearest, poor darling,   Without taking any rest

(Olive) U-NA-KA-NA-SI (Oil) A-JA
あな悲しい あや
     In deep sadness,      How profound



3. Silver Pin from Mavro Spelio, in the Heraklion Museum


(1) SI [… ] SI-ZA-NE-[DWA?]     DA-DU-MI-NE         
し ざ ねとは  た つ み ね
知(ら)ねとは  立つ峰             
Since I didn’t know    the standing mountain peak    

QA-MI-KE-NA-RA A-WA-PI   TE-SU-DE-SE-KE-I
か み け な ら あわぴ    てすでせけい
神系   な ら    お詫びします。    テスと言います/停泊(中)でした。
was the sanctuary of a deity, I express my apologies. My name is Tesu / I am taking a rest.


(2) A-DA-RA TI-60-TE-QA-TI TA-SA-ZA
あ た ら し 60 て かち      た さざ
素晴らしい  60歳は 勝ち     だ ささ 
  Wonderful !  60 years is a victory. Anyway, I prompt you,

TA-TE-I-KE-ZA-RE
立て、行け、去れ
stand, go and take leave.


Difficult as it may be to make sense out of these lines, they may describe someone who is challenged by a guard in front of a sacred mountain (Mt. Ida?). He explains he is taking a rest and presents his apologies for being ignorant.

Subsequently, the guard finds out the visitor is 60 years of age, and congratulates him for longevity. Then the guard prompts him to hurry up and take leave.

In this transliteration, the 5th symbol in the second line, i.e. 6 dots capped with a horizontal line, is interpreted to mean, 60 years of age, instead of DI, often used in other versions. This leads to the above interpretation that the silver pin was made to commemorate a 60th anniversary, very much in line with the design of this pin in the form of a walking stick.

According to Japanese customs, the 60th birthday/anniversary is a special occasion that calls for celebration, as it takes 60 years for the planet Jupiter to revolve once around the sun, and this has symbolic meaning.


4. Gold Ring of Mavro Spelio


The following inscription is written in spiral fashion, to be read clockwise from the rim toward the center of the ring.

A-RE(TE)-NE-SI 60 TI-MA-MO-TO JA-TA-RI
アテネ市   60  島   本    屋台(店) 
City of Athens 60 Shimamoto’s Workshop
ありえねえし   60歳  島本        やった!
An impossible feat, 60th anniversary for Shimamoto. Yes, you did it!

I-PA(BA)-RI-MU-SI   JA-KU
威 張り 虫    焼く / 妬く
The Braggard’s   creation / object of envy.

(1) Some of the Linear A symbols have been loosely interpreted, to lend meaning for the bearer as a rare, chic object that is hard to come by; nowadays, perhaps from Tiffany’s, New York. In particular, the first word A-RE-NE-SI (that literally means, that anonymous, well-known city) has been interpreted as a corrupt form of A-TE-NE-SI, meaning, the City of Athens.

So this must be expensive jewelry, an imported work of art in gold, and whose creator is advertised on the inscription, with the address of the workshop.

(2) The next to the last word, read as I-BA-RI-MU-SI in modern Japanese, means “braggard” and would normally reveal the artist, in self-deprecating fashion. However, there may be a hidden second meaning and Braggard may actually point to someone well-known from the ruling class in Athens and, in that case, the inscription insinuates that even the King (?) himself had thought the ring was worthy of notice and highly desirable.

If this is correct, then there may be a good reason to change A-TE-NE-SI into A-RE-NE-SI, to avoid being overly specific and cause offense to those in power.

(3) In another interpretation, the depicted number 60, capped with an enigmatic horizontal line, may be taken to signify Shimamoto’s age, a formidable accomplishment in Bronze Age Crete. So the golden ring must be a gift to celebrate Shimamoto’s 60th birthday from his/her spouse, family, relative or close friend, who calls herself/himself Braggard.

In this case, both the silver pin and this gold ring from the ancient cemetery in Mavro Spelio can be considered to be special gifts to commemorate 60th anniversaries, as clarified in the inscriptions.


5. Bronze Bowl (Chania Museum, 1385. Mitsotakis Collection) (GORILA IV : 158~159 )


A-RA KO-KU KA-WA SA-TO MA-RO AU-TA
アラ  こく   かわ  さと    まろ    あおた 
アラシヤ国   川   里    マロ   青田(銅山)   
Cyprus, River County, Maro   Copper Mine,

DE       PO-NI-ZA
手(工房)    ポニザ(紅座)
Created by Poniza (Red Workshop)
Created by Copper Workshop


(1) Since KO-KU means “country” in Japanese, A-RA may be its name. According to ancient maps of the eastern Mediterranean region, Cyprus used to be called Alashiya in the Bronze Age, and so A-RA KO-KU may point to the island of Cyprus.

It should be noted here that Cyprus in the Bronze Age was an important producer of copper, and bronze an alloy of copper and other metals such as tin.

(2) In Japanese, KA-WA is river, and SA-TO means county or region, so we again have a geographic description such as River County, and the whole inscription starts to read like an address.

(3) Upon scrutiny of old maps of Cyprus, one finds on the southern coast, to the west of Larnaca, an area called Maroni upon the River Maroni, and where there seems to have been a settlement from ancient times. So this could be where MA-RO was located.

(4) AU-TA, interpreted as AO-TA, or blue paddy fields in Japanese, may point to a copper mine, as copper ore often takes on a distinct blue color. So MA-RO AU-TA may point to the copper mine at MA-RO.

(5)The next word DE must then be 手, meaning hand or worker in Japanese, and PO-NI-ZA, the name of the creator. PO-NI could be construed as BE-NI in modern Japanese, and this is a synonym for red (A-KA). Since A-KA GANE (red metal) is another name for copper, PO-NI must be copper. Then ZA must be workshop, as in GIN-ZA (silver workshop or silver guild) in Tokyo.

(6)Thus, the inscription could be interpreted as proudly presenting the creator of the bronze bowl exported to Crete, i.e. the Copper Workshop at the Maro Copper Mine in River County, Cyprus.


6. Gold Pin from Aghios Nikolaus Museum (GORILA IV. 146-147, 162)


A-MA-WA-SI  KA-NI-JA-MI  I-JA  QA-KI-SE-NU-TI  A-TA-DE
あまわし   かにやみ  いや  かきせぬち     あたで
天羽氏    蟹病み   「いや  掻きせぬち    あとで」
Mr. Amawa is morbidly obsessed with crab. “I see, for the parts I haven’t picked out yet, perhaps later.”

(1) At first glance, the use or purpose of this strange, elongated shaped pin may look difficult to understand, but as KA-NI at the beginning of the 2nd word means “crab” in Japanese, it was probably used for picking out crab meat from the legs, etc. to help people eat the maritime delicacy.

(2) Mr. Amawa was obviously a very rich man, whose fortunes allowed him to use this refined and decorative gold pin for such a mundane purpose.

(3) A-MA -WA-SI may also be interpreted as “eagle” in Japanese, and this may lend a double meaning to the inscription, that insinuates at Mr. Amawa’s habit of collecting taxes or rent from every household without fail.



7. Clay Tablet Fragments


MA-TE-RE In Europe, this may easily be taken to mean mother, given the word mater, or mother in Latin. However, if Linear A is indeed an older form of Japanese, then, presuming that these ancient records were normally stories of the spirits and deities, if not the highest rulers (not to speak of inventories of goods), then this word may be interpreted as AMATERASU in Japanese, that points to AMATERASU-Oo-MIKAMI (the deity that shines light on all), the sun goddess from Shintoism in Japan.

In another interpretation, this could possibly be Matala, the port that served the palace of Phaistos on Crete, with the understanding that there was no distinction between L and R in Linear A.

One could even argue that both these interpretations are correct because, if MA-TE-RE means, to shine on, then it could have been the name given to the port of Matala, where one could imagine a lighthouse that lit up the surrounding waters in ancient times.

Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aは日本語です)(その1)

Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aは日本語です)(その1)

アトランティス伝説に寄せて

  • 随筆・エッセイ
  • 中編
  • 時代・歴史
  • 全年齢対象
更新日
登録日 2019-10-20

Copyrighted
著作権法内での利用のみを許可します。

Copyrighted