Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aと日本語)

フランシス・ローレライ

地中海のクレタ島に栄えた古代ミノア文明(首都クノッソス)に関しては、固有の文字が2種類発見され、線文字A、Bと称されます。このうち線文字Bは解読され、古代ギリシャ語を表すものと判明していますが、A文字は、未解読。

しかしA文字とB文字とは、共通の字が多く、それらは読み方が共通する由。然るにA文字は、子音と母音を組み合わせた「音節」(syllable)を単位としており、ネット上の多くのサンプルを読んでみました。すると驚くほど日本語に似ている事が分かり「ひらがなの原型ではないか」との印象です。

米国のGretchen Leonhardtも「線文字Aは日本語の原型」との結論で、ネットに披露しています。そんな刺激を受けつつ、自分なりに纏めてみました。

特に資産台帳に見られる単語、KURO(足し算の和)とKIRO(負債の意味)に関しては、線文字Bの解読に貢献したChadwickが、「線文字A解読の鍵とも言え、どの言語にマッチするのか分かれば、基礎となる言語が判明するだろう」と述べています。

然るにこれらの単語は、日本語とも見られ、その由来は、ミツバチの腹部の(充満を思わせる)黒と(空っぽの印象の)黄色の縞模様かと思われます。

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 fact, in the opinion of this writer, Linear A may be the prototype of the syllabic "hiragana" writing system in Japanese.


1. Overview

(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, when they enjoyed prosperity on the basis of trade in the Mediterranean region with partners such as Egypt. However, they apparently came to a sudden decline, following which they were overrun by Greeks coming in from the mainland.

This downturn is often blamed on the Thera (Santorini) eruption that took place between 1642~1540 BCE, and which caused tsunamis to sweep over Crete. In fact, some theorize that the lost civilization of Atlantis, as 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; it has so far remained “Greek” to any of those trying their hand at decryption.

(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. Other related languages may be Mongol and Turkish, judging from word order, and they may be referred to as the Altaic languages.

(5) On first impression, the island of Crete may be unimaginably remote from the Japanese isles, but given present day theories on the origins of mankind in the African rift valley and the diaspora into Europe and Asia via the Middle East, it may be reasonable to consider that the origin and pathway of the different human languages must have followed a more or less similar course as they branched out, i.e. from the African rift valley, to Asia minor, the choke point where all races and tribes had to pass through, and farther onwards to the different continents.

(a) The ancient civilizations that developed around the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea are known to have traded with one another, and the Minoans were prolific traders who exchanged goods with diverse nations including ancient Egypt. They must also have had commercial relations with such peoples as the Hittites in Anatolia and the Assyrians and Babylonians in Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians in turn are known to have carried out trade with people of the Indus civilization.

If so, the Minoans must have known that the civilized world was already expansive enough to reach the Indus valley.

(b) Thus, if the Minoans had decided to flee from the cataclysmic earthquake on Thera (between 1642~1540 BCE) and the giant tsunamis that destroyed their livelihood on Crete, they may have set out on a long eastward journey of migration that eventually brought them to the Indus valley.

The use of sailboats should have permitted them to cross the seas, on a route that would necklace the southern fringes of the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

(c) The Japanese were referred to as Wa-jin in the ancient Chinese texts, describing them as the diminutive people. This may possibly be attributed to their roots in a long and difficult sea-bound voyage from the geographically distant island of Crete, that allowed only the smallest but hardiest among their race to make the long trip that finally led them to Japan.

To cross the seas, they may have used small boats that permitted only the smallest members to board, excluding the big ones because they would take up too much space and cause the vessels to become easily unstable during rough seas.

(d) Visitors to the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete are left with a strong impression of the many gigantic, earthenware urns or vases that are left exposed in the archaeological sites to adorn the landscape.

If migrants from ancient Crete did indeed reach Japan to settle down, they may have brought with them the practice of creating such large earthenware urns or vases, because such containers started to be used as sarcophagi in places of burial during the late Jo-mon era, and this became common practice in the Yayoi era.

(e) If it was indeed the ancient Minoans who introduced the use of large urns or vases as sarcophagi to Japan, the footsteps of their long voyage of migration to the Far East may be traced by following the lands where similar sarcophagi are found, dating from ancient times.

In this context, one may cite southwestern Korea, western China, the mid-region of Vietnam and Java.

(f) In the case of Korea, not only have such earthenware sarcophagi been found in archaeological sites, but if one compares the design of Linear A symbols with Korean Hangul letters, one may discover a taste and preference for similar diagrams, although the sounds represented may not be the same.

(A close call is the Linear A symbol トthat stands for “da,” and this sign represents the vowel “a” in Korean.)

Korean is also known to be one of the few languages with marked similarities in words and syntax with Japanese.

In conclusion, Japan and Korea may be recognized as nations that carry on the legacy of the ancient Minoans who migrated from distant Crete, and this, amazingly, may still be recognized in their languages.

(6) At the same time however, we should also be soberly aware that, despite attempts to establish the identity of the ancient Minoans according to their DNA grouping and similar DNA testing carried out separately for Japanese people from the Jo-mon age, there seems little evidence that the 2 peoples were closely related genetically.

Nevertheless, this may not necessarily disprove the idea because, a minority group of settlers may have an over-reaching influence on the indigenous language, way beyond their influence on DNA makeup, if they happen to come to power.

The Norman conquest instilled the English language with a heavy dose of French, and the colonial powers of Spain and Portugal brought their languages into the New World, where they are still spoken, not to mention the British colonial empire and its linguistic legacy.

Had refugees from Minoan Crete reached Japan to settle down, they may have left a lasting legacy in the Japanese language without a traceable change in DNA composition, if they were to end up in the upper echelons of ancient Japanese society, i.e. to be in a ruling and leading position.

(7) Most Japanese scholars believe kanji was the earliest form of writing in Japan, and that there was no earlier local writing system. If the ancient Minoans had indeed immigrated to Japan, why aren’t there any traces of their written language, Linear A, left in the Jo-mon or Ya-yoi age artifacts and archaeological sites in Japan?

Did these Minoans set out on their journey destined for Japan before the invention of Linear A? Were the successful migrants illiterate by chance, or were the traces of Linear A completely lost in Japan over the ages?

Some Japanese have made claims on the existence of Kami-yo Moji, or indigenous writing systems that were used prior to kanji, but most scholars seem skeptical on such ideas.

Here, we shall try to demonstrate that Linear A texts are records written in proto-Japanese, and the Linear A writing system may later have developed into hiragana and katakana, mainly for purposes of simplification.

(8) Linear A is estimated to have been in use in Crete from 1800~1450 BCE, after which it was replaced by Linear B to write ancient Greek, probably with the arrival of the Mycenaeans.

The Chinese started to invent kanji circa 1400BCE; the Japanese started using kanji from 200~400 CE. Hiragana is said to have been developed as simplified kanji during the Heian era, and circa 900 CE.

Therefore, if there were migrants fleeing from Crete after the volcanic eruption in Santorini, estimated at 1450 BCE, some of them may have arrived in China just before or during the time kanji was starting to be developed, i.e. 1400 BCE.

Furthermore, if some of the Minoans reached Japan, that may also have been circa 1400 BCE. In that case, that would be about 1800 years before the introduction of kanji and perhaps 2300 years before the invention of hiragana, according to established views.

Therefore, there need not be any logical connection between kanji and hiragana; the 2 systems may have evolved as separate entities.

(9) The mystery remains as to why Japanese scholars seem to ignore or neglect the fact that there indeed may be uncanny similarities between the language recorded in Linear A and Japanese, and one may conjecture that, since the Philistines were people who originally came from Crete according to the Bible, Japanese researchers may have their hesitations in trying to establish any links between the Japanese and the ancient Cretans, for fear of being involved in political feuds between the Arabs and the Israelis over Palestine, by associating the Philistines with modern day Palestinians.



II. Points in Common


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 nation with attachment to fish and other sea creatures, that achieved success and prospered by trading goods with neighboring and other countries.

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. Artistic Tendencies

(1) Urns bearing horizontal decorations marked with ropes, somewhat resembling Jo-mon pottery.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) Frescoes of females with elaborate facial make-up including white coloring and lipstick, and attire somehow resembling kimonos in length.


7. Aptitude for gymnastics; Minoans are known for the strange custom of bull-leaping whereas Japanese Olympic gymnasts are a source of national pride.

8. The double axe, emblem of the Minoan kingdom, may have survived in the guise of the Japanese gun-bai, which is a symbolic fan, shaped somewhat like a double axe. This used to be upheld by warlords presiding in military headquarters and, nowadays, by traditional referees in sumo wrestling.


9. Bull’s Horns

The bull had an important and symbolic meaning in Minoan civilization, as seen in the practice of bull-leaping, the gigantic horns displayed on the roof of Knossos, and also in the myth of the minotaur, which was a monster with a bull’s head and a man’s body.

(1) If one allows the imagination to create uninhibited panoramas of the distant past, it may be conjectured that the enormously exotic Tori-I in bright scarlet color, that stand at every entrance of Shinto Shrines in Japan (and leave visitors from abroad wondering where the huge pillars ever came from) may be an iconic representation of the Minoan symbol, bull’s horns.

In that case, the basic design might have been modified because of

(a) Japan’s architectural tradition of using wood, not stone, as basic building material or
(b) the addition of a stylized image of a boat or sea-going vessel at the top, or both.

Another interpretation may be that Tori-I are 2 double axes welded together as an entrance, and which also look like inverted bull’s horns.

(2) Something of similar shape may be found as typical decoration on the helmets of Japanese warlords. They are called “kuwagata,” typically in the shape of large antlers or horns, and with no other purpose than ostentatious display of status, strength and fierce spirit, as if to recall the famous monster in Greek mythology.


10. Mythology

(1) Crete

There was a monster called the Minotaur, with a human body and the head of a bull, kept in a labyrinth in Crete. It was the horrible offspring of the queen of King Minos, to which the city of Athens had to offer 7 boys and 7 girls as offerings at the end of every 7 year cycle. Theseus decides to put an end to this unspeakable custom, goes to Crete and enters the labyrinth with the help of Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, who gives him a ball of thread to unroll inside the labyrinth, to guide him swiftly on his way back. Theseus successfully kills the Minotaur inside the labyrinth, and leaves Crete with Ariadne.

(The idea of a monster with a bull’s head and man’s body may somehow recall the monster in Japanese folklore called the Oni, that is a gigantic monster with a man’ body, often red, with horns on its head, and living on an island. It is known for cruelty and wrongdoing, causing people to suffer, so Japanese folktales are full of episodes describing how they were conquered by different heroes.)


(2) Japan

(a)In Shimane Prefecture (that is located very close to Crete in terms of latitude) the hero Susanoo-no-Mikoto, brother of the goddess Amaterasu-Oh-Mikami, comes to meet Kushinada-Hime, for whom the parents are crying with grief. They had had 8 children, but the monster Yamata-no-Orochi, a gigantic snake with 8 heads, had come to devour one of them every year and, this way, they had lost 7 children already. This year, it would come for Kushinada-Hime, the last one. Susanoo-no-Mikoto decides to put an end to this.

To protect Kushinada-Hime, he turns her into a comb that he secures in his hair and prepares 8 urns filled with sake. The monster Yamata-no-Orochi arrives and, finding the sake, starts to drink from each of the urns with its 8 heads. After it is completely drunk, Susano-no-Mikoto beheads all the 8 heads, kills the monster, and marries Kushinada-Hime.

(b) In the city of Mino (also located on a similar latitude as Crete), there is a festival that re-enacts the folktale of how the hero Susano-no-Mikoto killed the monster snake that was victimizing the local farmers.

(c) If the myth of the Minotaur had reached Japan via India, considered to be the land of Buddhism’s origins, the story must have been changed to avoid killing the likeness of a bull, more revered in that part of the world, and so the monster was probably replaced with a gigantic snake or dragon with 8 heads.

(d) The hero’s name, Susanoo-no-Mikoto, is evocative of Theseus, and there may be a logical connection.

There is a deity in Japan called Gozu-Tenno (牛頭天王), who is the embodiment of Shintoism and Buddhism converged together. This deity is worshipped in places including Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, and understood to be in the form of a man with the head of a bull with horns, and considered to be Susano-no-Mikoto in another likeness.

The name of Yasaka Shrine, meaning 8 hills, makes one recall the myth of the snake Yamata-no-Orochi with 8 heads, and eradicated by Susanoo-no-Mikoto.

One may then infer that the roots of the deity Gozu-Tenno must be the Minotaur, and the hero Susanoo-no-Mikoto, Theseus.

These 2 characters from Greek myth must have been unified into the deity, Gozu-Tenno in Japan. This is because, otherwise, there may be no apparent reason to associate Susanoo-no-Mikoto with the likeness of a bull.

In fact, Susanoo-no-Mikoto is said to have arrived in Japan from a place in Korea called Soshi-mori, said to mean “bull’s head” in the Korean language.



III. Language Similarities 


Here, we shall take the liberty of using the tables in the paper On Decipherment of the Inscriptions of Linear A in the Common Kartvelian Language that was presented by Dr Gia Kvashilava at the 2nd Academic International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities (May, 2017, Cambridge University) as a phonetic guide to Linear A symbols.

It should be pointed out at the outset that each Linear A symbol represents a syllable (if not a vowel), and thus they are similar to Japanese hiragana.


1. Linear A and Hiragana / Katakana, with matching Sounds and Meanings

(1) We may then point out that 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 found in 065, with the sound “ju” that is pronounced as “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 probably created.

That is to say, the people from ancient Minoa chose a group of short words from their language with 1 or 2 syllables, such as hand or sky; then they decided to represent each word with a simple, consistent diagram.

Consequently, these simple diagrams became Linear A symbols that phonetically represent the first syllable in each of the words, as shown below.

(4) Examples

Syllabic ; Image ;  In Japanese

ro (002) ; Cross, oar or punt ≈ ろ ; Ro = Punt
te (004) ; Palm leaf ≈ て     ; Te = Hand
na (006) ; Slug crawling, with tracks behind/ Tongue ≈ ナ ; Na-mekuji = Earth slug / Na-meru = Lick
a (008) ; Upheld barbell≈ ア   ; A-geru = Raise
se (009) ; Vertical fork ≈ せ  ; Se-ou = Carry on back
me (013) ; Young sprout ≈ め   ; Me = Sprout
qa (016) ; Flower on stem ; Ha-na = Flower
za (017) ; Circle on altar   ; Za = Seat
zo (020) ; Upward arrow (Sagittarius) ; So-ra = Sky
qi (021F) ; Sheep’s head ≈ 未    ; Hi-tsuji = Sheep (Hi⇒ひ)
mu (023) ; Person notices creature on arm ≈ む ; Mu-shi = Insect
ne (024) ; Mouse running through, 王 ≈ 子  ; Ne-zumi = Mouse
pu (029,050) ; Outburst from rear end ; Pu = Fart sound
ni (030) ; T or Y, with marks on each shoulder ; Ni = Luggage
sa (031) ; Y or shoulder pulled down ≈ さ ; Sa-geru = To carry from shoulder
ti (037) ; Finger drawing blood ; Chi = Blood
si (041) ; Body laid to rest ; Shi = Death
de (045) ; Ornate building ; Den = Palace, De-kai= Big
du (051) ; Mammal with hump, looking left ≈ 丑  ; U-shi = Cow or bull
ri (053) ; Glance of right eye ≈ り ; Ri = Reason
wa (054) ; ≈わ、ワ
su (058) ; “e” spiral (labyrinth) ≈す ; Su = Nest, Shi-ro = Castle
ta (059) ; large bracket or “su” with crumbling walls ≈ た ; Tao-reru = Fall
ju (065) ; Drooping flower ≈ ゆ ; Yu-reru = To stir, sway, or shake
ki (067) ; Minoan rhyton, or fox’s head ≈ き, キ ; Ki = Container, Ki-tsune = Fox
tu (069) ; Downward arrow ; Tsu-chi = Earth, Tsu-ma = Wife
ko (070) ; Nail pointing downwards ; Ko-ko = Right Here
mi (073) ; Ear, or plant bearing fruit ≈ み ; Mi-mi = Ear, Mi = Fruit
ze (074) ; Sound of waves, or centipede ≈ ぜ ; Za-za = Sound of waves, Za-zamushi = Edible insect
ra (076) ; Double Z’s or S’s (Aquarius) ≈ ら, ラ  ; Ra-sen = Lines repeating, Ru(流)= Flow of water
ka (077) ; Cross inside circle ≈ か, カ ; Ka-gami = Mirror, Ka-ne = Metal
zu (079) ; Head ; Zu = Head
ma (080) ; Head of opium goddess ; Ma-yaku = Narcotic
ku (081) ; Bird, wings spread ≈ く ; Ka-mome = seagull


2. 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.


3.Balanced Ledger Tablet

KA-U-DE-TA  (買う出た、こう出た) (This is the result)
U-MI-NA-SI UMI-NASI(うみなし、生みなしorおめなし、お目なし)
(No offspring, no profit)

(Debit, subtraction)
KI-RO きいろ、黄色 (yellow) orきろう、切ろう (Let’s cut away)
or KA-RI(かり、借り) (debit, borrowed)
KI-RI-SI きりし、切りし (Cut away, past tense)
KI-RI-TA きりた、切った (Cut away, past tense)

(Commodities)
MA-RU (wool) MA-RU(まる、丸) (Ball, round sphere)

(Summation, Total)
KU-RO KU-RO(くろ、黒) (Black)
or KU-RA(くら、蔵) (Warehouse)

(Grand Total)
PO-TO-KU-RO MO-TO-KU-RO(もとくろ、元黒) (Black source) or
MO-TO-KU-RA(もとくら、元蔵)(Grand warehouse)

The words KU-RO (for total) and KI-RO (for deficit) each correspond to the words for “black” and “yellow” in Japanese and, similarly, the original meaning of KU-RO must also have been “black” and for KI-RO, “yellow,” in the ancient Minoan language using Linear A script.

How the 2 words came to denote “total” and “deficit” at the same time may be explained as follows:

In ancient times, when the language underlying Linear A was being developed, the scribes decided to lend extra meaning to the color words KU-RO and KI-RO, by conjuring up the image of a honeybee or any other bee, with focus on its abdomen, striped in black and yellow. The black stripes gave the impression of a filled container, and they decided KU-RO (black) should also mean “full” or “total”; the yellow stripes gave the impression of an empty container, so KI-RO (yellow) came to denote “deficit”. After all, for the ancient Minoans, honey must have been a prized commodity and they were familiar with the way it was collected by honeybees.


4. Place Names


(1) KU-NI-SU KU-NI-SU(くにす、国巣) (The country’s nest ) =KNOSSOS(クノッソス)?

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.

(2) 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.


5. The Libation Formula


T/A-TA-I   TO-TOI(とうとい、尊い) (Revered, venerated, holy)
J/A-SA-SA-RA-ME  あささらめ、さらさら目(涙目、落涙の様子)(Eyes, tearful or brimming with tears)?
or SA-YO-NA-RA(さようなら)
or J/A-SA-SAMA(ヤーサ様) (Oh holy Yah-Sa)

U-NA-RU-KA-NA-SI U-NA-RU-KA-NA-SI-I(うなるかなしい、唸る悲しい) (Wailing with sorrow)
or U-NA-RUーHANASI(うなるはなし、大いなる話) (The great story)

I-PI-NA-MI-NA   MI-PHI-NA-MI-NA(みいなみな、皆々)(Everyone)
I-NA-JA-PA-QA  (いなやはか、いずこやはか、何処や墓)(Whereabouts should be the tomb?)
or MI-NA-JA-PHA-QA(みなやはか、皆良いか?) (OK, everyone?)

(Cadence in 5s and 7s, as in haiku. 俳句の様に5-7調か?)


6. Silver Pin from Mauro Spelio, in the Heraklion Museum

(1) SI [… ] SI-ZA-NE-(Unknown) ・DA-DU-MI-NE(立つ峰, the standing mountain peak) ・QA-MI(神, god)-(unknown)-NA-RA (なら, then)(with the will of the gods, symbol of the gods)・A-WA-PI(アワビ, abalone) ・TE-SU-DE-SE-KE-I・

(2) A-DA-RA (あんたら, you people)・TI-DI-TE(信じて, believing)-QA-TI (かち、徒歩, walking)・TA-SA-ZA (通そうぞ, will allow you to pass)・TA-TE-I-KE-ZA-RE (立て、行け、去れ, stand, go and leave)・[

Difficult as it may be to make sense out of the inscribed lines, certain words are recognizable and, put together, they may describe some people on their way to climb a sacred mountain. After being stopped at a check-point, they are being allowed to pass and prompted to hurry up.


7. Phaistos Disc

Discovered in 1908 on Phaistos palace grounds, it is in fired clay and the writing has been stamped on with Cretan hieroglyphs, said to predate Linear A by about a century.

(1)The following has been taken down as a dictation from a live reading of the Phaistos disc presented in public by Gareth Owens.

(Side A)

I-QUE-PA-JE-RJO  E-TU-QUE  AU-DI-TI  AU-AU-PI
I-QUE-NWA-TU-SA  WA-DI-TI-QUE WA-?-NO I-QUE-KE-RJU-NE.

KU-RJA-TE I-QUE-?-DA-TE JE-?-TU-TI I-QUE-RA-NA-KA.
RE-TWE I-WA-DWA- ZO-NA-RJU YO-YE I-QUE-KU-RJA.

I-QUE-WA-WA-TE-RAI-SWI SA-NA I-QUE-KU-RJA.
I-WA-DWA- SO-NA-RJU YO-YE I-QUE-KU-RJA.

I-QUE- WA-TA-RA-RJU-WA KE-RJU-?-DA KU-RJA-QUE
I-QUE-PA-YE NA-DA-TE

ZO-U-KA I-QUE-WA-WA-TE-RAI-SWI PA-YE ZO-U-KA.

(Side B)

I-QUE-?-TU-TI WA-DI-TI-TE I-RAI- NA-PU.
?-DWA-WA SA-E-NE-QUE ZE-NA-RJU-TJA.

PA-YE-RE-SA SO-TI-PA-JE-RJU.
?-RAI- ? -DWA TI-E-TU-TE I-RJA-NI-TU.

WA-DWA-KA-YE AU-E-E-NE-TE ZE-TA-RJU AU-SA-YE.
KE-TE-RA-RE-SA I-PE-WA-YE AU-NI-TI-NO AU-NO-PA

AU-DI-TI ?-AU-NI-TI-NO WA-PI-NA-DWA TI-RJU-TE
TI-DI-TI TI-NA-RJU-E ?-AU-NI-TI-NO PE-QUI-RE-RJU-TI

I-QUE-TE-NA-TI AU-PI-NA-DWA DI-TI.


(2) Common Words

I-QUE―KU-RJA 

(a) いけくりゃ、行け来りゃ(船を漕ぐ際の掛け声?)、池来りゃ。 [Heave and ho ! (as in a row-boat) or , now coming to the pond]

(b) いくえくりや、いく重来りゃ (Passing through how many folds)

Here, I-QUE may be construed as I-KU-E (いくえ、いく重) and refer to the circular shape and tree-trunk like design of the Phaistos disc, on which words have been inscribed conically, as if on a snail’s shell, with the lines revolving around one another, in whirlwind fashion.

(c) (くえくりや、食え栗や) (Eat your chestnuts)

I-QUE refers to the act of eating(くえ、食え), followed by KU-RI meaning chestnut(s) in Japanese, known to have been part of the staple diet in Japan during the Jo-mon age.

AU-NI-TI-NO あうにちの(会う日の) (On the day of the meeting)、or 往日の(過去の) (On a day in the past)

(3) Unknown Pictograms

Question marks have been inserted in places where the pronunciation of the pictogram has not been figured out.

One may notice that, since the question marks on Side B refer to an identical pictogram, one can try to fill the place in, using different sounds at random, i.e. some sound involving the consonant M, because, otherwise, it fails to appear within the text.

For example, if MI is used to substitute for the question marks on side B,

I-QUE-?-TU-TI becomes I-QUE-MI-TU-TI (Go honorable land)
?-AU-NI-TI-NO becomes MI-AU-NI-TI-NO (On a day of convenience)


(4) Circle Game

The shape and design of the Phaistos disc, including the way the words are laid out in circles, closely resembles the Futo-mani, a circular disc inscribed with “Hotsuma” letters that, according to certain researchers, express songs from the ancient Jo-mon age in Japan. (Most researchers are skeptical, however, because they do not appear in any surviving texts from before the Edo period and, most of all, on any of the excavated bronze artifacts dating from the Jo-mon age.)

(a) Hotsuma letters were supposedly used in Japan from the Jo-mon age, prior to the arrival of kanji from China, which must have eventually replaced them. Kanji were initially employed as manyo-gana, for the simple, phonetic purpose of expressing sounds, rather than the ideas as represented in the Chinese pictograms.

(b) If so, there may be a sense of playfulness and entertainment involved as in the Futo-mani, whereby the words can be read in 2 directions, from left to right or from right to left, and make sense in the 2 different ways. For example, read in the opposite direction,

---AU-NI-TI-NO becomes NO-TI-NI-AU(のちにあう、後に会う) (To be met with later on)

---AU-PI-NA-DWA (near end of Side B) could be AU-PI-NA-TO (大きな戸) (big door), and this in reverse becomes TO-NA-PI-AU,
or perhaps TO-NA-RI-AU(隣り合う) (Placed side by side)

(c) On the other hand, the shape of the Phaistos disc and the Futo-mani may have both been inspired by the shell of tortoises, in which case there need not have been any interlinkages.


(5) Fortune-telling

(a) The Phaistos disc may have been used for telling fortunes or for playing a role-playing game. This was probably done by casting some small projectile or object at the disc, and on the exact spot where it landed on the target, there would be a particular phrase that revealed good or bad fortune, or gave instructions as to what the player had to perform. Liquids such as olive oil or wine may also have been used. Furthermore, there is no reason to rule out the possibility of a game of dice, since the Minoans had already invented numerals.

(b) In this case, the phrases inscribed in each of the slots or brackets on the Phaistos disc, arranged in whirlwind fashion, must have expressed different ideas such as, good, bad, serious, etc. or given people simple instructions to act upon, and need not have any coherent meaning when read in sequence as in a sentence. This may be the reason why the words tend to be so repetitive, and the meaning of the text so difficult to understand as a whole.

(c) For example, near the beginning of side A:

--- AU-DI-TI could be construed as AU-TI-TI (あうちち、会う父、父に会う) (Meet with father) and
---AU-AU-PI, as AU-AU-HI (あうおうひ、会う王妃、王妃に会う)(Meet with the Queen)

If so, the disc may have been a board for a dice game, possibly used for teaching Linear A to royal children on palace grounds.

(d) This may mean that the correct order in which the letters should be read, may differ from bracket to bracket with little consistency, because the players were meant to figure out the exact ideas being conveyed in Linear A in each bracket.

Moreover, if the children sat around the disc, the ordering of the letters may have appeared in opposing directions, depending on where they sat, although the letters may have looked inverted for some of them.


(6) Sailors’ Song

(a) One may notice that the recurring word on Side A is I-QUE-KU-RYA, and on Side B, AU-NI-TI-NO, so these may possibly represent opposite ideas.

(b) If the pictogram representing the sound I is made to represent the sound SI instead, the recurring word on Side A becomes SI-QUE-KU-RYA (しけ来りゃ), which means “with rough seas (SI-QUE) coming (KU-RYA)” in Japanese.

(c) In this case, AU-NI-TI-NO (あうにちの、大日の) on Side B may mean fair weather, so that Side A discusses the ordeal of contending with rough seas, and Side B becomes an expression of relief at finding fair weather.


(7) Random Sound Replacements

To make the text sound closer to and more understandable as Japanese, the following replacements are made:

DWA ⇒ TO ; QUE ⇒ E ; P ⇒ K .

(Side A)

I-E-KA-JE-RJO  E-TU-E    AU-DI-TI  AU-AU-KI
家 帰ろう   枝 杖   おお 父  おお 大きい

I-E-NWA-TU-SA  WA-DI-TI-E WA-?-NO I-E-KE-RJU-NE.
家 なつ(かし) お 父 上    家 帰るね                                 

KU-RJA-TE I-E-?-DA-TE JE-?-TU-TI I-E-RA-NA-KA
くりゃて  家 だって    土   家(の)なか

RE-TWE [ I-WA-TO- ZO-NA-RJU YO-YE I-E-KU-RJA ]
      岩  と ぞ 成りう おおい  家くりゃ

I-E-WA-WA-TE-RAI-SWI   SA-NA I-E-KU-RJA
家は あたらしい(古語:素晴らしい)  そんな  家くりや

[ I-WA-TO- SO-NA-RJU YO-YE I-E-KU-RJA ]
岩とぞ   成りう   おおい  家 くりゃ

I-E- WA-TA-RA-RJU-WA KE-RJU-?-DA KU-RJA-E
家は  照れるわ       だ  こらえ

I-E-KA-YE     NA-DA-TE
家 変え(替え)   野だて

ZO-U-KA I-E-WA-WA-TE-RAI-SWI KA-YE ZO-U-KA.
そうか  家は あたらしい   はい  そうか

(Side B)

I-E-?-TU-TI WA-DI-TI-TE I-RAI- NA-KU.
家  土   お 父 上  いらいなく

?-TO-WA SA-E-NE-E ZE-NA-RJU-TJA.
 とは  さえねえ  しなるっちゃ

KA-YE-RE-SA SO-TI-KA-JE-RJU.
返れさ     そち 帰る

?-RAI- ? -TO TI-E-TU-TE I-RJA-NI-TU.
    と   知恵つて  

WA-TO-KA-YE  AU-E-E-NE-TE ZE-TA-RJU AU-SA-YE.
あとかい   大いに ねて  したる   おお冴え

KE-TE-RA-RE-SA I-KE-WA-YE AU-NI-TI-NO AU-NO-KA
語られさ    行け 早う  逢う日の  あるのか

AU-DI-TI ?-AU-NI-TI-NO    WA-KI-NA-TO TI-RJU-TE
おお 父  逢う日の(往日の) 脇 の 戸  知るて

TI-DI-TI TI-NA-RJU-E   ?-AU-NI-TI-NO   KE-QUI-RE-RJU-TI
父    しなる  枝  逢う日(ある日)の 帰れる    地

I-E-TE-NA-TI  AU-KI-NA-TO DI-TI.
癒えてなし   大きな戸   父

Thus, although still not understandable except for certain intermittent passages, the writing seems to follow a conversation between a father and son.

(a) On side A, the son, who lives away, has just come home after a long absence, and is expressing his joy and exuberance over returning home, where everything looks wonderful and magnificent. On side B, it is time for the son to take leave, and he is divulging his melancholy feelings for his father, who is getting very old.

(b) Given the fact that the Phaistos Disc was found on palace grounds, the father may have been king and master of the palace, and the son, heir to the throne.

(c) If one lets fire the imagination, the son may be Theseus and the father, Aegeus, to draw inspiration from the Greek myth on the meeting of Theseus with Aegeus, king of Athens, and the eventual departure for Crete.

Aegeus was without an heir and upon request, received a strange oracle at Delphi. He sets out for Troezen to ask King Pittheus for an interpretation. Pittheus offers his daughter to keep him company, and she becomes pregnant, although in fact the father was the deity Poseidon.

Before taking leave, Aegeus removes his sandals and sword, and places them under a boulder for safekeeping; he leaves with the words that, if a son should be born to mature, he should remove the boulder and come to Athens with these belongings.

Theseus, upon turning 16, removes the boulder without difficulty and, with his father’s belongings, sets out for Athens to see his father Aegeus; this may be the story behind side A.

Eventually, Theseus departs from Athens to Crete on his mission to kill the Minotaur, but will never see his father again ; this may be behind side B.

Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aと日本語)

Ancient Minoans and the Japanese (線文字Aと日本語)

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

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