Who were the Minoans?
Who were the Minoans?
An African Answer
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This book applies archaeology, anthropology, comparative linguistics and genetics to the problem of Minoan origins. The evidence of all these disciplines leads to the same conclusion. The Minoans of ancient Crete were red men, like the Fulani, and lived in elaborate palaces with rain-courts, or impluvia, like the Yoruba. A genetic link between the Greeks on the one hand, and the Fulani and Mossi, has now been established. The Fulani and Yoruba share similar blood groups. The Minoans worshipped the African fertility goddess Minona, from whom they take their name.
The Linear A documents from prehistoric Crete are written in an African sign system, and can be read as a Niger-Congo language of the Kwa group. The book includes translations of selected clay tablets and other documents from Haghia Triada, Knossos and other Minoan sites.

Considerable evidence links Minoan Crete and its colony on Thera with the African Continent.  Monkeys and cats, painted on walls at Knossos, for example, are African.  African antelopes and date palms appear on the wallpaintings from Thera, not to mention what Marinatos (1969) saw as a negro head. The famous Cretan bullsports have African antecedents.  African ostrich eggs, too, have been found on Crete, not to mention ivory objects made from elephants’ tusks, precious vessels of bronze, gold and silver. All these products come from Africa.

Metalworking was known in Africa from a very early date. Bronze mirrors, such as those found on Crete, were used in Nubia and Egypt. Filigree and granulation, subtle methods of miniature goldwork, were known in Nigeria, as was metal inlay, called lamu in east Africa.

The unusual double pipes, a musical instrument, were played in Egypt, but also by the Dinka of the Southern Sudan. Kamares pottery resembles that of the Kerma, who lived near Meroe. The palanquin and parasol used on Crete are also known to be African.

Curiously the Minoan men on the wall paintings of Crete and Thera are red, but the women are white. The white flesh of these women recalls the African practice of whiting the skin of women at initiation ceremonies before marriage. The men wear the codpiece, a distinctively African garment. Men also wear feathered headdresses, like the Nuba of East Africa.

The labyrinthine palaces of Minoan Crete can be explained in terms of African architecture. They have features in common with Yoruba palace buildings, organisation around a courtyard (used as a marketplace), and smaller “rain courts” or impluvia, for example. The materials, rubble and mud brick, are also African. Their affinities are not with Indo- European or near Eastern architecture, which favours a symmetrical plan, and rectangular containing wall.

Finally the enigmatic Minoan Linear scripts point to Africa. Their signs recall the Bambara and Dogon signs in form and number, and have connections with the Meroitic cursive and with the Vai syllabic script of West Africa. In fact most of the Linear signs have formal and semantic equivalents in Egyptian hieroglyphics. But they are not intended to write ancient Egyptian. The actual language recorded by the signs has nothing in common with Egyptian.

In fact the signs, with their phonetics (open monosyllables), can be explained as pictures of things, together with their names, in a Western Niger-Congo language of the Kwa group.

Graham Campbell-Dunn was awarded his MA in Classics with First Class Honours by the University of New Zealand and went to Cambridge on a Postgraduate Scholarship. There he studied Classical Philology under the comparativists WS Allen and RG Coleman, and was privileged to be taught by John Chadwick who worked on Linear B (Mycenaean Greek). His training also included General Linguistics with John Lyons and Classical Archaeology with RM Cook and Hugh Plommer, the architectural historian.


Returning to New Zealand he taught Classics and Ancient Art at university level, including the art of the Minoans, and completed a PhD on Herodotus, the early Greek historian and anthropologist. For the last ten years he has devoted his retirement to researching Niger-Congo linguistics and the art and anthropology of the Niger-Congo speaking peoples. He has a special interest in Comparative Linguistics and its application to African and Mediterranean substrate languages.


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