Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beja and Meroitic

There is increasing evidence that the Beja may provide a key to fully understanding the Meroitic language.

Some years ago I deciphered the Kharamadoye inscription. Today Beja repeat this message from their ancestors with pride as an indication to the long history of the Beja people. At

They note:

…… Hrmdoye ne qor ene ariteñ lne mdes ne mni-t kene
mk lebne ye re qe-ne q yi-t hl-ne y es bo he-ne q r lebne tro.
S-ne ariteñ net er ek li s-ne d-b li lh ne q r kene qor ene mnpte.

This was heard already before 1670 years at a moment the Blemmyan King Kharamadoye drove his compatriots to a point of national statehood at the northern area of the then ailing Meroitic kingdom in what is today's Sudanese North and Egyptian South. Using Meroitic scripture, the scribes of Kharamadoye immortalized down to our times an inscription on walls of the Mandulis temple at Talmis (modern Kalabsha). The beginning of the inscription reads in a plausible English translation as follows:

Kharamadoye the monarch and chief of the living Ariteñ, the great son and patron of Amani, you (who) revitalizes (man). The lord's voyage of discovery indeed gives the creation of Good. Act (now Amani) he travels to support good. Make a good welfare swell (for) the offering of the Chief, (he) desires indeed the restoration of eminence. The patron of good Ariteñ bows in reverence (before Amani) to evoke exalted nourishment (for) the patrons to leave a grand and exalted legacy to behold good. Oh Amani make indeed (a) revitalization (of) the monarch (and) commander of Great Napata…..”

When I first saw this claim that the Beja, represented the Blemmyan people of the Meroitic and Egyptian inscriptions I thought it might be hollow indeed. But after comparing Meroitic to Beja, the claim has considerable merit.

To test the hypothesis that the Beja language was related to meroitic, I compared Meroitic and Beja. The Beja material comes from Klaus and Charlotte Wedekind and Abuzeinab Musa, Beja Pedagogical Grammar ( ) ,

What I found from this cursory examination was most interesting. I will need to gather more vocabulary items from Beja, but I did find a number of matches:

Meroitic ……English……….. Beja
i ‘arrive at this point’ ………… bi ‘went’
t ‘he, she’ ……………………..ta ‘she’
ya ‘go’………………………….yak ‘start’
rit ‘look’……………………….rhitaa ‘you saw’
an(a) plural suffix……………..aan ‘these’
d(d) ‘say’………………………di(y) ‘say’
lb ‘energy, dynamic…………liwa ‘burn’
ken ‘to realize’……………….kana ‘to know’
bk ‘ripen’……………………..bishakwa ‘to be ripe’

The vocabulary items are interesting, but since they come from a grammar book there was not enough to provide an extensive comparison.

Meroitic and Beja share many grammatical features. For example, the pronouns are usually suffixed to verbs e.g., Beja ti bi ‘she went’, Meroitic t-i ‘he goes’. In Beja, adi is used to indicate complete action Taman adi ‘I ate it completely’, Meroitic –a, serves the same purpose akin ne a ‘he has become completely learned’. In both languages the adverb is placed behind the noun Beja takii-da ‘small man’, Meroitic pt ‘praise’: pt es ‘manifest praise’. In Beja the future tense is form by ndi, Tami a ndi “I will eat’, Meroitic –n, s-ne yo-n Aman ‘The patron will bow in reverence to Aman’.

Kalabsha Temple

This makes it clear to me that Beja may be related to Meroitic and that the Beja represent the Blemmy nation of Old.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Ancient Minoans: Keftiu were Mande Speakers

Every since Arthur Evans discovered the Hieroglyphic and Linear A writing of Crete there has been a search for the authors of this writing.

Some Grecian traditions indicate that Libyans (called Garamante) formerly lived on Crete. This suggest that some of the Eteocretans may have spoken one of the ancient languages of Libya.

A major group from Libya that settled Crete were the Garamante. Robert Graves in (Vol.1, pp.33-35) maintains that the Garamante who originally lived in the Fezzan fused with the inhabitants of the Upper Niger region of West Africa.

This theory is interesting because the chariot routes from the Fezzan terminated at the Niger river. In addition, the Cretan term for king "Minos", agrees with the MandeManding word for ruler "Mansa". Both these terms share consonantal agreement : M N S.

The name Garamante, illustrates affinity to Mande morphology and grammar. The Mande language is a member of the Niger-Congo group of languages. The name for the Manding tribe called "Mande", means Ma 'mother, and nde 'children', can be interpreted as "Children of Ma", or "Mothers children " (descent among this group is matrilineal) . The word Garamante,can be broken down into Malinke-Bambara into the following monosyllabic words Ga 'hearth', arid, hot'; Mante/Mande , the name of the Mande speaking tribes. This means that the term: Garamante, can be interpreted as "Mande of the Arid lands" or "Arid lands of the children of Ma". This last term is quite interesting because by the time the Greeks and Romans learned about the Garamante, the Fezzan was becoming increasingly arid.


The Egyptians called the Cretans Keftiu. There is agreement between the Keftiu names recorded by Egyptian scribes (T.E. Peet, "The Egyptian writing board BM5647 bearing Keftiu names". In , (ed.) by S Casson (Oxford, 1927, 90-99)), and Manding names.

The root kef-, in Keftiu, probably is Ke'be, the name of a Manding clan , plus the locative suffix {i-} used to give the affirmative sense, plus the plural suffix for names {u-}, and the {-te} suffixial element used to denote place names, nationalities and to form words.

On the Egyptian writing board there are eight Keftiu names. These names agree with Manding names:

Keftiu....... Manding

sh h.r........ Sye

Nsy ..........Nsye

'ksh .........Nkyi

Pnrt Pe,..... Beni (name for twins)

'dm ..........Demba

Rs............. Rsa

This analogy between Keftiu and Manding names is startling.

In conclusion, the evidence of similarity between Keftiu names and names from the Manding languages appear to support Graves view that the Eteocretans, who early settled Crete may have spoken a language similar to the Mande people who live near the Niger. Conseqently, there is every possibility that the Linear A script used by the Keftiu, which is analogous to the Libyco Berber writing used by the Proto-Mande .This is further support to Cambell-Dunn' s hypothesis that the Minoans spoke a Niger-Congo language.