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Thread: In Support of My Thesis That Europeans, Not Phoenicians, Invented the Alphabet

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    In Support of My Thesis That Europeans, Not Phoenicians, Invented the Alphabet

    Here's an article:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/...,6337523.story

    There's way more evidence than this - and it all makes it to the press in just this way (one time, and not linked to any other stories).

    But how anyone finds it tenable that the Phoenicians were both based in Lebanon and invented the alphabet, isn't following along.

    The Phoenicians showed up in the Eastern Mediterranean and already had amazing boats. They then built an amazing town and market within weeks after arriving (according to "history" of this settlement - which now some people are saying, okay it could be "legend.")

    They had to have come from a big settlement somewhere else to make boats like that. And they didn't invent the alphabet after arriving near "The Holy Land." This is all part of longterm mythology to make everyone believe that miraculous events occur in just one region of the world (a region which, quite frankly, is rarely on the cutting edge of new technologies).

    This is the only place I could type that - whew, I feel much better. I believe the Phoenicians were actually Indo-Europeans, myself (and may be very consistent with the boating populations in the Atlantic/North Sea). I do not believe that Egypt was the first to have large ocean going boats (nor does Egypt claim to). But somehow, the Phoenicians just pop out of the desert with boats? Does this make sense? If they were a Semitic group, as claimed, where did they make their boats?

    Since we know that people in the North Sea and in the Atlantic had boats very early (by the end of the Ice Age - thousands of years before the Phoenicians)...well...anyway.

    And I know Phoenicians are often represented as having black hair (so do some Kelts), but there are virtually none of those representations in existence and they were made after the Phoenicians arrived (with a name that is derived from their facility with language/sound - and is GREEK in origin) - they may represent an attempt (as many people do) to fit in with the locals.

    They certainly had a big city at Carthage (which may be related to Troy). The Phoenicians could be proto-Trojans, for all I know - but the evidence that they were Semitic is, in my view, virtually zero.

    Again, thanks for listening to the rant, I can't say this anywhere else and since it can't be published, I just have to put it in words - and to an audience that won't stone me.

    If I'm gone round the bend on this, please let me know.
    Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.
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    Not sure if I understand.

    Are you arguing that our alphabet can't be traced back to the Phoenicians, or that the Phoenicians didn't speak a Canaanite language?
    The answer to 1984 is 1776.

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    It may not directly be related to the your thesis, which is quite interesting, but I was wondering if you have ever read about Old Europe/Vinca Culture? It is quite fascinating and it may be of some interest to you--

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_European_script
    http://www.omniglot.com/writing/vinca.htm
    http://www.omnigraphies.com/modules/...r=1&itemid=223
    http://www.philipcoppens.com/oldeurope.html

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    Thank you, Plantagenet.

    And to try and answer the questions:

    First, only tiny amounts of "Phoenician" exist in the Eastern Mediterranean - as in about 4 lines worth. In Carthage, where there seem to have been way more Phoenicians, the language is much less discernibly Afro-Asiatic, which has been explained away as "borrowing" from Latin.

    Yet, Carthage was already a booming town when Rome was rising, although Rome certainly dominated it. But, where did the Carthaginians come from - just before the rise of Rome?

    Which is the true "Phoenician" language - the tiny fragments of market receipts in the Eastern Med., or Carthage? I think it was Carthage.

    Who were they before that? They didn't just show up in North Africa with complex boats and city-making abilities. Whoever is responsible for civilizing the Mediterranean (and parts of Northern Europe) at about the same time could be the same boating people.

    Linguistically AND genetically, we have virtually no data on the Phoenicians - yet because they had a base in the Eastern Mediterranean, they are almost always considered Afro-Asiatic.

    Yet, their alphabet looks very much like the system in use in Europe way before the Phoenicians pieced theirs together ( I don't think anyone in anthropology seriously believes they totally invented it ).

    So I guess I'm considering both: they didn't speak a Canaanite/Semitic/Afro-Asiatic language (as often claimed, but the claim dates back before modern linguistics and genetics) and they didn't invent any alphabet. How could it have the markings already so well documented by Gimbutas for "Old Europe"? (And which are present where ever sea-going people turn up - before and after the Phoenicians appear?) There obviously Runic elements (and it's always perceived as going from Phoenician to Europe - but no one explains how the Phoenicians showed up and built a seaport - no one just builds a bunch of boats all at once and then goes on to build a seaport). They had to have prior experience.

    Keltic Iberia has been proposed (there are Phoenician sites there, boat building was done), Carthage too - but since no one knows, why don't we throw out the current hypothesis and just say we don't know? Nothing wrong with that.
    Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.
    ~~Immanuel Kant~~

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    P.S., sorry if I'm belaboring this - it's just something I've thought about and worked on for a long time, and nearly no one to critique it/share it with. THe subject matter is off limits in history and nearly as tabu in prehistory.
    Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
    Thank you, Plantagenet.

    And to try and answer the questions:

    First, only tiny amounts of "Phoenician" exist in the Eastern Mediterranean - as in about 4 lines worth. In Carthage, where there seem to have been way more Phoenicians, the language is much less discernibly Afro-Asiatic, which has been explained away as "borrowing" from Latin.
    Fascinating. Can you give an example of Carthage Phoenician?

    Yet, Carthage was already a booming town when Rome was rising, although Rome certainly dominated it. But, where did the Carthaginians come from - just before the rise of Rome?
    I don't know. From Tyros?

    Which is the true "Phoenician" language - the tiny fragments of market receipts in the Eastern Med., or Carthage? I think it was Carthage.
    Umm, the true Phoenician language, as in the "original" or "most unaltered" Phoenician language?

    Let me think. Ok, I think decisive is not how important a city or settlement was or became later on. Decisive is also not how abundant evidence is, i.e. how many written lines we are able to find 3 millennia later. Decisive is where the ethnogenesis of the people took place, and that might not have been Carthage? We are told that "Carthage" in Phoenician means "New city." I don't know whether that's true, but if it's true, it would be fair to assume that there was somewhere at least one other city which is older and in which the language at some time could have been more authentic?

    Who were they before that? They didn't just show up in North Africa with complex boats and city-making abilities. Whoever is responsible for civilizing the Mediterranean (and parts of Northern Europe) at about the same time could be the same boating people.
    I don't know.

    I think it's assumed the founders of Catharge originated from Tyros, allegedly an important Phoenician town located in today's Lebanon.

    Yet, their alphabet looks very much like the system in use in Europe way before the Phoenicians pieced theirs together ( I don't think anyone in anthropology seriously believes they totally invented it ).
    Yes, I think it's only about the phonetic alphabet. It is said certain aspects of the Phoenician alphabet were influenced by cuneiform from Ugarit and by Egyptian hieroglyphics.

    So I guess I'm considering both: they didn't speak a Canaanite/Semitic/Afro-Asiatic language (as often claimed, but the claim dates back before modern linguistics and genetics) and they didn't invent any alphabet. How could it have the markings already so well documented by Gimbutas for "Old Europe"? (And which are present where ever sea-going people turn up - before and after the Phoenicians appear?) There obviously Runic elements (and it's always perceived as going from Phoenician to Europe - but no one explains how the Phoenicians showed up and built a seaport - no one just builds a bunch of boats all at once and then goes on to build a seaport). They had to have prior experience.
    Slowly, please. I don't know much about this. To what kind of markings are you referring?

    Keltic Iberia has been proposed (there are Phoenician sites there, boat building was done), Carthage too - but since no one knows, why don't we throw out the current hypothesis and just say we don't know? Nothing wrong with that.
    Certainly not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
    P.S., sorry if I'm belaboring this - it's just something I've thought about and worked on for a long time, and nearly no one to critique it/share it with. THe subject matter is off limits in history and nearly as tabu in prehistory.
    Fair enough. I don't know much about the Phoenicians. And I'm eurocentric. So you should have an easy time to convince me.
    The answer to 1984 is 1776.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melisande View Post
    P.S., sorry if I'm belaboring this - it's just something I've thought about and worked on for a long time, and nearly no one to critique it/share it with. THe subject matter is off limits in history and nearly as tabu in prehistory.
    Courage is all we have. Build your case.

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    I've been interested in the history of writing for as long as I can remember. The date on the oldest cuneiform, that I know of, is about 3885BC. The date on this fragment of Linear B (found 3 years ago and treated as something of a fluke) is 5000BC, from South Bulgaria:



    According to most scholars, writing does not come to Europe except through the Greeks, whose earliest fragments are said to be about 1200BC. So first, cuneiform, then Egyptian hieroglyphics (rapidly thereafter) and only then do the Phoenicians somehow invent an entirely different kind of writing (which looks suspiciously like Linear B, shown above).

    Marija Gimbutas and several other archaeologists put forth the idea that items like this one:



    from Romania, and 4000BC contain a kind of writing (I agree). Notice that some of them resemble Linear B - and the Phoenician alphabet (like P, a kind of T, W, M, and perhaps others). The world's oldest sculpture, from Germany at 30,000 has incised marks on his arms that must be symbolic - perhaps not a phonetic alphabet, but meaningful nonetheless - and that Lion is related to the overall European culture complex (the river - traveling people known as Aurignacian/Cro Magnon are already using symbols; no one else on Earth is doing anything except in one part of Africa, where they have tally marks).

    This one is 4500 BC:



    So, finding another piece of Greek writing (from King Nestor's palace) that dates to at least 1350BC and uses the same types of symbols as Linear B is exciting:



    because not only does it show regional continuity, but it shows that kingly places were using writing - not just market towns on seashores (the Phoenician hypothesis). The earliest writing in Sumeria are jar labels and things to do with marketing and trade, not the running of palaces.

    Eventually, Linear B helps create the Runic alphabet. So, instead of borrowing Runes from Semites in the Mediterranean (and again, I find no convincing evidence that the Phoenicians were Semites anyway), the Runes are an adaptation of an indigenous European alphabet. You will hear it said that the oldest Runes are 300 or 400 A.D.; I believe this is also wrong. Wikipedia is right to place them early (Wikipedia says 150 A.D., but I believe that Linear B itself contains Runic elements, and many elements are found combined with pictographs throughout France, Germany and Old Europe (Bulgaria, the Kiev-Pskov fish trade route) much earlier (depending on how you define runes).

    Now, I know that finding early writing in Greece and Bulgaria isn't precisely on topic in a Germanic forum, but the fact that writing of the kind attributed to the Phoenicians exists inland, in Europe, long before the Phoenicians are credited with "inventing" it, is of interest to me.

    Marija Gimbutas believed that objects found throughout Europe by 6000BC had elements of writing: W, M, X, Y, R, P, T, and several other letters (including some that are preserved in Cyrillic).

    Were Germanic Runes independently invented at 200 AD (most scholars won't budge on that date for earliest runes) or are they related to these older European alphabets? Or, were Northern Europeans using a pictographic system with ancient phonetic elements (there's a map from 16,000BP that clearly has W, X and Y on it, found on the coast of the North Sea, I'll try find my picture of it) long before cuneiform or hieroglyphics in Egypt?

    Who were the Phoenicians? Well, I guess I shouldn't be arguing with the Human Genographic Project - but I wonder why Spencer Wells and his group left Carthage out of their sample, as well as Portugal - and focused instead on Lebanon, Malta and Spain, where they found a higher incidence of Haplogroup F/subtype m89 marker, which is of course rare in Europeans (and which Wells thinks distinguishes the Phoenicians from the Greeks/Myceneans/Sea Peoples). The Phoenicians (whoever they are) don't start using their famous alphabet until around 1200BC, though - so where'd they get it? And where'd they get their boat building skills?

    The marker Wells uses for the Phoenicians is the m89 marker which occurs in a vast array of peoples whose homeland is in and around Sumeria (and I don't regard the Sumerians as Semites - you'd have to be a radical pro-Semiticist to take that line). Semitic DNA originates in Africa - in Ethiopia (along with the languages). Note that the spread of this Sumerian DNA does not take it into Afro-Asiatic (Semite/Berber) territory:



    As I understand it, all of the places shown on that map have the m89 marker (and Wells did not publish, to my knowledge, a submarker for the Phoenicians - probably because there isn't any). Who did these seafaring Phoenicians (all males on their boats, as far as we know) actually marry? Who were their women? Y chromosome analysis says nothing about that.

    Anyway, scholars critiquing Well's assumption about Phoenicians point out that the F-haplogroup might be in Portugal due to much more recent contact than Phoenicians.

    The map above is not the best at explaining all this, but it's all I could find this morning. The M89 marker is also found near Catal Hayuk and in the Balkans, early on and is a precursor marker for R1 as well - but when the marker is found without the other, additional markers (R-M420 which marks the rise of the R haplogroup), it's considered "F" Haplogroup.

    I hope you can see how I could still be pondering why an early-appearing and widely dispersed F haplogroup (Sumerian) marker shows the "origin of the Phoenicians" - who don't appear until 1500 BC at the earliest - to be "Semitic" when Sumerians aren't considered Semitic and the same group gives rise to many Europeans - later on. The question of where the Phoenicians got their culture (their boats and their alphabet) is the one that interests me. If they set out from the Middle East early (as the R1 group did), why does anyone presume that they built their first boats in Canaan? They appear so suddenly in the archaeological record in Canaan (to the marvel of the local inhabitants who have no such boats).

    I suppose they could be the original inhabitants of Spain or Malta (how did they get there?) or perhaps we'll eventually uncover earlier remnants of boat building in Lebanon (certainly there's wood there), but the story as I understand it has the Phoenicians landing in Lebanon because it was a source of wood, which they needed, and immediately building a rather complex city and woodworking industry, rather than building simpler boats first, etc.

    They could easily have left the Middle East very early and simply not shared in the later mutations (M420) that marks the R1 Y chromosome haplogroup.

    We all descend from older peoples, etc., etc., blah blah - but Europe after 45,000 is a special place, with special achievements. Even if the Phoenicians originate in Lebanon, their seafaring nature took them far afield and they may have been the original multiculturalists (indeed, even the Y chromosome scholars admit that the Phoenicians were not one ethnicity; it would make sense for them to pick up women along their routes and to settle among various existing populations, intermarrying and learning as they went).

    The fact that some of their earliest trade is with Egyptian elites (who may in fact have many traits in common with Indo-Europeans) still doesn't mean that they were a Semitic people.

    I'm not an anti-Semite (really, I'm not, at least not whole-heartedly), but I'm damned tired of Semites claiming that any group that ever passed through what is now Palestine or Canaan is Semite). And since everyone agrees the Phoenicians were in contact with the Sea People, and the Sea People come from European peoples who already had an alphabet...well, you see where I'm going.

    Ah, I could go on and on, can you tell?
    Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.
    ~~Immanuel Kant~~

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