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editing greeks out of history
This essay coalesced during the course of my research. Though I would find Mycenaean, Classical Greek, Byzantine, or even palaeolithic European precedents for ideas that appeared at much later dates in the Near East, and which later came to appear as far away as in India, the origin of these ideas would instead come to be attributed to the Near East. This essay is a partial attempt at elucidating the reasoning behind this systematic re-attribution which as has become obvious is the perpetration of a grand historical fraud.
In his book of 1912, Cornford wrote:
"The sources of Greek philosophy were supposed to be a mater of 'borrowing' and of 'influence'. More than one attempt was made in the nineteenth century to show that the Greeks 'borrowed' the wisdom of the East; but when it was seen that this fascinating theory led its advovcates beyond all boubnds of historic possibility, the Orientalists were crushed in a sort of antisemitic reaction, and they are only now begining to lift their heads again." p.2 FROM RELIGION TO PHILOSOPHY A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation F. M. Cornford. Isbn: 0486433722
Several decades after Cornford wrote this, the Germans, perpetrated the single largest act of genocide in human history in an attempt to erradicate Jews. The fear of once again cultivating the kind of antisemiticism which resulted in the holocaust, in addition to a profound insecurity felt by Western Europeans about their lack of cultural achievement until only some 600-800 years ago, has meant that history has been "democratised" and "de-Eurocentricised". In fields such as philosophy, science, technology, mathematics and engineering western/northwestern Europeans did not reach the levels attained by the Greeks of antiquity (and which were preserved and maintained through the Byzantine epoch) until after the Renaissance in Italy. More disturbingly for this part of the world, they could not and did not attain the same level of achievement until Greeks themselves tutored them via Italian intermediaries. This is so irksome to their sensibilities that it has elicited a contemporary fairy-tale to be propounded in place of reality. To make north/northwestern Europeans more comfortable with the overwhelming evidence of their inability to have accomplished for themselves what the Greeks accomplished, the people of this part of the world have not only edited Greeks out of the history of the transmission of ideas to the west (via Byzantium), but have gone further by claiming that the Greeks themselves in antiquity had done nothing more than the same thing that these north/northwestern Europeans did in the 15th century: that is, the Greeks, it is claimed, appropriated and collated what had already been achieved by others. For the French, who entertain this fantasy to a greater degree than the other European states, their persistent claim is that it is they who reconstructed, without help, and only with scraps from the Arabs of Spain, the corpus of the Greek achievement. The resultant fabrication is presented as "history". It is no coincidence that Hitler too was confounded by the same reality. That the same ideas propounded by Hitler 80 years ago are again propounded today is no coincidence.
HItler has been rehabilitated.
In the shadow of Hitler:
Adolf Hitler has cast a far-reaching shadow over European thought. What has been claimed to be an understanding of him is instead a deliberate misunderstanding of him to disguise the (almost entirely) Christian (hence Judaic) basis of his attempt to exterminate certain groups of people. In an effort not to be like Hitler, and like him attribute the capacity for high civilization to "Aryans" alone, no effort has been spared to distort the past to include "non-Aryans" as contributors even if the evidence for this inclusion is at best a distortion, if not an outright fabrication. In addition to this, a deeply felt and inescapable appreciation by the west Europeans, that their Europe did not reach any intellectual heights without direct Greek input, has led to the embarrassing realisation that maybe, western Europeans do not share the genius of the Greeks... so in this instance, they unashamedly adopt Hitler's excuse for this Germanic backwardness.
Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler:
",,,it is an unbelievable offence to represent the Germanic peoples of the pre-Christian era as 'cultureless', as barbarians... Only the harshness of the northern homeland forced them into circumstances which thwarted their creative forces. If, without any ancient world, they had come to the more favourable regions to the south, and if the material provided by lower people had given them their first technical implements, the culture-creating ability slumbering within them would have grown into radiant bloom just as happened, for example, with the Greeks." Hitler. Mein Kampf. p. 357 Book 2 "The national socialist movement", Chapter 2 "The State".
Thus, according to the view of Hitler, a view which has been adopted by contemporary west Europeans, if the west Europeans had not been capable of achieving a sophisticated culture without having appropriated it from others, then neither should the Greeks have done so. This has meant that the accomplishments of the civilization of the Greeks has had to be attributed to others. Consequently, when it is realised that the Italian Renaissance was a direct result of Greeks fleeing the Turks bringing manuscripts with them, this has had to be debunked by underplaying the Renaissance with a claim that shifts the focus from Italy to France. This is achieved by claiming that from fragments of Greek civilization Arabs had managed to reconstructed the Greek achievement without the aid of the Greeks, and that these fragments once made available to the Franks (in France) enabled the French to develop an indigenous civilization independent of the Greeks also. According to this French fantasy the Renaissance in Italy merely brought the Italians to the same cultural level already enjoyed in France. This has meant that history as told in the Frankish west has edited Greeks out and is achieving this by editing Renaissance Italy from the historical record.
However, what is considered to be the "Arab" achievement, was never anything of the sort; what it was was the vanquished Persians, Zoroastrians, re-establishing their civilization under the rule of Arabs, who were only permitted to do so on the proviso that the Persians do so as Muslims and in the Arabic language. And the basis of this "Arab" civilization itself was possible only because in Byzantium the corpus of Greek science had been preserved and augmented. It was from Byzantium that the "Arabs" acquired the manuscripts upon which the "Arab achievement" lay. [ readers should refer to O'Leary's How Greek Science passed to the Arabs ] Even in "Arab" Spain which supplied France with 'fragments' of ancient Greek thinking, the "renaissance" there only commenced when Emperor Constantine VII (Porphyrogenitus) sent an embassy to Cordova in 949 which included as a gift a copy of Dioscorides' catalogue of plants. Not knowing Greek, the Khalif, Abdarrahman requested that someone be sent to translate the work. "In 951 the Emperor sent a monk named Nicolas, who was able to speak Arabic, and he not only made translations of Dioscorides and other Greek works, but began teaching the Greek language, his lectures arousing great enthusiasm and being attended by many court officials, including Hasdai ibn Shaprut, the Jewish wazir." p. 171, O'Leary How Greek Science passed to the Arabs So, even the knowledge that seeped across the Pyrenees came from Greek sources!
In the west, the only Greek knowledge that survived the fall of Rome was (essentially) Boethius' translation on Aristotle and his translation of the mathematics of Nicomachus (as well as Cicero's pastiches, in Latin, of Greek thinking). Although Rome, and by extension the west, had more than what the Greeks did in 800 BC, this was never enough to kick-start a civilization of science and technology in the west. This had to wait until the Greeks brought manuscripts to the west, to Italy from the period of 1400-1453. Indeed, the entire edifice of modern engineering and physics of the west is bound with the manuscripts bought to Italy by Byzantine refugees. Philoponus' writings debunking Aristotle's theory of motion introduced western Europe to the idea that became the impetus theory of motion; the pseudo Mechanica of Aristotle, as well as Archimedian mathematics introduced Europe to mechanics and engineering [ readers should refer to Deno Geanakoplos' Constantinople and the West for a summary of manuscripts brought to Italy by Byzantine scholars ]; Diophantus' mathematics forms the basis of modern algebra as translated by Vieta [ readers should refer to Jacob Klein's Greek Mathematical thought and the origin of Algebra ] and, apart from the word "algebra" meaning "bone-setter" in Arabic, there is practically no Arab component in algebra.
Probably the most exasperating contention however is that made in which it is claimed that by attributing to the Greeks their own achievement one is celebrating a racist indulgence! Hitler's Mein Kampf attributed high civilization as being possible only for "Aryans" which is why it was such a bother for him that the "Aryans" of the north had actually achieved nothing. Having identified the Greeks as the model of Hitler's "Aryans" a disinformation campaign has been waged for the half century after WW2 on the achievements of Greek civilization. Consequently, one encounters statements such as this on the internet:
"history is a celebration of dead white men, of which the Greeks are the oldest and therefore the deadest."
To "correct" this claimed celebration of dead "white" men, a concerted effort has been made to play down the achievement of what are claimed to be "dead white Greeks". However, when it comes to whiteness, how white is a Greek? In Australia I have been told that I am black and am referred to as non-white. The US, historically has been no different, and has a history of excluding people who were not considered white enough to immigrate. In 1921, US Congress passed a quota system (the Johnson Act) that limited immigration from southern and eastern Europe. In 1924 it was felt too many of these "semi-whites" were coming into that nation and, the law was expanded to let in more northern and western Europeans and virtually exclude almost all southern and eastern Europeans. The American championing the rights of non-whites by deriding the achievements of the Greeks as being the oldest and therefore deadest white men is an act of cynicism that exposes the innate racism of those authors who propound such views.
Hitler, it should be remembered, wrote his Mein Kampf in 1925, a full 4 years after the US limited immigration of "impure whites", and 1 year after the US had all but excluded those defined as "impure whites" from the US altogether. If there was a paragon to be emulated by Hitler the United States of America was it. And, what Hitler wrote of the United States betrays the lasting impression US policy made on him:
"North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower coloured peoples shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale.... The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent who has remained racially pure and unmixed rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall victim to the defilement of the blood." Mein Kampf. Book 1 A Reckoning. Chapter 11, Nation and Race. p. 260
This means that Hitler's racial policies were in part inspired by the US model.
The achievements of antiquity are being re-attributed so that all of humanity can claim it as a joint accomplishment. Somehow, and not by coincidence, it is the Greeks who are being written out of this history.
1/ It is claimed that at c. 1200 BC, the Phoenicians invented "Tyrian purple", a dye made from the murex sea-snail.
However, archaeological findings in Krete (Crete) at Komos has unearthed murex shells which show that the Minoans cultivated the sea-snail in factory farms for the production of the purple dye at least 300 years before it appeared in Tyre ( this was popularised by Bettany Hughes' recent documentary series shown in October 2004 in the UK & May 2005 in Australia http://search.abc.net.au/search/cache.cgi?collection=abconline&doc=http/www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200505/programs/ZY7203A001D8052005T193000.htm)
THE GREEK BASIS OF THE "PHOENICIAN" ALPHABET
The Phoenicians never developed an alphabet. Their achievement was a consonantal script , not an alphabet, which was written in cuneiform: reed imprints. The assumption that the Greeks learnt the alphabet from the Phoenicians is based on Herodotus who made that claim in his Histories. What Herodotus did not know was that his ancestors were literate. Nearly one thousand years before his birth Achaean Greeks were writing in the script we know as Linear B. Indeed, the history of Mycenaean civilization, its subsequent collapse and the colonies these Mycenaeans set up in Kyprus (Cyprus) and along the Levantine coast to Gaza, is instrumental in understanding how the "Phoenicians" came to adopt Greek-Mycenaean symbols to write with; and then adopted Greek/Mycenaean shipping to trade along the same sea-routes that had been established by the Minoans & then Mycenaeans before them. (And as to what the ships used by the Minoans and Mycenaeans looked like, we can learn from the wall-paintings at Thera which date to before c. 1623 BC).
There is some inkling of the Mycenaean basis of what came to be the phenomenon of "Phoenician" civilization.
In Ugarit the Semites there were already using a pseudo-alphabetic script written in cuneiform, not the script of symbols we are familiar with as "the alphabet". However, this was no true alphabet, for one group of sounds was not represented: vowels. This is a consonantal script, not an alphabet.
The deciphering of Linear B by Michael Ventris in 1953 was accomplished because the Cypriot Script was already understood & known to be Greek. It is of interest that the Phoenicians set up posts in the 9th century BC in Kyprus (Cyprus), & that the Phoenicians already had a consonant "alphabet" written in cuneiform ( Ugarit tablets). Cyprus already had Mycenaean colonists in the west of that island from the 12th century BC which predate Phoenician settlements.
The development of the alphabet and the introduction of a script of symbols to replace the cuneiform is not explained in current assessments. It is only when it is realised that this script was derived from the Minoan/Mycenaean Linears A and B (respectively), that an explanation becomes possible. And it is this script which was introduced to the Levant from the west which occurs only after the Mycenaeans settled in the Levant en masse after the collapse of Bronze Age civilizations. To understand how the alphabet proper which accommodates all sounds (and not simply consonants) could have developed, has to take into account all historical information, and not limit itself to propounding what has become orthodox ideologically-driven dogma. The Greek Linear B was a syllabic system which combined a consonant with a vowel. The pre-"Phoenician" (as they later came to be called by Greeks) Canaanites themselves had a history of adopting different writing systems and throwing out as ballast sounds other than consonants. These pre-Phoenician "Canaanites" already used, in this way, Egyptian logograms and cuneiform to express consonants. Therefore the adoption of another system, this time one from Mycenae, could be seen to be consistent with their history. However, the "Phoenicians" simply took up incised symbols replacing their reed-imprint symbols; that is they adopted and adapted for their use the syllabic symbols of the Linear A/B/Cypriot Scripts & used those symbols to represent their own consonantal script. On this basis it would appear that the Greeks then took back their own Minoan/Mycenaean script which had been modified by Phoenicians and modified it again by re-introducing vowels. The only problem that remains here is the question of why abandon the cuneiform when it obviously worked? It has to be remembered that cuneiform was never replaced in the hinterland for another 700 years after the "Phoenicians" adopted an incised script - so it is not as if it was any more difficult to express ideas using reed-imprints. This could be answered in the context of the changing traditions in writing materials and technology. The increasing use of papyrus would have made it increasingly cumbersome to draw small triangles when a series of lines would be a far simpler and clearer task. Even when using clay, it is much simpler to incise lines than to make multiple imprints into a pattern which is the basis of cuneiform. But it is only when it is taken into consideration that the "Sea-People" Philistines were Mycenaean, as evidenced at settlements such as those at Ekron, that any explanation of why those who wrote their Semitic language in cuneiform adopted the Greek "grapsas" can be explained: In Ekron the Mycenaean Philistines had, by 900BC, abandoned their own language and adopted the Semitic language of the people they had settled among. Mycenaean-Greek scribes adapted the Semitic language to their grapsas style of writing. Yet the Philistines, despite being Semiticised, always maintained some contact with their homealnd, as has been shown at Ekron, and this Mycenaean adaptation of their grapsas script to the Semitic was reapplied by these Semiticised Mycenaeans of the Levantine coast, the so-called "Phoenicians", to the language they originally spoke: Greek. The evidence actually points to Mycenaean scribes adapting the same (similar) sets of symbols to represent both languages. The evidence actually shows that the Greek alphabet and the Phoenician alphabet have the same common point of origin in the lands in which settled the already literate Sea-People. The so-called "phoenician" alphabet using incised symbols arose at the same time as did the Greek.
Donald Harden writes The Phoenicians :
What is evident is that the Semites of the Levantine coast came under successive waves of Hellenic influence from the time of the Achaean Greeks of Mycenae to the Greeks of the Hellenistic period.
The antiquity of European writing
There is a concerted push to attribute to the Near East all manner of history. However, the reality contradicts such an attribution, despite how passionately the desire for this to be so might be. The motivation to so attribute civilization to the Near East is not guided by scholarship, but by a desire not to "Eurocentricise" history as it is assumed was done in the Third Reich. There are authors like ML West, a translator of classical Greek writing, who attributes most of the Greek achievement to the Near East.
The means by which West et al achieve this, is by the deliberate omission of pre-Classical Greek artefacts, like the snake goddess and her votary found at Knossos (on display in the Museum of Herakleion) . These predate Hesiod's mention of Hecate by nearly a millennium. Thus when, in Apollonius' Argonautica, appears the night wandering snake festooned Hecate Brimo the convenience of omission explains her as an "appearance" due to "Near East influence". Though the Kretan snake-goddess is the best known snake motif in pre-classical civilization on Greek soil, she is not an isolated instance. She is also depicted on Mycenaean gems (illustrated below) dating to c.1500 BC, and coiled clay snakes have been found in Mycenae. "Hecate Brimo", rather than being an appropriation by Hesiod (in c. 700 BC) from the Near East (specifically Anatolia), was already part of the Greek pantheon.
The snake goddess, adorned with horns, appears in Late Neolithic Krete showing the pedigree of the snake goddess on Krete as well as her extreme antiquity (note her feet which taper into "snake-tails"):
Rather than a Near East component, the truth is closer to Greek soil. Elements in Hesiod which have come to be attributed to the Near East by authors such as West is the conflation and reconciliation of separate indigenous traditions with very old pedigree coexisting within Greece which has nothing to do with the Near East.
Claims that aspects of Greek mythology, such as Typhon, who it has come to be claimed came from a foreign (non-Greek) source, can only be made if it is not realised what role "myths" played in pre-literate societies. Mythology is not mere fanciful folk-telling, but the technical scheme by which events are told with the intention that they be remembered. In the example of Typhon, he is the volcanic eruption at Thera which occurred in 1623. This was a force from the core of earth (Gaia) who challenged and fought the gods of heaven. This momentous event was seen as a challenge of the god who reigned in the overworld by the gods of the underwolrd. That Hurrian and Hittite tales appear to tell a similar tale, though with differing motifs, is because all these cultures witnessed the same event and recounted it according to their understanding of what forces were at play, and in the context of the cosmology they believed in. Indeed, the tale travelled from west to east, and not vice-versa, becoming, on reaching India, the clash of Indra with Vritra.
The influences that are evident in Greece actually emanate from the north and west, (and the Aegean islands) especially when seen in the context of the association of Linear A in Bulgaria and Krete (remembering that no Linear A has ever been found on the Greek mainland) and that the Vinca culture, like that of Krete, worshipped the snake-goddess (after Haarmann p.68 Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age) .
History is being written contrary to the evidence available and is guided by motives that are outside the bounds of historical pursuit: the desire to be inclusive of the sensitivities of others, in some instances; whilst in others it is attempting to demonstrate the validity of the "wisdom" of the Bible by attributing civilization to the Near East to 'prove' the delusion that the bible is an historical document, 'the word of god', and that it is thus the basis for all human 'wisdom'. Such pursuits are not genuine history, and are simply the perpetration of a cultural fraud. The achievement of the Greeks can best be understood as the achievement of a hybridised people, an 'indigenous' development that only arose when the non-Indo-European "Old European" peoples of the Greek mainland, the Aegean islands and Krete became absorbed with the invading Indo-European Greeks. The Greek world rather than being the western rump of Near Eastern civilization was instead independent of it. Phoenician civilization instead was the eastern rump of a western civilization; they were Hellenised (Mycenaeanised) Semites who absorbed Mycenaean colonists (refer recent archaeological evidence from Ekron), who for a while became the sole challengers to the Greeks. Their greatest city Carthage came to rival Alexandria - until the Romans sacked it so completely that we can never properly reconstruct it.
Maybe by 2010-2012 I will have finished my research and written my book. This essay serves only as an introduction to a thesis.
[ An online reference to the development of Cypriot writing:
[ Linear B and Related Scripts by John Chadwick ]
[ The Mycenaeans (Ancient Peoples and Places) by William Taylour ]
[ The Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy (ca. 1600-1200 BC)
Quoting from the Amazon Editorial Review: