Gaia chose Keftiu to shelter Zeus from his angry father Kronos for good reason. The island holds on to its secrets. So, the Earth goddess knew that the last born of Rhea would grow and thrive here. And it came to pass that a magnificent tapestry of humanity would be woven from the island we know as Crete. Recent discoveries may soon reveal the secrets of the Minoans, which will, in turn, illuminate the everlasting.
As I type this story, I am reading from a fascinating paper by Dr. Joseph MacGillivray of the British School at Athens. The former Curator at Knossos’ most recent “Minoan mantras. The quiet decipherment of Linear A” presents an astounding window into the world of the mysterious Minoans. His research begins with an account of the birth of Zeus. Then he recounts famed archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’ discovery of a fragment of a stone vessel found in the Dikteon Cave, which bore characters of the undeciphered Linear A language of the Minoans. MacGillivray goes on to tell of Evans’ lifelong quest to decipher Linear A, before postulating something amazing. Linear A may have been deciphered already.
The quest to decipher Linear A is something akin to finding the Ark of the Covenant for scholars. This archaic writing system used by the Minoans (Cretans) from 1800 to 1450 BCE., is actually one of four ancient scripts associated with the still puzzling Minoan Civilization. Linear B, which was used by the Mycenaean civilization, was revealed when an unlikely translator, an architect and self-taught linguist named Michael Ventris, broke the code of Linear B before his untimely death in 1956. The other two scripts which are as yet undeciphered are Cypro-Minoan and Cretan hieroglyphic, which are key to Dr. MacGillivray’s report. These latter two, may, in fact, be linked to Pre-Anatolian (4200 BC), but this is a case for another report.
As it turns out, another self-taught language decoder named Hubert La Marle has probably lifted the veil covering Europe’s oldest civilization. You see, the problem scholars have always had with understanding the ancient Minoans, is that their history is muted by the fact we cannot learn from their writing. All archaeologists and historians have to go on are their ruined palaces and temples, and millions of shards of artistic, cultural, and religious relics dug up all over the eastern Mediterranean. The Minoan Civilization is like a massive zigsaw puzzle of humanity’s finest era, missing all four corners and the color Aegean blue that glues it together.
According to Dr. MacGillivray, La Marle painted in Aegean blue the secrets of the Minoans, only to have his discoveries covered by the system that is supposed to unveil such secrets. As MacGillivray suggests in his paper, Hubert La Marle’s notion that Minoan is the earliest form of so-called Indo-Iranian language may be correct. I’ve no space here to show more of his evidence, but within his report, there is something that illuminated the ritual nature of the Minoans for me.
Arthur Evans’ efforts at Knossos have been subjected to a lot of criticism over the years. While the distinguished Evans made his “mark” on Minoan studies, other celebrated scholars took issue with his often overzealous personality infused into these Bronze Age mysteries. One of his ideas, that of Knossos as a palace in the true sense, has been tried many times by experts including the notable MacGillivray.
Evans, it seems, fashioned “his” Knossos from a contemporary European viewpoint, which may be one reason Linear A has remained a mystery. What I mean here is, the “Evans school” of Minoan experts might be quick to minimalize any pretext to Crete origins being other than European-ish. This is framed based by this excerpt from another scholarly paper entitled “The Minoan ‘Palace-Temple’ Reconsidered…”, by Ilse Schoep:
“Evans was among the first to give Europe a prehistoric identity (Papadopoulos 2005: 107) and went to great lengths to emphasize the European character of Cretan Bronze Age society, both through extensive use of Greek mythology (MacGillivray 2001; Momigliano 2006) and through emotive reconstructions of the architecture of the palace (Hitchcock and Koudounaris 2002; Papadopoulos 2005; Gere 2009) and Minoan material culture.”
If we consider that Evans might have been as much a politician and PR man as an archaeologist, then the de-prioritization of La Marle’s Linear A decipherment is better explained. Purists, or the Evans advocates, would not enjoy a Minoan Civilization that is less European. Talk about ethnocentrism getting in the way of science and truth? Regardless of the academic fencing, the logic in MacGillivray’s argument stands out, and here’s why.
The former curator at Knossos tells us of La Marle’s ultimate translation from the Psychro vessel speaks volumes about the purpose of Knossos. The secret unveiled reads:
“I have been ritually purified in olive oil and sacred water for my lady Assara.”
The passage, according to La Marle, repeats like a mantra or a prayer. Like Dr MacGillivray in his paper, I am reminded of the lustral basin at Knossos and how it seems out of place if the throne room is, in fact, a throne. MacGillivray helps us take the next step to the east and India, and then onward to a new search for the origins of the Minoans. Yes, the Minoans built the first European cities, and their scripts were definitely Europe’s earliest texts. But MacGillivray uncovers another shocker with DNA tracings of the original Minoans.
Furthermore, the archaeologist pulls back the curtain on a new supreme god of the Minoans, Itar, who was a lightning god akin to Zeus but clothed in Sanskrit and alluding to the god Azura of Indian mythology. Talk about upsetting the Europeans and Aryans out there, what if Zoroaster, for instance, is interjected into the equation? Yes, I think we may soon understand what the Nazis were looking for at remote Monastiraki during World War II.
When I studied the Minoan Civilization at the College of Charleston, my professor prompted a three day and night long library dig for my thesis. Chastising me for tossing in a mediocre paper on the horns of consecration, his scolding made me live and sleep in the library until I found it, an obscure mention of the horns from Persia. I got published for it, and never forgot the “eastern” connection to Minoan spirituality.
That said, La Marle and Dr. Macgillivray both point toward the east of Crete and beyond as the direction to look for the secrets of the Minoans. Zakros is targeted, as well as Paleakastro. The scholars take aim at the Zagros mountains in distant Iran, for further clues into who these Minoans were – which may, in turn, tell us about the rest of us.
This stunning revelation goes to the heart of questions humanity has wrestled with for generations. In MacGillivray’s paper, I find the shadowy footprint of western esotericism and further clues in the search for the eternal. As I originally thought, Crete island rises above a sea of unknowing, like the “Wine Dark Sea” of the Odyssey.
What I could never have suspected, was the secrets of the Minoans buried beneath obfuscating ideals. Next time I’ll discuss esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed even in our most trusted scriptures.
Feature image: Wikipedia and The Juvenile Instructor of the Church of Mormon Church