There’s a story in the world that’s too big to tell. Its origins are here on Crete island, where there’s more history, culture, and spirituality per square meter than any place on Earth. The story is best recognized from the tale of King Minos, his Minotaur, and God’s mythic (or real) birth in the form of Zeus. The land known as Keftiu to the ancient Egyptians and Caphtor to empires in the near east may one day be rediscovered and named “Atlantis.” The best experts say that Plato’s tale is a myth, but the record of this fabled place is so incomplete. And as I suggested, this is a story too big to tell. But let’s try a part of it.
When people interested think about the legendary king of Crete, they usually conjure up a vision of the cruel tyrant who demanded harsh tribute from the Athenians. However, others searching for deeper spiritual meaning will recall that King Minos and his brother Rhadamanthys joined Aiakos as the judges of man in the underworld or the gateway to the afterlife.
“I saw Minos the son of Zeus holding a golden scepter and delivering judgments among the dead. There he sat, and around him the others sat or stood in the ample-gated house of Haides, seeking from this master of justice the firm sentences of the law.” – Odysseus from Homer and the Odyssey.
Ancient philosophers, Dante, long-dead and extant archaeologists, and even the occasional guru shepherd here on Crete still quiz over who Minos was. According to Greek myth, he was the son of Zeus and Europa. He was so prominent on the island that the legendary British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans named the Keftiu civilization after him. But, of course, Evans had scant evidence of Crete’s real identity back then.
Even today, more history and evidence lie buried beneath Crete’s fertile soil than in the museums of the world. Minos’ can be weighted, to some degree, if we consider the foundation of our laws, and even theoretical politics may be constructs he represents. (See Plato’s Socrates’ discussion of King Minos in the dialogues of Plato attest to this idea). King Minos is a tangential facet we cannot delve into deeply. However, we can leave his importance and the likelihood he existed at the feet of perhaps the most excellent storyteller.
“Who was most kingly of mortal kings, and lorded it over more neighboring folk than any, holding the scepter of Zeus: therewith it was that he ruled the cities as king.” Plato, Minos 320D
World-renowned archaeologists, we’ve talked to confirm what Homer said in the Iliad, that Crete had 100 or more cities at the time of the Keftiu (Minoans). This is generally accepted, though underpublicized. Experts are still studying and arguing about the nature of the Keftiu (Minoan) government and the extent to which Knossos’s (Minos?) power extended throughout the empire. This morning I talked with one of the world’s top experts on the subject, Dr. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos. On the Atlantis myth, the esteemed Director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg says that for him, “the whole Atlantis myth is a Lost in Translation case.” He refers to the fact that Plato based his story on a text from an Egyptian story translated to him by an Egyptian priest. Panagiotopoulos says the translation was very bad.
Some have even suggested that “Minos” is a title akin to the Egyptian term “Pharoah.” Egyptian texts from the New Kingdom Period (1550BC to 1070 BC) label Crete and the people who lived here as Kaftu or Keftiu (Akkadian Kaptaru and Biblical Caphtor). And in some cases, there is the name Menus, which could be a possible rendering of Minos. When I asked Dr. Diamantes about the name of King Minos possibly being a title instead, he nodded that this is a possibility.
I must include an entire passage from National Geographic here for the sake of the cohesiveness of this idea.
“Plato told the story of Atlantis around 360 B.C. The founders of Atlantis, he said, were half god and half human. They created a utopian civilization and became a great naval power. Their home was made up of concentric islands separated by wide moats and linked by a canal that penetrated to the center. The lush islands contained gold, silver, and other precious metals and supported an abundance of rare, exotic wildlife. There was a great capital city on the central island.”
It seems inevitable that these Keftiu were the Caphtorim (Cherethim – Hebrew for Cretans), given their role in the Mediterranean copper trade. More significantly, the trade in high-luxury goods fits better in the puzzle of the real history of these people. Whether or not the Keftiu ended up being the Philistines or not, their ingenious metallurgy was another linking factor. Keftiu was destroyed (over time) by an apocalypse at sea, generally understood to be the cataclysmic Thera (Santorini) eruption and the ensuing tsunamis, which probably obliterated their fleet.
The Keftiu language, or Linear A, is another fantastic mystery that teases our perception of who they were. These people have created a kind of Utopia where spiritual and physical existence was improved/modified. Linear A is another clue that suggests the uniqueness and power of the Keftiu was all about amalgamating and refining the best knowledge in the world at that time. The scripts, of which there are only a few shards, seem to be a conglomeration of Akkadian Sumerograms, pictograms, and hieroglyphics like the ancient Egyptians used, symbols similar to later Linear A, and as yet undeciphered characters. For a society all about refining things, doesn’t it make sense their language would be something new as well?
This is a theory, of course, but something monumental should have already struck the reader. The greatest mystery of humanity is inextricably tied to these Keftiu people. We’ve touched on Minos and sons of deities. The role of law. And we’ve scratched the surface of Biblical-level “coincidence” that is more likely emblazoned fact. The fate of these people is what seems most compelling. If they disappeared slowly after the Thera disaster and were replaced by the Myceneans and others, how did the record of their empire disappear? This seems Biblical. Could the explanation coincide with the fate of the Philistines? Recent DNA studies have revealed a close linkage to people from Crete/Keftiu. We know these people lost their distinct ethnic identity when assimilated into the Persian Empire. The Keftiu, if you will, disappeared from the historical and archaeological record by the late 5th century BC.
Zeus’s birthplace and haven, Theseus and the Minotaur, the tale of Daedalus and Icarus, and the resurrection of Minos’s son Glaucus punctuate the significance of Crete/Keftiu. However, the legends and myths do not stop there. On the Paxamadia islets, Apollo and Artemis were born. The fabled “Mountain Mother” or “Mistress of Animals,” the Minoan (Kefitu) snake goddess, is representative of Keftiu animism, a religion based on the idea that God is in everything.
And Talos, the Keftiu version of Iron Man, are a few examples in an endless gallery of myth/legend. Not many visitors to Crete realize there are some 800 Byzantine churches with fabulous wall frescoes on the island. Echoes of the greatness of Rome, the Venetians, and later Ottoman conquests lie layer upon layer atop humanity’s most enigmatic empire. Ah, alas, I did not manage it.
The whole story of Keftiu is too big for anyone to tell. But perhaps, this attempt has captivated one or two more discoverers. One hundred cities are still buried here! Oh, and I forgot, the advanced robots they say the U.S. military hauled off from a sacred cave in Tsoutsouras.
Keftiu. The story of the ages.