There is a land called Crete in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a beautiful and fertile land, seagirt; in it are many people, innumerable, and there are ninety cities. Language with language is mingled together. There are Akhaians, there are great-hearted Eteocretans, there are Kydones, and Dorians in their three clans, and noble Pelasgians.
In this famous passage from Homer’s Odyssey, the poet speaks of the Greek hero Odysseus on his return home to Ithaca. In the verse, Odysseus pretends he’s the grandson of King Minos of Crete. According to the story, the hero of Troy tells his wife Penelope about his alleged homeland of Crete before revealing himself as her husband. Odysseus speaks of this land after the fall of the great Minoan Civilization.
The Crete of this age had 90 thriving cities, according to Homer, and this offers us a clue to the greatness of the Minoans is hidden. Homer’s mention of the Eteocretans of ancient Crete may be a key for unraveling the secrets of the Minoans. Solving the mystery of the Eteocretans and their Minoan forebears could lead us to understand our own origins. Here’s a fresh look at the ancestors of Cretan character and the guardians of legendary Cretan hospitality.
Not many people take the time to understand the timeline of the Odyssey. After his escape from the nymph Calypso on Gavdos Island (ancient Ogygia), Odysseus stayed for a time with the Cretans of the main island. Then the kindly Cretans delivered him home to Ithaca. However, by the time Agamemnon and the other Greek heroes were storming the walls of ancient Troy, the mysterious Minoans had long since passed into history.
So, the Crete Odysseus seemed so enamored with, it was only a reflection of the Utopian paradise where the original Cretans prospered. We can get short glimpses of their society through artifacts and ruins today, and that is all. This is because their language still remains obscure to us. However, the mystery of the Eteocretan language may yet unlock the meaning of the Minoans.
There is evidence of this hidden language beyond the riddle held in Linear A and the famous Phaistos Disc. The secret of the Minoans may yet be unraveled from the Eteókrētes (true Cretans) in existing examples of Eteocretan language found in Eastern Crete. Ancient scripts from far back in the 7th Century BC offer a separate avenue of linguistic study. The Belgian Hellenist Yves Duhoux, a leading authority on Eteocretan, says:
“It is essential to rigorously separate the study of Eteocretan from that of the ‘hieroglyphics’ and Linear A inscriptions.”
Fragments of this little known Cretan language were excavated from sites on Crete. Accompanied by ancient Greek corroborative scripts, were found at the ancient town of Praesos. This is where it is believed a new capital was raised after Knossos had fallen sometime around 1200 BC.
Other fragments of the language were found at Dreros and installed in a museum at Neopolis (see Dreros #1). However, these Geek texts disappeared when the Nazis invaded Crete. Also, the migration of the Eteocretans away from the shores of Crete and other Minoan islands was documented elsewhere. In the tomb of Egyptian Pharoah Rameses III, it was written:
“The Isles were restless: disturbed among themselves at one and the same time.”
The Dreros fragments were published by the legendary French Hellenist Henri van Effenterre, whose wife was instrumental at piecing together what we know of the Palace at Malia.
Secrets of Our Heritage
Few complete words of this mysterious language have come to light. However, we do know the inscriptions show a language that bears no obvious kinship to Indo-European or Semitic languages. The Minoans spoke and wrote in a language totally unrelated to Etruscan or any other known ancient language of the Aegean or Asia Minor.
During World War II (1941-1945) Austrian-Nazi archaeologist August Schoergendorfer was assigned to Crete. Working under the Major General Julius Ringe, the archaeologist undertook illegal excavations. Recent work by Dr. Georgia Flouda of the British School at Athens, shows Nazi interest in the Minoans. I believe these discoveries shows Hitler’s archaeologist were searching for more than precious statues and seal stones.
The longer and harder I investigate Crete, the more it becomes apparent that a great secret still lays hidden here.
I believe that the Nazis spirited away much more valuable icons and with them the linages to human heritage. This report from 2002 by Megan Young discusses how the Nazis were on the hunt for anything that could help or support ideologies. It also tells of the Nazi penchant for destroying or hiding any idea or symbol that did not. The Nazis were skeptical that the Minoans were the true forebearers of European civilization. This can be seen from the work of Fritz Schachermeyr, August Schörgendorfer, and the later Viennese professor Ernst Kirsten. , are skeptical as to whether or not the Minoans were the forebearers of European civilization. The efforts they made can best be categorized in the work done
“We have found the courage once more to admit to the deeds of our ancestors. Their honor is our honor! The millennia separate us no longer. The eternal stream of blood binds us across the ages … ”
There was a man the Nazis called the “Lawrence of Crete,” who was the chief archaeologist on the island. In one of my previous reports, I called attention J.D.S. Pendlebury. It was his notes that led Nazi archaeologists to places like the Palace at Monastiraki. And, the unusual excavations at that Minoan Palace bear closer scrutiny today. The fact that Schörgendorfer’s colleague, Dr. Schachermeyr advocated the Nazi scientific racism, also bears new scrutiny. So we should return to our discussion of Das Eteokretische – as the Germans call the language of the Eteocretans.
In his thesis in 1942 while on Crete, the renowned Ernst Kirsten relegated the importance of the Minoans to a footnote in history. The Austrian archaeologist and geographer presented the role of the Dorians with cultural-historical and racial concepts. More importantly, he did so with the same vigor the hardcore Nazis attempted to justify their final solution.
The Dorians, another group historians squabble over, came to Crete from the Peloponnese like the sons of Hercules. So, it would seem these scientists were trying to keep hidden Crete’s best-kept secrets. I believe a final analysis will show the fascists put a lot more than curiosity behind their investigations into the Minoans.
The Minoan Utopia!
Whether or not they were truly blessed by the gods is a subjective matter. The hypothesis these Minoans were the mysterious Sea People who played havoc on Egypt is also a matter for conjecture. However, I’ve no doubt the Nazis identified with the barbaric and unbending nature of the Dorians. It seems probable the genetic superiority Hitler’s scientists sought was at the core of their efforts. And if there were secrets to be taken, who better to spirit away any evidence a peaceful civilization had once ruled the Mediterranean?
How could the Third Reich (or any subsequent invasion) be condoned, if another Utopia ever existed? We find more evidence of Hitler’s interest in Crete with the infamous Thule Society and the origins of the Aryan race. Kirsten, it seems, had the job of creating a kind of “Greekness” that was more closely akin to Hitler’s view of a master race – than a mystic Utopia where not even a weapon was needed. The most important point of the mystery of the Eteocretans for the Nazis was an unshakable justification for their conquests.
With the Dorians, the old ways of equality disappeared in favor of masculine ideas. , which I’ve no doubt the “Fatherland” far favored over a goddess driven peaceful society. Hitler’s scientists came up with strange notions to compensate. The idea the Indogermanicdorians were the real forebearers of European civilization is but one. Besides stealing cultural reality from the Minoans, Kirsten rewrote the foundations of the Iron Age. , but this is a much larger discussion. Minoan metallurgy was on the verge of ironmaking technology. So, the retreating Eteocretans probably carried iron technology in their exodus into central parts of the island.
“In the southwest part of the island of Crete today lives a Dorian Greek tribe. They are very tall, fair haired and have blue eyes.”
In 1942 the illegal excavations carried out at the Minoan Palace at Monastiraki were under the supervision of Ernst Kirsten. The excavations were not carried out across the whole site, but only at a sacred spot in the northwest quadrant of the site outside the village in the Amari Valley of Rethymno Prefecture. As far as I can discover, there is no published record of what the Nazis found at this lesser-known Minoan site.
We do know that the Germans used the notes of the famous British archaeologist J.D.S. Pendlebury in order to isolate something there. Pendlebury was killed for his part in organizing Cretans against the Nazis, so it is unlikely anybody will ever find out the secret of Monastiraki. The point in mentioning this here is to suggest a covering up of the real importance of the Minoans. But, there is also hope in the reality that there is so much more to discover here on Crete.
Finding the Keystone
There’s interesting reading in a HAARETZ story from January 2019 that deals with the Thule Society, and the Nazi quest to find Atlantis. Author Noa Manheim brings to our attention what may have been the First Reich, a legendary land sunk under the sea because of its quest to conquer the world. Yes, the Nazis apparently tried to link the Minoans, Atlantis, and their theories of Aryan superiority. Occultist Nazis believed in something known as a Thule Atlantis. The Ahnenerbe project set out to prove that the Aryan race was descended from Nordic gods. Millions of Reichmarks were spent trying to find irrefutable, archaeological proof, of linkages from antiquity to Hitler’s ideologies.
In conclusion, there are less than a dozen known Eteocretan inscriptions, and none of them are complete. All the ones found so far come from the eastern half of Crete, from either Dreros and Praisos. The stolen ones from Dreros near Neopolis probably offer us the best chance of piecing together more about the mysterious Minoans. As for the last refuges of the fascinating Eteocretans, not much has been found at either Karfi or Vrokastro, the famous remote holdout towns in East Crete.
The good news is that Crete is a huge island and a place where a new discovery comes to light almost every day. Given the vastness of the Minoan Civilization at its apex, the chances for finding more of these scripts seems positive. Somewhere beneath the fertile soil of Greece’s biggest island, there lies the answer to the mystery of the Eteocretans. And when these puzzle pieces are found, then the voices of the mysterious Minoans will no longer be silent.