by Clyde A. Winters, PhD Uthman dan Fodio Institute © 2007 C.A.


The ancient people of Crete are called Minoans or Eteocretans. The Egyptians knew these people as the Keftiu. The Keftiu or Minoans spoke the Malinke-Bambara language. The MalinkeBambara language is a member of the Mande group of languages which belongs

to the Niger-Congo superfamily of languages spoken in Africa. Here is a picture of Keftiu from the Egyptian tombs. They are bringing goods to Egypt in their distinctive ceramics.
Minoans/Keftiu in Egyptian Relief

Men on a boat from Thera


Every since Sir Arthur Evans, discovered the hieroglyphics and Linear A writing of Crete there has been a search for the authors of this script. Evans (l921) suggested that the Minoan civilization found its impetus from the arrival of refugees from Libya to Crete. Evans supported this hypothesis by discussing the affinities between Crete and Libya, e.g., l) the writing of Crete and Libyco-Berber (Manding) writing are similar (Winters 1985),2) both groups wore the cod piece, and 3)

they share the identical customs of leaving a lock of hair hanging down in front of the ears. The protruding tuft of hair was associated with an initiatory rite dedicated to the goddess Neith.(Bruson 1985) The goddess Neith or Athene, was a Libyan goddess. Other scholars have also found a Libyan influence an Crete. A.B. Cook (1914), noted that the Libyan ram with horns curved downward occurs in Minoan art. The ram is associated with the goddess Athene (Neith). In addition Pendlebury (l965) postulated a Libyan immigration to southern Crete in the area of Messara (c.3000-2200 B.C.) Hammond (l967), feels that the Libyans settled the plains of Phaestos between 1900-1700 B.C. In addition Dr. Alain Anselin (1984), has done a fine study of the Black Libyans of Crete. LINEAR A WRITING

Linear A writing is a variant of the Proto-Saharan writing, used by the Manding in the Sahara. The earliest Manding

inscriptions have been found at Oued Mertoutek. The Oued Mertoutek inscription has been dated to 3000 B.C. , by Wulsin (1941) The Proto-Manding script has around 200-350 signs and around 40 different forms. It is a syllabic script. (Winters 1983,1985b) Due to the early date assigned to the Oued Mertoutek site, we can infer that the Proto-Saharan writing was invented sometime earlier than 3000 B.C. Up to this day the Manding writing is used by Manding secret societies. (Winters 1977) The hypothesis that the Eteocretans spoke a Manding dialect is supported by a comparison of Minoan Linear A signs and the Manding signs which were used in the Western Sahara. Many of these signs are clearly cognates. To further test this hypothesis that the Eteocretans probably spoke a Manding language we compared Manding and the Keftiu or Cretan names collected by the Egyptians. (Peet 1917) Crete is mentioned in Egyptian documents of

the First Intermediate Period and 18th Dynasty. (Strange 1980 :71-73; Vercoutter 1956:43-45) The Ketiu personal names come from a schoolboy's writing board of the 18th Dynasty. The heading of the writing board now located in the British Museum was "How to Make Names of Keftiu". Although the Keftiu names have been compared to Semitic without success, a comparison of these names with Manding personal names provide startling agreement. In Manding /b/, /f/ and /p/ are often interchangeable. This suggest that the MInoans or Keftiu called themselves Kebe, the name of a leading Manding clan. Or this name may refer to the Keita Mande, the royal family from which sprang the rulers of ancient Mali. Keftiu , is made up by the root kef-, plus the localtive suffix /-i/ used to give the affirmative sense, /-t/ the suffixial element used to denote place names, nationality and personal names, and /-u/ the plural suffix. Thus Keftiu can

be interpreted as "The land of the Kefs". The Egyptians probably pronounced the Minoan /b/ like /f/ . As a result the Eteocretans probably called themselves Kebe (pl. Kebew) and Crete Kebeta. The term Caphor is probably based on the Egyptian work Keftiu. The rulers of Kebeta, were called Mansa (> Manos). On Egyptian writing board BM5647 there are eight Keftiu names. These names agree with Manding names: Keftiu (Kebetiw) 'shr nsy 'ks Pnrt 'dm Rs Manding sye nsye nkyi Pe,Be-ni,Fu-ne Demba Rsa

Of the Keftiu names compared above we find startling results four of these show full agreement, one name has partial agreement and only one name lacks full or partial agreement in both Manding and Keftiu.

The personal name which shows partial agreement is Pnrt. The root of the name Pnrt, is probably Pe. This name can be easily explained by Manding grammar. If we breakdown Pnrt into its segments we have Pe, plus /-n/ a suffixial element added to Manding words when they are verbalized. The /-r/ (ra), is the suffix of the present participle ;and /-t/ (te) is the suffixial element used for form names. Thus Pnrt, was probably pronounced Penrate.


The Eteocretan inscriptions and tablets from the palaces of Crete indicate that these buildings were mortuaries or temples of the dead. The idea that the palaces of Minoan Crete are in reality mortuaries in not new. Oswald Spengler (l935) suggested that the Minoan "labyriths" might be in reality temples of the dead.

Georg Wunderlich (l974) has the same views. He wrote that "[T]he Minoans built genuine tombs for the preservation and care of the dead. Their tombs were allowed to decay when the old cult of the dead was superseded by the "New" heroic method of cremation [introduced by the Indo-Europeans] with its built in insurance against grave robbing". The Minoans practiced communal internment. the earliest clan tombs were developed during the Neolithic; sites such as Chrysolakkas near Mallia,and Arkhanes are examples of this practice of making communal graveyards.The collective graveyard at Arkhanes was replaced by a temple for the dead. Hagia Triada and the sanctuaries such as Iouktas were probably also communal internment centres of the dead dedicated to Neith or Athene the goddess who protected the remains of the dead in their coffins or burial jars. In Greek mythology Athene or Neith took the first olive tree to be planted in Crete, after Libya became arid. (Graves

1980:45) She was a major god in Libya and Lower Egypt. This is significant because one of the pre-Islamic gods of the Manding was called Ni-ya/Nia . This Nia is probably the Neith of the Greeks. The goddess Neith came from Africa. (Bernal 1986) The goddess Neith is frequently mentioned in the funerary tablets of ancient Crete in the form of Nia. A comparison of the Vai (member of the Manding group) signs and Linear A signs, indicate that the sign for Nia/ Neith is na and

. This sign is formed by two symbols i. Thus was Nia among the

Manding. Ni-ya/ Nia was a mother goddess, protector of nature and manifestation of life. The association of many Minoan sites with the underworld is evident from the presence of "double shields" frescos, like the one at Knossos. In the ancient world ritual shields were placed in tombs to ward off evil spirits. (Wunderlich 1974:48-49) Among the ancient Egyptians the

emblem of Neith the guardian of the coffins and canopic jars

was a shuttle or crossed shields

. The center

of the Neith cult was Sais in the Delta. In Minoan Crete the double shield motif in tombs and or sarcophagus may have been used to indicate the presence of Neith. H.R. Hall, observed that: "The characteristic Cretan figure-of-eight shield is the same as the shield of the goddess Neith of Sais, which probably goes back to early Neolithic days". (Hall 1927) In Libya and Crete young children wore the uraeus "serpent lock". This protruding tuft of hair was associated with the initiatory rite dedicated to the goddess Neith. According to Cook (l914), this coiffure was associated with young Eteocretan initiates as late as the fifth century B.C. Since many buildings of ancient Crete were temples of the dead, most Linear A tablets, are funerary tablets. The funerary tablets written in Linear A indicate that the people put into these mortuaries were high born.

In addition, their character appears to have been morally sound because the documents speak of the deceased as "becoming an amulet/object effective for its virtue". Thus when these Cretans died they probably were deified as first suggested by the remarkable scene discussed by Anta Diop (l991) preserved on the Hagia Triada sarcophagus. This indicates that people visited these tombs so they could btain a blessing from the 'righteous dead'. Due to our decipherment of the Minoan script, it has become clear that the Minoans used Linear A to write religious text. The corpus of Linear A inscriptions on tablets and libation vessels show considerable repetition. The sacred uses of the Linear A script is evident from the numerous votive inscriptions found on stone objects of art from the numerous Minoan sanctuaries excavated in Crete, especially those found at Iouktas.(Karetsou 1985)


Since the Eteocretans were Manding speakers we can read the Minoan inscriptions by comparing the Vai and Minoan scripts to discover analogy in the shape and form of the Linear A characters and the Vai characters. Once this is done we give the Linear A sign its value in the Vai script, and then use Malinke-Bambara to read the signs. Each Linear A sign is monosyllabic. They are of the consonant (C) vowel (V) class.

The key to the decipherment of Linear A were: 1) the evidence of Manding migration to Crete; 2) repetition of certain signs on Cretan libation vessels; and 3) this regularity of inscriptions led to the assumption that the inscriptions found in the sanctuaries are votive prayers. The assumption that the inscriptions on sacred objects from Crete were votive prayers made it possible to hypothesize that the wish or desire requested in the inscriptions would be addressed to a particular deity. This assumption proved to be the correct one. Because a study of Linear A text led to the discovery that a common sign in many of the text was the sign, or the double axe of the votive vessels which in both text represent the name Nia. This sign usually appears once or twice in most Linear A documents and votive inscriptions. This implied that name of the major Eteocretan deity. In the funerary tablets from Hagia Triada and Arkhanes and votive prayers of Iouktas there is frequent Nia, was the

mention of the dead inhabiting a place where they were "in the company of Nia (Neith)" In an inscription from Iouktas published by Karelsou, Godart and Oliver (1985):

Ni po-tu

i-fe Yu-i

I-gyo Nia

"This soul / is obliged to the order/ (his) breath of life/ the vital spirit/(it is) thou in the company of the divinity of the cult/(the Great) Nia". (See figure 18IOZa8) In another interesting inscription from Iouktas we read that:

Nia Yu tu-kpe fe-i po tu

Nia/ the life blood/ the Ruler of Moral sweetness/ (she) is the breath of life/ the Pure Ruler".(See figure

IOZa2 Godart, et al 1985) Nia is also mentioned many times in the Haghia Triada documents published by Carralelli (l963). These tablets as all Linear A tablets are read from right to left. In these texts it is made clear that the dead reside in the company of Nia, in a state of retreat. This is best illustrated in Carrotelli (l963) illustration no. 12:

Nia ita-pa ta bu "[You] exist with Nia in a unique state of retreat".

In Carratelli (l963) illustration no.7 side B, we find the following:

I Nia ita-pa i-fe pa-i "In the company of Nia, thou exist in a most unique state. Now you are very much empty". It appears from the inscriptions that Haghia Triada was the home of Neith. In Carratelli (l963) illustration no. 13 we read the following:

Se gyo ta Nia lu. “A [fine] Supporter of the Diety (lies) here in Nia's House".

Our decipherment of the Linear A writing proves that the Eteocretans came from Africa not the Middle East. It also shows that even before rulers of the 18th Dynasty conquered Keftiu, the rulers of this land were from Libya. These Linear A tablets give us valuable information about the Minoans.Although the entire corpus of Linear A tablets are concerned with statistics on flocks of sheep, harvests of wheat and olives, and etc.; the Linear A tablets provide us with a distinctive view of Eteocretan religion and devotion to the goddess Nia or Neith.

Linear A Inscription

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