THE TEMPLAR'S CURSE
The Celtic scholarship that has been devoted to the decipherment pf the so-called »Gaulish« epigraphic remains from the south of France is now at standstill out of frustration. The century-long linguistic research and speculation has brought no tangible results. All such work has been based on two fallacious assumptions. One, that the writing on the remains is Celtic. And two, that it was decipherable by means of comparison to the Island Celtic languages, especially that of the Breton. Since there had been a gap of only some three centuries between the supposed demise of the Continental Gaulish and the arrival of the first Bretons to Brittany, the surmise seemed palatable and become almost universally accepted. All this in spite of overwhelming evidence that the only Gaulish learned class, besides bards and augurers, left no written records.
The Druid devotion to an oral tradition had been clearly indicated already by Caesar when he stated that »the Druids believe that their religion forbids them to commit their teachings to writing … but I imagine that this rule was originally established for other reasons – because they did not want their doctrine to become public property and in order to prevent their pupils from relying on the written word and neglecting their memories«. According to Barry Cunliffes, »Ceasar’s explanation was superfluous, since the real reason was that Celtic was not a written language. What the Druids committed to memory was the entire knowledge store of community: magic formulas, ritual procedures, medical knowledge, law, folk history, and genealogies … It was by this means that folktales were passed from one generation to the next.« »The bards also were trained in specially organized schools. All teaching was oral.« What we know of everyday life of the Celts in Gaul comes down to us by a large collection of reliefs that contain no writings. And yet, in spite of all such evidence, Celtic scholars for over a century toiled, speculated, compared, and argued. Alas, unconvincingly. No one bothered to re-examine the fundamental premises that mistakenly underpinned all their failed endeavours.
Such unquestioning attitudes are now being confronted by a new persuasive paradigm which is bound to cause the heretofore erroneously espoused tenets to collapse. Such certainty will become the fate of the second above-noted assumptions. Its demise has been brought about by the burgeoning science of genetics.
The recent articles regarding the migrations into the British Isles after the retreat of the Ice Age are now coming to the forefront. According to them, any linguistic kinship between Island Celtic and Continental Celtic, if it ever existed at all, can only have existed in the mists of the prehistoric post-glacial period. The two types of Celtic are, therefore, at least twenty times farther removed from each other than the surmised three-century-long gape between the demise of Gaulish and the resurgence of Breton on the Continent.
It is significant that the new genetic research supports the doubts increasingly entertained of late by archaeologists who are finding few links between the people of the British Isles and the Celts of eastern France and Southern Germany. Basing his conclusions on recent genetic studies by S. Rootsi, C. Magri, T. Kvsilid and a group of forty-two other geneticists in 2004 »who investigate which aspects of contemporary human Y-chromosome variation in Europe are characteristic of primary colonization, late-glacial expansions from refugee areas, Neolithic dispersals, or more recent events of gene flow,« a Toronto researcher states the following: »What conclusions can we draw from the genetic studies? From the genetic studies is evident that, amongst the Slavs, Slovenes and Macedonians share the highest frequencies of the oldest subhaplogroups I, Iiq and Iic with the French population of Low Normandy and southern France. The frequencies are: Low Normandy 21,5 %, southern France 15,9 %, Slovenes 16,3 %, Macedonians 10 %, Poles 6,8 %, Czechs 6 %, Ukranians 5,5 % and Bosnians 2 %. In contrast, the frequency in Lyon and Poitier (France) is 3 % and in northern Italy 3,6 %, both without any presence of the oldest subhaplogroup I. This is an indication that there is a greater genetic affinity, on the basest of the oldest HG I of Low Normandy and southern France. The above results also attest to the genetic affinities of population living in the historical land of Ceasar’s Veneti and the present-day Slovenes.«
What is striking is not only the high frequency of the stated subhaplogroups shared among the Slovenes and Macedonians with such participation occurs »to the virtual exclusion of other Slavs …« Contemplating the impact of the above findings, one is inevitably confronted by the following question: What common historical factor linked to the territory of France contributed to the apparently higher degree of kinship between Macedonians and Slovenes?
The Macedonian connection dates back to the Ionian colonization of the northern shoreline of the Mediterranean by the Phocaeans. Having arrived in Anatolia as late as the 10th century B.C. and lacking arable land, the Phocaeans were forced to seek out suitable colonies. Being the northermost city of the prosperous Ionian settlements on the west coast of Asia Minor, Phocaea, in the 6th century B.C., did much to open the western Mediterranean to trade and commerce. During this time the Phocaeans took control of the littoral stretching from the Ligurian coast (in today’s northern Italy) all the way to Ampurias (in present-day north-eastern Spain). Preeminent among the colonies founded by them was Massilia (modern Marseille) ca. 600 B.B.
Phocaeans traded in Italy, southern France, and Spain. In fact, the Mediterranean Sea southeast of Italy was called Ionian on account of the Phocaen and Samian activities there also. It is of significance that the Old Slavic (Slavenetic) inscriptions deciphered and translated in Aideu to Brittany and in Appendix C of Gordian Knot Unbound hail from the hinterland of ancient Massilia and the riverbanks of the Rhone. It had been the Ionian Phocaens who had brought the Pelasgian tongue to the south of today’s France in the 6th century B.C.
According to Hesiod (7th century B.C.) the fourth heroic people in the Bronze Age were the Ionians. They were of warrior-nomadic origin (i.e. Kurgan), brought the horse to Greece, fortified citadels and carried out overseas expeditions to Asia Minor, Cyprus and Troy. They mixed with and assimilated the aboriginal element, the Pelasgians.
Regarding the Pelasgian language, we have recourse to Herodotus. Having been born in Halicarnassus in the southernmost part of the Ionian settlements in Asia Minor, he states that, judging by the speech of the Pelasgians still existing in his time (5th century B.C.), the language of the settlements where Pelasgians had been displaced had been non-Greek. As to the language spoken in the Ionian settlements in Asia Minor, Herodotus grudgingly admits that in his time there were four different dialects of »not…exactly the same language« spoken there. By saying that, he affirms the Ionian settlements to have spoken a common language but which had four dialects and, as a result, was not in all respects uniform and contained regional peculiarities. Further refining the above, Herodotus proceeds to identify six Ionian communities in Lydia as sharing mutual dialect. Among those mentioned is that of Phocaea.
Farther on, he identifies the Ionian who had at one time been settled on the Peloponnese as Pelasgian, »who were later renamed Ionian after Ion, the son of Xutus.« In the ensuing paragraphs, Herodotus says the same for the Aegean islanders who also »were Pelasgian in origin, but were called Ionian for the same reason that the Ionians from the twelve communities were, who were originally from Athens.« He places the Aeolians into the same mix by saying that they »according to Greek tradition are another Pelasgian people.« Herodotus says the same for the Tracian Crestonians.
Trying to mask his attitude of superiority under the guise of recounting mythical legends of dubious credibility, even Herodotus cannot hide the history of Doric and Hellenic shunting of Pelasgian native settlers from the choicer areas of Attica, Boeotia, Thessalay, and the Peloponnese into the marginalization of an inhospitable littoral of the Ionian Sea. Ever alert to the non-Greek heritage of the aboriginal elements still in their midst to the point of chauvinism, Greek historians time and again intimate an ethnic softness of their resistance to Persian domination. The common thread woven through this spiritless non-Hellenic loom is called Pelasgic by the Greeks.
Whether Ionian or Phocaean from western Asia Minor, Phrygian from Anatolia, Thraian and Macedonian to their east and north, or from the islands of Lemnos and Imbros, the non-Greek ethnics are depicted as infected by the Palesgic virus of non-resistance to Persian incursion. Of course, Greek expectation of unswerving solidarity against Persia from the descendants of the Pelasgic natives their forebears had supplanted and marginalizes references to Pelasgians was myopic and unrealistic. Besides those in Herodotus, classical references to Pelasgian can also be found in Homer, Hesiod, Thucydides, Strabo, Aeschylus, and Pausanias.
Herodotus predilections for patriotic bias comes to the fore especially in the anecdote regarding king Alexander of Macedonia’s (ruled from ca. 498-454 B.C.) qualifying for the Olympic-Games foot-race. For having accepted him as a refugee in Pella (whose etymology is the root in Pelasgic), Herodotus goes all out to ingratiate himself by stooping to recognize the Macedonians as Greek. What transpired was that »the Greeks who were drawn against Alexander in the foot-race trued to prevent him from taking part, on the grounds that non-Greeks were not allowed to compete in the games, which were exclusively for Greeks.« But Alexander proved that he was an Argive and, therefore, the officials in charge of the games allowed him to compete and he came in first in the race.«
There are two major flows with Herodotus’ account. One is that Argos had until the arrival of the Dorians and Hellenes in the region been a Pelasgian settlement. And two, that we have the official list of Olympic victors, but Alexander’s name was nowhere to be found on it. In the ensuing century, Demosthenes strongly< contest any such Greek ancestry for the Macedonians. In fact, Macedonia also ailed from the Pelasgic virus and prospered under Persian control, which clearly belies Herodotus’ claim of her Greek allegiance. As to the Macedonian royal family, the Temenids, having derived their name from Temenus, who in myth was one of the sons of Heracles and returned from the north (»with the Dorians«) to claim the Peloponnese, their Slavic name Temen (»dark«) tells us more than the Greek legend. In fact, the Old Slavic inscriptions from the Seleucid fortress of Dura Europos confirm this non-Greek heritage.
In Herodotus’ reference to the Garden of Midas, we see a further confirmation of such Old Slavic patrimony in that the portion of Macedonia there referred to »had been for more than three centuries (between ca. 1150-800 B.C.) the home of the Brygi, most of whom may well then have set off for Asia and become the Phrygians of north-west Asia Minor«. We know from Old Phrygian inscriptions that the language of that part of Anatolia had from the arrival there of the Brygi continuously to the Macedonian invasion by Alexander the Great been Old Slavic.
The Pelasgic transplanted to the West-Mediterranean shores of the Golfe du Lion and Ligurian Sea by the Phocaeans and Ionians in the sixth century B.C. was as free from foreign interference as by the time the epigraphic remains in the south of France were inscribed, an occasional Romance loanword crept in. Yet in spite of the influence of Latin, the Old Slavic (Slavenetic) retained its pristine Pelasgic vocabulary and morphology right up to the early 14th century A.D., when the prototype of the Shugborough-Hall inscription was carved. Only the association of heresy with anything Slavic in the massacres of the Albigensian Crusade and the paranoia of the inquisitions that followed it extinguished the last vestiges of the tongue the Phocaean and Ionian colonists had brought 2,000 years earlier.
The Stele of Lemnos
According to Herodotus, the island of Lemnos had been settled by Pelasgians continuously since the expulsion of the mythical Argonauts from the island some time around 1230 B.C. However, on account of its having been a cog on the grain route from Euxine (Black) Sea to mainland Greece, the island became focus for Athenian expansion during the Ionian Revolt and ensuing decades.
For our purposes, the pertinent period is that of the 6th century B.C., during which the inscriptions known as the Stele of Lemnos (a.k.a. the »Warrior« Stele of Lemnos) was engraved. We know from Herodotus that in the last decade of the 6th century Lemnos was still inhabited by Pelasgians. It fell under Athenian control only some time in the ensuing three decades by virtue of Miltiades’ conquest.
The translation of the Stele of Lemnos confirms the dictum of the noted Slovene etymologist France Bezlaj, as to how »incredible uniform and undiversified« Slavic still was as late as the 8th century A.D. The inscription from Lemnos cogently attests to the same linguistic heritage as those called Venetic, Slavenetic, Old Phrygian, Early Thracian, Dura Europos Macedonian, or Pelasgic. In the case of the Pelasgic on Lemnos, the continuity of such linguistic uniformity can clearly be traced back to the pre-Athenian control time.
In the depicted struggle between the contending forces of light and darkness, the Stele of Lemnos also indicates that the sands of dualism had already washed ashore on the island some 2,500 years ago. Never completely defunct, the seeds thus sown were to lie fallow in the Pelasgic subconscious for a millennium-and-a-half, only to sprout forth in Manichean Bogomilism and Catharism at a time when Christianity faltered in the wake of the Crusades in Palestine.
(Chapter XIII – XV)