A Paleolithic Language
by R. Cedric Leonard
Linguists have believed for some time now that a language exists today which can be traced back to the Stone Age. Just how far back is uncertain, but at least as far back as the Neolithic Age (Renan, 1873; Ripley, 1899). Whether or not it can be traced further back into the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) remains to be seen. The huge areas once covered by this language and its close relatives are the very same areas which were occupied by Cro-Magnon Man of the Paleolithic Age: a strong indicator that this language was that of Cro-Magnon Man. Since we are looking at a Stone Age language which survived to the present-day, in making our analysis of this remarkable phenomenon it will be helpful to know where the Cro-Magnon people still live today. So, who were the survivors of Atlantis?
THE SURVIVORS OF ATLANTIS
Generally, modern Cro-Magnon people can be found in certain parts of Western Europe, North Africa and some of the Atlantic Islands today. Physical anthropologists agree that Cro-Magnon is represented in modern times by the Berber and Tuareg peoples of North Africa, the all but extinct Guanches of the Canary Isles, the Basques of northern Spain, the Aquitanians living in the Dordogne Valley and the Bretons of Brittany; and until lately, those living on the Isle d'Oleron. (Howells, 1967; Lundman, 1977; Hiernaux, 1975, et al.)this indicated by obviously Cro-Magnoid skulls.
Except for some shrinkage of areas, this is the same distribution pattern for Cro-Magnon as existed in Upper Paleolithic times. Many of these same peoples are distinguished in calling themselves by names using the suffix "tani," from the Mauritani of North Africa to the Bretani of Brittany, France and the British Isles (Martins, 1930). (For the latest theory of the origin of the Bretons click Here.)
The Berber people call themselves Amazigh: Berber is a name that has been given them by others and which they themselves do not use. Their often dark appearance is caused by the sun: they are ethnologically and genetically White. Ethnologically, the Tuaregs of North Africa (the so-called "Blue People of the Sahara") are Berbers who speak an ancient dialect of Berber called Tamachek. Genetically light-skin and blue-eyes prevail. With their aquiline noses, high cheekbones (often with blonde or reddish hair), they are said to resemble their alleged Atlantean ancestorsmany individuals are over six feet tall. When questioned, they do not hesitate to name Atlantis as their lost homeland.
Back in the early 1980s an investigative journalist, Ken Krippene, travelled to Marrakech, Morocco, to search out tribal leaders and speak to them concerning their traditional origins. They told him that Atlantis, their homeland, was lost during a cataclysm when "the earth began to tremble violently . . . then slowly, as the storm still raged, Atlantis sank into the sea." (Krippene, 1981) Escaping in small boats, they made their way to the shores of North Africa. They appear to be a tough, happy, and fiercely independant people.
Among the modern Berbers, the lightest skin pigmentation is that of the Rifians, the most European-looking Berbers. Depending on the area, 10% to 25% have light brown or blond hair. The blonds tend to be golden, or reddish; only rarely ash blond. (Coon, 1965) Concerning "blondism" among the Tuaregs and Berbers, Dr. Jean Hiernaux, Director of Research at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, writes:
"The relatively high incidence of blondism in North Africa has raised much speculation. Has it evolved locally, or does it represent an admixture of European elements from an area where blondism has a high incidence? Both views are tenable." (Hiernaux, 1975)
Although Hiernaux seems to favor possible genetic influence from northern Europe, I believe the long-term evidence clearly demonstrates an innate reluctance among Cro-Magnons to interact linguistically, culturally, or sexually with their neighbors, especially in ancient times, as reiterated by numerous ethnologists, linguists, and anthropologists.
The important thing in regard to their particular pattern of distribution is that when the languages of these people are analyzed, it is apparent that they speak languages that are related to each other, but not related to the other languages spoken throughout Europe and the Near East. I have named this family of languages the Berber-Ibero-Basque Complex. The languages involved are very old, going back at least to the Neolithic Age, and possibly dating back to the Paleolithic cultures of the ice age.
AQUITANIAN AND LUSITANIAN
Not much is known of these two languagesAquitanian and Lusitanian inscriptions are nonexistent in the original script. The Aquitanian and Basque languages are presently believed to be remnants of an ice age Paleolithic language spoken in Western Europe. Other than a few place and tribe names transmitted by Greek and Latin writers, the main data come from Latin inscriptions found mainly along the high basin of the Garonne in Aquitania. (Gorrochategui, 2003)
With regard to the relations between it and the Iberian and Basque languages, the Aquitanian language is a kind of missing link, but a very special one. Aquitanian names resemble the Iberian personal names. Many, especially the god names, are compounded in the same manner as the Iberian ones. The Roman geographer Strabo (Geography, IV,1,1) states that their language and physical appearance demonstrate their kinship to Iberians.
Archaeological, toponymical and historical evidence strongly suggest that Aquitanian was a dialect of the Basque language. The evidence appears as votive and funerary inscriptions found along the Rhine River (at Hagenbach), inscribed in Latin characters, which contain some four hundred personal names as well as numerous names of deities. Aquitanian has even been suggested as the forerunner of Basque. (Trask, 1997)
As a matter of fact, the Aquitanian language is considered by many to be Old Basque: this because of the coincidence between Aquitanian personal name bases and the Basque lexicon (i.e., meanings of the names can be determined using a Basque lexicon). According to Gorrochategui (1993), most Aquitanian names have admissible interpretations by the Basque lexicon, especially the names of Aquitanian deities.
Even less is known of another Iberian language spoken by the Lusitani of western Iberia. The Lusitanians were the most numerous people in the western area of the Iberian peninsula, and even though there are those who point to the Alps as a possible origin, others believe they were an indigeneous Iberian tribe. I concur with the latter as far as it goes, but their ultimate origin, I believe, is Atlantis.
With the passage of time the Lusitanian language succumbed to the pressure and prestige of Latin, and as a result has totally disappeared from usage. Due to the brevity of ancient Lusitanian texts, and the fact that only a very small number of Portuguese words seem to be derived from the Lusitanian language (Zdravko Batzarov), the affiliation of Lusitanian remains in debate. Portuguese is, of course, an Indo-European language.
The most famous Lusitanian inscriptions are those from Cabeço de Fraguas and Lamas de Moledo in Portugal and Arroyo de la Luz in Spain (shown on the right). All known Lusitanian inscriptions are written in the Latin alphabet.
Ulrich Schmoll (1959) proposed a language branch which he called "Galician-Lusitanian". And there are fundamental suspicions that the area of the Gallaecian tribes (North of Portugal and Galicia), that is, all the northwestern area of the Iberian peninsula, spoke languages related to Lusitanian, rather than the Keltic as once believed. All these issues are still being hotly debated by professional linguists and philologists.
THE BERBER-IBERO-BASQUE LANGUAGE COMPLEX
What I will endeavor to show here is that the various dialects of what I believe was the original language of the Atlanteans accompanied the Cro-Magnon people as they swept into the western portions of Europe and Africa from Atlantis. The remains of this phenomenon exist to this day in what I call the Berber-Ibero-Basque Language Complex. This complex stretched from Morocco in North Africa, across Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula, on up into the Dordogne Valley of France and Brittany, continuing northward to the British Isles. (Click for Map) If such an Atlantic language did exist, we will have identified the Atlantean language, at least provisionally. At the very least, we can ask if such a unified, widespread language did not come from Atlantis, from where did it come?
Professional anthropologists have already postulated, in a classic work on European ethnology, that the modern day Basque people of the Pyrenees Mountains (northern Spain/southern France) speak a language inherited directly from Cro-Magnon Man (Ripley, 1899). To give a couple of illustrative examples of the reasons for the above postulation, the Basque (Euskera) word for knife means literally "stone that cuts," and their word for ceiling means "top of the cavern" (Blanc, 1854).
Ethnologist Michael A. Etcheverry states his opinion that the Basques, having fought off assimilation by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Franks, were themselves the direct descendants of the ice age Cro-Magnon people who had, more than any others, avoided both the modification of their genetic makeup and their language during the following era of Neolithic expansion. (Ryan & Pittman, 1998)
Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn (1915-1923) had long ago declared that the Cro-Magnon people of the Stone Age left two cultural "relics" that survived into modern times: (1) the Berber-speaking Guanches of the Canary Islands, and (2) the unique Basque language of western Europe. In regard to the extreme age of the Basque language, the distinguished British scholar Michael Harrison once wrote:
"In support of the theory that Basque, if not an autochthonous language, is at least one of the most primitive languages of Europe, in the sense of its being here before any of the existing others, is the fact that Basque . . . is still a language with no proven congeners." (Harrison, 1974)
If Basque was indeed the language of Cro-Magnon Man, it must have once been spoken over a much larger area of Europe than it is now. Today it stands isolated into two tiny linguistic "islands," surrounded by languages totally alien in vocabulary, syntax, and grammatical structure (Saltarelli, 1988). According to Harrison, who has done his homework, Basque did indeed cover a far greater area than it does today, reminding us that this fact was recorded by the ancient Carthaginians and Romans (Harrison, 1974).
But what about the little-known Iberian language (generally believed to be related to the Berber
language of North Africa)? The defunct Iberian language is known to us only through inscriptions (the Iberian script is mainly syllabic, but also partly alphabetic). It was once spoken throughout the entire Iberian peninsula, and through Iberian language specialist William J. Entwhistle (1936) we learn that this language is also related to the modern Basque language. All these languages are agglutinative, as apposed to inflected.
One particular Ibero-Tartessian sequence etched in prehistoric bone has lately been discovered at La Coruña in Galicia, Spain, which proves to be of interest (Bouvier, 2003). It is said to depict the old Iberian name for Atlantis, as well as the name of the ancient Iberian city of Tartessos. The inscription has been transliterated as follows:
Iberian characters reportedly found etched in a 6,000 year-old bone at La Coruña in Galicia, Northern Spain
It should be remembered that later inflected Indo-European languages had inflectional "endings" added to the stem of the word. Thus, "Tarte" (i.e., omitting the Greek suffix -ssos) would be the ancient Iberian name for Tartessos. The same applies to the original name of Atlantis (sans the Greek suffix). These Iberian inscriptions are far too old to be Punic, since they have been dated at circa. 4000 B.C.some of them have been carbon-dated even earlier (Schøyen, 2005).
The characters appear to be syllabic, therefore any vowel sounds indicated above (in small letters) are only conjectural. Thus the ATL noted above could represent the original Iberian name for "Atlantis". (Could this be "Atala"a name found also in North Africa among the Berbers of Tunisia, and one of the most ancient names of the celebrated White Island?)
The famous German philologist Wilhelm von Humboldt was convinced of the existence of a single great Iberian people in ancient times, speaking a distinct non-European language of their own. He proposed that these ancient Iberian people once extended through southern France into Brittany, and on into the British Isleshe even included the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Humboldt also contended that the Basques of modern times are remnants of that "once wide-spread Atlantic seaboard population" (von Humboldt, 1821).
Franz N. Finch, another German authority on comparative philology, asserted that modern Basque is simply "an indubitable continuation" of the older Iberian languagealthough this has been contested recently (Hualde, 1991; Trask, 1997). But even though recent investigators are reluctant to admit to vocabulary equivalence (attributing such to "borrowings" from the Basque), they also know that similarities in language structure (an extremely conservative trait, highly resistant to outside influences) is the most telling trait, and historically it is the structure of these languages which has so intrigued linguists.
Finch also points out that Basque (or Euskera) is not only connected with the Basques of southern France, but equally with the Ausci, an ancient Aquitanian tribe of central France (see above), to whom they were most likely related. Muck (1976) wondered if this might imply kinship between the Aquitanian and that oldest Italic aboriginal tribe known as the Osci?
Linguist Antonio Tovar (1957) is of the opinion that the Basque (Euskara) and Berber languages are closely related; and
Michael Harrison believes that both Iberian and Basque originated in Berber country. Why? Because of the affinities which exist between those languages and the modern Berber tongue. He writes:
"Indeed that Basque should have many words in common with the member of all the North African group of languages is not surprising, since modern opinion ever more inclines to credit the Basque with a North African origin . . ." (Harrison, 1974)
But even though these languages are apparently related, why imagine they all originated in North Africa? A quick look at any map will show the geographical proximity of these areas to Plato's Atlantis. It may be that none of these needed to "cross" the Straits of Gibraltar. If Cro-Magnon simultaneously appeared on the western shores of both continents, as most physical anthropologists insist, then so did his language. No evidence has been found to indicate that Cro-Magnon's origin was in North Africa (see my Anthropology page), so why would his language originate there? In other words, to bring it down to our terms, if Cro-Magnon originated in Atlantis, so did his language. (Click here for a linguistic map illustrating those relationships.)
Linguists have been stunned by the lack of change in these languages over extremely long periods of time. It seems that, language-wise, Cro-Magnon Man was very conservative! Prof. Johannes Friedrich (1957), a leading linguist of the Free University of Berlin, says that the Berber language has not changed at all in the last two thousand years. From this, one might conclude that the ancient Atlantean language is well enough intact, even after 12,000 years, that even today it can be identified to a reasonable extent.
Linguists call Basque "primitive" in the sense of its being the "first" (i.e., the earliest) of the present-day European languages; not implying that it is in any sense simple or undeveloped. Basque language authorities, such as S.H. Blanc (1854) and J. Morris-Jones (1940), describe Basque syntax as both "complex and orderly". However, to complete the picture, the British languages Welch, Erse and Gaelic should also be taken into account. Let's have a look.
WELCH, ERSE AND GAELIC
It appears that the peculiar Basque syntax (word order) is preserved in the modern Welch language. This much is certain. Someone, speaking some language (language X) was already in Great Britain when the first wave of Kelts arrived in about 1800 B.C. The questions are, who were they, and what was the language they spoke? Prof. Morris-Jones has answered the above questions by means of an intensive study of the Welch language. He explains the peculiarity of the Welch language by making the observation that it is composed mainly of a Keltic vocabulary, but having a non-Keltic syntax. After studying the language for most of his life, he has concluded that modern Welch is derived from a principally Keltic vocabulary which has been superimposed upon a much older syntax resembling Basque. He believes this happened as a result of conquest of the British Isles by the later Kelts. His theory goes like this:
When one people is conquered by another, the conquering warriors usually make wives or mistresses out of the conquered people's women folk. The latter are more or less forced to learn the vocabulary of the conqueror [Keltic]; but syntax is a harder thing to learn, especially when the warrior-husband is gone a lot fighting other battles. The children of these unions are raised by their mothers, and therefore learn the "incorrect" version of the conquerors language [Keltic vocabulary combined with original Basque syntax] from their mothers. Within a few generations the language as spoken by the women and children at home is considered "correct," resulting in the final Welch. This happened when the Lowland Scots had the English language superimposed on the older Gaelic, giving the Scottish dialect of English its particular flavor.
Morris-Jones concluded that the syntax most closely resembling that of Welch is the Berber and Tamachek languages of North Africa (both closely related to Basque). In other words, language X is identified as belonging to our Berber-Ibero-Basque complex, i.e., the Atlantean language. It appears that the earliest language of Britain is foundalmost hidden at the root of the Welsh, Erse and Gaelic languagesto be the Atlantean language. Some scholars tend to include certain pre-Indo-European Keltic languages of Northwestern Europe in this category (Renan, 1873).
The Basque language in the Pyrenees seems to be the last relic of a language which preceded the Indo-European in the western portions of Europe and the British Isles. In addition to this, a number of physical characteristics (skin, hair, and eye colouring) of certain natives of western Britain and Ireland, are likely relics of what Huxley believed to be "an Iberian population" (Huxley, 1870).
The late Prof. Barry Fell of Harvard University reminds us that one of the ancient names for Ireland is Ibheriu (derived from Iberiu; Fell, 1976), further asserting that Gaelic histories point to Iberia as an earlier homeland of the Gaels. It certainly wouldn't be the first time in history that the name of an older homeland had been transferred to the younger. Many authorities, including some linguists, think this might indeed be the case.
The people colloquially called the Black Irish (especially common in Conamara and Donegal of Ireland and on the Outer Hebrides of Scotland) have dark hair and eyes, wedge-shaped faceslooking very much like Berbers and Basquesand are most likely the descendants of the first settlers to Ireland and Scotland. Their type-O, Rh negative, blood strengthens such a postulation.
Recent genetic findings suggest that the people now inhabiting the British Isles (including Irish, Welsh, Scots, Basques and Bretons) are a remnant of a group of people who also left the Iberian peninsula (or Atlantis; R.C.L.) between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago and spent 6,000 years isolated from Europe before returning, bringing the Megalithic culture to coastal Europe. (Recent NOVA interview with Dr. Dennis Stanford and Dr. Bruce Bradley of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History)
Other genetic studies show that Mayans, Incas and Araucanians are all virtually 100% group O, with 5-20% of the population being Rh negative. This was the blood of the original Europeans and stems from Cro-Magnon man (Kurlansky, 2001). The races that possess this blood type are races of the Americas, the Canary Islands, the Berbers, the Basques, and Gaelic Kelts.
So it is almost certain that from Morocco to the British Isles (seeming to "hug" the Atlantic coast), we are dealing with basically a single language and a single people. If Cro-Magnon Man was as primitive as most people think, he would not have spoken only one language. Look at the uncountable languages of the American Indian, and the thousands of languages existing in sub-Saharan Africa. Each tribe spoke its own language, and sign language had to be resorted to for communication between them.
The unity expressed in all Cro-Magnon culturein their art impulse, their tools and weapons, social organization, and in the language they spokeis eloquent testimony of the high state of civilization attained in their original homeland before becoming refugees struggling for survival. And the evidence seems to indicate that this homeland was none other than the lost Atlantis.
TOP of Page
Blanc, S. H., Grammaire de la Langue Basque (d'apres celle de Larramendi), Lyons & Paris, 1854.
Bouvier, Michael, in the Catalogue L'Art of l'Ècriture, Paris, 2003.
Entwhistle, W. J. "The Spanish Language," (as cited in Michael Harrison's work, 1974.) London, 1936.
Fell, Barry, "America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World," Simon & Schuster, New York, 1976.
Friedrich, Johannes, "Extinct Languages," (translated from German by Frank Gaynor) published by The Philosophical Library, New York, 1957.
Gorrochategui, J., "La onomástica aquitana y su relación con la ibérica" in Untermann, J., & Villar, F. Lengua y Cultura en la Hispania Prerromana, Salamanca, 1993.
Gorrochategui, J., "Las placas votivas de plata de origen aquitano halladas en Hagenbach (Renania-Palatinado, Alemania)," Aquitania, XIX, 2003.
Harrison, Michael, "The Roots of Witchcraft," Citadel Press, Secaucas, N.J., 1974.
Hiernaux, Jean, "The People of Africa," Charles Schribner's Sons, New York, 1975.
Hualde, J. I., "Basque Phonology," Routledge, London & New York, 1991.
Huxley, Thomas H., "On the Ethnology of Britain," The Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, Scientific Memoirs III, 1870.
Krippene, Ken, "The Secret of the Blue Men," Elks Magazine, Vol. 59, No. 6, December-January issue, 1981.
Kurlansky, Mark, "The Basque History of the World," Random House Publ., New York, 2001.
Lundman, Bertil J., "The Races and Peoples of Europe," IAAEE Monograph No. 4 (translated from German by Donald A. Swan), New York, 1977.
Martins, J. P. de Oliveira, "A History of Iberian Civilization," Oxford University Press, 1930.
Morris-Jones, J., In Appendix to "The Welch Languages," by Sir John Rhys, London, 1939.
Muck, Otto Heinrich, "Alles uber Atlantis," Econ Verlag GmbH, Dusseldorf-Wien, 1976.
Osborn, Henry Fairfield, "Men of the Old Stone Age," New York, 1915-1923.
Renan, Ernest, De l'Origine du Langage, Paris, 1858; La Societe' Berbere, Paris, 1873.
Ripley, William Z., "The Races of Europe," D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1899.
Ryan, William & Pitman, Walter, "Noah's Flood: The new scientific discoveries about the event that changed history," Simon & Schuster, New York, 1998.
Saltarelli, M., "Basque," Croom Helm, New York, 1988.
Schmoll,Ulrich von Harrassowitz, Die Sprachen der vorkeltischen Indogermanen Hispaniens und das Keltiberische," Broschiert, 1959.
Schøyen, Martin, "The beginning of writing and the first alphabets," The Schøyen Collection, No. 4 (Palaeography 4.1), Oslo, February 2005.
Strabo (Strabo of Amasia), Geography (Appendix, 7 B.C.), Loeb edition, 1917-32.
Tovar, Antonio, "The Basque Language," University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1957.
Trask, Robert Lawrence, "The History of Basque," Routledge, London & New York, 1997.
von Humboldt, Wilhelm, "Researches into the Early Inhabitants of Spain with the help of the Basque language" (original title: Prüfung der Untersuchungen über die Urbewohner Hispaniens vermittelst der
vaskischen Sprache), 1821.
Copyright © 2001 by Atlantek Software, Inc.
Version 2.4: Last update: 30 Jun 2011.