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KRONOS Vol. I, Issue 2

A NOTE ON THE "LAND OF PUNT"
RALPH E. JUERGENS and LEWIS M. GREENBERG

In his "Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History" (Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana, 1945) and in Ages in Chaos (1952), Velikovsky identifies the "land of Punt,' mentioned in numerous Egyptian texts,(1) as Phoenicia-Palestine.(2) This, like so many other ideas he has put forward, has been essentially ignored by professional Egyptologists, who continue to disseminate the long-held view that Punt must have been located on the African or Arabian littorals (e.g., Somaliland) of the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden. Yet, since the publication of Ages in Chaos, advances in the phonological reconstruction of the Egyptian language itself appear to have added weight to Velikovsky's suggestion concerning the location of Punt.(2a)

Among the changes to be noted in the works of modern Egyptologists, as compared with those of their predecessors, is an abandonment of the transliteration "Punt" in favor of such versions as "Pwenet"(3) and "Pwene".(4) In the case of the latter, however, Gardiner still indicated linguistic caution. "In most Egyptological books the name is given as Punt, with a pronunciation that is certainly wrong; but that adopted here [Pwene] is also conjectural."(5) Gardiner was also well aware of a potential negative reaction on the part of his colleagues to this phonological change. "One innovation which I have allowed myself will probably not find general favour: it being certain that the feminine ending -et, though shown in the writing, had disappeared from pronunciation as early as the Old Kingdom, Hebrew and Arabic presenting a like phenomenon, I have replaced the usual 'Punt', 'Wawat', and 'Hatshepsut' by 'Pwene', 'Wawae', and 'Hashepsowe'."(6)

Be that as it may, the phonetic values conveyed by these new renderings of Punt seem almost identical with those of a likely ancient Greek antecedent of "Phoenicia," a name that comes down to us by way of Latin in its spelling.

The Greek word for Phoenicia was Phoinike, while "the adjective 'Phoenician' [Phoinix] for certain imported goods appears already in the Linear B texts as ponika (=phoinika), which also meant, along with the form ponikija, 'painted crimson, dyed crimson'. Ventris and Chadwick, therefore, correctly stated that ponika was 'probably a loanword' . . ."(7)

If, then, the term phoinix ('Phoenician') "can no longer be considered a Greek word, its source must be sought, most probably, among the very people who were famous as crimson and purple dyers and whom the Greeks called Phoinikes. Now Hebrew puwwa, Arabic fuwwa, is the name of Rubia tinctorum L., or dyer's madder, a herbaceous plant at home in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, one of the most common sources of red dye and imitation purple in antiquity. Pwt appears as early as Ugarit in a context that firmly establishes its meaning as 'madder-dyed textile.' A Hebrew clan of Galilee (which was contiguous to Phoenicia) bore the name of Puwwa, or P'a, and is quoted next to Tla`, 'crimson' (Gen. 46:13; Num. 26:23; I Chron. 7:1f.). The gentilic of Puwwa is Pn (Num. 26:23), and there is no need to suspect an error . . . This form Pn, adjective from puwwa, 'red dye,' provides us with the prototype of the Greek phoin-ix and of the Latin Poen-us, pun-icus. It corresponds to the Greek word both phonetically and semantically. As a Semitic loanword, it is by no means exceptional in Mycenaean Greek, which contains several other words of Semitic origin."(8)

The author of the above commentary, M. C. Astour, goes on to conclude that "the establishment of the West Semitic origin of phoinix and probably, of porphyra, is interesting not only from the etymological point of view. It also serves as another confirmation of steady Greco-Semitic contacts during the Mycenaean Age. It now becomes more difficult to consider the toponyms and personal names Phoinix, Phoinik, Phoinikus as purely Greek, without any relation to the Phoenicians, and to claim that the Greek traditions on Phoenician penetration of the Aegean were based on a misinterpretation of these names. At the very least, the Greeks must have met the Phoenicians and borrowed from them the word for 'red dye' before they could use it in their onomastica."(9)

In addition to our discussion so far, consider the fact that the consonantal digraph PH, with a phonetic value of F, was the Latin attempt to render the Greek letter Phi, which was in original Greek a real aspirated p. "The letters f, q, C, seem to have had at first the sounds of ph, th, ch, in Eng. uphill, hothouse, and blockhead. But afterwards they came to sound as in Eng. graphic, pathos, and German machen (the last being a rough palatal sound no longer heard in English)."(10)

Further, as W. B. Stanford points out, "the Romans, so endearingly modest about the limitations of Latin, frequently expressed their admiration for the euphony of Greek. They contrasted the euphony of phi (pronounced p-h as in 'shepherd'), a littera iucundissima, with the cacophony of their own f (a harsh labio-dental fricative like ours), which they considered a littera insuavissima. Unhappily we now pronounce it as a rough f "(11)

Even the classical author Quintillian "states that the Greek phi was not pronounced like the ugly Latin f. Yet in spite of this definite statement supported by other evidence most of us willfully mispronounce phi as f, instead of approximately as in 'shepherd'."(12) As for the Greeks, they only recognized that the Latin f was the nearest sound to the phi of their language, "a similarity which became an identity later."(13)

In the case of the letter grouping OI (Latin oe), "a dipthongal pronunciation is clearly indicated at least until Roman times (e.g. Phoebus, poena . . . ). The most obvious interpretation would be as [oi] in e.g. English toy, coin; but in some Greek dialects there is evidence which seems to suggest that, by a process of assimilation, the first element of the dipthong had been fronted, giving something of the type [oi], approximately as in French feuille."(14) The feu of the latter would have a vowel sound made with the lips rounded in position for o as in over, while trying to say a as in able.*

[* Pronunciation Key from The American College Dictionary (N. Y., 1964).]

By putting the digraph and the diphthong together PHOI we thus obtain, phonetically, something like p(h)u, or simply pu, which, via still another route, seems to hark back to a West Semitic or Hamitic name pronounced P-u-ne-[t?] or even P-we-ne-[t?](15)

Before this note on the "land of Punt" is concluded, some additional information shedding more light on the linguistic problem needs to be brought forward.

In the section of Ages in Chaos, "The Origin of the Words 'Pontifex' and 'Punt'," Velikovsky stated the following:

Even before the conquest of Joshua the land of Jerusalem was called in Egyptian inscriptions Divine Land, God's Land (Toneter) . Was Jerusalem a holy place before David conquered it, and even before the arrival of the Israelites under Joshua'?

In the Bible there is an allusion to the holiness of Jerusalem in early times and to a sanctuary in that place. When the patriarch Abraham returned from pursuing the kings of the north, who had captured his kinsman Lot, "Melchizedek king of Salem [Jerusalem] brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God" (Genesis 14.18).

The name Divine (or Holy) Land, given to the region of Jerusalem in Egyptian inscriptions of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, casts light upon the religious significance of Jerusalem and Palestine generally in the days before David, even as early as the days when the Israelites were still nomads. Since then and up to the present day they have been called "the Holy City" and "the Holy Land."(16)

Since the concept of the "Divine Presence" was so strongly linked to the region of Palestine and Phoenicia, it is of especial importance to note an observation made by W. F. Albright on the religion of Carthage, a Phoenician colony. "The term 'Presence' reminds one strongly of the late Canaanite (Carthaginian) idea that [the goddess] Tanit was the 'presence (power) of Baal' (Tanit pen Ba'al)."(17) The very word Pene (Pwene?) could therefore have signified not only the "Divine Presence," but"God's Land," "the Holy Land" Palestine-Phoenicia identical terms applied to the "land of Punt."(18) With regard to this last point, there is a most relevant Egyptian text from around the time of Queen Hatshepsut. In a pre-Amarna Eighteenth Dynasty hymn to Amen, passages of which go back to the Second Intermediate Period, we read: " 'Lord of the Medjai and ruler of Punt . . . the beautiful of face, who comes (from) God's Land (to the east) . . .'."(19)

REFERENCES

1. Ages in Chaos pp. 108ff
2. Thesis #42; A in C, pp. 116ff.
2a. Back in 1949, in referring to "the mysterious Land of Punt." M. Murray stated that "the root of the word [Punt] is Pwn, the T being the usual feminine ending for a foreign country. Is this a word of some primitive language meaning 'sea-shore, littoraP and is it the origin of 'Phoenician', the coast people of Palestine, and 'Punic' the littorai of North Africa?" The Splendour that M as Egypt, p. xxi.
3. W. C. Hayes, The Scepter of Egypt, Part II (Cambridge, 1959), p. 101: but see A in C, p. 141, n. 2.
4. A Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (London, 1972), pp. ix, 37, 185.
5. Ibid., p. 37 (emphasis added).
6. Ibid., p. ix. "The problems how best to transcribe Proper Names is one that has often vexed even classical scholars; with Orientalists it is much more acute, and among the latter the Egyptologlst is worse off than any. The hieroglyphs write no vowels and the correct supplying of these from Coptic or elsewhere is seldom possible: guesswork is therefore inevitable, but it is necessary because vowelless transcriptions would be an austerity which no ordinary reader could stomach. Furthermore, Egyptian consonants by no means all correspond to our own the ancient writing shows two kinds of h, two of k, two of kh, two of s, and no less than four of t and d, besides Possessing among other peculiarities an important gutteral in common with Hebrew and Arabic, there called the 'ayin'." p. viii, Ibid.
7. M. C. Astour, "The Origin of the Terms 'Canaan,' 'Phoenician,' and 'Purple'," Journal of Near
Eastern Studies, 24, 1965, no. 4, Oct., p, 348 (emphasis added)- Cp. D. Harden, The Phoenicians
(N. Y. 1962), pp 21-22
8. Astour, Ibid., pp. 348-3i9 (emphasis added).
9. Ibid., p. 350: Cp. J. D. Muhly, "Homer & the Phoenicians," Berytus, 19, 1970, pp. 19-64.
10. J. Hadley, A Greek Grammar (N. Y., 1869), p. 7; W. B. Stanford, The Sound of Greek (Los Angeles, 1967), p. 140 "The Greek comic writers give us examples of how foreigners distorted Greek sounds. (But we must remember that these are caricatures and no doubt exaggerated.) Their commonest fault, apparently, was to mispronounce certain types of letters. Thus in Thesmophoriaxousai Aristophanes represents a Scythian policeman as being unable to pronounce the aspiration in the letters theta, phi, and chi, for which he substitutes t, p, and k . . . (Here we have further evidence that these Greek aspirates were not pronounced like our th, f, and palatal ch . . ."; W. S. Allen, Vox Graeca (Cambridge Univ. Press: N. Y., 1968), p. 16 " . . . in classical Attic the sounds written , e x were aspirated plosives, like the ph, th, kh of Sanskrit and the modern Indian languages (and similar to the initial p, t, k of English or German) and not fricatives as in modern Greek . . ."; Stanford, Ibid., p. 125 "On the other hand, the fact that Sanskrit had aspirated kh, ph, and th strengthens the evidence for pronouncing chi, phi, and theta as aspirates. Some of the phonetic developments in modern Greek also help to determine pronunciations in ancient Greek."
11. Stanford, Ibid., p. 64.
12. Ibid., p. 123 see E. H. Sturtevant, The Pronunciation of Greek and Latin (Phila. 1940), p. 80.
13. Stanford, Ibid.
14. Ibid., p. 77 Sturtevant, Ibid., p, 132 for OE, p. 50 for OI, p. 51, ftnt. 49 for Thucydides account (ii. 54), p. 52, sec. 52 for "confusion between oi and u [which] begins in the second century B.C. in carelessly written Egyptian papyri . . .": See W. J. Purton, Pronunciation of Ancient Greek (Cambridge, 1890), pp. 58-71 "Latin oe, by which oi is regularly represented . . . passed . . . into a closed e. "
15. In the word phoin-ix, "the suffix ix ( = ik-s) is Greek. The dipthong -oi- is due to the normal transformation tphon-io-s (no relation to phonos 'murder'!) >pholnos. The vowel o for Semitic u is quite common in Greek transliterations (especially in the Latin may have retained the original vocalization (the Romans could have borrowed the word directly from the Carthaginians) the diphthongization in Poenus IS an inner-Latin development." Astour, op. cit., p. 349, n. 32. In discussing "The Origin of the Words 'Pontifex' and 'Punt' " (Ages in Chaos, pp. 132-134), Velikovsky recalls that "Rome waged so-called 'Punic Wars' against Carthage, which was built by immigrants from Tyre." R. D. Barnett, "Phoenician-Punic Art," Encyclopedia of World Art, XI (N. Y., 1966), p. 294, notes that Western Phoenician culture (Carthaginian) was "usually designated by the term 'Punic,' derived from a Latin name for the Phoenicians (Poeni, Puni)."
16. Velikovsky, A in C, p. 134; Velikovsky also suggests that "if Punt was originally the word for Phoenician temples, then it could have been derived from the Hebrew word panot, and in this case the Phoenicians received their name from the houses of worship they built." Ibid. In the case of the latter suggestion, it is especially interesting to read the following comments by A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford, 1972), pp. 1-2 " . . . the great city of Memphis, an alternative name of which Hikuptah, 'Mansion of the Soul of (the god) Ptah' may have furnished Homer with the word Aigyptos (Egypt), used by him to designate both the river Nile and the country which it watered."
17. W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (Doubleday Anchor Books: 2nd ed., Garden City, 1957), p. 298. Velikovsky had already drawn attention to this reference In A in C, p. 134, n. 6. According to G. C. Picard and C. Picard, The Life and Death of Carthage (N. Y., 1968), pp. 152-153 "In text No. 347 of the Proto-Canaanite inscriptions of Sinai, we find the name TNT (tinnit) used as an epithet to qualify Asherat, 'the Lady of the Sea Monster or Dragon'. Thus TNT would be the feminine of TN, a name which is found in its plural form TNM in Ugaritic texts. The Lady of Carthage would indeed be Asherat, as Dussaud had suggested. In support of this theory we quote the union of Tanit with Ba'al Hammon [Saturn, according to most authorities] which is reflected in her appearance as Pene Ba'al ["the 'Face of Ba'al' "]. and which corresponds to that of Asherat with El [Saturn] in Phoenicia . . . Tanit is represented by the crescent moon [sic?], and Astarte by the planet Venus." Tanit "is the dispenser to mankind of the vital energy which is Ba'al Hammon's." Tanit resembled Isis and Cybele closely and "the Romans adopted her cult and renamed her Coelestis" (p. 154) (emphasis added); also see Ex. 33:11, Ex. 33:14. The Hebrew word Panim also means presence or face.
18. A in C, pp. 108-110.
19. J. A. Wilson, The Culture of Ancient Egypt (Chicago, 1959), p. 211 and n. 7 (emphasis added): also see A in C, p. 109 and n. 7. "To the east" can hardly refer to Somalia. Even today there is the following blessing intoned in the Jewish Synagogue and Christian Church: "May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His countenance (face) to shine upon you and grant you and all this world Peace Amen."

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