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Open letter to science editors


KRONOS Vol VI, No. 1



A Response to G. R. Talbott

To the Editor of KRONOS:

In his article "Pharaoh Seti the Great and His Foreign Connections: Part I, Orientation" (KRONOS V:3, pp. 23-35), George Robert Talbott asserts, if I understand him correctly, that pharaonic Egyptian thinking was so different from modern Western thinking as to make it difficult for contemporary scholars to present a fair picture of the Egyptian outlook. Not only do I agree with this view,(1) but I suspect that the ancient Egyptians and their contemporaries may have had sensory impressions of the world that differed perceptually from ours as well as having different conceptions of those impressions.

In his understandable zeal to support this view, however, Talbott seems to me to use arguments chiefly, but not exclusively, linguistic which actually weaken it. While most of these arguments are merely ambiguous, a few are flatly erroneous. One such argument, on p. 28, is that "the idea that Coptic goes back to the time of the Pyramid Texts is about as cogent as the notion that English is rooted in the language of the Navajo Indians". In fact, Coptic (the very name of which is a procopized variant of the Greek word Aiguptiakos, "Egyptian") is the latest form of the same language of which Old Egyptian is the earliest form. The appropriate analogy here is not one which derives English, fantastically, from Navajo but one which derives Modern English, quite accurately, from Old English, alias Anglo-Saxon. (Just as it makes no substantive difference whether King Alfred's language is called Old English or Anglo-Saxon, so also would it make no substantive difference if we referred to Old Egyptian as Ancient Coptic or to Coptic as Modern Egyptian. The only reason for avoiding this last locution is that it might be misunderstood as referring to the contemporary colloquial Arabic of the lower Nile Valley.)

A second such error, again on p. 28, is Talbott's statement that "there are confident arguments to the effect that Coptic is an African language, with an African or 'Hamitic' structure, while other authorities give equally confident arguments to the effect that Coptic is a Semitic language". I know of no Egyptologists or Semitists who call Coptic Semitic. What Talbott may be thinking of is the fact that Amharic, the language of the Copts of Ethiopia (in which context, of course, "Copts" means "Christians" rather than "speakers of Egyptian"), is both geographically African and linguistically Semitic.

A third error, this one non-linguistic, occurs on p. 33, where Talbott discusses the Greek god "Hermes, identical in all respects to Egypt's Thoth". Here he exaggerates, to say the least. Were he right, Hermes would have had to be ibis-headed. Yet not only were none of the Greek gods animal-headed, but it was precisely the theriomorphy of the Egyptian deities that the Greeks found most grotesque about Egyptian religion.

In other cases, Talbott's statements are, if not erroneous, at least misleading. One such source of potential misunderstanding occurs on p. 28, where he refers to "whatever Greek dialects were spoken in ancient Macedonia". It is, of course, undeniable that educated Macedonians, such as Aristotle's pupil King Alexander, spoke Attic Greek. And it is probable that urban and coastal Macedonians spoke Aeolian Greek, the Hellenic dialect of the north-east Aegean region. But the indigenous language of Macedonia itself was almost certainly not Hellenic, although the fragmentary writings that survive do not permit us to say definitively whether its closest links were with Illyrian, with Thracian, or with Phrygian.(2)

A second misleading passage occurs on p. 29, where Talbott asserts that "Coptic is . . . [an] essentially Christian language . . . Those who still speak [it] bear a far closer resemblance in physical appearance . . . to the late conquerors of Egypt than to the ancient Egyptians." The implications here are, first, that languages can be classified or described in terms of the religious beliefs of their speakers and, second, that the racial affiliations of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs were or are patently distinct. While linguists, according to preference and circumstance, may classify languages genealogically (in terms of cognation), typologically (in terms of structure), or areally (in terms of location), none, to my knowledge, do so in terms of religion. The reason for this avoidance seems not to be any squeamishness about religion as such but a lack of evidence that religion has any direct linguistic effect on pronunciation, grammatical structure, or core vocabulary. As regards the "physical appearance" of the Egyptians and their conquerors, most of those physical anthropologists who make use of racial classifications place ancient Egyptians, southwest Asians, and southern Europeans not only in the same Caucasoid, or "white," race but also in the same Mediterranean, or "dark white," subrace.(3) If, on the other hand, Talbott intends the phrase "physical appearance" to refer to cosmetics or clothing, he should make this clear.

Another misleading passage is one in which Talbott asserts, on p. 33, that "ill-founded identification of . . . complexity and . . . profundity . . . is entwined deep in the roots of Western thinking". While the dominant intellectual currents of any culture are rarely matters of simple fact (but rather of considered interpretation), my impression is the opposite of his. I see the so-called Principle of Parsimony, better known as "Occam's Razor," as having dominated Western science since the days of the Medieval Scholastic philosophers. This principle, which mandates maximal simplification in the analysis of nearly all problems, seems to me to underlie Behaviorism, Logical Positivism, and most of the other reductionistic philosophies of our day, including Uniformitarianism.

In a few cases, Talbott's phraseology is so opaque that one can only guess what he means. An example of this opacity is found on p. 28, where he writes that "there is no parallel between Coptic and some other language of the kind that persists between, say, English and French". Here one cannot tell whether the noun "parallel" means cognation, linguistic borrowing, structural convergence, or something else. Nor is it clear whether the verb "persist" is a mere synonym for "exist" or was deliberately chosen to emphasise some (unspecified but) enduring linguistic relationship. Another obscure passage occurs on p. 29, where we read: "With all the legitimate doubts one can raise, no one will argue about immediate textual correspondence, whatever the ultimate 'meaning' may be." Contrary to what we might expect, the surrounding sentences do not help us explicate this sentence; and we are left to wonder whether "immediate textual correspondence" means lexical repetition within one Egyptian text, recurrence of items between Egyptian texts, translatability of Egyptian into another language, or (once again) something else.

To repeat: I believe that Talbott and I agree about the mental gulf that separates ancient Egypt from the modern West and the consequent difficulty that most of us must experience in trying to understand ancient Egyptian culture in its fullness. What I hope is that, in future instalments of his Pharaoh Seti series, he will strengthen his argument by divesting it of those misstatements and obscurities which might lead some readers needlessly to dismiss it.

Roger W. Wescott

Prof. of Anthropology & Linguistics
Drew University


1. See Roger W. Wescott, "Protohistory: The Transition from Pre-Civil to Civil Society," The Comparative Civilizations Review, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, forthcoming.

2. See Vladimir 1. Georgiev, Introduzione alla Storia delle Lingue Indeuropee, Edizione dell' Ateneo, Rome, Italy, 1966; "Regione Macedonica," pp. 189-196.

3. See Carleton S. Coon, The Living Races of Man, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1965; Chapter 3, "Europe and West Asia," and chapter 4, "Africa."

Dr. George R. Talbott Replies:

Because the later sections of Seti The Great and His Foreign Connections contain discussions of translations and original translations of Egyptian hieroglyphics, my views of the Egyptian language are not incidental to what I wish to communicate. It is necessary, therefore, to reply in detail to the charge of "errors" in matters linguistic. My response shall be in two principal sections followed by a "summing up".

1) Various Authoritative Opinions On The Relation Between Coptic, Semitic and African {Sudani) Languages

2) Lip Service To Occam's Razor, and Establishment Association of Complexity and Profundity In Evaluation of Scholarly Work

My response must, of necessity, be of greater length than the criticisms of Prof. Wescott since questions have been raised which require more than passing reference to the literature. In I) I have attempted to answer the points raised about the relation between Coptic and ancient Egyptian, between Coptic and Semitic, between Coptic and African languages, and, finally, between Coptic and partially synthetic languages created for ecclesiastical purposes. In 2)1 have endeavoured to show that Occam's Razor is certainly not the final arbiter in selecting what will become "respectable science".

Finally, I deeply regret that Dr. Wescott and I should be so far apart on matters linguistic. I am well aware of his scholarship and attainments and wish to thank him for having read my work. I have tried to answer him clearly, and in the process to remove any ambiguity there may be in my first instalment of a lengthy piece of Egyptological research.

Various Authoritative Opinions On The Relation Between Coptic, Semitic, and African (Sûdânî) Languages

I wish to address the question of "authorities" in matters linguistic. No better introduction to my comments can be found than a quotation from Dr. Lynn Rose, in his devastating critique of Peter Huber's attack on Velikovsky. In KRONOS IV:2 (Winter 1978), " 'Just Plainly Wrong': A Critique of Peter Huber", Dr. Rose has this to say on page 34:

"Each new generation of scholars tends to flatter itself regarding its supposed breakthroughs. But the fact is that very little has fundamentally changed during the past one hundred years in the way scholars treat antiquity: the conventional chronology is still adhered to by the vast majority of today's authors; and the archaeological, stratigraphical, monumental, and literary evidence against that conventional chronology is swept under the rug today even more carefully than it was two or three generations ago.

"Sometimes, in fact, it is necessary to turn to older sources in order to find candid reports and honest discussions of discoveries whose embarrassing nature had not yet been fully realised" (italics mine ).

Dr. Rose goes on to say much more of relevance, but I shall stop quoting here. As with chronology, so with many other matters. One must distinguish very carefully, both in the "hard sciences" and in the humanities, between scholarly agreement based upon experimental demonstration, and scholarly agreement based upon authoritatively advised consensus. Some ideas, and some authors, simply go "out of style". There is no logic in waving away an earlier author simply because he lived in a prior generation. I have been told, by an authority in Egyptology, that Budge is no longer viable. I pressed the question. The answer I received was that Budge wrote too much. A few petty inconsistencies were cited, and I was supposed to acquiesce.

To begin with, Budge wrote his monumental An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary in 1920. Budge himself died in 1934, and left us a large library of works. As such, he is one of the most important men in intellectual history, not just in Egyptology. The reason for this is that he gives us all of the material upon which he bases his opinions ; and while I sometimes differ with Budge, it is always with affection and great respect.

Now it is in Budge's dictionary that one may find reference to the facts in the history of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. One must first keep clearly in mind that when establishment Egyptologists speak of the "Egyptian language", what is meant is entirely the interpretation of hieroglyphic sequences by the use of Coptic. It was Coptic which was used by Champollion, not only to establish a kind of "alphabet" (their words, not mine), but to "fix" the meanings of many of the "words" or hieroglyphic groupings. I do not make this identification, but we are not considering my methods at this point.

Egyptian, in conventional scholarship, is old Coptic, or put another way, Coptic is modern (i.e., most recent form of) Egyptian. Therefore, when an Egyptologist asserts that Egyptian is related to this or to that language, Coptic has to be involved by implication. It will not do to argue that we only began with Coptic, and then transliterated materials wholly unrelated to Coptic. That certain "terms" appear for which there is no easy Coptic equivalent is quite true, but the bulk of "meaning" today, as in the Nineteenth Century, leans heavily on Coptic.

And now to the authorities who asserted relationships between Coptic, Semitic, and Egyptian, even to the point of identification. In 1880, Simeone Levi published what is still regarded as a useful list of hieratic characters. Levi, in a period extending from 1887 to 1894, published his Vocabulario. He regarded Egyptian, Coptic, and Hebrew as "substantially forms of one and the same language''.(1) Budge did not agree with Levi's opinion. I do not agree with it either. All I stated on page 28 of KRONOS V:3 is that some authorities regard Coptic as a Semitic language. Levi did so, and the matter has not been settled, like some elementary principle in physics or chemistry. I know of no modern authority who agrees with Levi, but proofs (modern or antique) that Levi is definitely wrong are not to be found. Budge's account of Levi is well worth reading, because he gives fair expression to an opinion contrary to his own with customary courtesy and detachment.(2)

Benfey, Ebers and Brugsch all held that Egyptian (by which they meant the version of Egyptian as rendered through Coptic) is a Semitic language. Birch held that the majority of words in the ancient Egyptian language represent an "old form of Coptic", and that other words, not readily identified in a Coptic vocabulary, are of Semitic origin.(3)

Budge goes so far as to say that languages of the Eastern Sûdân " contain much that is useful for the study of the hieroglyphics " (italics mine).(4) I want to emphasise that Budge's reference to African languages (a) is to linguistic structure, not to geographical location, and (b) that Budge makes reference to the use of Sudani languages in the study of written Egyptian. Thus, Budge is an authority who holds that Egyptian is, in its most recent form, Coptic, and that it is also an African language in the linguistic sense. My own position is that the matter remains problematic.

In summary: For Simeone Levi, Hebrew, Coptic, and Egyptian are forms of a common language. Thus, for him, Coptic is a Semitic language. For Birch, the "older" terms, transliterated out of the hieroglyphic sequences using Coptic as the basis of "alphabetic assignment", are Semitic terms. For Budge, study of the hieroglyphics requires knowledge of Coptic (Budge is, in this respect, a thoroughly traditional Egyptologist), but he urges the study of languages of the Eastern Sudan to enhance that study.(5) The parent language of that group of African languages cited by Budge is called "Hamito-Semitic", and is thought by some scholars to have originated in Arabia. Within this grouping, the Hamitic languages are Berber, used in Algeria and Morocco; Hausa, used in West Africa; Tamashek, found among the Tuareg of the Sahara Desert; Galla, Somali, and Danakil, found in Northeast Africa. How can Budge's comments be misunderstood? I shall quote from pages lxix-lxx of Volume I of the Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary :

"The ancient Egyptians were Africans, and they spoke an African language, and the modern people of the Eastern Sudan are Africans, and they speak African languages, and there is in consequence much in modern native Sudan literature which will help the student of ancient Egyptian in his work."

In this context, Budge is making reference to the written hieroglyphics, and he says so. I did not "confuse" Galla with Amharic. Amharic is ordinarily classified as a written Semitic language of Ethiopia. In passing, it should be noted that Ge'ez is the ecclesiastical language of the Monophysitic Church of Ethiopia, just as Coptic is the ecclesiastical language of the Monophysitic Church of Egypt. The modern form of Ge'ez is found among the Beni Amer near the Red Sea, and that language is called "Tigré".

Since the matter of Coptic and its origins is so important, I wish to add some material for clarification. First of all, I agree that the culture and language (whatever it was) of ancient Macedonia was not "classical Greek". Even granting that some of the Macedonian-Ptolemaic invaders had a knowledge of Greek, and this is a reasonable assumption, it is certainly safe to assume that languages other than Greek were very likely introduced into Egypt by the Ptolemies. It is my hypothesis that one of these was Coptic. This is a deviation from widely held scholarly opinion, but not a confusion, a mistake, or a matter of ignorance of Coptic and hieroglyphic Egyptian. We can verify assertions about the languages spoken in Macedonia, Greece, and Egypt today. It is another matter to know exactly what the Ptolemies spoke. My own view is merely a working hypothesis, but the same must be said for the more widely held opinion. As for the relation between the spoken and the written word, that is overly subtle for the present discussion.

Historians often brush lightly over the "appearance" of Slavic people in the fifth century of our era, who are said to have "overrun" Macedonia. The assumption is usually made that the tendency to borrow or invent alphabets, which has indeed characterised medieval Slavic peoples, is a characteristic of "outsiders" and "late comers". This is an opinion which I reject. I believe that the Slavic borrowing of alphabets has ancient roots in the land which was allegedly "overrun", and that the practice was learned there. Both the word order, and many "loan words" in Coptic stem from the Greek language. Coptic was written in demotic script and then, during the third century of our era, in Greek characters. These facts point to a neighbour proximate to Greece but not Greek, with a language distinct from both Greek and ancient Egyptian.

For now, I remain steadfast in my assertion that Coptic is, in its present form a "Christian language". To quote Sir Alan Gardiner, page 6 of his Egyptian Grammar :

"To a certain extent at least, Coptic is a semi-artificial literary language elaborated by the native Christian monks; at all events it is extensively influenced by Greek biblical literature."

What I had in mind is even stronger than this. Horace G. Lunt, in his Old Church Slavonic Grammar ,(6) writes about tenth century medieval Slavic manuscripts. Old Church Slavonic is written in two alphabets, glagolitic and cyrillic, very similar to one another. To the statement that there is no such thing as a Christian language, I shall reply by quoting Lunt who, as far as I am concerned, is the highest authority in this matter:

"It [glagolitic] is a unique and homogeneous system, despite reminiscences from various styles of Greek, Coptic and other alphabets. Doubtless it was made different from all extant alphabets by the 'Slavic Apostles' with the express purpose of providing a unique system for the new language which was to be used for the praise and glory of God."

What I wished to share with the readers of KRONOS is that there is an unsolved problem in relation to the origin of Coptic. Scholars of the past who puzzled over this question have been dismissed, but not answered. It is possible and, in my own opinion, likely that Coptic was introduced to Egypt from a foreign and conquering culture. Subsequent partial and very late renderings of hieroglyphics and of hieroglyphic inscriptions in Coptic (to be perfectly unambiguous, such renderings as one may find on the Rosetta Stone and on the Canopus Stone) form a basis for the present system of translation. Intentional fraud is not suggested, only very late and imperfect understanding of the signs. This hypothesis accounts for the partial validity of the present system of translation, and also for the fact, seldom freely admitted or discussed, that many texts are not capable of a sensible translation at all, using the present theories. Cases in point are portions of the Papyrus of Anhai , and of the Book of Gates I shall have technical material on these problems in coming issues of KRONOS. As a "preview of coming attractions", I shall argue against the thesis that linguistic forms became "degenerate" in the time of Seti, and that Seti's depiction of nature amounts to "witless demonology". The confusion, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Lip Service To Occam's Razor, and Establishment Association of Complexity and Profundity In Evaluations of Scholarly Work

The fallacious identification of complexity and profundity is frequently encountered. Occam's Razor, like a religious precept, is more often verbalised than followed. Neugebauer, in common with others to be cited, has concluded that the ancient Egyptians had nothing to offer science, ancient or otherwise, and that Plato made absolutely no contributions to mathematics.(7) In the Bollingen Series, Plato, The Timaeus and Critias , in the Foreword written by R. Catesby Taliaferro, we find this telling and fully verified passage:

"It is a fashion among people to say that Plato was neither a philosopher nor a scientist but a poet. Either they have not read or understood the more difficult dialogues or they do not understand the methods of philosophy and natural science. It should be evident from a thorough reading of the Timaeus that its author was a master of the most sophisticated mathematical and physical theories known to the Greeks, and never surpassed by many theories since".

This comes at the end of Taliaferro's brilliant essay, and what is shown before these remarks gives them unerring force. One should keep in mind also the magnificent proofs (not opinions) of Dr. Robert S. Brumbaugh in his Spirit of Western Philosophy (see especially Chapter IV, Plato), and his masterpiece, Plato's Mathematical Imagination, out of Indiana University Press.

In common with so many critical writers, Neugebauer writes as though there is no intelligent opposition to his statements, as if his insults to Plato are shared by everyone who has mastered modern physics and mathematics. Why should he believe this? The thesis is believed because there is nothing in Egyptian mathematics or in what is known of Plato's work that is intricate, complex, involved, elaborate or cunning. To see this attitude in action, it is not necessary to look back to Plato or to ancient Egypt. All of those in the sciences and in mathematics who today hold the possibility of an understandable synthesis in contempt, who believe that nature is so involved and elusive that only fools hope to comprehend her, who hold that one's life must be spent in meditation upon a robin's egg or a single kind of lens or a particular specialisation in logic or mathematics will concur with alacrity with Neugebauer's comments. The frequency with which the terms "naive" and "trivial" are used is part of this same phenomenon. Notice that such terms do not deny the truth of an idea. They make possible pretentious contempt in the face of truth, and thus have gained enormous popularity. One is not restricted by reality in the use of such terms; they can be applied at one's arbitrary option, and amount to intellectual insults. Critical "reviews" are studded with such trash, and my own reaction is to purchase at once a book so characterised by establishment snobs. Information in such texts is usually accurate, unpretentious, accessible, and useful.

Let me immediately dispose of the charge of "ingratitude" by emphasising the great utility of Prof. Neugebauer's The Exact Sciences In Antiquity and his Egyptian Astronomical Texts , I: The Early Decans . Also, two other remarkable contributions, "Egyptian Planetary Texts" and "On Some Astronomical Papyri and Related Problems of Ancient Geography", should be acknowledged. These latter two pieces appeared in Volume XXXII, Part II of Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (1942). The scholarly community which I know is without exception grateful for the factual materials set before us by Neugebauer. This having been said, it is not necessary for us to share his biases, of which there are many of a critical kind.

In the second edition of The Exact Sciences In Antiquity , page vii, we read: "I am exceedingly sceptical of any attempt to reach a 'synthesis' whatever that may mean and I am convinced that specialisation is the only basis of sound knowledge", a phrase one associates also with Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, of which more later. Scepticism is of course anyone's right, but this confession in the context of what is said later is very significant. In Chapter IV, "Egyptian Mathematics and Astronomy," page 71, we read: "The mathematical requirements for even the most developed economic structures of antiquity can be satisfied with elementary household arithmetic which no mathematician would call mathematics " (italics mine). True, I am making an inference here, but whenever I hear anyone make this comment, it is invariably followed by reverence for excessive formalism, adulation of post-nineteenth century "rigor", and deference for "modern" mathematics and mathematicians. It should just incidentally be noticed that Oliver Heaviside's genius produced results which are now known as "Laplace Transformations", and more generally as "functional analysis", both taught with little or no reference to Heaviside. It is relevant to point this out here, because Heaviside's great sin was a non-formal disclosure of how things work in very simple terms, just exactly the opposite of "elegant" formulations bristling with mysteries.

Neugebauer leaves no doubt as to his position. He goes on to say, top of page 72: "On the other hand, the requirements for the applicability of mathematics to problems of engineering are such that ancient mathematics fell far short of any practical application." I wonder if Prof. Neugebauer realises what he is assuming here, namely that we know how everything in the ancient world was built and that there was no mathematical technique pivotal to such construction. Both the manifest exactitude of fittings, orientation and design, and the ubiquitous use of extreme and mean proportion belie these statements, but I do understand without sharing his arguments. Modern engineering mathematics was not used; modern engineering techniques are not in evidence; modern technology is nowhere to be seen. Here the fallacy (and it is a fallacy in the strict sense) is an identification of a general process with some particular means of carrying out that process. What would we do if we had no twentieth century mathematics and engineering? Out comes the model of a motor consisting of thoroughly whipped and terrified slaves. All contrary suggestions are classified as "mystical" or "fantastic". Let us not lose the point in elaboration.

What is being said is that the simple, lean, practical mathematical tools of the ancient Egyptians were toys, laughable in comparison to the lecture materials at the Courant Institute, and impotent to deal with either an understanding or a creation of material structures. We are certain that neither Leibniz nor Kepler shared this view, and there is good inferential basis for arguing that Newton did not agree with it either. Leibniz and Kepler argued that, at the base of things, there are only a few simple and powerful principles which, once mastered, lead to understanding and practical power. Thus they believed in the possibility of the "synthesis" which Neugebauer severely doubts.

At the close of his remarkable and valuable book, The Ambidextrous Universe , Martin Gardner relates the best story (evidently true) which I have encountered to make my point. It is said that Bohr told Pauli that, though one of his physical theories was "crazy", it was not crazy enough to be correct. Then Freeman Dyson, the dean of obscurities, is quoted at length:

"The objection that they are not crazy enough applies to all attempts which have so far been launched at a radically new theory of elementary particles. It applies especially to crackpots. Most of the crackpot papers which are submitted to The Physical Review are rejected, not because it is impossible to understand them, but because it is possible. Those which are impossible to understand are usually published. When the great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete and confusing form. To the discoverer himself it will be only half-understood; to everybody else it will be a mystery. For any speculation which does not at first look crazy, there is no hope."

You may argue that these "crazy" (translate ultra-sophisticated) theories are, by Occam's Razor, still the "simplest form compatible with experience", but I shall argue to the contrary. In the February 1976 Notices of the American Mathematical Society, page A-284, I published a new equation for determining the Bohr radius without the use, implicit or explicit, or Planck's constant.(8) The equation is correct, clear, and derivable by intuitively lucid and classical methods of physics. Attempts have been made to show that the equation is wrong, that if it is correct then it and its derivation are not original, and failing both of these ploys, that it is trivial. Only when all three ploys fail, can the matter be ignored. It is significant and relevant to enter these facts for the record. The only fault in the derivation and equation is simplicity.

Summing up: No one can learn to read Coptic(9) and Egyptian(10) without being fully aware of the accepted linguistical theory, namely that Coptic is a "modern" form of the ancient Egyptian language. I reject this view, even though I am well acquainted with the evidence cited in support of it. The second point, that there are allegedly no scholars who call Coptic Semitic has been answered in full in my foregoing quotations and references to the literature. With respect to the third point, in view of the ocean of similarities between the functions of Thoth and those of Hermes (see, for example, Thrice Greatest Hermes by G. R. S. Mead), the pictorial representations seem superficial to me. I was puzzled that this point should have been raised until I recalled my reading, some years ago, of writings and criticisms by Willard Van Orman Quine. The important fact about Ivory Soap is that it is 99.44% pure, not that it is 0.56% impure. That there are mathematicians and logicians who take a contrary position will not affect my style of research or my own critical writings. Finally, the notion that Occam's Razor is the arbiter in selecting the most significant portrayals of nature is not well grounded. Dr. Otto Neugebauer and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer are not exceptions. If the secret of gravitational attraction were presented to the American Physical Society , or to the Bohr Institute for that matter, and the formulation exhibited classical simplicity, it would be returned as a "crank" contribution. Reformulated in the language of Lie group theory or "C-Star Algebra", unreadable to the vast majority, it would be enshrined.


1. Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (London, 1920), Volume 1, Introduction, page xliv.
2. Budge, A. E. H. D., op. cit., xliii-xlv.
3. Budge, A. E. H. D., op. cit., xlvi.
4. Budge, A. E. H. D., op. cit., lxix.
5. Budge, A. E. H. D., op. cit., lxix-lxx.
6 Horace G. Lunt, Old Church Slavonic Grammar (1959, The Hague). See especially Chapter One page 14, 1.01. Both the Introduction and Chapter One contain a wealth of historical information.
7. Otto Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences In Antiquity (Providence, 1957). See page 152 in which Neugebauer, with no mention of qualified opinions to the contrary, states that Plato's contributions to mathematics are nil. Chapter IV yields his opinion of Egyptian science and mathematics.
8. I append a living example:
[*!* Image]
9. J. Martin Plumley, An Introductory Coptic Grammar {Sahidic Dialect) (London, 1948). Notice that, even prior to presenting the Coptic alphabet on page I, Plumley's introduction calls Coptic "the last stage of the old Egyptian language". You get that sort of remark before your first lesson.
10. Sir Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, (London, 1950). See page 5, again in an introduction, in which Gardiner states, with all of the others, "Coptic: the old Egyptian language in its latest developments, as written in the Coptic script, from about the third century A. D. onwards". This, as above, is your orientation prior to Lesson 1.

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