"Genetically the Fulani are predominantly negroid, but with an admixture of Berber and Taureg. Theories regarding their origin abound, including the notion that they came from Egypt (Homburger 1949). Inter marriage between Berber cattle herders and Negro women is the probable explanation (Armstrong 1967: 28, Note 18). They are genetically close to the Yoruba (Blumberg, Ikin & Mourant 1961:195-200, evidence from blood groups).
Thurnwald the German anthropologist describes them with enthusiasm: “these master-men, living rather like ‘lone wolves’, stand abrupt and alien among the agricultural Negro tribes…who only live inside their clans.” He attributes to them “personal bravery, courage and a conscious valuing of initiative and enterprising spirit.” (Armstrong 1967: 6, citing Thurnwald’s treatise, Die Menschiliche Gesellschaft).
F.W.De St Croix (1945/1972: 9) however observes that they are “prevaricators and artists in subterfuge”, and “quick tempered, very sensitive, easily take offence.” Of superior intelligence, they are suspicious of strangers reticent and evasive. They have an “inherited feeling of superiority to those peoples among which they dwell.”
The Fulani are of two types, Nomadic “Cow” Fulani and Settled Fulani (De St Croix 1972/1945: 8-9). Sections of various tribes or clans “may be found over an area of thousands of square miles.” Nomads such as these played a large part in early colonization. Recent genetic research at Madrid (Arnaiz-Villena et Alii 2002) has linked the Fulani, and neighboring Mossi who live below the Niger bend, and speak Gur languages, with the Greeks. So our theory that pre-Greek Minoans were “Fulani” is not too far fetched.
The tall, regal Fulani depicted in Dupire (1970: i11. 13) are not to dissimilar to the Minoan Chief-King (Higgins 1967:96. ill. 25), the Chieftain and soldier on the steatite Chieftain cup (Hood 1978: 144, ill. 137) or the miniature figures on the Harvester Vase (Higgins 1967: 154, ill. 191) or even the Fisherman (Doumas 1983: ill. X) from Thera.
The Minoans were obsessed with cattle, as their art indicates. The Fulani know their cattle by name (they use hair colours as De St Croix (1945/1972:19) observes), and are experts as controlling them and concealing them. Greek myth is full of stories involving the cunning transport and concealment of cattle. Cattle require plentiful water. One thinks immediately of Lake Chad and of other prominent lakes and rivers in Africa. Sheep and goats require less water and less feed.
It is noteworthy that Linear A had at least five different signs for water, RA, NE, TO, NU, KI. This is consistent with nomadic herdsmen.There also appears to be a sign for FLY (perhaps adapted from STAR). In Africa the tsetse fly is a serious problem for cattle and their owners. Greek myth has a number of stories about cattle being tormented by flies (Europa etc). The Linear A signary includes a sign for the long-necked Egyptian dog, which also was kept in Togo. The Fulani have cattle dogs called rawandu and dawadi. The word DAWA occurs in Linear A (KN Z 10a. b), probably meaning “sheep” or “goat.”
That the Minoans were acquainted with African Negroes is evident from miniature ivory Head (Hood 1978:116, ill. 102) from Ayios Onoufrios, or the painted Negro Head from Thera published by Narinatos (1969). Evans (1928: II, 2, 427, note 2) mentions pendants in the shape of Negro heads. The Minoans, as we will see, spoke a negro African language.
The Minoans were also in contact with the Egyptians. A wall painting from the tomb of Senmut as Thebes (c. 1500 BC) shows Cretans bearing gifts, including Minoan vases with bulls’ head decoration. Similar vases have now been excavated in Egypt, as Higgins (1967:151) points out. No doubt the Fulani travelled widely across the African continent, pasturing their cattle and trading goods.
We propose therefore that the Minoans were Africans, namely pastoral Fulani, who migrated from an area around Senegal to Crete by ship, and thence to Greece. The Baraa speak an Atlantic language, and their name would provide a basis for the term Pelasgian (compare the Palaka, speaking Gur, the place in Benin called Paraku), as also for the names Palastu, Palastine (compare the Pare, speaking Benue-Congo). The fundamental part of Niger-Congo names is the first two syllables, consisting of PREFIX + ROOT. Further additions are optional, and admit great variation.
That these people were known by so many different names is due to the fact that they consisted of African tribes. In Africa even the one tribe may have several different names, with suffixes (third syllables) indicating sub-tribes.
The Pulasati mentioned by Evans must be the Fulani. Fula = Pula = Bula = Peul = Fulbe. The Fulani code of conduct was known as pulaku, fortitude under pain, or adversity. This is how the Fulani saw themselves. In the following chapter we describe their dangerous initiation ceremonies, undergone before marriage. Their neighbors the Yoruba were known for their ability to prolong torture.
Quite a few Fula words connected with religion, cattle herding, magic etc (De St Croix 1945/1972: 68-74), actually occur in the Linear A texts. Their exact meaning in Linear A is unknown. But this remarkable fact suggests a close connection, if not identity, between the Minoans the Fulani. They appear to have been closely associated with the Yoruba, whose architecture they adopted. At this time these two people may not have been very distinct."
By Graham Campbell – Dunn
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