Letters to the Editor


by Dr. Psycho Covey:

Let me congratulate you on your splendid lead article "A North African Treasure-Trove in Southern Illinois," notwithstanding a few caveats, viz.,

1) Mauretania, not Mauritania (which is the modern poor west-coast country).

2) The portrait captioned "Selene" disresembles her portraits on her coins, but could represent her twin brother, Helios, presuming the prerogative of pharaoh, which Alexander Helios would plausibly have presumed in America. Micipsa had so presumed when sole king of Numidia. Juba II inherited that pretension and Kleopatra Selene, the Ptolemaic Succession. Alexander Helios could not claim inheritance after the birth of Ptolemy [XV] to Juba and Selene, unless he arrogated his own empire in another hemisphere.

3) Juba II was credited in his own time with 50 books. Surviving titles reveal them written alternately in Greek and Latin. (Selene's legends are in Greek only.) A book was a scroll; therefore, a single title might comprise many scrolls. Scrolls that were seen sticking out of burial urns resembled the Dead Sea Scrolls when found, amount to the most tantalizing evidence we await. Juba books?

4) Libyans as Sea-People descendants is novel, presuming you mean the same aggregation depicted at Medinet Habu, who attempted to invade Egypt 1175 or 1176 B.C., including Sicel, Sardinian, and Etruscan survivors who moved on west. (Trojans settled at Salamis on Cyprus, and probably Tiryns; Philistines, South Palestine. There is a Moroccan clan that claims Philistine descent, but later ancestors whom David had defeated. Libyan Berbers long preceded the Sea-Peoples' westward movement that followed the Trojan War.

"Sea Peoples of the Rameses III inscriptions were allied losers of that war (to their former Achaian allies, distinguished from the combined Achaian/Trojan coalitions that overran Ugarit, Karkemish, and Khattushash whom Mernptalh identified and pyrhically halted in South Palestine).

I've seen lately a claim that Berbers originated in India, but Old Kingdom Egyptians were already depicting Libyans as yellow-haired. Greeks and Romans millennia later still described and depicted them fair and blue-eyed. (Montenegrans are anomalously blond and blue-eyed.)

The word "Berber" derives from "barbarian" (as meridian is Latin for "nomad"), the term not giving us much help. Numidian language is Old Libyan, i.e. a member of the Luvian family with Hittite, Lydian, Lykian, Etruscan, Linear A, Illrian / Albanian, Cypriote, etc. Libyan speech (but not writing) grew indistinguishable from Egyptian, though Luvian roots remain detectable. So Berber Moorish / Numidian was lingually related to the Trojan-coalition Sea Peoples after all, but, so far as we know, indefinitely preceded their later sea-fearing cousins by caravan.

Part of the confusion may arise from an old supposition that since Libyan land invasions east preceded and succeeded Mycenaean Sea Peoples, the African and Aegean hosts must have conspired, but all other evidence indicates independent motivation (famine for Libyans, Egyptians / Hittite boycott for the Achaian / Trojan, separately, which went on to destroy Achaian cities one by one from a Cyprus base, controlling sea lanes west.

I know you will be thrilled with all this didacticism, which we must merrily dismiss in felicitation on a New Millennium.

P.S. A son of mine said he saw a fabulous ancient city announced discovered in Arizona that was not Pueblo. I've heard nothing else about it--a possible misunderstanding--but you might have a convergent lead.

Psycho Covey, Ph.D.

Professor of History

Wake Forest College

Winston-Salem, NC