Paul Schaffranke Interview
Senior Linguist, Senior Epigrapher, Senior Historian and
Vice President, Alexander Helios, Inc.; Ptolemy Productions, Inc.
By Wayne May, Ancient American Magazine
WayneMay: How did you make the first decipherments of tablets from the Burrows Cave as it was known then?
Paul Schaffranke: I started in summer of '94 deciphering the script. All I had to work with were the 2 books written about this cave and their photographic contents. I quite simply was able to determine that the artifacts displayed characters from the latter Hellenistic / Roman Republican period (c. 100 B.C.). Therefore, I concluded that the script was of the western Mediterranean form of the Chalcidic alphabets (i.e.. Etruscan, Gallic, Oscan, Umbrian, Greek, Latin) used by the common citizens before the classical alphabets became widely used in later generations. I discovered that the lingua franca was vernacular Latin, and decoded accurately sound values that had not yet been encountered in other ancient Mediterranean texts. I was able to translate several names, short texts and abbreviations using the 2 books.
The final reassurance that the script/language was definitely broken came about after we purchased 2 more tablets from Burrows in August of '94. These 2 tablets had many strings of characters along with animated pictures on each side. Together, these 2 extremely important tablets codified and reaffirmed my phonetic alphabet values; thus, I broke the language and decipherments were made. After the first several decipherments, I knew what to expect in the script itself as far as names, dates and places.
WM: So you knew who was buried in the tomb before your language was complete?
PS: Yes. From the information received on the tablets with the descriptions by Burrows of the 12 crypts plus the main tomb, it became clear to me that this was the transplanted Sema of Alexandria; the Tomb of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies. I completed the language (I named Schaff after my grandfather) by the middle of September '94, but I knew who was buried in this tomb about the second week of June earlier that same summer.
WM: How many stones have you deciphered from this Mysterious Tomb?
PS: In excess of 125 with scripted text, at last actual count. I made the decipherments from both pictures and tablets that were sent to me. There are perhaps an additional 400 or so that have no text inscribed on them that have been identified as to who or what they are. I have no idea who owns several of the deciphered tablets because they have been sold, resold, and in some cases damaged or defaced.
WM: What is your linguistic background?
PS: I lived throughout my youth in several European communities; I speak Spanish, German and English fluently and I understand Italian, French and Arabic very well. I was introduced to ancient languages and scripts at an early age by my Austrian grandfather, Franz Schaffranke; he worked on the ancient Italic languages from a very young age also. Being educated in an Austrian private school, I took 3 years of Classical Greek, Latin, and Anglo Saxon ( i.e.. Beowulf saga). I later taught myself the ancient Phoenician alphabets and their accompanying Near Eastern dialects like Aramaic, Punic, Hebrew and Chaldean. Now, being employed with Ptolemy Productions, I am able to study languages full-time and currently, in addition to everything else, I am studying the Assyrian-Babylonian Cuneiform texts from the Famous Nineveh Library which has been unearthed. In 1986, I taught myself the Egyptian language and have been translating texts in Glyphic, Hieratic and Demotic scripts ever since. A study of Sanskrit and Sumer put the icing on the cake in having a knowledge to the mother of all Indo-European languages.
WM: What languages have you encountered so far from the script you've seen from this Tomb?
PS: Vernacular Latin is the corpus majority of the texts so far removed. I have seen and deciphered ancient Numidian, small samples of Egyptian Glyph/Hieratic, as well as classical Greek and of just recently Neo-Punic. I have also deciphered 2 small but important inscriptions written in Lycian/Carian, which are heavily influenced by Greek using morphed characters. There are tablets that use Glyph pictographs within a Latin phrase, but the name of the deity is in Greek written with Latin characters. Extremely unusual, and in no way could this have been made except by a master of all 3 languages; I call this morphed style 'Schaff' and my 'Schaff' alphabet consists of about 88 characters and symbols representing diphthongs.
WM: Why haven't you made your work available to the public?
PS: Much of it is available through our video library which covers many of the languages and many complete decipherments. I highly recommend Tomb Tape IV from our catalog which explains much of my work in a simple, easy to follow manner. No knowledgeable scholar or professor has been able to disprove or critique even the simplistic translations that I have published.
WM: When are more decipherments going to be made available?
PS: They are available to professors and other scholars with experience in deciphering but not necessarily to the general public. I feel there is no point in attempting to teach anyone to count past 1000 if they can't get past 10. Why bother?
WM: Are there any stones that actually say something like.... "Alexander is buried Here"?
PS: Of course not directly, but there are a variety of tablets that make references to Alexander the Great. The key inscriptions are the ones referring to Helios as 'possessor of the Hellenic Kings' and 'King Alexander of Pella'. There is also the Hieratic Cartouche of Alexander found on several tablets from this Tomb which have been published in various ESOP's and other periodicals. The problem there being that the writers and amateur linguists make the inscription more difficult than it really is. These specific decipherments, along with the general description of the gold sarcophagus and Trojan Shield leaves no doubt of who lies in the main crypt. All of the decipherments I've made, build upon the same scenario. There have been no contradictions between tablets or pictures. Oh, one tablet describes Cleopatra as being the mother of Helios.
WM: What time periods and cultures are directly related to your findings from the Tomb contents?
PS: I have found that the primary time period of the tablets mostly predate the coming of Christ, however, I have also detected some late second and early third century A.D. Greek script depicting the Severan Family, Septimius in particular. We still do not have all the answers and I do not claim to know everything about this Tomb yet. There are many questions that will be answered when we get inside the Tomb.
WM: Have you determined how or when the crypt was brought to America?
PS: Not really but I (like anyone else) have my theories. As for the time the Sema was transplanted, I am unsure. However, we do know for a fact that Alexander Helios reigned here in North America and ruled over an entire Kingdom. There could have been transoceanic contact with the old world up to the end of the Severan Dynasty The Emperor Septimius Severus, was of North African origin and must have known about this colony in the West. The Emperor Septimius Severus could have been a descendant of Helios, his first name bears a resemblance to the symbol of Helios.
WM: I have noticed that you become slightly confrontational when the language from the Tomb is referred to as Etruscan, but it was you that called it Etruscan in the first place. Please explain this paradox.
PS: The ancient Etruscan language was a mixture of Greek, Italic with Celtic (Gallic) elements. The Greek, which is archaic and somewhat like the Cretan / Mycenean was in their language due to the Refugees' migration from Asia Minor in Archaic times; the Italic and Celtic influences were naturally introduced because of their original geographic location. Their tombs depict the Trojan war in detail with its Heroes signifying their ancestral ties with Troy. In my opinion, the Etruscans were the colonists from a league of cities and included Troy and Crete, which were conquered by the Mycenean Greeks.
I refer the researcher to the works of Sallust for more detailed information. The migration of Trojans under Aeneas to the Latium region after the fall of Troy, was the last migration from Asia Minor into Italy, thus influencing the language there to become Latin. Etruscan and Latin have identical similarities in each language and can be seen on my new video release titled, Etruscan Volume I now available from our catalog. The Etruscan language retained many common archaic Greek roots and had more Celtic linguistic roots than the Latin. However, the alphabets of both languages, were identical originating from Chalcidic Greek. This alphabet spread from the whole western Mediterranean to the Iberian Peninsula. The alphabet used by the artisans of the Tomb tablets, penned this Italic alphabet (Schaff) prevalent among the earlier Etruscans and in an Etruscan-like style, but the language itself is a 1st century A.D. vernacular Latin. What irritates me, is to be misquoted by someone saying that I said either the Etruscans brought this Sema here, or that the language they used was Etruscan. Both are misquotes and incorrect.
WM: Do you really think you have actually broken the Etruscan Script which has eluded Epigraphers for literally thousands of years?
PS: Yes, by linguistically back-tracking over a span of 4 centuries, and by morphing archaic Greek & Latin root stems, I took possible dialects of these Greek & Latin roots and was able to understand the written Etruscan of the 5th century B.C. I've had similar success with other ancient written Italic languages i.e. Faliscan, Oscan, Messapian and Venetic; all of which have given scholars problems. As it turned out, the parent language of Latin is Etruscan, and Latin became the dominant language of the Italian Peninsula by the 1st century A.D. making the other archaic Italic languages in this area obsolete. Contrary to the findings of other contemporary scholars, Etruscan is clearly an Indo-European language. Another confusing quality concerning Etruscan is the fact that there are so many compound words created by attaching abbreviated Latin and Greek roots together in the same string.
There were many great achievements made by scholars in Etruscan around the turn of this century; but after W.W.II, it seems as if all their findings have been forgotten and scholarship concerning Etruscan, as well as other languages, hit a low point. Today, there are very few scholars who know ancient scripts or languages; most of them belong to religious sects. In the 19th century there were many deciphering geniuses breaking ancient scripts. That was the century where most ancient scripts and languages were broken and understood.
WM: What are your plans for the future?
PS: After we have access to the Tomb, I want to head the department of deciphering the texts and make this information available to the general public. I would like for Burrows to stop acting like a child who is hoarding his Halloween candy. He has done everything in his power to stall us, as well as anyone else who has offered to assist with his find. This Burrows Cave enigma has gone on plenty long enough and needs to be brought to a head. This Tomb, and its story, was not really of great importance until I made the initial decipherments.
Just after that, Burrows wanted to be partners in our company and said that he would take us to the Cave and let us meet the Landowner. As you can see, that was all a lie. I, like so many others want to end this mystery and get on with my life, whenever that becomes reality. My plans for the future will more-less be dictated by what needs to be done not only with this project, but projects down the road that will require my skills and talents as an Epigrapher and Historian. Along with that, I want to spend more time with my first love of playing Chess and other competitive games professionally.
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