Notes: Similarities found between ancient Egyptian and Proto-Indo-European numerals

Christian de Vartavan1


The study, using mainly comparative linguistic, establishes that several ancient Egyptian numerals are cognates of equivalents in several “Indo-European” languages, as well as in Proto “Indo-European”; i.e. that these numerals, some attested since the First Dynasty, share a common etymology for historical reasons which are yet to be unravelled and which may have been decisive in the formative process of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. It also formulates the hypothesis, despite the widely accepted ‘”African-Asiatic” (previous Hamito-Semitic”) identity of Ancient Egyptian, that there is an “Indo-European”2 and/or Proto “Indo-European” linguistic stratum in Ancient Egyptian which will have to be better distinguished in the future. …

Interested since many years in the vocalisation of Ancient Egyptian, “coincidental” phonological similarities between words of this language and their equivalents in Latin, English, French and several other presently used languages drew the author, who first only used them for mnemonic purposes, to recently enter the field of comparative linguistic so as to attempt to explain these recurring coincidences. This led him, within little time, to rapidly identify dozens of words – on the regular increase – which in his opinion and to his utter stupefaction are cognates of word existing in various modern “Indo-European” languages, many attested since the Pyramid Texts or even the First Dynasty. The author is fully conscious of the implications of stating that there is at such early date an “Indo-European” stratum in Ancient Egyptian. This, not only in view of the commonly accepted African-Asiatic (previously Hamito-Semitic) identity of the ancient Egyptian language7, but also in relation of the consequences which such conclusion would have on our knowledge of the formative phases of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. This is why the identity of nearly all the above mentioned words is deliberately put under silence in this paper and will remain so until such time as some cross verifying technique allowing to demonstrate their etymology and linguistic affiliations will be found. Such as perhaps the above method of internal reconstruction; something which will be the object of separate forthcoming studies.Nevertheless, once he understood the above and formulated an hypothesis that there may be an “Indo-European” stratum in Ancient Egyptian, the author looked for a solid mean to first demonstrate it. After some research he discovered that this is possible with Egyptian numerals – as in view of their sequential order – they precisely offer an added vertical cross-verifying mean to the horizontal comparative phonological methodology to which they can be subjected. Main8 Ancient Egyptian numerals, as they have reached us, are as follow:

…[numeral chart not included here]

Hence if one uses compares (Table 2, below) Ancient Egyptian and several “Indo-European” (hereafter often “I.E.”), it becomes unequivocally clear that at least five of the first nine Ancient Egyptian numerals are phonologically similar, despite shifts of various kinds to their equivalents in these “I. E.” languages; in particular for the numbers one, four, six and seven.

Indo-European (hereafter often P.I.E.) since the language has now been reconstructed by linguists 24, mus thowever only be considered as examples of shifts resulting in similar phonologies, and not – at least for the time being – as attempts to prove the ancestry of modern terms with ancient Egyptian words, such as for example with hbny for “ebony”25; a very important point which will shall be discussed again below.
Had each ancient Egyptian numeral been examined separately, demonstrating them as cognates of “Indo-European” numerals would have required another method. However since they are numbers, their vertical sequence combined to their horizontal repetitive phonological similitude confirms them to be cognates of these “IE” numerals; a conclusion which can be ascertained if the analysis is pushed further.Now other numerals complete these phonological similarities, starting again and very markingly with the ancient Egyptian term for “hundred”:
Hundred: Snt Snt Snt Snt (“shent”) clearly a cognate of French cent (hundred), itself in turn from Latin centum/centênsimus/centênî/centiêns, in turn shifts from P.I.E. *kmtom, from which also came Sanskrit:
satem, and from which shifted Greek hekaton, later English hundred . Coptic: 0e (“shé”) or 0ht (“sheet”). The common etymology between English hundred  and French cent becoming only obvious through such linguistic demonstration, an example
in passim of the phonological distance which cognates can take. In fact the way of writing a “hundred” is what distinguishes to this day – for the better or worse – Indo-European languages. Languages of the “Centum” group include Latin, French, Spanish, etc… those of the“Satem” group, usually Indo-Iranian (including Sanskrit), Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Albanian, etc… as also discussed below. Proceeding further, it became apparent that the ancient Egyptian term for thousand is also “Indo-European”, hence:
Thousand: xAxAxAxA (kha) is evidently “thousand” as in languages of the “Satem” group where the“kha/ha” is found, as in Armenian: hazar (  faxae  ) or Sanskrit sahasra (  ), or in the“Centum” group Greek khil(ias) ( χιλ) where the “kh” of Ancient Egyptian is also found.

Coptic: 0o (sho), with an easily understandable shift from “kh” ( xxxx)))) to “sh” ( 0), as well as Latin milia which is in fact very close to Greek despite another type of shift.

At his stage one could hastily conclude that if Ancient Egyptian has any link with “Indo-European”languages, it should be classified – in view of the way ancient Egyptian pronounced “hundred”, i.e. Snt,in the “Centum” group. However, the equally close similitude of the word “thousand” with the terms usedin the “I.E.” languages of the Satem group, added to the presence of at least one numeral unequivocally found in Akkadian – xnmw – betrays a far more complex situation. In fact if one juxtaposes (Table 3,below) Ancient Egyptian numerals to Akkadian numerals, one notices blatant phonological similarities anddissimilarities. As if their phonologies had evolved all together in different directions from not only Semitic but “Indo-European” as well – another very important point; whereas some numbers more over appear clearly different.

…. Read more here

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