PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

1 eastern Med map

The Eastern Mediterranean, Bronze-to-Iron Ages circa 1400-1100 BCE. Below, a prime trading currency and gift, a “talent” or ingot of smelted bronze—meaning copper mined mostly in Cyprus mixed with even more precious tin from east and west. The shape fits a human bearer’s shoulder, and matches Deucalion’s Cretan double-axe.

bronze talent

New homes in Cyprus for Deucalion’s fellow post-Minoan refugees—and out of that comes invitation (from Pyrrha to you likewise) to share this gifting tour. Such might be the social and strategic trips around this world made by real people, whose exchanges of each other’s “exotic goods” we find all through the archaeology, because they kept important relationships strong. For a man “almost a Minos” like Deucalion, this world (so much bigger and more diverse than he dreamed) is a lesson, too, in his own new insignificance… 

Byblos coast

“Coasting” south along the Near Eastern coastline from Ugarit (Day 6 here), the shores of Byblos mark half the journey from Syria to stops in Canaan. Clues here suggest a “court” with both a Goddess and a priest-chief storied like Adonis, while Minoan-painted frescoes still adorned the walls and silver bowls (below right) found their way to Crete. 

Byblos temple1600-1200    [23] silver bowl fr Byblos, first MM period

This is a tour as well of how Deucalion’s old world is yet alive, but changing. He studies Pyrrha’s even-handedness in each foreign household, but she lets loose that what she sees is troubling:

            –Where I see women covering up, she said, –I see men who can’t control themselves, and women settling for boys. Where are their teachers? Fool me: the rites sing pretty Goddess, but the young girls love The One behind, Anath, because She’s fierce and lusty. What tames them down and spoils them? City things? They learn to want husbands who cower for place. He beats her where her powers temper his. And she would rather sport gold than show her teeth. Life gets easy: all it costs is the light inside. It is not good omen, Pyrrha finished…

Ascalon site

In the Canaanite coastal city of Ascalon (part of whose inland wall you see above), people feel the recent brutality spread across the land by Egypt’s “second Amenophis”—for Pharaohs, after all, never did tolerate any petty-kingdom interference with “their” roads of East-West trade.

For many on this boat in People of the Sea, memory gives them eyes to see waste and mistakes that will bear unhappy consequence. Back in the Minoan world a new “instability” had come into the meaning of male power between words for “husband” and “lord”— presaging and marking change from men (and deities) who husbanded the steady-state world of agriculture (like Canaan’s Dagon, god of essential “dew”), and those ambitious of a war-based status, like Canaan’s Baal. Even in Deucalion’s day, a would-be “Baal-king” had a dubious “right” to full-blown power, seeing that Baal was “only” a son of supreme god El—while earthy Dagon, being displaced in central temples, was El’s own brother

crane nest seal

The Ascalon links run thicker than we think. Legend has it that here before long was a public shrine with a gazing-pool sacred to Earth Mother by the name Derceto (who’d soon take up cosmic conjugals with dewy old Dagon). Derceto, in turn, had another name, Diktynna—a Cretan maid who fought off rape by leaping into the sea. Rescued “by fishermen” who bore her in their nets toward new honors in Ascalon, her history spans Minoan/Near Eastern time and space, because families kept her ways alive (like those later with Pyto-Gayah, whose name connected Delphi’s Pythoness with Ekron in Palestine). Her sign was the X-form seen all through this journey: today in Crete, dikte is the word for, yes, fishnet-hosiery.

Connected to both the sea and the Spice Roads, Ascalon’s latest treasure is a first-find “Sea People” or Philistine cemetery (see for ex. National Geographic July 2016), with family generations in communal and individual tombs. Aegeans, Minoans, Mycenaeans and every other Mediterranean people did centuries of trade here. Not far into the future, Deucalion as a “Keeper of Days” (a carrier of ancient cycles of the sun, moon, soul and political power) will have his part in producing this Ascalon vase, whose signs describe life’s rhythms of light and shadow and rebirth:

People of the Sea, PART III of 3 art

Doubled spiral-wheeled X-forms of 8 calendric points, amorphous flanking shadows, and the Minoan sign for “Snake” and the powers of rebirth: explore Calendar House at and discover that Sea Peoples carried significant culture into Palestine.

Sailing south again brings the journey to Gaza, whose first name was Minoa in a long linkage with Crete visible still in historic times on the city’s early coinage (the inscription below mentions “Minos”: scanned from a very small image-source!).

Gaza 1   Gaza 2

Gaza coin


…The road of Egypt’s power ran through Gaza’s north-south gates, and ships and beasts of burden shared the travelers’ houses. Podargos my son loved his ride on a monstrous long-necked horse with one hump. It spat at our boat’s cranky master Ramose, and he spat back…

  Gaza’s men of the desert burned their fragrant wares in Pyrrha’s honor, and never let us see their wives in tents outside the walls or watching herds. It seemed that kings and occupations had worn away a place for queens: our gifts for the Egyptian lord were bribes to let us treat with caravans. The desert-men rejoiced in every courtesy, thought most of our sailors were women, and nights they loved dancing with each other or, if drunk, with girls of Cretan blood. Under infinite stars their music wailed out of skins and pipes every kind, with a clatter of little bronze discs above the drums…

Nile portage

Next stops: Egypt, Pharos, Libya…


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

1 eastern Med map

The Eastern Mediterranean, Bronze-to-Iron Ages circa 1400-1000 BCE

One aim behind People of the Sea is to amplify the voices and spirit of the families who lived these historical journeys, but have never been heard before on their own terms. So, behind the story is a rhythm of structure that, like these lives, keeps reaching out for more—space, time, experience, understanding—and then coming to terms with it all before the next reaching-out again.

Hence like the weary refugees settling in with Deucalion now in Alashiya (Cyprus), you’re already looking (above) at the whole strange surround of Mediterranean peoples with whom your new life must come to terms. And as Pyrrha (the mother of your migration) promised, there’s magical opportunity here—you’re going with her on a long diplomatic gifting tour. Such were the seeds and nourishment of international bonds that archaeology finds more and more in every shipwreck and new dig. We need to know how interconnected were the peoples of these times and places, because it’s the real-world perspective that has to inform our understanding of our heritage…

Cyprus 'kingdoms'

Deucalion’s “post-Minoans” land and settle in the region of Paphos, pictured below. The cities of Alashiya (ancient Cyprus) were richly international—and, with Aphrodite their most-sacred deity, the island’s queens appear in historical records along with their “priest-chiefs” or so-called “kings.”

Cyprus 1   Paphos Cyprus

First stop along the vast eastward mainland is the great Syrian city Ugarit, where records speak of a Cretan merchant who gets a cordial gift of precious tin (for making bronze out of Cyprus copper) all the way from a city near Babylon. Such was Ugarit’s traffic with Aegean peoples that its streets had a “Cretan quarter,” and the archaeo-facts at every stop ahead make Deucalion feel that Crete his old home is (as we can see today) “gone and everywhere.”

Ugarit view north to Mt Zaphon-Casius, 'Baal's Mtn'  Ugarit gate
View from Ugarit toward Mt. Zephon, and gate to the city’s upper palace

Ugarit ruins

Ugarit man        Ugarit woman 1400s communal tomb

Mount Zephon above, as the highest of the region, was said to be the sacred mountain home of the Canaanites’ supreme deities, El and Asherah. The earliest-known version of their cosmic Creation story starts there, and comes from Ugarit’s recovered archives. As for the spiritual levels of People of the Sea, the story’s originally-ribald and forgetful “cosmic father” who forgets important things, its tale of how evil and death came into the world—and, its manifest lack of sin, curse or punishment due to human beings—certainly shows us a different cosmos than the one created from it later in The Bible’s Old Testament:

In the beginning El, Beneficent Bull who reigned from his mighty horned mountain, looked down on the sublimity and dewy freshness of the world. Turning his gaze in every direction, El basked in what he alone had created and accomplished. Yet, among all the green and gray distances surrounding him, half of what El saw was blue, in a place and a way that was not the sky. So did El descend his mountain, to see what this different blue was…

When El for the first time stood beside the ocean, he wondered at so vast a living thing, as it tossed and sighed and glimmered. Now, El saw two immaculate creatures at play in the waters and the waves, sporting and flashing and enjoying themselves. They seemed to be waiting for him. Their flashing eyes and solemn looks reached down into El’s great root, and stretched his being from one horizon to the other…

El cried out to them: they might call him father, or husband, as they pleased. They gave El one laughing answer—Husband!—and El knew that his being and doing had never been alone. These wonders in the waters were the handiwork of Asherah, El’s one wife older than stars, the walker in the sea, who had made all things beside him. Horny old fool, how had he forgotten? El’s laughter at himself shook the universe awake. And together they named these immortal younglings, Shachar the dawn, and Shalim, dusk: children of the sea, Elohim, the first divine offspring…

There were more than seventy powers like these consecrated from the harbors to the inland mountains of this land, with names and temples and confused crossings-over to make your head swim—each the patron of a family or a guild or some profession….Hawwah and Adham, wife and husband tending vineyards on the mountain, lived like all of the Elohim forever. And the crown of their realm was the world’s great Tree of Life…

Mot was the name of death in these Canaani lands and towns. He alone, Radharani said, received no worship and no offerings. After all, every day, the hand of Mot took for itself. And why was that?

El had forgotten himself in vanity. Baal Hadad had done likewise. So had another of the Elohim, Horon—a guardian of men against the desert’s wild beasts, as cunning as snakes at magic and in places underground. Horon took his chance to challenge El. With a single toss of one horn, El sent Horon head-over-backwards down the mountain. But Horon, raging, resolved on a hopeless revenge. In a flash he was a snake, and he sank his fangs into The Tree of Life. It changed into a hideous Tree of Death, and Horon cast around it a sickly fog, a mist that choked and dimmed the world…

From the Elohim, El sent Adham of the vineyards to fight Horon. So, they grappled up and down the thundering mountain. But Horon coiled up his vicious spite, and struck his fangs into Adham. As Adham felt this bite, and took this poison, he knew that he lived no more among his undying sisters and brothers…

This was the beginning of Mot. No greater grief could Adham suffer. Yet, to his comfort came Shapshu, the living sun, to be mistress of the dead and light the way. Adham the new creature, she called man, Adam. And because for him, there was no life without Hawwah, Shapshu gently folded her hand into Adam’s…

But this was not the deathless hand of his companion from their vineyards on the mountain. This mortal, woman, she called Eve, Life, The Mother of All Living to be born. Henceforth, said Shapshu, their immortality would be their children…

The Elohim together, moved by these wrongs and kindnesses, turned in wrath against Horon. The Elohim forced Horon to rip his Tree of Death up by the roots, and to restore The Tree of Life, that man and woman never want for its fruit; nor shall they want who are mujomena, mystis, or understanding…

Yet, for this undoing, Mot was not to be be undone. Shapshu the sun, for her part, never shone so bright. She burned away the last of Horon’s sickly fog, and the land and living things were fresh as dew again…

Byblos coast

Next stops: Byblos, Ascalon, Gaza…


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


“All we had done, to watch Mother Kriti slip away;

and here was the sea.”

People back cover ships

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

Deucalion “Sweet Wine”—once, Ariadne’s brother—and the survivors of the fall of Minoan Crete have languished too long on their high mountain refuge called Karfi, “The Nail” (Day 1 of these pages). They rise again to their rightful pride in the long dynamic age built by their ancestors, centered on Knossos (Day 2). With their elders and countrymen slain or reduced to serfs in service of a mainland Mycenaean occupation, it’s time for some kind of new life, if they survive what it will take to put an end to Knossos Labyrinth.

Once they accept that their most sacred place must be “killed” or broken (like any holy object past its use or desecrated), the living figure of that new life comes into their midst (Day 3): Pyrrha, from Alashiya (Cyprus), where “post-Minoans” like her already take the best revenge of living well.

Day 4 they’ll remember as Night of the Griffin—this chapter sparing nothing of the killing and destruction that come to The House of the Double Axe. No one comes through this intact or ever the same, least of all Deucalion.

58---Cretan ship c1500

Boarding a few stolen ships, here begins a new way of life with a long hard future—in short and long intervals, “island-hopping” as you see in the vase on the cover of People of the Sea. Coming as it does from the inland city of Ekron in “the land of the Philistines” ten generations on from here, the image on that vase speaks these peoples’ long memories of their families’ ancestral adventures: its use was central to the feasting-and-festival ways of life and spirituality that fostered community and remembrance.

crane nest seal  cranes nesting

At left is an Early Minoan seal-design with a cross-hatch web like a net, or a figure woven of X’s (a form we see from Crete to Cyprus to Palestine)—or, like the vegetal webbing of a nest built by common cranes (grus grus), a coastal and rhythmically-migrant bird well-known to the ancient Mediterranean. Cranes had ancient seasonal and tribal associations in Minoan Crete, and their images go on for centuries after like a totem of group cultural identity. So do Deucalion and these families find new ways to say who they’ve been and who they are, not least with the unlikely combination of still-sacred bulls at some kind of play with these birds:

'sub minoan' cyprus vase   Mycenaean vase from Enkomi Cyprus c 1300

When all you knew and many you loved with your soul are left behind—when all you have is what you can carry on a boat, and the company of a few familiar faces—new kinds of community begin. This clay model (below) from ancient Cyprus shows people sharing a likely “sacred meal” (think, family holiday) in honor of ancestors, probably present in the doubled snake-like forms on the climbing-frame between the two large separated figures. Sharing food, making offerings and raising the wild human spirits of festival was, according to archaeologists, the key means of bonding people across many differences, and Cyprus’ forms were hardly strangers to Deucalion’s out of Crete…

Cyprus cult meal

Here below are two other signs of the lives these refugees found in Cyprus:

[251] Vase from LM Cyprus w Bull skulls, Labrys   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At left in this detail from a Cyprus vase, seashells and crane-chevrons flank the familiar Minoan horned mountain of the ancestors, with Labrys the double-axe posted also between skulls of sacrificed bulls, with their doubled pairs of horns. The mountain, axe, bull and doubled pairings—plus at right, the inscribed concentric circles that match Minoan writing-signs for heavenly bodies—speak of spiritual and social ways based in ancient cycles of nature, sun, moon and the human soul that had held “the old country” together for millennia.

In the hands of Deucalion’s families—called by archaeologists “very conservative” and “wholly eclectic,” flexible, adaptable—they would visibly go on doing so, as we’ll see down the days of their adventures coming here.

Settled with Pyrrha’s help into Cyprus homesteads that make the most of their skills from farming to metallurgy and trade(s), there’s a long-awaited chance to get their breath. And finally here, the crowning image (to me) of the spirit and the lifeways that they carried and planted again in good new soil. This ceremonial altar—from a many-functioned place of Labyrinth-like “sacred economy” called Myrtou-Pighades, in northwest Cyprus—shows every trace of a Minoan stonecutter’s classic form, betokening ancestors and their living generation’s community:

[255] Pigadhes Cyprus monument w two 4-fold labyrinth designs

I can only invite you to explore this our Western heritage in the labyrinth of spiritual and political time that is Calendar House (at Ancientlights)—because these people of the sea are carrying it with them, the core of their harmony with nature and their resistance to the tyrannies of would-be kings and masters. What then—if not some rigid ideology, or warring nation-state—held them so close together for so long?

Till next time, consider this answer from archaeologist Louise Hitchcock, who found a way to express the dimensions of ceremonies and festivals round that Cyprus altar: a shared celebrational journey of senses and spirits beyond the petty ego and returning, refreshed and enlarged, to a new community:

“…Chanting proceeds for more than an hour and builds to a crescendo prior to the sacrifice. Approximately 45 sheep are simultaneously dispatched in a brief moment, with blood collected in a stone-lined channel as the children of the community mingle among the participants….

“An ash altar is used to burn the viscera of the animals, the aroma mingling with aromatic wood shavings and sent heavenward….When all is ready, the impaled animals are simultaneously cast into the roasting pits….

“How does one give shape to the intangible realm of the senses?…I have crossed a spiritual threshold from the profane order of things into the sacred order of intimacy. It is a place…transporting the participant into the world of otherness and the sacred, through fasting [before the feast], through the intense heat and danger of the fire-pit: a growing anticipation and transformation heightened through rhythmic chanting. There is also a purposeful formlessness—where oppositions, of pollution and purity, disgust and desire, subject and object, inside and outside, all collapse….The chanting seems to have been going on for hours, [and] time loses all meaning….And as I am drawn further in, abhorrence melts into ‘anxious fascination.’ I am changed forever….”



PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



Beginning (Day 1), where? Karfi: a colossal gray crag-faced spike of granite rising straight up from the shoulders of a mountain, hammered like a nail in the heart of our island Mother Kriti. Whoever sailed the sea miles below, or stole up into this country, Karfi saw them first. Old times of our mothers and fathers, Karfi was a high place of dance, of feast and healing, between the stars and the horned mountain caves of our families’ sleep. Now in a world torn off its wheel, a refuge only self-exiles would choose. A hostile crag, as far as possible from homes we could not let go…Every wall a common wall in this honeycomb of lanes and shelters, huddled down out of wind and sight behind The Nail’s northern cliffs…

3 Karphi from the northeast

Deucalion and the families huddled up here know now it’s not enough: their “free” life of high mountain cold, isolation and poverty has amounted after all to powerlessness, in the face of the rapacious Mycenaean occupation of Minoan Crete below. If it is time to go (somewhere!), they cannot leave the once-sacred center of their lives, Knossos Labyrinth (Day 2), in such hands. In burning the place and stealing their enemies’ ships, will they lose their own souls? And into these quandaries (Day 3 here) comes Pyrrha of Alashiya (Cyprus), a Cretan-born woman with a call to the new life everybody wants…


…I took her to a bench-stone near our spring. She filled her jar, then sat with legs tucked under her, hands in her lap. Her slender back and bosom reared up from folds of her cushion, the green cloak: she’d dropped the under-veil from her white headdress too, a different flower now, the wind rippling a full-length cotton robe of lightest lavender. Canaan-colors: one ounce of that dye cost her weight in bronze. I yearned for the world in her….Glorious, and something was coming. She straightened up, waist, spine and shoulders, raised one palm and lifted her chin to speak as embassy. Achaians said a woman made good hostage in affairs, but from Labyrinth days, such daughters had borne things of moment. Trained and seasoned queens of their kind, they understood each other, and midwived standards for a fractious Great Green….

sunset view of Dia from Karfi

The view northeast from Karfi’s cliffs, including Dia Isle where, with the death of Ariadne, the breath went out of the Minoan soul—only to be reborn (of course) as a fiercer-than-ever Cretan spirit. So, the men of Karfi gather their weapons: their families face choices of who will sail for Cyprus. The eye of Karfi draws down on their target, Knossos Labyrinth.  

13 Knossos valley

When you’re going to rip your life up by the roots for the sake of another one, you’d better first go to the deepest place there is, where the guides’ voices speak. So here on the edge of attack and emigration, Karfi’s Mother Zoe (their eldest woman—“the voice of the cave, and its silence walked with her”) gives her all to the tribe encircling her, in their last night together in a field at the feet of Mount Dikte:

22 Lasithi paparouna

–Finish, and begin! Mother Zoe cried, with her torch high at the center of us, her free hand beckoning closer. –Yonder our mother, sisters and brothers. Take her with you, kourai and kouri. Want to tell you something, though. Do you see this garden, in our midst? Always, you are in it. Act like it. Now I’m going to give you, plain, the way we did old times, your mothers’ secrets to help find a way. Sisters and brothers, whatever becomes of you, remember this place where our one soul was born. Come times you want to die: All-Giver is a monster, too. But Dikte is touchstone. The core of our ways to the light

–One way is, to love someone, Zoe said. –To love until your dead skin drops like Snake’s. You can be grateful, over all you lose. And, you can consent: consent to know this dream your own. To love, be grateful, consent: remember! Alright, that’s all I have to say, goodbye, Zoe finished with a flippant cast of one hand, turning her back. –Farewell

She broke the circle and disappeared away through the combing grass, going up to the cave. Never her old shoulders back so far and straight, as if she had resolved on and arranged her own abandonment, to scatter living seed abroad. Nobody moved, at first. I saw not even Ninna quite in tears, for the plateau’s air ran upon our skin, every stone and star and peep of creature perfect and in place, like jewels in the veil of things…

 [237] Cnossos Today

These are the ruins of Knossos Labyrinth. At right-center of the central courtyard above, you see the four reconstructed doorways to the throne room. And so amid the blood and flames, Deucalion “Sweet Wine,” Otus Who Pushes Back, goes through them once more and becomes the monster never known to Minoans, but ascribed to them by ignorant invaders who despised them: Minotavros, Minotaur Man-Eater, the worst of the human being, for ages kept in check by a web of cosmic time and ceremony…

This red-walled chamber, the core of Minoan memory, is almost too much to bear. Stony before Deucalion sits Koreter, “the man,” a mainland-born “governor” of many crimes waiting their consequence. There’s only one question’s answer that can save his life:

–Just tell us about one good thing you have done, for Crete, in coming here. There must be one good thing. Tell us about it…

He can’t…


The throne of Knossos as found in 1900 AD

26---Crete winter rains begin

Amnisos Valley composite

Sunrise silhouette of Kaka Oros or “Bad Mountain,” the blunt headland just east of Amnisos, the ancient harbor of Knossos. Here too is my crude composite of the valley where you still find traces of the old Minoan road inland. Deucalion’s fighters would have swept down valley to the ship-shed ruins still on the beach today.

People back cover ships

For the ways this night of murder hurt Deucalion and his families, he longs to lie down in the soil. “The road to Knossos no longer led home.”

And here was the sea.

1 eastern Med map




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Welcome Back Again!


As People of the Sea: A Novel of The Promised Land debuts this month of April, these daily pages offer you visual backgrounds to the story; and, I hope, a daily challenge to take your own real journey to the places (many, tragic—but all still magic) where The West truly began.

So far (Day 1), you’ve seen the post-Minoan mountain refuge called Karfi/”The Nail,” where a few dozen families of fiercely-independent survivors hold their own against the mainland Achaians’ ongoing pillage of their homeland. Paired at the heart of their common pride and their terrible losses (Day 2) are Deucalion/”Sweet Wine,” the last Minoan who almost sat “a Minos” on the throne of Knossos Labyrinth; and Ariadne, the last chief priestess of their great days, the young woman lost to them all as she gave everything to keep them proud and free.

So they remain—and so the question eats at everyone, What Now?

view east over Lasithi Plateau from Dikte Cave

A winter day in central Crete’s Lasithi Plateau: you’re looking west from the mouth of Mount Dikte’s great cave, and the far central promontory is Karfi/”The Nail.” Below is a conception of the little town shared there by Deucalion’s families. The little shrine/altar at top-right stands at the edge of a 300-foot cliff with a vast northern view of land and sea.

Karfi houses

Below is a Late Minoan model of some kind of ceremony common and central in their buildings and representations: what I can only call a Pouring, usually a sharing or offering of liquids from wine to sacrificial blood. Here the seated figures may be fellow Minoans (as in the elegant “Camp Stool Fresco”), the imagined presences of ancestors—or, fellow Minoans likely taking turns in receiving the honors AS their ancestors, literally “posing as The Divinity” for themselves and each other (a many-formed Minoan ritual as “blasphemous” to patriarchal outsiders as their “allowing” women to share public life as they pleased). After all, if you couldn’t meet Divinity in self and others, where would you go to find It?

[223] Cult Meal and-or Pouring Libations


So now (as you saw at the end of Day 2 here), despite all reluctance, the only acceptable way for these families to leave Crete is through burning the ancient sacred center of their world, Knossos Labyrinth—and seizing the warships of their Achaian colonizers to make their escape overseas. Where To Go is another question as vast as the sea they’re gazing at. But first they have to more than match their enemies’ strengths as warriors: they have to guard against becoming their enemies, and keep this one-strike action from destroying their own souls.

Achaian warriors and charioteer


And into these crises comes a magic moment, a circle of real-life dreams. A way out and forward into life shows itself—for here all the way from Alashiya (ancient Cyprus) comes a full-grown woman named Pyrrha.


This faded worn photo (of a Middle Eastern tribal woman dressed for festival, from a very old National Geographic) was with me over every writing-desk since the days of Ariadne’s Brother. And the years of effort after that to get People told grew her into Pyrrha, as I learned how much the original West owed its women.

Born a little Cretan girl, she was one of a few whom Ariadne and Deucalion managed to evacuate by ship, in the shadow of Thera’s catastrophe and roughshod invasion from the mainland. 


Through Pyrrha, new life awaits the families of Karfi if they can make it through the fire and blood to come, in People of the Sea: Chapter 3’s Night of the Griffin.


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment




If you’ve read the brief back-cover summary just above—or even the shattering full story of Deucalion’s young years in Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (—you know what these exiles and outlaws, sheltering now on the mountain-stronghold of Karfi, are remembering each in their way: the needless wholesale destruction of their ancient way of life.

4 Karphi, across Lasithi Plateau from Mt Dikte

Minoan Crete, a matriculture vibrantly alive and free for over 2,000 years, was crippled by the catastrophic eruption of the Thera volcano. No matter what Minoans tried in its aftermath, there seemed to be no way to placate the mainland-born Achaians (or Mycenaeans) who were relentlessly insinuating themselves, their father-gods and ways of life built around the “glories” of war, into the Minoans’ midst. Despite flashes of hope for a fair future between young chief priestess Ariadne and the mainland’s extraordinary but ruthless figure Theseus, the frightening whispers of a building mainland invasion-fleet prove true. And so (as sources say) on a wild spring day, the Achaians land in overwhelming force and begin to take down their teachers—builders of the oldest, most advanced and successful civilization yet on Western record.

Knossos Labyrinth reconstruction

Knossos Labyrinth, the Minoans’ ceremonial center for over 2,000 years

As we know, some Minoans wanted nothing to do with the new “way” that reduced their home to a mainland colony, and the ritual center of their sacred economy (their oikonomios or “familial household”) to a military post and counting-house. But when you’ve walked the mountain of Karfi (or even spent the night freezing there, as I did!), and seen the rich green land no longer yours spread out below you, what can you do in defeat but eat your heart in discontent, rage and sorrow? That is the question driving the older Deucalion, sole survivor of his family, half-mad: What Now…

Because the answer he receives (“from the clamor of our graves”) horrifies him—and in the story, you’re soon going with him—this is the day for you to see first a few flashes of what their living eyes remember. You too can go and walk these places, and find in every artifact the living way Minoans left us…

14 Labyrinth south entrance   15 Labyrinth south procession hall

Reconstructions: at left above, the inland causeway and southern entrance to Knossos Labyrinth, and at right, a great hall further inside enroute to the central courtyard. To the pipes and strings of musicians, Minoans bring country offerings into the great house of their families’ ancestors. Gem-stranded hair-styles, textiles, jewelry, the place itself must have dazzled the eyes with their love of color and the play of light and shadow…

       16 Knossos throne   17 Minoan Cretan females palm to palm

The Knossos throne, where Ariadne reigned and struggled to save Crete, and where Deucalion should have sat as well. What they remember is a life where it was impossible to tell divinities from human beings…

18 Knossos West Court today

An old photo of Knossos’ west courtyard from my first visit (1983)—char from the great fires of conquest mars the bastion. And each day of Deucalion’s exile sees the place still operant, but under the hard thumb of colonizing strangers…

19 Gournia, a Minoan town

Ruins of the east-Cretan town of Gournia. According to archaeologists, more than one Minoan generation witnessed the relentless destruction of every such important place—and from Deucalion’s own children to the brutalized women and men sharing Karfi exile—“hanging on The Nail”—it’s almost too much to be sure if their old life was real.

It was—only now they carry it in their hearts and hands.

21 Ritual Dance   20 Minoan Goddess in House portable shrine

23 descent into Lasithi Plateau

24 Dikte cave

Nothing but the deepest voices within these people can even speak about leaving a place loved so long and well. But the news is worse—because they cannot “just leave” for a new life. As we know from many central but “killed” or broken artifacts, it was sacrilege to leave a thing once holy unburned or unburied. They are going to have to leave through Knossos, the heart of their old life—take on the war-expertise of their conquerors, and make an end of their crimes if they can.

25 Minoan Priestess

From a Late Minoan sarcophagus, this (you might say) is the young queen and “life of his soul,” Deucalion’s highest conscience, Ariadne. “When the people suffer,” she once said, “somebody has to be brave.” It’s time to grit his teeth, to slash his arms and die and be reborn—from “Sweet Wine” to Otus: He Who Pushes Back.

And What Then?



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



Geia Sou from Crete! April is Anchors-Aweigh as People of the Sea: A Novel of The Promised Land sails out into the world. Wish it good fortune as the first full hearing of “those other peoples” (the advanced multicultural ones, centered in Nature) who were positioned—for too long, and against the facts—on the bad-guy side of your Old Testament and Bible. If you suspect it matters where we start the story of The West, you’re right!

This is the human story that spoke to me from 40 years of studying the stones. A journey never told that begins out of loss, anguished memory and the unconquerable Minoan will to live joyously again. A journey that leads through homeless dispossession and dark temptations to make violence shape the world, and finds indeed new life on a promise from a real historical pharaoh. All too soon, however, these families face another people’s promise from a god concerned only with them—but perhaps there were and are ways out of needless tragedy…

Take a trip through these 9 Photo Pages at the actual ancient worlds that unfold in these adventures. (We’re talking the whole eastern Mediterranean shifting from Bronze to Iron Ages, roughly 1400-1100 BCE in about 10 generations.) We’ll start here like the story with rugged and ravishing Crete, where “Sweet Wine” Deucalion (once Ariadne’s brother) lives among survivors haunted by the fall of their old Minoan way, hungry for a way out from under conquest, occupation and exile in their own land…

Hope you’ll come along, comment and even subscribe! (No salesman will call.) Places, peoples, achievements and adventures worth the knowing. May it tempt you to make the real journey of a lifetime!

Your Well-Wisher,

Jack Dempsey


1 eastern Med map

The eastern Mediterranean around and after 1400 BCE—a web of very different cultures connected (as the Greeks say) by the sea. Crete is seeing the end-times of its old independent civilization, and Deucalion’s rough survivors cling to a mountain stronghold called Karphi (Karfi)… 

2 eastern Minoan Crete
Sir Arthur Evans’ map of eastern Crete—Lasithi Plateau at center here is about 2 days’ walk from the ancient ceremonial center Knossos, and Karfi (“The Nail”) stands across the Plateau from majestic Mount Dikte, whose Cave gave birth to Minoan human beings. So began more than 2,000 years of fierce regional independence and cooperative cultivation…


3 Karphi from the northeast

4 Karphi, across Lasithi Plateau from Mt Dikte

This tower of shaggy stone is an always-cool or freezing place about 2000 feet above sea-level. While I take my share of chronological poetic license in the story—Karfi in fact became a “town” more than a century after Minoan Crete’s fall—its hive of houses and public spaces stood hidden behind the cliffs you see. In the photo below, including three strange figures of weathered stone I call “greeters,” you can see at left the tower’s southern side where people nestled their homes against north winds. Following that is the view north toward the sea and Dia Island, where Deucalion’s queen Ariadne lost her life…

5 Karphi & greeters

6 Dia fr Mikri Koprana, Karphi

8 Goddess fr Karphi with doubled-combined motifs, upraised arms & mountain-horns and disc crown

One form of the yet-surviving Minoan Goddess “with Upraised Arms” found on Karfi, a source of unlimited strength to the stronghold’s women young and old. With “sacred horns” signifying these people’s families/ancestors on Her head, and a disc or sun/moon or star between them, Her upraised hands create a doubling (or doubled pair) of points that speak to old Minoan astronomy—and their system for protecting themselves from tyrant-individuals and “kings.”

7 Katharos

This is another stunning “secret plateau” close by Lasithi, called Katharos: to get there, said a Cretan friend, “you will have an adventure” and he was right! Minoans who’d retreated from a violent occupation into very difficult country had many such places to raise their herds and crops, and keep their families alive…

9 Dikte

But, for “Sweet Wine” Deucalion and the sick-at-heart survivors with him, Mount Dikte and their ancestors speak of pride and full free lives to be recovered. And what will these voices from the underworld have to say about the only seeming way to go about it?


10 goat spy


(PS—I have no idea why the photo-caption-sizes keep changing. At some point you just have to kick the tech aside and try to communicate!!!!!!!)

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments