Drought Conflict Texts from Aegean Island of Naxos (~497 BCE)

For translation methodology see: How to Translate Alphabetic Akkadian Texts

Naxos is one of the largest islands in the Cyclades. Before the rise of Athens and Sparta Naxos was one of the wealthiest Mediterranean city-states. It was wealthy because it was the source of abrasive emery. This trade concentrated wealth in the hands of a few which led to a revolt against them in 499 BCE. One of the exiled aristocrats managed to persuade the tyrant of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor to reinstate him but this tyrant in turn needed permission and aid from the Persian empire to mount such an invasion because they were Persian vassals.  
The Persians provided some minimal level of aid for what they thought would be an easy victory but this turned out not to be the case. The invasion force was unable to conquer the main walled cities of the island. After 4 months the invaders were forced to withdraw leaving the tyrant of Miletus unable to pay his debts to the Persians. Because of this, the tyrant upped the stakes by rallying all the Greek city states along the Anatolian coast in a rebellion against the Persians. All were defeated by 494 with Persians then going after mainland Greece after 492 because some mainland cities had aided the revolt. In contrast the Cycladic islands surrendered and were given lenient terms only needing to provide some tribute. That state of affairs continued until Naxos joined the Delian league led by Athens sometime after 477 BCE.   


(Jan 20, 2023) As revealed by later Greek records, the Naxos revolt was a socio-economic conflict between rural interests and commercial trading interests which led into the much larger Greek/Persian wars. These three short archaeological texts essentially confirm that view. They show that the revolt was triggered by a drought and sustained by religious differences between those trading interests devoted to the motion class of powers and rural interests devoted to the life-growth powers represented by the crescent moon goddess Ayu (Greek Artemis). As such, this conflict parallels the earlier Israelite civil war triggered by the Elijah drought of 850 BCE but in that conflict the life class of powers was represented by Yahu (Yahweh) instead of Ayu. 

This religious conflict is evidenced by a toppling of an 8.5 meter (28-feet) high statue outside a Naxos temple on the island of Delos and by the text on its base. Its base text is not Greek but is in Alphabetic Akkadian. It states that people should stop being devoted to motion powers and start being more devoted to the life powers of the goddess Ayu (Artemis, Athena, Ishtar, Inanna, Hathor).

These texts reference emotion magic and deities Hu and Ayu. The language of these texts is Alphabetic Akkadian with the letter style being mostly mid-Etruscan similar to that of the Etruscan Piacenza Liver (Olmsted Jan. 1, 2021). While personal Greek inscriptions were also starting to appear on funerary steles around this time, official religious texts in the Greek world continued to be written in Alphabetic Akkadian until about 440 BCE when rising Greek nationalism and military success against the Persian empire resulted in Greek replacing Akkadian as the empire language of the eastern Mediterranean.

This text was found on the island of Naxos. It is inscribed on the bottom of a funeral stele (grave marker, cippi). The language of the text is Alphabetic Akkadian (Aramaic) in the Mid-Etruscan letter style which was near the end of its reign as an empire language in the eastern Mediterranean. At this time Greek texts were starting to appear on funeral steles on the mainland showing that written Greek started out as a  personal context before graduating to official texts. Greek texts have a lot more vowels (especially E) because they decided to sound out the inner vowels. (Image online at Arachne Archive: https://arachne.dainst.org/entity/1098902?fl=20&q=%22Naxos%22&resultIndex=28)

Magical Motion Powers Affect Life Powers (550 BCE)

This is a text prior to the drought.

Translation in Akkadian (Med Text 10)

(read left to right. Capital letters on stone. Small letters are inferred Inner vowels)
  1. Nu Ṣu Ne'u. BeŠu RaḪu BT Y  (10.1)
  2. AYu Ru E  (10.2)

In English

  1. The Revealer (Yahu) is being activated by the nest (network).  Far-ones (life powers) do not house the anointed-ones (magic powers)
  2. Ayu is not the eagle-vultures.


This is a typical thought of the Aegean subculture. Both classes of powers are co-equal and must work together. This is in contrast to the Phoenicians who thought the magical motion powers were superior and the Israelites who thought the life powers were superior. What is significant here is the statement that the cresent moon goddess Ayu who edits the middle-layer network is not the same as her editors, the eagle-vultures. This indicates that the eagle vulture were thought to be mostly under magical control.
This text was found on the island of Naxos. It is inscribed on the bottom of a funeral stele (grave marker). The language of the text is Alphabetic Akkadian. The letters are more Greek indicating an later date than text 10. Red letter assignments by Olmsted. Online at: https://arachne.dainst.org/entity/1098899?fl=20&q=%22Naxos%22&resultIndex=25

Magic is Blamed for a Drought (499 BCE)

(Jan. 20, 2023) This text is blaming magic for opening up the astrological powers of fate which in turn are causing a drought by making the sun too strong.

Translation in Akkadian (Med Text 11)

(read left to right. Capital letters on stone. Small letters are inferred Inner vowels)
  1. Ku  Tu  Ḫu  Ṣu | Tu [2] Gi  Ḫu, Gi  Qu  Ḫu  Nu | D'u  Ṣu  (11.1)
  2. Ku  A | ṢeTu  Pu  A  Ta'u  Nu | Ku  Ḫiṣṣu  RaḪu  Ṣu  Ta'u  Ku  (11.2)
  3. Ṣu Gi ||  (11.3)

In English

  1. Due to magic Hu is being activated | Magic [is giving] energy to Hu.  Energy is threading Hu's revelations. | Divine-Powers are being activated
  2. due to that | The drought is being opened by that, the pasture is being revealed | Due to the reed-mat being anointed by activity the pasture is involved with 
  3. the activation of energy ||

Torso of the Colossus of Naxos as it Appeared During the 1920's on Island of Delos

This god statue was outside the Naxian trade/temple building on the island of Delos. This building is thought to have acted like an embassy as well. The effects of a drought caused this statue to be toppled. This god (probably sun god Hu) was blamed for the drought as is made clear by the text added to its based afterward. This torso seems to have some ancient graffiti text on its chest. Photo from Arachne depository at https://arachne.uni-koeln.de/arachne/index.php?view[layout]=objekt_item&search[constraints][objekt][searchSeriennummer]=146219

Base of Colossus of Naxos on Island of Delos as it Appeared in 2019

Photo from Olmsted personal collection.

Translation of Colossus of Naxos Base Text on Island of Delos

(Jan. 20, 2023) This text is blaming magic for opening up the astrological powers of fate which in turn are causing a drought by making the sun too strong. In this it parallels text 11 above found on the island of Naxos.

Translation in Akkadian (Med Text 5.1)

(read left to right. Capital letters on stone. Small letters are inferred Inner vowels)
  • [1 or 2 letters]'  A  EKu  Ta'u  Gi |  
  • Ṭa' u E | 
  • AMu  Du  Ru | 
  • A  ZaKu  A || 
  • 'Z  Q  EG  AZ  (verb at end)

In English

  • This [some insult] starvation was energized by the pasture (astrological night sky) |
  • Come near no more |
  • The Reed-Boat (Ayu) was being manifested by the eagle-vultures |
  • She was the purifier ||
  • Association with threads associates with neglect