Who Were the Keftiu?

  1. Men of Keftiu
  2. The Philistines
  3. Links
  4. Was Crete Keftiu / Atlantis?
  5. Was Thera Keftiu / Atlantis?

Men of Keftiu

I've found a number of sites that equate the Egyptian Keftiu with Atlantis, and then (in most cases) go on to equate Keftiu and Atlantis with Minoan civilization. Keftiu or Caphtor of the Bible has generally been believed to refer to the island of Crete (not Thera). However, Velikovsky wrote that, unless Caphtor refers to Cyprus, there is no Biblical name for this large nearby island. [1] A site for Dartmouth College with a series of lessons on trade in bronze age times looks at this problem:
"Because of the paintings in the Egyptian tomb of Rekhmire where the carriers of such ingots are labelled as "men of Keftiu", it has been assumed that the principal carriers of such ingots were Minoans or possibly Mycenaeans. However, there is considerable debate over the precise location of "Keftiu" and, in any case, we have no firm basis for believing that the 'men of Keftiu' had a monopoly of the trade in oxhide ingots. George Bass feels that the Levantines, whether Syrians or Canaanites, could equally well have trafcked in such ingots. The balance of our evidence suggests that the copper of the ingots themselves was mined on Cyprus where, Bass feels, production of the ingots themselves was managed at various times under Minoan and Syrian control. After ca. 1400 B.C. and the collapse of Minoan palatial civilization, Bass feels that control of ingot manufacture passed into the hands of the Syrians, but others feel that the Minoans may have been replaced in this role, as they were in so many others, by the Mycenaeans. Vassos Karageorghis, the director of the Cypriot Antiquities Service, feels that the copper industry on Late Bronze Age Cyprus was entirely contolled by the Cypriots." [Lesson 22: Aspects of Mycenaean Trade]
A Syrian influence over or control over Cyprus in ancient times would be easy to understand. A similar Syrian relationship with Minoan Crete would not. The controversy over control of Cyprus may be addressed by this observation:
More importantly, the paintings often link the Keftiu with Syrian and Nubian tribute-bearers. Even if we discount a certain degree of Egyptian hyperbole, the scenes provide evidence for international trade networks among rulers that included textiles, ivory, ebony, metal, perishables [sic] goods, and exotic animals like blue monkeys. While the tomb paintings attest to at least two different Aegean embassies to Egypt, such exchanges must have been conducted on a more regular basis than we have suspected. [ucaswww.mcm.uc.edu/classics/program.html]

The Philistines

In the midst of a prophecy about their fate, there is a reference in Jeremiah to some sort of past problem in the homeland of the Philistines:
Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. [[2]]
Velikovsky claimed that the Philistines came over from Cyprus during the disasters known from the account in Exodus [[3]] despite the fact that the Philistines and Abimelech, one of their kings, is mentioned a number of times in Genesis in connection with Abraham and Isaac. [[4]] Velikovsky's reference there is to Jeremiah 47:4, which is shown in the preceding paragraph. He probably meant to use this reference in Deuteronomy which has the immigrants from Caphtor invading the territory of another people and wiping them out:
And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.. [[5]]
Amos credits the deity with the Philistines' escape from an implied disaster of some sort:
Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? [[6]]
Elsewhere we Þnd And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim [[7]] suggesting that the Philistim were not the Philistines as shown in the Revised Standard Version. [[8]] This is the only occurrence of the term in the KJV, but it occurs also in the Concordant Version, [[9]] which makes me wonder whether it is the same people after all. The Philistim appear to be descendants of Casluhim, while elsewhere the Caphtorim are described as the ancestors of the Philistines.

If so, there is a conflict here between two possible origins for the Philistines. Perhaps there was a subtle distinction, such that some ancestors of the Philistines later came to be known by a different name. Or perhaps these really are two people. Or perhaps the text is just corrupt in one or the other. The Genesis account of the origin of the Caphtorims purports to show their descent from Mizraim or Egypt, who was one of the sons of Ham. In this tale the Egyptian nation sprang from one of the sons of Noah. Perhaps most signiÞcantly, this differentiation of nations took place after the catastrophe of the Noachian Deluge.

The Philistines of Genesis are often regarded as a separate people, or an anachronism added to Genesis sometime after the Egyptian sojourn. This may be correct, since there is the reference to the Philistim, with its anomalous line of descent. There is no compelling reason why the Philistines would not have had settlements on the mainland prior to their flight from Caphtor, particularly if Cyprus was Caphtor. A flight from Crete to the mainland would have resulted in settlement in Greece or Anatolia.

Like immigrants down to the present day, they sought their relatives in the new land. The mainland territory was not large enough to hold their numbers, so they took the lands of at least one other people. A few generations later, when the Israelites returned to Canaan from Egypt, they found the descendants of the neighbors of their ancestors had prospered and allied themselves with enemies.

Regardless of whether Caphtor/Keftiu referred to Crete or to Cyprus, or to some other location, the sole account of Philistine origins and history is the Biblical account. It implies that the Philistines' home on Caphtor was destroyed by some agency of nature. It is unlikely that an entire nation of people which was quite formidable in war was driven out by a superior foe, although that kind of flight is not unheard of in ancient or modern times. I have yet to Þnd the original references, but the consensus on various websites is that the Egyptian tale of the destruction of the Keftiu is one of natural disaster. Caphtor was the homeland of the Keftiu. Whatever the disaster was, the two accounts are in agreement.

It is apparent that a resolution for the correct location of ancient Caphtor is needed. My next search will be for any evidence of an ancient natural disaster on Cyprus. As I recall, Blegen found unmistakable signs of earthquakes at ancient sites throughout the eastern Mediterranean.


The following links were accumulated some time ago. They may not be working any longer. Try Web Archive.

I've broken them into two categories, and briefly discuss the content of each link.

Was Crete Keftiu / Atlantis?

  • Lost Lands explores the various popular theories, raising the same objections to the Thera hypothesis as I do. Generally well thought out and written. Also has a series of pages on Lemuria, Tilmun, and the Seven Wonders.

  • Streams: Atlantis -- I've been a fan of R. Shand for a long time because of the writing rather than for the conclusions (which seem to be few and far between). While this link no longer works (Shand went to pay-to-view), his work can still be viewed on at least one of the archive sites.

    Besides his claim of identiÞcation of Atlantis with the Minoans, Shand also gives the details of Peter James' The Sunken Kingdom in which James claims that the Atlantis legend grew out of disappearance of the legendary city of Tantalis.

    Shand set the date for the Thera eruption at 1500 B.C. (archaeological) or 1627 B.C. (dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating), but see my page The Aegean.

  • Streams: Thera -- More R. Shand, going into more detail about the conflicts about dating Thera. I was amused and bemused by the phrase, [u]nambiguous dating from bristle cone pines, and how this throws suspicion on the dating for a couple of pharaohs who actually lived much later than this supposed eruption.

    On this page Shand set the date for the Thera eruption at 1500 B.C. (archaeological) or 1628/7 B.C. (dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating), but see my page The Aegean.

  • www.kent.net/paranormal/places/atlantis/found.html -- this page uses The End of Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend by J V Luce as its sole source.

    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1470 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • Adventure Jones -- Adventure Jones says:
    There are a lot of distinct simularitesbetween the Atlanteans and the Minoans. Both civilizations were wealthy, advanced cultures, interested in art and bueaty.
    Not to nitpick, but since the author didn't originate the ideas on his page, at least the spelling could be right.

    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1628 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • www.islandnet.com/~edonon/RH-NEG.htm -- equates the so-called Sea Peoples with the Atlanteans and Keftiu:
    It must have been a heart-wrenching decision to organize and arm for war, because most of these traditionally non-aggressive, fun- and life-loving people had rarely been at odds with other people.
    Do tell. I guess a couple of thousand years of constant warfare with victims inside and outside Egypt is just misunderstood by us poor modern lunkheads. I sure hope you don't write anything anachronistic, unsubstantiated, and new-agey, like Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Queen Nefertiti... had tried to break the hold of the polytheistic, male-dominated religion of Egypt and had returned to the old ways of the Great Goddess. This page is a mishmash of misinterpretations, misapprehensions, and misappropriations. I got a good laugh out of it though.

    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1450 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • Giving Goliath His Due: New Archaeological Light on the Philistines -- this book by Neal Bierling purports to show their obscured history. Reads like a Biblical Archaeology Review article, or perhaps not as good:
    There is almost universal agreement that the Egyptian "Kftyw" refers to Crete
    Guess again. This is unrelated to Atlantis, but the work deals with the location of Caphtor while it attempts to equate the Philistines with the Sea Peoples. It also attempts to differentiate the Cretans from the Carians. I liked the discussion of the Trojan War though, and his synopsis of what is known (and believed) about the Philistines.

    Doesn't mention the Thera eruption.

  • Peoples Of The Sea -- Michael S. Sanders refutes the idea that the Philistines were the so-called Sea Peoples. He's an interesting guy, but jumps to some pretty foolish conclusions at times.

    Doesn't mention the Thera eruption.

  • Lesson 17: Akrotiri on Thera, the Santorini Volcano and the Middle and Late Cycladic Periods in the Central Aegean Islands -- according to this scholarly site, although there is a big rush to equate the Minoan civilization with Atlantis, and put Thera directly into the Minoan mainstream,
    [r]elief frescoes are thus far unknown from Akrotiri, as are large scale grifÞn compositions and bull-jumping scenes, all of which are particularly characteristic of Knossian palatial murals.
    Placing the blame for the decline or outright destruction of the Minoans on the Theran eruption is seen as an error. The real difficulty seems to arise because there is no deÞnite date for the eruption on which everyone can agree.
    In the case of Thera, a tidal wave would have been created by the collapse of the magma chamber within the volcano and the creation of a large, deep crater or caldera into which the sea would have rushed... Doumas in fact claimed that the collapse of the magma chamber and hence the appearance of the tidal wave was an event which postdated the volcanic eruption itself by a decade or more, thus explaining how events on Santorini directly caused the collapse of Minoan civilization even though Akrotiri was buried in late LM IA while... the end of the Neopalatial period cannot be dated earlier than LM IB.
    Ordinarily I Þnd catastrophism more compelling, but,
    [m]ore recently, the vulcanologists have claimed that the Santorini caldera formed quite gradually and that a tidal wave, if indeed there was one at all, would not have been on anything like the scale envisaged by Marinatos and other proponents of the link between the Theran volcano and the sudden decline of Neopalatial Crete.
    In other words, it didn't happen that way. The city may have been destroyed by an eruption or an earthquake; the caldera may not have formed until much later, or perhaps it has been there since prehistoric times.

    Sets the date for Thera eruption at either ca. 1650 or ca. 1560 B.C., ca. 1625 or ca. 1550/1540 B.C., or ca. 1480/1470 B.C., depending on the method of dating and sources used, but see my page The Aegean.

  • www.vartiklis.elnet.lt/mitai/flood/crete.htm -- this is a page in Lithuanian that appears to equate Crete, Caphtor, and Atlantis.

    Apparently sets date for Thera eruption at 1470 B.C. or 1270 B.C. (I can't read Lithuanian). See my page The Aegean.

  • www.greektreasure.acun.com/atlantis.html -- Again with the Minoans:
    Upon examination of Plato's words on Atlantis as written in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, we Þnd many similarities between what archaeologists and historians know to be true for the Minoans, and characteristics Plato attributes to Atlantis and its occupants.
    Actually we Þnd nothing of the kind, but feel free to keep repeating it. If the source of the Atlantis legend is that Solon heard about Keftiu and hellenized it (hellenization didn't begin until much later, in the time of Alexander the Great), and the volcano on Thera destroyed the Minoan civilization, how is it that people pondered about its disappearance and started the legend of Atlantis? For one thing, if the Minoans were wiped out by a volcanic eruption, why did no one record that? And if the neighboring people witnessed it, why did they ponder over the disappearance of the Minoans?

    Apparently sets date for Thera eruption at 1450 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • David Perkins -- actually a new favorite of mine. David Perkins is a self-styled practitioner of "Atlantean Therapy" which seems to be a mixture of astrology, trance channelling, and past lives recall, with an emphasis on Atlantean incarnations. Almost concludes that the Atlantis of Plato was Minoan civilization, but then speaks of parallels between his own lucid dreams and the Atlantean visions of Edgar Cayce. Eccentric, interesting, and entertaining, ultimately this is a more artistic interpretation of Atlantis. There's nothing historically useful on the site.

    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1470 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • Was Thera Keftiu / Atlantis?

  • www.quiknet.com/~kurgan/atlantis.html -- there's something charming about this site, such as when its author writes:
    The most popular item of argument when it comes to Atlantis is location and because none of the theories make sense in relation to each other I'll just list 'em seperately.
    Each location is then listed with pros and cons. Seems to avoid coming to any conclusion, but regards the Theran hypothesis as the only scientiÞc one, so it belongs here.

    Sets no date for the Thera eruption.

  • www.parascope.com/en/bermuda2.htm -- Another one:
    The island nation of Keftiu, home of one of the four pillars that held up the sky, was said to be a glorious advanced civilization which was destroyed and sank beneath the ocean.
    Each location is then listed with pros and cons. Seems to avoid coming to any conclusion, but regards the Theran hypothesis as the only scientiÞc one, so it belongs here.

    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1470 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

  • Occultopedia sez:
    Although traditional accounts of Atlantis have been proved false, some archaeologists speculate that the Atlantis legend may have originated with the volcanic eruption that destroyed a highly civilized Minoan town on the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea about 1450 BC.
    Sets date for Thera eruption at 1450 B.C., but see my page The Aegean.

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