CAES Vol. 3, № 2



A phylogenetic interpretation of the canonical formula of myths by Levi-Strauss

Marc Thuillard, Jean-Loïc Le Quellec


Lévi-Strauss’ canonical formula and Mosko’s narrative formula have a simple interpretation within the theoretical framework of phylogenetics. The canonical formula represents a complex but by far not unique way of combining 2 and 3-states characters in a phylogenetic tree description of myths. The canonical formula describes an instance of myth’s evolution that can be described exactly by a perfect phylogenetic tree. Mosko’s formula describes a completely different scheme of evolution. Mosko’s formula is typically the result of a fast evolution of mythemes resulting possibly in all combinations of binary characters. The evolution of myths corresponds quite often to intermediary situations. This observation may explain why the canonical formula has been identified only in a limited number of instances.

Keywords:  Lévi-Strauss; canonical formula; narrative formula; myths; phylogeny


Think pieces

A Minoan deity from London Medicine Papyrus

Alexander Akulov


In London Medicine Papyrus, in incantation against samuna ubuqi illness there are two names of Minoan deities. One of them is determined as Maja that evidently is correlated with Maia of ancient Greek mythology. Maia of ancient Greek mythology is the oldest of seven Pleiades. Pleiades were connected with seafaring since the season of navigation in Mediterranean region began with their heliacal rising. Minoan Maia could be protector of sailors; use of name Maja in an incantation against a disease is completely logical since seafaring was very important of Minoan people, and so a deity that was protector of sailors evidently was considered as a mighty one and could also be an effective protector against other troubles. The fact that name Maja is written with determinative “god”, but not “goddess” in the incantation while in Greek mythology Maia is goddess, hints that initially Maja could be androgynous/bigender deity.

Keywords: London Medicine Papyrus; Minoan deity; Minoan language; Minoan; Kaftiw


Actual problems of Ainu language revitalization

Alexander Akulov, Tresi Nonno


It was supposed that social networks and virtual worlds could be good platforms for Ainu language revitalization. Also it was supposed that the conception of native tongue should be thrown as well as conception of ‘native’ gender. Anybody who can produce spontaneous utterances in a language should be considered as its speaker. However, it has appeared that it’s not easy to create a platform for revitalization. Second Life has appeared to be nothing else, but just a huge mall where any activity except stereotyped isn’t welcomed. Facebook has appeared to be a ‘ghetto’ of so called UN ‘hippies’ who mostly want to see indigenous cultures as enigmatic exotics only. Funds also provide little support for real activists of revitalization.

Keywords: Ainu language; language revitalization; virtualization


Some critical thoughts on the concept of tradition

Yelena Kolesnikova


Anthropologists as well as plain people often use the concepts of tradition/traditional values/traditional culture. They both suppose that tradition is something contraposed modernity/contemporeanity. Really any culture is base on certain traditions. Traditions are actually regularly performed practices so any culture is base on certain traditions since any culture always supposes certain set of regularly performed practices. Also we should keep in mind that tradition also supposes invention of new issues. Also we should keep in mind that the activity of anthropologists, i.e.: the fact that they pay much attention to traditional societies and contrapose so called traditional societies to modernity provide help to the forces of obscurantism.

Keywords: tradition; anthropology; history


Yayoi culture as a fake (preliminary notes)

Tresi Nonno


Among historians are spread the following stereotypes: roots of Japanese culture were formed in the period of Yayoi, and Jōmon culture didn’t influence on forming Japanese culture. However, Yayoi pottery and architecture are just continuations of Late Jōmon pottery and architecture. Perception of continental issues (for instance: dōtaku) in the period of Yayoi was very irregular, and introduced items became object of cargo cults. In the period of Kofun on the contrary we can see regular spreading of ‘Korean’ techniques. Regular spreading of certain techniques should necessarily correlate with regular presence of corresponding ethnic group. Thus, it is possible to say that there was no serious presence of ‘Korean’ ethnic element upon Japanese archipelago until the beginning of Kofun period. Yayoi period actually should not be considered as a separated culture, but just as a continuation of Late Jōmon.

Keywords: Yayoi; Late Jōmon; Japanese history; interpretation of archaeological data


CAES Vol 2, № 4


Editor’s foreword


An examination of the calibration of linguistic distance. Part II Covariates 

Simon Brown


The assessment of linguistic relatedness is often based on the analysis of word lists to estimate the distance between languages.  To relate the distance to a divergence time requires established calibration data and a model representing the underlying processes of language change.  However, the available calibration data may be based on different sorts of evidence, come from different geographical regions and represent different language families, for example.  Covariates such as these can impact significantly on the estimated divergence time.  This reinforces concerns about the selection of calibration data, especially when just a small number of values are chosen.

Key words:  dating evidence; geographical region; linguistic distance; model dependence


Commented translation of the Cannibal Hymn

Anna Dvornichenko


Pyramid Texts include significant information about early Egyptian religion, rituals and society; however, meaning of the majority of spells is not completely clear for researchers. Cannibal Hymn is one of the most famous and complicated spell which is contained in Pyramid and Coffin Texts, so different egyptologists have devoted articles to this interesting spell. In this paper my commented, interlinear translation and transliteration of Cannibal Hymn are represented, and I propose my interpretation of content of this utterance based on Egyptian mythological concepts and ancient Egyptian historical realities. Also are offered explanations of certain unclear words which are debatable among egyptologists.

Key words: Cannibal Hymn; Pyramid Texts; Egyptian religious; literature; myths


Think pieces:

The idiom of Phaistos disc seems to be a relative of Hattic language

Alexander Akulov


Language of the disc has reduplication of root (blocks A3, A15) and well elaborated prefixation; it means that Minoan can probably be relative of Anatolian languages, or Hattic, or Sumerian (languages which also have well elaborated prefixation). Having attached readings of some known signs I discovered that certain syllables inside Minoan verbs are distributed in very alike positions as certain grammatical markers inside Hattic verb. For example: all verbs of the disc have se in terminal right positions that correlates with Hattic particle which is placed in the same position; there are many verbs with –qe- suffix that correlates with Hattic –e- suffix (supposedly a marker of tense/aspect); blocks A3, A15 have syllable te placed in the same position as Hattic orientation/location marker –te-; block A22 has sylable te in terminal left

Key words: Phaistos disc; Minoan language; Hattic language


History of Japanese culture interpreted in the light of culturalism

Tresi Nonno


Cultures of cosmocentric paradigm demonstrate high interest in nature, high tolerance toward different manifestations of human body.  Cultures of sociocentric paradigm demonstrate low interest in nature, low tolerance toward manifestations of human body, high interest in morality. Cultures of the same paradigm communicate rather easily; communication of cultures belonging to different paradigms usually leads to appearing of cargo cults. Communication of cultures belonging to the same paradigm also can lead to appearing of cargo cults: Confucianism in Japan was cargo cult since it didn’t become social lift. Japanese culture is cosmocentric since its base (Jōmon) was cosmocentric. Spreading of rice culture inspired weakening of cosmocentric trend. Kokugaku movement and Meiji Restoration were first steps to the restoration of initial cosmocentric values; however they didn’t deconstruct patterns of cargo Confucianism. True restoration of cosmocentric paradigm began after WWI since values of contemporary Western civilization are much alike those of Jōmon.

Key words: culturalism; cosmocentrism; sociocentrism; history of Japan


On Ainu etymology of names Izanagi and Izanami

Tresi Nonno


Names Izanagi and Izanami are recorded by completely meaningless combinations of kanji; existing interpretations of these names are folk etymologies, i.e.: it means that Izanagi and Izanami seem not to be words of Japanese origin. Izanagi and Izanami belong to the little amount of kami who form spouse pairs: there is about 6% of such kami in first scroll of Nihon Shoki, such type of kami is rather widely represented in Ainu folklore. Ending gi in Izanagi correlates with ending kur used in male names of Ainu kamuy/heroes ending mi in Izanami correlates with ending mat used in female names of Ainu kamuy/heroes. Component izana seems to have originated from ancient Ainu form: *’iso-ne that means “to be bearful”, “to be lucky in hunting”, “to be rich”; and thus, initial forms of Izanagi was *’Iso-ne-kwr “Bearful man”and initial form of Izanami was *’Iso-ne-mat “Bearful woman”.

 Key words: Izanagi; Izanami; Shinto; Ainu issues in Shinto; etymology of kami names