Similarities in the ideas and concepts of the ancient Igbo and the ancient Greek

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By Jide Uwechia

Comparison between ancient Greek and ancient Igbo numbering systems and other fundamental concepts: by Jide Uwechia

I noted in my studies the great similarities between the numbering system of the ancient Greeks and the ancient Igbos of Nigeria. The Igbos are one of the major cultural grouping in Nigeria, and number close to 35 million in population. Modern Igbo is a remnant, a vestige of what was once a great and powerful culture, whose ancient but forgotten impacts are still seen in diverse and cultures places. Including perhaps, ancient Greece.

Similarities in numbering system is one of those cultural similarities that conclusively proves a centre of diffusion between two cultures. For number is a fundamental phenomenon, and it is based on scientific observations and naming conventions.

In today’s modern world, the institutes of mathematics that abound in numerous universities of the world, help preserve and advance a common understanding in the mathematical calculations and measurements across different countries.

There is an establishment, or rather some Royal Institute which is responsible for the conventions of the current metric system used all over the globe. The normative values, the conventional theorems and formulas, the established names of the measuring units, all were developed and inaugurated by a group of scientists working together.

All this is to point out, that when you come across two very similar numbering systems between two apparently different cultures, there is more to it than meets the eye. There was indeed contact between the two cultures. The mathematical ideas they share together indeed must have come from a common centre of dispersion.

Is there some connections between the ancient Igbos of West Africa and the ancient Greeks of the Mediterranean?

Well there is the shared sickle cell gene, Haplotype 19 or the Benin Haplotype.

There is also common occurences of some major Igbo male Y-DNA haplogroup in Greece, for example Y-DNA E-1, E3A, YAP, as well as R1B.

It may not be common known but as late as 1920s, there were thousands of black people living in Greece. Most of them were practising Muslims because the Turks had conquered Greece many centuries back.

Those black Greek people were deported to the Turkish side of the border and branded Muslims, Turks, or Turkish slaves, by the treaty of Lusanne 1924 which brokered peace between Turkey and emergent modern Greece.

Many of today’s so-called Greeks may have descended from ancient Greeks, but we know that even many more, are simply modern settlers brought in from East and North-West Europe, to re-claim land from the “Ottoman Turks.”

However, all this is just introductions, since that is not our focus of research in this article.

In this article, we present the numbering system of the ancient Igbos of Nigeria, and those of the ancient Greeks. We also compared basic root words between the two apparently different cultures to underscore their similarities.

One should consider those similarities between the names of the numbers, and between words and concepts very carefully and should make the necessary conclusions that they need to reach.

The numbers are as follows:

1, (Gr:Enas, Ig:Otu) 2, (Gr:dyo, Ig::abuo, Hausa: Diu) 3, (Gr: tria, Ig: ator, itor), 4, (Gr:tessera, Ig:ano, ino, eno), 5, (Gr: pente, Ig: ise) 6, (Gr:exi, Ig:Isi) 7 (Gr: epta, Igbo: asa, esa) 8 (Gr:okto, Ig:asato) and 9 (Gr:enneas, Ig:itenani) 10 (Gr: Deka, Igbo:ili) in Greek are similar to those words as found in Igbo.

Greek word for God is Theos, similar to Igbo: Chee (also spelt: chi).

Greek word for mouth is toma, Igbo is onu (but the verb “to chew” is expressed in Igbo as “tama” …)

Greek for ear is auti, Igbo is nti

Greek for go is paw, Igbo is pua

Greek for here is eva, Igbo is eba

Greek for outside is exo, igbo is ilo

Greek for carry is ptarum, Igbo is paru, para

Water is Mnero, in Igbo it is mmiri

Greek for up is epano (sky: ouranous), in Igbo it is enou

Greek for earth is gi, in Igbo aha-ji-oku is another name for the earth goddess in her form as provider of food especially yams (a root plant).


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