Friday 1 November 2019


A ceramic vessel bearing the sculpture of a pensive-looking figure has been found in the Israeli city of Yehud. The vessel dates back about 4,000 years, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

But this is not the only nor the oldest ancient "thinker" figurine. This clay figurine depicting a person deep in thought, which with the height of 49cm far exceeds the usual figurine size for the Neolithic period, was found in Larissa – Greece. It dates to the period 4500 – 3000 BC.

This is another figurine depicting a person deep in thought. This one, known as the "Thinker of Tarpesti" was made by people of the Cucuteni culture at some point between 4750 and 4500 BC. Cucuteni culture was a Neolithic - Chalcolithic culture from Romania - Ukraine. This one is interesting as it portrays an old man with a beard, and elder...

This is the so called "Thinker of Hamangia". It was made between 5250 and 4550 BC by people from the Neolithic Hamangia culture, a Late Neolithic archaeological culture of Dobruja (Romania and Bulgaria).

The first level of knowledge is experience. You experience things, and you learn what works and what doesn't. Basically you learn to survive. Then you pass this knowledge to your progeny so they can survive.  They will hopefully learn from your experience. Which is why in most cultures, elders were respected and used as advisors both in families and in societies.

The next level of knowledge is understanding of the reasons why something works and something doesn't work. This allows you to progress from "this works" to "this works because...".

The final level of knowledge is inventing new knowledge. This allows you to progress from "this works" and "this works because..." to "this new thing I just invented is better way of doing..."

Everyone (who is still alive) can learn from experience.
Some can understand their knowledge.
Very few can create new knowledge.

These precious few are depicted by the above figurines.

Without them we would still be animals...

What enables humans to learn, understand and invent is their mind, their "thinking machine".

Now here is something interesting.

The word "mind" comes from Proto-Germanic "*mundiz" (memory, remembrance), from Proto-Indo-European "*méntis" (thought), from Proto-Indo-European "*men-" (to think).

PIE "*men-" is the root of the word for mind in pretty much all Indoeuropean languages:


mánas = mind, intellect, thought

Ancient Greek

μένος (menos) = mind, desire, ardor, wish, purpose, anger, courage, spirit, vigor, power, strength, force, violence


Minerva = goddess of wisdom


manyetor = to think

Old Church Slavonic

мьнѣти (mĭněti) = think, assume, believe

And then in Slavic languages we have these words:

"um" which comes from Proto Slavic "umъ" which means mind, thought, understanding.
"uman" = wise, smart (one who has um) probably from "um" (mind) + "on" (him)
"razum" = ras + um = split, separate + mind = intellect, reason, understanding
"umeti" = to know how, to be able to (literally to have mind)
"umetnost" = art (literally to be really good at being able to do something)
"umešnost" = artistry, skill

Now the etymology of this word is uncertain. Officially it is "possibly from PIE *men- meaning to think"...

Deriving "um" from "men" is problematic. You could say that "um" (mind) was derived from "uman" (wise, smart) which is derived from "u" (in) + "men" (think) =  with thoughts inside...??? But that is very unlikely as we actually have the word "mineti" which is derived from "men". 

I would propose that it was actually the opposite. The PIE root "men" (to think) was derived from even older root "um" (mind)  through "uman" (wise, smart, able to think) by dropping "u" at the beginning. This root was preserved for some weird reason only in Slavic languages.

There are several reasons why I think that this is the case.

1. The root "um" (mind) can be derived from "u" (in, inside) + "m" (me, myself) = inside of me, the inner me, mind.

I talked about this in my post "Vowels", in which I discussed the intrinsic values vowels have in Serbian. 

Here is the relevant excerpt: 

The holy sound of Vedas which is said to represent "the whole of Vedas", is OM, pronounced as "AUM"

I actually believe that this sound was originally AOUM but that O was lost first only for AU to be later replaced with O.

And here is something very interesting:

AOUM consists of these vowels: A - outside, O surface of the body, U inside of the body, M core. M is one of the only two sounds that can be made with your mouth closed. And the only sound that produces the vibration of the whole central cavity, our core. This is why M is the core sound of words that mean me, my, myself (me, mene in Serbian), the words whose meaning is directed inwards. So the above mantra brings our focus from outside into our core, (m)ind by using emotional discharge through descending vowels. The word for mind in Serbian is UM. This word derives its meaning from U + M = inside + me = mind. This is probably the old "AOUM" shortened down to the absolute minimum number of sounds necessary to convey the intended meaning of internal me, real me....mind, UM.

That this ancient root is not just my fantasy can be seen from the fact that we find it in derived words in Sumerian, which was already completely separate unrelated languages during the 5th millennium BC. 

umum, umun
umum  -  metalworker, smith, mold, raw form or material

I love the fact that ideas are linked to mold. Just like objects are created from ideas, metal objects are created from molds

umun - deep thinking, knowledge, scholarship, idea;
umun - title of respect (the knowledgeable one, the wise one, elder)
nam-umun-na: sovereignty (abstract prefix + "title of respect, elder" + nominative).

I love the fact that it seems that in Sumerian knowledge was respected to the point where "the wise one" became the title of respect which gave the root to the work sovereignty...

ki-umun-(m): "place of knowledge" (school)

And this is great:

umu, um: old woman; nurse; wise or skilful teacher.

Women were original preservers and passers of knowledge...


um-mi-a = scholar, expert, craftsman

In Slavic languages "ume" = "he knows how"

umuš: discernment; intelligence; reflection, consideration; decision
umuš...kúr: to change one's mind ('discernment; decision' + 'to change').

That this is not just a "weird coincidence" can be seen from the fact that some other, pretty important root words, like the words for life and grain are also the same in Slavic and Sumerian languages. I wrote about this in my post "breath".

The million dollar question is still opened: How did Slavic and Sumerian, two totally unrelated languages, end up sharing these words? Considering that the meaning of the base root "um" (mind, my inner self) can be derived from the meanings of even simpler Slavic roots "u" (in, inner) and "m" (me) suggest that the borrowing went from PIE to Sumerian. When did this borrowing happen? Probably during metalwork expansion from the Balkans eastward into Mesopotamia, probably at the very beginning of the Sumerian civilisation. 

Interesting, right?

Finally where does the word "human" come from? Official etymology says from Latin "humanus" (humane) which comes from "humus" (ground, floor, earth, soil)...


"The phenomenon of a derivational relationship between the words for both earth and man is also seen in Semitic languages: Hebrew אָדָם‎ (adám, “man”), אֲדָמָה‎ (adamá, “soil”)"

I mean this is mad. Men, animals, plants are "of earth", born by Mother Earth...There is nothing special there about humans...

Is it possible that the root is "um" (mind, brain, intelligence) through "uman" (one who has mind, brain intelligence) = human, not animal???

And I think these ancient words prove that this indeed could be the case:

Enemy, malevolent. From dus (negative prefix) + (u)manas, (u)menas = bad human

Indo-Iranian: *dušmánas 
Hellenic: *dusmenḗs

Friend, benevolent. From hsu (positive prefix) + (u)manas, (u)means = good human

Indo-Iranian: *Hsumánas
Hellenic: *ehumenḗs

But this would mean that these words from "ancient" Indoeuropean language branches would have to be derived from a word root from "the youngest" Indoeuropean language branch...Not a very popular suggestion...

Sumerian sources: 


  1. I think you have an error at the ebd of the text. Dus should be bad and hsu good?