The discovery of the raampa pictographic writing in the Senegambia, West Africa

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Discovery of the Raampa pictographic writing in Senegambia, West Africa


by David Maranz, Ph.D.
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1. The marks missing in Koumen

The discovery of a previously unknown writing and communication tradition in West Africa began with a recommendation in a book written by the Malian writer and ethnologist, Amadou Hampâté Bâ (d. 1991). The book is Koumen: Texte initiatique des Pasteurs Peul (Bâ 1961).

In his book, Hampâté Bâ notes that, “… cattle are marked by their owners with red-hot irons. There were, historically, sixteen of these marks, each with a religious meaning. When using them, invocations are repeated to ensure the protection and fertility of the herd. Fourteen are presented below….”(page 13). In a footnote he comments: “Two are missing. It would be good to research those missing, together with their symbolism.”

In 1992 I was working in Senegal and collecting anthropological texts from old men, especially of the Saafi ethnic group. I had a researcher

(enquêteur, in French) working for me whose father was a clan head, village chief and noted traditional healer in this group. The son’s name was Aliou Dione. I pointed out to him these fourteen “marks” and the challenge given by Hampâté Bâ, to find the “missing two.” I noted that the Bandiagara region of Mali where Hampâté Bâ was from, was some 1,000 miles east of where the Saafi lived.

I asked Aliou if he knew of these, and he said, “No, but I will ask my father.” I made a photocopy of the fourteen, and these were shown to the father. He replied to his son approximately this way, “Sure, we know these marks. They are part of our raampa tradition of communicating.”

Aliou was dumbfounded. He asked his father why he had never told him about these marks and raampa, when he knew he had been working for years researching Saafi traditions and beliefs. The father said, “Of course I haven’t told you, because raampa is only explained to a few chosen older men, leaders, who are initiated into it. And you were not one of them and initiated into it.”

Once the father, now an old man in his 80s, found out that Aliou was interested, he was very willing to talk, to pass on to him what he knew of the “marks.” He recognized that since the Saafi became islamized, especially during the 1930s, the whole raampa tradition largely had fallen into disuse. Islam frowned on non-Arabic traditions so men felt inhibited to use it. New men were not being initiated into the tradition. So the father said he was willing to explain raampa, as he realized that the whole tradition was on the way to being lost.

It was now my turn to be dumbfounded. It immediately seemed to me that we had stumbled onto something very significant in African traditional culture. To my knowledge these “marks” and the extensive communication and belief system that we found went with them, and what they called “oral raampa” were unknown outside of a few old men. And they were fast disappearing with this whole, significant communication system and tradition. We were told that very few ordinary Saafi themselves knew of raampa, such was the secrecy with which it was held.

Therefore I asked Aliou to drop our other data-collecting projects and concentrate on raampa, to find out as much as we could about it. I would send him to all possible Saafi villages to try to find old men who could and would explain to us as much as possible about raampa. It seemed that much had already been forgotten, and no one person had a complete knowledge of it.

And he was more than willing to do this, walking miles in the hot sun, riding in horse-drawn carts, sleeping on dirt floors, spending time with old men, recording their descriptions, sharing their lives and stories, and in all ways being completely dedicated to the challenging task.

Here are the fourteen “marks” found by Hampâté Bâ, with their names and glosses, reproduced from his book:

uddal closure, fastener 043fn
palal to erect a barrier 029sf
loñal line, trace 001sf
takkal animal foot 004pl
meseled’e needles 010sf
t’okadde buckled; fastened in 036sf
dorral large whip 037fn
hondorewal wish, a wish 085sf
malfal firearm, rifle 069sf
dadorgal pin, clasp 010pl
korwal bobbin & shuttle 011pl
pīlal encircle, roll up 083sf
arkabëwal stirrup 049sf
symbol girräd’e narrow, thin 068sf

We found all the marks he presented, and not just the two others that Bâ said were missing, but a total of over four hundred! Catalog numbers from our catalog of raampa pictographs are given after each of Hampâté Bâ’s glosses. We also collected scores of written messages that used these “marks.” Later, we ran across a man who seemed to be the most knowledgeable of all those we encountered, and he told us that probably if we talked to all those who knew raampa, we might find a total of two hundred “marks.” So our collection, from all we could determine, far exceeded the knowledge of any one initiate.

Note that in this short presentation, I use the term raampa as the general term for this writing, whereas it is in fact the Saafi-Saafi term. The other ethnic groups that use the same writing have their own terms, but for simplicity, I am using only one term as a cover for them all.

2. Marks on cattle

Bâ comments as follows.

“[These] marks are general. They may be used singly or in combinations, placing them in different locations on the animal.

“An animal may be marked on any part of its body, but tradition teaches that they are to be placed where they will best increase the ‘luck’ of each animal.

“This may be at the head, on the neck, etc. Once an owner decides, he does not change the marks on his animals.”

Here are pictures of cattle seen in Senegal with clear “marks.” Marks may be permanent – traditionally burned into the hide with the tip of a glowing stick; more recently with iron heated to a red glow. They may also just be temporary, placed on the animal during healing or magical rites. Note that we found one donkey is marked with a pictograph.

Top rows: cattle with pictographs, donkey with pictograph; bottom row: typical cattle herders

3. Does anyone in Senegal understand these marks?

Our fieldwork revealed that the same tradition or system of pictographic writing and communicating reached across six language groups. Time and resources did not allow us to contact other groups, but all the groups we included in our fieldwork did indeed use the same system. We even found that a message written by a man from one language group could be read accurately by a man from a completely different language group. The language groups we found that used the raampa pictographs were:

  1. Saafi-Saafi (srr *) – Senegal, Niger-Congo language family, Atlantic branch
  2. Serer-Sine (srr) – Senegal, Niger-Congo language family, Atlantic branch
  3. Pular (fuf) – (Fula) Senegal and Guinea, Niger-Congo language family, Atlantic branch
  4. Hassaniyya (mey)—Mauritania, Afro-Asiatic language family
  5. Mandinka (mnk) (Mandingue) – Senegal and Guinea, Niger-Congo language family, Mande branch
  6. Pulaar (fuc) (Toucouleur/Tukulor) – Senegal and Mauritania, Niger-Congo language family, Atlantic branch

4. How is this pictographic writing system used?

Although Hampâté Bâ only called them “marks,” we will use a little more technical term: pictographs. They could also be called ideograms or hieroglyphs, but as the latter term is generally associated with Egypt, it seems better to not use it. Raampa pictographs are graphic symbols representing objects or ideas without expressing, as in a phonetic system, the sounds that form their names. A few of the old men “informants” that talked to us tried to describe phonetic values for some of the pictographs, but I believe that as men basically unschooled in linguistics, and barely if at all in literacy in general, they were trying to make connections that do not in fact exist.

Raampa pictographs were used singly or in messages comprising a string of up to some twenty pictographs, at least from the examples we were given. Some simple examples of the way raampa is used are shown here.

cattle herder + cattle + creek + sunrise (069bsn + 009sn + 119sn + 121sn)
“The cattle herder drives his herd to the water hole at sunrise (to water them).”

dead + man + farming + hunting + fishing (112sn + 095sn + 131sn + 058sn + 142sn)
“The late honorable man consecrated his life to farming, hunting and fishing.”

These are messages given to us by raampa initiates. We of course did not make up any messages used in this presentation. Of the more than fifty messages we collected, many are difficult to interpret clearly. The explanations we were given in many cases are hard to follow. Just why this is so, I am not sure. Were our data collectors (enquêteurs, in French) in too much of a hurry to really obtain the meaning? Were the informants themselves clear as to the intent of the message? Are cultural understandings that would clarify the meaning eluding us, as with the example of the gecko, above? It would be most helpful if more fieldwork could be carried out to fill some of the many gaps left in our research.

Messages were transmitted by writing on

A. Plant leaves, especially on the leaves of the plant known as the Sodom apple or Giant milkweed (Calotropis procera). The leaves of this plant are large, thick, with a surface like sandpaper.

B. Wooden slates

Flat wooden slates were made especially for the purpose by the Laobé, members of the woodcutter caste. They were dyed with natural indigo and could be erased and reused repeatedly. This is a typical slate with a message written, with its gloss in French.

C. Rock tablets, i.e., flat rocks were used.

An example of the use of rock tablets is given under "Uses in Magic" below.

D. Cotton homespun was used, as at least some of

the societies grew, spun and wove cotton.

E. Messages were frequently written on the ground. An example would be a message written on a path to hunters, warning of a fierce animal lurking ahead.

Women produced blocks of a white chalk made from roasted and pounded bones, that they used when spinning cotton to give it body and therefore be easier to handle. This was used by men to write on the wooden and rock slates, and on leaves.

Some individual pictographs seem especially interesting:

kooh (100sf)

Pictograph for the supreme God; the sky.

ja'ir “axe” (182asf/045sf)

“Men lived by the axe. When one died, his death was announced this way: ‘He will no longer carry his axe.’ This mark is placed on the roof of the deceased man’s house. Therefore, the incantations begin with an invocation to God. All secrets are revealed inside the house. The Saafi man to whom this mark is given knows that he is being summoned to a meeting in the house.”

Separately, the three sides represent birth, life, and death, as shown by the arrows:

birth        life           death

a jaaniiw “the after-death abode” (086sn)

“After death comes reincarnation -- into the invisible or visible world.”

kooh cuuh ½afku, God [behind] unborn fetus, pregnant (104sf)

With the Saafi, the infant not yet born is only a spirit. This mark symbolizes the descent of a spirit come to assist in the death. When one sees this mark on a head of cattle, one knows that it belongs to a motherless orphan in the Saafi family.

kooh cuuh jip, God made the fetus descend, a newborn (103sf)

“This mark is a symbol announcing the birth of a newborn. For the Saafi, everyone born comes from God and when he or she dies, everyone returns to God in the heaven. The placenta that envelops the child in the mother’s womb is protected by God. This is why, at the moment of birth, it points to God, in looking toward the four cardinal directions.” [Note: There is much in this explanation that is not clear or even understandable to an outsider.]

meew, a dignitary (152sf)

“An initiated person receiving this sign, understands that the founder of the village is dead. According to our society, he will be buried under an earth pyramid, and each year people will come to the tomb in veneration. The head of this type of person is oriented to the west, with the feet to the east, and the face to the south. This sign is not marked on cattle.”

One of the two sets of eyes represents normal sight, and the other, supernatural sight into the spirit world. Such a person is described as having a “large head,” that is, can see both the natural and supernatural worlds.

xuytu “war, conflict” (107sn)

jam, peace (117sn)

“When after a conflict negotiations result in peace, two lances are broken and left on display (e.g., at the entrance of a village) to signify to all that peace has been reestablished. A traveler encountering this sign along his route would be assured that he will find the territory in peace.”

o xeet de, “the Serer-Sine people” (093sn)

"tri represents a full life worthy of burial in a pyramid, also death."
"tri represents the ancestors who with the living form the Serer-Sine.”
[Note a different interpretation, below under Uses in Healing.]

basil ne “the family, the home” (010sn)

“The three strokes represent God, man, and nature. Without all three there is no family.”

a batan njey “sunrise; a place that is only safe during the day, is a dangerous place to be at night” (121sn)

a mudan njey “sunset; sign of bad luck; a place very dangerous at night because of bad spirits” (122sn)

lugat (088sn)

This pictograph has meanings on two levels --
- “an instrument to hook something dropped in water”
- “to conjure someone, bring them back home by occult means”

(130sn) (064sn) (106sn)


It is often difficult to determine when similar pictograms have the same meanings or which are different. Often our informants wrote with their fingers or sticks on the ground, where the distinguishing details were elusive. In addition, informants were typically unlettered and not used to writing precisely for outsiders. All this made us wonder at times, just how messages were communicated accurately. These three examples illustrate our difficulties.

    • Question: Which of A, B, and C have the same meaning?
    • Answer: A and C mean “sorcerer, witch”; B means “to bend.”

5. Other uses for raampa

Oral Pictographs

Frequently men who used raampa used it as a secret code in a public conversation. The various pictographs had names that were common to the language (e.g., Saafi-Saafi), but had hidden meanings. So any non-initiated person hearing the coded message would only hear a nonsensical stream of words they understood, but to the initiated hearer to whom the message was intended, the message would be understood.

Secret Code

The pictographs were also used in secret communications. A humorous example was give to us. Suppose a bride-to-be was leaving her village to go live with her husband in his village. (This was the custom in this patrilocal society.) And suppose she was known by the elders to be a busybody or gossip. As her baggage was leaving her natal village, one of the elder practitioners of raampa would quietly write this pictograph on it in plain sight: (128sn.jpg). The pictograph represents a foot. So when the woman arrives in her new village, while the elders are greeting her, they will see the pictogram and understand the message meant for them. They will understand that this new bride is a “walker”, i.e., that she gets into other people’s business. Therefore, the understanding is that the village elders should know they will need to keep an eye on her and seek to change her ways.

Uses in Magic

"Men or women can be sorcerers and transform themselves magically into the serpent called jaw (in Saafi-Saafi). The apparition of this serpent is conveyed by written message, and all the old men who are knowledgeable leaders become aware of it. When any of them receives a raampa message concerning the appearance of the jaw, they call an assembly of the village notables, who gather at the public place. The news spreads rapidly especially among the old men. There they announce the appearance of this serpent. Such an apparition of the mystical jaw always causes worry in the village. A carved stone tablet called ½al is placed at the center of the village to show the urgency of the men’s secret society to meet (in order to take magical counter-measures to repulse the danger of the jaw)." –account given by Saaliyu Juuf from the village of Bir¥iraan, 89 years old in 1992, and recorded by Aliou Dione.


jaw « serpent téléguidé »

« Quand un vieux reçoit une tablette sur laquelle s’est dessiné un signe en serpent, aussitôt il comprend le message. Ceci est pour signaler la présence du serpent téléguidé (c’est à dire, envoyé par un sorcier) dans le village. Ce vieux codé comprend que le serpent est pressé de mordre. Ce signe est un serpent tenu debout ; il est différent du numéro 122sf. Mais tenu debout n’est pas pour la vache. » –account given by Songho Ndoye from the village of Thiéo in 1997, and recorded by Aliou Dione. Taken from the Saafi section of the raampa catalog.

Uses in Healing

'o xoor paÿ , the star that heals (093sn)

“The star with six points traced on the ground and hollowed out in the middle was used during childbirth. When a woman had heavy bleeding during delivery, the elders made her sit in the middle of the star to stop the hemorrhage.”

“The star is considered sacred. When a person is wounded, he or she should trace this star on the ground, then collect sand from its six points and heap them in the middle. Then he should sprinkle some of the sand on the wound, and within three days it will be healed.”

[Note another interpretation above, by different informant, under « Individual Pictographs »]

Interpretations frequently presuppose require cultural understandings

The pictograph representing a gecko is (062sf.jpg). But simply knowing it represents a gecko will not help interpret a raampa message. The cultural belief about geckos is that they are a sign of bad luck. We were told, “The gecko is the worst evildoer that God created. If it cries at night it predicts good rains but if it lays eggs continuously it predicts poor rains. It is a sign of bad luck; it is taboo to kill one.” Therefore if the pictograph of a gecko is used in a message, the context will indicate if it stands for a prediction of a poor or a good rainy season, or impending bad luck, etc.

6. Are these pictographs related to any other writing system?

I reviewed scores of writing systems, modern and ancient, to try to find some other writing that would seem to be related to raampa. My search extended as far as China, and north to Europe and the British Isles. One set of writing symbols seemed to stand out as most like raampa, far more than any of the many other writing systems reviewed. This was Linear A, from the eastern Mediterranean from about the period 700-500 B.C. No one has been able to link Linear A symbols to a specific language, although the closely related Linear B was after many years of uncertainty, shown to be an early form of written Greek. The bibliography at the end of this paper gives references to Linear A and Linear B.

Here is a comparison of the symbols of Linear A, also called Late Phoenician, and raampa.

Late Phoenician / Linear A *

Raampa *

Phoenician related Roman 009fn
A ', A
B B 010fn
C, G G 005fn
D D 045sf
E E 016fn
F, Y F,V,U,W,Y 023fn
Z Z 007fn
H H 041bsf
- Th 028fn
I, J Y 014fn
K K 015fn
L L 034fn
M M 022fn

X ts, X 019fn
O O 027fn
P P 048fn
- sh 198sf
Q Q 071sf
R R 010fn
S S 041fn
T T 004fn

* Late Phoenician/Linear A letters are taken from a publication of the Museum of the Alphabet, and xxxfn or xxxsf pictographs from the raampa catalog from David Maranz.

There are many sets of early, middle and late Phoenician letters, as presented in the countless publications that deal with the subject. The choice of which to use here is difficult to defend statistically, as any comparison with raampa will depend on the Phoenician letters of the historical period one chooses. Also, ancient letters varied in shape from region to region. I have chosen the alphabet provided in the book, The Alphabet Makers (Moore 1990). For those who may not be familiar with the differences between Phoenicia and Carthage, note that originally Carthage was settled by Phoenicians, but with time, Carthage developed and competed with the motherland and became a force in its own right in a relationship similar to that of the United States and England. Consequently, Carthaginian culture was basically Phoenician,.

Note also that 18 of the 22 raampa pictographs in the table above are from the Pular (fuf) ethnic group. It appears that the Pular have been more traditional in using raampa, than the Saafi and Serer, who seem to have created many more pictographs and used the system in more creative ways than the Pular. This impression may simply be the result of limited research among them. We will suggest in the Summary at the end of this paper that the Pular are a prime area for further research into raampa.

When I was first struck by the apparent similarities between Linear A and raampa, it seemed totally absurd that it could be more than coincidental. Then I found several clues that indicated it might not be so absurd as first appears. One of the many papers written on the enigma of Linear A is given in the bibliography.

One, I found a series of papers written by Kathleen Hau of the University of California, Berkeley, published in the journal IFAN (Hau 1959, 1961, 1964, 1967). In these papers Ms. Hau makes a connection between some ancient inscriptions on elephant tusks in Nigeria and Linear A. So I thought I might not be as crazy as I was beginning to think.

Two, I read the English translation of Hanno the Carthaginian's treatise dating from the 5th to 6th centuries B.C. recounting his circumnavigation of Africa (Hanno the Carthaginian, 1995). From it and its description of sailing along the coast of West Africa, and Phoenician, that is, Carthaginian, trading colonies, a reasonable claim can be made that their southernmost permanent trading colony was at the mouth of the Senegal River. Maps are inserted here to show the locations of Carthage, and Crete which has been found to have been a center of Linear A usage, and a map of Senegal, pointing to the Senegal River, and to the Bambouk gold mining region.

Mediterranean region pointing to Carthage and Crete.

Carthage to mouth of Senegal River

Senegal, showing the Senegal River and the Bambouk gold mining region.

Three, some of the great gold mines of antiquity were located near the headwaters of the Senegal River. The area where the rich gold mines were located has been called Bambouk, Bambuhu, etc . It is pointed out on the Senegal map. Therefore it is reasonable to hypothesize that the Phoenicians must have sailed up the Senegal River and traded in gold. Moscati (1968) writes that the purpose for Carhaginian colonization:

The reason for Hanno's voyage, and for Punic colonization in general along the African coast beyond the Pillars of Hercules, is… the search for precious metal, this time gold (p.184).

[Note that Punic is derived from Punici, the Roman name for Carthage, which was from Poenici, from Phoenicia.]

Another author refers to the interest in gold, but several descriptions of trading accounts by Phoenician or Carthaginian sources omit any reference to gold. This is thought to stem from the attempt to hide from outsiders the fact of trading for gold, to keep out the competition.

The most famous "fact" about the commerce of Phoenicians and their descendants that are variously described as Carthaginians or Punics in West Africa is the linkage of salt and gold. Yet Herodotus is the main source about the Periplus of Necho and "Hanno" is our main source about the Periplus of Hanno and if the first does mention gold, he does not connect it with salt: "Hanno" refers to neither (Bourne 2010).

Four, archeological research has found that the proto-Saafi people were resident along the middle Senegal River basin in antiquity. See Chavane 1985.

Therefore, the hypothesis of this paper is that roughly during the 6th to 5th centuries B.C. the Carthaginians were using Linear A-type writing and traded along the middle Senegal River area. The local people saw the writing and understood the significance of using these symbols. They either did not learn the phonetic values of the symbols or they were forgotten in the intervening centuries. They therefore in at least recent times they have just used them as pictographs, and have passed them on to this day, along with the creation of many more than the original twenty-something number in the early Phoenician proto-alphabet.

7. How far beyond the Senegal-Mali region is this writing known?

I wish I could answer this question, but I retired from work in Africa before I could look into it. I did have one experience in Cameroon that provides some hints. I was in northern Cameroon in 2000, visiting a hospital for just a couple of days. I happened to find that the chaplain was from Nigeria and had grown up in a family of Fulani cattle herders. I had with me a sheet of printed raampa pictographs, and I showed him and his wife the paper. They both stared at it for an uncomfortably long time, finally looking to me, and saying, “Do you know about this?” I said I had only heard of it and would like to learn more. Then they both said with finality, “We don’t know anything about it,” and handed the sheet back to me. To me, their identical reactions were very strange, if they indeed knew nothing. Coupled with this, I asked the man to take me to talk to some of the old men cattle herders who were staying at the hospital to attend to sick relatives, or to just allow me to go talk to them on my own. He would never allow me to visit any of them. Taken together, I would assume that some form of the raampa pictographs were known to him and he did not want outsiders, perhaps especially a Westerner, to find out about them.

8. What should be done next.

Where does this discovery lead us? Even in the late 1990s, when we returned to some villages to ask some of our informants for more information, we found many had already gone on to join their ancestors. Now, well into the 21st century, there would be fewer available for further study. One of the purposes of trying to get this discovery into the public domain, is the hope that some researchers will be available to do more field work, and enlarge our understanding of raampa and associated systems before all knowledge of them is lost.

I would hope field work could be done especially in Guinea-Conakry, as men we contacted from there included some of those most knowledgeable. Also, there are still many relatively pristine villages in the Futa Jallon mountains, where much traditional lore is still relatively intact. Another probable fruitful region would be the Ferlo of Senegal, again, more untouched by outside influences and a center of cattle herding.

Outside of the Senegambia region of West Africa, there are millions of Fulani cattle herders scattered across Africa south of the Sahara. It is hard to imagine that this developed system of communication is unknown outside of the far western reaches of cattle raising where I did fieldwork.

Search of the works of writers from antiquity may also reveal connections between Phoenicians and Carthaginians and their trade in gold and other goods from West Africa. Mention has already been made of Hanno (1995). Further clues as to contacts between the Mediterranean and coastal Africa may be hidden in these writings. These may provide clarification of the hypothesis of Linear A writing diffusing south of the Sahara. For instance, Herodotus (IV, 196) is cited in Hanno (1995:3), as writing that Carthaginian gold was obtained through trade along the west coast of Africa. A good source for accessing these documents in English translation is the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University, available online.

9. Summary

I could imagine that the discovery and interpretations of raampa are unique in the study of ancient writing systems. Here, actual practitioners have been available to explain far more than could be determined through mere discovery and study of written materials alone, as with writing found in archeological excavations. In the case of raampa, a great deal of esoteric knowledge has been passed on to us by its practitioners. This assumes that raampa is ancient. From the evidence, it could hardly be concluded otherwise.

10. End Notes and bibliography

* Ethnic group names are from Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 2009 edition, SIL International. Three-letter designations are from the Language Code Index, also from the Ethnologue:

Note that the bibliography includes works that may shed light on raampa-related matters, not just references cited. Readers will note the absence of recent publications. The author is long retired and has not attempted to keep up with the literature. Titles that are presented may be helpful and of some interest. Many are from sources rather obscure or difficult to access, so that their presentation may assist in further research.

  1. Aubet, Maria Eugenia, 1993 [1987] The Phoenicians and the West: Politics, colonies and trade. Translated from the Spanish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Bâ, Amadou Hampâté (1900/1901-1991) and G. Dieterlen, 1961 Koumen: Texte initiatique des Pasteurs Peul. Cahiers de l’Homme.
  3. Paris: Mouton & Co. 95p.
  4. Bernal, Martin, 1990 Cadmean Letters: The transmission of the alphabet to the Aegean and further West efore 1400 B.C. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.
  5. Bourne, Harry, 2010 "An examination of the voyages and activities of Phoenicians in the West Africa." Phoenicians in West Africa,
  6. Chavane, Bruno A., 1985 Village de l'ancien Tekrour: Recherches archéologiques dand la moyenne vallée du fleuve Sénégal. Paris: Editions Karthala. 183p.
  7. Cintas, P., 1954 Contribution à l'étude de l'expansion carthaginoise au Maroc. Paris.
  8. Colloque de Dakar, 1978 Afrique noire et Monde méditerranéen dans l'antiquité. 19-24 janvier 1976. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines. 304p.
  9. Dalby, David, 1967 "A Survey of the Indigenous Scripts of Liberia and Sierra Leone: Vai, Mende, Loma, Kpelle and Bassa." African Language Studies 8:1-51.
    1968 "The indigenous scripts of West Africa and Surinam: Their inspiration and design." African Language Studies, 9:156-197.
    1969 "Further indigenous scripts of West Africa: Manding, Wolof and Fula alphabets and Yoruba 'holy' writing." African Language Studies 10:161-181.
    1986 Africa and the Written Word / L'Afrique et la lettre. Paris: Editions Karthala.
  10. Driver, G. R., 1954 Semitic Writing from Pictograph to Alphabet. London.
    1976 Semitic Writing from Pictograph to Alphabet. 3rd edition. London.
  11. Dupire, M., 1954 "Contribution à l'étude des marques de propriété du bétail chez les pasteurs peuls." Journal de la Société des Africainistes 24(2):12-144.
  12. Editor, 2000 "An Interview with Maverick Scholar Cyrus Gordon." Biblical Archeology Review, Nov/Dec, pp. 52-63, 71.
    [Prof. Gordon believes Linear A represented a Semitic language but his views are much disputed.]
  13. Gaines, Ann, 1994 Herodotus and the Explorers of the Classical Age. NY: Chelsea Publications
  14. Griaule, Marcel and Germaine Dieterlen, 1951 Signes graphiques soudanais. Paris: Herman et Cie, Editeurs. 86p.
  15. Hanno the Carthaginian, 1995 (written c. 6th to 5th centuries, B.C.) Periplus or Circumnavigation (of Africa), 3rd edition. Translation from the Greek by Al. N. Oikonomides and M. C. J. Miller. Chicago: Ares Publishers. 144p.
  16. (Ares publishes many works of authors from antiquity.)
  17. Hau, Kathleen, 1959 "Evidence of the Use of Pre-Portuguese Written Characters by the Bini?" Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique noir (IFAN), Série B. Dakar, Senegal. Vol. 21:109-154.
    1961 "Oberi Okaimz Script, Texts and Counting System," Bulletin de l'IFAN, Série B. Vol. 23:291-308.
    1964 "A Royal Title on a Palace Tusk from Benin (Southern Nigeria)," Bulletin de l'IFAN), Série B. Vol. 29, Nos. 1-2:21-39.
    1967 "The ancient writing of Southern Nigeria." Bulletin de l'IFAN), Série B. Vol. 29, Nos. 1-2:151-190.
  18. Harden, D. B., 1948 "The Phoenicians on the West Coast of Africa." Antiquity 22:141-150.
  19. Healey, John F., 1990 The Early Alphabet. University of Calif. Press/British Museum.
  20. MacMichael, H. A., 1913 Brands Used by the Chief Camel-Owning Tribes of Kordofan. Cambridge: University Press.
  21. Mauny, Raymond, 1945 [1951] "Note sur le Périple d'Hannon," Actes de la 1re Conférence Internationale Africaine de l'Ouest, tome II, pp. 509-530, Dakar.
    1954 Gravures, peintures et inscriptions rupestres de l'Ouest africain. Dakar: IFAN. 93p.
    1955 "La navigation sur les côtes du Sahara pendant l'Antiquité. Bordeaux: Revue des Etudes Anciennes, tome 57:92-101.
    1961 Tableau géographique de l'Ouest africain au Moyen Age d'après les sources écrites, la tradition et l'archéologie. Mémoire de l'IFAN No. 61.
  22. Millard, A. R., 1976 "The Canaanite Linear Alphabet and its Passsage to the Greeks." Kadmos 15:130-144.
  23. Monteil, Vincent, 1951 "La cryptographie chez les Maures: Notes sur quelques alphabets secrets du Hodh." Bulletin de l'IFAN), Série B. Vol. 13 (4):1257-1264.
  24. Moore, Hyatt, ed., 1990 The Alphabet Makers. Waxhaw, NC: Museum of the Alphabet.
  25. Moscati, Sabatino, 1968 The World of the Phoenicians. Translated from the Italian. NY: Frederick A. Praeger.
    [Gives an overview of long voyages, Hanno's travels, Senegal River, gold trading.]
    1988 The Phoenicians, Under the scientific direction of Sabatino Moscati. Translation by I. Fenici. NY: Abbeville Press.
  26. Naveh, J., 1982 Early History of the Alphabet: An Introduction to West Semitic Epigraphy and Paleography." Jerusalem/Leiden.
  27. Olderoggge, Dimitri A., 1966 "Ancient scripts from the heart of Africa." UNESCO Courier, vol. 19:25.-29.
  28. Palmer, Leonard R., 1962 Mycenaeans and Minoans. NY: Alfred A. Knopf. 264p.
    [Comments on Linear B decipherment and reconstruction of early Greek culture, Gordon's controversial linking of Linear B to Semitic, and Phoenician "intrepid merchants."]
  29. Ventris, Michael and John Chadwick, 1973 (1956) Documents in Mycenaean Greek (2nd edition by J. Chadwick). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [This was the work that established that Linear B was a written form of ancient Greek.]
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