A large number of Ancient Greek vases dated to the 1st millennium bc contain short inscriptions. Normally, these represent names of craftsmen or names and descriptions of the depicted characters and objects. The majority of inscriptions are understandable in Ancient Greek, but there is a substantial number of abracadabra words whose meaning and morphological structure remain vague. Recently an interdisciplinary team (Mayor et alii2014) came up with the idea that some of the nonsense inscriptions associated with Amazons and Scythians are actually written in ancient Abkhaz-Adyghe languages. The idea is promising since in the first half of the 1st millennium bc the Greeks initiated the process of active expansion in the Black Sea region, so it is natural to suppose that contacts with autochthonous peoples might be reflected in Greek art. Unfortunately, detailed examination suggests that the proposed Abkhaz-Adyghe decipherment is semantically and morphologically ad hoc, containing a number of inaccuracies and errors of various kinds. The methodological and factual flaws are so substantial that it makes Mayor et alii’s results improbable.
IvantchikA. I.Am Vorabend der Kolonisation: Das nördliche Schwarzmeergebiet und die Steppennomaden des 8.-7. Jhs. v. Chr. in der klassischen Literaturtradition. Mündliche Überlieferung, Literatur und Geschichte2005Moscow
StarostinS.NikolayevS.A North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary1994Accessed 07.02.2016Moscow[Reprinted: 3 vols, Ann Arbor, 2007]. Available online at the Tower of Babel project as Caucet.dbf: http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/main.cgi?flags=eygtnnl
Kuipers1975, 18. I do not mention the Proto-Adyghe-Kabardian verbs *tə- ‘to give’ (Starostin, Nikolayev 1994, 1034; Kuipers 1975, 14), *tə- ‘be, stay, stand’ (Starostin, Nikolayev 1994, 271; Kuipers 1975, 14), since it is very probable that the Proto-WCauc. and Proto-Adyghe-Kabardian non-geminated voiceless stops are to be reconstructed as aspirated (e.g., *tʰ for our *t) in accordance with the common feature of the Caucasian area. Aspirated tʰ is thus expected to be rendered by Ancient Greek ⟨ϑ⟩, not ⟨ττ⟩.
Thus Chirikba1996b, 222; Kuipers 1975, 13. Starostin and Nikolayev (1994, 190, 197, 1055) reconstruct it as Proto-Adyghe-Kabardian *pʡ(ʷ)a since they have not been aware of Shapsug Adyghe data with retained qʼ(ʷ).