Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the origin of the Greeks

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 9, 2015

Xisuthros is a Hellenization of Sumerian Ziusudra, known from the writings of Berossus, a priest of Marduk in Babylon, on whom Alexander relied heavily for information on Mesopotamia.

Hellen was the mythological progenitor of the Hellenes, the son of Deucalion (or sometimes Zeus) and Pyrrha, brother of Amphictyon and father of Aeolus, Xuthus, and Dorus. His name is also another name for Greek, meaning a person of Greek descent or pertaining to Greek culture, and the source of the adjective “Hellenic”.

Deucalion was the son of Prometheus; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione, or Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, so he decided to put an end to the Bronze Age.

Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus unleashed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean.

Deucalion, with the aid of his father Prometheus, was saved from this deluge by building a chest. Like the Biblical Noah and the Mesopotamian counterpart Utnapishtim, he uses his device to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha.

According to the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, his sons were themselves progenitors of primary tribes of Greece: Aeolus the Aeolians, Dorus the Dorians, and Xuthus the Achaeans and Ionians through his sons Achaeus and Ion.

According to Thucydides, they conquered the Greek area of Phthia and subsequently spread their rule to other Greek cities. The people of those areas came to be called Hellenes, after the name of their ancestor. The ethnonym Hellenes dates back to the time of Homer. In the Iliad, “Hellas” and “Hellenes” were names of the tribe (also called “Myrmidones”) settled in Phthia, led by Achilles.

Accounts vary as to the Dorians’ place of origin. One theory, widely believed in ancient times, is that they originated in the north, north-western mountainous regions of Greece, ancient Macedonia and Epirus, whence obscure circumstances brought them south into the Peloponnese, to certain Aegean islands, Magna Graecia, Lapithos and Crete. Mythology gave them a Greek origin and eponymous founder, Dorus son of Hellen, the mythological patriarch of the Hellenes.

In Greek mythology, Xuthus or was a son of Hellen and Orseis and founder (through his sons) of the Achaean and Ionian nations. He had two sons by Creusa: Ion and Achaeus and a daughter named Diomede.

According to the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women on the origin of the Greeks, Hellen’s three sons Dorus, Xuthus (with his sons Ion and Achaeus) and Aeolus, comprised the set of progenitors of the major ancient tribes that formed the Greek nation.

Aiclus and Cothus are sometimes described as being his children. Euripides’s play, Ion, provides an unusual alternate version, according to which Xuthus is son of Aeolus and Cyane and Ion has in fact been begotten on Xuthus’s wife Creusa by Apollo.

Xuthus and Creusa visited the Oracle at Delphi to ask the god if they could hope for a child. Xuthus will later father Dorus with Creusa, though Dorus is normally presented as Xuthus’s brother.

The Achaeans (Greek: Achaioi) were one of the four major tribes into which the people of Classical Greece divided themselves (along with the Aeolians, Ionians and Dorians). According to the foundation myth formalized by Hesiod, their name comes from Achaeus, the mythical founder of the Achaean tribe, who was supposedly one of the sons of Xuthus, and brother of Ion, the founder of the Ionian tribe. Xuthus was in turn the son of Hellen, the mythical patriarch of the Greek (Hellenic) nation.

The origin of the Achaeans is somewhat problematic. Homer, probably writing in the 9th century BC, uses the term Achaeans as a generic term for Greeks throughout the Iliad, which is believed to describe events in Mycenaean Greece, i.e. before 1200 BC. However, there is no firm evidence that the Greeks of the Mycenaean period used that name to describe themselves.

The term Ahhiyawa, found in 13th century BC Hittite texts may mean “Achaeans”, that is to say the Greeks of the Mycenaean culture, but again, there is no definitive evidence that this is the case.

Emil Forrer went as far to claim that there existed a “great empire” called Ahhiyawa, which stood as equal by the side of the old states of the east. However, his conclusions were disproven by later researchers, especially by Ferdinand Sommer.

Emil Forrer, a Swiss Hittitologist who worked on the Boghazköy tablets in Berlin, stated that the Achaeans of pre-Homeric Greece were directly associated with the term “Land of Ahhiyawa” mentioned in the Hittite texts.

However, his conclusions at the time were challenged by other Hittitologists (i.e. Johannes Friedrich in 1927 and Albrecht Götze in 1930), as well as by Ferdinand Sommer, who published his monumental Die Ahhijava-Urkunden (“The Ahhiyawa Documents”) in 1932.

Some Hittite texts mention a nation lying to the west called Ahhiyawa. In the earliest reference to this land, a letter outlining the treaty violations of the Hittite vassal Madduwatta, it is called Ahhiya.

Another important example is the Tawagalawa Letter written by an unnamed Hittite king (most probably Hattusili III) of the empire period (14th–13th century BC) to the king of Ahhiyawa, treating him as an equal and suggesting that Miletus (Millawanda) was under his control. It also refers to an earlier “Wilusa episode” involving hostility on the part of Ahhiyawa.

Ahhiya(wa) has been identified with the Achaeans of the Trojan War and the city of Wilusa with the legendary city of Troy (note the similarity with early Greek Wilion, later Ilion, the name of the acropolis of Troy).

The exact relationship of the term Ahhiyawa to the Achaeans beyond a similarity in pronunciation was hotly debated by scholars, even following the discovery that Mycenaean Linear B is an early form of Greek; the earlier debate was summed up in 1984 by Hans G. Güterbock of the Oriental Institute.

More recent research based on new readings and interpretations of the Hittite texts, as well as of the material evidence for Mycenaean contacts with the Anatolian mainland, came to the conclusion that Ahhiyawa referred to the Mycenaean world, or at least to a part of it.

It has been proposed that Ekwesh of the Egyptian records may relate to Achaea (compared to Hittite Ahhiyawa), whereas Denyen and Tanaju may relate to Classical Greek Danaoi. The earliest textual reference to the Mycenaean world is in the Annals of Thutmosis III (ca. 1479–1425 BC), which refers that messengers from the king of the Tanaju, in circa 1437 BC, offered greeting gifts to the Egyptian king, in order to initiate diplomatic relations, when the latter campaigned in Syria.

Tanaju is also listed in an inscription at the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III. The latter ruled Egypt in circa 1382–1344 BC. Moreover, a list of the cities and regions of the Tanaju is also mentioned in this inscription; among the cities listed are Mycenae, Nauplion, Kythera, Messenia and the Thebaid (region of Thebes).

During the 5th year of Pharaoh Merneptah, a confederation of Libyan and northern peoples is supposed to have attacked the western delta. Included amongst the ethnic names of the repulsed invaders is the Ekwesh or Eqwesh, whom some have seen as Achaeans, although Egyptian texts specifically mention these Ekwesh to be circumcised (which does not seem to have been a general practice in the Aegean at the time).

Homer mentions an Achaean attack upon the delta, and Menelaus speaks of the same in Book IV of the Odyssey to Telemachus when he recounts his own return home from the Trojan War. Later Greek myths also say that Helen had spent the time of the Trojan War in Egypt, and not at Troy, and that after Troy the Greeks went there to recover her.

The Mitanni was closely associated with horses. The name of the country of Ishuwa, which might have had a substantial Hurrian population, meant “horse-land”. Isuwa (transcribed Išuwa and sometimes rendered Ishuwa) was the ancient Hittite name for one of its neighboring Anatolian kingdoms to the east, in an area which later became the Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu.

The Isuwans left no written record of their own, and it is not clear which of the Anatolian peoples inhabited the land of Isuwa prior to the Luwians. They could have been Indo-Europeans like the Luwians, related to the Hittites to the west, Hattians, Hurrians from the south, or Urartians who lived east of Isuwa in the first millennium BC.

The area was one of the places where agriculture developed very early in the Neolithic period. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3000 BC. The first states may have followed in the third millennium BC. The name Isuwa is not known until the literate Hittite period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Isuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts.

The earliest settlements in Isuwa show cultural contacts with Tell Brak to the south, though not being the same culture. Agriculture began early due to favorable climatic conditions. Isuwa was at the outer fringe of the early Mesopotamian Uruk period culture.

The people of Isuwa were also skilled in metallurgy and they reached the Bronze Age in the fourth millennium BC. Copper were first mixed with arsenic, later with tin. The Early Bronze Age culture was linked with Caucasus in the northeast. In the Hittite period the culture of Isuwa shows great parallels to the Central Anatolian and the Hurrian culture to the south. The monumental architecture was of Hittite influence.

After the fall of the Hittite empire in the early twelfth century BC a new state emerged in Isuwa. The city of Melid became the center of a Luwian state, Kammanu, one of the so-called Neo-Hittite states. With the demise of the Hittites the Phrygians settled to the west, and to the east the kingdom of Urartu was founded.

The Neo-Hittite state show influences both from the Phrygia, Assyria and the eastern kingdom of Urartu. After the Scythian people movement there appear some Scythian burials in the area.

In Greek mythology, the perceived cultural divisions among the Hellenes were represented as legendary lines of descent that identified kinship groups, with each line being derived from an eponymous ancestor.

Each of the Greek ethne were said to be named in honor of their respective ancestors: Achaeus of the Achaeans, Danaus of the Danaans, Cadmus of the Cadmeans (the Thebans), Hellen of the Hellenes (not to be confused with Helen of Troy), Aeolus of the Aeolians, Ion of the Ionians, and Dorus of the Dorians.

Cadmus from Phoenicia, Danaus from Egypt, and Pelops from Anatolia each gained a foothold in mainland Greece and were assimilated and Hellenized. Hellen, Graikos, Magnes, and Macedon were sons of Deucalion and Pyrrha, the only people who survived the Great Flood; the ethne were said to have originally been named Graikoi after the elder son but later renamed Hellenes after Hellen who was proved to be the strongest. Sons of Hellen and the nymph Orseis were Dorus, Xuthos, and Aeolus. Sons of Xuthos and Kreousa, daughter of Erechthea, were Ion and Achaeus.

The Assuwa league was a confederation of states in western Anatolia, defeated by the Hittites Tudhaliya I around 1400 BC. The league formed to oppose the Hittite empire. The list of its members contains 22 names, including […]uqqa, Warsiya, Taruisa, Wilusiya and Karkija (Caria). Assuwa has been suggested as the origin for the name of the continent Asia (Bossert, 1946).

Some of the identifications of these names are disputed. Wilusiya is commonly identified with Ilion (Troy), and Taruisa with the surrounding Troad, and Warsiya may be associated with Lukka (Lycia). However, identification of [..]uqqa with later-attested Lukka (Lycia) is problematic, because that would put the Assuwa league both north and south of Arzawa in southwestern Anatolia.

Assuwa appears to lie north of Arzawa, covering the northwestern corner of Anatolia. Homer in the Iliad seems to refer to two Lycias; in 2.876-77, 5.479 Sarpedon is a leader of “distant Lycia” while in 2.824ff. 5.105 Pandarus is another leader of Lycians from around Mount Ida near Troy, so that Lukka vs. […]uqqa may find its explanation in these terms.

However, the Assuwa League included Karkija (Caria), in southwest Anatolia, south of even the proposed Lukka (Lycia). So, since also Assuwa was only a confederate league, it could easily have included a wide-ranging array of anti-Hittite minor powers, across the region.

This confederacy is mentioned only in the fragmentary tablets making up Laroche’s CTH 142/85. Since Tudhaliya IV was known to have had frontier trouble between 1250 and 1200 BC, and since the text lists rebel nations in much the way Ramesses II does, the first consensus dated this text — and so Assuwa — to Tudhaliya IV.

This dating appears in all older literature on the fall of the Hatti, and crops up every now and then to this day. However the consensus has since then come around to dating Assuwa to an earlier Tudhaliya, which means prior to Suppiluliuma and so prior to 1350 BC.

A number of fragmentary Hittite records imply that the anti-Hittite rebellion of the Assuwa league received a certain decree of support from Mycenaean Greece (Ahhiyawa in Hittite).

Adana is a city in southern Turkey. The city is situated on the Seyhan river, 35 km (22 mi) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, in south-central Anatolia. It is the administrative seat of the Adana Province and has a population of 1.66 million, making it the fifth most populous city in Turkey.

Adana lies in the heart of Çukurova, a geo-cultural region that covers the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye, and Hatay. Home to 5.9 million people, Çukurova is one of the largest population concentrations in Turkey, as well as the most agriculturally productive area, owing to its large stretch of flat, fertile land.

According to numerous sources, the name Adana is derived from the Hittite Adaniya of Kizzuwatna, while others assert that it is related to the legendary character Danaus, or to the Danaoi, a mythological Greek tribe who came from Egypt and established themselves in the Greek city Argos.

Kizzuwatna (or Kizzuwadna; in Ancient Egyptian Kode), is the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. It was situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey. It encircled the Taurus Mountains and the Ceyhan River.

Several ethnic groups coexisted in the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna. The Hurrians inhabited this area at least since the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. The Hittite expansion in the early Old Kingdom period (under Hattusili I and Mursili I) was likely to bring the Hittites and the Luwians to southeastern Anatolia.

The kings of Kizzuwatna of the 2nd millennium BC had frequent contact with the Hittites to the north. The earliest Hittite records seem to refer to Kizzuwatna and Arzawa (Western Anatolia) collectively as Luwia.

The center of the kingdom was the city of Kummanni, situated in the highlands. In a later era, the same region was known as Cilicia. Kummanni was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

The earlier Egyptian texts for a country Danaja are inscriptions from Thutmosis II (1437 BC) and Amenophis III (1390-1352 BC). After the collapse of the Mycenean civilization (1200 BC) some refugeees from the Aegean area went to the coast of Cilicia.

The inhabitants Dananayim or Danuna are identified as one group of the sea-peoples who attacked Egypt on 1191 BC during the reign of Ramesses III. Denyen are identified as inhabitants of the city Adana. It is also possible that the name is connected with the PIE da-nu (river) Da-na-vo (people living by the river), Scythian nomad people, water demons in Rigveda (Danavas).

In the Iliad Danaoi = Greeks, a name which some scholars believe to be related with Adana. In Hellenistic times, it was known as Antiochia in Cilicia or Antiochia ad Sarum (“Antiochia on the Sarus”).

The editors of The Helsinki Atlas tentatively identify Adana as Quwê (as contained in cuneiform tablets), the Neo-Assyrian capital of Quwê province. The name also appears as Coa, and may be the place referred to in the Bible, where King Solomon obtained horses. (I Kings 10:28; II Chron. 1:16). The Armenian name of the city is Atana or Adana.

According to an ancient Greco-Roman legend, the name has its origins in Adanus and Sarus, the two sons of Uranus, who came to a place near the Seyhan (Sarus) River, where they built Adana.

An older legend relates the city’s name to Adad (also known as Tesup or Ishkur), the Thunder God in the Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite mythologies, who was believed to live in the nearby forest, and whose name was given to the region.

The Hittites’ names and writings have been found in the area, evidencing this possibility. The theory goes that since the Thunder God brought so much rain and this rain in turn brought such great abundance in this particular region, this god was loved and respected by its inhabitants and, in his honor, the region was called the “Uru Adaniyya”; in other words “the Region of Ada”.

Adana’s name has had many different versions over the centuries: Adanos, Ta Adana, Uru Adaniya, Erdene, Edene, Ezene, Batana, Atana, Azana, Addane.

According to the Hittite inscription of Kava, found in Hattusa (Boğazkale), Kizzuwatna was the first kingdom that ruled Adana, under the protection of the Hittites by 1335 BC. At that time, the name of the city was Uru Adaniyya, and the inhabitants were called Danuna. Beginning with the collapse of the Hittite Empire, c. 1191-1189 BC, invasions from the west caused a number of small kingdoms to take control of the plain.

The Denyen are one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples. They are mentioned in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BC as possibly being related to the “Land of the Danuna” near Ugarit. The Egyptians described them as Sea Peoples.

The Denyen have been identified with the people of Adana, in Cilicia who existed in late Hittite Empire times. They are also believed to have settled in Cyprus. A Hittite report speaks of a Muksus, who also appears in an eighth-century bilingual inscription from Karatepe in Cilicia.

The kings of Adana are traced from the “house of Mopsos,” given in hieroglyphic Luwian as Moxos and in Phoenician as Mopsos, in the form mps. They were called the Dananiyim. The area also reports a Mopsukrene (Mopsus’ fountain in Greek) and a Mopsuhestia (Mopsus’ hearth in Greek), also in Cilicia.

They were raiders associated with the Eastern Mediterranean Dark Ages who attacked Egypt in 1207 BC in alliance with the Libyans and other Sea Peoples, as well as during the reign of Rameses III.

The 20th Egyptian Dynasty allowed them to settle in Canaan, which was largely controlled by the Sea Peoples into the 11th century BC. Mercenaries from the Peleset manned the Egyptian garrison at Beth-shan, and the Denyen shared the same fashion as them which some archeology suggests signifies a shared cemetery there.

These areas also show evidence of close ties with the Aegean as a result of the Late Helladic IIIC 1b pottery found in these areas. Some scholars argue for a connection with the Greek Danaoi (alternate names for the Achaeans familiar from Homer. Greek myth refers to Danaos who with his daughters came from Egypt and settled in Argos. Through Danaë’s son, Perseus, the Danaans are said to have built Mycenae.

There are suggestions that the Denyen joined with Hebrews to form one of the original 12 tribes of Israel. No strong evidence support this view, however. The most famous Danite was Samson, whom some suggest is derived from Denyen tribal legends.

A minority view first suggested by Yigael Yadin attempted to connect the Denyen with the Tribe of Dan, described as remaining on their ships in the early Song of Deborah, contrary to the mainstream view of Israelite history. It was speculated that the Denyen had been taken to Egypt, and subsequently settled between the Caphtorite Philistines and the Tjekker, along the Mediterranean coast with the Tribe of Dan subsequently deriving from them.

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