Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives



Haplogroup R1b

The Maykop culture

Comming of the Anatolians

The Great upheavals

Kura–Araxes culture

Leyla-Tepe culture

Suvorovo culture

Cernavodă culture

Ezero culture


Keros-Syros culture

Kastri culture


Sredny Stog Culture

Dnieper–Donets culture

Usatovo culture

Vučedol culture


Anatolian languages

Anatolian Features




Luwian Branch









Sister Language?

Comming of the Anatolians

The Hitties (c. 2000-1178 BCE) were the first Indo-Europeans to defy (and defeat) the mighty Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires. There are two hypotheses regarding the origins of the Hittites. The first is that they came from the eastern Balkans and invaded Anatolia by crossing the Bosphorus. That would mean that they belonged either to the L23* or the Z2103 subclade.

The other plausible scenario is that they were an offshoot of the late Maykop culture, and that they crossed the Caucasus to conquer the Hattian kingdom (perhaps after being displaced from the North Caucasus by the R1a people of the Catacomb culture). In that case the Hittites might have belonged to the R1b-Z2103 or the R1b-PF7562 subclade.

The first hypothesis has the advantage of having a single nucleus, the Balkans, as the post-Yamna expansion of all Indo-European R1b. The Maykop hypothesis, on the other hand, would explain why the Anatolian branch of IE languages (Hittite, Luwian, Lydian, Palaic) is so archaic compared to other Indo-European languages, which would have originated in Yamna rather than Maykop.

There is substantial archaeological and linguistic evidence that Troy was an Indo-European city associated with the Steppe culture and haplogroup R1b. The Trojans were Luwian speakers related to the Hittites (hence Indo-European), with attested cultural ties to the culture of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. The first city of Troy dates back to 3000 BCE, right in the middle of the Maykop period.

Troy might have been founded by Maykop people as a colony securing the trade routes between the Black Sea and the Aegean. The founding of Troy happens to coincide exactly with the time the first galleys were made. Considering the early foundation of Troy, the most likely of the two Indo-European paternal haplogroups would be R1b-M269 or L23.

The Phrygians and the Proto-Armenians are two other Indo-European tribes stemming from the Balkans. Both appear to have migrated to Anatolia around 1200 BCE, during the ‘great upheavals’ of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Phrygians (or Bryges) founded a kingdom (1200-700 BCE) in west central Anatolia, taking over most of the crumbling Hittite Empire. The Armenians crossed all Anatolia until Lake Van and settled in the Armenian Highlands. Nowadays 30% of Armenian belong to haplogroup R1b, the vast majority to the L584 subclade of Z2103.

Most of the R1b found in Greece today is of the Balkanic Z2103 variety. There is also a minority of Proto-Celtic S116/P312 and of Italic/Alpine Celtic S28/U152. Z2103 could have descended from Albania or Macedonia during the Dorian invasion, thought to have happened in the 12th century BCE.

Their language appear to have been close enough to Mycenaean Greek to be mutually intelligible and easy for locals to adopt. The Mycenaeans might have brought some R1b (probably also Z2103) to Greece, but their origins can be traced back through archaeology to the Catacomb culture and the Seima-Turbino phenomenon of the northern forest-steppe, which would make them primarily an R1a tribe.

Greek and Anatolian S116 and some S28 lineages could be attributed to the La Tène Celtic invasions of the 3rd century BCE. The Romans also certainly brought S28 lineages, and probably also the Venetians later on, notably on the islands. Older clades of R1b, such as P25 and V88, are only a small minority and would have come along E1b1b, G2a and J2 from the Middle East.

Haplogroup R1b

R1b is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe, reaching over 80% of the population in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, western Wales, the Atlantic fringe of France, the Basque country and Catalonia. It is also common in Anatolia and around the Caucasus, in parts of Russia and in Central and South Asia.

Besides the Atlantic and North Sea coast of Europe, hotspots include the Po valley in north-central Italy (over 70%), Armenia (35%), the Bashkirs of the Urals region of Russia (50%), Turkmenistan (over 35%), the Hazara people of Afghanistan (35%), the Uyghurs of North-West China (20%) and the Newars of Nepal (11%). R1b-V88, a subclade specific to sub-Saharan Africa, is found in 60 to 95% of men in northern Cameroon.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs.

With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals. The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming.

Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age.

The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East. One branch (R1b1b or M335), only been found in Anatolia, remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.

A second branch (R1b1c or V88), also known as the southern branch, found mostly in the Levant and Africa, migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.

The third branch (R1b1a or P297), also known as the northern branch, seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia.

It crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.

It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In any case, M73 would be a pre-Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent.

The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others. R1a is thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European tribes, who evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic people.

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south.

The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (4200-2200 BCE) by Martija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region.

Kurgan-type burials date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around eastern Anatolia, it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world.

Horses were first domesticated around 4600 BCE in the Caspian Steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. Nevertheless it is unlikely that R1b was already present in the eastern steppes at the time, so the domestication of the horse should be attributed to the indigenous R1a people, or tribes belonging to the older R1b-P297 branch, which settled in eastern Europe during the Late Paleolithic or Mesolithic period.

Samples from Mesolithic Samara (Haak 2015) and Latvia all belonged to R1b-P297. Autosomally these Mesolithic R1a and R1b individuals were nearly pure Mesolithic East European, sometimes with a bit of Siberian admixture, but lacked the additional Caucasian admixture found in the Chalcolithic Afanasevo, Yamna and Corded Ware samples.

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b-M269 crossed over from the South Caucasus to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This might have happened with the appearance of the Dnieper-Donets culture (c. 5100-4300 BCE). This was the first truly Neolithic society in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe.

Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, suddenly materialised in the north-west Caucasus, apparently out of nowhere. The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran.

Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE). Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others.

The Yamna period (3500-2500 BCE) is the most important one in the creation of Indo-European culture and society. Middle Eastern R1b-M269 people had been living and blending to some extent with the local R1a foragers and herders for over a millennium, perhaps even two or three.

The close cultural contact and interactions between R1a and R1b people all over the Pontic-Caspian Steppe resulted in the creation of a common vernacular, a new lingua franca, which linguists have called Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

The northern part of the Yamna horizon was forest-steppe occupied by R1a people, also joined by a small minority of R1b (judging from Corded Ware samples and from modern Russians and Belarussians, whose frequency of R1b is from seven to nine times lower than R1a).

The western branch would migrate to the Balkans and Greece, then to Central and Western Europe, and back to their ancestral Anatolia in successive waves (Hittites, Phrygians, Armenians, etc.).

The eastern branch would migrate to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Siberia, and South Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India). The northern branch would evolve into the Corded Ware culture and disperse around the Baltic, Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.

The Maykop culture

The Maykop culture (3700-2500 BCE), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the north-west Caucasus, was culturally speaking a sort of southern extension of the Yamna horizon. It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

According to genetic studies on ancient DNA published in 2018, the Maikop population came from the south, probably from western Georgia and Abkhazia, and was descended from the Eneolithic farmers who first colonized the north side of the Caucasus. Maykop is therefore the “ideal archaeological candidate for the founders of the Northwest Caucasian language family”.

Anthony, who considers it likely that the Maykop spoke a Northern Caucasian language not ancestral to Indo-European, cites evidence from ancient DNA, had little genetic impact on the Yamnaya (whose paternal lineages differ from those found in Maykop remains, but are instead related to those of pre-Yamnaya Eastern European steppe hunter-gatherers).

In addition, the Maykop (and other contemporary Caucasus samples), along with CHG, had significant Anatolian Farmer ancestry “which had spread into the Caucasus from the west after about 5000 BC”, but is little detected in the Yamnaya.

Partly for these reasons, Anthony concludes that the Bronze Age Maykop people of the Caucasus (previously proposed as a possible southern source of language and genetics at the root of Indo-European), “played only a minor role, if any, in the formation of Yamnaya ancestry.”

According to Anthony, this, the absence of evidence of significant admixture (including of paternal genetic influence, often associated with language shift) from the south on the Yamnaya suggests that the roots of Proto-Indo-European (archaic or proto-proto-Indo-European) were mainly in the steppe rather than the south.

Although not generally considered part of the Pontic-Caspian steppe culture due to its geography, the North Caucasus had close links with the steppes, as attested by numerous ceramics, gold, copper and bronze weapons and jewelry in the contemporaneous cultures of Mikhaylovka, Sredny Stog and Kemi Oba.

The link between the northern Black Sea coast and the North Caucasus is older than the Maykop period. Its predecessor, the Svobodnoe culture (4400-3700 BCE), already had links to the Suvorovo-Novodanilovka and early Sredny Stog cultures.

The even older Nalchik settlement (5000-4500 BCE) in the North Caucasus displayed a similar culture as Khvalynsk in the Caspian Steppe and Volga region. This may be the period when R1b started interracting and blending with the R1a population of the steppes.

The Yamna and Maykop people both used kurgan burials, placing their deads in a supine position with raised knees and oriented in a north-east/south-west axis. Graves were sprinkled with red ochre on the floor, and sacrificed domestic animal buried alongside humans.

They also had in common horses, wagons, a heavily cattle-based economy with a minority of sheep kept for their wool, use of copper/bronze battle-axes (both hammer-axes and sleeved axes) and tanged daggers. In fact, the oldest wagons and bronze artefacts are found in the North Caucasus, and appear to have spread from there to the steppes.

Maykop was an advanced Bronze Age culture, actually one of the very first to develop metalworking, and therefore metal weapons. The world’s oldest sword was found at a late Maykop grave in Klady kurgan 31. Its style is reminiscent of the long Celtic swords, though less elaborated.

Horse bones and depictions of horses already appear in early Maykop graves, suggesting that the Maykop culture might have been founded by steppe people or by people who had close link with them. However, the presence of cultural elements radically different from the steppe culture in some sites could mean that Maykop had a hybrid population.

Without DNA testing it is impossible to say if these two populations were an Anatolian R1b group and a G2a Caucasian group, or whether R1a people had settled there too. The two or three ethnicities might even have cohabited side by side in different settlements.

The one typical Caucasian Y-DNA lineage that does follow the pattern of Indo-European migrations is G2a-L13, which is found throughout Europe, Central Asia and South Asia. In the Balkans, the Danube basin and Central Europe its frequency is somewhat proportional to the percentage of R1b.

Maykop people are the ones credited for the introduction of primitive wheeled vehicles (wagons) from Mesopotamia to the Steppe. This would revolutionise the way of life in the steppe, and would later lead to the development of (horse-drawn) war chariots around 2000 BCE. Cavalry and chariots played an vital role in the subsequent Indo-European migrations, allowing them to move quickly and defeat easily anybody they encountered.

Combined with advanced bronze weapons and their sea-based culture, the western branch (R1b) of the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea shores are excellent candidates for being the mysterious Sea Peoples, who raided the eastern shores of the Mediterranean during the second millennium BCE.

The rise of the IE-speaking Hittites in Central Anatolia happened a few centuries after the disappearance of the Maykop and Yamna cultures. Considering that most Indo-European forms of R1b found in Anatolia today belong to the R1b-Z2103 subclade, it makes little doubt that the Hittites came to Anatolia via the Balkans, after Yamna/Maykop people invaded Southeast Europe.

The Maykop and Yamna cultures were succeeded by the Srubna culture (1600-1200 BCE), possibly representing an advance of R1a-Z282 people from the northern steppes towards the Black Sea shores, filling the vacuum left by the R1b tribes who migrated to Southeast Europe and Anatolia.

In the south, the Maykop culture bordered the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s, some links were noted with the Maykop culture. The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era.

Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BC. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles from the Kuban River to Nalchik, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

Maykop inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.

Attributed to the Maykop culture are petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered. The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle.

Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-piece, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle that threads through the nodes and connects to the bridle, halter strap, and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to attach nose and under-lip straps.

Some of the earliest wagon wheels in the world are found in Maykop culture area. The two solid wooden wheels from the kurgan of Starokorsunskaya in the Kuban region have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium.

The construction of artificial terrace complexes in the mountains is evidence of their sedentary living, high population density, and high levels of agricultural and technical skills. The terraces were built around the fourth millennium BC. and all subsequent cultures used them for agricultural purposes.

The vast majority of pottery found on the terraces are from the Maykop period, the rest from the Scythian and Alan period. The Maykop terraces are among the most ancient in the world, but they are little studied. The longevity of the terraces (more than 5000 years) allows us to consider their builders unsurpassed engineers and craftsmen.

Recent discoveries by archaeologist Alexei Rezepkin include (in his view): The most ancient bronze sword on record, dating from the second or third century of the 4th millennium BC. It was found in a stone tomb near Novosvobodnaya. It has a total length of 63 cm and a hilt length of 11 cm. The most ancient column. The most ancient stringed instrument, resembling the modern Adyghian shichepshin, dating from the late 4th millennium B.C..

Its burial practices resemble the burial practices described in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, has been regarded by some as an Indo-European intrusion from the Pontic steppe into the Caucasus. However, according to J.P. Mallory, … where the evidence for barrows is found, it is precisely in regions which later demonstrate the presence of non-Indo-European populations.

The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense. Yet, according to Mallory,

Such a theory, it must be emphasized, is highly speculative and controversial although there is a recognition that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions.

According to Mariya Ivanova the Maikop origins were on the Iranian Plateau: Graves and settlements of the 5th millennium BC in North Caucasus attest to a material culture that was related to contemporaneous archaeological complexes in the northern and western Black Sea region. Yet it was replaced, suddenly as it seems, around the middle of the 4th millennium BC by a “high culture” whose origin is still quite unclear.

This archaeological culture named after the great Maikop kurgan showed innovations in all areas which have no local archetypes and which cannot be assigned to the tradition of the Balkan-Anatolian Copper Age.

The favoured theory of Russian researchers is a migration from the south originating in the Syro-Anatolian area, which is often mentioned in connection with the so-called “Uruk expansion”. However, serious doubts have arisen about a connection between Maikop and the Syro-Anatolian region.

The foreign objects in the North Caucasus reveal no connection to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris or to the floodplains of Mesopotamia, but rather seem to have ties to the Iranian plateau and to South Central Asia.

Recent excavations in the Southwest Caspian Sea region are enabling a new perspective about the interactions between the “Orient” and Continental Europe. On the one hand, it is becoming gradually apparent that a gigantic area of interaction evolved already in the early 4th millennium BC which extended far beyond Mesopotamia.

On the other hand, these findings relativise the traditional importance given to Mesopotamia, because innovations originating in Iran and Central Asia obviously spread throughout the Syro-Anatolian region independently thereof.

More recently, some very ancient kurgans have been discovered at Soyuqbulaq in Azerbaijan. These kurgans date to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, and belong to Leylatepe Culture. According to the excavators of these kurgans, there are some significant parallels between Soyugbulaq kurgans and the Maikop kurgans:

“Discovery of Soyugbulaq in 2004 and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic […] The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium, B.C. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus.”

Kura–Araxes culture

Around the same time as the Indo-European ethnogenesis was taking shape in the Pontic Steppe during the Maykop (3700-3000 BCE) and Yamna (3500-2300 BCE) cultures, another Early Bronze Age society was developping on the other side of the Caucasus: the Kura-Araxes culture or the Early Transaucasian culture (3400-2000 BCE).

The Kura–Araxes culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC.).

Altogether, the early Transcaucasian culture enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures. It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Although the Kura-Araxes people were less militaristic and more sedentary, they also underwent a major expansion, first west to Anatolia, south to the Fertile Crescent and east toward the Iranian plateau, possibly all the way to Pakistan, where they would have influenced the Indus Valley Civilisation.

It is likely that the descendants of the Kura-Araxes culture eventually colonised Greek islands, including Crete, where they would have founded the Minoan Civilisation (2600-1100 BCE), Europe’s oldest civilisation.

Based on the modern phylogeny, Kura-Araxes people are thought to have belonged primarily to Y-DNA haplogroups J2a1 (the largest lineage), J1a2-Z1828, T1a-P77, G2a1 (L293, aka FGC7535 or Z6552), G2a2b1a (M406) and L1b.

Other minor haplogroups may have been present too, including the now rare R1b1a-L388, which was identified in one Kura-Araxes individual. During the Classical Antiquity ancient Greek islanders, who were descended in great part from the Minoans, colonised southern Italy, bringing their Kura-Araxes lineages with them.

The oldest known G-L293 sample is a Neolithic man from western Iran. Nowadays, G-L293 is the most common G2a clade in the central and northern Caucasus, peaking at 64% of the population in North Ossetia.

The Kura-Araxes culture expanded from the South Caucasus, where L293 is considerably lower (1% in Armenia and eastern Turkey). It is nevertheless found at low frequencies across Turkey, northwest Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (i.e. the further extent of the Kura-Araxes culture proper), but also in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, southern Italy (especially in Sicily) and Corsica. L293 is conspicuously absent from Sardinia and the northern half of Italy, which excludes both a Neolithic and an Indo-European origin.

The formative processes of the Kura-Araxes cultural complex, and the date and circumstances of its rise, have been long debated. Shulaveri-Shomu culture preceded the Kura–Araxes culture in the area. There were many differences between these two cultures, so the connection was not clear.

Later, it was suggested that the Sioni culture of eastern Georgia possibly represented a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex. At many sites, the Sioni culture layers can be seen as intermediary between Shulaver-Shomu-Tepe layers and the Kura-Araxes layers. This kind of stratigraphy warrants a chronological place of the Sioni culture at around 4000 BCE.

Nowadays scholars consider the Kartli area, as well as the Kakheti area (in the river Sioni region) as key to forming the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture. To a large extent, this appears as an indigenous culture of Caucasus that was formed over a long period, and at the same time incorporating foreign influences.

There are some indications (such as at Arslantepe) of the overlapping in time of the Kura-Araxes and Uruk cultures; such contacts may go back even to the Middle Uruk period. Some scholars have suggested that the earliest manifestation of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon should be dated at least to the last quarter of the 5th millennium BC. This is based on the recent data from Ovçular Tepesi, a Late Chalcolithic settlement located in Nakhchivan by the Arpaçay river.

Rather quickly, elements of Kura–Araxes culture started to proceed westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into the area of Lake Van, and below the Urmia basin in Iran, such as to Godin Tepe. Finally, it proceeded into the present-day Syria (Amuq valley), and as far as Palestine.

Its territory corresponds to large parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and parts of Iran and Turkey. At Sos Hoyuk, in Erzurum Province, Turkey, early forms of Kura-Araxes pottery were found in association with local ceramics as early as 3500-3300 BC. During the Early Bronze Age in 3000-2200 BC, this settlement was part of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon.

At Arslantepe, Turkey, around 3000 BCE, there was widespread burning and destruction, after which Kura-Araxes pottery appeared in the area. According to Geoffrey Summers, the movement of Kura-Araxes peoples into Iran and the Van region, which he interprets as quite sudden, started shortly before 3000 BC, and may have been prompted by the ‘Late Uruk Collapse’ (end of the Uruk period), taking place at the end of Uruk IV phase c. 3100 BC.

Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture showed that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby.

Structures in settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements, facts that suggest they probably had a poorly developed social hierarchy for a significant stretch of their history.

Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls. They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs.

At some point the culture’s settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass crop and livestock agriculture.

Shengavit Settlement is a prominent Kura-Araxes site in present-day Yerevan area in Armenia. It was inhabited from approximately 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal. Later on, in the Middle Bronze Age, it was used irregularly until 2200 BC cal. The town occupied an area of six hectares, which is large for Kura-Araxes sites.

In the 3rd millennium B.C., one particular group of mounds of the Kura–Araxes culture is remarkable for their wealth. This was the final stage of culture’s development. These burial mounds are known as the Martqopi (or Martkopi) period mounds. Those on the left bank of the river Alazani are often 20–25 meters high and 200–300 meters in diameter. They contain especially rich artefacts, such as gold and silver jewelry.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in later phases, horses. Before the Kura-Araxes period, horse bones were not found in Transcaucasia. Later, beginning about 3300 BCE, they became widespread, with signs of domestication.

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

Early expansion of the Kuro-Araxes culture (light shading) shown in relation to subsequent cultures in the area, such as Urartu (dark shading). In the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture, metal was scarce. In comparison, the preceding Leilatepe culture’s metalwork tradition was far more sophisticated.

The Kura–Araxes culture would later display “a precocious metallurgical development, which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, from the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets river systems in the north to Syria and Palestine in the south and Anatolia in the west.

Their pottery was distinctive. The spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes and, most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

Viticulture and wine-making were widely practised in the area from the earliest times. Viticulture even goes back to the earlier Shulaveri-Shomu culture. The earliest evidence of domesticated grapes in the world has been found at Gadachrili Gora, near the village of Imiri, Marneuli Municipality, in southeastern Republic of Georgia; carbon-dating points to the date of about 6000 BC.

Grape pips dating back to the V-IVth millennia B.C. were found in Shulaveri; others dating back to the IVth millennium B.C. were found in Khizanaant Gora—all in this same ‘Shulaveri area’ of the Republic of Georgia.

A theory has been suggested by Stephen Batiuk that the Kura-Araxes folk may have spread Vitis vinifera vine and wine technology to the “Fertile Crescent”—to Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean. The spread of wine-goblet form, such as represented by the Khirbet Kerak ware, is clearly associated with these peoples. The same applies to the large ceramic vessels used for grape fermentation.

Kura-Araxes culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of the North Caucasus. The two cultures seem to have influenced one another. Late Kura-Araxes sites often featured Kurgans of greatly varying sizes, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. These kurgans also contained a wide assortment metalworks.

This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.

According to Giulio Palumbi (2008), the typical red-black ware of Kura–Araxes culture originated in eastern Anatolia, and then moved on to the Caucasus area. But then these cultural influences came back to Anatolia mixed in with other cultural elements from the Caucasus.

Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population.

Analyzing the situation in the Kura-Araxes period, T.A. Akhundov notes the lack of unity in funerary monuments, which he considers more than strange in the framework of a single culture; for the funeral rites reflect the deep culture-forming foundations and are weakly influenced by external customs.

There are non-kurgan and kurgan burials, burials in ground pits, in stone boxes and crypts, in the underlying ground strata and on top of them; using both the round and rectangular burials; there are also substantial differences in the typical corpse position. Burial complexes of Kura–Araxes culture sometimes also include cremation.

Here one can come to the conclusion that the Kura–Araxes culture developed gradually through a synthesis of several cultural traditions, including the ancient cultures of the Caucasus and nearby territories.

While it is unknown what cultures and languages were present in Kura-Araxes, the two most widespread theories suggest a connection with Hurro-Urartian and/or Anatolian languages. In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages. Others have suggested the possibility that Kartvelian, Northeast Caucasian, and Semitic languages were spoken in the region as well.

Leyla-Tepe culture

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

Monuments of the Leyla-Tepe were first located in the 1980s by I. G. Narimanov, a Soviet archaeologist. Recent attention to the monuments has been inspired by the risk of their damage due to the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline and the South Caucasus pipeline.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is also attested at Boyuk Kesik in the lower layers of this settlement. The inhabitants apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture, that is mostly of a much later date.

The ancient Poylu II settlement was discovered in the Agstafa District of modern day Azerbaijan during the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. The lowermost layer dates to the early fourth millennium BC, attesting a multilayer settlement of Leyla-Tepe culture.

Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. The excavation of these kurgans, located in Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia, demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). Other sites belonging to the same culture are in the Armenian held Karabakh valley of the partially recognized state of the Republic of Artsakh.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, closely associated with subsequent civilizations found on the Armenian Highlands. This is evident with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets, which closely resemble Armenian tonirs.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

Leyla-Tepe pottery is very similar to the ‘Chaff-Faced Ware’ of the northern Syria and Mesopotamia. It is especially well attested at Amuq F phase. Similar pottery is also found at Kultepe, Azerbaijan.

In 2012, the important site of Galayeri, belonging to the Leyla-Tepe archaeological culture, was investigated. It is located in the Qabala District of modern day Azerbaijan. Galayeri is closely connected to early civilizations of Near East.

Structures consisting of clay layers are typical; no mud-brick walls have been detected at Galayeri. Almost all findings have Eastern Anatolian Chalcolithic characteristics. The closest analogues of the Galayeri clay constructions are found at Arslantepe/Melid VII in Temple C.

The appearance of Leyla-Tepe tradition’s carriers in the Caucasus marked the appearance of the first local Caucasian metallurgy. This is perhaps but not entirely attributed to migrants from Uruk, arriving around 4500 BCE.

Recent research indicates the connections rather to the pre-Uruk traditions, such as the late Ubaid period, and Ubaid-Uruk phases. Leyla-Tepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. Later, the quality of metallurgy increased in both sophistication & quality with the advent of the Kura–Araxes culture.


Melid (Hittite: Malidiya and possibly also Midduwa; Akkadian: Meliddu; Urartian: Melitea; Latin: Melitene) was an ancient city on the Tohma River, a tributary of the upper Euphrates rising in the Taurus Mountains. It has been identified with modern archaeological site Arslantepe near Malatya, Turkey.

Earliest habitation at the site dates back to the Chalcolithic period. Aslantepe (VII) became important in this region in the Late Chalcolithic. A monumental area with a huge mudbrick building stood on top of a mound. The building had a large building with wall decorations and its function is uncertain.

By the late Uruk period development had grown to include a large temple/palace complex. Culturally, Melid was part of the “Northern regions of Greater Mesopotamia” functioning as a trade colony along the Euphrates River bringing raw materials to Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia).

Numerous similarities have been found between these early layers at Arslantepe, and the somewhat later site of Birecik (Birecik Dam Cemetery), also in Turkey, to the southwest of Melid.

Around 3000 BCE, the transitonal EBI-EBII, there was widespread burning and destruction, after which Kura-Araxes culture pottery appeared in the area. This was a mainly pastoralist culture connected with the Caucasus mountains.

In the Late Bronze Age, the site became an administrative center of a larger region in the kingdom of Isuwa. The city was heavily fortified, probably due to the Hittite threat from the west. It was culturally influenced by the Hurrians, the Mitanni and the Hittites.

Around 1350 BC, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites conquered Melid in his war against Tushratta of Mitanni. At the time Melid was a regional capital of the Land of Isuwa at the frontier between the Hittites and the Mitanni loyal to Tushratta. Suppiluliuma I used Melid as a base for his military campaign to sack the Mitanni capital Wassukanni.

After the end of the Hittite empire, from the 12th to 7th century BC, the city became the center of an independent Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu. A palace was built and monumental stone sculptures of lions and the ruler erected.

The encounter with the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) resulted in the kingdom of Melid being forced to pay tribute to Assyria. Melid remained able to prosper until the Assyrian king Sargon II (722-705 BC) sacked the city in 712 BC. At the same time, the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatolia and the city declined.

Arslantepe was first investigated by the French archaeologist Louis Delaporte from 1932 to 1939. From 1946 to 1951 Claude F.A. Schaeffer carried out some soundings. The first Italian excavations at the site of Arslantepe started in 1961, and were conducted under the direction of Professors Piero Meriggi and Salvatore M. Puglisi until 1968.

The choice of the site was initially due to their desire of investigating the Neo-Hittite phases of occupation at the site, a period in which Malatya was the capital of one of the most important reigns born after the destruction of the Hittite Empire in its most eastern borders. Majestic remains of this period were known from Arslantepe since the 30s, brought to light by a French expedition.

The Hittitologist Meriggi only took part in the first few campaigns and later left the direction to Puglisi, a palaeoethnologist, who expanded and regularly conducted yearly investigations under regular permit from the Turkish government. Alba Palmieri took over the supervision of the excavation during the 1970s. Today the archaeological investigation is led by Marcella Frangipane.

The first swords known in the Early Bronze Age (c. 33rd to 31st centuries) are based on finds at Arslantepe by Marcella Frangipane of Rome University. A cache of nine swords and daggers was found; they are composed of arsenic-copper alloy. Among them, three swords were beautifully inlaid with silver. These weapons have a total length of 45 to 60 cm which suggests their description as either short swords or long daggers.

These discoveries were made back in the 1980s. They belong to the local phase VI A. Also, 12 spearheads were found. Phase VI A at Arslantepe ended in destruction—the city was burned. Later on, some new occupants also left some bronze weapons, including swords. They were found in the rich tomb of “Signori Arslantepe” or “Signor Arslantepe”, as he was called by archaeologists. He was about 40 years old, and the tomb is radiocarbon dated to 3081-2897 BCE.

Suvorovo culture

The Suvorovo culture, also called the Suvorovo group, was a Copper Age culture which flourished on the northwest Pontic steppe and the lower Danube from 4500 BC to 4100 BC. It is entirely defined by its burials. These include kurgans and flat graves. Burials are oriented towards the east or northeast, in a supine position with legs either flexed or extended. Roofs of the burial chambers are often covered with stone slabs or logs.

At the Suvorovo site itself a burial of a male and female in a joint grave was found. The male was buried with a “horse-head” scepter in stone. Under the same kurgan two other burials were found. The base of the kurgan was formed by a stone kerb of 13 m in diameter.

Typical grave goods of the Suvorovo culture include ceramics both the Gumelnița–Karanovo culture and the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, and shell-tempered wares that are typical of the steppe. The Suvorovo kurgans are the earliest ones to appear in Southeast Europe.

Its features are characteristic of cultures on the steppes and forest-steppes further east in Ukraine and southern Russia. In accordance with the Kurgan hypothesis, the Suvorovo culture is evidence of a westward expansion of early Indo-European peoples from their homeland on the steppe.

Cernavodă culture

The Cernavodă culture, ca. 4000–3200 BC, was a late Copper Age archaeological culture. It was along the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube and along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland, generally in present-day Romania and Bulgaria. It is named after the Romanian town of Cernavodă.

It is a successor to and occupies much the same area as the earlier Karanovo culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident. It is part of the “Balkan-Danubian complex” that stretches up the entire length of the river and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture; its northeastern portion is thought to be ancestral to the Usatovo culture.

It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares traits with that found further east, in the Sredny Stog culture, a pre-Kurgan archaeological culture on the south-west Eurasian steppe; burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east, from the 5th millennium BC.

Together with Sredny Stog culture its spread from east resulted in development of the Anatolian language complex. In the context of the modified Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, the Sredny Stog culture could represent the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

Ezero culture

The Ezero culture (3300-2700 BC) was a Bronze Age archaeological culture occupying most of present-day Bulgaria. It takes its name from the Tell-settlement of Ezero. It follows the copper age cultures of the area (Karanovo VI culture, Gumelniţa culture, Kodzadjemen culture and Varna culture), after a settlement hiatus in Northern Bulgaria. It bears some relationship to the earlier Cernavodă III culture to the north. Some settlements were fortified.

The Ezero culture is interpreted as part of a larger Balkan-Danubian early Bronze Age complex, a horizon reaching from Troy Id-IIc into Central Europe, encompassing the Baden of the Carpathian Basin and the Coţofeni culture of Romania. According to Hermann Parzinger, there are also typological connections to Poliochne IIa-b and Sitagroi IV. Agriculture is in evidence, along with domestic livestock. There is evidence of grape cultivation. Metallurgy was practiced.

Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, it would represent a fusion of native “Old European culture” and intrusive “Kurgan culture” elements. It could also represent an Anatolian-influenced culture, either coming from Anatolia (in Renfrew’s hypothesis), or heading to Asia Minor.


Poliochne, often cited under its modern name Poliochni, was an ancient settlement on the east coast of the island of Lemnos. It was settled in the Late Chalcolithic and earliest Aegean Bronze Age and is believed to be one of the most ancient towns in Europe, preceding Troy I. Anatolian features of the earliest layers were affected by cultural influences from Helladic Greece, about the start of Early Helladic II, ca. 2500 BC.

The site, with houses huddled together sharing party walls, was unearthed by excavations of the Italian School of Archaeology at Athens (Scuola archeologica Italiana di Athene), beginning in 1930. It is believed that Troy was its main rival commercially; a rivalry that led to the decline of Poliochne circa 2000 BC.

During 1994-1997, Greek archaeologists discovered a more recent Bronze Age settlement on the tiny uninhabited island of Koukonesi situated in the Moudros harbour, west of Poliochne. This settlement was developed circa 2000-1650 BC, and the findings again prove commercial ties with Asia Minor, and with Aegean islands and mainland Greece.

Mycenaean ceramics of the 13th century BC found on Koukonesi could prove that, around when the traditional era of the Trojan War took place, the Greeks had a permanent settlement there, rather than just a commercial outpost, understanding the importance of the straits connecting the Aegean and the Black Sea.

Keros-Syros culture

The Keros-Syros culture is named after two islands in the Cyclades — Keros and Syros. This culture flourished during the Early Cycladic II period (ca 2700-2300 BC) of the Cycladic civilization. Keros-Syros culture is clearly seen as the successor of Grotta-Pelos.

The trade relations of this culture spread far and wide from the Greek mainland to Crete and Asia Minor. Colin Renfrew has proposed an Early Cycladic subdivision into Grotta-Pelos, Keros-Syros, Kastri, and Phylakopi I periods.

After the Keros-Syros culture, Kastri culture is believed to follow, although this view is not accepted by all. Some researchers in Europe believe that Keros-Syros and Kastri cultures belong to the same phase. Also, sometimes Kastri culture is designated as Kastri/Lefkandi I, because of the similarities with the Greek mainland ‘Lefkandi I’ phase.

Keros-Syros culture is well represented by numerous cemeteries on Amorgos (notably Dokathismata) and Naxos (Aplomata, Spedos). Some of the best preserved sites of this culture are at Kea and Ios, located not far from Keros. One of the important sites of this culture is Chalandriani at Syros.

Some of the important artifacts of this culture are the so-called “Frying pans” – shallow circular vessels or bowls with a decorated base. They are found especially during the Cycladic Grotta-Pelos and Keros-Syros cultures. It has been suggested that when filled with water they were used as mirrors.

The use of metal became widespread during this period. In all the settlements there were found grave goods in the form of daggers, and also tools such as chisels, tweezers and fishhooks. Also fibulae (brooches) were made of bronze and silver.

The trade relations of Keros-Syros culture are widespread. They range from the Greek mainland to Crete, where the Cycladic figurines were exported, and imitated by the local artists. Also, the trade went as far as the Asia Minor. Finds at Troy, in the periods of Troy I and Troy II, were also made.

Kastri culture

The Kastri culture (Greek: Καστρί) refers to a “cultural” dating system used for the Cycladic culture that flourished during the early Bronze Age in Greece. It spans the period ca. 2500–2200 BC and was named by Colin Renfrew, after the fortified settlement of Kastri near Chalandriani on the Cycladic island of Syros.

In Renfrew’s system, Kastri culture follows the Keros-Syros culture. However, some archaeologists believe that the Keros-Syros and Kastri cultures belong to the same phase. Others describe this period as the Early Cycladic III (ECIII).

There are numerous cultural connection between the settlement of Kastri on Syros, and Anatolia. This settlement provides evidence for the extension of the ‘Anatolian Trade Network’ towards the Cyclades. This trade network went through the whole of Anatolia, as well as Thrace, and towards the Mesopotamia.

Kastri was a small town surrounded by a fortification system with horseshoe-shaped bastions, quite similar to the much bigger fortifications of the same time period at Liman Tepe, on Turkey’s western coast near Izmir. Kastri has produced many metal artefacts, so it was probably associated with their production and distribution.

The pottery assemblage from Kastri is also very similar to that of Anatolia. The depas vessels, the bell-shaped cups, and incised pyxides “are entirely Anatolian in character’. The tin bronzes are also quite similar.

Delos (Mt. Kynthos site), Naxos (Panormos fort) in the Cyclades, and Palamari on Skyros are quite similar settlements of the time, and they have also been linked with the ‘Anatolian Trade Network’.


The town of Limantepe, sometimes spelled Liman Tepe, located on Turkey’s western coast is the site of a prehistoric (Bronze Age) settlement that includes an ancient port dating from 2500 years located underwater offshore. The area is situated in the urban zone of the coastal town of Urla near İzmir. In pre-classical antiquity and during the Hellenistic and Roman eras, it was a Greek town called Larisa.

The harbor settlement was inhabited starting from 6000 years ago and was equipped with a fortification wall partially submerged in the sea. The settlement changed significantly over time, and is one of the oldest known artificial harbors in the Aegean Sea. The underwater find includes vessels and urns that are believed to have arrived at the port from Greece and maybe Cyprus via the Black Sea.

The archaeological site was discovered by Ekrem Akurgal in 1950, and its exploration has been pursued on land and underwater since 1979 by an international team and many of the artifacts discovered are currently on display in İzmir Archaeology Museum.

It is very close but separate from the site of Klazomenai, inhabited as of the Iron Age and which itself had changed location several times during its history in the same area between the mainland and Karantina Island across its coastline. Israeli archaeologists and divers including students from Haifa University have helped investigate.

Three important cultural layers apart from those of the classical period have been encountered at Limantepe up to the present, as well as evidence for the presence of Chalcolithic remains. The lowest layer belongs to the Early Bronze Age and dates from the 3rd millennium B.C. onwards. Three phases of this layer have been excavated so far and the number of phases is expected to increase as the excavations proceed.

The ancient settlement of Kastri on Syros island belongs to the Kastri culture from the early Bronze Age in Greece, dating to the period ca. 2500–2200 BC. This Kastri settlement, belonging to this period, shows numerous cultural connection with Limantepe. This was an intermediary in the trade that went from Limantepe towards the Cyclades. Kastri has a similar fortification system with horseshoe-shaped bastions as Limantepe.

The pottery assemblage from Kastri is also very similar to that found in Limantepe and elsewhere in Anatolia at the time. The depas vessels, the bell-shaped cups, and incised pyxides “are entirely Anatolian in character”. The tin bronzes are also quite similar. This trade network went through the whole of Anatolia, as well as Thrace, and towards the Mesopotamia.

Evidence from this early period in Limantepe also indicates cultural ties with the nearby prehistoric sites of Tepekule, Bayraklı within the city of İzmir (which was later to form the core of “Old Smyrna”) and with Panaztepe site at the mouth of the River Gediz (later Hermus during the Classical Age). Also there are clear connections with Cyprus.

Some of these cultural ties continued also in the Middle Bronze Age. The second cultural layer of Limantepe consists of five phases that belong to the Middle Bronze Age and which dates from the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C. onwards. 

The third layer belongs to the Late Bronze Age and covers the time period from the 14th to the 13th century B.C., roughly contemporary with the Trojan War. Some of the artifacts discovered from this period reflect a cultural proximity with the Mycenean culture.

Consequently, along with remains from the Classical Age in Klazomenai, Limantepe reflects a history of 4000 years. It is argued that this could make Limantepe the oldest, as well as the longest inhabited center of the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

One of the most important finds at the site was made in 2007 when a wooden merchant ship anchor dating from the 7th century B.C. and which is likely to be the oldest ever found, was discovered wedged in the sea ground during the underwater explorations of Limantepe.

Sredny Stog Culture

The Sredny Stog culture is a pre-Kurgan archaeological culture from the 5th millennium BC. It is named after the Russian term for the Dnieper river islet of today’s Seredny Stih, Ukraine, where it was first located. It was situated across the Dnieper river on both its shores, with sporadic settlements to the west and east.

One of the best known sites associated with this culture is Dereivka, located on the right bank of the Omelnik, a tributary of the Dnieper, and is the most impressive site within the Sredny Stog culture complex, being about 2,000 square meters in area.

The Sredny Stog culture is known for initiating the domestication of horses. The Sredny Stog people are distinguished from the other cultures found in the Balkans by the way they lived more mobile lives. This was seen in their temporary settlements, particularly their dwellings, which were simple rectilinear structures.

The expert Dmytro Telegin has divided the chronology of Sredny Stog into two distinct phases. Phase II (ca. 4000–3500 BC) used corded ware pottery which may have originated there, and stone battle-axes of the type later associated with expanding Indo-European cultures to the West.

Most notably, it has perhaps the earliest evidence of horse domestication (in phase II), with finds suggestive of cheek-pieces (psalia). Evidence revealed that around 6,000ya, the culture has domesticated the wild Przewalski’s horse. However, there is no conclusive proof that those horses were used for riding since they were mainly employed for gathering food.

In its three largest cemeteries, Alexandria (39 individuals), Igren (17) and Dereivka (14), evidence of inhumation in flat graves (ground level pits) has been found. This parallels the practise of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and is in contrast with the later Yamna culture, which practiced tumuli burials, according to the Kurgan hypothesis.

In Sredny Stog culture, the deceased were laid to rest on their backs with the legs flexed. The use of ochre in the burial was practiced, as with the kurgan cultures. For this and other reasons, Yuri Rassamakin suggests that the Sredny Stog culture should be considered as an areal term, with at least four distinct cultural elements co-existing inside the same geographical area.

The Sredny Stog culture seems to have had contact with the agricultural Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (5500-2750 BCE), also known as the Tripolye culture, a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture of Eastern Europe, in the west and was a contemporary of the Khvalynsk culture (4900-3500 BC) , a Middle Copper Age (for Eastern Europe named “Eneolithic”) culture of the middle Volga region, to the north-east.

The Khvalynsk culture was preceded by the Early Eneolithic Samara culture, from which it came, and succeeded by the Late Eneolithic, Early Yamna culture, into which it developed. Examination of physical remains of the Kvalynsk people has determined that they were Europoid.

A similar physical type prevails among the Sredny Stog culture and the Yamnaya culture, whose peoples were tall and powerfully built. Khvalynsk people were however not as powerfully built as the Sredny Stog and Yamnaya.

Recent genetic studies have shown that males of the Khvalynsk culture carried primarily the paternal haplogroup R1b, although a few samples of R1a, I2a2, Q1a and J has been detected. They belonged to the Western Steppe Herder (WSH) cluster, which is a mixture of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) and Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) ancestry.

This admixture appears to have happened on the eastern Pontic–Caspian steppe around starting around 5,000 BC. A male from the contemporary Sredny Stog culture was found to have 80% WSH ancestry of a similar type to the Khvalynsk people, and 20% Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry.

Among the later Yamnaya culture, males carry exclusively R1b and I2. A similar pattern is observable among males of the earlier Dnieper-Donets culture, who carried only R and I and whose ancestry was exclusively EHG with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture.

The presence of EFF and CHG mtDNA and exclusively EHG and WHG Y-DNA among the Yamnaya and related WSHs suggest that EFF and CHG admixture among them was the result of mixing between EHG and WHG males, and EEF and CHG females. This suggests that the leading clans among the Yamnaya were of EHG paternal origin.

According to David W. Anthony, this implies that the Indo-European languages were the result of “a dominant language spoken by EHGs that absorbed Caucasus-like elements in phonology, morphology, and lexicon” spoken by CHGs.

Examination of physical remains of the Sredny Stog people has determined that they were Europoid. A similar physical type prevails among the Yamnaya, who were tall and powerfully built. People of the neighboring Khvalynsk culture were less powerfully built. People of the preceding Dnieper-Donets culture were even more powerfully built than the Sredny Stog and Yamnaya.

A genetic study published in Nature in February 2018 included an analysis of a male buried at Alexandria, Ukraine ca. 4000 BC. This site is ascribed to the Sredny Stog culture. He was found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup R1a1a1 (R1a-Z93, probably one of its earliest known members and the maternal haplogroup H2a1a. He carried about 80% Western Steppe Herder (WSH) ancestry and about 20% Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry.

The Sredny Stog male is the first steppe individual found to have been carrying EEF ancestry. As a carrier of the 13910 allelle, he is the earliest individual ever examined who has had a genetic adaptation to lactase persistence. His R1a-Z93 paternal haplogroup is later found in the Sintashta culture and subsequent Indo-Iranians.

The WHG genetic cluster was a result of mixing between Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs) from Eastern Europe and Caucasian Hunter-Gatherers (CHGs) from the Caucasus. This mixing appears to have happened on the eastern Pontic–Caspian steppe starting around 5,000 BC.

The WSH ancestry found in the Sredny Stog culture is similar to that of the Khvalynsk culture, among whom there was no EEF admixture. Males of the Khvalynsk culture carried primarily the paternal haplogroup R1b, although a few samples of R1a, I2a2, Q1a and J have been detected. Succeeding Yamnaya males however, have been found to have carried only R1b and I2.

This is similar to the males of the Dnieper-Donets culture, who carried R and I only and were exclusively EHGs with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture. The results suggest that the Yamnaya emerged through mixing between EHG and WHG males, and EEF and CHG females.

This implies that the leading clans of the Yamnaya were of EHG paternal origin. On this basis, David W. Anthony argues the Indo-European languages were the result of “a dominant language spoken by EHGs that absorbed Caucasus-like elements in phonology, morphology, and lexicon”.(spoken by CHGs).

The culture ended at around 3500 BC, when the Yamna culture expanded westward replacing Sredny Stog, and coming into direct contact with the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the western Ukraine.

Dnieper–Donets culture

The Dnieper–Donets culture was distributed in the areas north of the Black Sea. The people of the Dnieper-Donets culture (ca. 5th—4th millennium BC), a Mesolithic and later Neolithic culture which flourished north of the Black Sea ca. 5000-4200 BC., further west on the other hand, were even more powerfully built than the Yamnaya.

The origins of the Dnieper–Donets culture are found in the Swiderian culture. Its people traced their origins to earlier Mesolithic foragers. It shows rapid population growth and an expansion towards the steppe is noticeable throughout its existence. It appeared along the middle Dnieper to the northern Donets and quickly expended in all directions, eventually absorbing all other local Neolithic groups.

The Dnieper–Donets culture has many parallels with the contemporaneous Samara culture to the north. Striking similarities with the Khvalynsk culture and the Sredny Stog culture have also been detected. A much larger horizon from the upper Vistula to the lower half of Dnieper to the mid-to-lower Volga has therefore been drawn.

The Dnieper-Donets culture is situated in the area which in accordance with the Kurgan hypothesis has been suggested as the Proto-Indo-European homeland. It has been suggested that the Dnieper-Donets people were Pre–Indo-European-speakers who were absorbed by Proto-Indo-Europeans expanding westwards from steppe-lands further east.

The areas of the upper Dniester in which the Dnieper-Donets culture was situated have mostly Baltic river names. Due to this, and the close relationship between the Dnieper-Donets culture and contemporary cultures of northeast Europe, the Dnieper-Donets culture have been identified with the later Balts.

Mallory includes this area within the limits of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The precise role of this culture and its language to the derivation of the Pontic-Caspian cultures such as Sredny Stog and Yamnaya culture, is open to debate, though the display of recurrent traits points either to long-standing mutual contacts or underlying genetic relations.

Influences from the Dnieper–Donets culture and the Sredny Stog culture on the Funnelbeaker culture have been detected. An origin of the Funnelbeaker culture from the Dnieper–Donets culture has been suggested, but this is very controversial.

The Dnieper-Donets culture was contemporary with the Bug–Dniester culture. It is clearly distinct from the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. The Dnieper-Donets people almost certainly spoke a different language than the people of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture.

Dnieper-Donets pottery was initially pointed based, but in later phases flat-based wares emerge. Their pottery is completely different from those made by the nearby Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. The importance of pottery appears to have increased throughout the existence of the Dnieper-Donets culture, which implies a more sedentary lifestyle.

The early use of typical point base pottery interrelates with other Mesolithic cultures that are peripheral to the expanse of the Neolithic farmer cultures. The special shape of this pottery has been related to transport by logboat in wetland areas.

Especially related are Swifterbant in the Netherlands, Ellerbek and Ertebølle in Northern Germany and Scandinavia, “Ceramic Mesolithic” pottery of Belgium and Northern France (including non-Linear pottery such as La Hoguette, Bliquy, Villeneuve-Saint-Germain), the Roucadour culture in Southwest France and the river and lake areas of Northern Poland and Russia.

The physical remains recovered from graves of the Dnieper-Donets culture have been classified as “Proto-Europoid”. They are predominantly characterized as late Cro-Magnons with large and more massive features than the gracile Mediterranean peoples of the Balkan Neolithic. Males averaged 172 cm in height, which is much taller than contemporary Neolithic populations. Its rugged physical traits are thought to have genetically influenced later Indo-European peoples.

Physical anthropologists have pointed out similarities in the physical type of the Dnieper-Donets people with the Mesolithic peoples of Northern Europe. The peoples of the neighboring Sredny Stog culture, which eventually succeeded the Dnieper-Donets culture, were of a more gracile appearance.

A genetic study published in Nature in February 2018 included an analysis of 32 individuals from three Eneolithic cemeteries at Deriivka, Vilnyanka and Vovnigi, which are ascribed to the Dnieper-Donets culture. These individuals belonged exclusively to the paternal haplogroups R and I (mostly R1b and I2), and almost exclusively to the maternal haplogroup U (mostly U5, U4 and U2).

This suggests that the Dnieper-Donets people were “distinct, locally derived population” of mostly of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) descent, with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture. The WHG admixture appears to have increased in the transition from the Meslothic to the Neolithic.

Unlike the Yamnaya culture, whose genetic cluster is known as Western Steppe Herder (WSH), no Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) or Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry has been detected in the Dnieper-Donets culture.

At the Vilnyanka cemetery, all the males belong to the paternal haplogroup I, which is common among WHGs. David W. Anthony suggests that this influx of WHG ancestry might be the result of EEFs pushing WHGs out of their territories to the east, where WHG males might have mated with EHG females.

Dnieper-Donets males and Yamnaya males carry the same paternal haplogroups (R1b and I2a), suggesting that the CHG and EEF admixture among the Yamnaya came through EHG and WHG males mixing with EEF and CHG females. According to Anthony, this suggests that the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs living in Eastern Europe.

The Dnieper–Donets culture was succeeded by the Sredny Stog culture, its eastern neighbor, with whom it co-existed for a time before being finally absorbed. The Dnieper–Donets culture and the Sredny Stog culture were in turn succeeded by the Yamnaya culture. The Mikhaylovka culture, the Novodanilovka group and the Kemi Oba culture displays evidence of continuity from the Dnieper–Donets culture.

Usatovo culture

The Usatovo culture is a late variant of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture which flourished northwest of the Black Sea from 3500 BC to 3000 BC. The Usatovo culture appears to be a mixture of Neolithic elements of Southeast Europe with intrusive cultures from the Pontic steppe.

From native Neolithic elements it shares flat graves, figurines and painted ceramics, while it shares tumulus burials, horses and shell-tempered coarse wares with steppe cultures. It also displays metallic items such as arsenical bronze and silver, which suggests contacts with the North Caucasus.

Within the Kurgan hypothesis, the Usatovo culture represents the domination of native Cucuteni–Trypillia agriculturalists by Indo-European peoples from the steppe.

Vučedol culture

The Vučedol culture (Croatian: Vučedolska kultura) flourished between 3000 and 2200 BC (the Eneolithic period of earliest copper-smithing), centered in Syrmia and eastern Slavonia on the right bank of the Danube river, but possibly spreading throughout the Pannonian plain and western Balkans and southward.

It was thus contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the earliest settlements of Troy (Troy I and II). Some authors regard it as an Indo-European culture.

Following the Baden culture, another wave of possible Indo-European speakers came to the banks of the Danube. One of the major places they occupied is present-day Vučedol (“Wolf’s Valley”), located six kilometers downstream from the town of Vukovar, Croatia.

It is estimated that the site had once been home to about 3,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most important European centers of its time. According to Bogdan Brukner, proto-Illyrians descended from this wave of Indo-European settlers.

A February 2018 study published in Nature included an analysis of three individuals ascribed to the Vučedol culture. One male carried haplogroup R1b1a1a2a2 and T2e, while the other carried G2a2a1a2a and T2c2. The female carried U4a.


Troy (Ancient Greek: Τροία, Troía, Ἴλιον, Ílion or Ἴλιος, Ílios; Latin: Troia and Ilium; Hittite: Wilusa or Truwisa; Turkish: Truva or Troya) was a city in the northwest of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), south of the mouth of the Dardanelles and northwest of Mount Ida. The location in the present day is the hill of Hisarlik and its immediate vicinity.

In modern scholarly nomenclature, the Ridge of Troy (including Hisarlik) borders the Plain of Troy, flat agricultural land, which conducts the lower Scamander River to the strait. Troy was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer.

Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον (Ilion) formerly began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον (Wilion); this is also supported by the Hittite name for what is thought to be the same city, Wilusa.

After a destruction at the end of the Bronze Age, believed to represent the end of the Trojan War, and a period of abandonment or near-abandonment during the subsequent Dark Age, the site acquired a new population of Greek-speakers, who built a classical city that became along with the rest of Anatolia a part of the Persian Empire.

The Troad was liberated by Alexander the Great, an admirer of Achilles, who he believed had the same type of glorious (but short-lived) destiny. After the Roman conquest of this now Hellenistic Greek-speaking world, a new capital called Ilium (from Greek: Ἴλιον, Ilion) was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus.

It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople, became a bishopric, was abandoned, repopulated for a few centuries in the Byzantine era, was abandoned again, and is now a Latin Catholic titular see. Most recently it has risen to prominence as an archaeological site.

The first city on the site was founded in the 3rd millennium BC. During the Bronze Age, the site seems to have been a flourishing mercantile city, since its location allowed for complete control of the Dardanelles, through which every merchant ship from the Aegean Sea heading for the Black Sea had to pass. Cities to the east of Troy were destroyed, and although Troy was not burned, the next period shows a change of culture indicating a new people had taken over Troy.

The first phase of the city is characterized by a smaller citadel, around 300 ft in diameter, with 20 rectangular houses surrounded by massive walls, towers, and gateways. Troy II doubled in size and had a lower town and the upper citadel, with the walls protecting the upper acropolis which housed the megaron-style palace for the king.

The second phase was destroyed by a large fire, but the Trojans rebuilt, creating a fortified citadel larger than Troy II, but which had smaller and more condensed houses, suggesting an economic decline.

This trend of making a larger circuit, or extent of the walls, continued with each rebuild, for Troy III, IV, and V. Therefore, even in the face of economic troubles, the walls remained as elaborate as before, indicating their focus on defense and protection.

When Schliemann came across Troy II, in 1871, he believed he had found Homer’s city. Schliemann and his team unearthed a large feature he dubbed the Scaean Gate, a western gate unlike the three previously found leading to the Pergamos.

This gate, as he describes, was the gate that Homer had featured. As Schliemann states in his publication Troja: “I have proved that in a remote antiquity there was in the plain of Troy a large city, destroyed of old by a fearful catastrophe, which had on the hill of Hisarlık only its Acropolis with its temples and a few other large edifices, southerly, and westerly direction on the site of the later Ilium; and that, consequently, this city answers perfectly to the Homeric description of the sacred site of Ilios.”

Anatolian languages

The Anatolian languages are an extinct family of Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor (ancient Anatolia), the best attested of them being the Hittite language. Melchert (2012) has proposed the following classification: Proto-Anatolian, Hittite, Palaic, Luwic (Luwian, Lycian, Milyan, Carian, Sidetic, Pisidian and(?) Lydian).

The Anatolian family tree by Robert Beekes (2010) recognizes only one clear subgroup, the Luwic languages. Modifications and updates of the branching order continue, however. A second version opposes Hittite to Western Anatolian, and divides the latter node into Lydian, Palaic, and a Luwian group (instead of Luwic).

It has been proposed that other languages of the family existed that have left no records, including the pre-Greek languages of Lycaonia and Isauria unattested in the alphabetic era. In these regions, only Hittite, Hurrian, and Luwian are attested in the Bronze Age.

Languages of the region such as Mysian and Phrygian are Indo-European but not Anatolian, and are thought to have entered Asia Minor from the Balkan peninsula at a later date than the Anatolian languages.

The Anatolian branch is generally considered the earliest to split from the Proto-Indo-European language, from a stage referred to either as Indo-Hittite or “Archaic PIE”; typically a date in the mid-4th millennium BC is assumed.

Under the Kurgan hypothesis, there are two possibilities for how the early Anatolian speakers could have reached Anatolia: from the north via the Caucasus, and from the west, via the Balkans, the latter of which is considered somewhat more likely by Mallory (1989), Steiner (1990) and Anthony (2007).

Statistical research by Quentin Atkinson and others using Bayesian inference and glottochronological markers favors an Indo-European origin in Anatolia, though the method’s validity and accuracy are subject to debate.

Undiscovered until the late 19th and 20th centuries, they are considered the earliest group of languages to branch off from the Indo-European family. Once discovered, the presence of laryngeal consonants ḫ and ḫḫ in Hittite and Luwian provided support for the laryngeal theory of Proto-Indo-European linguistics.

While Hittite attestation ends after the Bronze Age, hieroglyphic Luwian survived until the conquest of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms by Assyria, and the alphabetic Anatolian languages are fragmentarily attested until the early first millennium AD, eventually succumbing to the Hellenization of Asia Minor.

Anatolia was heavily Hellenized following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the native languages of the area ceased to be spoken in subsequent centuries, making Anatolian the first well-attested branch of Indo-European to become extinct. The only other well-known branch with no living descendants is Tocharian, whose attestation ceases in the 8th century AD.

While Pisidian inscriptions date until the second century AD, the poorly-attested Isaurian language, which was probably a late Luwic dialect, appears to have been the last of the Anatolian languages to become extinct. Epigraphic evidence, including funerary inscriptions dating from as late as the 5th century, has been found by archaeologists.

Personal names with Anatolian etymologies are known from the Hellenistic and Roman era and may have outlasted the languages they came from. Examples include Cilician Ταρκυνδβερρας Tarku-ndberras “assistance of Tarḫunz”, Isaurian Ουαξαμοας Ouaxamoas < *Waksa-muwa “power of blessing(?)”, and Lycaonian Πιγραμος Pigramos “resplendent, mighty” (cf. Carian 𐊷𐊹𐊼𐊥𐊪𐊸 Pikrmś, Luwian pīhramma/i-).

A few words in the Armenian language have been also suggested as possible borrowings from Hittite or Luwian, such as Arm. զուռնա zuṙna (compare Luwian zurni “horn”).

Anatolian Features

The phonology of the Anatolian languages preserves distinctions lost in its sister branches of Indo-European. Famously, the Anatolian languages retain the PIE laryngeals in words such as Hittite ḫāran- (cf. Greek ὄρνῑς, Lithuanian erẽlis, Old Norse ǫrn, PIE *h₃éron-) and Lycian 𐊜𐊒𐊄𐊀 χuga (cf. Latin avus, Old Prussian awis, Primitive Irish ᚐᚃᚔ (avi), PIE *h₂éwh₂s).

The three dorsal consonant series of PIE also remained distinct in Proto-Anatolian and have different reflexes in the Luwic languages, e.g. Luwian where *kʷ > ku-, *k > k-, and *ḱ > z-. The three-way distinction in Proto-Indo-European stops (i.e. *p, *b, *bʰ) collapsed into a fortis-lenis distinction in Proto-Anatolian, conventionally written as /p/ vs. /b/.

In Hittite and Luwian cuneiform, the lenis stops were written as single voiceless consonants while the fortis stops were written as doubled voiceless, indicating a geminated pronunciation. By the first millennium, the lenis consonants seem to have been spirantized in Lydian, Lycian, and Carian.

The Proto-Anatolian laryngeal consonant *H patterned with the stops in fortition and lenition and appears as geminated -ḫḫ- or plain -ḫ- in cuneiform. Reflexes of *H in Hittite are interpreted as pharyngeal fricatives and those in Luwian as uvular fricatives based on loans in Ugaritic and Egyptian, as well as vowel-coloring effects.

The laryngeals were lost in Lydian but became Lycian 𐊐 (χ) and Carian 𐊼 (k), both pronounced [k], as well as labiovelars —Lycian 𐊌 (q), Carian 𐊴 (q)—when labialized. Suggestions for their realization in Proto-Anatolian include pharyngeal fricatives, uvular fricatives, or uvular stops.

Despite their antiquity, Anatolian morphology is considerably simpler than other early Indo-European (IE) languages. The verbal system distinguishes only two tenses (present-future and preterite), two voices (active and mediopassive), and two moods (indicative and imperative), lacking the subjunctive and optative moods found in other old IE languages like Tocharian, Sanskrit, and Ancient Greek.

Anatolian verbs are also typically divided into two conjugations: the mi conjugation and ḫi conjugation, named for their first-person singular present indicative suffix in Hittite. While the mi conjugation has clear cognates outside of Anatolia, the ḫi conjugation is distinctive and appears to be derived from a reduplicated or intensive form in PIE.

The Anatolian gender system is based on two classes: animate and inanimate (also termed common and neuter). Proto-Anatolian almost certainly did not inherit a separate feminine agreement class from PIE.

The two-gender system has been described as a merger of masculine and feminine genders following the phonetic merger of PIE a-stems with o-stems. However the discovery of a group of inherited nouns with suffix *-eh2 in Lycian and therefore Proto-Anatolian raised doubts the existence of a feminine gender in PIE.

The feminine gender typically marked with -ā in non-Anatolian Indo-European languages may be connected to a derivational suffix *-h2, attested for abstract nouns and collectives in Anatolian.

The appurtenance suffix *-ih2 is scarce in Anatolian but fully productive as a feminine marker in Tocharian. This suggests the Anatolian gender system is the original for IE, while the feminine-masculine-neuter classification of Tocharian + Core IE languages may have arisen following a sex-based split within the class of topical nouns to provide more precise reference tracking for male and female humans.

Proto-Anatolian retained the nominal case system of Proto-Indo-European, including the vocative, nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, genitive, and locative cases, and innovated an additional allative case.

Nouns distinguish singular and plural numbers, as well as a collective plural for inanimates in Old Hittite and remnant dual forms for natural pairs. The Anatolian branch also has a split-ergative system based on gender, with inanimate nouns being marked in the ergative case when the subject of a transitive verb. This may be an areal influence from nearby non-IE ergative languages like Hurrian.

The basic word order in Anatolian is subject-object-verb except for Lycian, where verbs typically precede objects. Clause-initial particles are a striking feature of Anatolian syntax; in a given sentence, a connective or the first accented word usually hosts a chain of clitics in Wackernagel’s position. Enclitic pronouns, discourse markers, conjunctions, and local or modal particles appear in rigidly ordered slots. Words fronted before the particle chain are topicalized.


The Hittites were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Anatolia as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.

Between the 15th and 13th centuries BC, the Empire of Hattusa, conventionally called the Hittite Empire, came into conflict with the Egyptian Empire, Middle Assyrian Empire and the empire of the Mitanni for control of the Near East.

The Hittite language was a distinct member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, and along with the related Luwian language, is the oldest historically attested Indo-European language, referred to by its speakers as nešili “in the language of Nesa”.

The Hittites called their country the Kingdom of Hattusa (Hatti in Akkadian), a name received from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the region until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC and spoke an unrelated language known as Hattic. The conventional name “Hittites” is due to their initial identification with the Biblical Hittites in 19th century archaeology.

The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their kingdom, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt and the Middle East, the decipherment of which was also a key event in the history of Indo-European linguistics. The Hittite military made successful use of chariots.

The development of iron smelting was once attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age, with their success largely based on the advantages of a monopoly on ironworking at the time. But the view of such a “Hittite monopoly” has come under scrutiny and is no longer a scholarly consensus.

As part of the Late-Bronze-Age/Early-Iron-Age, the Bronze Age collapse saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region. While there are some iron objects from Bronze Age Anatolia, the number is comparable to iron objects found in Egypt and other places during the period; and only a small number of these objects are weapons. Hittites did not use smelted iron, but rather meteorites.

In classical times, ethnic Hittite dynasties survived in small kingdoms scattered around modern Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Lacking a unifying continuity, their descendants scattered and ultimately merged into the modern populations of the Levant, Turkey and Mesopotamia.

During the 1920s, interest in the Hittites increased with the founding of the modern Republic of Turkey and attracted the attention of Turkish archaeologists such as Halet Çambel and Tahsin Özgüç.

During this period, the new field of Hittitology also influenced the naming of Turkish institutions, such as the state-owned Etibank (“Hittite bank”), and the foundation of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, 200 kilometers west of the Hittite capital and housing the most comprehensive exhibition of Hittite art and artifacts in the world.

The Hittite kingdom was centred on the lands surrounding Hattusa and Neša (Kültepe), known as “the land Hatti” (URUHa-at-ti). After Hattusa was made capital, the area encompassed by the bend of the Kızılırmak River (Hittite Marassantiya) was considered the core of the Empire, and some Hittite laws make a distinction between “this side of the river” and “that side of the river”.

To the west and south of the core territory lay the region known as Luwiya in the earliest Hittite texts. This terminology was replaced by the names Arzawa and Kizzuwatna with the rise of those kingdoms. Nevertheless, the Hittites continued to refer to the language that originated in these areas as Luwian.

Prior to the rise of Kizzuwatna, the heart of that territory in Cilicia was first referred to by the Hittites as Adaniya. Upon its revolt from the Hittites during the reign of Ammuna, it assumed the name of Kizzuwatna and successfully expanded northward to encompass the lower Anti-Taurus Mountains as well.

To the north, lived the mountainous people called the Kaskians. To the southeast of the Hittites lay the Hurrian empire of Mitanni. At its peak, during the reign of Muršili II, the Hittite empire stretched from Arzawa in the west to Mitanni in the east, many of the Kaskian territories to the north including Hayasa-Azzi in the far north-east, and on south into Canaan approximately as far as the southern border of Lebanon, incorporating all of these territories within its domain.

It is generally assumed that the Hittites came into Anatolia some time before 2000 BC. While their earlier location is disputed, it has been speculated by scholars for more than a century that the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic–Caspian steppe, in present-day Ukraine, around the Sea of Azov, spoke an early Indo-European language during the third and fourth millennia BC.

The arrival of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Bronze Age was one of a superstrate imposing itself on a native culture (in this case over the pre-existing Hattians and Hurrians), either by means of conquest or by gradual assimilation.

In archaeological terms, relationships of the Hittites to the Ezero culture of the Balkans and Maykop culture of the Caucasus have been considered within the migration framework. The Indo-European element at least establishes Hittite culture as intrusive to Anatolia in scholarly mainstream (excepting the opinions of Colin Renfrew, whose Anatolian hypothesis assumes that Indo-European is indigenous to Anatolia, and, more recently, Quentin Atkinson).

According to Anthony, steppe herders, archaic Proto-Indo-European speakers, spread into the lower Danube valley about 4200–4000 BC, either causing or taking advantage of the collapse of Old Europe. Their languages “probably included archaic Proto-Indo-European dialects of the kind partly preserved later in Anatolian.” Their descendants later moved into Anatolia at an unknown time but maybe as early as 3000 BC.

According to J. P. Mallory it is likely that the Anatolians reached the Near East from the north either via the Balkans or the Caucasus in the 3rd millennium BC. According to Parpola, the appearance of Indo-European speakers from Europe into Anatolia, and the appearance of Hittite, is related to later migrations of Proto-Indo-European speakers from the Yamnaya culture into the Danube Valley at c. 2800 BC, which is in line with the “customary” assumption that the Anatolian Indo-European language was introduced into Anatolia sometime in the third millennium BC.

Their movement into the region may have set off a Near East mass migration sometime around 1900 BC. The dominant indigenous inhabitants in central Anatolia at the time were Hurrians and Hattians who spoke non-Indo-European languages. Some have argued that Hattic was a Northwest Caucasian language, but its affiliation remains uncertain, whilst the Hurrian language was a near-isolate (i.e. it was one of only two or three languages in the Hurro-Urartian family).

There were also Assyrian colonies in the region during the Old Assyrian Empire (2025–1750 BC); it was from the Assyrian speakers of Upper Mesopotamia that the Hittites adopted the cuneiform script. It took some time before the Hittites established themselves following the collapse of the Old Assyrian Empire in the mid-18th century BC, as is clear from some of the texts included here.

For several centuries there were separate Hittite groups, usually centered on various cities. But then strong rulers with their center in Hattusa (modern Boğazkale) succeeded in bringing these together and conquering large parts of central Anatolia to establish the Hittite kingdom.


Hittite (nešili) was the language of the Hittite Empire (1650–1200 BC), which ruled over nearly all of Anatolia during that time. The earliest sources of Hittite are the 19th century BC Kültepe texts, the Akkadian language records of the kârum kaneš, or “port of Kanes,” an Assyrian enclave of merchants within the city of kaneš (Kültepe).

The Hittites used a variation of cuneiform called Hittite cuneiform. Archaeological expeditions to Hattusa have discovered entire sets of royal archives on cuneiform tablets, written either in Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation.

This collection records Hittite names and words loaned into Akkadian from Hittite. The Hittite name for the city was Neša, from which the Hittite endonym for the language, Nešili, was derived. The fact that the enclave was Assyrian, rather than Hittite, and that the city name became the language name, suggest that the Hittites were already in a position of influence, perhaps dominance, in central Anatolia.

The main cache of Hittite texts is the approximately 30,000 clay tablet fragments, of which only some have been studied, from the records of the royal city of Hattuša, located on a ridge near what is now Boğazkale, Turkey (formerly named Boğazköy).

The records show a gradual rise to power of the Anatolian language speakers over the native Hattians, until at last the kingship became an Anatolian privilege. From then on, little is heard of the Hattians, but the Hittites kept the name. The records include rituals, medical writings, letters, laws and other public documents, making possible an in-depth knowledge of many aspects of the civilization.

Most of the records are dated to the 13th century BC (Late Bronze Age). They are written in cuneiform script borrowing heavily from the Mesopotamian system of writing. The script is a syllabary.

This fact, combined with frequent use of Akkadian and Sumerian words, as well as logograms, or signs representing whole words, to represent lexical items, often introduces considerable uncertainty as to the form of the original. However, phonetic syllable signs are present also, representing syllables of the form V, CV, VC, CVC, where V is “vowel” and C is “consonant.”

Hittite is divided into Old, Middle, and New (or Neo-). The dates are somewhat variable. They are based on an approximate coincidence of historical periods and variants of the writing system: the Old Kingdom and the Old Script, the Middle Kingdom and the Middle Script, and the New Kingdom and the New Script.

Fortson gives the dates, which come from the reigns of the relevant kings, as 1570–1450 BC, 1450–1380 BC, and 1350–1200 BC respectively. These are not glottochronologic. All cuneiform Hittite came to an end at 1200 BC with the destruction of Hattusas and the end of the empire.

The Hittite language is recorded fragmentarily from about the 19th century BC (in the Kültepe texts, see Ishara). It remained in use until about 1100 BC. Hittite is the best attested member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, and the Indo-European language for which the earliest surviving written attestation exists, with isolated Hittite loanwords and numerous personal names appearing in an Old Assyrian context from as early as the 20th century BC.

The language of the Hattusa tablets was eventually deciphered by a Czech linguist, Bedřich Hrozný (1879–1952), who, on 24 November 1915, announced his results in a lecture at the Near Eastern Society of Berlin.

His book about the discovery was printed in Leipzig in 1917, under the title The Language of the Hittites; Its Structure and Its Membership in the Indo-European Linguistic Family. The preface of the book begins with:

“The present work undertakes to establish the nature and structure of the hitherto mysterious language of the Hittites, and to decipher this language […] It will be shown that Hittite is in the main an Indo-European language.”

The decipherment famously led to the confirmation of the laryngeal theory in Indo-European linguistics, which had been predicted several decades before. Due to its marked differences in its structure and phonology, some early philologists, most notably Warren Cowgill, had even argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Indo-European languages (Indo-Hittite), rather than a daughter language.

By the end of the Hittite Empire, the Hittite language had become a written language of administration and diplomatic correspondence. The population of most of the Hittite Empire by this time spoke Luwian dialects, another Indo-European language of the Anatolian family that had originated to the west of the Hittite region.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.” Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.


Palaic, spoken in the north-central Anatolian region of Palā (later Paphlagonia), extinct around the 13th century BC, is known only from fragments of quoted prayers in Old Hittite texts. It was extinguished by the replacement of the culture, if not the population, as a result of an invasion by the Kaskas, which the Hittites could not prevent.

Pala was a Bronze Age country in Northern Anatolia. Nothing more is known about Pala than its native language, which is the Palaic language (palaumnili), and its native religion. The only person known who is of Palaic origin is a ritual priestess Anna.

It can be located in the Black Sea region. There are two possibilities where Pala may have laid in this region. The first possibility is the country known as Paphlagonia in classical antiquity. The second possibility is the territory which was called Blaene in antiquity. Both equations are based on phonetic similarity. A country named *Bla leading to Blaene in cuneiform script only could have been written as pa-la-a.

In the Old Hittite period Pala was mentioned as an administrative area under Hittite jurisdiction in the Hittite laws. At the end of the Old Hittite period, contact between the Hittites and Pala ceased because of the Kaskian capture of the Black Sea region. It is likely that the Palaic peoples disappeared with the Kaskian invasion.

The Palaic mythology is known from cuneiform ritual texts from the temple of the Palaic storm god in the Hittite capital Ḫattuša where the cult of Palaic deities continued even when contacts between Hittites and Pala had disappeared. 

Palaic is an extinct Indo-European language, attested in cuneiform tablets in Bronze Age Hattusa, the capital of the Hittites. Its name in Hittite is palaumnili, or “of the people of Pala”; Pala was probably to the northwest of the Hittite core area, so in the northwest of present mainland Turkey. That region was overrun by the Kaskas in the 15th century BC, and the language likely went out of daily use at that time.

The entire corpus of Palaic spans only CTH 751-754 in Emmanuel Laroche’s catalog of Hittite texts; in addition Hittite texts elsewhere cite passages in Palaic in reference to the god Zaparwa (Hittite Ziparwa), the leading God of the land of Pala.

In particular, CTH 750, a festival in Hittite for Ziparwa and associated deities, includes passages stating, “The Old Woman speaks the words of the bread in Palaic,” or alternately “the words of the meal,” though no Palaic passages are quoted. The Palaic-language texts are all from a religious context, with ritual and mythological content. In addition to Zaparwa, the Palaumnili-speakers worshipped a sky god Tiyaz (Luwian Tiwaz).

Palaic is a fairly typical specimen of Indo-European. Old Hittite has the genitive singular suffix -as circa 1600 BC (compare Proto-Indo-European *-os); where Cuneiform Luwian instead uses the -ssa adjectival suffix. Palaic, on the northern border of both, like later Hieroglyphic Luwian has both an -as genitive and an -asa adjectival suffix.

Palaic also shows the same gender distinction as seen in Hittite, i.e. animate vs. inanimate; and has similar pronoun forms. Therefore Palaic is thought to belong to the Anatolian languages, although whether as a sister language to Old Hittite or Cuneiform Luwian is unknown.

Luwic branch

The term Luwic was proposed by Craig Melchert as the node of a branch to include several languages that seem more closely related than the other Anatolian languages.

This is not a neologism, as Luvic had been used in the early 20th century AD to mean the Anatolian language group as a whole, or languages identified as Luvian by the Hittite texts. The name comes from Hittite 𒇻𒌑𒄿𒇷 luwili.

The earlier use of Luvic fell into disuse in favor of Luvian. Meanwhile, most of the languages now termed Luvian, or Luvic, were not known to be so until the latter 20th century AD. Even more fragmentary attestations might be discovered in the future.

Luvian and Luvic have other meanings in English, so currently Luwian and Luwic are preferred. Before the term Luwic was proposed for Luwian and its closest relatives, scholars used the term Luwian Languages in the sense of “Luwic Languages”.

For example, Silvia Luraghi’s Luwian branch begins with a root language she terms the “Luwian Group”, which logically is in the place of Common Luwian or Proto-Luwian. Its three offsprings, according to her, are Milyan, Proto-Luwian, and Lycian, while Proto-Luwian branches into Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic Luwian.


The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Asia Minor as well as the northern part of western Levant in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian sub-family, which was written in cuneiform imported from Mesopotamia, and a unique native hieroglyphic script, which was sometimes used by the linguistically related Hittites also.

The origin of the Luwians can only be assumed. A wide variety of suggestions exist, even today, which are connected to the debate over the original homeland of the Indo-European speakers. Suggestions for the Indo-European homeland include the Balkans, the Lower Volga and Central Asia.

However, little can be proven about the route that led the ancestors of the Luwians to Anatolia. It is also unclear whether the separation of the Luwians from the Hittites and the Palaic speakers occurred in Anatolia or earlier.

It is possible that the Demircihüyük culture (c.3500–2500 BC) is connected with the arrival of Indo-Europeans in Anatolia, since Proto-Anatolian must have split off around 3000 BC at the latest on linguistic grounds.

Certain evidence of the Luwians begins around 2000 BC, with the presence of personal names and loan words in Old Assyrian Empire documents from the Assyrian colony of Kültepe, dating from between 1950 and 1700 BC (Middle Chronology), which shows that Luwian and Hittite were already two distinct languages at this point.

According to most scholars, the Hittites were then settled in upper Kızılırmak and had their economic and political centre at Neša (Kaneš), from which the Hittite language gained its native name, nešili. The Luwians most likely lived in southern and western Anatolia, perhaps with a political centre at Purushanda.

The Assyrian colonists and traders who were present in Anatolia at this time refer to the local people as nuwaʿum without any differentiation. This term seems to derive from the name of the Luwians, with the change from l/n resulting from the mediation of Hurrian.

The Old Hittite laws from the 17th century BC contain cases relating to the then independent regions of Palā and Luwiya. Traders and displaced people seem to have moved from one country to the other on the basis of agreements between Ḫattusa and Luwiya.

It has been argued that the Luwians never formed a single unified Luwian state, but populated a number of polities where they mixed with other population groups. However, a minority opinion holds that in the end they did form a unified force, and brought about the end of Bronze Age civilization by attacking the Hittites and then other areas as the Sea People.

During the Hittite period, the kingdoms of Šeḫa and Arzawa developed in the west, focused in the Maeander valley. In the south was the state of Kizzuwatna, which was inhabited by a mixture of Hurrians and Luwians. The kingdom of Tarḫuntašša developed during the Hittite New Kingdom, in southern Anatolia. The kingdom of Wilusa was located in northwest Anatolia on the site of Troy. Whether any of these kingdoms represented a Luwian state cannot be clearly determined based on current evidence and is a matter of controversy in contemporary scholarship.

Kizzuwatna was the Hittite and Luwian name for ancient Cilicia. The area was conquered by the Hittites in the 16th century BC. Around 1500, the area broke off and became the kingdom of Kizzuwatna, whose ruler used the title of “Great King”, like the Hittite ruler. The Hittite king Telipinu had to conclude a treaty with King Išputaḫšu, which was renewed by his successors.

Under King Pilliya, Kizzuwatna became a vassal of the Mitanni. Around 1420, King Šunaššura of Mitanni renounced control of Kizzuwatna and concluded an alliance with the Hittite king Tudḫaliya I. Soon after this, the area seems to have been incorporated into the Hittite empire and remained so until its collapse around 1190 BC at the hands of Assyria and Phrygia.

Šeḫa was in the area of ancient Lydia. It is first attested in the fourteenth century BC, when the Hittite king Tudḫaliya I campaigned against Wilusa. After the conquest of Arzawa by Muršili II, Šeḫa was a vassal of the Hittite realm and suffered raids from the Arzawan prince Piyamaradu, who attacked the island of Lazpa which belonged to Šeḫa.

Arzawa is already attested in the time of the Hittite Old Kingdom, but lay outside the Hittite realm at that time. The first hostile interaction occurred under King Tudḫaliya I or Tudḫaliya II.

The invasion of the Hittite realm by the Kaskians led to the decline of Hittite power and the expansion of Arzawa, whose king Tarḫuntaradu was asked by Pharaoh Amenhotep III to send one of his daughters to him as a wife. After a long period of warfare, the Arzawan capital of Apaša (Ephesus) was surrendered by King Uḫḫaziti to the Hittites under King Muršili II. Arzawa was split into two vassal states: Mira and Ḫapalla.

After the collapse of the Hittite realm c. 1190 BC, several small principalities developed in northern Syria and southwestern Anatolia. In south-central Anatolia was Tabal which probably consisted of several small city-states, in Cilicia there was Quwê, in northern Syria was Gurgum, on the Euphrates there were Melid, Kummuh, Carchemish and (east of the river) Masuwara, while on the Orontes River there were Unqi-Pattin and Hamath. The princes and traders of these kingdoms used Hieroglyphic Luwian in inscriptions, the latest of which date to the 8th century BC. The Karatepe Bilingual inscription of prince Azatiwada is particularly important.

These states were largely destroyed and incorporated into the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC) during the 9th century BC. The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire. It became the largest empire of the world up until that time. The Assyrians perfected early techniques of imperial rule, many of which became standard in later empires. The Assyrians were the first to be armed with iron weapons, and their troops employed advanced, effective military tactics.

Following the conquests of Adad-nirari II in the late 10th century BC, Assyria emerged as the most powerful state in the world at the time, coming to dominate the Ancient Near East, East Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Caucasus, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, eclipsing and conquering rivals such as Babylonia, Elam, Persia, Urartu, Lydia, the Medes, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Israel, Judah, Phoenicia, Chaldea, Canaan, the Kushite Empire, the Arabs, and Egypt.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Old Assyrian Empire (c. 2025–1378 BC), and the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–934 BC) of the Late Bronze Age. During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside Akkadian.

Upon the death of Ashurbanipal in 631 BC, the empire began to disintegrate due to a brutal and unremitting series of civil wars in Assyria proper. In 616 BC, Cyaxares, king of the Medes and Persians, made alliances with Nabopolassar, ruler of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and also the Scythians and Cimmerians against Assyria.

At the Fall of Harran (609 BC), the Babylonians and Medes defeated an Assyrian-Egyptian alliance, after which Assyria largely ceased to exist as an independent state. A failed attempt to reconquer Harran ended the Assyrian Empire. Although the empire fell, Assyrian history continued; there are still Assyrians living in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere, in the present day.


The Luwian language is attested in two different scripts, cuneiform and Anatolian hieroglyphs, over more than a millennium. While the earlier scholarship tended to treat these two corpora as separate linguistic entities, the current tendency is to separate genuine dialectal distinctions within Luwian from orthographic differences.

Accordingly, one now frequently speaks of Kizzuwatna Luwian (attested in cuneiform transmission), Empire Luwian (cuneiform and hieroglyphic transmission), and Iron Age Luwian / Late Luwian (hieroglyphic transmission), as well as several more Luwian dialects, which are more scarcely attested.

The cuneiform corpus (Melchert’s CLuwian) is recorded in glosses and short passages in Hittite texts, mainly from Boğazkale. About 200 tablet fragments of the approximately 30,000 contain CLuwian passages. Most of the tablets reflect the Middle and New Script, although some Old Script fragments have also been attested. Benjamin Fortson hypothesizes that “Luvian was employed in rituals adopted by the Hittites.”

A large proportion of tablets containing Luwian passages reflect rituals emanating from Kizzuwatna. On the other hand, many Luwian glosses (foreign words) in Hittite texts appear to reflect a different dialect, namely Empire Luwian. The Hittite language of the respective tablets sometimes displays interference features, which suggests that they were recorded by Luwian native speakers.

The hieroglyphic corpus (Melchert’s HLuwian) is recorded in Anatolian hieroglyphs, reflecting Empire Luwian and its descendant Iron Age Luwian. Some HLuwian texts were found at Boğazkale, so it was formerly thought to have been a “Hieroglyphic Hittite.” The contexts in which CLuwian and HLuwian have been found are essentially distinct. Annick Payne asserts: “With the exception of digraphic seals, the two scripts were never used together.”

HLuwian texts are found on clay, shell, potsherds, pottery, metal, natural rock surfaces, building stone and sculpture, mainly carved lions. The images are in relief or counter-relief that can be carved or painted.

There are also seals and sealings. A sealing is a counter-relief impression of hieroglyphic signs carved or cast in relief on a seal. The resulting signature can be stamped or rolled onto a soft material, such as sealing wax.

The HLuwian writing system contains about 500 signs, 225 of which are logograms, and the rest purely functional determinatives and syllabograms, representing syllables of the form V, CV, or rarely CVCV.

HLuwian texts appear as early as the 14th century BC in names and titles on seals and sealings at Hattusa. Longer texts first appear in the 13th century BC. Payne refers to the Bronze Age HLuwian as Empire Luwian.

All Hittite and CLuwian came to an end at 1200 BC as part of the Late Bronze Age collapse, but the concept of a “fall” of the Hittite Empire must be tempered in regard to the south, where the civilization of a number of Syro-Hittite states went on uninterrupted, using HLuwian, which Payne calls Iron-Age Luwian and dates 1000–700 BC.

Presumably these autonomous “Neo-Hittite” heads of state no longer needed to report to Hattusa. HLuwian caches come from ten city states in northern Syria and southern Anatolia: Cilicia, Charchamesh, Tell Akhmar, Maras, Malatya, Commagene, Amuq, Aleppo, Hama, and Tabal.


Lycian (called “Lycian A” when Milyan was a “Lycian B”) was spoken in classical Lycia, in southwestern Anatolia. It is attested from 172 inscriptions, mainly on stone, from about 150 funerary monuments, and 32 public documents. The writing system is the Lycian alphabet, which the Lycians modified from the Greek alphabet.

In addition to the inscriptions are 200 or more coins stamped with Lycian names. Of the texts, some are bilingual in Lycian and Greek, and one, the Létôon trilingual, is in Lycian, Greek, and Aramaic.

The longest text, the Xanthus stele, with about 250 lines, was originally believed to be bilingual in Greek and Lycian; however the identification of a verse in another, closely related language, a “Lycian B” identified now as Milyan, renders the stele trilingual. The earliest of the coins date before 500 BC; however, the writing system must have required time for its development and implementation.

The name of Lycia appears in Homer but more historically, in Hittite and in Egyptian documents among the “Sea Peoples”, as the Lukka, dwelling in the Lukka lands. No Lycian text survives from Late Bronze Age times, but the names offer a basis for postulating its continued existence.

Lycia was completely Hellenized by the end of the 4th century BC, after which Lycian is not to be found. Stephen Colvin goes so far as to term this, and the other scantily attested Luwic languages, “Late Luwian”, although they probably did not begin late.

The Lycians were an Anatolian people living in Lycia, a geopolitical region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and Burdur Province inland.

Known to history since the records of ancient Egypt and the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age, it was populated by speakers of the Luwian language group. Written records began to be inscribed in stone in the Lycian language (a later form of Luwian) after Lycia’s involuntary incorporation into the Achaemenid Empire in the Iron Age.

At that time (546 BC) the Luwian speakers were decimated, and Lycia received an influx of Persian speakers. Ancient sources seem to indicate that an older name of the region was Alope.

Lycia fought for the Persians in the Persian Wars, but on the defeat of the Achaemenid Empire by the Greeks, it became intermittently a free agent. After a brief membership in the Athenian Empire, it seceded and became independent (its treaty with Athens had omitted the usual non-secession clause), was under the Persians again, revolted again, was conquered by Mausolus of Caria, returned to the Persians, and finally fell under Macedonian hegemony upon the defeat of the Persians by Alexander the Great.

Due to the influx of Greek speakers and the sparsity of the remaining Lycian speakers, Lycia was rapidly Hellenized under the Macedonians, and the Lycian language disappeared from inscriptions and coinage.

On defeating Antiochus III the Great in 188 BC, the Roman Republic gave Lycia to Rhodes for 20 years, taking it back in 168 BC. In these latter stages of the Roman Republic, Lycia came to enjoy freedom as a Roman protectorate. The Romans validated home rule officially under the Lycian League in 168 BC. This native government was an early federation with republican principles; these later came to the attention of the framers of the United States Constitution, influencing their thoughts.

Despite home rule, Lycia was not a sovereign state and had not been since its defeat by the Carians. In 43 AD the Roman emperor Claudius dissolved the league, and Lycia was incorporated into the Roman Empire with provincial status. It became an eparchy of the Eastern, or Byzantine Empire, continuing to speak Greek even after being joined by communities of Turkish language speakers in the early 2nd millennium.

The eponymous inhabitants of Lycia, the Lycians, spoke Lycian, a member of the Luwian branch of the Anatolian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European family. Lycian has been attested only between about 500 BC and no later than 300 BC, in a unique alphabet devised for the purpose from the Greek alphabet of Rhodes.

However, the Luwian languages originated in Anatolia during the 2nd millennium BC. The country was known by the name of Lukka then, and was under Hittite rule. The gap must be a gap in the use of writing.


Carian was spoken in Caria. It is possible that the speakers of Proto-Carian, or the common ancestor of Carian and Lycian, supplied the elites of the Bronze Age kingdom of Arzawa, the population of which partly consisted of Lydians. An important evidence of the Carians’ own belief in their blood ties and cultural affinity with the Lydians and Mysians is the admittance, apart from theirs, exclusively of Lydians and Mysians to the temple of the “Carian Zeus” in their first capital that was Mylasa.

The Carian language belongs to the Luwic group of the Anatolian family of languages. Other Luwic languages besides Luwian proper are Lycian and Milyan (Lycian B). Although the ancestors of Carian and Lycian must have been very close to Luwian, it is probably incorrect to claim that they are linear descendants of Luwian.

It is fragmentarily attested from graffiti by Carian mercenaries and other members of an ethnic enclave in Memphis, Egypt (and other places in Egypt), personal names in Greek records, twenty inscriptions from Caria (including four bilingual inscriptions), scattered inscriptions elsewhere in the Aegean world and words stated as Carian by ancient authors. Inscriptions first appeared in the 7th century BC.

The Carians were the ancient inhabitants of Caria in southwest Anatolia. It is not clear when the Carians enter into history. The definition is dependent on corresponding Caria and the Carians to the “Karkiya” or “Karkisa” mentioned in the Hittite records.

Bronze Age Karkisa are first mentioned as having aided the Assuwa League against the Hittite King Tudhaliya I. Later in 1323 BC, King Arnuwandas II was able to write to Karkiya for them to provide asylum for the deposed Manapa-Tarhunta of “the land of the Seha River”, one of the principalities within the Luwian Arzawa complex in western Anatolia. This they did, allowing Manapa-Tarhunta to take back his kingdom.

In 1274 BC, Karkisa are also mentioned among those who fought on the Hittite Empire side against the Egyptians in the Battle of Kadesh. Taken as a whole, Hittite records seem to point at a Luwian ancestry for the Carians and, as such, they would have lost their literacy through the Dark Age of Anatolia.

The relationship between the Bronze Age “Karkiya” or “Karkisa” and the Iron Age Caria and the Carians is complicated, despite having western Anatolia as common ground, by the uncertainties regarding the exact location of the former on the map within Hittite geography. Yet, the supposition is suitable from a linguistic point-of-view given that the Phoenicians were calling them “KRK” in their abjad script and they were referred to as krka in Old Persian.

The Carians next appear in records of the early centuries of the first millennium BC; Homer’s writing about the golden armour or ornaments of the Carian captain Nastes, the brother of Amphimachus and son of Nomion, reflects the reputation of Carian wealth that may have preceded the Greek Dark Ages and thus recalled in oral tradition.

The Carians were often linked by Greek writers to the Leleges, but the exact nature of the relationship between Carians and Leleges remains mysterious. The two groups seem to have been distinct, but later intermingled with each other. Strabo wrote that they were so intermingled that they were often confounded with each other.

However, Athenaeus stated that the Leleges stood in relation to the Carians as the Helots stood to the Lacedaemonians. This confusion of the two peoples is found also in Herodotus, who wrote that the Carians, when they were allegedly living amid the Cyclades, were known as Leleges.


Milyan was previously considered a variety of Lycian, as “Lycian B”, but it is now classified as a separate language. Milyas is the oldest recorded name for a mountainous country in south-west Anatolia. Its first known inhabitants were the Milyae, or Milyans, also known by the exonyms Sólymoi, Solymi and Solymians.

Milyas was mostly in the north of the successor kingdom of Lycia, as well as southern Pisidia, and part of eastern Phrygia. According to Herodotus, the boundaries of Milyas were never fixed.

Later the name Milyas was sometimes used to describe only as a part of Lycia. However, after the accession of the dynasty of the Seleucidae in Syria, the name Milyas was limited to the south-western part of Pisidia, bordering upon Lycia, that is, the territory extending from Termessus northward to the foot of Mount Cadmus.

This district, the western part of which bore the name of Cabalia, is afterwards described, sometimes as a part of Lycia (as by Ptolemy) and sometimes as part of Pamphylia or Pisidia (as by Pliny the Elder). After the conquest of Antiochus the Great, the Romans gave the country to Eumenes, though Pisidian princes still continue to be mentioned as its rulers.

The greater part of Milyas was rugged and mountainous, but it also contained a few fertile plains. The name, which does not occur in the Homeric poems, probably belonged to the remnants of the Milyae, who had been driven into the mountains by invaders from Crete, known as the Termilae, who later referred to themselves as Lycians.


Pisidia was a region of ancient Asia Minor located north of Lycia, bordering Caria, Lydia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, and corresponding roughly to the modern-day province of Antalya in Turkey. Among Pisidia’s settlements were Antioch(ia) in Pisidia, Termessos, Cremna, Sagalassos, Etenna, Neapolis, Selge, Tyriacum, Laodiceia Katakekaumene and Philomelium.

Although Pisidia is close to the Mediterranean Sea, the warm climate of the south cannot pass the height of the Taurus Mountains. The climate is too dry for timberland, but crop plants grow in areas provided with water from the mountains, whose annual average rainfall is c. 1000 mm on the peaks and 500 mm on the slopes.

This water feeds the plateau. The Pisidian cities, mostly founded on the slopes, benefited from this fertility. The irrigated soil is very suitable for growing fruit and for husbandry. The area of Pisidia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age, with some settlements known from historical times ranging in age from the eighth to third millennium BC.

The ancestors of the classical Pisidians were likely present in the region before the 14th century BC, when Hittite records refer to a mountain site of Salawassa, identified with the later site of Sagalassos. At that time, Pisidia appears to have been part of the region the Hittites called Arzawa.

The Pisidian language is poorly known, but is assumed to be a member of the Anatolian branch of Indo-European languages. It was spoken in Pisidia. Known from some thirty short inscriptions from the first to second centuries CE, it appears to be closely related to Lycian and Sidetic. Pisidian personal name Dotari may reflect the Indo-European root for “daughter”.

There is a lacuna (gap) in the text of Herodotus (7.76), but it is doubtful to surmise a reference to the Pisidians in that passage. There can be little doubt that the Pisidians and Pamphylians were the same people, but a distinction between the two seems to have been established at an early period.

Herodotus, who does not mention the Pisidians, enumerates the Pamphylians among the nations of Asia Minor, while Ephorus mentions them both, correctly including the one among the nations on the interior, the other among those of the coast.

Pamphylia early received colonies from Greece and other lands, and from this cause, combined with the greater fertility of their territory, became more civilized than its neighbor in the interior. Pisidia remained a wild, mountainous region, and one of the most difficult for outside powers to rule.

As far back as the Hittite period, Pisidia was host to independent communities not under the Hittite yoke. Known for its warlike factions, it remained largely independent of the Lydians, and even the Persians, who conquered Anatolia in the 6th century BC, and divided the area into satrapies for greater control, were unable to cope with constant uprisings and turmoil.


The Sidetic language is a member of the extinct Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family known from legends of coins dating to the period of approx. the 5th to 3rd centuries BCE found in Side at the Pamphylian coast, and two Greek–Sidetic bilingual inscriptions from the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE respectively.

Side is a city on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It includes the modern resort town and the ruins of the ancient city of Side, one of the best-known classical sites in the country. It lies near Manavgat and the village of Selimiye, 78 km from Antalya in the province of Antalya.

The Greek historian Arrian in his Anabasis Alexandri (mid-2nd century CE) mentions the existence of a peculiar indigenous language in the city of Side. Sidetic was probably closely related to Lydian, Carian and Lycian. The Sidetic script is an alphabet of the Anatolian group. It is analysed from coin legends in what is possibly Sidetic. The script is essentially undeciphered.


Lydian was spoken in Lydia. Within the Anatolian group, Lydian occupies a unique and problematic position due, first, to the still very limited evidence and understanding of the language and, second, to a number of features not shared with any other Anatolian language.

The Lydian language is attested in graffiti and in coin legends from the end of the 8th or the beginning of the 7th century BC down to the 3rd century BC, but well-preserved inscriptions of significant length are presently limited to the 5th–4th centuries BC, during the period of Persian domination. Extant Lydian texts now number slightly over one hundred but are mostly fragmentary.


Little is known about the Mysian language. A short inscription which could be in Mysian and which dates from between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC was found in Üyücek, near Kütahya, and seems to include Indo-European words, but it has not been deciphered.

Strabo noted that their language was, in a way, a mixture of the Lydian and Phrygian languages. As such, the Mysian language could be a language of the Anatolian group. However, a passage in Athenaeus suggests that the Mysian language was akin to the barely attested Paeonian language of Paeonia, north of Macedon.

Mysians were the inhabitants of Mysia, a region in the northwest of ancient Asia Minor. It was located on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara. It was bounded by Bithynia on the east, Phrygia on the southeast, Lydia on the south, Aeolis on the southwest, Troad on the west and by the Propontis on the north. In ancient times it was inhabited by the Mysians, Phrygians, Aeolian Greeks and other groups.

Their first mention is by Homer, in his list of Trojans allies in the Iliad, and according to whom the Mysians fought in the Trojan War on the side of Troy, under the command of Chromis and Ennomus the Augur, and were lion-hearted spearmen who fought with their bare hands.

Herodotus in his Histories wrote that the Mysians were brethren of the Carians and the Lydians, originally Lydian colonists in their country, and as such, they had the right to worship alongside their relative nations in the sanctuary dedicated to the Carian Zeus in Mylasa.

He also mentions a movement of Mysians and associated peoples from Asia into Europe still earlier than the Trojan War, wherein the Mysians and Teucrians had crossed the Bosphorus into Europe and, after conquering all of Thrace, pressed forward till they came to the Ionian Sea, while southward they reached as far as the river Peneus. Herodotus adds an account and description of later Mysians who fought in Darius’ army.

Strabo in his Geographica informs that, according to his sources, the Mysians in accordance with their religion abstained from eating any living thing, including from their flocks, and that they used as food honey and milk and cheese. Citing the historian Xanthus, he also reports that the name of the people was derived from the Lydian name for the oxya tree.


Pamphylia was a former region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey). The Pamphylian language was likely a late Luwic dialect, related to Carian, Lycian, Lydian and/or Milyan.

The name Pamphylia comes from the Greek Παμφυλία, itself from Ancient Greek: πάμφυλος (pamphylos), literally “of mingled tribes or races”, a compound of πᾶν (pan), neuter of πᾶς (pas) “all” + φυλή (phylē), “race, tribe”.

Pamphylia was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 120 km (75 miles) with a breadth of about 50 km (30 miles). Under the Roman administration the term Pamphylia was extended so as to include Pisidia and the whole tract up to the frontiers of Phrygia and Lycaonia, and in this wider sense it is employed by Ptolemy.

Herodotus derived its etymology from a Dorian tribe, the Pamphyloi (Πάμφυλοι), who were said to have colonized the region. The tribe, in turn, was said to be named after Pamphylos (Greek: Πάμφυλος), son of Aigimios.

The Pamphylians were a mixture of aboriginal inhabitants, immigrant Cilicians (Greek: Κίλικες) and Greeks who migrated there from Arcadia and the Peloponnese in the 12th century BC. The significance of the Greek contribution to the origin of the Pamphylians can be attested alike by tradition and archaeology and Pamphylia can be considered a Greek country from the early Iron Age until the early Middle Ages.

There can be little doubt that the Pamphylians and Pisidians were the same people, though the former had received colonies from Greece and other lands, and from this cause, combined with the greater fertility of their territory, had become more civilized than their neighbours in the interior.

But the distinction between the two seems to have been established at an early period. Herodotus, who does not mention the Pisidians, enumerates the Pamphylians among the nations of Asia Minor, while Ephorus mentions them both, correctly including the one among the nations on the coast, the other among those of the interior.

A number of scholars have distinguished in the Pamphylian dialect important isoglosses with both Arcadian and Cypriot (Arcadocypriot Greek) which allow them to be studied together with the group of dialects sometimes referred to as Achaean since it was settled not only by Achaean tribes but also colonists from other Greek-speaking regions, Dorians and Aeolians. The legend related by Herodotus and Strabo, which ascribed the origin of the Pamphylians to a colony led into their country by Amphilochus and Calchas after the Trojan War, is merely a characteristic myth.

A treaty between the Hittite Great King Tudḫaliya IV and his vassal, the king of Tarḫuntašša, defined the latter’s western border at the city “Parha” and the “Kastaraya River”. The river is assumed to be the classical Kestros (Turkish Aksu Çayı); Parha, the future Perge. West of Parha were the “Lukka Lands”. 

When the region returns to history its population is “Pamphylian”, that is Greek-speaking. On Cyrus’s defeat of Croesus, Pamphylia passed to the Persian Empire. Darius included it in his first tax-district alongside Lycia, Magnesia, Ionia, Aeolia, Mysia, and Caria.

At some point between 468 and 465 BC, the Athenians under Cimon fought the Persians at the Eurymedon, and won; thus adding Pamphylia to their “Delian League” empire. Toward the end of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians were weakened enough that the Persians were able to retake it.

Upon Alexander the Great’s defeat of Darius III, Pamphylia passed back to Greek rule, now Macedonians. After the defeat of Antiochus III in 190 BC they were included among the provinces annexed by the Romans to the dominions of Eumenes of Pergamum; but somewhat later they joined with the Pisidians and Cilicians in piratical ravages, and Side became the chief centre and slave mart of these freebooters. Pamphylia was for a short time included in the dominions of Amyntas, king of Galatia, but after his death lapsed into a district of a Roman province.

As of 1911, the district was largely peopled with recently settled Ottoman Muslims from Greece, Crete, and the Balkans, as a result of the long-term consequences of the Congress of Berlin and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.


Paphlagonia was an ancient area on the Black Sea coast of north central Anatolia, situated between Bithynia to the west and Pontus to the east, and separated from Phrygia (later, Galatia) by a prolongation to the east of the Bithynian Olympus.

According to Strabo, the river Parthenius formed the western limit of the region, and it was bounded on the east by the Halys river. The name Paphlagonia is derived in the legends from Paphlagon, a son of Phineus.

The Paphlagonians were one of the most ancient nations of Anatolia and listed among the allies of the Trojans in the Trojan War (ca. 1200 BC or 1250 BC, where their king Pylaemenes and his son Harpalion perished (Iliad, ii. 851—857).

According to Homer and Livy, a group of Paphlagonians, called the Enetoi in Greek, were expelled from their homeland during a revolution. With a group of defeated Trojans under the leadership of the Trojan prince Antenor, they emigrated to the northern end of the Adriatic coast and later merged with indigenous Euganei giving the name Venetia to the area they settled.

In the time of the Hittites, Paphlagonia was inhabited by the Kashka people, whose exact ethnic relation to the Paphlagonians is uncertain. It seems perhaps that they were related to the people of the adjoining country, Cappadocia, who were speakers of one of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European languages. Their language would appear, from Strabo’s testimony, to have been distinctive.

Paphlagonians were mentioned by Herodotus among the peoples conquered by Croesus, and they sent an important contingent to the army of Xerxes in 480 BC. Xenophon speaks of them as being governed by a prince of their own, without any reference to the neighboring satraps, a freedom perhaps due to the nature of their country, with its lofty mountain ranges and difficult passes. All these rulers appear to have borne the name Pylaimenes as a sign that they claimed descent from the chieftain of that name who figures in the Iliad as leader of the Paphlagonians.

Sister Language?

Hittite is one of the Anatolian languages. It is known from cuneiform tablets and inscriptions erected by the Hittite kings. The script formerly known as “Hieroglyphic Hittite” is now termed Hieroglyphic Luwian. The Anatolian branch also includes Cuneiform Luwian, Hieroglyphic Luwian, Palaic, Lycian, Milyan, Lydian, Carian, Pisidian, and Sidetic.

Hittite lacks some features of the other Indo-European languages, such as a distinction between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, subjunctive and optative moods, and aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these contrasts.

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified.

A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.”

Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.



Akkadian Empire


Gutian people


File:Sites hittites.svg

File:Hittite Kingdom.png

Hittite Kingdom

File:Hittite Empire.png

File:Ramses IIs seger över Chetafolket och stormningen av Dapur, Nordisk familjebok.png

Ramses IIs stormning av hetitt-fortet Dapur

File:Istanbul - Museo archeol. - Trattato di Qadesh fra ittiti ed egizi (1269 a.C.) - Foto G. Dall'Orto 28-5-2006.jpg

Den egyptisk-hetittiske fredsavtalen mellom Hattusili III og Ramses II (1258 f.vt.) er den mest kjente tidligste skrevne fredsavtale


File:Museum of Anatolian Civilizations025 kopie.jpg

Bronze religious standard symbolizing the universe, used by Hittite priests, from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The newly found sculpture shows motifs similar to other Anatolian figures, but it is very different from other discoveries uncovered so far, says Minister Günay.

Tell Tayinat Tumulus

– Kinalua, the capital of one of the Neo-Hittite/Aramean city-kingdoms of Walistin (Aramaic) or Palistin (neo-Hittite) 858 BC

Tell Tayinat Tumulus

Tell Tayinat Tumulus

File:Luwian Language de.svg

Area where the 2nd millennium BC Luwian language was spoken

File:15th century map of Turkey region.jpg

File:Map Anatolia-fr draft.svg

File:Anatolia Ancient Regions base.svg

File:Anatolian peoples in 1st millenium BC.jpg

Anatoliske folk i det første årtusen f.vt.

Lydiske imperium på slutten av sin suverenitet under Krøsus på 600-tallet f.vt.
(Grensen i rødt er på 700-tallet f.vt.)


1st Mithritadic war 89 BC

File:Treaty of Apamea it.png

Lilleasia år 188


Lilleasia 188 aC

File:Ancient Anatolia nor.png

File:Anatolian 03.png

Anatolian languages attested in the mid-first millennium BC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: