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Indo-European Anatolia


Indo-European Culture in Anatolia and its history

It is generally assumed that the Hittites came into Anatolia some time before 2000 BC. While their earlier location has been speculated by scholars for more than a century that it was the Yamnaya Culture of the Pontic–Caspian steppe in present-day Ukraine, around the Sea of Azov. 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.

There were also Assyrian colonies in the region of Anatolia 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. 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.

In 1659 BC the Indo-European Hittites sacked Babylon, which demonstrated the superiority of chariots in antiquity.

According to Diakonoff the Armenian ethnonym հայ (hay) derives from Proto-Armenian *hatiyos or *hatyos and from Urartian 𒆳𒄩𒀀𒋼 (KURḫa-a-te /Ḫāti, Hate/ meaning "the land of the Hittites"). This name was given by Urartians to all lands West of the Euphrates including the territory around Malatya occupied by Proto-Armenians. When the Urartians were assimilated among the Proto-Armenians they took over their Indo-European language and called themselves by the same name of the Hittites.

Hittites used Indo-European words such as: malla-i, walkuwa, wa-a-tar, taru, karaš, ḫaštāi, andurza, iukan, giman, tri, ḫāwis, nepiš, dalukis, kuwaš

Most of those words are very often in one group with words from Germanic and sometimes with Tocharian, Baltic and Sanskrit languages, very rarely with Slavic languages. Hittite "kappi" meaning "small" means "baby" in Chichimeca nad "little" in Quechua, it might be the Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) word in origin.

Hittite Gods


Tarḫunna, Tarhunz, Teshub

Tarhunt (Hurrian's Teshub) was referred to as "The Conqueror", "The king of Kummiya", "King of Heaven", "Lord of the land of Hatti". He was chief among the gods and his symbol was the bull. As Teshub he was depicted as a bearded man astride two mountains and bearing a club. He was the god of battle and victory, especially when the conflict involved a foreign power. Tarhunt was also known for his conflict with a serpent called Illuyanka.

The Sun goddess of Arinna

Sometimes identified as Arinniti or as Wuru(n)šemu is the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the "Queen of all lands". Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna. The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state's pantheon. The pair's daughter is Mezulla, by whom they had the granddaughter Zintuḫi. Their other children were the Weather god of Nerik, the Weather god of Zippalanda, and the corn god Telipinu. The eagle served as her messenger.

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven, while the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz. It appears that in the Northern cultural sphere of the early Hittites, there was no male solar deity.


Āppaliunāš is the name of a god attested in a Hittite language treaty as a protective deity of Wilusa (Troy). Apaliunas is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn (an early form of the name Apollo), which may also be surmised from comparison of Cypriot Ἀπείλων (Apeilon) with Doric Ἀπέλλων (Apellon). Apaliunas is among the gods who guarantee a treaty drawn up about 1280 BC between Alaksandu of Wilusa, interpreted as "Alexander of Ilios" and the great Hittite king Muwatalli II. He is one of the three deities named on the side of the city. In Homer's Iliad Apollo is the builder of the walls of Ilium and a god on the Trojan side. A Luwian etymology suggested for Apaliunas makes Apollo "The One of Entrapment", perhaps in the sense of "Hunter".

Hittite DNA

Hittites most likely carried a Y-DNA haplogroup J2 as their main haplogroup. Haplogroup J2 is the main haplogroup of the Levant and Turkey and it originated there.

The rise of the 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 is very possible that the Hittites came to Anatolia via the Balkans, after Yamna/Maykop people invaded Southeast Europe and left this haplogroup in Romania and Albania. The Maykop and Yamna cultures were succeeded by the Srubna Culture (1600 BC - 1200 BC), possibly representing an advance of R1a1a people from the Northern Forest-Steppe towards the Black Sea shores, filling the vacuum left by the R1b-Z2103 tribes who migrated to Southeast Europe and Anatolia.

The Maykop hypothesis 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.


Luwian hieroglyphs and logograms

The earliest evidence of the Luwians comes from the Old Assyrian archive of traders at the Karum of Kaneš (c. 1900 BC), where some people bear clearly Luwian names, including theophoric names. These indicate that Šanta and Runtiya were worshipped as deities in this period.

The Indo-European element in the Luwian religion was stronger than in the neighbouring Hittite religion. During the Bronze Age, the Luwians were under the control of the Hittites. They spoke the Luwian language, a close relative of the Hittite language. Although a hieroglyphic script existed in the Bronze Age, which was used for writing Luwian, there are only a few known religious texts of the Luwians from the Bronze Age.

The Luwian pantheon changed over time. Tarhunt, Tiwad, Arma, Runtiya, and Šanta can be pointed to as the typical Luwian gods, which were always worshipped (the Syrian Kubaba probably also belongs to this group). The Hurrian element, which included Syrian and Babylonian influences, becomes visible later on, with deities like Iya, Hipatu, Šaruma, Alanzu, and Šauska. Unlike the Hittite religion, the Luwians were not significantly influenced by Hattian religion. In the Iron Age, there was also direct influence from Babylonian religion (e.g. Marutika = Marduk) and Aramaean religion (Pahalat = Baalat/Baltis), especially in the way the gods were depicted.

Luwians used Indo-European words such as: Tiwas tatiš, walwa, wārsa, taru, ḫāšša, aduna, panta, patas, tri, ḫāwīs, suua

Notice that a word for a dog "suua" is in a satem form as opposed to centum Hittite "kuwaš" or "kuuaš". A word for a sheep is the same in both of those languages: "ḫāwīs".

Luwian Gods


Chariot of Tarhunz drawn by horses

This might be the earliest attestation of an Indo-European name for a storm god which later on could develop into: Tarhunz -> Paruns -> Piorun / Perun (dropped H and T changed to P) or even Tarhunz -> Tarh -> Thor and Taranis.

Tarḫunz/Tarhunt (Nominative: Tarḫunz, Tarhunzas) was a weather god and the chief god of the Luwians. Unlike Hittite Tarḫunna and Hurrian Teššub, his chariot was pulled by horses, not bulls. Usually, the weather god takes on clear traits of a fertility god, as in Late Luwian images showing Tarhunza with bunches of grapes and ears of grain. One of his epithets, piḫaššašši ("of the thunderbolt") was especially venerated in Tarḫuntašša, which was at one point the capital of the Hittite empire. Tarḫunt piḫaššašši was even chosen as the personal guardian god of King Muwatalli II (around 1290 BC). It is assumed that the Greek winged horse Pegasus, which carried Zeus' thunderbolt, derives its name from this Luwian epithet.

According to Late Luwian texts, Tarhunz gave the king royal power, courage, and marched before him in battle. He brought victory and conquests. In curse formulae, Tarhunz is called upon to "smash enemies with his axe". He is often referred to as "Tarhunz of the Heavens". His most important cult centre was Aleppo, where it went back to the Bronze Age. The Hittite king Šuppiluliuma I had appointed his son Telipinu as a priest and king of Aleppo. As "Tarhunza of the vineyard" (Tarhunzas Tuwarsas), he was worshipped in Tabal. King Warpalawas of Tuwanuwa depicted him with ears of grain and bunches of grapes on the İvriz relief. Near the relief is a natural spring, which underlined the fertility aspect of the weather god.

Cows and sheep were offered to him as sacrifices, in hope that he would make the grain and the wine grow. In Late Luwian reliefs, Tarhunza is depicted as a bearded god with a short skirt and a helmet. In his right hand he bears an axe or a hammer and in his left hand he holds a bundle of thunderbolts. Often he is shown standing on a bull, like the Weather god of Aleppo.


Tiwad (Tiwaz) was a Luwian Sun god. The Luwians had no female sun deity like the Hittite Sun goddess of Arinna. One of Tiwad's epithets was tati meaning father. The Late Luwian king Azatiwada ("Beloved of Tiwad") referred to him as "Tiwad of the Heavens".


Runtiya was a guardian god. His animal was a deer and his name was written in hieroglyphs with deer's antlers. In Late Luwian texts he is connected to the wilderness and serves as a god of the hunt. He is depicted as a god armed with a bow and an arrow, standing on a deer. His partner is the goddess Ala, who was identified with Kubaba in Kummuh.


Šanta/Santa was a death-bringing god named along with the dark Marwainzi, as is Nikarawa in Late Luwian texts. This largely unknown deity was called upon in curses to feed an enemy to his dogs or to eat the enemy himself. Šanta was identified with the Babylonian god Marduk in the Bronze Age. His cult endured in Cilician Tarsos until classical antiquity where he was identified with Sandan-Herakles.

Troy and Trojan language

Trojan horse

Greek legend gives indications on the subject of language at Troy. For one thing, the allies of Troy, listed at length in the Trojan Battle Order which closes book 2 of the Iliad, are depicted as speaking various languages and thus needing to have orders translated to them by their commanders (2.802–806). Elsewhere in the poem (4.433–438) they are compared to sheep and lambs bleating in a field as they talk together in their different languages. The inference is that, from the Greek point of view, the languages of Trojans and their allied neighbors were not as unified as those of the Achaeans.

There was not enough evidence to fruitfully speculate upon the language of Troy until 1995, when a late Hittite seal was found in the excavations at Troy, probably dating from about 1275 BC. Not considered a locally made object, this item from the Trojan "state chancellery" was inscribed in Luwian and to date provides the only archaeological evidence for any language at Troy at this period. It indicates that Luwian was known at Troy, which is not surprising since it was a lingua franca of the Hittite empire, of which Troy was probably in some form of dependency.

Another sphere of research concerns a handful of Trojan personal names mentioned in the Iliad. Among sixteen recorded names of Priam's relatives, at least nine (including Anchises and Aeneas) are not Greek and may be traced to "pre-Greek Asia Minor". On this basis Calvert Watkins in 1986 argued that the Trojans may have been Luwian-speaking. For instance, the name Priam is connected to the Luwian compound Pariya-muwa, which means "exceptionally courageous".

Additionally, the Alaksandu treaty describes Mira, Haballa, Seha and Wilusa (usually identified with Troy) as the lands of Arzawa, although this "has no historical or political basis", suggesting that it was the language that they had in common. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen concludes that "the certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community". Joachim Latacz also regards Luwian as the official language of Homeric Troy, but he finds it highly probable that another language was in daily use.

Walmu was an early king of Wilusa (Troy). Hittite texts indicate that Ahhiyawan raids in the 13th century BC may have led to him being overthrown.

Pala and Palaic language

Palaic, which was apparently spoken mainly in Northern Anatolia, is generally considered to be one of four main sub-divisions of the Anatolian languages. Hittite texts elsewhere cite passages in Palaic in reference to the god Zaparwa (Hittite Ziparwa, name of Hattian origin), the leading God of the land of Pala. 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).

In terms of its morphology, 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.

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.

Indo-European words used by Palaic people were: kart ("heart"), ti ("you"), atanti ("to eat"), malit ("honey"), Tiyaz ("God"), aruna ("sea", similar to Vedic god of the waters Waruna), blood ("esur").


A map of Lydian and Lycian languages in ancient Anatolia

The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Solymoi (or Solymi), also known as the Solymians, who may have spoken a Semitic language. Later in prehistory another people known as the Milyae (or Milyans) migrated to the same area. They spoke an Anatolian (Indo-European) language known as Milyan and the area was known as Milyas. According to Herodotus, Milyas was subsequently settled by people from Crete, whose endonym was trm̃mili – the hellenized form of this name was Termilae (Τερμίλαι). Under a leader named Sarpedon, the Termilae had been driven out of Crete by Minos and settled in a large part of Milyas. Subsequently, the Milyae were concentrated increasingly in the adjoining mountains, whereas the Termilae remained a maritime people. The area occupied by the Termilae gradually became known to them as trm̃mis.

Greek sources referred to trm̃mis as Lykia (Latin: Lycia). The reason for this, according to Greek mythology, was that an Athenian aristocrat named Lykos (Lycus) and his followers settled in trm̃mis, after being exiled from Athens. The land was known to the Greeks as Lukia (later Lykia, Latin Lycia) and its inhabitants were referred to as Lukiae (later Lykiae, Latin Lyciani). However, trm̃mili remained their endonym. From the 5th or 4th centuries BC, Lycia came under increasing Greek social and political influences. The Lycian language became extinct and was replaced by Ancient Greek some time around 200 BC.

According to Herodotus the culture and customs of the Lycians resembled a hybrid of Cretan culture (like that of the Termilae) and that of the neighbouring Carians. The Carians spoke an Anatolian language and one might infer from this that they were closely connected culturally to the Milyae. For instance, Herodotus mentioned a unique custom, whereby Lycian males named "themselves after their mothers" and emphasized their "mother's female ascendants". This passage has normally been understood as meaning that the Lycians were a matrilineal society.


Lydian language was spoken in Lydia. Within the Anatolian group Lydian occupies a unique and problematic position due to the still very limited evidence and understanding of the language and 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.

The Homeric name for the Lydians was Μαίονες (Maiones), cited among the allies of the Trojans during the Trojan War and from this name "Maeonia" and "Maeonians" derive. These Bronze Age terms have sometimes been used as alternatives for Lydia and the Lydians. The first attestation of Lydians under such a name occurs in Neo-Assyrian sources. The annals of Assurbanipal (mid-7th century BC) refer to the embassy of Gu(g)gu, king of Luddi, to be identified with Gyges, king of the Lydians. It seems likely that the term Lydians came to be used with reference to the inhabitants of Sardis and its vicinity only with the rise of the Mermnad dynasty.

Herodotus states in his Histories that the Lydians "were the first men whom we know who coined and used gold and silver currency". While this specifically refers to coinage in electrum, some numismatists think that coinage per se arose in Lydia. He also states that during the kingship of Croesus, there was no other Asia Minor ethnos braver and more militant than the Lydians.

A number of Lydian religious concepts may well go back to the Early Bronze Age and even Late Stone Age such as the vegetation goddess Kore, the snake and bull cult, the thunder and rain god and the double-axe (Labrys) as a sign of thunder, the mountain mother goddess (Mother of Gods) assisted by lions, associable or not to the more debated Kuvava (Cybele). As pointed out by archaeological explorers of Lydia, Artimu (Artemis) and Pldans (Apollo) have strong Anatolian components and Cybele-Rhea, the Mother of Gods, and Baki (Bacchus, Dionysos) went from Anatolia to Greece, while both in Lydia and Caria, Levs (Zeus) preserved strong local characteristics all at the same sharing the name of its Greek equivalent.


Genotyping of 60 ancient horses was designed to elucidate the long-standing question of a local domestication of horses in Anatolia. The results allow to conclude that domestic horses were introduced into the Caucasus and Anatolia by at least 2000 BC, presumably from the Eurasian steppes. This conclusion is based on the fact that in Anatolia local horse populations before ca. 4500 BC carried only two mitochondrial haplogroups P and X, the latter being a previously unrecorded haplotype that belongs to the O-P-Q subtree. So far, these haplogroups have not been encountered elsewhere in Eurasia in contemporaneous or earlier contexts. Furthermore, haplotype X likely had a limited temporal occurrence in Holocene Anatolia possibly disappearing after 5500 BC. The foregoing supports our conclusion that these two haplogroups reflect the local mitochondrial signature of wild horses hunted in Anatolia in the early and middle Holocene[1].

Around 2000 BC the scientists observed a statistically significant decline in the frequency of this local wild horse mitochondrial signature as the P haplogroup becomes rare and the X haplotype disappears completely. Presumably, the low frequency of haplotype X in pre-Bronze Age horse assemblages (2 of 11 in dataset) offers an explanation as to why it did not survive in Anatolia into historic times[1].

Because Northern Eurasia, and in particular the Pontic-Caspian steppe, is currently the most likely origin for the domestic horses brought into Anatolia, there are two possible introductory routes, one via Southeastern Europe and one via the Caucasus. The route across the Bosporus has been postulated on the basis of the earliest zooarchaeological evidence for domestic horses in the Southern Balkans at the Early Bronze Age site of Kanligeçit around 2600 BC to 2300 BC. The coat colors of 10 horses from this site were genotyped and revealed a highly biased distribution of coat color mutations with 6 of the 10 homozygous black horses, 4 of which also show the leopard spotting, plus 2 bay-colored horses with leopard spotting, no chestnut mutation was detected.

This pattern strongly contrasts with results in Anatolia and the Caucasus, where chestnut is the earliest coat color variant, while black and leopard mutants remain very rare (only 2 of 25). These differences argue against the introduction of a domestic horse population similar to that found at Kanligeçit. Moreover, there is no archaeological evidence for horse management in Western Anatolia in the 3000 BC, providing little additional support for the hypothesis of an early introductory route across the Bosporus[1].

In contrast, identification of several allochthonous mitochondrial lineages and coat color mutations appearing broadly contemporaneously in the Southern Caucasus and in central Anatolia argues in favor of a dispersal route via the Caucasus. The abundance of horse bones and images of horses in the Maikop Culture settlements and burials of 3300 BC in the Northern Caucasus led to the suggestion that horseback riding began in the Maikop period.

In addition, recent studies of ancient human genomes showed continuous gene flow between Copper Age steppes and Caucasus peoples, and later, during the Bronze Age, between Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Southern and Northern Caucasus, and the steppes. The cooling climatic event seems to be broadly contemporaneous with the arrival of nonlocal horse mitochondrial haplogroups and coat colors in the Caucasus and Anatolia and linked to the expansion of horse husbandry and possibly Indo-European languages. Although the cultural processes initiating the dispersal of horse husbandry South of the Caucasus are currently difficult to address, it may relate to human population movements into the Caucasus and subsequently into Anatolia beginning in the late third millennium BC[1].

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