Luwian Hieroglyphic Inscription Deciphered?

Another of those intriguing-if-true reports, this one by Natasha Frost for Atlas Obscura:

A limestone slab, 31 yards long, may have related the story of the end of the Bronze Age. An interdisciplinary team of Swiss and Dutch archaeologists have now deciphered the symbols thought to have adorned the frieze, almost 150 years after it was discovered and summarily destroyed. In 1878, villagers in Beyköy, a tiny hamlet in western Turkey, found the large, mysterious artifact in pieces in the ground, and saw that it was engraved with seemingly illegible pictograms and scribbles. It would be 70 years before that language, now known to be millennia-old Luwian, could be read by scholars.

According to Eberhard Zangger, the president of a nonprofit foundation called Luwian Studies, the symbols tell stories of wars, invasions, and battles waged by a great prince, Muksus. Muksus hailed from the kingdom of Mira, which controlled Troy 3,200 years ago. The inscription describes his military advance all the way through the Levant to the borders of Egypt, and how his armies invaded cities and built fortresses as they went. Such invasions from the east are thought to be among the causes of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age. […]

The work has sparked concerns from scholars not involved in the research, who suggest that the frieze and, in turn, stories it is thought to have contained, could be a forgery, reports Live Science. Until records of the inscription are found outside of Mellaart’s notes, some say, it will be hard to confirm the age and authenticity of its contents. That said, an inscription that length (31 yards!) would be near-impossible to forge, say Zangger and Woudhuizen, especially given that Mellaart could neither read nor write the ancient script. In the meantime, this poorly understood corner of ancient history is finally getting a moment in the sun.

Anybody know anything about this?

Comments

  1. “the Luwians from western Asia Minor contributed decisively to the so-called Sea Peoples’ invasions – and thus to the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean.”

    What an ignominious end, that the tales of their military adventurism should end up as material for building a mosque.

  2. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve read of Zangger before. As they say, W4tP (wait for the paper)…

  3. James Mellaart has form in the forgery business:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorak_affair

  4. marie-lucie says:

    Mellaart seems to have been the victim of fraudsters there.

  5. I usually am very fond of scholarly forgery stories, but this is too much for me. I don’t trust James Mellaart. I don’t trust Eberhard Zangger. I don’t trust Woudhuizen (who reads the Phaistos disk as Luwian, and Etruscan as a Luwian dialect). When it comes to the Dorak treasure, I don’t trust Mellaart’s (friend? enemy?) Aydın Dikmen. I don’t fully trust Susan Mazur, who has doggedly worked to debunk Mellaart’s story, but also has a career as an anti-evolutionist and exposer of the “evolution industry” (see her blog for some Mellaart articles.)

    I also don’t trust conveniently telegraphic translations like “guard Wilusa [an ancient name for Troy] (like) the great king (of) Mira (did).” (quoted in the livescience article).

    The intro and bibliography to Zangger’s book on the subject, are at his academia.edu site. The details of the reading will be published in the Dutch journal Talanta in December (where Woudhuizen sits on the editorial board and where he has published various articles in the past.)

  6. David Marjanović says:

    Good to know. In any case there’s no way Etruscan is Luwian (or IE at all, even though it could be close), and… I’m not aware of any reasons to think the Phaistos Disk is Luwian either.

    The table of contents promises 30 pages on the Dorak affair.

  7. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks, Y. I saw the story a couple of days ago, noted the impressive lack of verifiable provenance and corroborating evidence, and meant to do some research on the circumstances.

  8. Is it unfair to say that if ‘translations’ of inscriptions are interesting, they’re probably wrong?

  9. Thanks, Y.

    Seconded. I have now set skepticism levels to Code Red.

    Is it unfair to say that if ‘translations’ of inscriptions are interesting, they’re probably wrong?

    It’s certainly tempting. I’m much more likely to believe a proposed translation that says things like “15 [measures] of barley and […] to the priest[?].”

  10. This reminds me of a question I have long had: What is the origin of the name “Troy” for Wilusa?

  11. “What is the origin of the name “Troy” for Wilusa?”

    It’s the Hittite form of the name that became Ilios in Greek, which furnished the name for the Iliad.

  12. The question was “What is the origin of the name ‘Troy’”; it wasn’t about Wilusa.

  13. Trond Engen says:

    It was decided by the Iliuminati.

  14. Jim is right; it’s of Hittite origin. Wiktionary says “Of Anatolian origin. Compare Hittite Ta-ru-(ú-)i-ša, which must be read /trūisa/.” Nobody knows why there are two Hittite names, this one and Wi-lu-ša.

  15. “It was decided by the Iliuminati.”

    Do. you. mind?

  16. Jim is right

    Jim wrote “It’s the Hittite form of the name that became Ilios in Greek,” which strongly suggests he was talking about Wilusa, not Troy.

    Also, “Iliuminati” is genius.

  17. Is it unfair to say that if ‘translations’ of inscriptions are interesting, they’re probably wrong?

    I don’t remember the exact quote from from Ventris, something like “I object in principle to finding names of deities in old inscriptions.” That was in a letter, by way of apologizing for actually having found a goddess’s name in a Linear B inscription.

  18. David Eddyshaw says:

    The links from Mellaart’s Wikipedia article lead to some pretty damning stuff. Very sad, considering he was evidently originally a perfectly good archaeologist.

    Trond Engen is a very bad man.

  19. Trond Engen says:

    Y: Do. you. mind?

    Huh, a reference I don’t take. What’s even worse: An Illuminati reference that my daughter doesn’t take.

    Many seem to think that T(a)ru(w)iša denoted the land and Wiluša the city, similar to e.g. Lakedaimon/Lakonia and Sparta.

    I read Brett’s question as implying “How do we know that the Hittite and Greek names all denote Schliemann’s archaeological site?” But that may have been coloured by the direction of this thread. And I read Jim’s answer as connecting a couple of those dots.

  20. (That was supposed to be said in the voice of a stuffy upper-class hostess, berating someone for a faux pas.)

  21. marie-lucie says:

    About Troy : Jim wrote “It’s the Hittite form of the name that became Ilios in Greek,” which strongly suggests he was talking about Wilusa, not Troy.

    Indeed, but the sentence is not entirely clear. I would rewrite it as something like : Troy is ultimately derived from Truisa, the Hittite name of the city. The local name was Wilusa, which the Greeks adapted as Ilios.

  22. Both names are definitely Hittite.

  23. Trond Engen says:

    the voice of a stuffy upper-class hostess

    Of course! I’m sure everybody heard that but me. But I’m tone deaf for hints about etiquette even in real life. Or that’s what people keeps explaining to me.

  24. Yours was a bad pun. Bad as in good.

  25. If I had no other reason to keep this site going, I would do so for the sake of puns like that.

  26. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, I got that. (Coming clear before I wrap myself into yet another layer of facetious online persona.)

  27. Greg Pandatshang says:

    Kloekhorst argues that the Trojans were Tyrrhenic speakers and Troy is etymologically the same as Etruscan: https://www.academia.edu/2250637/The_Language_of_Troy_2012_

  28. That’s an extremely interesting read; his conclusions are so tentative that I’m inclined to accept them — thanks for posting it!

  29. Yes, thank you Greg. Why migrate all the way from Troy/Wilusa to central Italy? Was there nowhere they could stop off on the way? (Or perhaps there was: are there other Etruscan enclaves in the Eastern Med?)

    And did they have enough ships to take a significant population? Did they make multiple voyages? Or did the bulk remain in/around Troy/Lemnos and were overrun?

    Is this like the Vikings/Norsemen founding Normandy?

  30. Why migrate all the way from Troy/Wilusa to central Italy? Was there nowhere they could stop off on the way? (Or perhaps there was: are there other Etruscan enclaves in the Eastern Med?)

    There’s Lemnos (where they spoke a dialect of Etruscan).

  31. ə de vivre says:

    Does anyone have access to this Beekes article? The main justification that the Kloekhorst excerpt gives for an Etruscan language being spoken in Bronze Age Troy is “Beekes says so”. I’ve got to admit I’m not super reassured by Kloekhorst using Aneas’s journey from Troy to Latium as evidence of the Anatolian origin of Etruscan. What’s the logic here? That, rather than Virgil making a conscious effort to connect Rome to important events in prestigious Greek culture, he’s channelling a folk memory (over 1000 years old at that point) of Trojan invaders who would’ve been the ancestors of the Etruscans, rivals of Rome, rather than Romans?

  32. Trond Engen says:

    The idea of colonization in Italy isn’t too far-fetched. The Phoenicians founded Carthage around the same time. There’s also some inconclusive genetic evidence for a specoal connection between Tuscany and Anatolia. But you’d expect the oldest Etruscan culture to be centered on the trading ports and the inland minimg regions to be conquered from there.

    And the survival of a Troyan origin story that close to homerophile Rome is just too damn convenient.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve finished what Zangger has put online of his forthcoming book. No red flags, no new revelations. There is one detail that is glaringly wrong – Luwian and Hittite are declared to have resulted from two separate IE incursions, and there’s no mention of the Anatolian language family – but that’s probably irrelevant to the rest of the book.

    I was pleasantly surprised to discover this paper in English on Zangger’s academia.edu page; it’s a surprisingly good short summary of his German book which has whole chapters on some of the sentences in the paper.

    As much as I like the argument by Kloekhorst & Beekes that Etruscan came from Troy, Lemnian may not be evidence for it: Eichner thinks it’s due to a back-migration from Italy (parts 1 and 2 of a long paper about every word on the Lemnos stele, in German); this is somewhat bolstered by this interesting paper (don’t read the comments, though).

  34. 1. Is the mistrust here proportional to the claimed participation by Etruscans and Luwians in sundry migrations at the end of the east Med Bronze Age? We know the Luwians got at least as far as the Neo-Hittite states in Syria. I suppose a Code Red is justified but are these issues ever settled so as to restore damaged reputations?

    2. It may be true that grand claims were made on the original slab to hype a minor king’s reputation so that the mendacity goes back three thousand years.

  35. I mistrust Woudhuizen mainly because I think that if one can confidently read Luwian (or language X) in the Phaistos disk and in the Etruscan language, one can confidently read Luwian (or X) in anything.

    If the texts are straightforward Luwian hieroglyphics, and have not been read before only because they were inaccessible since decipherment, then surely some other Luwianist will comment on them soon.

  36. Perhaps they could only settle where they could bring their water buffalo.

  37. Stuart Piggott, who was not a woowoo, opined in Ancient Europe (my copy of which is unfortunately half a mile away as I type) that all those West European claims to Trojan origin just might be rooted in genuine folk memories of the collapse of Balkan town cultures at the end of the Bronze Age.

  38. Yes, Beekes claims the siege wasn’t of Troy/Wilusa, but a folk memory of some other siege. The Greeks transferred the story later to be about Troy.

    Troy was invaded/destroyed circa 1200 BC, by movements of peoples from the East/Asia Minor, as part of the disruptions associated with drought (the so-called “Sea peoples”). And that forced the Tyrrhenians/Trojans westwards, after several coastal skirmishes ending up in Tuscany, where they biffed out the Umbrians.

    Only, Beekes’ writing is so chock-full of ifs and maybes and creative re-imaginings of episodes for which there’s no archaeological evidence. You couldn’t say it’s false, so much as that it’s unfalsifiable.

  39. Y, thanks for the Beekes. As I read it, he regards Etruscan as derived from a non-IE substrate, and not as an Anatolian language or Lydian offshoot.

    Might an original meaning for ‘pelasgians’ have been ‘indigenes who are really good at getting around in boats?’ There doesn’t seem to be much else in common, given all the places where the name is encountered.

  40. I like the interpretation ‘the shore people’, which is entirely generic. Of course, Gilbert Murray’s ‘neighbors’ (cf. πέλας ‘near’) is also reasonable, and parallels neighbor itself, from neah ‘nigh’ and gebūr ‘dweller’ (cf. boor and dialectal bor). There’s a nice etymological triplet in Dutch from this root: buur ‘neighbor, fellow, dude’; boer ‘farmer, peasant, knave (at cards), pawn (in chess)’; bouwer ’tiller, builder‘.

  41. Why migrate all the way from Troy/Wilusa to central Italy? Was there nowhere they could stop off on the way? (Or perhaps there was: are there other Etruscan enclaves in the Eastern Med?)

    They may have had bridgehead communities that far west or even farther. This is not an unusual pattern in our time (the last thousand years) we’ve seen this in at least three communities in China – Xiamen, Chaozhou and Guangzhou. All three had distinct colonies in SE Asia and whenever the central government got a little active and directive and regulatory, they would just unass for those colonies.

    that close to homerophile Rome

    Trond, I am going to leave the obvious pun hanging

  42. >It was decided by the Iliuminati.

    First time I’ve missed a pun and could blame it on an outdated vision prescription. That dotted I …

    >I’m much more likely to believe a proposed translation that says things like “15 [measures] of barley and […] to the priest[?].”

    and

    >his conclusions are so tentative that I’m inclined to accept them

    This is my winning ticket! I’m going to score huge career successes with a series of mildly interesting forgeries that build towards a stunning new paradigm that I will write up in papers that advance it only cautiously and provisionally.

  43. In clay you can talk about barley. Much as I esteem barley, when you pound messages into stone, it’s about kings.

  44. Trond Engen says:

    But you’d expect the oldest Etruscan culture to be centered on the trading ports and the inland minimg regions to be conquered from there.

    My impression that a distinct Etruscan culture grew out of central Tuscany may be just that. This could of course be a case of language and culture having separate origins. The civilization grew out of the Italic Villanovan culture, while Etruscan was an elite language imposed on the Umbrian population by Tyrrhenian traders&raiders. This could also explain why so little Etruscan survived into documentation.

  45. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve finished reading Beekes’s paper. Some parts are very speculative, others much less so.

  46. >I was pleasantly surprised to discover this paper in English on Zangger’s academia.edu page; it’s a surprisingly good short summary of his German book which has whole chapters on some of the sentences in the paper.

    Stesichorus must have been extraordinarily influential, to wrest the story of such a central figure as Herakles out of the Dardanelles and place it at the mouth of the Mediterranean, naming the Atlantic as he did, and have all his countrymen believe him ever after. All pinned to a weird story his contemporary, Solon, brought back from Egypt.

    Of course, Stesichorus cause had already been advanced by Hesiod a century before Solon and Stesichorus, tying Atlas to the Hesperides.

    It’s amazing that Zangger was able to untangle the whole thing based on the exact, and no doubt accurate, details of Plato’s retelling of the story from his friend’s grandfather’s great-grandfather, who got it from a friend, despite the fact that even Plato didn’t figure it out.

    I can sympathize with Zangger’s desire to leave Stesichorus and Hesiod out of his paper. He must have been so angry at their devious trickery.

    I’m intrigued at where Zangger will suggest the Hesperides *really* were. Maybe they were the nymphs of the golden light of sunset from the point of view of the Black Sea.

    And one can only marvel at what other stories Zangger may one day magically connect to a Luwian speaking Troy. Prester John? The missing Romanoffs?

  47. Marja Erwin says:

    Zangger argues that Plato did figure it out, and abandoned the Critias mid-sentence…

  48. David Marjanović says:

    Yes, and the fact that that sentence suddenly introduces a council of the gods – the one the plot of the Iliad begins with – is supposedly not a coincidence either. (That’s in the book, not the paper.)

    Stesichorus must have been extraordinarily influential, to wrest the story of such a central figure as Herakles out of the Dardanelles and place it at the mouth of the Mediterranean

    Columnas Herculis legimus et in Ponto et in Hispania, as quoted in the paper and discussed at greater length in the book.

  49. From the LiveScience article:

    Zangger and Woudhuizen said that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Mellaart or someone else to create such a forgery. The inscription is very lengthy, and Mellaart couldn’t read, much less write Luwian, they said in their paper. They also noted that nobody had deciphered Luwian until the 1950s, which means that Perrot wouldn’t have been able to forge it either. Zangger and Woudhuizen added that few scholars today are able to read Luwian, much less write a lengthy inscription.

    This is a mixture of bunk and red herrings. Perrot only comes into it if these are really his drawings. I had beginner’s Luwian in the late 80s, and even then there existed teaching material on hieroglyphic Luwian and on its grammar. I’m sure anyone who was interested and had access to a library with literature about Anatolian languages would have been able to forge an inscription like that in the 1980s. I assume the real reason Mellaart didn’t publish it is that he wasn’t sure whether what he had was real or fake.

    Also, the content makes all my alarm bells ring – it’s like someone put all what is known or speculated about the Sea People into an inscription. And it’s very “convenient” that the original stele is reported to have been buried under a mosque – I don’t assume that anyone would allow archaeologists to dig and check, especially considering the current political climate in Turkey. The minimum that should happen now is to check the supposed drawing by Perrot re age of paper, ink, etc., and for other specialists on Luwian to check the epigraphy, grammar, etc. of the inscription.

  50. >Wherefore he assembled together all the gods into that abode which they honor most, standing as it does at the center of all the Universe, and beholding all things that partake of generation and when he had assembled them, he spake thus: …

    What suggests this is the very assembly that launches the Iliad? Did the gods only assemble once? Were their schedules otherwise quite busy? It’s introduced in a way that suggests Zeus will righteously chastise the Atlanteans for their wealth and lust, not consider bringing an end to a war in its 9th year.

    >Columnas Herculis legimus et in Ponto et in Hispania, as quoted in the paper and discussed at greater length in the book.

    As written by Servius, 700 years after Plato, 1,000 years after Hesiod, 1,600 years after the supposed events, closer to birth of Zangger himself than to the Bronze Age collapse that Zangger would have us believe Servius is a source for. With the empire subdividing, the Mare Nostrum being diked into smaller ponds, and Servius tendentiously attempting to knit it back together via his commentary resuscitating Virgil’s idea that the ends of the earth in the myths of Troy and Heracles were the proper bounds of a united Roman world.

    Is he a source on the origins of Atlantis? Or a partisan commentator casually dropping a word about the Mediterranean without ever considering someone could connect it to Atlantis?

    Was Servius artfully mentioning that Menelaus passed through one, Hercules the other two of the three main exits from the Mediterranean, which was common knowledge, because it was useful to underline again (if falsely) that a united Roman empire had a continuity that went back to the Bronze Age, that the Mediterranean was a natural unit of culture and regime since time immemorial?

    After all, there is no real reason to bring Herakles into the discussion. Proteus had a direct connection to Pharos. The only reason to bring Herakles in is to engirdle the Roman world.

    Or was Servius voicing, unsourced and offhandedly, a milliennium-old seditious theory that is otherwise not extant in the many, many ancient expositions of Hercules, Troy and the myths of Gadir and Lixus?

    I find the latter idea pretty unpersuasive.

    As to the theory that Plato was moved to write and then abandon a book about a true tale handed down by Solon’s friend’s great-grandson, let’s consider it. He is privy to a story he already found fascinating. Now, he realizes the story also has unprecedented links to THE story, the Iliad, one of the foundational works of literature of his nation and culture.

    Zangger’s theory is that he drops it because those links to the Iliad were true, and he’s no longer interested.

    I submit that that’s absurd. If Plato indeed noticed parallels to the Iliad (and some of the parallels proposed by Zangger are just ludicrous – it’s the same place because Atlantis and Troy both experience northerly gales! And the Atlantis story describes the Greeks as warlike, while we know that the Greeks who attacked Troy were warlike!), but if Plato indeed noticed parallels and felt they were true, he would have been even more excited.

    Imagine going over some story you heard from a friend about his great-grandfather, and suddenly realizing that the central character who lived in a cabin in Illinois a long time ago, whose story you found so interesting that you’d already begun a book about him, was also the young Abraham Lincoln! And you’re one of the preeminent writers of your day, with the ability and the reputation to put it across and make sure everyone believes you.

    Do you drop it like a live grenade?

    If it were even accurate that Plato had heard this story from Critias, and then dropped it when he noticed parallels to the Iliad, isn’t it much more likely Plato decided that Critias either made the whole thing up or embellished lavishly and unimaginatively with details purloined from Homer?

    And instead of either theory, isn’t it that much more likely that Plato was writing about Atlantis not because he had access to an unknown but true history, not because he’d heard anything remotely like it 5th hand from the great grandson of a friend of some old Athenian lawgiver, who in turn got it via translators with agendas, from the priests in Sais, with surprising details that anyone along that chain might have decided to grab from the Iliad to make up for lack of verisimilitude. But that instead, he just made up a pedigree for a story he had wanted to tell to illustrate a point about ideal republics and their cycles of life and death? That he himself provided all the details from Homer. And that he dropped it because he came to believe it no longer served his purpose?

    I mean, c’mon. What better way to have a free hand to show why regimes fall than to posit some realm that magically disappeared from the earth, and the only person who could contradict you is some long-dead priest in a former capital of a land that has since gone through repeated cycles of conquest and overthrow.

    Those are parts of why I think Zangger’s Atlantis theory is somewhere on the silly/fraudulent spectrum, rather than a plausible hypothesis. And I think it’s relevant to how we receive his new theories about other things with surprisingly tight relationships to his Luwian-speaking Trojans.

  51. David Marjanović says:

    Zangger’s theory is that he drops it because those links to the Iliad were true, and he’s no longer interested.

    Zangger’s hypothesis is that Plato drops it because he’s embarrassed he didn’t notice earlier that the whole thing is just a distorted version of what’s already in the Iliad.

    I won’t have access to the book before Christmas (or a few days earlier).

    with surprising details that anyone along that chain might have decided to grab from the Iliad to make up for lack of verisimilitude.

    But why grab them from the Iliad if Atlantis isn’t supposed to be Troy?

    But that instead, he just made up a pedigree for a story he had wanted to tell to illustrate a point about ideal republics and their cycles of life and death?

    What’s so ideal about Atlantis? There’s an immense amount of geographic detail that simply has no bearing on ideal government, Atlantis is not governed by philosophers at all, there’s even “something barbarous” about it if I remember the text right… Declaring Atlantis to be Plato’s ideal republic feels to me like the pre-Schliemann idea that the Greeks and the Trojans in the Iliad are a ridiculously elaborate allegory of day and night, and that the Wrath of Achilles is dark clouds.

    And if Plato thought Troy was an ideal state, why not just say so instead of coming up with a (sort of) new name for it, putting it ridiculously deep in the past and garbling a few other details? Or if he felt that he couldn’t glorify the ancient enemy in public, why include all the geographic details that resemble Troy so suspiciously?

    silly/fraudulent

    Those are not the same thing, you know.

  52. Which parts are the geographic details that resemble Troy so suspiciously?

    Is it the abundance of elephants in the country?

    Is it the way that, “when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, it became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers?”

    Is it that “whatever fragrant that now grows in the earth” grew there? Now there’s a detail you can pin down.

    Is there an island near Troy named for Gadeirus? I might have thought this was clearly Gadir = Cadiz.

    Did Troy ever hold sway over all the country from the Pillars to Egypt?

    Did Schliemann find a temple with a roof of ivory, inside an enclosure of gold?

    Can you point to the remains of the series of concentric circles of water and land 2-600 meters wide that protected the city? The innermost of these circular canals ran around the whole plain, 10,000 stadia in length, that is, roughly 1200 miles.

    Or is it the straight canals at intervals of 100 stadia (6 miles or so), cut 100 feet in width? And it does say intervals, the implication being that there are 3+ and the text makes it sound more like dozens of these – one every 100 stadia feeding into the 10,000 stadia-length circular canal. They are also said to have transverse passages cut between them.

    In the face of this description of an intricate network of straight, circular and transverse canals broad and deep enough for ships, Zangger points to two rock-cuts, one of which is said to have been too far above the plain to hold water.

    To me, that seems an adequate summary of Zangger. Not deep enough to hold water.

    The quality of Zangger’s thinking is shown by the fact that in a published paper in which he is trying to prove that Atlantis was really Troy, he points out that Atlantis was said to have had a navy of 1,200 ships, and indeed, the united Greek army of Homer had 1,185 ships. Notice the sleight of hand there?

    Zangger is just doing free association on whichever details he can find the most strained connection to. There is nothing solid to hold onto in the entire essay.

    Of course I know that silly and fraudulent aren’t the same thing. I just don’t know whether Zangger is a conman or a doofus.

  53. I have to agree that on the evidence presented here, Zangger does not seem like someone worth paying much attention to.

  54. David Marjanović says:

    Can you point to the remains of the series of concentric circles of water and land 2-600 meters wide that protected the city?

    Zangger certainly tries in the book. As I said, wait for Christmas.

  55. wait for Christmas.

    (But don’t bother to hold your breath.)

  56. I don’t think “barely two dozen” as the number of living humans who can read Hieroglyphic Luwian is a fair estimate. I can’t read it, to be sure, but I personally know a few of those who can. I don’t see a single one of them on the advisory board of the Talanta journal. I wonder: was any expert on Luwian invited to review the submission?

  57. The idea that the Etruscans came from Troy can be traced all the way back to Herodotus, but I don’t see any new evidence in Alvin Kloekhorst’s chapter. He isn’t the first to make a lot of the fact that there is a T and an R in Etruscī, Τυρσηνοί, Τροία and Tru(w)isas (but what about the fact that the Etruscans called themselves Rasna, which makes Etruscī ~ Tu(r)scī an exonym?).

  58. David Marjanović says:

    I wonder: was any expert on Luwian invited to review the submission?

    If not, the credibility of the journal will take a severe hit. But stupider things have happened.

  59. David Marjanović says:

    what about the fact that the Etruscans called themselves Rasna, which makes Etruscī ~ Tu(r)scī an exonym?

    Lots of things are possible given our general lack of knowledge. The ancient Greeks had four names for themselves, of which the Romans spread the rarest one; we don’t know how many names the Etruscans had for themselves.

    Which parts are the geographic details that resemble Troy so suspiciously?

    Is it the abundance of elephants in the country?

    IIRC, that part is in a passage that extolls the unbelievable richness of the country, so it’s expected to be exaggerated, and it sounds like a plausibly Egyptian exaggeration as well. I’ll check.

  60. January First-of-May says:

    The ancient Greeks had four names for themselves, of which the Romans spread the rarest one

    Hellenes, Ionians… can’t think of the last one?

    IIRC, Graecas (I might have misspelled it) comes from the name of Graia, a small colony that happened to be the closest to Roman territory.

  61. Hittite, and perhaps some close language relatives, avoids initial R, hence there’s no ‘R’ section in your Hittite dictionary. Exotic names like Rasna can only be rendered pronounceable by sticking something in front, like ‘Ta’ or ‘A.’ I once floated the theory that Arzawa was the Etruscan homeland, known to them as Rasna-wa. (Or Ras-wa.) I suppose my ideas would gain more credibility if I actually knew much Anatolian or Etruscan.

  62. January First-of-May says: Hellenes, Ionians… can’t think of the last one?

    Achaeans, Danaeans in Homer

  63. The *-(i)ko- suffix of Tuscus (< *Tursiko-) is clearly Italic, as in Faliscī and Oscī), leaving turs- to be explained (cf. Τυρσηνός). If the source is the same as that of Gk. τύρσις ~ τύρσος ‘tower, bastion, walled city’, the ethnonym could have been a descriptive one, ‘the tower folk’, ‘people living in walled forts’ or the like, and not necessarily Etruscan at all (the ‘tower’ word doesn’t look IE, but that’s a different problem).

    Kloekhorst says that the variant visible in Etrus-cus and Etrūr-ia “appears to be identical” with the Hittite name of Troy (or the Troad). Well, does it? He ignores the final /s/ (what happened to it in Hittite?), does not comment on the apparent metathesis (which was first, turs- or trus-?) or vowel quality (the -ū- of Etruscus seems to have been underlyingly long in Latin), and says that the initial e- in Etruscus was added “to facilitate articulating the initial consonant cluster”. In what language, if /tr-/ was equally permissible in Latin, Etruscan and Greek? Is there any other Latin word with a prothetic vowel before such a cluster? Of course the elements turs- and etrūs- look sufficiently similar to justify attempts to identify them, but I have yet to see a convincing explanation of the latter form, with all its oddities. Then, perhaps, it will be possible to discuss the putative Hittite connection. But I would not be surprised if Etruscus and Tu(r)scus (not to mention Troy) turned out to have different etymologies.

    During the Renaissance, there were widely cirulated heroic attempts to connect the Turks with the Trojans etymologically via the personal name Τεῦκρος (Teucer, who was a nephew of Priam, though he fought on the Achaean side). I forget the details, but note that the name Teucri was used by many Renaissance writers for both nations, the ancient and the modern. I’m sure there are many amateur etymologists today eager to see a common core in Turk- and Turs-. The myth of Aeneas has inspired numerous other attempts to find Trojan roots in unlikely places. Didn’t Snorri Sturluson “historicise” the entire Germanic pantheon as refugees from the Trojan war?

  64. David Marjanović says:

    Hellenes, Achaeans, Danaeans, and wasn’t graikoi was on rare occasions generalized as an endonym, too? I don’t think all Greeks ever called themselves Ionians; even the i-a-wo-ne mentioned in Knossos are clearly not an overarching term.

    Exotic names like Rasna can only be rendered pronounceable by sticking something in front, like ‘Ta’ or ‘A.’ I once floated the theory that Arzawa was the Etruscan homeland, known to them as Rasna-wa. (Or Ras-wa.)

    Dropping ta from heaven seems highly unlikely, but Ras-wa becoming Ars-wa and then Arts-wa (spelled with an extra a in the middle for cuneiform reasons) is conceivable… if Rasna is indeed composed of ras- and -na.

    He ignores the final /s/ (what happened to it in Hittite?

    I thought that’s the first one in Truisas (ta-ru-i-ša-aš or whatever it is)? He doesn’t answer your other questions, though.

  65. I thought that’s the first one in Truisas (ta-ru-i-ša-aš or whatever it is)?

    He analyses it as para-Etruscan trū- plus the Hittite suffix -isa- (see p. 46). If it’s Hittite, it isn’t part of the root.

  66. Don’t forger Argei(w)oi, “Argives.”

  67. The Biblical Tiras (Genesis 10.2) was evidently the Etruscans. Beginning (?) with Postel they’ve been identified in many Western commentaries with Thrace, which of course is ridiculous.

  68. Ras-wa becoming Ars-wa and then Arts-wa (spelled with an extra a in the middle for cuneiform reasons) is conceivable…

    Not really. Etymological obstruent + glide clusters (/Cj/, /Cw/) are never render with an extra a in Hittite. A sequence like *arswa- would normally have become ar-su-wa-, not ar-sa-wa-, let alone ar-[ts]a-wa-.

    http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~dkavitskaya/assets/files/Kavitskaya2001.pdf

  69. @Rodger C: The identification of Tiras as forefather of the Thracians goes all the way back to Josephus, which is, I believe, the oldest surviving attempted explication of the Table of Nations.

  70. תִּירָס tiras is the Modern Hebrew word for ‘maize’, from an early 19th century identification of tiras with Turkey, by way of חִטֵּי תִּירָס xitei tiras ‘Turkish grain’.

  71. Why does all this New World stuff end up associated with Turkey?

  72. Greg Pandatshang says:

    Both are in the far West from Europe.

  73. Apparently maize went from Spain to Italy and Portugal; from Portugal to Africa and Asia; from Italy to Turkey; and from Turkey to elsewhere in Europe. Yiddish טירקישע וויצן tirkishe vitsn ‘Turkish grain’ goes back to the early 1700s.

  74. The Book of Jubilees (c. 9) says that the territory of Tiras were some “great islands [four, by one version] in the midst of the sea reaching to the land of Ham [i.e. Africa]”. I wish I had a modern version of the book. I would guess these would be four of the larger Aegean islands, since Genesis geography doesn’t reach much past Greece. Cyprus is mentioned separately, appearing in the Ethiopian version as “land of Kamātūrī”, evidently a misreading of Kaftūr.

  75. …from Italy to Turkey…

    So why Italian granoturco ‘maize’?

  76. So why Italian granoturco ‘maize’?

    Possibly because I am wrong.

  77. Turkish seems to be a prototypical unintelligible language to Italians: “Parlò italiano, o turco ottomano?” is the Italian version of “Am I speaking Greek/Chinese/whatever?” So perhaps grano turco is ‘foreign grain’.

  78. In Turkish it is mısır buğdayı ‘Egyptian wheat’ or mısır darısı ‘Egyptian millet’. It’s one of those words.

  79. Greg Pandatshang says:

    It’s interesting that they specify ottomano in that expression. If I were speaking Chaghatai or Kipchak or maybe some pre-Ottoman Oghuz dialect, then maybe we’d have a shot, but turco ottomano? Forget about it!

  80. @GP: Maybe for the rhyme?

  81. The Ottoman government encouraged the cultivation of corn (maize) among their European subjects. The Croatian word for corn, kukuruz, ultimately derives from turkish. Of the other new world crops, potatoes were introduced by the Habsburgs, so “krumpir” derives from German; while tomatoes were introduced during the Venetian rule – hence the colloquial “pomidora” in coastal Croatia and “paradajz” in continental Croatia.

  82. David Marjanović says:

    Thanks for the Kavitskaya paper! I’ve been wanting to read it for years, but couldn’t recall the author’s name…

    In Turkish it is mısır buğdayı ‘Egyptian wheat’ or mısır darısı ‘Egyptian millet’.

    Or just mısır; I once bought some excellent polenta labeled that way in a major supermarket here in Berlin.

    Kukuruz, with a spelling-pronunciation with [ts], used to be widespread in Austria and perhaps still is.

    @GP: Maybe for the rhyme?

    Obviously! Compare odio eterno al calcio moderno “eternal hate for modern football”.

  83. Strangely enough, the origin of the Kukuruz Wanderwort (Russ. kukuruza, Ukr. kukurudza, Pol. kukurydza, Cz. kukuřice, Lith. kukurūzas, S-Cr. kukuruz, etc.) remains obscure. The Ukrainian form is, I think, the oldest in this set. Polish borrowed the word as kukuryca ~ kukurudza towards the end of the 18th c. (earlier the plant was known as pszenica turecka ‘Turkish wheat’, as in several other European languages). The hypothesis that kukurudza comes “ultimately” from Ottoman Turkish kukurus) does not address the fact that the word has no inner Turkish etymology. Albanian origin has been suggested (kokërrëz, diminutive of kokërr ‘grain’), but I don’t think the route of its expansion from the Balkans has been reconstructed in detail.

  84. @Brett: Thanks. I think I may have actually known that once upon a time. I think he also identified P(h)ut with Libya, while today we’d probably think of Egyptian Pwnt, the horn of Africa.

    @Y: I wonder if those islands might have been Corsica, Sardinia, etc.? The Table of Nations does thin out quickly the further west you go, but it gets as far as Tarshish (usually equated with Tartessos).

  85. Greg Pandatshang says:

    But everything rhymes in Italian. You’d think it would cease to amuse them at a certain point.

  86. Trond Engen says:

    Piotr: If the source is the same as that of Gk. τύρσις ~ τύρσος ‘tower, bastion, walled city’, the ethnonym could have been a descriptive one, ‘the tower folk’, ‘people living in walled forts’ or the like, and not necessarily Etruscan at all

    Y: The Book of Jubilees (c. 9) says that the territory of Tiras were some “great islands [four, by one version] in the midst of the sea reaching to the land of Ham [i.e. Africa]”

    Rodger C.: I wonder if those islands might have been Corsica, Sardinia, etc.?

    I was thinking the other day that the Sardinian Tower People would be the closest candidate for a Non-IE take-over of the Etrurian copper mines.

  87. The Palaeo-Sardinians were “the tower folk” par excellence, for sure.

  88. Maybe something Arabic based on ’aruzz ~ ruzz ‘rice’?

  89. Trond Engen says:

    From The Book of Jubilee :

    1 And Ham divided amongst his sons, and the first portion came forth for Cush towards the east, and to the west of him for Mizraim, and to the west of him for Put, and to the west of him
    2 [and to the west thereof] on the sea for Canaan. And Shem also divided amongst his sons, and the first portion came forth for Ham and his sons, to the east of the river Tigris till it approachcs the east, the whole land of India, and on the Red Sea on its coast, and the waters of Dedan, and all the mountains of Mebri and Ela, and all the land of Susan and all that is on the side of Pharnak
    3 to the Red Sea and the river Tina. And for Asshur came forth the second Portion, all the land of
    4 Asshur and Nineveh and Shinar and to the border of India, and it ascends and skirts the river. And for Arpachshad came forth the third portion, all the land of the region of the Chaldees to the east of the Euphrates, bordering on the Red Sea, and all the waters of the desert close to the tongue of the sea which looks towards Egypt, all the land of Lebanon and Sanir and ‘Amana to the border of the
    5 Euphrates. And for Aram there came forth the fourth portion, all the land of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates to the north of the Chaldees to the border of the mountains
    6 of Asshur and the land of ‘Arara. And there came forth for Lud the fifth portion, the mountains of Asshur and all appertaining to them till it reaches the Great Sea, and till it reaches the east of
    7, 8 Asshur his brother. And Japheth also divided the land of his inheritance amongst his sons. And the first portion came forth for Gomer to the east from the north side to the river Tina; and in the north there came forth for Magog all the inner portions of the north until it reaches to the sea of
    9 Me’at. And for Madai came forth as his portion that he should posses from the west of his two
    10 brothers to the islands, and to the coasts of the islands. And for Javan came forth the fourth
    11 portion every island and the islands which are towards the border of Lud. And for Tubal there came forth the fifth portion in the midst of the tongue which approaches towards the border of the portion of Lud to the second tongue, to the region beyond the second tongue unto the third tongue.
    12 And for Meshech came forth the sixth portion, all the region beyond the third tongue till it
    13 approaches the east of Gadir. And for Tiras there came forth the seventh portion, four great islands in the midst of the sea, which reach to the portion of Ham [and the islands of Kamaturi
    14 came out by lot for the sons of Arpachshad as his inheritance].

    Strangely, Japhet’s portion, the European geography, looks as the one that seems least mangled. It could be because it’s just a coastal outline with no attempt to describe the hinterland.

    Lud is obviously Anatolia. Starting from there (and no doubt repeating the fallacies of centuries of pseudo-scholarship), I think there’s a good case to make that the land of Tiras is the great islands in the western Mediterranean:

    1. Gomer is the Eastern shores of the Black Sea until Don..
    2. Magog is the distant north, beyond the Black Sea.
    3. Madai is the west of the Black Sea down to the Aegean.
    4. Jovan is the Greek islands, all the way back towards Asia Minor.
    5. Tubal is the land from mainland Greece and over into Italy*.
    6. Meschech is the coast from Italy and all the way towards Cadiz.
    7. Tiras is the four big islands between there and the coast of Africa.

    *) I remain silent about the first and second tongue, though.

  90. marie-lucie says:

    Could the Tiras islands be the Baleares?

  91. Tubal and Meshek are usually identified with Tabal and Mushki, two neighboring states in eastern Asia Minor. The latter may correspond to the present day Meskheti in Georgia.

    m.-l., I think the Baleares were much too far away to be known by the biblical geographers.

  92. Of course, geographical knowledge was likely more extended when the Book of Jubilees was written (late 1st millenium BC) than when the biblical account was written, at least 500 years earlier.

  93. marie-lucie says:

    Y, If they knew about Cadiz and Tarschish (Tartessos), they might have heard of the Baleares.

  94. You’re right, the Jubilees authors would have. Still, the description doesn’t match the Baleares too well.

  95. The Book of Josippon, written in Italy in 953 AD, expands on Josephus Flavius. The lands of the sons of Yapheth are interpreted there as occupying a large swath of Europe. I can’t quite figure out all the names, but Gomer are “Frankos who dwell in the land of Frankos on the River Signa [Seine]; Riphath are Britanos who dwell on the river Lira [Loire]”. Later, “Tiras are Rusi. Sakseni and Inglisi dwell on the Great River. Rusi camp on the river Kira [Kura?] and it empties to the sea of Gurgan [Caspian Sea?]”. (That last bit doesn’t make any sense, but there you have it. All extant versions of the book, including the one I used here, are corrupted to some extent. There’s a critical edition, but I haven’t seen it.)

    This is to illustrate that the interpretation of Genesis in the Book of Jubilees reflects a world larger than the original, just as Josippon reflects an even larger one.

  96. —Rusi camp on the river Kira [Kura?] and it empties to the sea of Gurgan [Caspian Sea?]”(That last bit doesn’t make any sense, but there you have it.

    Actually it makes very good sense.

    The Rus Vikings fielded several pirate raids into Shirvan and Arran regions of modern Azerbaijan in 10 century and on these occasions they indeed camped on the banks of Kura river which does flow into the Caspian sea.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspian_expeditions_of_the_Rus%27

  97. Thanks! I had no idea.

  98. Trond Engen says:

    I have no doubt that the names in the Japhetic branch originally referred to entities in Asia Minor and thereabouts. Also, this is a list of the countries of the known world imagined as portions of land that were given to sons and grandsons of Noah. It’s a mental map, a way to remember how it all fits together by giving it a parallel in the daily life.

    What I mean to suggest is that the map was redrawn with new knowledge coming in from the seafarers of Tyre and Sidon, and names that no longer had a transparent referent were repurposed. This may not have been easy, with priests at the Temple negotiating acceptable compromise between the facts on the ground and canonical genealogy.

  99. Trond Engen says:

    Y: [T]he interpretation of Genesis in the Book of Jubilees reflects a world larger than the original, just as Josippon reflects an even larger one.

    Yes, exactly. (I discovered I had an unsent comment from this morning on my phone and posted it without reloading. The discussion has moved on.)

  100. marie-lucie says:

    Y: The Book of Josippon, written in Italy in 953 AD, expands on Josephus Flavius. The lands of the sons of Yapheth are interpreted there as occupying a large swath of Europe.

    That may explain N.Ia. Marr’s use of “Japhetic” for European languages.

    Gomer are “Frankos who dwell in the land of Frankos on the River Signa [Seine]; Riphath are Britanos who dwell on the river Lira [Loire]”

    By 953 the Franks had been established for over 300 years, referring to the country as “Francia” in Latin. And the Bretons, originally refugees from Britain fleeing Germanic invaders, had been in their present territory for even longer.

    It is interesting that the writer refers to rivers to locate the peoples, even if (unlike the original Vikings – Rus or Normans ) the newcomers did not arrive through rivers. But those are the places where later seafarers could enter the territories.

    “Gomer” and “Riphath” do not ring a bell at all. The name of the Seine is given as “Signa”, from Latinized Gaulish “Sequana”, implying stress on the first syllable of the name.

  101. Gomer refers to Cimmerians (not the country of Conan the Barbarian – the real ancient nation of horse nomads located somewhere in the Ukraine in the age of Homer)

  102. names that no longer had a transparent referent were repurposed

    The most obvious example being Ashkenaz for ‘Germany’. Quoth Wikipedia: “likely a derivation from the Assyrian Aškūza (Aškuzai, Iškuzai), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates. The Assyrian name is likely based on that of the Scythians. The n in the Hebrew form of the name has been explained as a scribal mistake confusing a waw ו with a nun נ (i.e. writing אשכנז ašknz for aškūz אשכוז).”

    The use of Japhetic for the Indo-European languages goes back to at least William Jones, and has little to do with Marr’s Japhetic theory, which placed Afroasiatic, Basque, and Kartvelian in a common family.

  103. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks SFR. I have heard of “Cimmerians” but did not recognize the word in “Gomer”. I have read about horse nomads in Ukraine, known as “Scythians”, builders of “kurgans”. Ukraine is quite a ways from the Seine!

  104. : Lud is obviously Anatolia.

    To the contrary, any reader of Stephen King knows Lud is New York. Javan’s “islands which are towards the border of Lud” must therefore stretch from Long Island itself to Martha’s Vineyard or so (the name survives in the first half of the modern ethnonym “Abenaki”). Magog is obviously a corruption of Mi’gmaq, the name of the indigenous inhabitants of Nova Scotia. Madai must therefore be a land to its west, yet containing islands – evidently the St. Lawrence river. This allows us to interpret this puzzling term as a hypercorrection via later Babylonian (in which *m became w) of the name of the Wyandot. Another reflex of this name, presumably transmitted via Phoenician rather than Babylonian, yielded the “sea of Me’at”, really the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I leave the remaining sons of Japheth as an exercise for the reader, but the revolutionary implications for our understanding of pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic contacts should be clear.

    (I’ll get my coat.)

  105. marie-lucie says:

    The obvious solution, Lameen! Congratulations!

  106. I doubt that. Lud is in the mist, and New York City is not particularly misty, the annual average being 131 foggy days per year.

  107. m.-l., Riphath is the son of Gomer, son of Japheth, in the biblical genealogies.

    Some of the mangled names in Josippon stumped me, until I found this commentary by Samuel Bochart, still quite useful 400+ years after its publication. Bochart even recognizes the frequent substitutions of ד for ר in the edition he uses for his source (a printed edition from the 1500s. The version I used is different, and more accurate in that regard.)

  108. No more encores, Ladies and Gentlemen! Lameen has left the building.

  109. marie-lucie says:

    JC: Thanks for the correction on Marr and Japhetic.

  110. Trond Engen says:

    Lameen: (I’ll get my coat.)

    Y: No more encores, Ladies and Gentlemen! Lameen has left the building.

    He’ll be back. He forgot his New Jersey.

  111. —Ukraine is quite a ways from the Seine!

    Such things happen with ethnic names.

    Do you know what a name of a city in Brittany and the Finnish name for Russia have in common?

    Both derive from name of large late Bronze Age/early Iron Age tribal confederation (by ancient times, only three widely dispersed remnants were left – in Gaul, Italy and Baltic)

  112. at least William Jones

    And before that, Leibniz, sort of.

  113. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: Do you know what a name of a city in Brittany and the Finnish name for Russia have in common?

    No idea of what those names are. I give my tongue to the cat.

    (This is a literal translation of the French phrase je donne ma langue au chat which you can say if you have no idea of the answer to a question).

  114. Greg Pandatshang says:

    Incidentally, Robert E. Howard recognised (or pretended to recognise) Gomer as a reference to the Cimmerians. “The Cymric tribes of Britain were a mixed Nordic-Cimmerian race which preceded the purely Nordic Britons into the isles, and thus gave rise to a legend of Gaelic priority. The Cimbri who fought Rome were of the same blood, as well as the Gimmerai of the Assyrians and Grecians, and Gomer of the Hebrews.”

  115. (Greg P. quotes Robert E. Howard)
    That sounds like the “What sounds similar must be related” school of crackpots.

  116. —No idea of what those names are.

    Vannes and Venäjä

    Both derived from name of the ancient Veneti people who were found in ancient times living on opposite sides of Europe – on the Atlantic coast, Adriatic and Baltic.

  117. Howard’s research was regrettably blinkered by his unconscious Eurocentrism. Had he ventured beyond the comforting familiarity of western Eurasia, he would surely have recognised the Ghomara of northern Morocco and the islanders of La Gomera in the Canary Islands as obvious descendants of Conan’s people. The metathesis suffered by their distant cousins in Gorom Gorom (northern Burkina Faso) is to be explained by the lingering aftereffects of the heatstroke they suffered crossing the brutal expanses of the Erg Chech. It is not yet clear whether the people of the Comoros are also of Cimmerian ancestry, but I trust that Robert Howard’s estate will see the urgent need to fund my proposed expedition to find out.

  118. David Marjanović says:

    my proposed expedition

    Win.

    the ancient Veneti people

    As I recently mentioned on another thread, I’ve encountered the idea that this is the “late IE” endonym, meaning “friends” or “allies” (cognate with Germanic *win- as in Winston; parallel to los texas), which was kept by all those groups that didn’t create a new endonym for themselves. A more recent example of this phenomenon would be the Slovenes and the Slovaks.

  119. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks SFR. I had no idea that “Vannes” was related to “Venice”, and of course I had no idea of the Finnish name of Russia. I suppose I could have looked it up on Wikipedia!

  120. —I’ve encountered the idea that this is the “late IE” endonym, meaning “friends” or “allies”

    My folk etymology is that the term simply means “immigrants”.

    veniō (present infinitive venīre, perfect active vēnī, supine ventum); fourth conjugation
    (intransitive) I come
    (intransitive) I approach

    From Proto-Italic *gʷenjō, from Proto-Indo-European *gʷm̥yéti, from zero-grade of *gʷem- + *-yéti. Cognates include Sanskrit गच्छति (gácchati), Ancient Greek βαίνω (baínō) and Old English cuman (English come).

  121. Zaliznyak, in one of his popular linguistic lectures, attributed the Estonian name for Russia (vene, clearly related to the Finnish one) to the Vyatichi tribe of Eastern Slavs (the way the Latvian name for Russia, krievi, comes from the Krivichi tribe).

    Not sure how plausible this theory is (if anything, it makes me suspect that the Vyatichi ended up with the same “generic endonym” that David Marjanović mentioned).

  122. Trond Engen says:

    Me:
    1. Gomer is the Eastern shores of the Black Sea until Don..
    2. Magog is the distant north, beyond the Black Sea.
    3. Madai is the west of the Black Sea down to the Aegean.
    4. Jovan is the Greek islands, all the way back towards Asia Minor.
    5. Tubal is the land from mainland Greece and over into Italy*.
    6. Meschech is the coast from Italy and all the way towards Cadiz.
    7. Tiras is the four big islands between there and the coast of Africa.

    *) I remain silent about the first and second tongue, though.

    I can’t even do pseudo-science right.

    It seems that the Book of Jubilees incorporates the classic tri-partition of the world by antique geographers in Asia, Africa and Europe, identified with the portions of Shem, Ham and Japhet. The border between Europe and Asia in this system is the Don (Tanais, Tina). The logical consequence of this is that

    1. Gomer is the northern shores of the Black Sea, east to the Don (south and east of which lays the land of Shem’s son Ham).
    2. Magog is the far north, the regions north of Gomer.
    3. Madai is the area west of both and south to the Aegean shore.

    The tongues aren’t as twisted as I thought. Reading again, I see that those are bays, not peninsulas. The first tongue is the Aegean, bordering on Lud. The second tongue is the Adriatic. The third tongue must be the Tyrrhenian Sea.

  123. Gomer – Cimmerians (horse nomads of Ukraine who were driven out by the Scythians)

    Magog – nobody has the slightest idea, most logical version is that they could be the Massagetae (horse nomads of Central Asia)

    Madai – the Medes (Iranian people, conquered and assimilated by Persians, located in modern western Iran)

    Jovan – Greeks (from Greek term Ionia, ie, Aegean islands and Aegean coast of Asia Minor)

    Tubal – Tabal (Luwian Neo-Hitite kingdom in south-central Anatolia)

    Meschech – Anatolian people known in Assyrian sources as Mushki. Dyakonoff believes that they were Indo-European invaders from the Balkans whose language was actually the direct ancestor of Armenian

    Tiras – Tyrsenians (ie, Etruscans). Located in Italy at the time of composition of the Bible, of course.

  124. I remember a rather painful conversation with my brother about the various place and tribe names in Howard’s Hyborean Age. He initially refused to believe that they were (almost) all drawn from real myths and/or history. I did not want to hear any more about how cool the “sons of Aryas” sounded.

    He really ought to have known better, since he minored in pre-Christian northern European literature. Then again, L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter (founding members of the August Derleth school of incompetent posthumous collaboration) did not appear to understand it either; they thought the Hyrkanians were Mongols.

  125. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: Tiras – Tyrsenians (ie, Etruscans). Located in Italy at the time of composition of the Bible, of course.

    If Tiras = Tyrsenians, then the big Tiras islands must be Corsica and Sardinia.

    If there were four such islands, I thought they would be a group, hence my suggestion of the Baleares. But if the islands do not have to be a group, then the other two could be Malta and Mallorca.

    All these islands were at least visited by the seafaring Phoenicians, through whom the knowledge of remote countries reached by sea must have come to the Bible writers.

  126. marie-lucie says:

    I forgot about Sicily.

  127. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, Gomer is more or less identical to the Cimmerian homeland. This could be significant, or enterily coincidental, or a pseudo-etymology that made it easier to repurpose the old name. Magog kept its meaning as the distant north, even if the distant north moved northwards. Jovan is the Greek islands, so probably no repurposing at all. The last four were used to fill out the European coastline all the way to Gadir*, according to perceived cultural or political entities. Madai is Getia/Dacia and Thrace. Tubal seems to be mainland Greece and Magna Graecia. Meschech is the Italo-Celtic-Celtiberian parts. Tiras is the large islands. The “Tower People” of the Nuraghi Culture of Sardinia may have had offshoots on Corsica, Mallorca and Menorca, says Wikipedia. I like this more and more.

    *) The book of Jubilees (as translated) actually declares the exact extents of Japhet’s portion. The first name listed got land east to Tina. The sixth name got land west to Gadir. The four names between them all relate to one another and to identifiable regions and geographical features. The seventh name is the four big islands reaching towards Africa.

  128. Lin Carter I grant you: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings is in the same one-error-per-page (or more) class as Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue, and he never got anything right.. But de Camp, no. He took Howard’s crude and impossible character and made him a realistic steppe barbarian.

  129. De Camp was certainly a talented writer. I just wish he had stuck to his own material.

  130. David Marjanović says:

    My folk etymology is that the term simply means “immigrants”.

    That only works in Italic.

    Of course, Venice is traditionally explained as veni etiam “I’ve come, too”.

  131. Italic (or Italo-Celtic according to some) is probably what the Veneti spoke originally. Even Baltic ones. I recall a Russian paper which found numerous traces of Italic substrate in Slavic languages – blamed on Lusatian culture of late Bronze Age.

  132. marie-lucie says:

    Trond: The “Tower People” of the Nuraghi Culture of Sardinia may have had offshoots on Corsica, Mallorca and Menorca, says Wikipedia. I like this more and more.

    Yes, I do too.

  133. metathesis

    “with a transposition of some letters, which we know to be frequent in proper names”

  134. “A thing, as the Bellman remarked / Of frequent occurrence in tropical climes / When a vessel is, so to speak, snarked.”

  135. The “four” is only in some versions of Jubilees, while others only mention big islands. I don’t know if the “four” is clearly later and how late. Again, this might or might not be a fanciful guess, some 500 years or more after Genesis was written.

  136. >If there were four such islands, I thought they would be a group, hence my suggestion of the Baleares. But if the islands do not have to be a group, then the other two could be Malta and Mallorca.

    >All these islands were at least visited by the seafaring Phoenicians, through whom the knowledge of remote countries reached by sea must have come to the Bible writers.

    Jubilees was written at latest in 100 BCE, probably earlier.

    Through the second Punic war, Malta wasn’t just visited. It simply was Phoenician/Punic (or better – Canaanite. Since despite the modern experts in the field who say they had no endonym, Augustine tells us that Punic speakers in his day called themselves Chanani, and there’s little reason to believe they picked that up late – can you imagine being a North African Christian and deciding anachronistically to identify with the Canaanites?)

    Malta surely remained Canaanite in terms of settlement, language and culture long after the war. I don’t why anyone in the Levant would describe Malta as belonging to anyone but Carthage or Rome at any time between 800 BCE and 400 AD.

    Mallorca is the main island of the Baleares, which also would have been considered Phoenician or Punic at virtually any time that any that Jubilees could have been written (since it was only conquered by the Romans in 123 BCE). And probably considered Phoenician at any time that anyone in the Levant could have known they existed.

    I think we have to look elsewhere for the Tiras isles.

  137. Trond Engen says:

    The division between the sons of Ham seems straightforward on similar criteria as Europe..

    1 And Ham divided amongst his sons, and the first portion came forth for Cush towards the east, and to the west of him for Mizraim, and to the west of him for Put, and to the west of him
    2 [and to the west thereof] on the sea for Canaan.

    Since Mizraim is Egypt, Cush is whatever was perceived as being east of Egypt along the coast — probably the Ethiopian region. Put was repurposed for the (Berber?) lands between Egypt and Carthage. Canaan is the Carthaginian lands in the west.

    Y: The “four” is only in some versions of Jubilees, while others only mention big islands. I don’t know if the “four” is clearly later and how late.

    Right. I’ll still hold that it’s the big islands of the West Mediterranean.

    Y: Again, this might or might not be a fanciful guess, some 500 years or more after Genesis was written.

    Oh, this has barely anything to do with the account in the Genesis. But I wouldn’t call it a fanciful guess by the authors of Jubilees, but a updated interpretation of the myths based on new understanding of the geography.

    ryan: Mallorca is the main island of the Baleares, which also would have been considered Phoenician or Punic at virtually any time that any that Jubilees could have been written (since it was only conquered by the Romans in 123 BCE). And probably considered Phoenician at any time that anyone in the Levant could have known they existed.

    I think we have to look elsewhere for the Tiras isles.

    If the number four is in doubt, then we only know that Tiras consisted of big islands between Europe and Africa, and that they were listed right after the Western part of the European Mediterranean coast. Sardinia and Corsica is a reasonable guess even without invoking the number as evidence. The Canary Islands would have been considered African.

  138. marie-lucie says:

    Indeed, the Canary Islands are not between Europe and Africa. And the African possessions mentioned (however vague) are in North Africa, not beyond the strait of Gibraltar, which would surely had been mentioned in some way if the Canaries had been meant. The Tiras islands must belong to the Western Mediterranean.

  139. David Marjanović says:

    I recall a Russian paper which found numerous traces of Italic substrate in Slavic languages – blamed on Lusatian culture of late Bronze Age.

    I hope you can find it online somewhere, because this isn’t something I’ve ever seen mentioned. The etymology argument I brought up (and still have to find the source for…) entails that the languages of the Veneti/Venedi/Venedae don’t need to have belonged to the same branch of IE at any time.

  140. they thought the Hyrkanians were Mongols

    Not a mistake you can make if you’ve read Dido’s magnificent rant in Book IV of the Aeneid; the line Hyrcanæ admorunt ubera tigres is one of my favourite literary insults.

    Completely OT: I’ve always wanted to see a modern day adaptation in which this scene is played as signifyin’.

  141. David,

    There are several intriguing items linking Italic with Slavic: *pastyrь ‘shepherd’, *gǫserъ ‘gander’, *sekyra ‘axe’ and possibly others — I think the Polish linguist Gołąb once compiled a longer list. Venetic seems to have been an Italoid language. The historical Veneti were located at the Adriatic end of the Amber Road, and who knows how far their regular trade contacts reached.

  142. *pastyrь ‘shepherd’

    I was just trying to figure this one out the other day! Vasmer sez it can’t be derived straightforwardly from either Latin or Slavic.

  143. The IE derivation is quite clear: *páh₂s-tōr, an agent noun. I have a tentative personal hypothesis about the raising of *ō to *ū > *y in some final syllables in Proto-Slavic (parallel to *-ēr > *-i, as in *mati), so perhaps the phonological obstacle is not unsurmountable. The Slavic word looks borrowed because all other Slavic agent nouns in *-tVR- have productively generalised the variant *-tel- added to verb stems rather than roots.

  144. -I hope you can find it online somewhere, because this isn’t something I’ve ever seen mentioned.

    The primary work is
    (Russian) Мартынов (Martynov), Viktor Vladimirovič (1978). Балто-славяно-италийские изоглоссы. Лексическая синонимия. (Balto-slaviano-italiiskie izoglossy: leksicheskaia sinonimiia.). Minsk: Izdat. AN BSSR.

    Unfortunately I can’t find it online. There is short article by Martynov on the same subject online
    http://historylib.org/historybooks/Pod-red–A-S–Gerda–G-S–Lebedeva_Slavyane–Etnogenez-i-etnicheskaya-istoriya/7

    He dates Slavic-Italic contacts to XII-X centuries BC and he suggests that they rather should be called West Baltic-Italic contacts since proto-Slavic was still part of West Baltic at the time.

  145. – I think the Polish linguist Gołąb once compiled a longer list

    It’s rather appropriate, since his name is on the same list too.

    5) golobь «голубь» (< италийск.galumbis);

  146. Found online the most detailed treatment of the subject in another Martynov book:

    https://www.myfilology.ru/media/user_uploads/Tutorials/martynov_v_v_yazyk_v_prostranstve_i_vremeni_k_probleme_glott.pdf

    Start from page 57

  147. For God’s sake, how this thread has wandered! When the collapse of the Bronze Age is done as a musical, I don’t want anything from the Book of Jubilees put into it. Or any Venetians. I’m also skeptical about the Poles.

  148. David Marjanović says:

    Very good point about the Amber Road.

    I’m reading the paper now, but that’ll take a while.

    италийск. galumbis

    So where is Latin columba from, then?

  149. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t think it’s the Amber Road per se. Italic is what’s left of the Para-Celtic Urnfield wave.

  150. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks Trond for the map.

    Although its focus is on the Urnfield territory, it also shows the Western Mediterranean, with four prominent islands: Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Mallorca.

  151. David Marjanović says:

    The Slavic word looks borrowed because all other Slavic agent nouns in *-tVR- have productively generalised the variant *-tel- added to verb stems rather than roots.

    So the closest thing to a reflex of *páh₂s-tōr in Russian is s-pas-i-tel-ь? 🙂

    Para-Celtic Urnfield wave

    Oh, that makes sense.

  152. So the closest thing to a reflex of *páh₂s-tōr in Russian is s-pas-i-tel-ь?

    Precisely — it’s what productive derivation gives in Slavic.

  153. marie-lucie says:

    Piotr Russian is s-pas-i-tel-ь

    Where does the initial s- come from? “s mobile” ???

  154. The common Slavic prefix sъ- (which functions like Latin com- or like Germanic ge-). The weak vowel has become mute in this position and is no longer represented orthographically in Russian.

  155. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks Piotr!

  156. >para-celtic urnfield wave

    Wait. You mean that’s not something done in Glasgow on Saturday mornings.

  157. Trond Engen says:

    Hah!

  158. David Marjanović says:

    Unfortunately I can’t find it online. There is short article by Martynov on the same subject online
    http://historylib.org/historybooks/Pod-red–A-S–Gerda–G-S–Lebedeva_Slavyane–Etnogenez-i-etnicheskaya-istoriya/7

    He dates Slavic-Italic contacts to XII-X centuries BC and he suggests that they rather should be called West Baltic-Italic contacts since proto-Slavic was still part of West Baltic at the time.

    I’ve finished reading it. Questions:
    – Superstrate influence so strong it restructures the system of personal pronouns would be expected to leave hundreds upon hundreds of loanwords, yet only a few have been identified.
    – Conversely, perhaps the things Slavic shares with West but not East Baltic are all due to Italic influence rather than exclusive common ancestry? This paper (in English, scroll past the table of contents and the German introduction to the volume) “intends to foster the theoretical discussion by pointing out two nontrivial phonological developments which must be assumed for both ‘East’ and ‘West Baltic’ but not for Slavonic and therefore may constitute evidence for Proto-Baltic as a parent language of both ‘Baltic’ branches”. Unfortunately it doesn’t cite any of Martynov’s work.

  159. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: [Hill points out] two nontrivial phonological developments which must be assumed for both ‘East’ and ‘West Baltic’ but not for Slavonic and therefore may constitute evidence for Proto-Baltic

    Thanks for the paper. I’m never quite convinced by shared innovations. Or rather, not convinced unless there’s a shared transformation of sorts. Changes like these might happen in parts of a dialect continuum rather than universally across a (sub-)branch. That said, it’s a convincing argument for East and West Baltic being dialectologically continuous (is that a term?) when these changes took place. But it doesn’t rule out shared innovations also in other subsets of BSl..

  160. David Marjanović says:

    That’s when you apply Ockham’s Razor to the question of which shared innovations are inherited and which are borrowed. I’m running two comparable analyses right now.

  161. Trond Engen says:

    My point is that in a dialect continuum there’s no meaningful difference between the two. Off the top of my head, here are three innovations of roughly the same age with different distributions in Norwegian:

    hv- > kv-. South, west and north, including the western valleys of Eastern Norway..

    The name article (han Ola, ho Kari). Roughly north of a line Oslo-Stavanger

    Low-pitch tonal system. Eastern Norway and Trøndelag + a somewhat messy situation near the southern tip.

  162. Stephen C. Carlson says:

    That’s when you apply Ockham’s Razor to the question of which shared innovations are inherited and which are borrowed. I’m running two comparable analyses right now.
    By “borrowed,” are you referring to homoplasy? Or, does your analysis make room for reticulation?

    (Sorry, other readers, for the somewhat technical terminology. I believe the term corresponding to “homoplasy” of biology / systematics is called “accidental coincidence” in textual criticism / stemmatics, involving different origins for a particular reading in different manuscripts. “Reticulation” refers to a network-like diagram rather than a tree [i.e., a(n open) stemma involving “contamination” or “mixture” ]. Not exactly sure what the corresponding terms in historical linguistics are.)

  163. Chance resemblance and linkage, although the biological terms are also used.

  164. David Marjanović says:

    By “borrowed,” are you referring to homoplasy?

    Yes; I don’t expect lateral gene transfer between the fossil vertebrates in my dataset – though it wouldn’t be distinguishable from convergence.

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