1.1 About Strabo’s geography
1.2 Purpose of this survey
1.3 The scenery
1.4 The world of the Pelasgians
2. Stabo’s toponyms by place
2.4 The Alps
2.7 Rest of Europe
2.10 Rest of Asia
3. Taxonomy of toponyms
3.1 First Taxonomy
3.1.1 Endings in –os
3.1.2 Endings in –s
3.1.3 Toponyms in –ssa or –si
3.1.4 Toponyms in –ra
3.1.5 Toponyms in –mna
3.1.6 Rest of endings
3.1.7 Examples of ambiguity
3.2 Second taxonomy
3.2.1 Toponyms in –sos and –si
3.2.2 Toponyms in –nth
3.2.3 Toponyms in –ra
3.2.4 Toponyms in –na
3.2.5 Toponyms in –quos
3.2.6 Rest of themes
4.1 Replacement vs. Continuity
4.2 Successive suffixation
4.4 Toponyms considered ‘classically’ Greek
4.5 Cretan toponyms
4.6 Toponyms of Attica
4.7 Names of Islands
4.8 ‘Primordial’ names
4.9 Is it ‘pre-Greek’ or ‘Old-Greek?’
4.10 Thracians and Carians
4.11 The Phoenician-Minoan connection
4.12 A Northern (IE) origin of Greek religion
5. Further discussion
5.1 Kurgan Hypothesis
5.1.1 Mounted horses
5.1.2 Wheels and chariots
5.2 Krahe’s hydronyms
5.3 Neolithic Continuity
5.4 The European Megalithic
5.5 The Younger Dryas phenomenon
6.1 Cultural assimilation
6.1.1 The phenomenon of acculturation
6.1.2 A memetic origin of language
6.1.3 Modern relative gene research
6.2 Symbolic representations
6.2.1 Archetypal origins
6.2.2 The horse and the wheel
6.2.3 The bear and the wolf
6.2.4 Psychic twins
6.3 Fundamental symmetries
6.3.1 Satem- Centum symmetry
6.3.2 Non- locality in evolution
1.1 About Strabo’s geography
Strabo (64 or 63 BCE- 24 CE) was born in Amasya, Pontus, in North Asia Minor (modern Turkey). He started writing his Geography (Geographica) about 20 BCE and went on reediting it till his death. With the exception of a few missing parts, it has come down to us complete.
The previous map was handed down to Strabo from previous geographers, such as Eratosthenes or Hecataeus. We need not comment on the poor knowledge of the world at that time, except perhaps note the characteristic peculiarity of the Taurus mountain range which is depicted on the map stretching from Asia Minor to the extremities of the then known world in Asia. This is interesting because it creates a very distinct line between two worlds, that of the ‘North’ and that of the ‘South.’ In the North there are Parthians and Scythians, Thracians and Phrygians, and the Celts of Europe, all the ‘white’ tribes. In the South there are the Indians, the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, the Ethiopians and the rest of the Libyans (Africans), the ‘dark’ peoples. I believe this division, although crude, is interesting because it forms an analogy with the modern distinction between the Indo-Europeans (IEs) of the ‘North’, versus the non- IEs of the ‘South.’ However Strabo’s approach may be found to be more clarifying with respect to the formation of the first languages- such as Greek, Latin, and perhaps the so called Luwian languages of Asia Minor (Lycian, Lydian, Carian, and so on)- because of both its simplicity and its proximity to the spoken languages of the time.
1.2 Purpose of this survey
Scholars have found that toponyms provide valuable insight into the historical geography of a particular region. Powicke said of place-name study that it “uses, enriches and tests the discoveries of archaeology and history and the rules of the philologists.” Toponyms not only illustrate ethnic settlement patterns, but they can also help identify discrete periods of immigration.
The purpose of this study is to classify all toponyms found in the Geography (those concerning India, Africa and Arabica will be added in the future) in order to trace back as far as possible their origin, as well as to discover any changes that took place. The survey will be centered on the Hellenistic world (which at Strabo’s time was under Roman rule). Strabo’s geography includes the knowledge of many previous Greek writers, such as Eratosthenes, therefore it offers an excellent opportunity to study through toponyms the influences of other (the so called pre-Indo-European) languages on the Greek language (considered Indo-European). This is important not just in the narrow context of the Greek language but also with respect to the broader field concerning the interactions between IE and non IE languages such as Phoenician, ancient Egyptian, Luwian (which may be considered of mixed origin), or Minoan (probably of Luwian origin but which remains undeciphered.)
1.3 The scenery
(The ancient East Mediterranean up to Strabo’s time)
One of the researches which Wikipedia refers to is that of Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson (2003). Analyzing linguistic data with computational methods derived from evolutionary biology these researchers came down with an initial Indo-European divergence of between 7,800 and 9,800 years BP (about 7,000 BCE).
This time would coincide with the first Neolithic settlements in Greece, implying that the IE languages (at least their first substrata) came in Europe with the Neolithic Revolution. Currently it is believed that the first Indo-Europeans arrived in Greece during or just before the appearance of the Mycenaean civilization, in the first half of the second millennium BCE. Previously it was thought that the first Greeks had arrived during the so called Dorian invasion at the end of the Bronze Age, about 1,200 BCE. But the decipherment of the Mycenaean Linear B showed that its language was Greek. It seems that newer researches tend to push the date for the arrival, if there was any arrival at all, of the Greeks further back in earlier times.
As far as the Hittites are concerned their appearance is important because they are considered the first IEs who left behind written records. Their capital was named Hatussa, in central Anatolia, a name borrowed from the Hattians, the previous inhabitants of the area, probably of Caucasian origin. It is known that the Hittite language was heavily influenced by the local Anatolian languages. We might suppose that the Luwian IE branch formed during this period but it is more likely that Luwian had already existed in Anatolia before the Hittites came. For example, the name of the first Hittite ruler, Hattusili I, has a suffix –li which is common even today in Caucasian names and which was probably common in Anatolia at that time, as it is in modern Anatolia (Turkey) in the form –ali. Another example is the name the Hittites used for Miletus (Greek Milētos, Turkish: Milet), Millawanda. Miletus was in ancient Lycia and the name the Lycians used for themselves (at least at the time of ancient Greece) was something like Trimili or Termili (or perhaps Milla). Therefore the words Milētos and Milawanda could be paraphrases of the name the Lycians used for this city in the native language. So it seems that the IEs formed a super stratum on local Luwian languages in Anatolia instead of composing them.
Erroneously enough the suffix –anda is considered IE for the Hittites but not for the Greeks in cases such as Corinth (Greek: Corinthos), And(r)os (a Greek island), or even Hellas or Ella(n)da. The Greek vocabulary is full of these words (many of which are not place names) whose suffix is more or less of the same morphology as the Hittite –anda or even the modern –and which is found in Germanic languages (the word Switzerland for example). We will talk more about this later on.
1.4 The world of the Pelasgians
The term Pelasgian should be considered a generic term, although it may denote the people that used to live in the Pelasgic Argos, modern Thessaly. As Strabo says, “And that portion of Thessaly between the outlets of the Peneius and the Thermopylæ, as far as the mountains of Pindus, is named Pelasgic Argos, the district having formerly belonged to the Pelasgi.”
Strabo also says, “Almost everyone is agreed that the Pelasgi were an ancient race spread throughout the whole of Greece, but especially in the country of the Aeolians near to Thessaly.”
Therefore it seems that before the Greeks there were the Pelasgi, although it seems that the Greeks could have evolved from a specific Pelasgian branch somewhere in Thessaly. According to the mainstream IE theory, the Greeks are supposed to have arrived in Greece from the North, either from the Balkans or from North Asia Minor (or from both places), coming from their ultimate homeland in the Pontic steppes (in modern day Ukraine). However the story told by the ancient Greek writers themselves is quite different. With respect to Cadmus (the founder of Thebes in Greece) Strabo says,
“Bœotia was first occupied by Barbarians, Aones, and Temmices, a wandering people from Sunium, by Leleges, and Hyantes. Then the Phœnicians, who accompanied Cadmus, possessed it. He fortified the Cadmeian land, and transmitted the government to his descendants. The Phœnicians founded Thebes, and added it to the Cadmeian territory. They preserved their dominion, and exercised it over the greatest part of the Bœotians till the time of the expedition of the Epigoni (in Mycenaean times). At this period they abandoned Thebes for a short time, but returned again. In the same manner when they were ejected by Thracians and Pelasgi, (during the Greek Dark Ages?) they established their rule in Thessaly together with the Arnœi for a long period, so that all the inhabitants obtained the name of Bœotians. They returned afterwards to their own country, at the time the Æolian expedition was preparing at Aulis in Bœotia which the descendants of Orestes were equipping for Asia.”
As far as Danaus is concerned, Strabo says, “Danaus is said to have built the citadel of the Argives. He seems to have possessed so much more power than the former rulers of the country, that, according to Euripides, he made a law that those who were formerly called Pelasgiotæ, should be called Danai throughout Greece. His tomb, called Palinthus, is in the middle of the marketplace of the Argives. I suppose that the celebrity of this city was the reason of all the Greeks having the name of Pelasgiotæ, and Danai, as well as Argives.”
From this narration we see how much complicated the story about the Pelasgi is. If Cadmos and Danaus were Phoenicians, who incidentally could have been first cousins, sons of the brothers Agenor and Belos respectively, it is obvious that we should reconsider the foundation of the Mycenaean civilization. Was it founded by IEs who came from the North or from Asia Minor or by Semites from the Levant? It is also interesting to note that when Danaus came to Argos, the city at the time was ruled by King Pelasgus, who was called Gelanor. The Danaides asked Pelasgus for protection when they arrived, the event portrayed in The Suppliants by Aeschylus. Protection was granted after a vote by the Argives.
Was the Mycenaean civilization founded by incoming Semites who joined indigenous Pelasgians? Or could the names of Agapenor and Gelanor be of IE origin, and that both Cadmos and Danaus were IEs having conquered places in Egypt and Phoenicia, and then in Greece? We should also note that the names of their wives seem to be of local (Pelasgian) origin, Armonia and Pieria respectively. Do the origin of names imply the origin of power shift in this strange brew of many different peoples? Certainly yes, but we should also take into account that all these names survived through Greek mythology, not Egyptian or Phoenician. Therefore the names are already Hellenized (the name Belos for example could be Baal in Phoenician, and so on). But again the morphology of the names and their corresponding history give clues about their origin and their whereabouts.
Pelops for example is said to have come from Phrygia, according to Strabo. He also says, “It is said that the Achæan Phthiotæ, who, with Pelops, made an irruption into Peloponnesus, settled in Laconia, and were so much distinguished for their valor, that Peloponnesus, which for a long period up to this time had the name of Argos, was then called Achæan Argos; and not Peloponnesus alone had this name, but Laconia also was thus peculiarly designated.” Therefore Pelops on the contrary to Cadmus and Danaus came from the North.
Cecrops who built the Cecropian walls in Athens could be of the same stock as Pelops. According to Strabo, “It will suffice then to add, that, according to Philochorus, when the country was devastated on the side of the sea by the Carians, and by land by the Bœotians, whom they called Aones, Cecrops first settled a large body of people in twelve cities, the names of which were Cecropia, Tetrapolis, Epacria, Deceleia, Eleusis, Aphidnæ, Thoricus, Brauron, Cytherus, Sphettus, Cephisia [Phalerus]. Again, at a subsequent period, Theseus is said to have collected the inhabitants of the twelve cities into one, the present city.”
It is interesting to add that Tantalus, the father of Pelops, is referred to as ‘Phrygian,’ and sometimes even as ‘King of Phrygia,’ although his city was located in the western extremity of Anatolia where Lydia was to emerge as a state before the beginning of the first millennium BCE, and not in the traditional heartland of Phrygia, situated more inland. References to his son as ‘Pelops the Lydian’ led some scholars to the conclusion that there would be good grounds for believing that he belonged to a primordial house of Lydia.
Thus it seems that newcomers, supposedly in the beginning and during the Mycenaean times, came to Greece, some of which were conquerors, establishing their rule on the Pelasgic population of Greece. This population would be the offspring of the first Neolithic farmers. The newcomers (either conquerors or migrants), according to the legends and to Strabo’s narration, came both from the Balkans and from Anatolia. The names of the conquerors suggest an IE origin (if we consider the Phrygians or Thracians IEs). But the Pelasgi who came into Greece from Anatolia (Temmices and Leleges for example) were also IEs (Lycians or Lydians or Carians). Although it seems that for a long time places in Greece had been occupied by non- Greek speaking populations (e.g. according to Strabo’s narration Thebes was liberated from the Phoenicians in late Mycenaean times), names such as Armonia and Pieria (the names of the wives of Cadmus and Danaus) suggests that the Greek language was already spoken in Greece in some form (‘Armonia’ sounds much more Greek than ‘Cadmus.’ Therefore even if we consider IE conquerors during Mycenaean times in Greece, they didn’t replace the language, although they may well have added plenty new words to the overall vocabulary.
2. Stabo’s toponyms by place
Strabo begins his Geography from the West to the East, from Iberia. He considers the Pyrenees the dividing line between Iberia and Keltica (Gaul). He mentions the Sacred Promontory and the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) and he says that “(according to Artemidorus) there is no temple of Hercules shown there, as Ephorus falsely states, nor yet any altar [to him] nor to any other divinity; but in many parts there are three or four stones placed together, which are turned by all travelers who arrive there, in accordance with a certain local custom, and are changed in position by such as turn them incorrectly.”
|Μελλαρία||Mellaria||City (perhaps Tarifa)|
|Βελὼν||Belon||City and river|
|Γυμνησίαι/Βαλιαρίδαι||Gymnesiae/Balearidae||Islands (Majorca and Minorca)|
|(Νέα) Καρχηδὼν||(Nea) Karchedon||City|
|Τάρτεσσος||Tartessos||City (according to Strabo identified with Carteia)|
|Αὐγοῦστα Ἠμερίτα||Augusta Emerita||City|
|Πιτυούσσαι||Pityusae||Islands (Ibiza and Fromentera)|
|Καττιτερίδες||Cassiterides||Islands (according to Strabo other than Great Britain)|
There is an apparent connection between the Iberian Peninsula and Phoenicians as shown by place names such as Gadeira (Phoenician: Cadir), Córdoba (Carthaginian: Kartuba), Málaga, Onoba, etc. But there are also elements which suggest not only Phoenician, or Greek contacts, but also contacts of a pre- Phoenician and pre- Greek origin; that is earlier than the supposed voyage of Hercules to these places.
An intriguing example is the city (also island) of Ebusus. It is modern Ibiza (one of the ancient Pityusic islands). In Catalan: Eivissa, in Phoenician: Yibosim. Strabo calls the place Ebusos. One might consider the name Phoenician but in fact the Phoenicians arrived there just in 654 BCE.
The clue is found in the suffix –(i)ssa of the word in the native Catalan language (Eivissa). It is also attested that the islands were used by Cilician pirates as a base during the Roman times, before the Romans drove them away.
Those suffixes are common in Greece and Asia Minor and they are related to the Luwian language of ancient Anatolia (where Cilicia was found). Therefore neither the Greeks nor the Phoenicians were the first who arrived as far as the straits of Gibraltar in prehistoric times. But apparently both the Greeks and the Phoenicians, and after them the Romans and the Spanish, borrowed the names. These names therefore have to do with the earlier sub- stratum of place names around the Mediterranean, a local isogloss which was borrowed both by Indo-Europeans (such as the Romans and the Greeks) and by Semites (such as the Phoenicians and the Arabs).
To go a step further, I would like to make an interesting connection regarding the Greek city of Ephesus (modern Efes, Turkey) in Asia Minor. The Hittites, who inhabited the area during the 2nd millennium BCE called the city Abasa, which they referred to as capital of Arzawa. The connection between the Arzawans of the Hittites and the Argives of Homer is very tantalizing. Were these the Argives, or Arzawans, the people who settled in Argos, Greece, with Danaus or whoever was their leader? Whatever the answer, the point is that the area surrounding Ephesus was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age (about 6,000 BCE).
And this is a period much earlier than any division between Semites and Indo-Europeans, Phoenicians and Greeks. This is why some people, like Collin Renfrew, have placed the birth place of IE languages in Ancient Anatolia during the Neolithic, not in the Caspian steppes during the Eneolithic or Bronze Age. Wherever the motherland of IEs, it seems that ancient Anatolia played a pivotal role in the blending of languages and people who would later form the civilizations of Phoenicia, Greece, and Rome. I would later expose some arguments why I believe that ancient Anatolia was a place where IE and Semitic languages converged, but it was not the motherland of either language group.
(Above the Ebro river)
Strabo describes Keltica as the land beyond the Alps which consisted of three nations, “Aquitani, Belge, and Kelte. Of these the Aquitani differ completely from the other nations, not only in their language but in their figure, which resembles more that of the Iberians than the Galatae. The others are Galatae in countenance, although they do not all speak the same language, but some make a slight difference in their speech…”
|Φόρον Ἰούλιον||Foron Ioulion||Port|
|Λημέννη||Lemenne||Lake (Lake Geneva)|
|Γαλατικὸς||Galaticos||Gulf (Galatic gulf)|
2.4 The Alps
(Around the mountain range)
|Σαβάτων ὀυάδα||Sabaton Uada||City|
|Ὄκρᾳ||Ocra||Mountain (part of the Alps)|
|Ἄλβιον||Albion||Mountain (part of the Alps)|
|Ποινίνος||Poeninos||Mountain (Pennine Alps)|
|City (Modena)||Eporedia||City (Ivrea)|
|Ἴστρος||Istros||River (Danube, lower part)|
About Britain there was little known at the time of Strabo. Most of the knowledge came from legends and from the Roman expeditions. Kent is the only city that Strabo refers to, while Ierna and Thule are referred to as mythical places.
|Ἰέρνη||Ierne||Island (probably Ireland, also attested as Hibernia)|
|Θούλη||Thule||Island (mythical place, possibly related to Denmark or Scandinavia)|
Concerning Italy Strabo says, “At the foot of the Alps commences the region now known as Italy. The ancients by Italy merely understood Œnotria, which reached from the Strait of Sicily to the Gulf of Taranto, and the region about Posidonium, but the name has extended even to the foot of the Alps… It seems probable that the first inhabitants were named Italians, and, being successful, they communicated their name to the neighboring tribes, and this propagation [of name] continued until the Romans obtained dominion. Afterwards, when the Romans conferred on the Italians the privileges of equal citizenship, and thought fit to extend the same honor to the Cisalpine Galatæ and Heneti, they comprised the whole under the general denomination of Italians and Romans.”
|Οἰνωτρία||Oenotria||Ancient name of Italy|
|Ῥηγίνη/ Ῥηγίον||Regine/Region||City (Reggio)|
|Ἄργος τὸ Ἷππιον||Argos-Ippion||City|
|Ἄγυλλα||Agylla||City (afterwards Caerea, modern Cerveteri)|
|Φόρον Φλαμίνιον||Forum Flaminium||City|
|Φόρον Σεμπρώνιον||Forum Sempronium||City|
|Οὔφης/ Αὔφιδος||Ufis/Aufidos||River (Ofanto)|
|Λεῖρις||Leiris||River (Liri, formely Clanis)|
|Φίρμον Πικηνόν||Firmon Picenon||City|
|Καστρουνόουν||Castrunooun||City (Castrum novum)|
|Ἄσκλον||Asclon||City (Ascoli Piceno)|
|Κορφίνιον||Corfinion||City (later Italica)|
|Δικαιαρχεία||Dicaearcheia||City (later Puteoli, modern Pozzuoli)|
|Πιθηκούσσαι||Pithecussae||Island (ancient Ischia)|
|Λιπαραί||Liparae||Islands (Lipari, formerly Meligunis)|
|Ὑέλα/Ἔλα||Hyela/Ela||City (Ancient Elea, present Velia)|
|Πυξοῦς||Pyxus||Promontory, harbour, river|
|Ἱππωνιάτης||Hipponiates||Gulf (Vibo Valentia)|
|Θουρίοι||Thurioe||City (later Copiae)|
|Σικελία||Sicelia||Island (Sicily, formerly Trinacria> Thrinacia)|
|Μέγαρα||Megara||City (formerly Hybla)|
|Θέρμεσσα||Thermessa||Island (afterwards Hiera)|
|Βᾶρις||Baris||City (afterwards Veretum)|
|Οὐρία||Uria||City (formerly Hyria)|
|Σιποῦς||Sipus||City (formerly Sepius)|
A very interesting example of suffix analysis from the previous vocabulary includes the case of the Tyrrhenians (Etrusans).
According to Wikipedia, the origin of the name is uncertain. It is only known to be used by Greek authors, but apparently not of Greek origin. It has been connected to tursis, also a ‘Mediterranean’ loan into Greek, meaning ‘tower.’ Direct connections with Tusci, the Latin exonym for the Etruscans, from Tursci have also been attempted.
Probably the name of the Tyrrhenians was a generic term, meaning something like ‘pirates.’ In the modern Greek language there is the word tarsanas, which means ship yard. The close relationship of this word with the word tyrsinos (Tyrrhenian) shows the connection of the Tyrrhenians with the sea. Perhaps the name corsair which is the same as pirate comes from an original Anatolian word, something like ‘curswara’ or so. But in any case the term Tyrrhenian most likely refers to a diverse group of peoples rather than to a specific ethnicity.
A Tyrrhenian/Etruscan/Lydian association has long been a subject of conjecture. The Greek historian Herodotus stated that the Etruscans came from Lydia, repeated in Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid, and Etruscan-like language was found on the Lemnos stele from the Aegean Sea island of Lemnos. However, recent decipherment of Lydian and its classification as an Anatolian language mean that Etruscan and Lydian were not even part of the same language family. Nevertheless, a recent genetic study of likely Etruscan descendants in Tuscany found strong similarities with individuals in western Anatolia.
This again suggests that the Etruscans/Tyrrrhenians found themselves in Lydia, Anatolia, but this was not their original homeland. Herodotus had also placed them in Crestonia, Thrace. Similarly, Thucydides mentions them together with the Pelasgians and associates them with Lemnian pirates and with the pre-Greek population of Attica. Lemnos remained relatively free of Greek influence up to Hellenistic times, and interestingly, the Lemnos stele of the 6th century BCE is inscribed with a language very similar to Etruscan. This has led to the postulation of a ‘Tyrrhenian language group’ comprising Etruscan, Lemnian and Raetic.
The Raetic language was spoken in the Alps. As far as Lydia is concerned the name Sfard or Sard, another name closely connected to the name Tyrrhenian, was the capital city of the land of Lydia. The name preserved by Greek and Egyptian renderings is Sard, for the Greeks call it Sardis and the name appears in the Egyptian inscriptions as Srdn (one of the Sea Peoples).
Very interestingly, the Sardinians call their language ‘lingua s(f)arda.’ As Strabo notes, “For it is said that Iolaus brought hither certain of the children of Hercules, and established himself amongst the barbarian possessors of the island (Sardinia), who were Tyrrhenians. Afterwards the Phœnicians of Carthage became masters of the island, and, assisted by the inhabitants, carried on war against the Romans; but after the subversion of the Carthaginians, the Romans became masters of the whole.”
Again however the term Sfarda is native to the Lydians not to the Etruscans, whose place names as we shall see are of different morphology. Therefore the Etruscans and the Tyrrhenians must have been of a different origin even if at the time when some of the latter passed from Lydia to Sardinia they considered themselves more ‘Lydian.’
The toponyms to be examined are those ending in –(n)na. As the previous map suggests most of the toponyms of ancient Etruria bear such endings. Strabo refers to some of these: Ravenna, Marcina, Mutina, Poplonium (Popluna); also Ariminum (Arimina), “the Pitheci (or monkeys) are called by the Tyrrhenians Arimi,” Clusium (Clevsin/Clevsina), etc.
I have been wondering about toponyms with the suffix –na. The point is that such toponyms are abundant not only in Italy but also in Greece, for example Mycena (Mycenae), Athina (Athens), Rafina, and they are found not only in coastal areas but also deep in the mainland. How are we to interpret the wide distribution of these place names? Should they be related with the coming of IEs or with a pre-existing substratum spread all across the Mediterranean (which the IEs adopted)?
I’ve found an interesting connection between the name of the capital of Lemnos, Myrina, and a queen of the Amazons who had the same name. According to Diodorus Siculus, she led a military expedition in Libya and won a victory over the people known as the Atlantians, destroying their city Cerne; but was less successful fighting the Gorgons (who are described by Diodorus as a warlike nation residing in close proximity to the Atlantians), failing to burn down their forests. During a later campaign, she struck a treaty of peace with Horus, ruler of Egypt, conquered several peoples, including the Syrians, the Arabians, and the Cilicians (but granted freedom to those of the latter who gave in to her of their own will). She also took possession of Greater Phrygia, from the Taurus Mountains to the Caicus River, and several Aegean islands, including Lesbos (Mytilene); she was also said to be the first to land on the previously uninhabited island which she named Samothrace, building the temple there. The cities of Myrina (in Lemnos), possibly another Myrina in Mysia, Mytilene, Cyme, Pitane, and Priene were believed to have been founded by her, and named after herself, her sister Mytilene, and the commanders in her army, Cyme, Pitane and Priene, respectively. Myrina’s army was eventually defeated by Mopsus the Thracian and Sipylus the Scythian; she, as well as many of her fellow Amazons, fell in the final battle.
This story suggests that such place names were native to IEs or more generally to people living in the North, around the Black Sea, the north coast of Asia Minor and parts of the Balkans. The Thracians and Scythians who defeated the Amazons were certainly of IE stock. If the suffix is considered IE then the expansion of IEs may have taken place much earlier than expected. Even the Etruscans could be IEs if they are related to Myrina (who according to Herodotus came from the Ukrainian steppes) and the island of Lemnos (where the Etruscan language was spoken). If we also accept the testimony of Thucydides that the Tyrrhenians occupied Athens before the (Mycenaean) Greeks, and that they are is a direct relationship between the Etruscans and (at least some of) the Tyrrhenians, the Greek language could have already been spoken before the Mycenaean times, at least since the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE. It suffices to say that place names such as Mycena (Mycenae) or Athina (Athens), which still survive in the modern Greek language, contain the same suffix –na. Therefore both the Mycenaean-Greeks and the Etruscan-Tyrrhenians may have been separated from an earlier common language group.
Furthermore the wide distribution of place names with such a suffix both in Italy and Greece, as well as in other places across Europe (e.g. Vienna) and North Africa (e.g. Medina), even in Minoan Crete (e.g. Gortyna), suggests an early expansion of the corresponding languages in the Bronze Age or even in the Neolithic. But is it better to consider a tremendous expansion of IE languages in a shorter period of time, or to propose an isogloss which evolved across the Mediterranean during a longer period, even since the Neolithic, and which successive waves of newcomers, such as the IEs, adopted?
Another hypothesis suggests that the Etruscans stemmed from the Villanovan Culture in Italy (1,100- 900 BCE), which is thought to have abruptly followed the Terramare Culture (1,700–1,150 BCE). The story may be similar to that of Greece and the fall of the Mycenaean Civilization. It was thought that the Greeks had come after the Mycenaeans, but the decipherment of Linear B showed that the Mycenaeans were in fact Greek. Could accordingly the Etruscans be native to Italy and descants of the Terramare Culture, even if their original homeland was further to the East in remote times? The differences between the language and culture of the Etruscans compared to those of the Italics seem to suggest that they were not native to Italy. However, the newcomers may have been the Italics, not the Etruscans, in the same sense that the Mycenaeans would have been invaders, according to some views. If the toponyms in –na are related to queen Myrina of the Amazons, then the ultimate origin of both the Mycenaeans and the Etruscans (together with the Amazons) could be traced as far as the Ukrainian steppes (as Herodotus places the Amazons there). In such a case all these people would have been IEs. If however the ethnic name of the Tyrrhenians is related to Tyros (Tyre) of Phoenicia or Tarsus of Cilicia then the origin of the same people could be very different.
We may then gather some facts concerning the Etruscans/Tyrrhenians,
- In Italy the Etruscans are identified with the Tyrsenians (Etruria/Etrusci/Tusci). Thus the Etruscans can be considered native to Italy and offspring of the Terramare Culture (either directly related or not).
- However not all Tyrrhenians were Etruscans. In ancient Greece the Tyrrhenians were not identified with the Etruscans. Also it seems that the connection between the Tyrrhenians and the Lydians is superficial, because their languages were different.
- Thus probably the Tyrrhenians were a group of various people, while their name can be related either to ‘tursis’ (tower), or to ‘Tarsus’ (the city in Cilicia), or even to Tyre (the Phoenician city).
- Suffix analysis shows that the suffixes (–na) the Etruscans used, not only for place names but also for common names (e.g. the Etruscan name attested in scripts Thefarie Veliunas) belong to the same isogloss which spread all across the Mediterranean.
- Clues which may further support such an idea: Sardinia probably took its name from the ancient capital of Lydia, Sardis (Sfarda), as well as that Sardinians call their language ‘lingua Sfarda.’ The Basques call their language ‘Euscara’ (‘Etruscan’).
- Therefore, in all likelihood, the Tyrrhenians (=sea-farers/corsairs) used to have a considerable distribution in the prehistoric Mediterranean, representing groups of various people, who were later on commonly referred to as Etruscans, Cilicians, Phoenicians, Minoans, and so on.
2.7 Rest of Europe
Strabo says, “That which remains is, on the east, all the country beyond the Rhine, as far as the Don and the mouth of the Sea of Azof; and, on the south, that which the Danube bounds, lying between the Adriatic and the left shores of the Euxine, as far as Greece and the Sea of Marmora, for the Danube, which is the largest of the rivers of Europe, divides the whole territory of which we have spoken, into two portions.”
(North of the Danube)
|Μαιώτις||Maeotis||Sea (of Azof)|
|Προποντίς||Propontis||Sea (of Marmara)|
|Δανούιος||Danuvios||River (Danube, upper part)|
|Συμβόλων λιμήν||Symbolon limen||Port|
(South of the Danube)
|Ἀκρόλισσος (Δυρράχιον)||Akrolissos (Dyrrachion)||City|
|Μεσημβρία||Mesembria||City (previously Menebria)|
|Αἶνος||Haenos||City (previously Poltymbria)|
Concerning the ancient Macedonia Strabo says, “…indeed, Macedonia is a part of Greece. Following, however, the natural character of the country and its form, we have determined to separate it from Greece, and to unite it with Thrace, which borders upon it.”
|Μακεδονία/Ἠμαθία||Macedonia/Hemathia||Territory (previously Hemathia)|
|Κίχυρος< Ἐφύρα||Cichyros< Ephyra||City|
|Ἄργος Ἀμφιλοχικόν||Argos Amphilochicon||City|
|Ἄργος Ὀρεστικόν||Argos Orestikon||City|
|Τρίπολις Πελαγονία||Tripolis Pelagonia||City|
|Ἀχελῶος< Θόας||Acheloos< Thoas||River|
|Εὔηνος/Λυκόρμας||Evenos/Lycormas||River (previously Lycormas)|
|Κίτρον/ Πύδνα||Citron /Pydna||City (previously Pydna)|
|Παλλήνη/Φλέγρα||Pallene/Phlegra||Peninsula (previously Phlegra)|
|Κασάνδρεια/Ποτίδαια||Casandreia/Potidaea||City (previously Potidaea)|
|Ἐννέα ὁδοί||Ennea Odoe||City|
|Φίλιπποι/Κρηνίδες||Philippoe/Crenides||City (before Crenides)|
|Θασίων κεφαλαί||Thasion cefalae||Rocks|
|Σαμοθρᾴκη< Παρθενία< Ἀνθεμίς< Μελάμφυλλος||Samothrace/Samos||Island|
|Παρθένιος> Ἴμβρασος||Parthenios> Imbrasos||River|
|Κυνὸς/ Ἑκάβης σῆμα||Kynos/Hecabes sema||Promontory|
|Μακρὸν τεῖχος||Macron teichos||Territory|
|Λευκὴ ἀκτὴ||Leuce acte||Port|
|Ἱερὸν ὄρος||Ieron oros||Mountain|
|Κυανέαι πέτραι||Cyaneae petrae||Islands/Reefs|
About the origin of the Greek language Strabo says,
“Hecatæus of Miletus says of the Peloponnesus, that, before the time of the Greeks, it was inhabited by barbarians. Perhaps even the whole of Greece was, anciently, a settlement of barbarians, if we judge from former accounts. For Pelops brought colonists from Phrygia into the Peloponnesus, which took his name; Danaus brought colonists from Egypt; Dryopes, Caucones, Pelasgi, Leleges, and other barbarous nations, partitioned among themselves the country on this side of the isthmus. The case was the same on the other side of the isthmus; for Thracians, under their leader Eumolpus, took possession of Attica; Tereus of Daulis in Phocæa; the Phœnicians, with their leader Cadmus, occupied the Cadmeian district; Aones, and Temmices, and Hyantes, Bœotia. Pindar says, 'there was a time when the Bœotian people were called Syes.' Some names show their barbarous origin, as Cecrops, Codrus, Œclus, Cothus, Drymas, and Crinacus. Thracians, Illyrians, and Epirotæ are settled even at present on the sides of Greece. Formerly the territory they possessed was more extensive, although even now the barbarians possess a large part of the country, which, without dispute, is Greece. Macedonia is occupied by Thracians, as well as some parts of Thessaly; the country above Acarnania and Ætolia, by Thesproti, Cassopæi, Amphilochi, Molotti, and Athamanes, Epirotic tribes…”
“Bœotia was first occupied by Barbarians, Aones, and Temmices, a wandering people from Sunium, by Leleges, and Hyantes. Then the Phœnicians, who accompanied Cadmus, possessed it… (The Aeolians) after having united the Orchomenian tract to Bœotia (for formerly they did not form one community, nor has Homer enumerated these people with the Bœotians, but by themselves, calling them Minyæ) with the assistance of the Orchomenians they drove out the Pelasgi, who went to Athens, a part of which city is called from this people Pelasgic. The Pelasgi however settled below Hymettus. The Thracians retreated to Parnassus. The Hyantes founded Hyampolis in Phocis…
Ephorus relates that the Thracians, after making treaty with the Bœotians, attacked them by night, when encamped in a careless manner during a time of peace… The Pelasgi and the Bœotians also went during the war to consult the oracle (at Dodona). The messengers (of the Bœotians) sent to consult the oracle suspecting the prophetess of favoring the Pelasgi on account of their relationship, (for the temple had originally belonged to the Pelasgi,) seized the woman, and threw her upon a burning pile…
After this they assisted Penthilus in sending out the Æolian colony, and dispatched a large body of their own people with him, so that it was called the Bœotian colony…”
“The poet next mentions the Orchomenians in the Catalogue, and distinguishes them from the Bœotian nation. He gives to Orchomenus the epithet Minyeian from the nation of the Minyæ. They say that a colony of the Minyeians went hence to Iolcus, and from this circumstance the Argonauts were called Minyæ. It appears that, anciently, it was a rich and very powerful city… Of its power there is this proof, that the Thebans always paid tribute to the Orchomenians, and to Erginus their king, who it is said was put to death by Hercules... The spot which the present lake Copaïs occupies, was formerly, it is said, dry ground, and was cultivated in various ways by the Orchomenians, who lived near it; and this is alleged as a proof of wealth…”
“The island (Euboea) had the name… of Abantis also. The poet (Homer) in speaking of Eubœa never calls the inhabitants from the name of the island, Eubœans, but always Abantes. Aristotle says that Thracians, taking their departure from Aba, the Phocian city, settled with the other inhabitants in the island, and gave the name of Abantes to those who already occupied it; other writers say that they had their name from a hero, as that of Eubœa was derived from a heroine. But perhaps as a certain cave on the sea-coast fronting the Ægean Sea is called Boos-Aule, (or the Cow’s Stall) where Io is said to have brought forth Epaphus, so the island may have had the name Eubœa on this account…”
“Some writers identify (Cephallenia) with Taphos, and the Cephallenians with Taphians, and these again with Teleboæ. They assert that Amphitryon, with the aid of Cephalus, the son of Deioneus, an exile from Athens, undertook an expedition against the island, and having got possession of it, delivered it up to Cephalus… But this is not in accordance with Homer, for the Cephallenians were subject to Ulysses and Lærtes, and Taphos to Mentes. Nor does Hellanicus follow Homer when he calls Cephallenia, Dulichium, for Dulichium, and the other Echinades, are said to be under the command of Meges, and the inhabitants, Epeii, who came from Elis…”
As far as the Taphians (Leleges) of Cephalonia are concerned, according to Wikipedia they were one of the aboriginal peoples of the Aegean littoral, distinct from the Pelasgians, the Bronze Age Greeks, the Cretan Minoans, the Cycladic Telkhines, and the Tyrrhenians. The classical Hellenes emerged as an amalgam of these six peoples. The distinction between the Leleges and the Carians (a nation living in south west Anatolia) is unclear. According to Homer, the Leleges were a distinct Anatolian tribe; However, Herodotus states that Leleges had been an early name for the Carians. The fourth-century BCE historian Philippus of Theangela, suggested that the Leleges maintained connections to Messenia, Laconia, Locris and other regions in mainland Greece, after they were overcome by the Carians in Asia Minor.
It is uncertain if the Leleges were the ancestors of the Carians or if they were displaced by the later in Asia Minor in the beginning and in mainland Greece later on. Another interesting example is the Caucones:
“The Triphylii had their name from the accident of the union of three tribes; of the Epeii, the original inhabitants; of the Minyæ, who afterwards settled there; and last of all of the Eleii, who made themselves masters of the country…
At present I must add some remarks concerning the Caucones in Triphylia. For some writers say, that the whole of the present Elis, from Messenia to Dyme, was called Cauconia. Antimachus calls them all Epeii and Caucones. But some writers say that they did not possess the whole country, but inhabited it when they were divided into two bodies, one of which settled in Triphylia towards Messenia, the other in the Buprasian district towards Dyme, and in the Hollow Elis. And there, and not in any other place, Aristotle considered them to be situated. The last opinion agrees better with the language of Homer, and the preceding question is resolved. For Nestor is supposed to have lived at the Triphyliac Pylus, the parts of which towards the south and the east (and these coincide towards Messenia and Laconia) was the country subject to Nestor, but the Caucones now occupy it, so that those who are going from Pylus to Lacedæmon must necessarily take the road through the Caucones.”
For the Caucones Wikipedia says they were an autochthonous tribe of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) whose migrations brought them to the western Greek mainland in Arkadia, Triphylian Pylos, and north into Elis. Their etymology suggests strong affinities with the Caucasos Mountains originally. According to Herodotus and other classical writers, they were displaced or absorbed by the immigrant Bithynians, who were a group of clans from Thrace that spoke an Indo-European language. Thracian Bithynians also expelled or subdued the Mysians, and some minor tribes, the Mariandyni alone maintaining themselves in cultural independence, in the northeast of what became Bithynia. Strabo acknowledges that in earlier times Bithynians were called Mysians who, in turn, Herodotus says alongside Teucrians were invaders of northern Greece (Thessaly) before the Trojan War.
Strabo’s story about the three tribes of Triphylia (= treis phyles, three tribes), the Epii, Minyans and Eleii doesn’t clarify the linguistic affinities between them. If the Epii were the original inhabitants then probably they were Pelasgi. Minyans could be either Minoans (from Minos) or Thracians (from Minyas). The Eleii if they were the last to arrive in Triphylia could be Greeks but their relation to the Caucones is uncertain.
What seems to matter is that we have an amalgam of peoples, either closely or distantly related to each other, who altogether mix to form a culture which emerged as purely Greek in later times. The Caucones for example could be IEs but it is difficult to imagine that they were the only people responsible for the emergence of the Greek language in the Peloponnese. The Leleges or Carians on the other hand were Pelasgians but it seems very probable that they also spoke an early form of an IE language. Therefore both the Caucones and the Leleges/Carians together with other tribes like Thracians and Phrygians or even Minoans, if they were Luwians, and Tyrrhenians, whoever they were, contributed to the emergence of a language which could be later identified as Greek. Therefore when Herodotus or Strabo say that Greece was previously occupied by barbarians, these barbarians could be equally the Greek newcomers, who at this stage spoke a language as much barbarian as the language of their predecessors.
Another note by Strabo is that, “It will suffice then to add, that, according to Philochorus, when the country (of Attica) was devastated on the side of the sea by the Carians, and by land by the Bœotians, whom they called Aones, Cecrops first settled a large body of people in twelve cities, the names of which were Cecropia, Tetrapolis, Epacria, Deceleia, Eleusis, Aphidnæ, Thoricus, Brauron, Cytherus, Sphettus, Cephisia, [Phalerus]. Again, at a subsequent period, Theseus is said to have collected the inhabitants of the twelve cities into one, the present city.”
The story of Crecrops and Theseus against Carians and Boeotians may suggest that it was finally Thracians and Phrygians that prevailed over Carians and other Pelasgians already inhabiting Greece. But again the Thracian and the Phrygian languages as attested in later times were quite different from the Greek language. Therefore they weren’t the original Greek speakers, no more than the Carians and the rest of the Pelasgians. But perhaps their successors were the first to write down in the Linear B tablets the language which emerged in Mycenaean times.
|Πελοπόννησος< Ἄργος||Peloponnesos< Argos||Territory (Peloponnese)|
|Ἀττικὴ/ Ἀκτικὴ/ Ἀκτή||Attice/Actice/Acte||Territory|
|Βοιωτία< Ὠγυγία||Boeotia< Ogygia||Territory|
|Ἰσθμός||Isthmos||Isthmus (of Corinth)|
|Σικυὼν< Μηκώνη< Αἰγιαλεῖς||Sikyon< Mecone< Aegialeis||City|
|Ῥίον/ Μεσόλα||Rion/ Mesola||City|
|Ἀντίρριον/Μολύκριον Ῥίον||Antirion/Molycrion Rion||City|
|Δύμη< Στράτος||Dyme< Stratos||City|
|Ἐφύρα||Ephyra||City (previously Cichyra)|
|Ὑρμίνη< ῞Ορμινα/Ὕρμινα||Hyrmine< Hormina/Hyrmina||City/Promontory|
|Μύρσινος< Μυρτούντιον||Myrsinos< Myrtountion||City|
|Ὠλενίη< Σκόλλις||Olenie< Scollis||Mountain|
|Ἀλείσιον< Ἀλεσιαῖον||Aleision< Alesiaeon||City|
|Λακωνία< Ἑκατόμπολις||Laconia< Hecatompolis||Territory|
|Ἄνιγρος< Μινύειος||Anigros< Minyeios||River|
|Θήρα< Καλλίστη||Thera< Calliste||Island|
|Αἰπάσιον/ Αἰπασία||Aepasion/ Aepasia||Territory/Field|
|Θρύον/Θρυόεσσα> Ἐπιτάλιον||Thryon/Thryoessa> Epitalion||City|
|Αἶπυ> Μαργάλαι(;)||Aepy> Margalae(?)||City|
|Δώριον> Ὄλουρις/Ὄλουρα||Dorion> Oluris/Olura||Mountain/Territory|
|Οἰχαλία> Ἀνδανία||Oechalia> Andania||City|
|Πῖσα> Βῖσα||Pisa> Bisa||City/spring|
|Φηραί< Καρδαμύλη||Pherae< Cardamyle||City|
|Αἴπεια> Θουρία||Aepeia> Thouria||City|
|Ἐνόπη/ Ἐνίσπη||Enope/ Enispe||City|
|Ὄνου γνάθος||Onou gnathos||Peninsula|
|Βοία> Μαλέαι||Boea> Maleae||City|
|Ἐπίδαυρος λιμηρὰ||Epidauros limera||City|
|Ἠιόναι/ Ἠιόνες||Hionae/ Eiones||City|
|Τροιζὴν< Ποσειδωνία||Troezen< Poseidonia||City|
|Ὀρνειαὶ/ Ὀρνεαὶ||Orneiae/ Orneae||City|
|Ἷππου κρήνη||Ippou crene||Fountain (Hippocrene)|
|Ἀκραία/ Ἀκραίοι||Akraea/ Akraeoe||City|
|Τενέα> Τεγέα||Tenea> Tegea||City|
|Αἰγιάλεια> Ἰωνία||Aegialeia> Ionia||Territory|
|Ἑρμιὼν/ Ἑρμιόνη||Hermion/ Hermione||City|
|Μεγάλη πόλις/ Μεγαλοπολῖτις||Megale polis/ Megalopolitis||City/Territory|
|Πέλλανα/ Πελλήνη||Pellana/ Pellene||City|
|Στύμφαλος/ Στυμφαλίοι||Stymphalos/ Stymphalioe||City|
|Ῥίπη/ Ῥύπες||Ripe/ Rypes||City|
|Στυγὸς ὕδωρ||Stygos hydor||Spring|
|Σαλαμὶς> Πιτυοῦσσα||Salamis> Pityussa||City|
|Σκιρὰς/ Κύχρεια||Sciras/ Kychreia||City|
|Βώκαρος> Βωκαλία||Bocaros> Bocalia||River|
|Τρίποδες/ Τριποδίσκιον||Tripodes/ Tripodiskion||City|
|Ἄφιδνα/ Ἄφιδναι||Aphidna/ Aphidnae||City|
|Πρασιὰ/ Πρασιαὶ/ Πρασιεῖς||Prasia/ Prasiae/ Prasieis||City|
|Λευκὴ ἀκτή||Leuce acte||Promontory|
|Κρέουσα/ Κρεῦσα||Creousa/ Creusa||City|
|Ὕας πόλις/ Ὑάμπολις||Hyas polis/ Hyampolis||City|
|Ὑρία/ Ὑσίαι||Hyria/ Hysiae||City|
|Ἑλεὼν/ Ἕλος/ Εἱλέσιον||Heleon/ Helos/ Heilesion||City|
|Αἰγαί/ Αἰγὰ||Aegae/ Aega||City|
|Ἴσος/ Νῖσα||Isos/ Nisa||City|
|Φάρα/ Φαραὶ||Phara/ Pharae||City|
|Παρασώπιοι/ Παρασωπιὰς||Parasopioe/ Parasopias||City|
|Ἐτεωνὸς> Σκάρφη||Eteonos> Scarphe||City|
|Θίσβη> Θίσβαι||Thisbe> Thisbae||City|
|Κουάριος/ Κωράλιος/ Κουράλιος||Couarios/ Coralios/Couralios||River|
|Μίδεια/ Μιδέα||Mideia/ Midea||City|
|Λεῦκτρα/ Λεῦκτρον/ Λεύκτροι||Leuctra/ Leuctron/ Leuctroe||City|
|Ἀσπληδών> Εὐδείελος||Aspledon> Eudeielos||City|
|Πανοπεύς> Φανοτεύς||Panopeus> Phanoteus||City|
|Κωρύκιον ἄντρον||Cocyrion antron||Cave|
|Τραχίν> Ἡράκλεια||Trachin> Heracleia||City|
|Ἀνεμώρεια/ Ἀνεμώλεια||Anemoreia/ Anemoleia||City|
|Βοάγριος/ Μάνης||Boagrios/ Manes||River|
|Τάρφη> Φαρύγαι||Tarphe> Pharygae||City|
|Πίνδος/ Ἀκύφας||Pindos/ Acyphas||City/River|
|Ὄσσα/ Ὄσση||Ossa/ Osse||Mountain|
|Θετταλία< Πυρραία/ Αἱμονία/ Νεσσωνὶς||Thettalia< Pyrraea/ Aemonia/ Nessonis||Territory|
|Ἄργος Πελασγικὸν||Argos Pelasgicon||Territory|
|Τυφρηστός/ Τυμφρηστός||Typhrestos/ Tymphrestos||Mountain|
|Θαυμακία/ Θαυμακοὶ||Thaumacia/ Thaumacoe||City|
|Κρεμαστὴ/ Πελασγία Λάρισα||Kremaste/ Pelasgia Larisa||City|
|Δημήτριον/ Πύρασος||Demetrion/ Pyrasos||City|
|Ἰθώμη/ Θώμη||Ithome/ Thome||City/ Acropolis|
|Ἱστιαιώτις< Δωρίς||Histiaeotis< Doris||Territory|
|Κυνὸς κεφαλαὶ||Kynos kephalae||Village|
|Σηπιάς/ Σηπιαὶ||Sepias/ Sepiae||City|
|Εὔβοια< Μάκρις/ Ἀβαντίς/ Ἐλλοπία||Euboea< Macris/ Abantis/ Ellopia||Island|
|Κήναιον/ Κῦνος||Kenaeon/ Kynos||Promontory|
|Ἄβα/ Ἀβαὶ||Aba/ Abae||City|
|Ὀροβία/ Ὀρόβιαι||Orobia/ Orobiae||City|
|Ἀθῆναι Διάδες||Athenae diades||City|
|Ἐρέτρια< Μελανηὶς/ Ἀρότρια||Eretria< Melaneis/ Arotria||City|
|Ἁλαὶ Ἀραφηνίδαι||Halae Araphenidae||City|
|Λήλαντον/ Ληλάντιον||Lelanton/ Lelantion||Plain/ Territory|
|Μάκιστος/ Πλατανιστοῦς||Macistos/ Platanistus||City|
|Ἄργος Ἀμφιλοχικὸν||Argos Amphilochicon||City|
|Χαλκίς/ Ὑποχαλκίς||Chalcis/ Hypochalcis||City|
|Πυλήνη> Πρόσχιον||Pylene> Proschion||City|
|Κεφαλληνία/ Σάμος/ Σάμη||Cephallenia/ Samos/ Same||Island|
|Δουλίχιον/ Δολίχα||Doulichion/ Dolicha||Island|
|Τάφος/ Ταφιὰς||Taphos/ Taphias||Island|
|Ὀξεῖαι< Θοαὶ||Oxeiae< Thoae||Islands|
|Ἡρακλέους λιμὴν||Heracleus limen||Port|
|Λυσιμάχεια< Ὕδρα||Lysimacheia< Hydra||Lake|
|Κριοῦ μέτωπον||Criou metopon||Promontory|
|Λευκά ὄρη||Leuca ore||Mountain|
|Κνωσσὸς< Καίρατος||Cnossos< Kaeratos||City|
|Εἰλειθυίας ἱερόν||Eileithyias ieron||Sanctuary|
|Κύνθος/ Κύθνος||Kynthos/ Kythnos||Island|
|Ἑλένη< Κρανάη||Helene< Cranae||Island|
|Ῥήναια< Ὀρτυγία||Renaea< Ortygia||Island|
Concerning the origin of the Greek language opinions vary. The previous map suggests an origin in Central Greece. But if the first people came in Greece from the Near East or from Anatolia and the Caucasus then the Greek language may have originally had a greater distribution, and it may have split before it came to Greece. Thus variations of the language (which would later evolve to Greek) could have been spoken both in Greece and Asia Minor (including varieties of Thracian/Phrygian/Carian, etc.), before one or some of these varieties prevailed over the others.
Thessaly may be considered a good candidate for the core of a language which would later evolve to Greek. Firstly because this was the initial place where people settled in the Neolithic (considering this the most ancient substratum), and secondly because foundation myths place the origin there. Strabo refers to these myths,
“It is said, that Hellen was the son of Deucalion, and that he governed the country about Phthia between the Peneius and Asopus, and transmitted to his eldest son these dominions, sending the others out of their native country to seek a settlement each of them for himself. Dorus, one of them, settled the Dorians about Parnassus, and when he left them, they bore his name. Xuthus, another, married the daughter of Erechtheus, and was the founder of the Tetrapolis of Attica, which consisted of Œnoe, Marathon, Probalinthus, and Tricorynthus.
Achæus, one of the sons of Xuthus, having committed an accidental murder, fled to Lacedæmon, and occasioned the inhabitants to take the name of Achæans. Ion, the other son, having vanquished the Thracian army with their leader Eumolpus, obtained so much renown, that the Athenians intrusted him with the government of their state. It was he who first distributed the mass of the people into four tribes, and these again into four classes according to their occupations, husbandmen, artificers, priests, and the fourth, military guards; after having made many more regulations of this kind, he left to the country his own name. It happened at that time that the country had such an abundance of inhabitants, that the Athenians sent out a colony of Ionians to Peloponnesus, and the tract of country which they occupied was called Ionia after their own name, instead of Ægialeia, and the inhabitants Ionians instead of Ægialeans, who were distributed among twelve cities.
After the return of the Heracleidæ, these Ionians, being expelled by the Achæans, returned to Athens, whence, in conjunction with the Codridæ, (descendants of Codrus,) they sent cut the Ionian colonists to Asia. They founded twelve cities on the sea-coast of Caria and Lydia, having distributed themselves over the country into as many parts as they occupied in Peloponnesus.”
This area around Thessaly, including also other parts of Central Greece was referred to as the Pelasgic Argos, in contrast to Argos in the Peloponnese,
“Some have understood Pelasgic Argos to be a Thessalian city, formerly situated near Larisa, but now no longer in existence. Others do not understand a city to be meant by this name, but the Thessalian plain, and to have been so called by Abas, who established a colony there from Argos…”
“…With respect to Phthia, some suppose it to be the same as Hellas and Achaia, and that these countries form the southern portion in the division of Thessaly into two parts. But others distinguish Phthia and Hellas…”
“Some of the later writers (after Homer), who affirm that (Hellas) is a country, suppose it to have extended from Palæpharsalus to Thebæ Phthiotides. In this country also is Thetidium, near both the ancient and the modern Pharsalus; and it is conjectured from Thetidium that the country, in which it is situated, was a part of that under the command of Achilles. Others, who regard it as a city, allege that the Pharsalii show at the distance of 60 stadia from their own city, a city in ruins, which they believe to be Hellas, and two springs near it, Messeis and Hypereia. But the Melitæenses say, that at the distance of about 10 stadia from their city, was situated Hellas on the other side of the Enipeus, when their own city had the name of Pyrrha, and that the Hellenes migrated from Hellas, which was built in a low situation, to theirs. They adduce in proof of this the tomb of Hellen, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, which is in their marketplace…”
“…This then is the account of the several parts of Thessaly. In general we say, that it was formerly called Pyrrhæa, from Pyrrha, the wife of Deucalion; Hæmonia, from Hæmon; and Thettalia, from Thettalus, the son of Hæmon. But some writers, after dividing it into two portions, say, that Deucalion obtained by lot the southern part, and called it Pandora, from his mother; that the other fell to the share of Hæmon, from whom it was called Hæmonia; that the name of one part was changed to Hellas, from Hellen, the son of Deucalion, and of the other to Thettalia, from Thettalus, the son of Hæmon. But, according to some writers, it was the descendants of Antiphus and Pheidippus, sons of Thettalus, descended from Hercules, who invaded the country from Ephyra in Thesprotia, and called it after the name of Thettalus their progenitor. It has been already said that once it had the name of Nessonis, as well as the lake, from Nesson, the son of Thettalus.”
What is difficult to realize from the previous narration is the time gap, for example between Deucalion and Heamon or Hellen, since it is very probable that the lineages didn’t succeed directly one another, and it is also possible that there were more than one persons having these names. But in any case the story is indicative of a place in Thessaly or generally in the Pelasgic Argos whose name turned into Hellas, referring of course to the Hellenes as a distinct subgroup among other groups, in some degree related to each other.
Asia was divided by the ancients into two parts, above and below the Taurus mountain range (which, as depicted in ancient maps, was supposed to stretch all the way across Asia). As Strabo says, “The Taurus, extending from west to east, embraces the middle of this continent, like a girdle, leaving one portion to the north, another to the south. The Greeks call the former Asia within the Taurus, the latter Asia without the Taurus. We have said this before, but it is repeated now to assist the memory.”
(Within the Taurus)
|Ἴστρος||Istros||River (Danube, lower part)|
|Ἀχιλλέως ἱερόν||Achilleos ieron||Sanctuary|
|Σατύρου μνῆμα||Satyrou mnema||Monument|
|Σινδικός λιμὴν||Sindicos limen||Port/City|
|Κριοῦ μέτωπον||Criou metopon||Promontory|
|(Μέγας) Πιτυοῦς||(Megas) Pityous||City|
|Σαραπανῶν ἔρυμα||Sarapanon eryma||Fortress|
|Κῦρος< Κόρος||Kyros< Koros||River|
|Λευκοθέας ἱερὸν||Leucotheas ieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἴμαον/ Ἴμαιον||Imaon/ Imaeon||Mountain|
|Ῥάγαι/ Εὐρωπὸς/ Ἀρσακία||Ragae/ Europos/ Arsacia||Territory|
|Ἀπολλωνιάτις< Σιτακηνὴ||Apolloniatis< Sitacene||Territory|
|Ἀπάμεια> Μύρλεια||Apameia> Myrleia||City|
|Ἀρτάξατα/ Ἀρταξιάσατα||Artaxata/ Artaxiasata||City|
|Καρηνῖτις/ Καρανῖτις||Karenitis/ Karanitis||Territory|
|Ἀρσηνή/ Θωπῖτις||Arsene/ Thopitis||Lake|
|Ἐνυοῦς ἱερὸν||Enyous ieron||Sanctuary|
|Μέλας/ Μέλης||Melas/ Meles||River|
|Μυσία/ Μαιονία||Mysia/ Maeonia||Territory|
|Τροία/ Ἴλιον||Troea/ Ilion||City (Troy)|
|Ἀβώνου τεῖχος||Abonou teihos||City|
|Φαζημωνίτις< Νεαπολῖτις||Phazemonitis< Neapolitis||Territory|
|Κάβειρα< Διόσπολις< Σεβαστὴ||Kabeira< Diospolis< Sebaste||City|
|Καινὸν χωρίον||Kaenon horion||City|
|Μηνὸς (>Φαρνάκου) ἱερὸν||Menos Pharnakou ieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀσκαίου ἱερὸν||Askaeou ieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀναΐτιδος ἱερὸν||Ana’itidos ieron||Sanctuary|
|Φαζημὼν< Νεάπολις||Phazemon< Neapolis||City|
|Κίος< Προυσιὰς||Kios< Prousias||City|
|Χαλκηδόνιον ἱερὸν||Halkedonion ieron||Sanctuary|
|Γαλατία/ Γαλλογραικία||Galatia/ Gallograekia||Territory|
|Γόρδιον< Ἰουλιόπολις||Gordion< Iouliopolis||City|
|Σαγαλασσὸς/ Σελγησσὸς||Sagalassos/ Selgessos||City|
|Σίδη/ Σίνδα||Side/ Sinda||City|
|Περγαμηνὴ/ Πέργαμος||Pergamene/ Pergamos||City|
|Δασκυλίτις/ Ἀφνίτις||Dascylitis/ Aphnitis||Lake|
|Ἄρκτων ὄρος||Arkton oros||Mountain|
|Μυγδονίς/ Μυγδονία||Mygdonis/ Mygdonia||Territory|
|Μίλητος/ Μιλητούπολις||Miletos/ Miletoupolis||City|
|Πριήνη/ Κάδμη||Priene/ Kadme||City|
|Ἀχάρακοι/ Ἀχάρακα||Aharakoe/ Aharaka||City|
|(Φρυγία) Κατακεκαυμένη||(Phrygia) Katakekaumene||Territory|
|Μηνὸς Κάρου ἱερὸν||Menos Karou ieron||Sanctuary|
|Τένεδος/ Λεύκοφρυς||Tenedos/ Leukophrys||Island|
|Κάνη/ Κάναι||Kane/ Kanae||Mountain/Promontory|
|Ἀταρνέα/ Ἀταρνεὺς||Atarnea/ Atarneus||City|
|Γάργαρα/ Γαργαρίς||Gargara/ Gargaris||City|
|Ἰδαῖος/ Ἀδραμυττηνός||Idaeos/ Adramytenos||Gulf|
|Ἑπτάπορος/ Πολύπορος||Heptaporos/ Polyporos||River|
|Λάμψακος/ Πιτυοῦσσα||Lampsakos/ Pityoussa||City|
|Γεργίθιον/ Γέργιθα||Gergithion/ Gergitha||City|
|Σκαιὸν τεῖχος/ Σκαιαὶ πύλαι||Skaeon teihos/ Skeae pylae||Wall/ Gates|
|Ἡροῦς πύργος||Herous pyrgos||Landmark|
|Κυνὸς σῆμα||Kynos sema||Promontory/ Landmark|
|Πόλιον/ Πόλισμα||Polion/ Polisma||City|
|Ἁλικαρνασὸς< Ζεφυρία||Alikarnassos< Zephyria||City|
|Ἀπίας πεδίον||Apias pedion||Territory|
|Ἀσπορδηνὸν/ Ἀσπορηνόν||Aspordenon/ Asporenon||Mountain|
|Νέον τεῖχος||Neon teihos||Landmark|
|Μύρινα/ Μυρίνη||Myrina/ Myrine||City|
|Ὕλλος< Φρύγιος||Hyllos< Phrygios||River|
|Γυγαία< Κολόη||Gygaea< Coloe||Lake|
|Κωρύκιον ἄντρον||Korykion andron||Cave|
|Ἱερὰ πόλις/ Ἱεράπολις||Hiera polis/ Hierapolis||City|
|Σόλυμος/ Σόλυμα||Solymos/ Solyma||Mountain|
|Μιλυὰς/ Μιλύα||Milyas/ Milya||Territory|
(Without the Taurus)
|Τέως/ Ἀθαμαντίς||Teos/ Athamantis||City|
|Ἐρυθραὶ/ Ἐρυθραία||Erythrae/ Erythraea||City|
|Λεπρὴ ἀκτὴ||Lepre akte||Coast|
|Ἴκαρος/ Ἰκαρία||Ikaros/ Ikaria||Island|
|Χαρώνιον ἄντρον||Charonion antron||Cave|
|Μελάντιοι σκόπελοι||Melantioe skopeloe||Rocks|
|Δράκανον/ Δρέκανον||Drakanon/ Drekanon||City/ Promontory|
|Ἀσπίς/ Ἀρκόνησος||Aspis/ Arkonesos||Island|
|Σόλοι/ Πομπηιόπολις||Soloe/ Pompeiopolis||City|
|Ξάνθος< Σίρβις||Xanthos< Sirbis||River|
|Ἱερὰ ἄκρα||Hiera akra||Promontory|
|Ζηνικέτου πειρατήριον||Zeniketou peiraterion||Piratical hold|
|Ἀμανίδες πύλαι||Amanides pylae||Gates|
|Ἀχαιῶν ἀκτή||Ahaeon akte||Coast|
|Διὸς ἄλσος||Dios alsos||Grove|
About the different tribes Strabo says:
Concerning the Cimmerians,
“Cimmericum was formerly a city built upon a peninsula, the isthmus of which it enclosed with a ditch and mound. The Cimmerii once possessed great power in the Bosporus, whence it was called the Cimmerian Bosporus. These are the people who overran the territory of the inhabitants of the inland parts, on the right of the Euxine, as far as Ionia. They were dislodged from these places by Scythians, and the Scythians by Greeks, who founded Panticapæum, and the other cities on the Bosporus.”
Concerning the Amazons,
“There is a peculiarity in the history of the Amazons… For who can believe that an army of women, or a city, or a nation, could ever subsist without men and not only subsist, but make inroads upon the territory of other people, and obtain possession not only of the places near them, and advance even as far as the present Ionia, but even dispatch an expedition across the sea to Attica?... They are said to have founded cities, and to have given their names to them, as Ephesus, Smyrna, Cyme, Myrina, besides leaving sepulchers and other memorials. Themiscyra, the plains about the Thermodon, and the mountains lying above, are mentioned by all writers as once belonging to the Amazons, from whence, they say, they were driven out. Where they are at present few writers undertake to point out, nor do they advance proofs or probability for what they state; as in the case of Thalestria, queen of the Amazons, with whom Alexander is said to have had intercourse in Hyrcania with the hope of having offspring. Writers are not agreed on this point, and among many who have paid the greatest regard to truth none mention the circumstance, nor do writers of the highest credit mention anything of the kind, nor do those who record it relate the same facts.”
Concerning the Armenians,
“There exists an ancient account of the origin of this nation to the following effect. Armenus of Armenium, a Thessalian city, which lies between Pheræ and Larisa on the lake Bœbe, accompanied Jason, as we have already said, in his expedition into Armenia, and from Armenus the country had its name, according to Cyrsilus the Pharsalian and Medius the Larisæan, persons who had accompanied the army of Alexander. Some of the followers of Armenus settled in Acilisene, which was formerly subject to the Sopheni; others in the Syspiritis, and spread as far as Calachene and Adiabene, beyond the borders of Armenia. The dress of the Armenian people is said to be of Thessalian origin; such are the long tunics, which in tragedies are called Thessalian.”
Concerning the Bithynians,
“It is generally acknowledged by writers, that the Bithynians, who were formerly Mysians, received this name from Bithynians and Thyni, Thracian people, who came and settled among them. They advance as a proof of their statement, first as regards the Bithynians, that there still exists in Thrace a people called Bithynians, and then, as regards the Thyni, that the sea-shore, near Apollonia and Salmydessus, is called Thynias. The Bebryces, who preceded them as settlers in Mysia, were, as I conjecture, Thracians. We have said that the Mysians themselves were a colony of those Thracians who are now called Mæsi.”
Concerning the Lydians and the Mysians,
“The Lydians also, and the Mæones, whom Homer calls Meones, are in some way confounded with these people and with one another; some authors say that they are the same, others that they are different, nations. Add to this that some writers regard the Mysians as Thracians, others as Lydians, according to an ancient tradition, which has been preserved by Xanthus the Lydian, and by Menecrates of Elæa, who assign as the origin of the name Mysians, that the Lydians call the beech-tree (Oxya) Mysos, which grows in great abundance near Olympus, where it is said decimated persons were exposed, whose descendants are the later Mysians, and received their appellation from the Mysos, or beech-tree growing in that country. The language also is an evidence of this. It is a mixture of Lydian and Phrygian words, for they lived sometime in the neighborhood of Olympus. But when the Phrygians passed over from Thrace, and put to death the chief of Troy and of the country near it, they settled here, but the Mysians established themselves above the sources of the Caïcus near Lydia.”
Concerning the Maryandyni,
“There is not, however, the same agreement among writers with regard to the Mariandyni, and the Caucones. For they say that Heracleia is situated among the Mariandyni, and was founded by Milesians. But who they are, or whence they came, nothing is said. There is no difference in language, nor any other apparent national distinction between them and the Bithynians, whom they resemble in all respects. It is probable therefore the Mariandyni were a Thracian tribe. Theopompus says that Mariandynus, who governed a part of Paphlagonia, which was subject to many masters, invaded and obtained possession of the country of the Bebryces, and that he gave his own name to the territory which he had before occupied. It is also said that the Milesians who first founded Heracleia, compelled the Mariandyni, the former possessors of the place, to serve as Helots, and even sold them, but not beyond the boundaries of their country. For they were sold on the same conditions as the class of persons called Mnoans, who were slaves to the Cretans, and the Penestæ, who were slaves of the Thessalians.
The Caucones, who, according to history, inhabited the line of sea-coast which extends from the Mariandyni as far as the river Parthenius, and to whom belonged the city Tieium, are said by some writers to be Scythians, by others a tribe of Macedonians, and by others a tribe of Pelasgi.”
Concerning the Trojans,
“All this coast (of Troy) was subject to the Trojans, when it was divided into nine dynasties, but that at the time of the (Trojan) war it was under the sway of Priam, and called Troja. This appears from the detail. Achilles and his army perceiving, at the beginning of the war, that the inhabitants of Ilium were defended by walls, carried on the war beyond them, made a circuit, and took the places about the country;… Among other places which had been plundered, was the country opposite Lesbos,- that about Thebe, Lyrnessus, and Pedasus belonging to the Leleges, and the territory also of Eurypylus, the son of Telephus; The poet says these places were laid waste, and even Lesbos;
For by calling Lyrnessus 'the city of the divine Mynes,' the poet implies that it was governed by him who was killed fighting in its defence. Chryseïs was carried away from Thebe; ' we came to Thebe, the sacred city of Eetion,' and Chryseïs is mentioned among the booty which was carried off from that place. 'Andromache, daughter of the magnanimous Eetion, Eetion king of the Cilicians, who dwelt under the woody Placus at Thebe Hypopla. ' This is the second Trojan dynasty after that of Mynes, and in agreement with what has been observed are these words of Andromache;… The third dynasty is that of the Leleges, which is also a Trojan dynasty; 'of Altes, the king of the war-loving Leleges,' by whose daughter Priam had Lycaon and Polydorus.
Even the people, who in the Catalogue are said to be commanded by Hector, are called Trojans; 'Hector, the mighty, with the nodding crest, commanded the Trojans; ' then those under Æneas, 'the brave son of Anchises had the command of the Dardanii,' and these were Trojans, for the poet says, 'Thou, Æneas, that counsellest Trojans; ' then the Lycians under the command of Pandarus he calls Trojans; 'Aphneian Trojans, who inhabited Zeleia at the farthest extremity of Ida, who drink of the dark waters of Æsepus, these were led by Pandarus, the illustrious son of Lycaon. ' This is the sixth dynasty. The people, also, who lived between the Æsepus and Abydos were Trojans, for the country about Abydos was governed by Asius; 'those who dwelt about Percote and Practius, at Sestos, Abydos, and the noble Arisbe, were led by Asius, the son of Hyrtacus. ' Now it is manifest that a son of Priam, who had the care of his father’s brood mares, dwelt at Abydos; 'he wounded the spurious son of Priam, Democoon, who came from Abydos from the pastures of the swift mares'. At Percote, the son of Hicetaon was the herdsman of oxen, but not of those belonging to strangers; 'first he addressed the brave son of Hicetaon, Melanippus, who was lately tending the oxen in their pastures at Percote' so that this country also was part of the Troad, and the subsequent tract as far as Adrasteia, for it was governed by 'the two sons of Merops of Percote.'
All therefore were Trojans from Abydos to Adrasteia, divided, however, into two bodies, one governed by Asius, the other by the Meropidæ, as the country of the Cilicians is divided into the Thebaic and the Lyrnessian Cilicia. To this district may have belonged the country under the sway of Eurypylus, for it follows next to the Lyrnessis, or territory of Lyrnessus. That Priam was king of all these countries the words with which Achilles addresses him clearly show; 'we have heard, old man, that your riches formerly consisted in what Lesbos, the city of Macar, contained, and Phrygia above it and the vast Hellespont.'
Such was the state of the country at that time. Afterwards changes of various kinds ensued. Phrygians occupied the country about Cyzicus as far as Practius; Thracians, the country about Abydos; and Bebryces and Dryopes, before the time of both these nations. The next tract of country was occupied by Treres, who were also Thracians; the plain of Thebe, by Lydians, who were then called Mæonians, and by the survivors of the Mysians, who were formerly governed by Telephus and Teuthoras. Since then the poet unites together Æolis and Troja, and since the Æolians occupied all the country from the Hermus as far as the sea-coast at Cyzicus, and founded cities, we shall not do wrong in combining in one description Æolis, properly so called, (extending from the Hermus to Lectum,) and the tract which follows, as far as the Æsepus; distinguishing them again in speaking of them separately, and comparing what is said of them by Homer and by other writers with their present state.”
About the wonderings of Aenias after the fall of Troy, Strabo says,
“But Æneas, with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius, are said to have collected a large body of people, and to have set sail. Some writers say that he settled about the Macedonian Olympus; according to others he founded Capuæ, near Mantineia in Arcadia, and that he took the name of the city from Capys. There is another account, that he disembarked at Ægesta in Sicily, with Elymus, a Trojan, and took possession of Eryx and Lilybæus, and called the rivers about Ægesta Scamander and Simoïs; that from Sicily he went to Latium, and settled there… Homer does not agree either with these writers or with what is said respecting the founders of Scepsis. For he represents Æneas as remaining at Troy, succeeding to the kingdom, and delivering the succession to his children’s children after the extinction of the race of Priam… He disagrees still more with those writers who speak of his wanderings as far as Italy, and make him end his days in that country.”
Strabo also refers to the connection between the Trojans, the Cilicians (who are supposed to have lived in the territory of Troy before migrating to Cilicia in South Asia Minor, and the Leleges (aborigines of Asia Minor and perhaps ancestors of the Carians),
“Since there subsisted so great an affinity among the Leleges and Cilicians with the Trojans, the reason is asked, why these people are not included in Homer’s Catalogue. Perhaps it is that, on account of the loss of their leaders and the devastation of the cities, the few Cilicians that were left placed themselves under the command of Hector. For Eetion and his sons are said to have been killed before the Catalogue is mentioned;… Those also under the command of Mynes had lost their leaders, and their city;… He describes the Leleges as present at the battles; when he says, 'on the sea-coast are Carians, and Pæonians with curved bows, Leleges, and Caucones...' for they had not been so completely annihilated as to prevent their forming a body of people of themselves, since their king still survived, 'Altes, king of the war-loving Leleges,' nor was the city entirely razed, for he adds, 'who commanded the lofty city Pedasus on the Satnioeis.' He has passed them over in the Catalogue, not considering the body of people large enough to have a place in it; or he comprised them among the people under the command of Hector, as being allied to one another.”
Concerning the Carians,
“According to Pherecydes, Miletus, Myus, Mycale, and Ephesus, on this coast, were formerly occupied by Carians; the part of the coast next in order, as far as Phocæa, and Chios, and Samos, of which Ancæus was king, were occupied by Leleges, but both nations were expelled by the Ionians, and took refuge in the remaining parts of Caria. Pherecydes says that the leader of the Ionian, which was posterior to the Æolian migration, was Androclus, a legitimate son of Codrus king of the Athenians, and that he was the founder of Ephesus, hence it was that it became the seat of the royal palace of the Ionian princes.
The city Caunus (in Caria) has a naval arsenal and a close harbour… Stories of the following kind are related respecting the city. Stratonicus, the player on the cithara, seeing the Caunians somewhat dark and yellow, said that this was what the poet meant in the line, 'As are the leaves, so is the race of men…' It is said that they speak the same language as the Carians, that they came from Crete, and retained their own laws and customs…
But when Homer uses these expressions, 'Masthles commanded the Carians, who speak a barbarous language,' it does not appear why, when he was acquainted with so many barbarous nations, he mentions the Carians alone as using a barbarous language, but does not call any people Barbarians. Nor is Thucydides right, who says that none were called Barbarians, because as yet the Greeks were not distinguished by any one name as opposed to some other. But Homer himself refutes this position that the Greeks were not distinguished by this name: 'A man whose fame has spread through Greece and Argos' and in another place— 'But if you wish to go through Hellas and the middle of Argos' But if there was no such term as Barbarian, how could he properly speak of people as Barbarophonoi (i.e. speaking a barbarous language)?... Nor is the reason to be found in the alleged excessive harshness of the Carian language, for it is not extremely harsh; and besides, according to Philippus, the author of a history of Caria, their language contains a very large mixture of Greek words. I suppose that the word 'barbarian' was at first invented to designate a mode of pronunciation which was embarrassed, harsh, and rough; as we use the words battarizein, traulizein, psellizein, to express the same thing… As those who pronounce their words with a thick enunciation are called Barbarians, so foreigners, I mean those who were not Greeks, were observed to pronounce their words in this manner. The term Barbarians was therefore applied peculiarly to these people, at first by way of reproach, as having a thick and harsh enunciation; afterwards the term was used improperly, and applied as a common gentile term in contradistinction to the Greeks…This was peculiarly the case with the Carians. For other nations had not much intercourse with the Greeks, nor were disposed to adopt the Grecian manner of life, nor to learn our language, with the exception of persons who by accident and singly had associated with a few Greeks; but the Carians were dispersed over the whole of Greece, as mercenary soldiers. Then the barbarous pronunciation was frequently met with among them, from their military expeditions into Greece; and afterwards it spread much more, from the time that they occupied the islands together with the Greeks: not even when driven thence into Asia, could they live apart from Greeks, when the Ionians and Dorians arrived there.”
Concerning the Telchines,
“Rhodes was formerly called Ophiussa and Stadia, then Telchinis, from the Telchines, who inhabited the island. These Telchines are called by some writers charmers and enchanters, who besprinkle animals and plants, with a view to destroy them, with the water of the Styx, mingled with sulphur. Others on the contrary say, that they were persons who excelled in certain mechanical arts, and that they were calumniated by jealous rivals, and thus acquired a bad reputation; that they came from Crete, and first landed at Cyprus, and then removed to Rhodes…”
Concerning the Solymi,
“The Cabaleis, it is said, were Solymi. The hill situated above the Termessian fortress is called Solymus, and the Termessians themselves Solymi. Near these places is the rampart of Bellerophon and the sepulcher of Peisander his son, who fell in the battle against the Solymi. This account agrees with the words of the poet. Of Bellerophon he speaks thus, 'he fought a second time with the brave Solymi;' and of his son, 'Mars, unsated with war, killed Peisander his son fighting with the Solymi.' Termessus is a Pisidian city situated very near and immediately above Cibyra.
The Cibyratæ are said to be descendants of the Lydians who occupied the territory Cabalis. The city was afterwards in the possession of the Pisidians, a bordering nation, who occupied it, and transferred it to another place, very strongly fortified, the circuit of which was about 100 stadia. It flourished in consequence of the excellence of its laws. The villages belonging to it extended from Pisidia, and the bordering territory Milyas, as far as Lycia and the country opposite to Rhodes. Upon the union of the three bordering cities, Bubon, Balbura, and Œnoanda, the confederation was called Tetrapolis; each city had one vote, except Cibyra, which had two, for it could equip 30,000 foot soldiers and 2000 horse. It was always governed by tyrants, but they ruled with moderation. The tyrannical government terminated in the time of Moagetes. It was overthrown by Murena, who annexed Balbura and Bubon to the Lycians. Nevertheless the Cibyratic district is reckoned among the largest jurisdictions in Asia. The Cibyratæ used four languages, the Pisidic, that of the Solymi, the Greek, and the Lydian, but of the latter no traces are now to be found in Lydia…
The poet distinguishes the Solymi from the Lycians. When he despatches Bellerophon by the king of the Lycians to this second adventure; 'he encountered the brave Solymi'. Other writers say that the Lycians were formerly called Solymi, and afterwards Termilæ, from the colonists that accompanied Sarpedon from Crete; and afterwards Lycians, from Lycus the son of Pandion, who, after having been banished from his own country, was admitted by Sarpedon to a share in the government; but their story does not agree with Homer. We prefer the opinion of those who say that the poet called the people Solymi who have now the name of Milyæ, and whom we have mentioned before.”
Strabo also mentions the Pamphylians and refers to the confusion which existed even in his times concerning the various ‘barbaric tribes,’
“Herodotus says, that the Pamphylians are descendants of the people who accompanied Amphilochus and Calchas from Troy, a mixture of various nations. The majority of them settled here, others were dispersed over different countries. Callinus says that Calchas died at Clarus, but that some of the people who, together with Mopsus, crossed the Taurus, remained in Pamphylia, and that others were scattered in Cilicia and Syria, and as far even as Phœnicia.
Ephorus had said that this peninsula was inhabited by sixteen tribes, three of which were Grecian, and the rest barbarous, with the exception of the mixed nations; he placed on the sea-coast Cilicians, Pamphylians, Lycians, Bithynians, Paphlagonians, Mariandyni, Troes, and Carians; and in the interior, Pisidians, Mysians, Chalybes, Phrygians, and Milyæ. Apollodorus, when discussing this position, says there is a seventeenth tribe, the Galatians, who are more recent than the time of Ephorus; that of the sixteen tribes mentioned, the Greeks were not settled (in the peninsula) at the period of the Trojan war, and that time has produced great intermixture and confusion among the barbarous nations. Homer, he continues, recites in his Catalogue the Troes, and those now called Paphlagonians, Mysians, Phrygians, Carians, Lycians, Meionians, instead of Lydians and other unknown people, as Halizoni and Caucones; nations besides not mentioned in the Catalogue but elsewhere, as Ceteii, Solymi, the Cilicians from the plain of Thebe, and Leleges. But the Pamphylians, Bithynians, Mariandyni, Pisidians, and Chalybes, Milyæ, and Cappadocians are nowhere mentioned by the poet; some because they did not then inhabit these places, and some because they were surrounded by other tribes, as Idrieis and Termilæ by Carians, Doliones and Bebryces by Phrygians.
But why has he placed in the interior the Chalybes, whom the poet, as we have shown, calls Halizoni? It would have been better to divide them, and to place one portion of them on the sea-coast, and another in the inland parts. The same division ought to be made of the Cappadocians and Cilicians. But Ephorus does not even mention the former, and speaks only of the Cilicians on the sea-coast… Nor does he say whether the Lydians and the Meonians are two nations or the same nation, or whether they live separately by themselves or are comprehended in another tribe. For it was impossible for Ephorus to be ignorant of so celebrated a nation, and does he not, by passing it over in silence, appear to omit a most important fact?
But who are 'the mixed nations'? For we cannot say that he either named or omitted others, besides those already mentioned, whom we should call mixed nations. Nor, indeed, should we say that they were a part of those nations whom he has either mentioned or omitted. For if they were a mixed people, still the majority constituted them either Greeks or Barbarians. We know nothing of a third mixed people.
But how (according to Ephorus) are there three tribes of Greeks who inhabit the peninsula? Is it because anciently the Athenians and Ionians were the same people? In that case the Dorians and the Æolians should be considered as the same nation, and then there would be (only) two tribes (and not three, inhabiting the peninsula). But if, following modern practice, we are to distinguish nations according to dialects, there will be four nations, as there are four dialects…
Passing then to Homer, Apollodorus is correct in saying that there was a great intermixture and confusion among the barbarous nations, from the Trojan war to the present time, on account of the changes which had taken place; for some nations had an accession of others, some were extinct or dispersed, or had coalesced together. But he is mistaken in assigning two reasons why the poet does not mention some nations, namely, either because the place was not then occupied by the particular people, or because they were comprehended in another tribe. Neither of these reasons could induce him to be silent respecting Cappadocia or Cataonia, or Lycaonia itself, for we have nothing of the kind in history relating to these countries. It is ridiculous to be anxious to find excuses why Homer has omitted to speak of Cappadocia [Cataonia] and Lycaonia, and not to inform us why Ephorus omitted them, particularly as the proposed object of Apollodorus was to examine and discuss the opinions of Ephorus; and to tell us why Homer mentions Mæonians instead of Lydians, and also not to remark that Ephorus has not omitted to mention either Lydians or Mæonians.
Apollodorus remarks, that Homer mentions certain unknown nations, and he is right in specifying Caucones, Solymi, Ceteii, Leleges, and the Cilicians from the plain of Thebe; but the Halizones are a fiction of his own, or rather of those who, not knowing who the Halizones were, frequently altered the mode of writing the name, and invented the existence of mines of silver and of many other mines, all of which are abandoned. With this vain intention they collected the stories related by the Scepsian, (Demetrius,) and taken from Callisthenes and other writers, who did not clear them from false notions respecting the Halizones; for example, the wealth of Tantalus and of the Pelopidæ was derived, it is said, from the mines about Phrygia and Sipylus; that of Cadmus from the mines about Thrace and Mount Pangæum; that of Priam from the gold mines at Astyra, near Abydos (of which at present there are small remains, yet there is a large quantity of matter ejected, and the excavations are proofs of former workings); that of Midas from the mines about Mount Bermium; that of Gyges, Alyattes, and Crœsus, from the mines in Lydia and the small deserted city between Atarneus and Pergamum, where are the sites of exhausted mines.
We may impute another fault to Apollodorus, that although he frequently censures modern writers for introducing new readings at variance with the meaning of Homer, yet in this instance he not only neglects his own advice, but actually unites together places which are not so represented (by Homer). (For example), Xanthus the Lydian says, that after the Trojan times the Phrygians came from Europe (into Asia) and the left (western) side of the Euxine, and that their leader Scamandrius conducted them from the Berecynti and Ascania. Apollodorus adds, that Homer mentions the same Ascania as Xanthus, 'Phorcys and the divine Ascanius led the Phrygians from the distant Ascania.' If this be so, the migration (from Europe to Asia) must be later than the Trojan war; but in the Trojan war the auxiliaries mentioned by the poet came from the opposite continent, from the Berecynti and Ascania. Who then were the Phrygians, 'who were then encamped on the banks of the Sangarius' when Priam says, 'And I joined them with these troops as an auxiliary?' And how came Priam to send for the Phrygians from among the Berecynti, between whom and himself no compact existed, and pass over the people who were contiguous to him, and whose ally he formerly had been?
Apollodorus, after having spoken of the Phrygians in this manner, introduces an account concerning the Mysians which contradicts this. He says that there is a village of Mysia called Ascania, near a lake of the same name, out of which issues the river Ascanius, mentioned by Euphorion: 'near the waters of the Mysian Ascanius' and by Alexander of Ætolia: 'they who dwell on the stream of Ascanius, on the brink of the Ascanian lake, where lived Dolion, the son of Silenus and Melia. ' The district, he says, about Cyzicus, on the road to Miletopolis, is called Dolionis and Mysia. If this is the case, and if it is confirmed by existing places and by the poets, what prevented Homer, when he mentioned this Ascania, from mentioning the Ascania also of which Xanthus speaks? I have already spoken of these places in the description of Mysia and Phrygia, and shall here conclude the discussion.”
2.10 Rest of Asia
(including parts of Africa)
Strabo says, “The parts of Asia which remain to be described are those without the Taurus, except Cilicia, Pamphylia, and Lycia; extending from India to the Nile, and situated between the Taurus and the exterior Southern Sea.”
|Ταπροβάνη||Taprovane||Island (Sri Lanka?)|
|Γανδαρῖτις/ Γανδαρίς||Gandaritis/ Gandaris||Territory|
|Δέλτα||Delta||Island (Indus Delta)|
|Ἀριανὴ/ Ἀρία||Ariane/ Aria||Territory|
|Κασπίαι πύλαι||Kaspiae pylae||Landmark|
|Σουσὶς/ Σουσιανὴ||Sousis/ Soussiane||Territory|
|Πασίτιγρις||Pasitigris||River (Tigris lower part)|
|Κῦρος< Ἀγραδάτης||Kyros< Agradates||River|
|Σιτακηνὴ> Ἀπολλωνιᾶτις||Sitakene> Apolloniatis||Territory|
|Νίσιβις/ Ἀντιόχεια||Nisibis/ Antiocheia||City|
|Ζεύγμα Εὐφράτου||Zeugma Euphratou||Territory|
|Ἀναίας ἱερὸν||Anaeas hieron||Sanctuary|
|Σελεύκεια< Σολόκη||Seleukeia< Soloke||City|
|Ῥινοκόρουρα/ Ῥινοκόλουρα||Rinokoroura/ Rinokoloura||City|
|Ἀθηνᾶς ἱερὸν||Athenas hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀρτέμιδος ἱερὸν||Artemidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀντιόχεια (ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ)||Antiocheia (at Daphne)||City (Antakya)|
|Σελεύκεια (ἡ ἐν Πιερίᾳ)<
|Seleukeia (at Pieria)<
|Ὀρόντης< Τυφών||Orontes< Typhon||River|
|Ἡράκλεια τῇ Ἀντιοχείᾳ||Herakleia (in Antioch)||City|
|Ἀθηνᾶς Κυρρηστίδος ἱερὸν||Athenas Kyrestidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀμανίδες πύλες||Amanides pylae||Gates|
|Μελεάγρου χάραξ||Meleagrou charax||Trench|
|Χερρόνησος< Πέλλα||Cheronessos< Pela||City|
|Ἀραδίων παραλία||Aradion paralia||Coast|
|Θεοῦ πρόσωπον||Theou prosopon||Promontory|
|Μάκρας/ Μάκρα||Makras/ Makra||Field|
|Αἰγυπτίου τείχος||Aegyptioy teihos||Place|
|Ἀσκληπιοῦ ἄλσος||Asklepiou alsos||Grove|
|Λεόντων πόλις/ Λεοντόπολις||Leonton polis/ Leontopolis||City|
|Ὀρνίθων πόλις||Ornithon polis||City|
|Πτολεμαΐς< Ἄκη||Ptolema’is< Ake||City|
|Στράτωνος πύργος||Stratonos pyrgos||Tower|
|Συκαμίνων πόλις||Sykaminon polis||City|
|Βουκόλων πόλις||Boukolon polis||City|
|Κροκοδείλων πόλις||Krokodeilon polis||City|
|Ἡρώων πόλις||Heroon polis||City|
|Διός Κασίου ἱερὸν||Dios Kasiou hieron||Sanctuary|
|Χαβρίου χάραξ||Habriou harax||Trench|
|Μελαιναὶ/ Μελανίαι||Melaenae/ Melaniae||City|
|Σαμάρεια/ Σεβαστὴ||Samareia/ Sebaste||Territory|
|Περσικὸς κόλπος||Persikos kolpos||Gulf|
|Ἀράβιος κόλπος||Arabios kolpos||Gulf|
|Ἐρυθρὰ θάλαττα||Erythra thalatta||(Red) Sea|
|Κάρνα/ Κάρνανα||Karna/ Karnana||City|
|Μυὸς/ Ἀφροδίτης ὅρμος||Myos/ Aphrodites ormos||Cove|
|Ὀφιώδης νῆσος||Ophiodes nessos||Island|
|Σωτείρας λιμήν||Soteiras limen||Port|
|Ἴσιδος ἱερὸν||Isidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Στράτωνος νῆσος||Stratonos nessos||Island|
|Σαβὰ/ Σαβαί||Saba/ Sabae||Port|
|Δημητρίου σκοπιαὶ||Demetriou skopiae||Watch-towers|
|Κόνωνος βωμοὶ||Kononos bomoe||Altars|
|Κορακίου χώρα||Korakiou hora||Territory|
|Μήλινος λιμὴν||Melinos limen||Port|
|Κοράου φρούριον||Koraou frourion||Fortress|
|Ἀντιφίλου λιμὴν||Antiphilou limen||Port|
|Εὐμένους ἄλσος||Eumenous alsos||Grove|
|χελωνῶν νῆσος||helonon nessos||Island|
|φωκῶν νῆσος||fokon nessos||Island|
|ἱεράκων νῆσος||ierakon nessos||Island|
|Φιλίππου νῆσος||Philippou nessos||Island|
|Πυθαγγέλου κυνήγιον/ λιμὴν||Pythagelou kynegion/ limen||Hunting ground/ port|
|Λίχα θήρα||Licha thera||Hunting ground|
|Πυθολάου ἀκρωτήριον||Pytholaou akroterion||Promontory|
|Ἴσιδος ποταμία||Isidos potamia||Valley|
|Λέοντος σκοπὴ||Leontos skope||Watch-post|
|Ἀπόλλωνος ποταμία||Apollonos potamia||Valley|
|Ψυγμοῦ λιμὴν||Psygmou limen||Port|
|Νότου κέρας||Notou keras||Promontory|
|Χαριμόρτου στῆλαι/ βωμοὶ||Harimortou stelae/ bomoe||Pillars/ altar|
|Μαρανιτῶν παραλία||Maraniton paralia||Coast|
|Λευκὴ κώμη||Leuke come||City|
|Ἑπτὰ φρέατα||Hepta freata||Place|
(Rest of place names)
|Κανωβικὸν/ Ἡρακλειωτικόν||Kanobikon/ Herakleiotikon||Bay|
|Μαρεῶτις/ Μάρεια||Mareotis/ Mareia||Lake|
|Εὐνόστου λιμὴν||Eunostou limen||Port|
|Παραιτόνιον/ Ἀμμωνία||Paraetonion/ Amonia||City|
|Τυνδάρειοι σκόπελοι||Tyndareioe skopeloe||Islets|
|Λευκὴ ἀκτὴ||Leuke akte||Promontory|
|Κυνὸς σῆμα||Kynos sema||Promontory|
|Νικίου κώμη||Nikiou kome||City|
|Σαράπιδος ἱερὸν||Sarapidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἡράκλειον/ Ἡρακλέους πόλις||Herakleion/ Herakleous polis||City|
|Ἡρακλέους ἱερόν||Herakleous hieron||Sanctuary|
|Μενελαΐτης νομὸς||Menela’itis nomos||Territory|
|Βολβιτικόν/ Βολβίτινον||Bolbitikon/ Bolbitinon||Bay|
|Τανιτικὸν/ Σαϊτικὸν||Tanitikon/ Sa’itikon||Bay|
|Ἀγνοῦ κέρας||Agnou keras||Promontory|
|Περσέως σκοπὴ||Perseos skope||Watch-post|
|Μιλησίων τεῖχος||Milesion teihos||Wall|
|Βούτου πόλις||Boutou polis||City|
|Ἑρμοῦ πόλις||Hermou polis||City|
|Λητοῦς μαντεῖον||Letous manteion||Oracle|
|Λύκου/ Λύκων πόλις||Lykou/ Lykon polis||City|
|Διὸς πόλις||Dios polis||City|
|Κυνὸς/ Κυνῶν πόλις||Kynos/ Kynon polis||City|
|Ἀφροδίτης πόλις||Aphrodites polis||City|
|Χαβρίου κώμη||Habriou kome||City|
|Γυναικῶν πόλις||Gynaecon polis||City|
|Ἡλίου πόλις||Heliou polis||City|
|Ὀσίριδος ἄσυλον/ ἱερὸν||Osiridos asylon/ hieron||Sanctuary|
|Φίλωνος κώμη||Philonos kome||City|
|Εὐδόξου σκοπαὶ||Eudoxou skopae||Watch-towers|
|Ἄπιδος ἱερὸν||Apidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀφροδίτης/ Σελήνης ἱερὸν||Aphrodites/ Selenes hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἑρμοπολιτικὴ φυλακή||Hermopolitike phylake||Watch-tower|
|Θηβαϊκὴ φυλακὴ||Theba’ike phylake||Watch-tower|
|Πανῶν πόλις||Panon polis||City|
|Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερὸν||Apollonos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἀπόλλωνος πόλις||Apollonos polis||City|
|Κροκοδείλων πόλις||Krokodeilon polis||City|
|Εἰλειθυίας πόλις/ ἱερόν||Eileithyias polis/ hieron||City/ Sanctuary|
|Ἱεράκων πόλις||Hierakon polis||City|
|Κνούφιδος ἱερόν||Knouphidos hieron||Sanctuary|
|Ἡράκλειαι στήλαι||Herakleiae stelae||Landmark (Pillars of Hercules)|
|Ἄτλας/ Δύρις||Atlas/ Dyris||Mountain|
|Τρίγξ/ Λύγξ/ Λίξος||Trix/ Lyx/ Lixos||City|
|Θεῶν λιμὴν||Theon limen||Port|
|Ἰὼλ< Καισάρεια||Iol< Kaesareia||City|
|Οὐζίτα||Uzita||City (Henchir Makrceba)|
|Νεάπολις/ Λέπτις||Neapolis/ Leptis||City|
|Ἄμμωνος Βαλίθωνος ἄκρα||Amonos Balithonos akra||Promontory|
|Ὀδυσσέως βωμὸς||Odysseos bomos||Altar|
|Φιλαίνου βωμοί||Philaenou bomoe||Altars|
|Ἑσπερίδων λίμνη||Esperidon limne||Lake|
|Βόρειον ἀκρωτήριον||Boreion akroterion||Promontory|
|Ταύχειρα/ Ἀρσινόη||Tauheira/ Arsinoe||City|
|Βάρκη< Πτολεμαΐς||Barke/ Ptolema’is||City|
Concerning the toponyms of Africa, we may again make some remarks,
- Similarities such as the toponym Maekene/Maecene are remarkable if compared to the Greek Mycene. The toponym is identified with modern Kuwait but it could also be cognate to the name Medina, which in Arabic means ‘city.’ There is also a city Meknes in modern Morroco. There are two ways to explain such similarities. Either that the Greek Mycenae was founded in remore antiquity by people from the Near East, and the Greeks, who came later on, adopted the name; or IEs (such as the Greeks) founded cities like Medina and Meknes in the Near East and North Africa, and the names were later on Arabized. According to my view, the most probable explanation is that such names belong to an initial population who occupied the Near East and the Mediterranean Ring (the coastal zone in South Europe and North Africa), and who later on diverged to form the language groups which were retrospectively identified with the IE, Hamitic, and Semitic languages. Possible time of origin for this macro-family of languages, the period before the Great Flood (10,000- 15,000 years ago).
- Petra is another place name. The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petra]. Thus this is a Hellenization of a place name (petra= stone in Greek). Generally, North Africa (mostly Egypt) and the Near East were heavily influenced by the Greeks during the Hellenistic times, while the Romans who succeded the Greeks kept on the ‘IE’ traditions. Afterwards the places came under Arabic rule, and most places changed their names.
- But this is where I want to get at; Take for example place names such as Charax, Menix, or Kinyps (bearing the familiar –s ending.) The ending reminds of another toponym, Chandax, in Crete. This was the name, supposedly, given by the Arabs to the city Heracleion. But the point is that probably the name Chandax was pre- Arabic, and that, while the Greeks replaced the name (from Chandax to Heracleion), the Arabs revived it. I consider toponyms ending in –s (Chandac’s, Charac’s, Kinyp’s, etc.) originally ‘Greek.’ By ‘Greek’ I mean that they belonged to some language, broadly spoken in Europe, and which language (particularly as far as Greece is concerned) gradually evolved into the (Pelasgic-) Greek language. It is even possible that the –s ending evolved from heavier sounds (such as –sh/–ss, etc.).
- Toponyms such as Karna/ Karnana, Kerkinna, Kossouros, Kerkesoura reveal the antiquity of the corresponding languages, those of Old Europe (at least as far as the broad area of the Mediterranean is concerned). Ways by which such place names can transform to more familiar ‘Greek-like’ forms have already been exposed in this discussion. For example, Kerkinna probably is related to the falcon (modern Greek Κιρκινέζι, ancient Greek κέρκαξ/ κέρκνος). It is straightforward to show that κέρκαξ → ἱέραξ< γεράκι (=hawk).
- We may also find more interesting examples, such as the toponyms Bursa or Barka/Barke. The first name (which represents an acropolis) is possibly related to the Greek pyrgos (=tower), or to the English –burg (=city); while the second name probably is related to the Latin barca, French barque, Greek βάρκα. We see thus that there is nothing ‘IE’ about all this names, whose origin seems to be much older.
3. Taxonomy of toponyms
The main supposition of IE linguistics is that the IEs invaded Europe from the Ukrainian steppes and replaced the languages previously spoken in, what has been called, Old Europe. This view has been based on some assumptions, some of which include: the introduction of tumuli and horses; the transition from female divine figurines to male ones; the similarities between ancient Sanskrit, ancient Persian and ancient Greek, which would point to a common origin of these languages. However, according to this analysis, place names which have been considered pre- Greek, in many cases seem to be (proto-) Greek, by using smooth transformations between suffixes, and in comparison with common Modern Greek words of the same form. Furthermore, the wide distribution of these place names suggests that probably they used to form the landmarks of a lingua franca, an isogloss, spreading all across the Mediterranean and beyond, and which was adopted and transformed by new populations, instead of being replaced by invaders, who, supposedly, replaced the Old Languages but, strangely enough, kept most, if not all, of the Old place names.
In the following taxonomy I have included all toponyms which Strabo mentions about Greece. Initially, I thought to make the division according to the original suffix, but this proved pointless. Most of place names end in –s for masc. or –e/–a for fem. (or –on for neut.). But going a step further, more interesting patterns appear, e.g. endings in –ra or –na and themes like –halos, –hali, –ins/–inth, while this process can reveal earlier, hidden, themes and suffixes, sometimes ending up to monosyllable words, e.g. La-ra-ssa-ios (Larisaeos/Larisaios), a word which may contain as much as three successive endings (-ra/-ssa/-ios) and a prototype word-theme La/Las= stone, place, which theme, incidentally, may also be found at the end of words as a suffix, e.g. Margala, Amycla/Amyclae, Corcyla/Corcyra, etc.
Furthermore, analyzing the toponyms in order to put them in categories I realized, once again, that the themes and endings repeat themselves and overlap with each other in such a manner that in many cases the names can easily move from one group to another, while the suffixes themselves can move back and forth in time, without a clear distinction which is older and which is earlier.
As far as the ending –s/–os/–ios, which may be considered the standard Greek suffix, is concerned, it is probably nothing more than an initial –s ending, as in the names Pelop’s or Tiryn’s, which evolved into the classical Greek endings –os/–jos by expansion, Pelopas or Tirynos, and so on. Incidentally in villages of modern Greece many people prefer the contracted forms rather than the expanded ones. For example ti kan’s (how are you) or ti psachn’s (what are you looking for) rather than the ‘standardized’ types ti kaneis or ti psachneis.
In many cases we see that there is an imperfect integration of the (so- considered) Greek suffix –(i)os/–(i)a/–(i)on (and the like). In names such as Naxos, Andros, Myconos, etc., the names should have been masculine (–os is reserved mainly for masc. names in modern Greek) but they are feminine instead, suggesting perhaps that the people who later used the names were not familiar with the meaning of the ending; or that the people who used the ending regarded the names as feminine to remind them of the foreign origin. Compare for example the pair of words Calymna/Calymnos. Both types are feminine (although the –os ending is normally masculine). Therefore one may say that the Greeks (those who are supposed to have been using the –os ending) changed the name from Calymna to Calymnos but kept the fem. gender to ‘remind’ them of the foreign origin of the name. However, if we consider a pair of suffixes –(m)na/–(m)nos (with suffixes –a for fem. and –os for masc.), then the story is different because in this case it would have been the same people who would have been using both forms of the name. Similar assumptions can be made for place names with other suffixes, e.g. Dilesi, Milesi (–si); Lari(s)sa, Amphi(s)sa, Hymettos, Lycabettos (¬–ssa/–ttos), Aptera, Cercyra (–ra); etc. Therefore the possibility of continuous transition (at least in some cases) from one form to the other (e.g. a pair –na/–nos or –ra/–ros, etc., equivalent to the pair –a/–os) should also be considered.
With few obvious exceptions, the vast majority of place names are, let’s say, Pelasgic, or, better, ‘Pelasgic-Greek.’ By ‘obvious exceptions,’ it is meant words such as Amphigeneia (amphi=both+ genos=gender/breed), Callipolis (callos=beauty +polis=city), Demetrias (the goddess Demeter), Amphilochia (amphi=both+lochos=ambush/thicket), Hecatompolis (hecaton=hundred+ polis=city), Epidauros/Epitauros (epi=on+ tauros=bull), etc. But even such ‘obviously Greek’ names can be shown to be of previous origin. For example, the word polis (city) is considered to derive from a PIE root pele-, in which case names such as Pylos (pyle= gate), Pella, Pellana could be considered cognates. Even the name Pelasgoi may contain the same root. However, these names are considered pre- IE.
3.1 First Taxonomy
|-en, -in||-or, -er|
3.1.1 Endings in –os
A major category of toponyms contains the ending –ios/–ia/–ion, for the three genders masc./fem./neut., respectively. These endings can be identified as ‘classical Greek’ because the –os ending is found in most of Modern Greek names (together with –as and –es (–ης)).
One may say that the –os ending was a later addition to pre-Greek place names (that is names which did not contain an –os ending); for example the word Amphrysos/Ambhrysos could have evolved from an initial word Amphrys/Ambhrys to which was added the –os ending. However, we may also assume that an –s ending already exists in the form –ys/–ous. Such a name could probably have a feminine counterpart in –ssa, for example Anthous/Anthoussa, which can be also transformed into Anthessos/Anthoussa.
However, in the latter case both names are feminine. Therefore they are words which may have been integrated into the Greek language in an incomplete manner. This incomplete integration may suggest their pre-Hellenic origin (if we regard as Greek the –os ending.) As has been said, in many cases we find place names in –os which are feminine (while this ending in Modern Greek is used for masculine names) like Samos, Rodos, Melos, etc. This could also mean that newcomers using the –os ending added this ending to pre-existing names regarding them as masculine, and then, perhaps, the local people who didn’t know that the ending was masculine kept on using the names as feminine.
However, as we saw in the case of Amphrysos or Anthoussa, it is also probable that the names were used as feminine by the Greeks (those using the –os ending) in order to remind them of their pre- Greek origin. But words like Amphrysos, even if we consider the –os ending a later addition, don’t necessarily imply language replacement. The word before the –os addition may already have an –s ending (–ys), therefore it may be of the same morphology as the word Amphrysos, although, possibly, of an earlier origin. There are examples in Anatolian (Luwian) IE languages with duplication of –sos and –ssa endings, in the form sa–sas/sa–sa; for example, the word wanaks (=king) in Mycenaean Linear B, a word probably of Anatolian origin, may transform like this: (masc.) wanak’s (nom.)/wanaks’s (gen.), (nom.) wanak’s (masc.)/wanak’sas (fem.). Therefore words like Amphrysos could be genitives of words with –s endings like Amphrys which later passed into the language as nominatives.
Lastly, I would like to note that the –os ending is so much stereotypical that it may probably have been used for the standardization of the language at some stage of its formation. This may have begun as early as in Mycenaean times with the –jos/–ja/–jo ending which is found abundant in Mycenaean words both for people and for places. The high frequency of this ending, over any other, suggests perhaps the attempt to form a prototype language from a collection of different dialects or even different languages. The Mycenaean period is a good starting point for such a process, because of the written records which have survived in Linear B tablets. The later use of words in –os or –sos as feminine, may also reveal the presence of regressive forms used by people who didn’t belong to the original stock (those who knew that the –os ending was masculine.)
3.1.2 Endings in –s
The same analysis holds for endings in –*s, where ‘*’ stands for a vowel, e.g. the endings –as or –is. Their imperfect integration into the Greek language may suggest their foreign origin. By foreign, it is meant that at the time the names arrived in Greece, there hadn’t been any Greek language spoken yet, although the (Greek) language would have been under formation. Still, in Modern Greek names in –as sometimes may have an –a feminine counterpart (e.g. Cofinas/Cofina), but in most cases the feminine is constructed differently: e.g. Andreas/Andrianna (the personal name Andrew), retor(as)/retorissa (orator), etc. It is interesting to note the combination of two different forms, in the former example –as/–anna, while in the latter –as/–assa, showing exactly the possible integration of two or more different dialects (or even languages) which may have originally corresponded to some of the endings –as/–a, or –as/–assa, –anas/–anna, –is/–issa, –os/–ossa, or –ous/–oussa, and so on.
3.1.3 Toponyms in –ssa or –si
These toponyms may bear a close relationship to Thessaly (this is an idea to be further explained). Toponyms in –si are abundant in the Caucasus (most place names in Georgia bear a –si ending), while toponyms in –ssa used to be widespread all over Asia Minor. A Semitic counterpart of –ssa is –esh/–ish, e.g. Cadesh/Cadish, with an Anatolian-Greek counterpart Cadessa/Cadessos, or even the Phoenician Cadir, with the corresponding (Greek?) rendering Gadeira (instead of Cadessos).
The high degree of integration of toponyms in –si (or even –ssa) with the Greek language, suggests perhaps the early origin and close relationship of the related toponyms to the Greek language.
3.1.4 Toponyms in –ra
The last example (Gadeira) raises a question concerning the Greek version of the name. Toponyms in –ra, like Corcyra, Cythera, Thera, Aptera, Ephyra, and words like porfyra (purple dye), plemmyra (tide), thyra (door), and so on, may imply a pre-Greek origin. The name of the island Corcyra/ Cercyra (Corfu) is a good example, since it seems that even the Mycenaeans had had difficulty in spelling it: ko-ro-ku-ra-jo (Crocyraios/Crocylaios instead of Corcyraios). But to be more accurate, the name Corcyra is pre-Mycenaean, not pre-Greek. Furthermore, the symmetry (croc–/corc–) may suggest a transformation within the same language.
Nevertheless, not all such endings should be considered pre-Greek or of the same origin all together. There is, for example, the variation –ori/–dori, which occurs even nowdays in the area of the ancient Illyria (North-East Italy/Albania/Greek Epirus). For example, the place name Charadros/Charadra, which is found even in Mycenaean Linear B as ka-ra-do-ro. To explain this, I found a Greek site referring to a modern place name which is identified with ancient Hypana, or Ipnoi, and which is presently called Bitzibardi. This –ardi/–dari/–dori is probably related to ancient populations in the area of Modern Albania, or perhaps to modern Greek ‘Arvanites,’ or even to the Dorians, people who may have been of the same stock as the ancient Illyrians. (Everybody now knows that the Greek language did not come into Greece with the ‘Dorian invasion.’)
It is also worth noting that the ethnic name Dorian contains the same ending –ori, and that since such place names like Charadori/Charad(o)ros/Charad(o)ra are found as early as in Mycenaean times, it makes a lot of sense to ask ourselves what was the origin of the Dorians, if they had already been in Greece during the Mycenaean times, or what could be their relationship to other people using place names in –ra. We may even try to establish some connection with Semitic languages, because place names in –ra, such as Sakkara (in Egypt), Kaptara (the Egyptian name for Crete), Aptara (city in Crete), Phabra (modern island of Phlebes, Greece), Alhambra (Spain) are widespread around the Mediterranean and point to a Semitic origin.
Were the ‘Illyrian’ place names in –ori an adaptation to original names in –ra which had come somewhere from the Near East via some colonization process? There are clues of Minoan colonies in ancient Illyria (it will be mentioned later on), and the name of Corcyra or Ephyra (perhaps identical to the later Epirus) point to that direction. There is also a connection between Illyrians and Sicels. Hybla and Agylla were ancient cities in Sicily, both of which contain the –(r)ra/–(l)la ending, and the legend has it that Minos died during his expedition in Sicily.
The similarity between –ra and –ori endings could be superficial, but if not then we will have to consider a very wide, linguistically homogeneous, horizon, covering North Africa, the Near East, Illyria, Minoan Crete, at least. As far as our discussion is concerned, the occurrence of the –ros/–ra/–ri group in endings of Greek place names could be seen as an attempt of the local, then under formation, language to absorb the corresponding toponyms. And while names such as Charadros/Charadra/Charad(o)ri offer an example of an almost complete triplet of genders, names such as Corcyra (fem.) and Sciras (also fem.), Calliaros (masc.) (compare with Cagliari, Italy), but Haliartos (fem.) (likely< Haliarros), are good examples of the ambiguity concerning the gender of the names when they were brought into the Greek language. However, the essence may be that during that time the Greek language was still under formation.
3.1.5 Toponyms in –mna
These endings have a wide distribution. They are so common in Greece that many important cities bear such suffixes, e.g. Athina (Athens), Rafina/Raphina/Raphena (compare Ravenna in Italy), Mycena(e,) etc. This ending is abundant in Italy too, and very common in the territory that was occupied by the Etruscans, e.g. Vetluna, Velch(na), Velsna, Tarchna (compare Greek Troezen(a) or Tarchien in Malta), Clevsin(a), Fufluna, Popluna, Curtun (compare Gortynna in Crete). The distribution of such endings stretches from the West Mediterranean as far as the Near East, at least; compare Barcelona and Catalonia (Cataluña) in Spain, Medina in Saudi Arabia, Vienna in Austria, and so on. Perhaps the syllogism is far-fetched, but the distribution proves otherwise: compare the cognates A Coruña (Spain), Cyrene (Libya), Cyrnos (ancient name of Corsica), Halicyrna and Cyllene (Greece), Halicarnas/Halicarnassa (Turkey/Anatolia), as well as the biblical island Al Qurna (Persian Gulf). Presumably, this is an example of an isogloss in place names.
The horizon covering this ending is so vast that it may also include the Yamna culture (–mna) which is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans. Were IEs the carriers of the –mna ending which spread all over Eurasia and North Africa? Or did IEs adopt these place names? The problem is that, as far as I know, endings related to Greek toponyms, such as Lemnos/Limna, Prosymna, Likymnos/Likymna, Larymnos/Larymna, Gortyna, Dictynna, Calymnos/Calymna, Hormina/Hyrmina, Lacedaemon/Lacedaemna are all considered pre-Greek.
Moreover, the –rna ending previously mentioned (Cyrena/Cyrna) falls more or less into the same category with the –mna ending as well as with the endings –rna/–lna, –tna/–thna, –pna/–phna, –cna/–chna/–gna, –sna, as for example Arna/Arena/Arene, Mytilna/Mytilina/Mytiline, Metna/Methana, Tarchna/Trachina, Messna/Messena/Messene, etc. Perhaps the only difference is that between the contracted (without an intermediate vowel) and the expanded (with the vowel inbetween) form. This is true at least as much as the Greek landscape is concerned, where the contracted forms could be considered ‘Tyrrhenian’ while the expanded, probably later, forms ‘Greek.’
However, as has already been said, the toponyms with the general –na ending cover an area that is so vast that it makes it almost impossible to be the conquered kingdom of IEs. More probably, the width of this distribution indicates a much earlier origin, beginning perhaps in the Neolithic, with the expansion of the first farmers and sea- farers, who may have reached as far as the Pillars of Hercules to the West and the Russian steppes to the North. If this is true, as the Al Qurna paradigm suggests, then we may search for the origin of these place names at a time before the split between the Afro-Asiatic (Semitic) and the Eurasiatic (IE) languages, or even conclude that such a division is false.
3.1.6 Rest of endings
Now let’s take a look at toponyms in –a (/–e ); for example, Aegilipa, Alope, Aba, Aega, Atalante, Bocalia, Amphimalla, Amphiale, Amyclae, Acte, Athena, Arene/Arne, Calymna, Calydna, Aphidna, Canae, Chaa, Same, etc. What we see is that they fall into different groups, with suffixes and forms like –ipa, –opa, –alan–, –ali(os), –alla–, –icos, –na, –mna, –dna, –ba, –ga, –chna/–cha. This is why I realized that a simple division of the toponyms according to the apparent latest suffix is not enough, because it hides successive, earlier, suffixes; for example, Halicarnassos: a theme Hali– related perhaps to the word als= sea, a theme-word carna (whatever it means) containing an ending –(r)na, another suffix –ssa, and another one –os. In such cases a taxonomy according to these earlier endings and themes may prove much more helpful, in order to distinguish the successive strata of different dialects or languages, so that we may follow the path back in time to the origins of the vocabulary, and learn something about the people who spoke the corresponding language(s). This taxonomy and its analysis will follow.
3.1.7 Examples of ambiguity
In order to show why a taxonomy according to –ios endings is probably irrelevant, and why the Greek –ios/–os endings most likely have evolved from previous endings, some examples follow:
Kynouria might also be found in the form Kynoura (and Kynia as Kynas), so that the ending may have been –ra and changed to –ria, or probably the endings are equivalent. Such cases therefore (ra/ria, na/nia, pa/pia, ga/gia, etc.), have nothing to do with the –ios ending.
The place in modern Greece is called Marmari, therefore the ending is –ari. The –ion at the end is redundant.
Another example of a –pha/–phe ending which turned into –pheia.
This is Sepias, –as both for fem. and masc. The form Sepia(e) (plur., fem.) suggests a name Sepia (sing., fem.).
Here again, it is not Delphinios/ Delphinia/ Delphinion (masc./fem./neut.). Instead, the word Delphin stands on its own. Doulichion (neut.) again could also be Dolicha (fem.).
These toponyms clarify the fact that most probably –ios endings standardized the earlier language (but didn’t replace it).
All previous names are neut., but there’s a regular ending –icos/–ice/–icon for the three genders in modern Greek. We may also assume Myrtoos/ Myrtoa/ Myrtoon, Hypatos/Hypate/Hypaton, Callidromos/Callidrome/Callidromon. However, in many cases such names would fit better in other categories: Thryon/Thryoessa, Prason/Prasos, Pteleon/Pteleos, Pogon/Pogona, Sikyon/Sikyona (not all of the latter –on endings are neut.)
Such names are interesting because they reveal an –eis ending, usually masc. plur., which can also be masc. sing. (Hypsoeis). The form Hypsoeis/Hypsoessa/Hypsoen has survived in modern Greek in epithets, but the form –eis in nouns is unusual. Another example is Parnes (the mountain). which in Strabo’s case is masc. Therefore we could assume an –s addition for the masc., e.g. Messe/Messes, Parne/Parnes, etc. (compare Hionae/ Eiones).
The –s ending is particularly interesting and omnipresent, also found in genitives, or in the fem. –sa. It is much more interesting than –ios endings, and as we shall see it is the basis (together with the fem. –a) for suffix formation in Greek.
3.2 Second taxonomy
3.2.1 Toponyms in –sos and –si
Toponyms in –sos/–si comprise about 15%-20% of Strabo’s toponyms (10% - 15% those in –sos and 5% - 10% those in –si). I decided to put both in the same category because they seem interrelated. Furthermore their frequency may rise dramatically in the case that later –os endings evolved from the former. For example:
The modern Greek –(o)eis/–(o)essa/–(o)en is already found in toponyms like Hypsoeis, Gonoessa, Poeaessa, etc. Therefore we have the triplet: Gonoeis/Gonoessa/Gonoen for toponyms which contain the theme –ss–.
In the previous examples we also find alternative forms like Hypsous/Gonous/Poeous, etc. These forms evolved to the later Greek form –eus/–eussa, for example Perseus, with a probable female counterpart Perseussa/Persefsa/Persefa. This feminine form is found as Persephone, but in the case of other pairs like vasileus/vasilissa (king/queen) we find the recurring –eus/–essa form. Other examples include toponyms like Creousa/Creusa (*Creus/*Creussa), (*Eleus)/Elaeussa, Eileithyia, Eleusis.
What is uncertain is the exact conjugation of this forms. Could a pair *Eleus/Eleusis be analogous to *Eleus/Eleussa, or were both forms feminine in some original language? For example the name Ramnous passed into the modern Greek Language as feminine. Therefore it is probable that such endings were later adapted to the needs of a new language which kept one form as masculine (–ous) and the other (–oussa) as feminine. However the ending –oussa shows that the original language may have already contained endings in –s/–sa, therefore there’s no need to complicate things by adding a second language to the former.
The high degree of integration of –ssa forms into the Greek language may be shown furthermore by endings such as –sas/–sassa/–then for the past participle (e.g. poiesas/poiesassa/poiethen for the verb poieo= to make) or –si for verbs (3rd person, present; e.g. poiousi= they make) and datives (e.g. pan–si= to all).
Let’s then come to the –si ending. In addition to the previous cases, the –si ending is also used as locative. In fact all toponyms in –si may indicate locatives (or datives). Furthermore, in names such as Coressia, Tilphousion/Tilphossa, Cyparissos/Cyparission we see the high degree of correlation between the –si and –sos forms.
Here we may make an interesting remark. Toponyms in –si are very common in the Caucasus. The first Neolithic people who came in Europe settled in Thessaly, Greece, in a place called Dimini. The degree of correlation between the words Dimini and Dmanisi in the country of Georgia is extraordinary. Another interesting clue is that, according to genetic studies, the first farmers who came from the Caucasus in the beginning of the Neolithic were carriers of the Y-DNA G Haplogroup, which is also found in high frequency in Thessaly. Now if the name Dimini survives from those early times then in all likelihood the carriers of G Haplogroup were also the carriers of the –si and –ssa endings, and the modern Greek language could trace its distant origin to them.
Another clue concerning the widespread use of these endings is the possibility that later Greek endings in –os evolved from the former. Examples of such a possibility are place names such as Aedepsos, Isos/Nisa, Glissas, Cyparissos, Cephissis, Mycalessos, etc. What is interesting concerning such names is that they seem to already contain an –s ending, which makes it more unlikely that the –os ending was used by a Greek speaking population against a non-Greek one. For example, the name Aedepsos, seems to originate from a word Aedep’s (like the later Oedepus); Thus:
Isos: Is’s> Isos/*Isis, *Nisos/*Nisis/Nisa
Glissas: Glis→ Glis’s/Glissa/Glissa’s
Cyparissos: Cyparis→ Cyparis’s
Cephissis: Cephis→ Cephiss’s> Cephissos
Mycalessos: Mycalis/Mycale: Mycalis’s/Mycales’s
These transformations are indicative, and may be based on real examples such as the Linear B pair of words wa-na-ka/wa-na-ka-sa;
(gen.) wanak’s’s/wanak’sa’s → wanaksos/wanaksas> anaktos/anassas
This is why I realized that probably the repetition of the –s ending is an indication of a genitive, exactly as in the case of the English ’–s (e.g. miss/miss’s). Therefore, in cases such as Cyparissos or Cephissis the original word may have been Cyparis/Cephis. However, because these words may have already been in the form Cyparis’s/Cephis’s (as genitives), it seems that the ending –os was added or evolved later on: Cyparis’s/Cephis’s → Cyparisos/Cephisos, or even Cyparis’s–os/Cephis’s–os → Cypariss–os/Cephiss–os, since the words are correctly written with a double ss (–ss–).
Is this an indication that the –s’s/–sa’s genitives passed into the Greek language as nominatives? Another indication for such a probability is the fact that place names in –(s)sos can be either fem. or masc., while the –os ending is normally used for the masc. gender in the Modern Greek language; but again not always, because there are examples of nouns in –os both for the fem. and the masc. gender in Modern Greek.
To conclude with, even if there are some hints that place names in –si and –ssa do not perfectly correspond to the Modern Greek language, there is a high degree of correlation, and a good amount of smooth transitions from the Old (‘pre-Greek’) to the New (‘Greek’) forms, so that probably there is continuity between the forms. It is believed that the Luwian languages of Anatolia used such –ssa forms, and, although these languages are now extinct, –si endings in place names are common in the Caucasus. The Luwian languages are considered IE. The first settlers in Thessaly were probably Caucasians. Luwians were the Carians both in Asia Minor and in Greece. Since the Carians were IEs (and presumably they used –ssa endings), there is no need to suppose language replacement by some IE-Greek newcomers in Greece (since presumably pre-existing populations in Greece were IEs). The point is that if –os/–ssa/–si endings can be found together in the same place at the same time (as in the case of *Tilphous/Tilphossa/Tilphousion), there is no need to assume three different languages instead of one.
3.2.2 Toponyms in –nth
Toponyms in –nth are found in about 5%-10% of Strabo’s toponyms. They are considered pre- Greek. However they form a broad category of IE place names. For example the Luwian-Anatolian –anda ending, common to the Hittites, or the –and ending in names such as England, Scotland, Deutschland, etc. Therefore there’s nothing to suggest the suffix is not IE. A major category of Krahe’s hydronyms (which will be considered later on) contain the same suffix, for example Alanta, cognate to the Greek Atalante/Atalanta. Relative to the Hittite –anda (e.g. Millawanda, Greek Miletos) is the Trojan –andu (Alaksandu, Greek Alexandros, English Alexander).
The problem with supposing a pre-IE origin of these suffixes is that, as far as the Greek language is concerned, they can be derived from within the context of the language. For example, the Greek suffix –then/–thi is used as locative (e.g. anothen/anothi, katothen/katothi= upwards, downwards). Place names such as Corinthos (Corinth) contain this locative. Perhaps the word Corinthos derives from corys/corythos, as attested in the word Tricorynthos (= with triple plume). Therefore ‘Corinthen’ would signify ‘to Corys.’ A similar example is the locative (also organic) –phi, e.g. ‘Coryphi’ would mean ‘from Corys’ or ‘made of corys.’ The word corphe (top) in modern Greek is of such origin, and the name Tricorynthos could also be *Tricoryphos/Tricorpho (= ‘three tops’). Therefore there’s nothing to suggest a process outside the context of the same language.
There is of course the –os ending after the –then locative, so there may be another way to explain the –nthos ending. A person from Corinth is called Corinthios, but the name is also attested as Corinsios in Linear B. In such a case, the names Corinthos/Corinsos/Corissos are variations of the same theme (the word coris/corys), and the –os ending could be a genitive (which became a nominative), or an expanded form (Corinth’s→ Corinthos). Either way (as locatives or as genitives) it seems that these suffixes were added to a theme (corys) which already contained an –s ending. This theme might correspond to a root *cor-, which produced both words, corys and Corinthos.
Another interesting case is that of place names in –dna, like Aphidna, Calydna, Cydonia (Cydna), Echinos (Echidnos), etc. The theme is often reversed, as in Pindos, Lindos (which by the way is the same as –inth). The theme is also found expanded in the names Apidanos, Araphenidae, Cydonia (already mentioned) Echinades, Eridanos, etc. Therefore the theme –indos seems to have evolved to the later Greek –idas in personal names such as Leonidas, Pelopidas, and in place names such as Echinades, Araphenides.
This symmetrical form –dna, may also be found in the forms –dan, –don, e.g. Ladon, Acidon, Apidanos, Iardanos, Poteidan (Dorian)/Poseidon (Ionian), Danaos, Dardanos, etc. Again, there is nothing to suggest another language, since the main difference is that between contracted and expanded forms of the same theme (e.g. Macedna/Macedona).
Let me also mention that the –dna/–nda symmetry is found in common words too, such as entha/ethnos (inside/nation). But would it be correct to assume that one form is ‘Greek,’ while the other one is ‘pre-Greek?’ In fact, such symmetries may be taken as indication of transformations within the context of the same language (otherwise the theme would not have been reversed but replaced).
Another common word just came to my mind, the word achidnos> achinos (sea- urchin), cognate to echidna (viper). The latter is also called ochia in Greek (observe the transformation: echidna/ochidna→ ochia, with the complete omission of the complex –dn–). Achinos may have been called achidnos previously, because it derives from the word acis/acida (spike). The pair of words echidna/ochia could have been preserved for the distinction between different species (e.g. ‘copperhead’/‘viper’), but it may also point to bilingualism. In any case, both terms have been preserved in Modern Greek, and they are not to be found in any other language.
Another form is the ending –andros. This may be a combination of two suffixes, –and + –aros, as in Andros, Poemandris (poemen= shepherd+ –andros), Pholegandros (perhaps it relates to φλεγραῖα= volcanic, in which case Plegrandos> Phlegandros/Pholegandros). The merge of the two endings may imply two different dialects, or even two different languages. Also possible is the omission of r, as in the case of the word coliandros/coliadnos (coriander).
Concerning the previous case, an interesting example is that of the ancient city Hypana/Ipnoe which, as I found out, nowadays is also called Bizibardi. This –ardi ending is symmetrical to –dari/–daros, which is found in other place names such as Charadros, or in personal names such as Candaros/Chandaros. The latter name appears in Linear B, much earlier than the time of Strabo. Therefore it seems that the themes –andos/–andros and –ardi/–daros are variations which have existed since very early times.
The –ardi theme is also common in Italy in place names such as Lombardia, Sardinia, Ardia/Adriatic, etc. This aspect of convergence is even more interesting if we think about the ethnic name of Dorians, bearing the same theme –dori, and it raises the question when the Dorians came into Greece (if they ever came). If there wasn’t any ‘Dorian invasion,’ was there have been any ‘Mycenaean invasion?’ If not, then how deep in time the succession goes?
Relations can also be established with other categories of endings. For example,
Pholeg–and–ros, from Pholegra/Phlegra> Pholegra–ndos/Pholega–ndros,
with perhaps an earlier –ra ending;
Psamathus/*Psaminthos (psamathos> amos= sand),
Parnassos, Parnetha (=Parnassus, Parnes),
with a possible relation to –ous/–oussa endings;
Amathos, Opisthomarathos, Onou gnathos/Onognathos, Canethos,
with a possible or obvious omission of ‘n’ as in the case of Opisthomarathos, where marathos (fennel) relates to anthos (flower);
The name Lebinthos (also modern Lebithi/Lebitha) could be related to another name Leben, so that a relation between toponyms in –na and –nthos may be established, e.g. Obitnos/*Obinthos, like Pindos/Pydna (Obitnos is testified in Linear B as a place name, whereas Pydna was an ancient Macedonian city).
Therefore the whole –dna category could be the same as –tna, and –dna/–don(a) could be nothing more than a contracted/expanded pair of the same form.
3.2.3 Toponyms in –ra
These endings are found in about 20% of Strabo’s toponyms.
Cirra is a good example of a –ra ending confirmed by the double ‘r.’ Toponyms like Phabra (perhaps Semitic) make us think about the relationship between so diverse people across the Mediterranean and even further. Another example is Graea/Tanagra, which may be considered not Semitic but ‘Greek,’ since it may well be the origin of the ethnic Graecos (Greek).
Similar to toponyms in –(r)ra are toponyms in –(l)la, since the r/l pair is interchangeable. An example is the name Agylla (Greek)/ Cisra (Etruscan)/ Kysry (Phoenician)/ Cerveteri (Modern Italian). According to Strabo, “(the)… country was formerly named Agylla, though now Cærea. It is said to have been founded by Pelasgi from Thessaly. The Lydians, who had taken the name of Tyrrheni, having engaged in war against the Agyllæi, one of them, approaching the wall, inquired the name of the city; when one of the Thessalians from the wall, instead of answering the question, saluted him with χαῖρε. The Tyrrheni received this as an omen, and having taken the city they changed its name (Caerae/Cisra).”
Strabo’s narration may be considered at this point more ethnographical than historical, but it gives us a hint about the history of the city. If the Thessalians were older (in Sicily) than the Lydians/Tyrrhenians, this would mean a later migration of Lydians/Tyrrhenians to Sicily. However Agylla (Aggira) was originally a city of the local Sicels. This may suggest a connection between the Pelasgians of Thessaly and the Pelasgians of Sicily. Furthermore, toponyms in –ra are often found in Ancient Illyria (including Greek Epirus< Ephyra). Therefore we may draw a triangle between Illyria-Thessaly-Sicily and imagine some common language within it.
The Sicels are considered (not by everyone) IEs. The Illyrians were IEs. Therefore the Pelasgian-Thessalians too would be of the same kind. But we should also mention the wider area which the toponyms cover (Ankara in Turkey, Aguilla in the Carribean, which is apparently of Spanish/Portugese origin), and there is also the word agyra (anchor) in Modern Greek, suggesting that the word was borrowed from some ancient seafaring peoples. To stress the wide horizon which such place names cover, we can also mention Ybla, which the Greeks called (Megara) Hyblaea. According to Wikipedia, there were at least three (and possibly as many as five) cities named ‘Hybla’ in ancient accounts of Sicily which are often confounded with each other, and among which it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish.
The name Ybla may point towards a Semitic origin. Probably cities with the same name elsewhere are now lost. But whatever the ethnic origin of such names, their wide distribution in space and time makes a replacement model unlikely. It is more probable that there was an ‘Old Map’ of toponyms which was adopted by newcomers. But, as it seems at least in the case of the Greek language, it was not only place names but also common names which were adopted.
It is possible that a group –ros/–ra/–ri may emerge from these place names, e.g. Cythyros/Cythyra. In this example the neutral gender, which is not attested, could be Cythyri(on)/Cythyron. Someone could say that the –ios/–ia/–ion is the true Greek ending added to a pre-Greek name which may have originally ended in –ra, but as we’ve already seen with respect to the superfluous character of the –ios ending (meaning that it probably evolved from previous –s endings), an analogous case may be true regarding –ra endings, which may have evolved naturally (or which are intrinsically related) to –ria endings. The point is that –ria endings are attested in Linear B as special syllables together with r–ia endings. For example, a woman from Cythyra would be spelled in Mycenaean Linear B either ky-ty-ri-ja or ky-ty-ria, showing that –ria endings already existed as indivisible forms, and perhaps that some –ri ending filled out the –ros/–ra/–ri group.
The correspondence between –ra and –ori endings, for example in the pair Dorion> Oluris/Olura, may be revealed by the group –or/–ora/–ori or –er/–era/–eri or generally –r/–ra/–ri, for example Cleitor/ *Cleitora (modern Cleitoria), Zoster like phoster/soter (savior), etc. Even if names such as Caphereas are suspect of a pre- Greek origin (e.g. Caphir, Capthor, etc.), the –r ending already exists in the Greek language.
Toponyms in –alos comprise an interesting category because this ending may stand on its own as a theme. Forms such as –alos– (Hamarion), –oli– (Homolion, Olympos), –eri– (Elos, Erymanthos), are also recurrent primordial themes used for the formation of composite words. Ellos/elaphos is called the dear, therefore such toponyms can be related to forests. The –alos ending or theme probably has to do with the sea (als, thals, thalassa= sea; alas= salt), and the theme reappears as a pre-fix Hali– in many toponyms, such as Halex (river in Italy), Halys (river in Turkey, modern Kisil- Irmak), Halae, Halae Araphenidae, Haliartos, Haliartis, Halos, Halious, Halonnesos, Halicyrna, etc.
The wide distribution of the theme (also found in Krahe’s hydronyms across Europe, e.g. Alanta) for some people may mean nothing more than a good example of ‘Old European’ place names. However the number of such ‘non-IE’ or ‘Old European’ themes is growing so large that we may wonder if finally there would be any place left on the map of Europe for genuine IE toponyms. Toponyms in –yllos, for example, which are also considered pre-Greek, are found in place names such as Triphylia. Now if the word means ‘three tribes’ (tri- + phyle= tribe) then not only the name for ‘tribe’ but perhaps also the numbers were loans to the IE languages. The place name may have also derived from the word τρυφάλεια (helmet), but even so we see that the –alos theme appears again in a word which certainly belongs to a warrior culture (it is hard to imagine that IE warriors borrowed the word ‘helmet’ from pre-IE farmers).
Another rather straightforward example concerning the relation between a supposedly Greek –r and a supposedly pre-Greek –ra ending is the word hydor (water) and the name Hydra (e.g. Lernaea Hydra). Both words are considered IE but Lerna dates back to the early Neolithic. By the way, the area around Stygos Hydor is called nowadays Mavroneri (=dark waters). While the ancient Greek word for water (hydor) and the modern one (nero) differ, both words are found in Homer (together with the word nama); all these clues suggest continuity, even if the language evolved from the merge of two or more initially different dialects or languages- if Lerna’s Hydra dates back to the Neolithic, then why Styx’s Hydor couldn’t be of the same origin?
Also, we shouldn’t forget to mention the similarities between –si and –li suffixes, while both may be locatives. –si is certainly a locative, while a similar role for –li/–ri may be revealed by the pair of names Hyria/ Hysiae (-ria ↔ -sia), and also by the fact that, as Strabo asserts, Thracians used the suffix –bria for cities (Mesembria/Menabria, Selybria, Poltyobria). It is interesting here to note that such suffixes are common in Italy (Calabria, Cantabria, etc.) but the Thracians are supposed to be related to North Greece, not Italy. Perhaps such an ending was transformed with the loss of the –v– sound (–bria → – ria), and it is hidden in the Greek language in cases such as Phara, Boura, Kynoura. An interesting comparison can be made between the words oura (tail) and saura (lizard, pronounced savra). Probably the Thracians comprise one of the main branches of the Greek ethnos, but if the toponyms they used prevailed in Italy then we should also consider a pre-Thracian population who split both in Italy and Greece.
Now the relationship between –ra/–sos endings, e.g. Pyrra/Pyrasos. Is –sos a later addition to Pyr–ra? Hardly, because endings in –sos are as early as those in –ra. Therefore both forms seem to have existed simultaneously and probably they had already born the –s ending (Pyras/Pyrassa, Pyras’s/Pyras’sa’s, and so on). Further proof for the smooth integration of these forms into the Greek language is the word ‘four’ in Greek: tessera/pisyra/tettara/tityra, all forms have existed or may be assumed as equally probable. Tityros is also one of Strabo’s toponyms. Therefore themes, such as –ra/–aros/–alos/–eros/–elos/–ara/–a(l)la/–yra/–y(l)los, all reoccur in the Greek language equivalently.
3.2.4 Toponyms in –na
These toponyms comprise about 10% of Strabo’s toponyms concerning Greece. However, it is remarkable that the toponyms in –na are found all over the Mediterranean and even further.
The mainstream IE hypothesis would suggest that such toponyms may represent loans from Old (pre-IE) languages. We may refer to names such as Trahin/Trachinia or Bembina/Belbina. Tarxien is interestingly enough a real toponym in Malta, while Belbina (an island) near Sounion in Greece may have taken its name from the Phoenician god Baal. Malta is known to have been colonized by Phoenicians. But the point is that names such as Tarhien seem to be neither Phoenician nor Greek, since the temples in Tarhien date back to 3,150 BCE, when neither Phoenicians nor Greeks existed as we know them.
I decided to use for these toponyms forms like –mna/–tna/–pna, etc., for two reasons. One reason is that the hidden vowel may be implied, e.g. –mna/–mina/–mena/–mona, etc.; the other reason is that such complexes are found in Tyrrhenian place names (Etruscan cities in Italy to be more precise), e.g. Velsna, Tarchna, etc. The last name is the same as Tarchin/Tarxien and reveals an isogloss including Etruscans/Greeks/Phoenicians, which probably existed before these ethnic groups appeared. The Tyrrhenians, who seem to be somewhat related to the Etruscans, are reported by Herodotus to have been in Greece before the Greeks. Probably they were a diverse group of peoples who were later identified with distinct ethnic groups. Thus the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Etruscans, even the Minoans and the people of the Cycladic civilization (all the ‘Sea Peoples’) may have stemmed from them.
The –mna complex has survived in the Greek language not only in nouns, like limne (lake)/limen (port) but also in participles in the form –menos/–mene/–menon (e.g. agapemenos/agapemene/agapemenon= beloved)
Let’s see other forms of the same group, like Gortynna for example. According to Wikipedia, there is evidence of human occupation in Gortyn as far back as the Neolithic era (7,000 BCE). Many artifacts have been found from the Minoan period, as well as some from the Dorian (circa 1,100 BCE).
Ierapytna is another city in Crete (present day Ierapetra). Someone might suppose that the (Minoan?) word pytna corresponds to the Greek word petra (=stone) but perhaps this is not the case because the place name may also be found as Therapytna, therefore it is also possible that pytna> potnia (=beloved), and the original meaning of the city may have been ‘Thera potnia,’ which translates into ‘the beloved (goddess) Thera.’ This misunderstanding may reveal a language gap between the Greeks and the Minoans.
Therapnae is another place name in Greece, therefore the people who lived in Minoan Crete also lived in mainland Greece (Therapna/Therapytna certainly both refer to the same goddess). Perhaps the Greek word therapeia (cure) has its roots to this goddess (I wonder if she is the same as Hera). In Greek thera means hunting and Theras was a Thracian who, according to the legend, gave his name to the island of Thera (Santorini). But I really wonder, was he in reality a Minoan or someone who came from Thrace to Minoan Crete and adopted a local name?
Let’s not forget to mention the –dna ending we previously considered, but this time in relation to –on endings (in this case not the neut. –ον but an either fem. or masc. –ων ending), for example Gerenos/Gerena/Geron (Γερών/Γέρων fem./masc.) or Hermione/Hermion. The tone in this case moves to denote a fem./masc. pair. Lacedaemon however (Λακεδαίμων) could be both the territory and a person (from this territory), and it is fem. for the territory, or both fem. and masc. for the person. This ambiguity may suggest a loan to the Greek language of the corresponding endings. However the pair Calydna/Calydon reveals the equivalence between the two forms (–dna and –mna), as in Macedna/Macedon and Lacedaemna/Lacedaemon. Also another equivalence between –on/–ona and –ous/–oussa, as in Acheron/Acherousia, shows how well all these themes are integrated into the same language.
Let’s now suppose an original –n ending, as we saw in examples of –s or even –r endings. In this case we have –n/–na/–ni; for example, limen/lim’na/limani (limen and limani are used equivalently in Modern Greek and they mean ‘port,’ while lim’na/limne means ‘lake’). In most cases however the –n ending is covered by an –s ending (commonly –as), for example limenas instead of limen, Platonas< Platon, etc.
One may also suspect an original use of the –na ending in locatives or even the –nna complex as indicating ‘new.’ Gortyna/Gortynna for example is also attested as Gortys, suggesting the exchange between the –na/–s endings applied to a theme Gorty-. The pair Dicte/Dictynna may suggest the same. Also a ‘nwa’ syllable is attested in Linear B equivalent to a nu-wa spelling, for example the word ‘new’ (neut. plur.) is written as nwa or nu-wa, which sounds quite familiar to the Italian ‘nuovo.’ Therefore the original Mycenaean word would be nouvos/nou’os. There are other ways to explain the double –nn, of course, such as the loss of a consonant which doubled the following ‘n’ (e.g. *Gortymna→ Gortynna), or an original pronunciation nna/nia which later evolved into –νιά (nja). But if the Linear B pronunciation of nwa has evolved to nja, and if it is related to ‘new’ then toponyms in –na such as Pallene/Pallena could indicate an original ending –nwa (therefore Pallene= Palle (city) + nwa (new)), which was finally corrupted to –(n)na/nja.
3.2.5 Toponyms in –quos
These toponyms comprise about 25% of Strabo’s toponyms, most of them belonging to the –opos/–icos complexes, which in turn belong to the general –quos (qwo–s) theme. This latter evolved either as q
Toponyms such as Aedepsos and Aegilipa reveal a dual property of –pas endings in relation to –ssa endings: Aedepas/Aedepassa, of the general form Aedep’s/Aedep’sa, but Aegilipas/Aegilipa, of the general form Aegilip’s/Aegilip’a
Toponyms such as Creous/Creussa betray the origin of the familiar –eus ending in relation to the –opas ending. For example, Creus/Creussa ↔ Creph’s/Creph’sa ↔ Crephas/Crepha (or Crephas/Crephsa). In fact the names Creus and Creopas can be considered equivalent.
A –wa ending, which is often found in Linear B place names, corresponds to the form –eus/–ewa, therefore –ewas/–ewa, for example Agreus/Agrepha.
Such endings seem to be ‘inherently Greek,’ in the sense that their forms and the corresponding place names sound quite familiar (e.g. the –eus suffix in personal names, such as Perseus, Theseus, etc.), so that if they were originally foreign then the language previously spoken in Greece may have been replaced.
On the other hand, the correspondence between –pas and –ssa, which has already been shown (Aedepas/Aedepsa ↔ Aedepsos), shows that –os and –sos endings were either brought together from two different languages into one language or that (and most probably) they evolved one from the other (os → sos) through a nominative-genitive relationship (Aedep’s- Aedep’s’s ↔ Aedepas-Aedepasos/Aedepsos). Otherwise we should consider that these place names were loans, and that (if endings such as –eus sound quite IE) perhaps IEs preceded non-IEs.
3.2.6 Rest of themes
These endings comprise about 5%-10% of Strabo’s toponyms.
The –tas ending may have derived from the general –quos form, which evolved practically to all κ,π,τ forms (therefore κ,γ,χ/π,β,φ/τ,δ,θ. The word arktos (bear) for example is also pronounced arkouda/arkoudi in modern Greek, in which case the original ‘arquos’ evolved into a –kt–> –k– form. Furthermore the variation arkoudi may also imply a previous form ‘arkouti.’
Therefore together with the common –opos and –icos endings we may trace endings such as –otis (Pelasgiotis), –atos (common in place names in the island of Cephallonia), –otas/–atas (often found in Linear B personal names), etc.
We may also trace a high degree of correlation between –tis and –sis which is also illustrated with the –stos subgroup. Place names such as Carystos/Lycastos/Geraestos have the equivalent forms Caryssos/Lycassos/Geraessos, which reveal a smooth passage between –ss/–tt and –st forms, while place names like Hestiaea/Hestiaeotis reveal the equivalence between the –otis and the –icos/–opos endings (compare Eurytos/Eurotas/Euripos, *Taurotas/Tauropos, etc.).
The equivalence between –ss/–tt and –st may be further illustrated by examples such as Lyttos/ Lyctos, where –ct evolved to –tt, therefore –quos complexes are certainly not younger than –sos/ –ssa forms.
Of the same form as –tas are –das/–thas endings, noting that –idas endings form another distinct category of Greek names denoting origin (Pelopidas for example means son of Pelops or belonging to the clan of Pelops). We have already examined the possible relationship between –nda/–dna and –(n)ida forms, for example Echidnae/Echinadae, or Aphednae/Araphenidae, which may be even expanded so that we might suspect further implications (within the context of the same language), such as Araphidnos/Araphindos> Raphina (modern city-port in Attica, Greece), erebinthos> rebithi (chickpea), with the omission of either d or n from the –dn /–nd complex.
Finally, as far as –amos/–ama toponyms are concerned, the interchangability of the m/n pair may include –mna forms which later evolved to simpler –ma forms (instead of –na). The examples we can find are many: In toponyms we find a –rma complex of the same form as –rna (Harma); in others we may suspect the loss of n from the –mn– complex (Lamia); we may also trace possible reversals (–nm instead of –mn–) (Trinemeoe). Furthermore in common words of Modern Greek, such as kremnos> gremos (cliff), stemnos> stenos (narrow), achamnon> chamo (down), Agamemnon/agamnon> egemon (ruler), etc.
If the name of a city is replaced without any surviving historical record of the process, it is practically impossible to trace the predecessors. For example, Alexandria on the Oxus, founded by Alexander the Great, became modern Ai-Khanoum. On the other hand, Alexandria in Arachosia became modern Kandahar, which probably evolved from ‘Iskandar,’ the local version of the name Alexander.
We have already mentioned the absence of toponyms in Greece referring to Great Agamemnon, such as Agamemnonion/Agamnemonion, etc. But there are place names referring to other heroes, such as Heracleion (referring to Hercules), Theseion (referring to Theseus), Nestoreion (referring to king Nestor of Pylos). Other place names refer to gods and goddesses, e.g. Athina (Athens, referring to goddess Athena), Artemision (referring to goddess Artemis), etc., while most place names refer to common names. The absence of place names referring to Agamemnon may be regarded as an indication that heroes such as Hercules came after Agamemnon, representing new nations (e.g. Dorians vs. Achaeans), or even new languages (although Linear B shows differently). But even the names of the heroes or of the gods and goddesses could be pre-Greek. Perhaps the best way to explain such ambiguities is to assume that during the Mycenaean times and even earlier the Greek language was under formation, and that probably the written records of Linear B represent the first attempt to standardize the language, long before the Homeric poems.
Here we will follow an analytical, rather than historical, method to trace the origin of place names. Suffix analysis may reveal successive substrata of different dialects or languages, while different types of symmetries may expose continuous transformations within the same language or between different languages. We will also consider aspects of etymology, and make comparisons between earlier and later forms of toponyms.
4.1 Replacement vs. Continuity
Here are some preliminary remarks in summary concerning the analysis which will follow,
- Transformations of themes which lead from older to newer forms.
E.g. Callas (original place name)
→ Callabria (‘bria’ = city in Thracian)
→ Callipolis (‘polis’ = city in Greek)
But ‘callas’ → ‘alas’/’als’ = ‘salt’/ ‘sea’ in Greek.
Also ‘palos’ → ‘polis.’
Therefore both older forms ‘callas’ and ‘palos’ can be smoothly transformed into the newer forms without supposing replacement.
The fact that ‘callas’ was later on confused with ‘callos’ (= beauty) may be an indication of corruption, in the same sense that, e.g., ‘thrasos,’ which originally meant ‘courage,’ ended up meaning ‘rudeness.’
- Transformations of suffixes which lead from older to newer forms.
E.g. the duplication of the –s ending
Tyrin’s (nom.) → Tyrins’s (gen.) → Tyrinsos (nom.)
gives back the original form.
- Formal addition of suffixes for standardization purposes.
E.g. the –jos ending, so predominant in the Greek language, is rare in other ‘IE’ languages, a fact which suggests that it has regularly evolved from –s endings instead of having been added to pre-Greek themes.
- Interchangeability of successive suffixes.
E.g. Probalinthos (place name) suggests as much as four successive substratum endings,
If we label the endings,
in modern Greek the first two endings have prevailed. Thus there is nothing to suggest a ‘Greek-Macedonian’ prevalence over a ‘Luwian-Caucasian.’
- Appearance of place names related to incoming gods, kings, heroes, or goods and ideas.
In Greece there are many cases where cities had changed their name into, e.g., Heracleia/Heracleion, suggesting perhaps the appearance of new people (the Greeks) at some time in the past (in Mycenaean times), as was the case with cities which were renamed Alexandreia by Alexander the Great.
As far as the name ‘Heracles’ is concerned, both the goddess Hera and the theme –li/–ali (of which the name is composed) may be considered pre-Greek, so that there is nothing to suggest the introduction of a new language.
But the point is that there is nothing to suggest replacement, at least not before Hellenistic times when place names such as Amphipolis, Callipolis, Antiocheia, Alexandroupolis (which may be considered ‘apparently Greek’) appear.
There is not a single city named, e.g., ‘Agamemnonion.’ Even if we suppose that Agamemnon was a mythical person or that his opponents erased his name after the Trojan War, there isn’t any city in Greece in Mycenaean times (as the place names are attested in Linear B) to suggest the foundation of a ‘New City’ (as is the case in Modern Greece with place names such as Nea Smyrne, Nea Makri, etc., after the evacuation of the original cities in Asia Minor). Not a single place name ‘Neapolis’ (= New-city) is to be found in Mycenaean tablets to suggest the coming of new peoples who brought with them the name for a ‘city.’
On the other hand, there are hints that the components are hidden in earlier forms. For example, place names such as Pallene, if Pall–(os)= city and –ne(a) = new, suggest that the themes and suffixes for ‘New Cities’ where already present, even if such place names have been considered pre-Greek.
These are clues that the Greek language was not replaced by newcomers but has evolved continuously from the older to the newer forms.
4.2 Successive suffixation
The dominant ending in Strabo’s toponyms is the well-known Greek –ios/–ia/–ion or –os/–a/–on. However, as we’ve already seen, most probably the ending evolved from a previous generic form –s (nom.)/ –s’s (genitive), with the addition of a vowel (s’s → sis/sas/sos). An example is the word vasilias (king), Linear B quasileus, with a fem. counterpart vasilissa (instead of vasilia), possibly betraying an original form vasili’s (masc.)/ vasilis’sa (fem.), therefore a prototype –s/–sa pair. Other similar endings are –n/–na/–ni (e.g. Geren/Gerena) and –r/–ra/–ri (e.g. Zoster/Zostera or the word phoster/phostera = savior).
In fact, as far as endings are concerned, the Greek language shows a high degree of homogeneity, implying that, whatever the changes, the language remained relatively stable. But this doesn’t exclude the addition of new linguistic elements, although it makes the possibility of replacement rather remote.
Good examples of successive suffixation are the names
with at least a triple layer of successive suffixes if we consider
-si is a locative, therefore an ending by itself, and again –then is a locative, therefore we have an example of two locatives in succession. After those we have the ending –os. Also the reverse combination –nth–si is absent, suggesting that the –si people came probably first, before the –nth people. Or perhaps that the –inth people reoccupied some of the places of the –si people. In any case,
[-si and –li≥ –nth]
Another example is the city Leben which is also attested as the island Lebinthos/Lebitha.
It seems that (in this example) the –n/–na is deeper (earlier) than –nth(–os). Again the reverse order (something like Lebinthina) is not attested.
Here is an example which shows that there was knowledge of the use of the ending –si as locative
Heilesion → Heileon → Heleon.
Therefore who ever used –os endings probably knew or even used –si locatives.
A similar example holds for –nth endings:
which shows that a possible knowledge of the –nth ending as locative evolved into forms which transformed or omitted it. (Compare for example the name Corinthos with the ethnic Corinsios already attested in Linear B, or with the word corys= helmet.)
Another interesting example is
It indicates that the generic –s/–sa ending was added to some city called Paga and that perhaps a –ga enging was even older than –sa (although this would probably mean a Mesolithic substratum, if –si/–sa endings came with the first Neolithic farmers).
They are different mountains. Parnes/Parnitha (Parnes) and Parnassos (Parnassus).
This is a good example of interchangeability between basic groups of suffixes concerning a word related to mountains (Par–na/Parn–inthos/Parna–ssos), suggesting that even if the suffixes were originally used by different people they were finally integrated into the same resulting language.
Here –(r)na> –ssa, however the reverse also occurs as in Phala-sa-rna. It is interesting to note that ‘parna’ is thought to mean mountain in Luwian, in which case Luwians would use both –na and –sa endings. But the theme parna is also found in Parnitha therefore there is no special reason to consider –nth endings much different (as if the –inth people knew that parna meant mountain). In any case,
[–na ↔ –sa]
The double –rr– in Pyrra certainly suggests a –r(r)a ending, and perhaps makes the name pre-Greek (although words with double ‘r’ do exist, such as πυρρός= flame-coloured, yellowish-red). Endings in –ra tend to be changed into forms like Pyrea, Peireas/Peireus, Pyros, Pyrsos, etc. This is why I suspect that there may be a distinction between endings in –ra (‘less Greek’) and endings in –ori/–ari (‘more Greek’). However, a generic –r/–ra/–ri group could unite both –ra and –ari groups. (Consider for example pheggara/pheggari. The first word sounds strange but the second one means ‘moon.’) To return to our example, the opposite combination –sos–ra is also attested in some examples such as Messa–ra, kithara (guitar), krithari (barley). Incidentally –ra endings have a very wide distribution, from Strabo’s Phabra (probably a Semitic name), to the city Phabra (in modern Pakistan). We may also consider place names such as Agilla (Thessaly), Agira (Sicily), or Ankara (modern Turkey).
Here the substratum –si is deeper than the substratum –na. One the other hand Magnesia reveals the opposite. Therefore,
[–si ↔ –na]
Here –ra> –si
Again here the generic –quos ending (*Tilqwos) is followed by a –si locative. If this is a normal transition (within the same language), then the –si locative may have co-existed with –quos themes and accompanied them, otherwise, if –si is Neolithic, –quos can be earlier.
These examples show that in all likelihood –tas endings are of later origin. However they were already in use during Mycenaean times. These toponyms also reveal the generic –s ending: Selin’s/Ramn’s (Selinous/Ramnous), even if names such as Selin or Ramna/Ramnu may belong to a pre –s substratum. In any case,
This example may offer a link to –ra endings, supposing that a generic –r masc. ending has a –ra fem. pair. But the original –ra ending could be naked (belonging to another language with very different formation of genders).
The word naturally evolved from previous forms like *Tymphressos/ *Tymphrettos. Also variations, such as *Tymphrissa, evolving in turn from more simple names, such as Tymphris/Tymphra, are not improbable (the word tyrphe exists and it is a kind of special soil). It would be interesting to wonder if toponyms in –ra use –essa in conjugation (e.g. *Geraessa/Geraestos). In any case,
Another case: If we compare Strabo’s Myrrinous with Myrina in the island of Lemnos
Myrrin’s/Myrrin’a involve an –s/–a ending instead of Myrrin’s (Myrrinous)/Myrrin’sa (Myrinoussa), which perhaps indicates a later stage of the language when –sos/–ssa endings were forgotten and were replaced by simpler –s/–a forms. However the name Myr(r)ina is archaic, and it has a –na ending (compare the Italian mare/Marina).
The relationship between –si and –li in Modern Georgian names (-si for place names, -li for proper names) makes me think that –si/–li endings are perhaps related to each other in a similar way as –ssa/–ra endings. Mycalesi wouldn’t sound very strange in Greek compared to present day toponyms like Dilesi or Milesi. Therefore Mycalesi/Mycalessos/Mycale should be considered equivalent forms, with the later one having abandoned the locative –si or the expanded –s ending.
Here we have an example of a word containing the theme –alos. Interestingly though -essa> -alos. Therefore in general terms, again,
–sos >= –ra
Here –ssa> –opos> –on. Messapi means ‘from Messa,’ –pi is ablative. Remnants of this form are found in Linear B toponyms ending in –pha and we may also suspect other endings of similar form, for example Phylace, where –ki may represent another lost ablative related to the Greek ek/ex ( εκ’ς) = out of. Therefore the –opos/–ikos epithetic forms may have evolved from simpler forms which were used to form nouns.
On the other hand toponyms such as Aepasion/Aepasia contain the opposite order –aepas–si, therefore there is nothing to suggest that –si and –pi suffixes were not used in the past equivalently and in an interchangeable way.
[–quos = –sos]
Here is the example of a possible –ek ablative which evolved into –ikos/–ika/–ikon (in a similar way –pi may have evolved into –opos/–opa/–opon). Phylacte is a modern toponym, while the form Phylace/Phylatte may be considered interchangeable, as is shown in the forms φυλάσσω/ φυλάττω (to keep guard) and φύλακας (guardian). Here it seems that double t’s or s’s in the forms –tt–/–ss– at least in some cases evolved from complexes of the form ct/pt, etc. Therefore, –ssa endings (which have been considered pre-Greek) may have evolved (at least in some cases) from –quos endings. In any case,
Here we have a –rk– complex analogous to –rn– giving perhaps the possibility of a high degree of integration between –ra and –ca/–na forms.
The name Copa may stand on its own. Such bisyllable place names may be considered primordial (although there are also monosyllable place names), composed of a monosyllable theme and an ending. It is interesting to regard such constructions as elementary in the formation of more complex (multi-syllable) vocabularies. Words may be treated like molecules. They begin with syllables (pa, ga, etc.) which come together (e.g. Paga), while special syllables acting as suffixes are added at the end (e.g. Pagasa).
There are even simpler examples, such as Las, which is monosyllable. All derived toponyms, like Lasion/Lasithi/Lasinthos, come afterwards.
Although these forms are equivalent one may say that an –s ending was added to a previous name Cypar/Cypari or even Cyparu if we judge from the name Cypru-s. But again the –ari endings are common in the Greek language and there is also an –ar(i)u form in genitives, while the forms Cyparissos/Cyparisi are used interchangeably in the modern Greek language.
One may say that the –is ending is of later origin because even in Linear B, for example, the name would have been written like wo-e-we/wo-e-wa, with a suffix –wa. Otherwise the spelling wo-e-we could also be transliterated as woeweis (another example is the name ai-ta-ro-we= aethalowe/aethaloweis/aethalowens). Certainly the Mycenaeans used –s endings, therefore Boebeis/Boebe perhaps form a masc./fem. pair. In such a case we have a masc. –is ending, like in the proper name Agis. Therefore,
[qua = –*s, where * stands for a vowel]
Here is a good example of the generic genitive, Aedep’s (nom.)/ Aedep’sos (gen.); With a feminine counterpart Aedep’sa (nom.)/Aedep’sas.
While Aedepsos is fem., Aedepas is masc., so that an original pair Aedepas (masc.)/Aedepsa (fem.) is very probable. Also the form Aedepsous (fem., gen.) in Modern Greek, makes equally probable an original form Aedepso (fem., nom.) Thus the –s for the gen., or the –s’s again for the gen. if the name already ends in –s in the nom.
Here Cary–s> Carys–tos. The –tos/–tas is a common Greek ending. However –ttos/–ttas and –ssos/–ssas could be common earlier forms. For example, the word meli (honey) in Modern Greek is also attested as meli(t)ton in Ancient Greek. Since the –ss/–tt complex is considered Luwian-Anatolian, it seems that Anatolians were in Greece long before Greeks colonized Anatolia in Classical times.
According to some, the name Cephalos (Cephalus, who gave his name to the modern island of Cephallonia/Cephallenia) is pre-Greek. Also, cephali means ‘head’ in Greek, while phalos means ‘phallus.’ But ‘phallus’ is considered IE (from root *bhel- ‘to blow, inflate, swell’). Therefore the name Cephalos must also be IE, as well as (at least) the theme –alos. However, this theme is related (not only to rivers, according to Krahe, but also) to the sea. Finally I found that *sal- is considered a PIE root:
salt (n.) Old English sealt ‘salt,’ from Proto-Germanic *saltom (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Gothic salt, Dutch zout, German Salz), from PIE *sal- ‘salt’ (cognates: Greek hals ‘salt, sea,’ Latin sal, Old Church Slavonic soli, Old Irish salann, Welsh halen ‘salt’).
Therefore Krahe (who considered the names of his hydronymy pre-IE) was wrong. But if such ‘Old European’ themes (like English salt or Greek als) and suffixes (like –allos ) are also found in IE languages, was the origin of these languages in the Ukrainian Steppes, or closer to the sea and the Mediterranean?
This is an island in –ra/–ria.
Let’s compare the forms aster (masc.)/ asteri (neut.)= star and suppose a form astera (fem.). Here is the generic –*r/–*ra/–*ri group, where * = a vowel, in our case –er/–era/–eri. Such examples show that there’s nothing inherently non- Greek in –ra endings, but with some conservation for very ‘coarse’ toponyms such as Cirra, Aptar(w)a, Argilla, etc.
Probably similar to Arsinoe. Here –inos is an epithetic form analogous to –opos or –icos, showing that –na endings have been well integrated into the Greek language.
All forms like Eleus/Eleusis/Eleussa/Eleuthia are equivalent.
The –eus stems from (or it is related to) –quos (Perseus/Persewas/Persewsa/Persewone) and has in this case an –eussa fem. pair. Therefore, as has already been said,
[–quos = –sos]
Here the –yros/–yllos theme, which might be thought of as pre-Greek, becomes the same as –ari, again under the general form –*(r)r(-os). The last word, Titaresi, has a –si locative. I was thinking about the Greek comparatives –teros (comparative)/ –tatos (superlative) ) as another example of epithetic forms related to the suffixes under discussion (here the –ra suffix). But this is another case.
This toponym reminds me of the Italian city Cagliari, showing the expansion of such toponyms outside Greece (and perhaps that their original birth place is not Greece). The theme hali- here is found either as cali- or even oli- showing the great variation of a theme probably related to the sea (halos/alas/thalassa, etc.). The –tos ending in Haliartos may suggest an earlier –rsa complex, e.g. Oliarsos/Calliarsos.
This is an example of a toponym in –ama. I don’t know if there was an –m/–ma/–mi group similar to the –n/–na/–ni group, but in any case the m/n pair is interchangeable (the consonants m and n), while –mn– can transform into –mm– (Crommyon), –nn– (Dictynna), –m– (kremnos> gremos= cliff), –n– (Mytilene).
Probably Aegous/Aegoussa in order to explain the –ys instead of –is (Aegys instead of Aegis). I guess the –os ending evolved from more coarse sounds like –ous. Names like Perseus in Greek are pronounced Perseph’s, while in Linear B syllables like swa are found in names such as pe-re-swa= Preshua/Presuwa/Prespha, suggesting earlier primordial sounds.
These are examples containing an ending –on which can be of any gender: Κρόκιον and Άντρον are neutral, while Κροκιὼν and Αντρὼν are feminine but could also be masculine, as in the case of Πτελεών. This is relevant to cases with –os endings which are feminine (though commonly masc.), for example Amorgos, Naxos, Andros, etc. In many cases the difference is found in the placing of the tone (e.g. Κροκίων is masc. while Κροκιὼν is fem.) but not always. This confusion regarding the gender may be seen as an example of place names which originally belonged to another language (other than the language that was Greek or evolved into Greek). But even so we don’t know if the same ambivalence had also existed in the original language, in the process of gender formation. In other words, the –n or –s (and generally suffixes) by themselves are not sufficient to denote one gender against the other.
Probably however the fact that all previously mentioned islands (Amorgos, Naxos, Andros) are fem. with masc. (-os) endings, shows gender shift, therefore, at least to some extent language shift.
This is an example of a –halos ending since the name Stympha may stand on its own. Therefore the –pha ending seems to be older than –(h)alos.
Such toponyms contain the generic –s ending: Atrax= Atrac’s → Atracas.
Here again as with Europos/Eurotas we have the pair –opos/–otas, which reveals the transformation of the generic –quos from –pos to –tos (in this example –peus> –teus)
This is an interesting example of interchangeability between –ga/–na endings. If –na> –ga then the –na people were in Greece before the –quos people. But the suffixes could be contemporary. Take for example the term Magna Graecia (Great Greece), which the Romans used to refer to Hellenized Italy. The term magna, whether Italian or pre-IE, bears similarity to words such as Margalla, megala/megale (big in Greek) which also contains a hidden –alos ending, and it has a –gna complex which can be analyzed either as –ga or –na. The term ‘magna’ may also be related to the term Maga= Mater Gaea (Mother Earth= primordial land), which is found as ma-ka in Linear B. Probably the case –na> –ga is either regression or mistake.
This is a nice example of multiple suffixation:
Possibly of a previous form Salganas, containing the themes for the sea (sal–), the earth (–ga) and the ending –na’s.
This name is analogous to Echeiae/*Encheiae and I was wondering about a possible –nch theme similar to the –nth theme. There may be some connection to the Encheli, which are mentioned by Strabo:
“Somewhere near are the silver mines of Damastium (Illyria). Here the Perisadyes had established their sway, and Enchelii, who are also called Sesarethii. Then come the Lyncestæ, the territory Deuriopus, Pelagonia-Tripolitis, the Eordi, Elimia, and Eratyra. Formerly each of these nations was under its own prince. The chiefs of the Enchelii were descendants of Cadmus and Harmonia, and scenes of the fables respecting these persons are shown in the territory. This nation, therefore, was not governed by native princes.”
The name also appears in Linear B as e-ke-ria-wo, Encheliaphon, probably one of the Encheloe, and possibly refers to the lawagetas (general) or even to the wanaks (the king) himself.
Sciron was the giant who used to throw stones to people passing-by, thus Scironides petres (petres= stones). Sciron or Sciras was the rendering of his name, while toponyms in –adas/–ada have probably evolved from –anda forms, similar to –inthos/–indos forms, which in turn gave rise to the classical personal names in –idas/ –ides.
A similar case concerns –ra endings which evolved into the classical –cles ending (e.g., as in Pericles). There is even a name attested in Linear B, pu-ke-ki-ri, which may be translated as Phygecles, but the spelling suggests its archaic, or even pre-Greek (i.e. pre-Mycenaean) origin (Phygecles would have been written as pu-ke-ke-re).
Here we find the equivalence between –aros/–alos, where –alos has a meaning other than ‘sea.’
Also, this name reveals an interplay between notions such as –alios (of the sea)/ (a)qua– (water)/ corali (coral), all related to the water/sea, with equivalent –ari/–ali forms. Since both the Italian and the Greek vocabularies are full of such endings, this has to be the Language of Old Europe which successive newcomers adopted…
To conclude with, all previous endings are more or less interchangeable in place and time, suggesting a high degree of uniformity and the improbability of a major replacement event (at least from the moment these endings came to be). The –s ending (together with –n and –r) seems to be the unifying factor of the toponyms into one and the same language, either by addition of vowels (e.g.–os) or by duplication in genitives (–s’s). If I had to put the endings in time order, I would place –quos, –sos, –si, –ra, –na earlier, and –tos, –nthos, and perhaps –ari, –alos, etc. later. In many cases however the former can be derived from the latter. As far as spatial distribution is concerned, –si and –sos may be centered around Thessaly, Central Greece (because of a Caucasian-Luwian connection), –quos in Attica and parts of the Peloponnese, -ra in Epirus, North-West Greece, related to Illyria, –na all over Greece related to the Near-East, –nth in Macedonia and Thrace, North Greece, related to Phrygians and Thracians. Although in many cases such distinction may be arbitrary, what stays as the general idea is the high degree of uniformity and continuity. 4.3 Transformations
One of the results of this study is that the classical Greek ending –os/–a/–on or –ios/–ia/–ion is possibly the consequence of standardization of the language, and that the ending derived from previous –s forms already in use. This may be shown by simple transformations which can lead from the earlier to the later form. Such examples will follow.
The basic rule is the duplication of the –s ending with the addition or omission of vowels, for example:
wanak–s → wanak–s–os< wanaksos/wanaktos (masc., nom. → gen.)
wanak–sa → wanak–sa–s< wanaksas (fem., nom. → gen.)
In Linear B the word goes wanaks → wanaktos, therefore s → t.
In modern Greek it would be wanakas → wanaka (masc., nom. → gen.), therefore an ‘a’ is added to the –s ending in the nom., and then the –s ending is omitted in the gen.
Another representative word is cyparissi (cypress). Let’s suppose for the three genders,
cyparissos/*cyparissa/cyparissi (the first and the third form do exist).
What we see is that the whole second –sos ending is redundant (cyparis-sos). However the earlier form cyparis already contains an –s ending.
Moreover, the –s ending could be omitted altogether to form the word cypari. The –ari ending is not uncommon in Greek and it is presumably formed by –r endings. Therefore, an –s ending may have been added to a word which originally ended in –r (cypar-is), while later on the –s was duplicated (cyparis’s) to form a new word either in the nom. or in the gen.
All such transformations don’t need the introduction of a new language. As far as the –s ending is concerned, it probably evolved from some basic sibilant.
As far as the ‘academic’ –jos/–ja/–jon ending is concerned, there is nothing special about it, since it can be derived from the previous assumptions, for example
cyparissos → cyparios (by omitting the –ss),
but also cyparissios (by adding the –jos after the –ss),
even Cypros (Cyprus, by adding an –(j)os to a theme cyp(a)r– /cyprios),
but again the –r ending is not unknown to the Greek language (e.g. onar/oneiros= dream).
The –s/–sa/–n form survived in the Greek language in the group –eis/–essa/–en, e.g. asteroeis/asteroessa/asteroen (starry). The –n ending for the neutr. suggests a probable initial form –ns/–nsa/–n, therefore asteroens/asteroensa/asteroen. Therefore the –ssa ending (which was considered pre-Greek) is naturaly derived from the –nsa ending (where the ‘n’ may be replaced by duplicating the ‘s’).
These forms are expressed in Linear B as asterowens/asterowensa/asterowen, where w expresses a ‘v’ or ‘f’ sound (digamma).
This also suggests another basic assumption; that of the evolution of the generic –quos theme, for example asteroquos → asteropos, which means the same as asteroeis. In Linear B this complex form is expressed by the q series, for example a-to-po-qo → artopoios (baker). The –quos theme evolved naturally also to –itos/–otas, for example, Europos → Eyrotas/Eyrytos; and perhaps to –icos through an –ek/–ek’s ablative (e.g. Cadix/Cadics → Cadicos).
It is also interesting to note that the –tas/–tos endings may have evolved form –sos/–sas endings (or even they coexisted), for example the Linear B word lawagetas (army leader) has a corresponding noun egesia (ruling), and egetas/egetes has a fem. pair egessa/egetissa.
The –sas/–sassa/–then group forms active participles, while the –menos/–mena/–menon group forms passive participles. As far as the first group is concerned, it is interesting to note that the people who initially used the –sos ending it seems that they also used –then endings, therefore the –si and –then/–thi locatives may have been used by the same people. Analogous cases are true for other forms such as the present active participle group –on/–oussa/–on (–ων/–ουσσα/–ον).
The –na ending is found in the form –nos/–na/–non (as in the previous group –menos/–mena/–menon), while the –nth complex (in the form –inda) has evolved to the patronymic –idas/–ides (Peliades Achilles= Achilles son of Pelias/Peleus). We have already seen that –nth themes can be produced either from the –then/–thi ending, or even from –sos forms, e.g. ornis/ornitha (bird), Argissa/Argithea, Corinsos/Corinthos, etc.
It is also possible that the –mna complex evolved to mean (or originally meant) ‘nea’ (new) in toponyms such as Gortynna (new Gortys), Cephallenia (new city of Cephalos), etc.
Accordingly, it is possible that –li/–ri endings were used as locatives, for example Acrotiri, Acrogiali, Rion, Aegiale, etc. It is also probable that they stem from a –r/–l ending. For example, the city Limassol in Cyprus (Lemessos in Greek) expresses the existence of some language which used –l endings. Such forms have passed into the Greek language as superlatives/diminutives. For example –teros denotes ‘greater’ (megalos/megalyteros= big/bigger) while –li denotes ‘of less importance’ (mikros/mikroules= small/smally). In any case we may say that –ra endings have had lesser impact on the Greek language than –sos endings.
Another ending, –pi, is used as ablative/organic, related to the proposition apo/apy (from/made of): e.g. Coriphi (from Corinth), the Linear B elephantiaphi (made of ivory), etc. The relationship with the generic –quos theme can be seen in ‘asteropos’ (starry, made of stars). The same goes for the quite strange Greek –eus. However it is possible to show its relation to the –quos/–sos themes, e.g. Eleus/Eleussa< *Eleqwous/*Eleqwoussa.
Finally, another interesting theme is –halos/hali–. Names such as Aegialos, acrogiali (beach), Maenalon, Haliartos, Megara, Vari, Oliaros, Erymanthos, Elos, Hylae, Oetylos, contain such a theme which sometimes means ‘sea’ (hals/halos) but other times is related to hunting (–elos–), or to the forest (–ylos–), etc.
Reversals are aspects of symmetry which usually take place within the context of the same language (otherwise the word would have been replaced).
For example, the pair –dna/–nda as expressed by the pair Aphidnos/Aphindos, or by common words like ethnos= nation/entos= inside. In fact –dna themes are found in North Greece (Macedna for example instead of Macedonia), while –nda themes are common in Asia Minor (the Hititte Millawanda for example instead of the Greek Miletos).
Another similar symmetrical pair is –tnos/–nthos, for example Obitnos/Obinthos, Kythnos/Kynthos, and may express a split of a common language into two dialects. The word ‘entanglement’ could also be used to express the relationship. In general terms, we may draw a dividing line (and at the same time an axis of symmetry) between Greece and Asia Minor (between let’s say the Greek-Pelasgians and the Anatolian-Pelasgians) to suppose the existence of a common language, ancestral to both Greek and Luwian to some extent, but with unknown common origin, since symmetry expresses a relationship without showing direction. The place of origin could be found anywhere from the Pontic steppes (according to the IE theory), to Anatolia and the Near East (if we assume a common origin in the Neolithic).
Reversals are also found in other common words such as startos/stratos (army), tharsos/thrasos (courage), and place names such as Crapathos/Carpathos, Cechreae/Spercheios, Eurykydeion/Eurydikeion, which are basically dialectical differences.
Another similar symmetry is found between the endings –ardi/–adri, e.g. Ardia/Adria. The –ardi theme is common in Italy, e.g. Lombardia, Sardinia, etc., which together with Greek toponyms such as Charadros (–adri) establishes some symmetrical relationship between Greece and Italy.
Addition of vowels proved helpful in conjugation. We have seen the nominative/genitive example –’s/–s’s and the creation of the endings –os, –sos, etc. Addition of vowels proved helpful with all themes in general, e.g. –dna/–nda → dona/nidas, –mna → mina, –rna → –rina, etc.
On the other hand the omission of consonants made it difficult to discern in some cases the earliest origin of names, e.g. Echidnos → Echinos, Amanthus → Amathus, Mytilimna → Mytiline, etc.
Names such as Peparethos, Kikynethos, Lelantion, etc., remind of the duplication of the first syllable in the past tenses (present perfect and past perfect) of later Greek verbs, e.g. leipo/leloipa (to leave/to have left), letho/leletha (to forget/to have forgotten), meno/memeneka (to stay/to have stayed), etc. Also in the present tense the morphology looks similar; for example the –(ny)mi ending (1st person sing.) compared with the –mna ending, or the –si ending (3rd person plur.) compared with the –si locative. Such aspects may provide clues for the distant ‘Pelasgic’ origin of the Greek language; compare for example the verb erhomai (to come)/ elelytha (present perfect)/ elelythyia (present perfect participle, fem.), with the name of the goddess Eleuthia/Eileithyia.
While in Bulgaria, for example, Philippoupolis became Plovdiv, in Greece there isn’t any similar extreme event to suggest language shift. Even if we consider the intrusion of new languages, the number of Old place names which survived is so great that again it seems that the newcomers had adopted those names, probably also adopting the previous culture and its language.
Take for example Doris> Olura. The strange thing here is that Doris is supposed to be older than Olura. If this is not Strabo’s mistake then probably it is an example of regression, so that the Olurians returned to their city after Dorians had left. If Strabo’s correct then this may suggest that the Dorians are as ancient as the Pelasgian Olurians, or even older. The theme olu/oly is repeated in other names such as Olynthos, Olympos, Erymanthos, Ellopia, with different variations. Ellos is the dear, Eryx is the wild goat, ὄλυνθος the winter-fig, ὄλυρα the rice-wheat/barley, etc. It has been suggested that such words are pre-Greek but in fact there’s nothing to support such opinion. –olu/–oli in Olura is no more strange than –oru/–ori in Doris.
Here is a list of toponyms for which Strabo gives chronological order,
Macris/ Abantis/ Ellopia> Euboea
Aegialeis> Mecone> Sikyon
Pyrraea/ Aemonia/ Nessonis> Thettalia
Araethyrea/ Araethyree> Araxos
The comparison of place names in the previous list is in some cases interesting and revealing. For example, the earlier name of Anigros (Minyeios) suggests that the place was previously occupied by Minyans. The Anigros was a small stream which flowed down to the Ionian Sea from Mounts Lapithos and Minthe in southern Elis. The next major neighboring river was the Alpheios to the north.
Therefore it seems that the Minyans had settled not only in Orchomenos, their traditional location, but also as far as Southern Greece.
Other interesting examples are the earlier names of Boeotia, Euboea or Cnossos. The earlier name of Cnossos (Kaeratos/Caeratos), for example, sounds very similar to the Tyrrhenian Cisra, and it reveals the deeper substratum of the word (*Caera> Caera-tos).
Another example already mentioned is Doris, whose name appears to be older even than toponyms rather primordial, such as Olura. This may reveal, on one hand, the presence of Dorians in Greece long before the supposed Dorian invasion, while, one the other hand, the similarity of the endings (Do-ri/Olu-ra) suggests a relationship between the Dorians and the ‘pre-Greek’ populations. It seems therefore that the ancestors of the Dorians were as old in Greece as the ancestors of the Myceneans.
Also interesting is the case of Thera (earlier Calliste), or Salamis (later Pityussa). If Theras was, according to the legend, Thracian and gave his name to the island, then the name Calliste, which contains the theme –allas, probably reveals the relationship of the previous inhabitants with the sea (als/thals/thalassa in Greek), while the name Pityussa, if it is younger than Salamis, shows that toponyms in ous/–ussa were in full use during classical times.
We should not forget to mention the example of the Peloponnese (Argos> Peloponnesos). This is interesting because it says that king Argos was older than Pelops, therefore the names may reveal a succession to the throne of Argos (the autochthonous Pelasgian) by Pelops (the Phrygian). This of course is true if Strabo’s chronological order is correct.
The pair Lysimacheia< Hydra offers an example of comparison between an older form (Hydra: from hydor= water), and a younger form (Lysimacheia: lysis= ending+ mache= battle, therefore Lysimacheia= ending of the battle). It seems that the Greeks had won the battle over the previous Pelasgian inhabitants of Hydra (the monster with many-heads). But the name Hydra (if related to ‘hydor’) is no less Greek at all. In any case, as far as the name ‘Hydra’ is concerned, we see here the relationship between the –ra and the –r endings.
The similarity between Troezen and Troy is striking. In fact, Troe-zen or Troe-then means ‘from Troy,’ just as Athenathen/Athenazen means ‘from Athens.’ Whatever the relationship with the god Poseidon, both names bare the ending –na (Troezena/Poseidon(i)a).
Another example which suggests that perhaps –tas> –nos.
Ortygia is the island of Syracuse, Sicily. Ogygia is another island mentioned by Homer as the home of Calypso, also known as Atlantis. Odysseus stayed on Ogygia for 7 years. Calypso finally instructed Odysseus to build a small raft, gave him food and wine, and let him depart the island.
Approximately seven centuries after Homer, Strabo proposed that Scheria and Ogygia were located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is interesting to note the similarity between the names Callisto/Calypso, noting that Calliste was the earlier name of Thera (Santorini). As far as our discussion is concerned, the –ga theme seems to predate both the –tas and –na themes.
Hecato in Greek means one-hundred (so that Hecatompolis= a hundred cities), but perhaps the name is related to Hecate, goddess of the crossroads. Hecate may have originated among the Carians of Anatolia, where variants of her name are found as names given to children.
We will talk later on about the series
Macris/ Abantis/ Ellopia> Euboea
Pyrraea/ Aemonia/ Nessonis> Thettalia
There are some examples where the younger name seems to be of earlier origin, suggesting that the earlier inhabitants returned to the place, giving it back the original name.
If Kaera(tos) is older than Cnossos and Caesra was a toponym of the Etruscans< Tyrrhenians, then probably Minoan Crete was ruled at some point by Tyrrhenians. The name Radamanthys (one of the three brothers together with Minos and Sarpedon) reminds me of Mycenaean names attested in Linear B such as Aithalofeis/Aithalofens (ai-ta-ro-we) or Encheliafon (e-ke-ria-wo), personal names and probably officials or even rulers in Mycenaean Greece. Such names are not exactly Greek, and perhaps this is what made Ventris (who deciphered Linear B) initially suppose that the Mycenaeans were Tyrrhenians. This also makes me wonder who the Tyrrhenians were if not overlords from the North (from Troy?), who perhaps found themselves in Minoan Crete, Mycenaean Greece, and Lydia, before settling in Etruria, Italy…
If –tas endings are related to Dorians (this is true in classical times), it seems that Doris was conquered by other Dorians who renamed it Histiaeotis, while Dorion, if not the same as Doris, was resettled by ‘Pelasgians’ who named it Olura. But we may even construct a transformation *Dolura → Doris, so that the Dorians may have evolved from the previous inhabitants, or that they were newcomers who adopted the previous name.
Macris/ Abantis/ Ellopia> Euboea
Strabo says that according to Aristotle the Abantes were Thracians who occupied the island of Euboea and gave the same name to the people already being there. Therefore we may count as many as three different peoples for the ethnogenesis of Euboea: indigenous Euboeans, Thracians, and Ionians later on.
Probably both names are Pelasgic, bearing the theme –oli–, suggesting two different groups of Pelasgians or the same people using either name.
It is interesting to note that native Arcadians used names such as ‘Mamaos’ with a repetitive –ma theme. There is also a city Amathus in Cyprus. If it was not founded by Arcadians (Linear B is considered a variation of Greek called the Arcado-Cypriotic dialect) then perhaps the same language had been spoken both in Arcadia and in Cyprus before the Mycenaean Greeks arrived in Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age. This would indicate an isogloss covering the Eastern Aegean.
Aegialeis> Mecone> Sikyon
If we consider Aegialeis=Aegialeia then the Ionians preferred a –na ending (Mecon/Mecona- Sikyon/Sikyona) over an –alos ending but it seems that they used both.
We have talked about Calypso and Odysseus. At the end perhaps it was Calliste and Theras, a marriage between a Thracian hero and a native Pelasgian princess.
Pyrraea/ Aemonia/ Nessonis> Thettalia
Deucalion and Pyrra is perhaps the primordial couple of Thessaly. This may be considered a marriage between –alos and –(r)ra endings. The –na ending appears in Aemonia and Nessonis. The latter name together with Thettalia contain a deeper suffix –ssa/–tta. Such a stratification of suffixes may be regarded indicative of the stratification of languages in the land which perhaps was the birth place of the Greeks.
Poseidonia> Troezen, Trachin> Heracleia
This chain shows that when Hercules arrived in the Peloponnese god Poseidon was already worshiped in these places. Therefore Hercules was a newcomer to a land where place names such as Troezen or Trachin (compare Tarhien in Malta) were widespread. But again such place names referring to gods and heroes seem to make loops of recurrence across the Mediterranean, rather than composing successive events of replacement.
4.4 Toponyms considered ‘classically’ Greek
We will now try to pick out toponyms either by location or by identification. We will study toponyms of Crete and Attica as well as names of islands, also toponyms considered ‘apparently’ Greek.
Toponyms which contain the word ‘polis’ (city) comprise a minority in Strabo’s geography. Examples: Metropolis, Hyampolis, Nicopolis, Tripolis, Tetrapolis, Hecatompolis, Uranopolis, Amphipolis, Neapolis, Polichne, Megalopolitis, etc. It is interesting to note that according to Strabo the Thracians used the theme –bria for cities (Umbria, for example). Words like emporium or imperium may derive from the same theme together with the Greek word polis. Nauplion or Nauplia for example could mean ‘city of ships’ (naus= ship + polion= city). Another cognate form of ‘polis’ is ‘palis,’ which is found in names such as Palinthus (tomb of Danaus), Hispalis (Seville), Palestrina (in Italy), Palinuros (promontory), Palakion (fortress), Pallene, Astypalaea (island/promontory), Eupalion, Palaepharsalos, Paleis, Palaeros, etc. Also interesting is to note that the word ‘polis’ contains the theme –oli, therefore names such as Oliaros, Olizon, Olynthos may be related to the notion ‘city.’
The previous examples refer to what is not obvious about the origin of the word ‘city.’ However other names considered obviously Greek could be of a much earlier origin:
In Greek it means ‘beautiful city,’ from κάλλος (kallos= beauty) and πόλις (polis= city). It was the name of several ancient cities, notably: a city in Caria; a port into the Hellespont on the Thracian Chersonesus, the modern Gallipoli; a city in Calabria, southern Italy. In Greek mythology Callipolis was a son of Alcathous, son of Pelops.
However the first part ‘Calli-’ is uncertain that it refers to the Greek ‘callos’ or that it meant originally ‘beauty.’ Compare for example the names, Calaguris, Calenon (Cales), Calasarna, Calliaros, Callas, Mycalessos/Mycalis/Mycale, or even Calydon, Calydna, Calymna. If Callipolis is synonymous to Calabria and cognate (if not synonymous) to Calaguris or Calasarna, what could be the original meaning of the theme? It certainly reminds me of Krahe’s hydronyms (to be discussed later) containing the theme –ala or sal–, but in this case the sound is cal–.
Triphylia (as Stymphalia)
Probably the name stems from the word tryphaleia/tryphale (τρυφάλεια/τρυφάλη= helmet), not from tri + phyle (‘three-tribes.’) The word tryphale contains the theme –alos which is also found in toponyms considered pre-Greek. But the problem is that words related to weaponry (helmet) are supposed to have been introduced into Greece by IEs.
Again Epitalion (epi= on + halos= sea) means ‘on the sea’ as much as Triphylia means ‘three tribes,’ since the city was not situated on the sea-shore but on a hill near the ford of the river Alpheus.
But the theme –alos/–ala is related to water either way.
Probably the name of the city is related to the word Taurus (tavros= bull):
Taurus (n.) zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin taurus ‘bull, bullock, steer,’ also the name of the constellation, from PIE *tau-ro- ‘bull’ (cognates: Greek tauros, Old Church Slavonic turu ‘bull, steer;’ Lithuanian tauras ‘aurochs;’ Old Prussian tauris ‘bison’); from PIE *tauro- ‘bull,’ from root *(s)taeu- ‘stout, standing, strong’ (cognates: Sanskrit sthura- ‘thick, compact,’ Avestan staora- ‘big cattle,’ Middle Persian stor ‘horse, draft animal,’ Gothic stiur ‘young bull,’ Old English steor, see steer (n.)); extended form of root *stā- ‘to stand’ (see stet). Klein proposes a Semitic origin (compare Aramaic tora ‘ox, bull, steer,’ Hebrew shor, Arabic thor, Ethiopian sor).
Possibly the Greeks took the word from Minoans or Carians. Strabo also refers to Epidaurus limera (= ‘port- Epidaurus’). The words ‘tauros’ and ‘limera’ have the same ending (–ra), therefore it is possible that both words are of the same origin.
The word Hecatompolis means either ‘one hundred cities’ or ‘city of Hecate.’ Hecate is related to Hecuba, a princess of Troy at the time of the Trojan war, who Hecate transformed into a dog to help her escape from Odysseus. The dog was one of Hecate’s symbols. Possibly both names (Hecate/Hecuba) are one and the same. Hecate has also been related to Carians, who used to give her name to their children.
The transformation –wa → –te (Hecuwa → Hecate) is interesting, as it may express the transformation of (a part) of the Carian language into the Greek language. Perhaps the Greek language is nothing more than a collection of three major components: ‘Thracian’ (from the North), Carian (from Anatolia), and ‘Pelasgian’ (the ‘pre- Greek’ language already spoken in Greece).
Again the word megalos (=big) could be either a later transliteration (compare for example the city Margala) or the name originally meant something like ‘city of Margalos.’ I mean by this that the Greek word megas/megalos may stem from a proper name which passed into the Greek language as a common noun, just like the word ‘gigas’ (giant). Even though a PIE etymology is given for ‘megas,’ ‘gigas’ is considered pre-Greek: see Ġgantija in Malta; or Candia, Rhodes island, Greece; or Gyges, king of Lydia; or Meges, one of Helen’s suitors.
Googling ‘Margalla’ I found another city in Pakistan (just like ‘Phabra’). What could be the connection between Margala in Greece and Margalla in Pakistan? Did IEs found both cities? Was the Greek Dionysos a precursor to IE colonization of Asia, and who founded both cities during his expedition in India, long before Alexander the Great? And where was originally Dionysos from? Nysa, where Dionysos (‘God from Nysa’) may have been from, have been identified with various places.
- Hesychius of Alexandria (5th century Byzantine lexicon) gives a list of the following locations proposed by ancient authors as the site of Mount Nysa: Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Babylon, Erythraian Sea (the Red Sea), Thrace, Thessaly, Cilicia, India, Libya, Lydia, Macedonia, Naxos, around Pangaios (mythical island south of Arabia), Syria.
- According to Sir William Jones, “Meros is said by the Greeks to have been a mountain in India, on which their Dionysos was born, and that Meru, though it generally means the north pole in Indian geography, is also a mountain near the city of Naishada or Nysa, called by the Greek geographers Dionysopolis, and universally celebrated in the Sanskrit poems.”
- Strabo gives two places with the name Nysa: one in mount Kithairon, Greece, and another one in Caria, ancient Asia Minor.
- Wikipedia mentions the following places:
Nysa, Noida, a city in northern India on the bank of Yamuna river
Nysa on the Maeander, an ancient city of Anatolia, whose remains are in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın Province,Turkey
Nysa, Poland, a town in southern Poland on the Nysa Kłodzka river
Nysa (Caria), an ancient Hellenistic city founded by Antiochus I Soter
Nysa-Scythopolis, the Hellenistic Bet She'an in northern Israel
Nisa (Lycia), an ancient city in Lycia
Although I suspect that the name Dionysos probably means ‘son of Jeus’ (from some unattested verb related to the noun νεοσσός (chick), also related to the French verb naître), the aspect of someone conquering so many places in the remote past (even before the Argonauts) is intriguing. Probably Dionysos was from Greece because only in Greece his name survives in personal names. Or, to put it better, he became Greek. I believe that no one can imagine Dionysos as Indian, or Polish. We see therefore that the ‘common origin’ in culture and language is not the place of birth but the place of nurture. About acculturation we will talk later on.
4.5 Cretan toponyms
About the ancient languages of Crete, Strabo says: “One language is intermixed with another, says the poet (Homer); there are in Crete, 'Achæi, the brave Eteocretans, Cydones, Dorians divided into three bands, and the divine Pelasgi.' Of these people, says Staphylus, the Dorians occupy the eastern parts of the island, Cydonians the western, Eteocretans the southern, to whom Prasus, a small town, belonged, where is the temple of the Dictæan Jupiter; the other nations, being more powerful, inhabited the plains. It is probable that the Eteocretans and Cydonians were aboriginal inhabitants, and that the others were foreigners, who Andron says came from Thessaly, formerly called Doris, but now Hestiæotis, from which country he says the Dorians, who were settled about Parnassus, migrated, and founded Erineum, Bœum, and Cytinium, whence they are called by the poet Trichaïces, or tripartite.”
Interestingly enough Hiona/Eiones was a city near Praesos (Prasus), eastern (Eteocretan) Crete, and Praenestos, another toponym Strabo gives from Italy is also called Palestrina. This raises questions about who the Hiones (Ionians) were, where did they get their ethnonym from, and also gives some hint about a possible connection between the Praestians and the Philistines.
The existence of a Miletus in Crete suggests that it was not Greeks the first who founded Miletus in Asia Minor, but others who founded both Miletus in Crete and in Asia Minor. Strabo says,
“The Carians, who were formerly islanders, and Leleges, it is said, settled on the continent with the assistance of the Cretans. They built Miletus, of which the founder was Sarpedon from Miletus in Crete. They settled the colony of Termilæ in the present Lycia, but, according to Herodotus, these people were a colony from Crete under the conduct of Sarpedon, brother of Minos and Rhadamanthus, who gave the name of Termilæ to the people formerly called Milyæ, and still more anciently Solymi; when, however, Lycus the son of Pandion arrived, he called them Lycii after his own name.”
Therefore according to Strabo the first Miletus was the Minoan one but Lycia was already occupied by Milyans and Solymi before the Minoans. The Solymi had also settled in Sicily where Minos was buried according to the legend. Therefore Miletos is probably the Greek rendering of a name that the natives used for the place. It is also uncertain what name the Minoans used for the Cretan Miletos but probably all three names (the Greek, the Minoan and the Anatolian Miletos) would be cognates.
In relation to Ierapytna Strabo says,
“The author of the Phoronis calls the Curetes, players upon the pipe, and Phrygians; others call them 'earth-born, and wearing brazen shields.' Another author terms the Corybantes, and not the Curetes, Phrygians, and the Curetes, Cretans. Brazen shields were first worn in Eubœa, whence the people had the name of Chalcidenses. Others say, that the Corybantes who came from Bactriana, or, according to some writers, from the Colchi, were given to Rhea, as a band of armed ministers, by Titan. But in the Cretan history the Curetes are called nurses and guardians of Jove, and are described as having been sent for from Phrygia to Crete by Rhea. According to other writers, there were nine Telchines in Rhodes, who accompanied Rhea to Crete, and from nursing Jupiter had the name of Curetes; that Corybus, one of their party, was the founder of Hierapytna, and furnished the Prasians in Rhodes with the pretext for saying that Corybantes were certain dæmons, children of Minerva and the sun. By others, the Corybantes are represented to be the children of Saturn; by others, of Jupiter and Calliope, or to be the same persons as the Cabeiri; that they went away to Samothrace, which was formerly called Melite; but their lives and actions are mysterious.”
According to this story, the Corybantes were Phrygian warriors who came from Asia to Crete, and that when they arrived there they found a cult devoted to Rhea (the cult perhaps pre- existed in Crete), and renamed themselves to Curetes. On the other hand, we may also suppose that the Minoans had explored the Aegean and had founded colonies long before the Phrygians arrived. As far as the name of Ierapytna (Therapytna?) is concerned, probably it was related with a goddess (Thera?) and the name Ierapytna is similar to the Greek term potniaeon (sanctuary of Potnia). Therefore the name Ierapetra (= sacred stone in Greek) may sound similar to the original name but probably the meaning is different.
The ending –na reveals a possible original name for the place ‘Phalasar’ and it could be of Semitic origin (or some Luwian rendering of a Semitic name/title.) Interestingly, (Tiglath-) Pileser was a name of Assyrian Kings who ruled during the late 2nd- early 1st millennium BCE. The name could have arrived in Crete with Phoenicians.
I have in mind Kismaros in Hungary. The –aros ending is present in both toponyms, but the Hungarian language is Uralic. The Ural mountains divide Eurasia in two parts, forming a barrier which stretches from the Caspian Sea, northwards, up to the Baltic Sea. This may also be considered the dividing line between the Uralics (Hungrians, Estonians, Finish) and the Slavics, although the Russians (who are Slavics) may have expanded Eastwards later on. This may also indicate an original homeland of the Slavs in Eastern Europe.
Kimaros is probably related not only to Hungarians but also to Cimmerians. About them Wikipedia says that they were an ancient Indo-European people living north of the Caucasus and the Sea of Azov as early as 1,300 BCE until they were driven southward by the Scythians into Anatolia during the 8th century BCE. Linguistically they are usually regarded as Iranian, or possibly Thracian with an Iranian ruling class. After their exodus from the Pontic steppe the Cimmerians probably assaulted Urartu about 714 BCE, but in 705, after being repulsed by Sargon II of Assyria, they turned towards Anatolia and in 696-695 conquered Phrygia. In 652, after taking Sardis, the capital of Lydia, they reached the height of their power. Their decline was rapid: Alyattes of Lydia finally defeated them over the period between 637 and 626. There are no further mentions of them in historical sources, but it is likely they settled in Cappadocia.
From Kimaros in Crete to Kismaros in Hungary and from Chimara in Albania to Kimolos in the Aegean, we have two alternatives to explain the similarity: Either it is a coincidence, due to random similarities which can always be found in different languages; or we are faced with an invading bunch of people who came from beyond the Caspian Steppes and settled in Europe. But to assume that they gave their languages to all Europe, I believe it is improbable.
The older name Kaeratos (Kaera/Cisra) reminds me of Kirra in the Corinthian Gulf, also of Kisry, another Etruscan city of which an Etruscan Thebarie Velianas was ruler, according to a bilingual inscription in Etruscan and Phoenician. The name Kisry/Kisra is probably Phoenician (Misiri, e.g., means Egypt in Arabic), therefore the Etruscans might have nothing originally to do with the Tyrrhenians (except that Tyrrhenians visited Etruria at some point in time). The name Cnossos (having the ending –sos) suggests a simpler form, Cnos, attested on coins from the Roman period found on the site. Interestingly Chna is the name given by Hecataeus to Phoenicia.
Therefore the Tyrrhenians may have originally been related to Tyre in Phoenicia, and they may have founded both Cnossos in Crete and Kisra in Etruria, while Kisra (Kaeratos) may have been an earlier name of Cnossos too. However, it is uncertain if the Minoans (who probably were Luwians) used the same name for their major city.
“After Cnossus, the city Gortyna seems to have held the second place in rank and power. For when these cities acted in concert they held in subjection all the rest of the inhabitants, and when they were at variance there was discord throughout the island; and whichever party Cydonia espoused, to them she was a most important accession,” Strabo testifies.
There is also a Gortyna in Arcadia. The modern name is Karytaina.
Apparently the modern name stems from the ancient one (Gortyna → Kortyna → Korytaina → Karytaina). Karys in Greek means chestnut, therefore gortys could be related to the earlier name for chestnuts.
According to Polybius, Lyctus was the oldest city on Crete. In the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III (1,391–1,353 BCE), there’s a list of Aegean place names; Lyctus is mentioned under the name Rikata. According to some scholars, the name was mentioned in Linear B texts as ru-ki-to.
ru-ki-to may be transliterated as Lycistos, and there is a Lycastos among Strabo’s toponyms. It could also be Lycinthos but Lyctos would be written in Linear B as lu-ko-to. We have already noted the equivalence between –ct– ↔ –tt–/–st–/–ss–. Therefore the –ssa theme, which have been considered pre-Greek may derive form the –ct–/–cs– theme in some cases.
According to Wikipedia, the present city was founded by Saracens who moved the previous capital from Gortyna to a new castle they called rabḍ al-ḫandaq, Hellenized as Χάνδαξ (Khándax) and Latinized as Candia. After the Byzantine conquest, the city was locally known as Megalo Kastro or Castro (the Big Castle). The ancient name Heraclion was revived in the 19th century and comes from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum, whose exact location is unknown.
The name Chandax (Chandac’s) contains an –s suffix which may characterize the Hellenization of the original Arabic word. An Arabic name has survived for another modern city of Crete, Chania (ancient Cydonia). Heracleion was probably the port of Cnossos in Minoan times, but the original name has not survived. But is it possible that the Arabs revived the original name, which sounds so similar to Ġgantija in Malta, so that it could be of Neolithic origin. Therefore, the series Heracleion> Chandax may be seen as regression (to the original name).
This was a key word which Ventris identified to decipher Linear B, a-mi-ni-so. The name however (ironically enough) is considered pre-Greek (because of the –sos ending).
The sanctuary (ieron) refers to the goddess Eileithyia. Contrary to names such as Britomartis, Eileithyia can bear a Greek etymology related to the verb erhomai (to come/to return). The present perfect participle of this verb is ἐληλυθώς (masc.)/ἐληλυθυῖα (fem.). Apparently ele(ly)thyia and Eleuthyia/Eileithyia are almost identical. Therefore Eileithyia has been interpreted as ‘Deliverer.’ Perhaps this Minoan goddess was brought into the Greek culture with a Hellenized version of some original name. However the similarity between the form and the meaning of the name suggests a cultural bond between the Greeks and the Minoans.
The earliest form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek e-re-u-ti-ja. The cave of Eileithyia near Amnisos, the harbor of Knossos, was accounted the birthplace of Eileithyia, and votive offerings to her have been found in the cave establishing the continuity of her cult from Neolithic times, with a revival as late as the Roman period. Here she was probably being worshipped before Zeus arrived in the Aegean, but certainly in Minoan-Mycenaean times. In classical times, there were shrines to Eileithyia in the Cretan cities of Lato and Eleutherna and a sacred cave at Inatos.
Cherronesos/Chersonesos (=promontory) derives form cherros/chersos (=dry land) and nesos/nessos (= island). There’s some ambiguity in the Greek vocabulary with respect to words such as island, gulf, isthmus, promontory, peninsula, sea, lake, etc., suggesting perhaps that the terms were brought into the Greek language from another one. A straightforward example is the pair scyllos/cynas (=dog), while both words occasionally refer to promontories (e.g. Scylleaon/Cynosoura). The last one means ‘dog’s tail.’ There is a way to produce one word from the other: scyllos/scylnas → cylnas/cynas (e.g. the port-city Kyllene< Kyllena< *Scyllina/Scyllna?) but the problem is that the two words probably had a different meaning: cynas is related to cynegi = hunting, while scyllos could have the original meaning of ‘something protruding’ (e.g. Scylla and Charybdis, scylopsaro= dogfish, scylomouris= dogface, etc.) Interestingly we see that both Greek and English use the substratum meaning, (scylopsaro=dogfish=fish with protruding face/sharp shape), but only Greek kept the substratum word (scyllos).
Both mountains (Ide and Dicte) were also found in the territory of Troy, Ida as a mountain, Dicte as a place, while the names Pytna or Gargarus, were used for mountain tops. Pytna can be a synonym either for ‘stone’ or for ‘Potnia;’ in the latter case the name Pytna could be related to sanctuaries on mountain tops. Gargarus is related to the Greek word gargaros which accompanies springs and means flowing/clear waters.
According to Strabo, “The Scepsian (Demetrius) says in another place, in contradiction to Euripides, that it is not the custom in Crete to pay divine honors to Rhea, and that these rites were not established there, but in Phrygia only, and in the Troad, and that they who affirm the contrary are mythologists rather than historians; and were probably misled by an identity of name, for Ida is a mountain both in the Troad and in Crete; and Dicte is a spot in the Scepsian territory, and a mountain in Crete. Pytna is a peak of Ida, (and a mountain in Crete,) whence the city Hierapytna has its name. There is Hippocorona in the territory of Adramyttium, and Hippocoronium in Crete. Samonium also is the eastern promontory of the island, and a plain in the Neandris, and in the territory of the Alexandrians (Alexandria Troas).”
Apparently there is some connection between Phrygians and Minoans but, since these two are separated by a millennium or so, the connection is indirect, probably through Anatolia. Perhaps Troy is the missing link which connects Phrygians and Minoans with the same ruling class at different periods. Of the same origin may have also been the Greek overlords in Mycenaean times.
The year 3,000 BCE, when Troy was founded, may be seen as a landmark for the unifying processes that took place during the following millennium.
As far as the city of Dicte/Dictys (Dictynna) is concerned, the same name seems to be related to a deity (Dictynna) which in turn is related to or could be identified with Britomartis.
Wikipedia says that according to Solinus the name Britomartis is not Greek but from a Cretan dialect; he also says that her name means virgo dulcis, or ‘sweet virgin.’ Hesychius of Alexandria also equates the Cretan word βριτύ (brite) with Greek γλυκύ (glyke) ‘sweet.’ According to some other scholars, Britomartis (‘sweet maid’) is an epithet that does not reveal the goddess’s name, nor her character, for it has the ring of an apotropaic euphemism.
Britomartis as Diktynna was pictured on Cretan coins of Kydonia, Polyrrhenia and Phalasarna as the nurse of Zeus. On Crete, she was connected with the mountain where Zeus was said to have been born- Mount Dikte. Temples dedicated to her existed in Athens, Sparta, Massalia and between Ambrosus and Anticyra in Phocis, where, as Artemis Diktynna, her cult object was a black stone worked by Aeginetans, but she was primarily a goddess of local importance in Western Crete, such as Lysos and West of Kydonia…
Another name, Pipituna, found on Linear B may be another form of Diktynna.
As far as the name Britomartis is concerned the second part ‘martis’ may also be related to the Greek word martys/martyrion = witness/martyrdom, a translation which would be very appropriate for a Goddess whose worshipers would have given testimony to her cult. So she would be the ‘Dear Beholder.’ Also the word brytos in Greek is related to liquor or something flowing and it is used in names of springs (Anabrytta, for example, or the word bryse= fountain/tap). According to this analysis the name Britomartis certainly is related to a sacrificial ceremony (therefore not ‘sweet’ at all), the liquor would have been the blood of the victim/ and the wine drunk afterwards by the participants, therefore she was not the ‘Sweet Virgin’ but ‘The Libator.’
Another interesting clue is the name Pipituna in Linear B. If the name really exists then Pipituna is certainly a variation of the Greek word Potnia or of the (Minoan?) word Pytna (not to mention the Italian word Putana and how it came to be…). The morphology of the name Pipituna bears such a strong resemblance to known Tyrrhenian (/Etruscan) names (Vetluna, Fufluna, Popluna, Veliunas, etc.), so that one may suspect a straightforward connection between the Tyrrhenians and the Minoans.
The Greek etymology of the name Britomartis also makes me think that the goddess was not Minoan but Phrygian, because the Phrygian language is closely related to the Greek language (while the Minoan language seems to have been different). Thus perhaps a Phrygian Britomartis was identified with a Minoan Dictynna, as later on she was identified with the Greek Artemis. Also the fact that her cult was more widespread in Western Crete, may suggest a cultural division between the Cydonians of Western Crete and the Minoans on the rest of the island. If we accept a legend according which Cydonia was founded by an Arcadian Cydon then we may have a Pelasgic-Greek presence in Crete since the Minoan times.
Cydon of Crete, eponym of Cydonia. According to one version, he was a son of Tegeates and brother of Gortys and Archedius: the three brothers were said to have migrated to Crete from Arcadia. Alternately, Cydon was a native of Crete, son of Acacallis (daughter of Minos) by Hermes or Apollo. He is probably the same as Cydon, the father of Eulimene.
In classical times Cydonia and the Western part of Crete was occupied by Dorians (while the Eteocretans were isolated on the Eastern part of the island). Probably the legend according which Cydon was Arcadian is a paraphrase: the three brothers were Cydon, Gortys, and Arcadios, thus perhaps the only apparent Greek name is that of Arcadios. However Arcadios migrated to Crete, probably at a time when the Minoans were still in power. Therefore the myth reveals a possible Greek presence on the island before the supposed ‘Mycenaean invasion.’
As far as the name Acacallis is concerned, it is certainly pre-Greek, and it is one of few Minoan names which thankfully was not Hellenized. The Greek version would be something like Calliste. Nevertheless the theme –callis appears again.
Mount Tityros is a hill landform in western Crete in the vicinity of the modern-day city of Chania, Greece. In ancient times Mount Tityros was associated with the early Cretan city of Kydonia. Residents of the ancient city of Kydonia dedicated a temple to the goddess Britomartis on Mount Tityros.
Nowadays Tityros is called Tsoutsouros. The accent is heavier than the elaborate version ‘Tityros.’ This is why in many cases even the most elaborate ancient Greek names would have sounded very ‘pre-Greek’ in the common (Greek) language of the time.
In Greek mythology, here was placed the scene of the legend of the contest between the Sirens and the Muses, when after the victory of the latter, the Sirens lost the feathers of their wings from their shoulders, and having thus become white, cast themselves into the sea, whence the name of the city Aptera (literally meaning ‘without wings’), and of the neighboring islands Leucae (meaning ‘white’). It was at one time in alliance with Cnossus, but was afterwards compelled by the Polyrrhenians to side with them against that city. The port of Aptera according to Strabo was Cisamos.
The replacement of the Sirens by the Muses may imply a cultural- linguistic shift. However both the Sirens and the Muses were referred to later on. Therefore admixture is more probable than replacement.
Striking is the resemblance between the names Aptera and Captora in ancient texts (Egyptian Ceftu, Jewish Caphtor). In this case the translation A-ptera (no-wings) is a rationalization (based on Greek) of a pre-Greek name. In linear B the city is called a-pa-ta-wa, therefore Aptarwa. If this is the name which outsiders identified Crete with, then probably it was the most important city of the time, and perhaps the Minoans called the whole island of Crete by this name.
According to Wikipedia, the island of Crete is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BCE, repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island. The current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te (Cretes= Cretans), ke-re-si-jo (Cresios> Creticos= Cretan) In Ancient Greek, the name Crete first appears in Homer’s Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luwian word *kursatta (cf. kursawar ‘island,’ kursattar ‘cutting, sliver’). In Latin, it became Creta.
Interestingly, the word kursawar appears in modern Greek as kursaros (or corsair in English), meaning ‘pirate.’ Therefore the name was preserved at a time when the islanders of the East Mediterranean had become pirates.
Some of the foreign texts referring to ‘Kaptor’ are from post-Minoan times (the Amarna letters, for example). Was still Capthor the name of Crete even after Mycenaean occupation, or were the Minoans still in control (from still unconquered cities?). There is still doubt when the Mycenaeans really occupied Crete, while the time of a total conquest may well be in late or even post Mycenaean times. If the Mari texts are correct then probably in 1,800 BCE Aptera was the strongest city-state on the island. It is even possible that the Minoans never used the same name for the whole of the island.
Like Chna/Chnos for Cnossos, Pha could be an (ab)original monosyllable toponym for Phaestos (before the addition of the –tos Greek suffix). The antiquity of the city can be further supported by the Phaestus Disk, bearing a unique combination of signs, half hieroglyphic- half syllabic.
A relation between Minoan and the Anatolian group of languages (within the Indo-European family) has been proposed. If these languages are an early Indo-European stratum rather than pre-Indo-European, they would be associated with Krahe’s Old European hydronymy and would date back to a Kurganization during the early Bronze Age.
About Krahe’s hydronyms we will talk later on. But the term ‘Kurganization’ is far-fetched and misleading. On the contrary, the ‘Kurgan people’ would have become civilized. As far as Tyrrhenians are concerned, they probably represented a loosely related group of people, related to the Anatolian term ‘curswara’ (corsairs or sea-farers). Their relation to the sea further supports an Aegean-Anatolian origin, bringing them close to Carians, Cilicians (compare the Cilician Tarsos and the ethnonym Tyrrhenian), also to Phoenicians (compare again Tyros/Tyre and Tyrrhenians). Therefore there wasn’t any ‘kurganization’ of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, but the ‘acculturation’ of newcomers into the world of the Anatolian Bronze Age. The newcomers brought languages with them, but I believe that the languages which finally prevailed were not ‘intrusive’ but ‘sharing.’ After all Trojans, Tyrrhenians and Etruscans, Lydians and Lycians, Hattians and Hittites, Minoans and Phoenicians, Phrygians and Thracians, have all disappeared. But they left behind the roots.
4.6 Toponyms of Attica
According to the theory put forward by the philologist Paul Kretschmer, a number of possible non-Indo-European linguistic and cultural features (of the Greek language) can be attributed to the Pelasgians:
- Groups of apparently non-Indo-European loan words in the Greek language, borrowed in its prehistoric development.
- Non-Greek and possibly non-Indo-European roots for many Greek toponyms in the region, containing the consonantal strings ‘-nth-‘ (e.g., Corinth, Probalinthos, Zakynthos, Amarynthos), or its equivalent ‘-ns-‘ (e.g., Tiryns); ‘-tt-,’ e.g., in the peninsula of Attica, Mounts Hymettus and Brilettus/Brilessus, Lycabettus Hill, the deme of Gargettus, etc.; or its equivalent ‘-ss-’: Larissa, Mount Parnassus, the river names Kephissos and Ilissos, the Cretan cities of Amnis(s)os and Tylissos etc. These strings also appear in other non-Greek, presumably substratally inherited nouns such as asáminthos (bathtub), ápsinthos (absinth), terébinthos (terebinth), etc. Other placenames with no apparent Indo-European etymology include Athēnai (Athens), Mykēnai (Mycene), Messēnē, Kyllēnē (Cyllene), Cyrene, Mytilene, etc. (note the common -ēnai/ēnē ending); also Thebes, Delphi, Lindos, Rhamnus, and others.
- Certain mythological stories or deities that seem to have no parallels in the mythologies of other Indo-European peoples (e. g., the Olympians Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite, whose origins seem Anatolian or Levantine).
- Non-Greek inscriptions throughout the Mediterranean, such as the Lemnos stele (which depicts the Etruscan language).
However, during the early 20th century, archaeological excavations conducted by the Italian Archaeological School and by the American Classical School on the Athenian Acropolis and on other sites within Attica revealed Neolithic dwellings, tools, pottery and skeletons from domesticated animals (i.e., sheep, fish). All of these discoveries showed significant resemblances to the Neolithic discoveries made on the Thessalian acropolises of Sesklo and Dimini. These discoveries help provide physical confirmation of the literary tradition that describes the Athenians as the descendants of the Pelasgians, who appear to descend continuously from the Neolithic inhabitants in Thessaly. Overall, the archaeological evidence indicates that the site of the Acropolis was inhabited by farmers as early as the 6th millennium BCE.
Throughout our own discussion, it may have become apparent that all those supposedly pre- Greek, or non-Greek, themes, on one hand form the basis of the Greek language, and, on the other hand, can be continuously transformed into known Greek themes, so that in all likelihood there wasn’t some other language (the Greek language) which came from ‘elsewhere’ with a different vocabulary and structure. In other words, it seems that the Greek language evolved from one or more Pelasgic dialects.
Perhaps the initial place of origin of the Greek language was South Greece (Argos in the Peloponnese), although according to some traditions people from Thessaly, Central Greece (the Pelasgic Argos), migrated to South Greece. In this case the Aeolians of Thessaly were Pelasgians who became the Achaeans and the Dorians of South and West Greece. It is also possible that this process was complicated by migrations of people who came from the North and from the East. Thracians, Phrygians and Epirotes from the North, together with Carians and other Anatolians form the East. Probably the Aeolians were pre-IEs, descendants of Neolithic farmers, while the Northern tribes where IEs who came during the Bronze Age, and the Carians of Anatolia could have been of mixed origin (IEs, Caucasians, Minoans, etc.) In the Hittite records places such as Arzawa and Achiyawa are mentioned referring either to Greece or to Asia Minor (Anatolia). Whether these places were early colonies of Greeks from the mainland, or springboards of newcomers to Greece, the names (Arzawa= Argives, Achiyawa= Achaeans) suggest that such ethnic names used by Homer were found on both sides of the Aegean in much earlier times. Furthermore, names such as Oluris/Olura < Doris in the Peloponnese, Olynthos in Magnesia, Central Greece, or Hionae/ Eiones in the Peloponnese, may suggest a connection with the ethnics of the Dorians, the Aeolians, and the Ionians in the most remote past.
[According to Perseus Digital Library,
ὄλυρα= rice-wheat, barley
ὄλυνθος= a winter-fig.]
With respect to Attica, place names such as Hymettus, Brilessus, Lycabettus, Parnes (similar to Parnassus/Parnassos), Kephissus, Ilissus/Heilissus, bear the familiar –sos ending (or –ss–/–tt– ). These could be related to earlier types such as Hymes, Briles, Lycas, Parnes, Kephis, Ileus/Heileus (consider even the form Ulissus/Ulysses). Such types in turn could have derived from forms without –s endings (–es/–as/–is/–us/–eus/–os, etc.). But the point is that the names are sufficiently prototypical either with –s’s or not.
With respect to the origin of –ss–/–tt– endings we have already given examples such as the group Lycos/Lyctos/Lyttos: Lyctos → Lycos (with the omission of ‘t’) or Lyctos→ Lyttos (with the omission of ‘c’ and duplication of ‘t’. The form Lyctos seems to be even earlier than Lyttos. But there is nothing ‘pre-Greek’ (or pre-IE) with –ct–. Furthermore, even if words like Lycabettus may be suspect of an –et ending (pointing perhaps to a Semitic origin), the point is that the form Lyc– precedes, and may bear a Greek etymology. Examples,
λυκάβας= (period of a) year
λύκη/λυκόφως/ λυκαυγής= twilight
Another toponym in Attica, Corydallos, (a present day suburb) makes me think of Homer’s phrase ‘κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ,’ corys/corythos= (helmet) crest, aiolos= fast like the wind, various in ways. By the way corydallos (anc. also corydos) is the lark (bird), therefore it means ‘crested.’ We see again that the word (corydos) may stand on its own, therefore the additional ending –allos (-yllos has been considered pre-Greek) cannot predate the –(i)dos/–(y)dos ending (in ‘corydos’). We may also suppose variations of the word in the form Corydnos/Coryndos bearing the ending –dna. But we have already said that pairs such as –i(n)dos/–id(n)os are equivalent. The identification of the helmet (corys) with the lark (corydos/corydnos/corydallos) makes it more probable that the people who used both words were native Pelasgians- Greeks rather than invaders (even if helmets were brought into Greece with an invading warrior- tribe, the name which prevailed for the helmet was that of a native bird, the lark).
The –dna suffix reappears in the name (hydronym) Heridanos (/Heridnos), ἠρινός= in spring, while the ἠρι– theme is used for something new (ἠριγένεια= new born). It is improbable that the first part of the word (heri–) is Greek but the second part (–dnos) is not.
The name reappears in a thematology concerning wolves (lycos), or perhaps the light (λύκη). Even the word λύκειον= lyceum is related, in honor of Apollo Lyceus (= Apollo the Lightbringer). It is also interesting to identify Apollo (the Lightbringer) with Lucifer, which means exactly the same thing (Latin: lux= light + ferre= to bring, Greek: λοῦσον + φέρειν). It is worth noting that perhaps all the ancient gods were transformed into demons by modern religion. Since δαίμων (demon) just meant ‘god,’ the corruption of meaning took place afterwards.
4.7 Names of Islands
I have gathered a list of about 50 islands mentioned by Strabo,
We see that the islands bear the same suffixes as the other mainland toponyms, which suggests that the people who inhabited the islands also occupied the mainland. This is important because it has been supposed that the people living in the Aegean islands were not the same as those in the mainland (Carians for example from Asia Minor are supposed to have settled in the islands at an early date, while Northern tribes such as Thracians and Phrygians may have occupied parts of the mainland at the same time). However place name analysis suggests that the same people lived both in the mainland and in the islands.
We should note that names in –nda/–dna seem to have a higher frequency in an area covering North Greece- North Asia Minor. However the Greek name for ‘island’ (nessos) does not contain the –and suffix but the –sos suffix, therefore in all probability the first inhabitants of the islands were Anatolians, because in Asia Minor the –sos suffix is found in abundance. However this distinction may be regarded rather superficial, since all endings we have examined are found in the islands’ names. Also –(*)ros/– (*)ra or –(*)los/–(*)la endings are abundant in the names of the islands, where (*) stands for a vowel, with the reservation that –ra (as in Thera or Cythera) and –ros or –alos endings may have originally expressed different languages (however as we have seen the Minoans were after all not so much different from Graeco-Anatolians or even Illyrians).
The interplay between the peoples and the corresponding languages can be found in many examples:
- Thera, given the name of Theras, a Thracian hero. However Thera could have originally been a Minoan goddess (if we change Ierapytna= sacred stone to Therapytna= Thera potnia).
- Therasia, bearing the locative –si, showing that this ending was probably preserved at the time of Thera’s volcanic eruption which formed Therasia (probably about 1,600 BCE).
- Icaria, named after Caria in Asia Minor.
- Keos/Kos, expressing a monosyllable –quos, showing the antiquity of the names.
- Samos, a word which may be regarded equal to ‘island,’ as we see in the name Same for Cephallenia, or Samothrace (= Thracian island?)
- Kimolos/Kimaros, again the Cimmerians are present.
- Andros, an interplay between –and and –ros suffixes, with an expanded form Andaros, as in Kandaros/Kantharos. The name may stand on its own as shown in Pholeg’andros, φλεγραῖα/φλεγύα= volcanic/fiery red, red-brown.
- Astypalaia, interestingly containing two different words with perhaps a meaning relative to ‘city,’ asty and palos/polis. Compare, for example, Eupalion (Eupolion) or Paleis. Therefore, judging from the order, asty< palos/polis.
In any case it seems that theories suggesting the occupation of the Aegean islands only by Anatolians cannot be thoroughly supported. But even so, it seems that at some point in the past (possibly the 3rd millennium BCE) commerce and sea-faring enterprises contributed to such a level of linguistic uniformity that the civilization which emerged in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean may be regarded as one and the same, and also as an intermediate step (if not the initial) for the spread of IE languages in (still Neolithic) Europe.
4.8 ‘Primordial’ names
In the European vocabulary there are common words for notions such as the tree (Greek drys), the wolf (Greek lycos), the sky (Greek skia=shadow), the sea (Greek hals, English salt), with cognates also found in Asiatic languages (Indian and Persian for example). Thus the IE theory. However, such words are so basic that they may have been preserved since much earlier times, even since the Paleolithic. The word for the wolf for example may be such a case, as wolves are thought to have been domesticated 15,000 years ago, from the gray Eurasiatic wolf. Later on the Europeans may have moved to Asia to avoid the Younger Dryas (we will say more later on), further South to the Near East, where they may have blended together with local cultures to form the Nostratic language, before making the journey back to Europe. In this (hypothetical) story the PIEs of the Ukrainian steppes should be seen as an intermediate event in the whole picture.
There are other words which may go deep into the past, the word cycle for example, cyclos in Greek, kikel in Jewish. On the other hand, words which should be common in IE languages according to the IE theory, are not. For example the horse (Greek alogo) shows that the official word *equos was borrowed perhaps from Iranian (ispa); Copper is related to Cyprus therefore it is also a loan. Incidentally, the Greek word for copper (chalcos) seems to have a different origin, therefore these languages may have separated from each other before the beginning of the Copper Age.
However there is a common word for metal in general (metallon in Greek). But, according to Wikipedia, the earliest recorded metal employed by humans, gold, has been found in Spanish caves used during the late Paleolithic period, c. 40,000 BCE. Also, silver, copper, tin and meteoric iron can also be found in native form, allowing a limited amount of metalworking in early cultures… Certain metals, notably tin, lead and copper, can be recovered from their ores by simply heating the rocks in a fire, a process known as smelting. The first evidence of this extractive metallurgy dates from the 5th and 6th millennium BCE and was found in the archaeological sites of Majdanpek, Yarmovac and Plocnik, all three in Serbia. To date, the earliest evidence of copper smelting is found at the Belovode site, including a copper axe from 5,500 BC belonging to the Vinča culture. Other signs of early metals are found from the third millennium BCE in places like Palmela (Portugal), Los Millares (Spain), and Stonehenge (United Kingdom). However, as often happens with the study of prehistoric times, the ultimate beginnings cannot be clearly ascertained and new discoveries are both continuous and ongoing.
The common word metallon points to a common origin in the Paleolithic, while different words for specific metals show that the IE languages were already separate during the Copper Age and onwards. But all words related to technology can be regarded as loans (the word technology itself is a universal term stemming from Greek and doesn’t prove anything more except that the Greek language at some time was a universal language).
Another interesting comparison comes from the word las/lithos (stone). An alternative word for stone in Greek is ‘petra,’ found also in the English language in the word petrification/to petrify. The word petra is also found in Latin but the word lithos is of unknown etymology. Considering the endings of interest, both words, petra and lithos/las/lithari, bear the –ra ending, while the word lithos could be regarded as a –nthos word of the form linthos. There is a toponym Las and others such as Lasion or even Hellas, Lato, Lasithi, etc. which may be regarded of the same primordial form, and there’s nothing to make us think that such names are not native.
Another interesting monosyllable theme is ‘Ga-,’ which means ‘earth/land’ and it is found in words such as Gaea (Earth), damos/demos (community/municipality), gamos (marriage), Damater/Demetra (= mother earth), the latter also thought to be found in Linear B in the form ma-ga (mater ga= mother earth).
As I’ve already said there is nothing to suggest that such fundamental words as La or Ga are not native and therefore they may be considered of a deeper Paleolithic stratum, belonging to people that had been in Greece before any later migration during the Neolithic or Bronze Age.
It has been suggested that the non-existence of common agricultural words or words related to husbandry in the IE languages makes the common origin of them in the Neolithic improbable. But this could be said for any period; different names for copper/bronze or iron: the connection between a Proto-Germanic *isarnan (= strong/holy metal) and the Greek ieros (=holly) proves nothing because the word for iron in Greek is different (sideros), and there’s no way to explain the transformation sideros → ieros. Furthermore if the root ‘isarnan’ (holly) is related to metals, it should have been used earlier for bronze, otherwise the IE languages may have a common origin in the Iron Age.
Let’s now see some words related to husbandry/agriculture. The non-relation between such words in IE languages may mean that agriculture was invented independently. But there’s no reason to exclude the possibility that these languages split before the Neolithic. Cognates can be found, for example the word goat (modern Greek gida). Therefore PIEs could be familiar with goats. But goats are of Near Eastern origin. The corresponding word in Semitic is ez (Jewish), izza (Aramaic), apparently similar to the ancient Greek aega. But the words aega/gida are the same (compare aegis/aegida =goatskin). Is this to be regarded as a loan from Semitic to Greek/IE, or an indication that all these people have a common origin since the domestication of this species, 10,000 years ago, in the Zagros Mountains, Iran)?
It is true that the words for basic agricultural products, such as wheat or barely, are different in IE languages. Probably IEs used words of native wild varieties of the species. Why did they not do the same with goats? Did therefore the IE/Semitic split took place in the Neolithic but just before the agricultural revolution? The similarity between the words sitos in Greek and chitah in Jewish but the different origin of the English word wheat suggests so (since wheat was domesticated in the Near East/South-East Anatolia as far as 9,500 BCE, just after the end of the Younger Dryas).
I never understood the similarity between the words aega (goat) and Aegeon (Aegean). Perhaps it was the ‘sea of goats,’ or the ‘sea of Aegeus,’ dedicated to one hero or another. By the way the myth of Aegeus dates back to Minoan times (before the Mycenaean conquest of Crete). It would be interesting if someday we found out how the Minoans called their sea. But the story of the name, as it is the same with that for goats, must bear an origin much earlier in the past.
To return to our investigation of monosyllable- bisyllable place names, let’s see the word Rion. The word means headland/peak and it is probably related to the word ris/rina (nose). However we’ve seen that according to Strabo the Phrygians used the ending –bria for cities therefore Rion may refer to this ending as in the cases of place names ending in –ri (–rios/–ria). The ending may also be related to another (either more archaic or just different) suffix, –ra. For example the place name Phabra, probably Semitic, bears an ending –bra similar to the Phrygian/Thracian –bria, not to mention the Italian city Fabia which could be of the same origin having the ‘r’ omitted.
Another interesting toponym in Graea/Tanagra, referring to the word gra= old woman. The theme tana- means ‘long/stretched,’ example ταναός= outstretched, tall, taper. Also, tanagra means copper, cauldron. Here let’s remember that copper is supposed to be related to Cyprus. However in the Cretan dialect copper (Greek chalkos) is also referred to as ‘kaukos’ with the meaning of a pot. Therefore both the word ‘copper’ and ‘chalcos’ may be related to the word kypellon= cup, which means that the metal was introduced as a product instead of the raw material. Therefore neither the Greeks nor the Germans knew anything about the metal (as raw material). The word is probably a loan and the word kypellon if transformed into kyparon may even explain the origin of the name Cyprus. Somehow both Tanagra and nearby Chalcis are related to the copper industry but copper is not to be found in these places. Copper mines are known to have existed in North Greece, ancient Cauconia. Therefore the words chalkos or kaukos could be even related to the Caucones.
As far as Tanagra/Graea is concerned, returning to a possible etymology, an explanation of Tanagra as ‘long old-lady’ (tana- + gra) is difficult to be supported, therefore the origin probably is different and the previous explanation relating the toponym to copper is more sustainable. However the name Gra if related to Ga could offer an etymology for Tanagra= elongated earth/stretched land. But this is just a hint. By the way, gra> geraea (fem.), geras (neut.)= old age, geros (masc.)= old man, thus gera/g’ra= old woman.
Beside place names referring to monosyllable words, names with repetitive forms, like Caliarros (Italian Cagli(g)ari), Kikynethos, Tityros, etc., may be produced by the duplication of monosyllable themes and are reminiscent of Greek verbs which repeat (duplicate) the first syllable in past tenses, for example καλέω/κέκληκα (to call), θέλω/τεθέληκα (to want), φύοµαι/πέφυκα (to grow), etc. This is another clue for the antiquity and continuity of the Greek language because there are relatively few examples of place names which could have been introduced in a final form (e.g. Demetrias or Callipolis). We have also referred to the fact that there aren’t any toponyms of the form New + City (for example Neapolis) before the first Greek colonies outside Greece, therefore most probably the Greeks didn’t come to Greece but evolved in Greece.
Some other examples of ‘duplicated’ place names are Boebe, Caucon, Cercyra, Chalcis, Cicysion, Crocion, Gargettos, Lelanton, Lilaea, Peparethos, Prepesinthos, Tetrapolis, Teutheas, Thetidion, Thettalia, Titaresios, Tritaea, etc. We can note here, comparing Tetrapolis/Tritaea that the number four in Greek (tessera-Tetrapolis) seems to be produced by the number three (tria) as te-tria (and-three). The name Gargettos comes from the verb γαργαρίζω (to gargle) as it means what exactly it sounds like. We wouldn’t expect such primordial sound-names to be loans. The name Lila could be related to the verb λιλαίομαι (to long for) and could also have something to do with flowers. Interestingly enough the IE word flower (Latin florem) is preserved in the Greek word floros but with a rather negative meaning. In modern Greek the word for flower is anthos or louloudi (therefore the toponym Lila/Lelantion could be related to ‘flower’). The word anthos has the –nth ending while the word louloudi also sounds Pelasgian. As we see the Greek language seems to have preserved two non-IE words for ‘flower.’ Unless of course we consider both these words IE (or better Old European), cognate with the Latin lilium/English lily, also with the Greek λείριον (Madonna lily, Lilium candidum).
4.9 Is it ‘pre-Greek’ or ‘Old-Greek?’
Instead of using the terms ‘pre-IE’ and ‘IE,’ we may use the terms ‘Old Languages’ and ‘New Languages.’ The basic difference is that the languages of ‘Old Europe’ were not replaced by IE but instead IE formed a super-stratum on the pre-existing strata. In the best of cases the IEs as overlords helped to organize and crystallize the old languages to form a common lingua franca which then split into the different dialects/languages of Europe. This is what the Romans did in Europe, the Greeks in the Eastern Aegean, the Luwians in Asia Minor, the Iranians in the above the Taurus areas, and so on. However Europe in the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (just before the arrival of IEs) was inhabited by numerous and technologically advanced people who lived behind fortified cities. Even if the inventions of horse-back riding and chariots were sufficient to make the difference, cultural elements suggest the marriage between the ‘Old’ and the ‘New,’ and this has been the case throughout the European history (at least for the last 35,000-40,000 years), but, sadly enough, it was not the case in the Americas.
As we have previously seen with the example of ‘flower,’ there is nothing pre-Greek or non-Greek with words such as anthos or louloudi (flower). Another interesting pair to consider is scyllos/cynas. As we have seen scyllos probably refers to something with protruding face while cynas to the hunting dog. But the form scylnas unites both words. Could this be a marriage between two different languages? Hardly. The word scyllos is found even in the form of the verb σκύλλω= to tear. The verb could also be written as σκύλνω, therefore the transformation skylnos /skylnas→ kylnas→ kynas is already in place, showing that scyllos> kynas, and that both words are found within the context of the same language.
Even toponyms such as Kyllena may be of such origin (Cyllena/Scyllena/Scylla). Kyllene is in fact a promontory and it is very interesting that the ancients named their promontories ‘dogs.’ Another example is the pair hydor/Hydra. Hydra is the monster Hercules killed at Lerna (Lernaea Hydra), while hydor is just the Greek word for water. The phrase ‘nearon hydor/neron hydor’ evolved in such a way that the word nearon/neron (young/fresh) means the same as water (neron/hydor) in Modern Greek. As far as Hydra is concerned there’s no suggestion other that both words, Hydor/Hydra (-r/-ra), belong to the same language.
Talking about Lernaea Hydra, of interest are also primordial toponyms such as Lerna, Sesklo, or Dimini (comprising the first Neolithic settlements in Greece). These names bear nothing to be considered non- Greek. Instead examples we’ve seen (such as the pair anthos/louloudi) point to a conclusion that even in cases of apparent biglossy the different languages or dialects merged into a common language (which has evolved to be known as Greek).
Regarding the similarity between Dimini/Dmanisi, we have already said that probably the first settlers of Dimini were Caucasians. The settlement in Sesclo is considered even older. Names like Sesclo (Sesc’l), remind of other similar place names such as Limassol in Cyprus bearing an –l ending which is rather unusual for the Greek language. But we should also note the interchangeability between the pair r/l (consider for example the pair lilion/leirion= lilium/flower). If we make an attempt to relate toponyms in –l with Cyprus and some population in South-West Anatolia and toponyms with the –si ending with some population in the Caucasus, who came first in Greece is of less importance because both belonged to the first Neolithic immigrants in Greece. And the point is that the linguistic continuity in Greece suggests that whoever came afterwards adopted, instead of replacing, the pre-existing linguistic elements.
Considering Lerna it has been suggested that the name is connected with the Hattic plural prefix le– plus arinna, arna ‘spring.’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lerna] The Hattians lived in Anatolia before the appearance of the Hittites (who incidentally adopted the name of their predecessors). It is not known where they came from (they could be Caucasians), but in any case the people of Lerna were more or less contemporaneous with the people of Dimini. Therefore even if we consider a third group of people to account for –(r)na endings (perhaps with a Neolithic Anatolian/ Near-Eastern origin), the constrained area of origin of these people in Anatolia and the Near-East makes it feasible to identify this area with a linguistic continuum which expanded into Greece.
There’s no reason to prefer Pelasgic Argos (mostly in Thessaly) instead of the ‘Proper’ Argos (in the Peloponnese) for the birth place of the Greek language because the first settlements in these places (instead of invaders from North Greece) suggest that the first people probably moved there by boats, therefore the first settlements in both areas could have been contemporaneous. The primordial couple in Thessaly was Deucalion and Pyrra. What is important to consider is that both these primordial names bear Greek themes: For Deucalion, δευκής= sweet, δεῦκος/γλεῦκος= new sweet wine, or even Jeus/Deus. For Pyrra, πυρά= fire/pyre, fiery red, πυρρά= a kind of red colored bird. But both words contain the –ros/–ra ending (compare –alos/–aros, –yllos/–yrros, etc.)
Following this logic there’s no reason even to suppose a linguistic marriage between Deucalion and Pyrra, since –alos and –ra endings are closely related. Let’s also consider the synonyms of Thessaly, as Strabo puts forward: Thettalia< Pyrraea/ Aemonia/ Nessonis. The series contains the suffixes we’ve examined (–alos, –yllos/–yrra, –ona/–onia, also –essa in Nessonis). Therefore, we may consider at least three different categories of endings, more or less interchangeable (the ending that seems to be absent in Thessaly but present in North Greece- North Asia Minor is the –nthos ending; absent could also be –quos ending of South Greece and the Peloponnese).
In order to realize once again the equivalence of all endings we may consider the series Argos/Argissa/Argithea/Arginoe. The names do not necessarily refer to same place but they are equally probable. Also the pair Euboea< Ellopia (bos=ox, ellos/elaphos= deer), shows that probably both names had been in use at the same time (the same words for ox and deer are still in use in modern Greek).
Another interesting example is the name of the Boeotian city Thebae. The name bears a –ba (–quos) ending, and names such as Thespiae or Thisbe may be considered analogous or even equivalent. It is remarkable that the –swa (–spa/–sba) ending reveals the possibility that an –s ending precedes the –qwos ending. In any case the –swa ending is found in Linear B (pe-re-swa= Preswa/Presfa, possibly a goddess). However the spelling in Linear B of ‘Thebes’ may reveal an anomalous situation: te-qa instead of te-wa. Generally the q– sound is very ambiguous in Linear B, sometimes pronounced ‘v’ (qa-si-re-u< vasileus= king), other times ‘γ’ (qe< γε= and), or ‘k’ (qi-si-pe< ksiphe= swords). This ambiguity may be interpreted as a problem the Mycenaeans could have had pronouncing names of a different language. If Thebes, for example, was founded by Cadmus and his Phoenicians then it could bear an original name not to be pronounced easily in Mycenaean Greek. But the point here is even trickier. If the Mycenaeans were newcomers in Greece then they could be regarded ‘less Greek’ than the people who already lived in Greece. Thebes for example may correspond to an Anatolian name Tuwa (just like the Greek Troea/Troewa= Troy is found as Truwa even in modern Turkish). It seems therefore that the Myceneans had a difficult time pronouncing –qw– complexes which probably had been already differentiated in local languages/dialects but not in their own ‘Mycenaean’ language. This of course may include all the new coming ‘Greek’ tribes of that time (by ‘Greeks’ meaning the people who later evolved to be Greeks).
The problem the Myceneans had been having pronouncing correctly certain toponyms is also found in the case, for example, of Corfu. The Linear B form ko-ro-ku-ra-i-jo (Crocylaioi= ‘Crocyleans’) reveals the corresponding name Crocyra/Crocyla for the name Corcyra, Cercyra in modern Greek. Therefore it seems that the modern Greek language has preserved the pre-Mycenaean form of the name. This is why it has been supposed that such names are pre-Greek. But what they really are is, in this case, pre-Mycenaean, not pre-Greek. Now the name Corfu is thought to be related with the Greek word coryphe< corypho/corypha (we see here the relation of the word corys to the word ‘top.’) Is this to be interpreted that the Mycenaeans didn’t know the word coryphe? Or the etymology is different? Well probably the name is related to someone going by the name Corcys. Such names could be of Thracian/Phrygian/Illyrian origin. They are considered pre-Greek. The point however is that these people (some of them) were in fact the Mycenaeans. Thus the term pre-Mycenaean for such place names instead of pre-Greek.
The more I think about it the more I realize the possibility of a strong connection between Thracians and Minoans. Let’s remember Thera (Santorini) and Theras the Thracian hero, the Minoan Minos and the Thracian Minyans, the Minoan Cabeiri and the Thracian/Phrygian Corybantes, and so on. Probably the people that founded (or at some stage took over) the Minoan civilization in Crete also founded the Mycenaean civilization in Greece. Therefore when the Mycenaeans entered Crete they probably met with their ancestors there. The scenery in Anatolia at the same period may not have been much different. The Carians, at least part of them, should have been of the same stock, as their successors the Mysians would be in classical times. And all these people form a cycle in space and time around the Eastern Mediterranean, from the Carians to the Mysians, and from the Minoans to the Mycenaeans. The –allos theme/ending in the name Palos/Callas is no less Greek than the ending –bria in the name Calabria, in order to account for the formation of so apparently Greek place names as Callipolis.
I will go a step forward making reference to another common place name, Larisa. Strabo says, “Larisa is a place situated on Ossa, and there is Larisa Cremaste, by some called Pelasgia. In Crete also is a city Larisa, the inhabitants of which were embodied with those of Hierapytna; and from this place the plain below is called the Larisian plain. In Peloponnesus the citadel of the Argives is called Larisa, and there is a river Larisus, which separates Eleia from Dyme. Theopompus mentions a city Larisa, situated on the immediate confines of this country. In Asia is Larisa Phriconis near Cume, and another Larisa near Hamaxitus, in the Troad. There is also an Ephesian Larisa, and a Larisa in Syria.”
The universality of this name is related to a possible meaning of the word, Larisa= wall/citadel/acropolis. The form laqris/laqrisa can be found in the Lydian corpus [see, e.g., http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/Melchert/webpage/lydiancorpus.pdf]; also the cognate form labrys= double axe is related according to Plutarch to the Lydians, and is also related to the Labyrinth (= place for the cult of the double axe). Thus a triangle is formed between Lydia (Asia Minor), Minoan Crete, and Greece. We should also note that this axe is made of stone, therefore all these names may go back to the Stone Age. Compare also the word lapis= stone, λατομεῖον= stone quarry, thus λάς/λάτος/λίθος= stone. And possibly La(b)rissa/Labrintha= stone structure.
The endurance of such words and their primordial character can be the basis of a theory of Paleolithic continuity for the languages of Europe. At least in the sense that IEs used the same words or that they replaced their own with the pre-existing ones. But if the IEs adopted all names concerning stone technology, agriculture, husbandry, metallurgy, sea-faring, and so on, from their predecessors, if even their Gods can be found in pre-existing forms (compare e.g. Deus/Dionysus), then why supposing that the IEs replaced the Old languages instead of just enriching them with new elements?
I searched the net for ‘obsidian,’ trying to identify some possible universal cognates but I have ended up with nothing. The search for obsidian is interesting because it is the material which had been used for tools before metals. Obsidian has been found in the Greek island of Milos as early as 13,000 years ago, extracted by people who probably used to come and go to the island. Therefore sea-faring was not unknown even in such early days. The name is related to some Obsius who brought it from Ethiopia to Rome in Roman times. If the name was opsidianos/copsidianos the word could be related to the Greek copto= to cut, but the official etymology claims differently. Therefore we are left for the time being with the word lapis/lithos (stone) as a cognate which perhaps stems from the Paleolithic.
Keeping in mind that there’s probably no absolute division between the ‘IE’ and ‘Semitic’ languages, we may mention some toponyms that could indeed be considered of Semitic origin, like Phabra/Bembina. Therefore both –ra and –na endings could be of such an origin (Near-Eastern). Also the name Salam–is is suspicious for such an origin. The word ‘salam,’ which is used as a general greeting in Arabic, reminds me of Caerae/Cisra, the name the Etruscans gave to the city after hearing the Thessalians, the original inhabitants, saying Chaere (= greetings in Greek). Another interesting example is the name Caphereas, which could be related to the ‘Caphirs,’ perhaps Minoans. In the Arabic languages, ‘kafir’ is a disbeliever in the Qur’an. Generally the term is also used to denote a second-class people, in South-Africa for the black population, in Greece for someone without manners. This is an example of how a name of either a different people (‘the people of Caphtor’) or a different religion (the Cabeiri) ends up with a negative meaning.
Another example is the name Canae, which could certainly be compared to Canaan, or Chna (the name given by Hecateus to the Phoenicians), or even Cnossos. One may say that toponyms in –sos could be of Semitic origin. For example Permessos (→ Permesh), Cadessos/Gadeira (→ Cadir/Cadesh), Manes (→ Manesh/Manesha), etc. Names like Lycabettos may bear a suffix –et. But Lycas was not a Semite. Ancient Lycia took its name from an Arcadian called Lycas or Lycos or even Lyrcas. The –wa suffix is common in Linear B therefore a place name Lycawe/Lycawa could have evolved to Lycawatta with the addition of an –(a)tas ending, also common in Linear B. Lycawattas/Lycawettos is the final rendering. However the close resemblance of such names with Semitic ones (e.g. the Greek Iapetos and the Jewish Japeth) points to a common origin, perhaps neither Semitic nor IE but probably even earlier.
And this is the main point. That probably neither Cadesh nor Cadessos is one earlier than the other, but that both are variations of some place name, one among many other which were spread all across the Mediterranean representing the landmarks of an isogloss. One language preferred –sos endings, another one –sh endings, another –r/–l (compare, e.g., Salazar in Spain/Limassol in Cyprus), and so on.
The example of Lysimacheia< Hydra shows that while on first thought someone may say that this is a clear example of replacement (the Greek word Lysimacheia replaced the pre-Greek word Hydra), on second thought, as we have already seen, the word Hydra (hydor= water) is no less Greek than the words lysis= ending or mache= battle. However the name Hydra may be earlier, but within the context of the same language which evolved from simpler to more complex forms.
Consider the word ‘four’ in Greek for example: tessara/tettara/pettara/pisyra. Is this a loan to the Greek language? The numbers are considered indigenous to IE languages. But the form pisyra is of the same type with place names such as Tityros or Cythera. If pisyra → pettara ((s)sy → (t)ta), then we could identify a possible transformation Cisyra → Cythera (as Tityros/Titarisios, etc.). There is even a centum/satem example, Nicaea/Nisaea. Were there at the same time two distinct populations creating a centum/satem biglossy? Both Greek and Latin are centum. Were there any satem speakers in Greece or Italy in ancient times, or such centum/satem ambiguities are expected to be found within the limits of the same language?
I found the previous map in Wikipedia under the lemma ‘Caphtor.’ This is the map of the known world for the Bible. I was very intrigued by this map because it is as simple as Strabo’s map but also very illustrative. The Phrygians for example are called Askenaz (thus the Askenazi Jews). Elisha is probably Wilusa (Troy), or it is related to Elle and the Hellespont. The Cyprians are called Kittim, therefore the island might have also been found in ancient Greek maps as Kittion. Anyway, the division of the map into three ‘tribes,’ probably linguistic groups too, is very instructive (although perhaps not fully accurate). According to this division, the ‘Japhetians’ (tribes of Japhet) could be identified with the IEs (although parts of Syria and of Mesopotamia are included). But the dates here could go back at the time of the Great Flood (about 9,500 BCE). How accurate is this map? Well, I truly believe it is as much (or even more) accurate than others which place the origin of IEs in Ukraine.
But here is the point. Consider a last word, Delphinion. The name means dolphin, delphin in Greek, and the name is the same in Jewish and Arabic. This is where I want to arrive at. This –in ending as we have seen in names such as Geren, Trachin (also Tarhien in Malta), Myrsinos/Myrsina, Mycena, Athena, Raphena, Ravenna, etc., etc., is universal. There is no sense ‘fighting’ whether these words are Greek (-IE) or Jewish (-Semitic) (or Egyptian- Hamitic). They are and they are not. In fact the word dolphin should be considered Nostratic, used by the people of the Old World, in the Neolithic Mediterranean and the Near-East, and the word stayed with all the people that followed. And probably the same holds for numbers (compare the Jewish numbers shesh= six and sheva= seven). Therefore I will set a starting date for the modern languages of Europe, West Asia, and North Africa, in the ‘Arche-gloss’ (= premordial common language) of the 10th millennium BCE.
4.10 Thracians and Carians
I once read an article on the net which unfortunately I lost speaking about the ethnogenesis of the Greeks in the Early Bronze Age. I remember two major inflows in Greece at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE and in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE suggested in this article, the first one attributed to Carians and the second one to Thracians. The article also put forward archaeological evidence of disruption during these two periods. I am really sorry that I could not retrieve this article.
However if some people entered Greece during the time of the Pelasgians (pre-Mycenaeans), during the Early Bronze Age, these are the two corridors one can find to enter Greece: one to the North and the Balkans, and another one to the East and Asia Minor. The role of the Carians (or Luwians in general) is indisputable. Probably the founders of the Cycladic civilization were Carians and perhaps the founders of the Minoan civilization were Carians too (or Lycians). One the other hand the Thracians are mentioned as invaders, newcomers, who penetrated deep into the Greek peninsula as far as the Peloponnese and perhaps even in (at that time Minoan) Crete. An area covering both North Greece and North Asia Minor may be even considered as comprising a Thraco-Carian isogloss during the Bronze Age, the same area comprising a Phrygo-Mycian isogloss in classical Greek times.
But if the Thracians and the Carians existed in parallel with the Greeks then how come they may be considered proto-Greeks? Probably it is just that a branch of the Thracians and a branch of the Carians, together with others (for example Illyrians, Lycians, Lydians, Minoans, Phoenicians, etc.), merged with people who already existed in mainland Greece (for example the first inhabitants of Sesklo, Dimini, Lerna and other places). It is almost hilarious when Herodotus talks about Pelasgians as the barbarian first inhabitants of Greece, since in all likelihood his own kind would have been equally barbaric (speaking non- Greek) when they would first arrive in Greece, before they would merge with other people to form all together the Greek language.
Concerning Thracians, Strabo says, “Next follows the mountain Hæmus, extending to the sea in this quarter; then Mesembria, a colony of the Megarenses, formerly called Menabria, or city of Mena, Menas being the name of the founder, and bria, signifying in the Thracian tongue, city. Thus the city of Selys is called Selybria, and Ænus once had the name of Poltyobria.”
Strabo refers to Thracian cities, people and proper names:
The mountains Hæmus, Rhodope, and Dunax (probably Dunari); Thrace, Maronia, Orthagoria, Tempyra belonging to the Samothracians, Caracoma, Samothrace, Imbros, Thasos, Doriscus, the Hebrus river, Cypsela, Odessus/Odrysae; the tribes Moesi, Briges, Mygdones, Bebryces, Mædobithyni, Bithyni, Thyni, Mariandyni, Triballi, Maedi, Sinti, Asti and the Getæ who speak a language cognate with the Thracian. Therefore the Moesi were the Mysians while the Briges were the Phrygians. Proper names are Thamyris, Eumolpos, Tereus, Cecrops, Codrus, Œclus, Cothus, Drymas, Crinacus.
About the name Thamyris, to mention an example, I have had the strange idea that there could be a relation between this name and (the modern Greek) name Demetris. I was trying to figure out how classical (and modern) proper names came to be. The comparison is a bit far-fetched but it could be relevant. The letters τ/δ/θ (dental consonants) are interchangeable. The name Demetris comes from Demetra/Demeter which means ‘Mother Earth’ (Da/Ga= earth + mater/metra= mother/womb.) However if we consider the transformation Demetris → Damatris/Damartis (ε< α) the names Damartis/Damaris/Thamyris come closer, and the symmetry –tr–/–rt– suggests a pair of correlated dialects or languages. This also brings forward a possible relationship between the words ‘mater’ (mother) and ‘martis’ (sacrificial witness/victim), as, for example, in the case of Britomartis. The biggest problem however is to explain the alleged drop of ‘t’ in Thamyris (instead of Thamytris/Thamyrtis). But there are known examples of such a drop, for example, myrtos/myron (myrtle/myrrh). Thus the name Damatris (before the ‘t’ was dropped) (Carian?) can be even older than the name Thamyris (Thracian?). This not as a proof but just as a hint. Another example is that the Thracian place name Odyssos/Odrysa may suggest that Odysseus was of Thracian origin, which is very possible. Thus the great hero of the Oddysey could be a newcomer in Greece, in Mycenaean times.
Concerning the Thracian Cabeiri, Strabo says that “The gods worshipped in Samothrace, the Curbantes and Corybantes, the Curetes and the Idæan Dactyli, are said by many persons to be the same as the Cabiri, although they are unable to explain who the Cabiri were.” The strong connection between the cults (also the similarity in names) of the Thracian Corybantes and the Minoan Cabeiri builds a direct road of communication between Thrace and Crete either by sea or by land via Asia Minor. Minoans may have visited Thrace and Troy but the presence of mount Ida both in Troy and Crete makes it more probable that the name is Thracian, not Minoan, because it is hard (although not improbable) to imagine that the Minoans had conquered the whole region of ancient Troy. Furthermore the names Minos or Minyas and Radamanthys have a ‘Thracian’ odor (although we still have no clue about original Minoan names). One might even suggest that the Minoan civilization was founded (or conquered at some stage) by people from the North, but again I offer this just as a hint. But if we also take into account that this did happen later on with the Greeks in Crete, it is not so far-fetched to suppose a previous occupation of Minoan Crete by a ‘Northern’ tribe, either from Greece or from Asia Minor. Therefore when the Mycenaeans arrived in Crete they could have joined people partly belonging to their own stock, speaking a form of language not so different from their own.
Here is Cramer’s catalog of Carian towns at the time of classical Greece according to Wikipedia.
I’ll just present the cities and make some comments.
We may separate eight Lelegian towns,
The recurrence of our familiar endings is apparent: –anda/–inda, –asa/–ssos, –ela, –ys, –yra, –ina/–ena, –on, –ba, –mna etc. Therefore again there is nothing to make the Carian language significantly different from Thracian, Pelasgian-Thessalian, or even Greek and Minoan. There is even an example of incorporation into the Turkish language, Selimiye apparently refers to the Selym(n)i/Elym(n)i. Tabae could be cognate to the Greek Theba (Thebes) but I would also expect a Anatolian variation Tuwa. Tabae was at various times attributed to Phrygia, Lydia and Caria and seems to have been occupied by mixed nationals. Alinda/Alina is an example of a –nda/–na merge with the omission of ‘d.’ Synagela/Syagela/Souagela could be also a toponym in Pelasgian-Thessaly, Sicily, Illyria, Thrace, and so on (compare Thracian Cypsela, Italian Fregella, Spanish Ocella, etc.) Not to mention that such names as Theangela can even be etymologized in Greek (agela= assembly, theao= to watch). Loryma/Larymna is another example of a –mn– complex simplified to –m–. Crya/Carya/Carysis/Cari, related apparently to the Carians. Chrysaoris (Stratonicea), apparently the ethnic center of non-Hellenic Caria.
Another interesting case concerns the name of Pelasgians. In Greek pelargos means stork, therefore it may suggest the character of Pelargoi/Pelasgoi as migratory peoples (just as the corresponding birds). Another etymology relates them to the sea (pelagos), or even with the meaning ‘neighbors,’ pelas= near + ge= land. Probably the name pelargos suggests that pel- means not near but the opposite, far- away, and agos/argos/agros is related to the field. Therefore pelargos/Pelasgos/pelagos has the meaning of ‘migratory bird/’ ‘migratory people, sea people/’ ‘open field.’
The name lelekes in Greek also means ‘storks.’ Therefore the Leleges (lelekes) were like the Pelasgoi (pelargoi), ‘storks.’ In fact the Leleges could be the first Pelasgoi in Greece or Asia Minor. If we compare their eight pre-mentioned cities there’s nothing different about them with respect to the Carian place names. In fact the great plurality found in Carian place names with respect to the suffixes we have been examining, in relation to the fact that historical sources regard the Carians the first sea peoples of the Aegean islands, makes me think that the Carian component in the Greek language probably is the strongest of all.
4.11 The Phoenician-Minoan connection
Some have suggested that the Minoans were Phoenicians. But this is impossible because the Minoans were older than the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians appeared after the collapse of the Bronze Age (1,200 BCE), while the Minoans at this time had already disappeared. However the opposite may be true, the Phoenicians could have been Minoans, partly at least. What is true is that the people of the Levant had never been sea-farers. Instead they were shepherds, the Canaanites for example. Therefore in all likelihood the Phoenicians were of a mixed origin, comprising of local Semitic populations and Luwians, as presumably the Minoans were.
The Minoans were discovered by Arthur Evans. Even the name ‘Minoan’ is his, from the mythical king Minos. Evans was a genius but made some mistakes apparently due to his great enthusiasm. He believed that Linear A (Minoan) and Linear B (Mycenaean) expressed the same language because of the similarity in most of the symbols. Of course, after the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris he was proven wrong. I wish therefore not to repeat the same mistake by concluding that the similarity in place names proves similarity in the corresponding languages.
Evans thought that the Minoans were of Carian origin and probably he was correct. Phoenician and Greek are two different languages. For example, the names Carhedona (in Greek) and Cart’ Hadasht (in Phoenician) for Carthage have a quite different morphology. In fact the Phoenician name means ‘New City,’ something that the Greeks ignored, otherwise they would have called it Neapolis (‘New City’ in Greek). Tyros, the mother city of Carthage in the Levant, is believed to have been founded in 2,750 BCE, according to Herodotus. This is also the beginning of the Bronze Age in Crete.
I have previously came to the conclusion that there is a very strong possibility that the Minoans and the Tyrrhenians were one and the same. Of course the similarity of the name Tyrrhenian and the name of the city Tyros is striking. There was also a Tarsus in Cilicia, South Asia Minor. My whole survey has been based upon, and has been revolving around the discovery, which is suggested by the similarity in place names, that Tyros, Tarsos, Tyrrhenians or Tirynsians were neither IE nor Semites. They belonged to populations that were pre-IE and pre-Semites. Thus the similarity in place names from North Africa to the Hellespont and from Spain to the Levant and even further away. I mean how else can we explain the presence of cities called Thebes in Egypt, Greece and Asia Minor? The ancient Egyptians called Thebes ‘Waset.’ Probably the name ‘Thebes’ is an anagram of ‘Waset.’ But if the Greeks Hellenized the name, how come the name is already found in mainland Greece? Was it some conqueror (long before Alexander) who founded both cities (so that the ancient Egyptians may have changed the name later on)? Was it Cadmus (who founded the Greek Thebes) or a predecessor of his? How long ago such a story might have taken place, if Egypt had already been a powerful land where writing was invented? But if the Egyptian Thebes, according to Wikipedia, was inhabited from around 3,200 BCE, while the Greek Thebes was presumably founded, by Cadmus, in the beginning of the Mycenaean civilization (more than a thousand years afterwards), isn’t it safer to assume that the name derived from an isogloss speading all across the corresponding areas?
Here I will make a distinction between an isogloss and an ‘omnigloss.’ We’d better consider that Strabo’s place names belong to the same omnigloss. The difference could be that languages within an omnigloss may be quite different from each other (for example Phoenician/Hebrew/Assyrian compared to Mycenaean/Minoan/Luwian). Each of the previous groups may be considered to belong to a separate isogloss. But the differences between language groups within an omnigloss may not be so pronounced as those which supposedly divide IE and Semitic languages. Because at least some of IE and Semitic languages may form a common subgroup. I suspect Luwian to belong to this common subgroup, consisting partly of ‘IE’ and partly of ‘Semitic’ elements (perhaps with an original Caucasian basis). Thus Luwian may have belonged to the same omnigloss, not isogloss. And since Luwian became known at a considerably later stage, when the language had significantly diverged from both Proto-IE and Proto-Semitic, the story of this omnigloss may well go back to the Neolithic. (We will mention later on studies which suggest that the Hittite language could have split in the Early Neolithic.)
4.12 A Northern (IE) origin of Greek religion
While most toponyms in Greece suggest a pre- Greek origin (or, to put it differently, a Greek-Pelasgic origin with Southern influences from Minoans, Phoenicians, etc.), Greek religion seems to be more or less of pure Northern origin, from the Balkans and North Asia Minor. Again, however, as we delve into the subject, a pre-Greek element is revealed. About this subject, Strabo says,
“There are others more remote from the subject of this work, which have been erroneously placed by historians under one head on account of the sameness of name (Curetes): for instance, accounts relating to 'Curetic affairs' and 'concerning the Curetes' have been considered as identical with accounts 'concerning the people (of the same name) who inhabited Ætolia and Acarnania.' But the former differ from the latter, and resemble rather the accounts which we have of Satyri and Silenes, Bacchæ and Tityri; for the Curetes are represented as certain dæmons, or ministers of the gods, by those who have handed down the traditions respecting Cretan and Phrygian affairs, and which involve certain religious rites, some mystical, others the contrary, relative to the nurture of Jupiter in Crete; the celebration of orgies in honor of the mother of the gods, in Phrygia, and in the neighborhood of the Trojan Ida. There is however a very great variety in these accounts.
According to some, the Corybantes, Cabeiri, Idæan Dactyli, and Telchines are represented as the same persons as the Curetes; according to others, they are related to, yet distinguished from, each other by some slight differences; but to describe them in general terms and more at length, they are inspired with an enthusiastic and Bacchic frenzy, which is exhibited by them as ministers at the celebration of the sacred rites, by inspiring terror with armed dances, accompanied with the tumult and noise of cymbals, drums, and armor, and with the sound of pipes and shouting; so that these sacred ceremonies are nearly the same as those that are performed among the Samothracians in Lemnus, and in many other places; since the ministers of the god are said to be the same. The whole of this kind of discussion is of a theological nature, and is not alien to the contemplation of the philosopher.
But since even the historians, through the similarity of the name Curetes, have collected into one body a mass of dissimilar facts, I myself do not hesitate to speak of them at length by way of digression, adding the physical considerations which belong to the history. Some writers however endeavor to reconcile one account with the other, and perhaps they have some degree of probability in their favor. They say, for instance, that the people about Ætolia have the name of Curetes from wearing long dresses like girls, (κόραι,) and that there was, among the Greeks, a fondness for some such fashion. The Ionians also were called 'tunic-trailers,' and the soldiers of Leonidas, who went out to battle with their hair dressed, were despised by the Persians, but subjects of their admiration in the contest. In short, the application of art to the hair consists in attending to its growth, and the manner of cutting it, and both these are the peculiar care of girls and youths; whence in several ways it is easy to find a derivation of the name Curetes. It is also probable, that the practice of armed dances, first introduced by persons who paid so much attention to their hair and their dress, and who were called Curetes, afforded a pretense for men more warlike than others, and who passed their lives in arms, to be themselves called by the same name of Curetes, I mean those in Eubœa, Ætolia, and Acarnania. Homer also gives this name to the young soldiers; 'selecting Curetes, the bravest of the Acheans, to carry from the swift ship, presents, which, yesterday, we promised to Achilles.' And again; 'Curetes Acheei carried the presents.' So much then on the subject of the etymology of the name Curetes…
The greater part of the Greeks attribute to Bacchus, Apollo, Hecate, the Muses, and Ceres, everything connected with orgies and Bacchanalian rites, dances, and the mysteries attended upon initiation. They call also Bacchus, Dionysus, and the chief Dæmon of the mysteries of Ceres. The carrying about of branches of trees, dances, and initiations are common to the worship of these gods. But with respect to Apollo and the Muses, the latter preside over choirs of singers and dancers; the former presides both over these and divination. All persons instructed in science, and particularly those who have cultivated music, are ministers of the Muses; these and also all who are engaged in divination are ministers of Apollo. Those of Ceres, are the Mystæ, torch-bearers and Hierophants; of Dionysus, Seileni, Satyri, Tityri, Bacchæ Lenæ, Thyiæ, Mimallones, Naïdes, and Nymphæ, as they are called.
But in Crete both these, and the sacred rites of Jupiter in particular, were celebrated with the performance of orgies, and by ministers, like the Satyri, who are employed in the worship of Dionysus. These were called Curetes, certain youths who executed military movements in armor, accompanied with dancing, exhibiting the fable of the birth of Jupiter, in which Saturn was introduced, whose custom it was to devour his children immediately after their birth; Rhea attempts to conceal the pains of childbirth, and to remove the new-born infant out of sight, using her utmost endeavors to preserve it. In this she has the assistance of the Curetes who surround the goddess, and by the noise of drums and other similar sounds, by dancing in armor and by tumult, endeavor to strike terror into Saturn, and escape notice whilst removing his child. The child is then delivered into their hands to be brought up with the same care by which he was rescued. The Curetes therefore obtained this appellation, either because they were boys (κόροι), or because they educated Jupiter in his youth ( κουροτροθεῖν), for there are two explanations, inasmuch as they acted the same part with respect to Jupiter as the Satyri (with respect to Dionysus). Such then is the worship of the Greeks, as far as relates to the celebration of orgies.
But the Berecyntes, a tribe of Phrygians, the Phrygians in general, and the Trojans, who live about Mount Ida, themselves also worship Rhea, and perform orgies in her honor; they call her mother of gods, Agdistis, and Phrygia, the Great Goddess; from the places also where she is worshipped, Idæa, and Dindymene, Sipylene, Pessinuntis, and Cybele. The Greeks call her ministers by the same name Curetes, not that they follow the same mythology, but they mean a different kind of persons, a sort of agents analogous to the Satyri. These same ministers are also called by them Corybantes.
We have the testimony of the poets in favor of these opinions. Pindar, in the Dithyrambus, which begins in this manner; 'formerly the dithyrambus used to creep upon the ground, long and trailing.' After mentioning the hymns, both ancient and modern, in honor of Bacchus, he makes a digression, and says, 'for thee, O Mother, resound the large circles of the cymbals, and the ringing crotala; for thee, blaze the torches of the yellow pines,' where he combines with one another the rites celebrated among the Greeks in honor of Dionysus with those performed among the Phrygians in honor of the mother of the gods. Euripides, in the Bacchæ, does the same thing, conjoining, from the proximity of the countries, Lydian and Phrygian customs. 'Then forsaking Tmolus, the rampart of Lydia, my maidens , my pride, my invention ' Blest and happy he who, initiated into the sacred rites of the gods, leads a pure life ; who celebrating the orgies of the Great Mother Cybele, who brandishing on high the thyrsus and with ivy crowned, becomes Dionysus' worshipper. Haste, Bacchanalians, haste, and bring Bromius Dionysus down from the Phrygian mountains to the wide plains of Greece.' And again, in what follows, he combines with these the Cretan rites. 'Hail, sacred haunt of the Curetes, and divine inhabitants of Crete, progenitors of Jove, where for me the triple-crested Corybantes in their caves invented this skin-stretched circle [of the tambourine], who mingled with Bacchic strains the sweet breath of harmony from Phrygian pipes, and placed in Rhea's hands this instrument which re-echoes to the joyous shouts of Bacchanalians: from the Mother Rhea the frantic Satyri succeeded in obtaining it, and introduced it into the dances of the Trieterides, among whom Dionysus delights to dwell.' And the chorus in Palamedes says, 'Not reveling with Dionysus, who together with his mother was cheered with the resounding drums along the tops of Ida.'
Conjoining then Seilenus, Marsyas, and Olympus, and ascribing to them the invention of the flute, they thus again combine Dionysiac and Phrygian rites, frequently confounding Ida and Olympus, and making them re-echo with their noise, as if they were the same mountain. There are four peaks of Ida called Olympi, opposite Antandros. There is also a Mysian Olympus, bordering upon Ida, but not the same mountain. Sophocles represents Menelaus in the Polyxena as setting sail in haste from Troy, and Agamemnon as wishing to remain behind a short time, with a view to propitiate Minerva. He introduces Menelaus as saying, 'But do thou remain there on the Idæan land, Collect the flocks on Olympus, and offer sacrifice.'
They invented terms appropriate to the sounds of the pipe, of the crotala, cymbals, and drums; to the noise also of shouts; to the cries of Evoe; and to the beating of the ground with the feet. They invented certain well-known names also to designate the ministers, dancers, and servants employed about the sacred rites, as Cabeiri, Corybantes, Pans, Satyri, Tityri, the god Bacchus; Rhea, Cybele, Cybebe, and Dindymene, from the places where she was worshipped. [The god] Sabazius belongs to the Phrygian rites, and may be considered the child as it were of the [Great] Mother. The traditional ceremonies observed in his worship are those of Bacchus.
The rites called Cotytia, and Bendideia, celebrated among the Thracians, resemble these. The Orphic ceremonies had their origin among these people. Æschylus mentions the goddess Cotys, and the instruments used in her worship among the Edoni. For after saying, 'O divine Cotys, goddess of the Edoni, With the instruments of the mountain worship; ' immediately introduces the followers of Dionysus, 'one holding the bombyces, the admirable work of the turner, with the fingers makes the loud notes resound, exciting frenzy; another makes the brass-bound cotylæ to re-echo' And in another passage; 'The song of victory is poured forth; invisible mimes low and bellow from time to time like bulls, inspiring fear, and the echo of the drum rolls along like the noise of subterranean thunder' for these are like the Phrygian ceremonies, nor is it at all improbable that, as the Phrygians themselves are a colony of Thracians, so they brought from Thrace their sacred ceremonies, and by joining together Dionysus and the Edonian Lycurgus they intimate a similarity in the mode of the worship of both.
From the song, the rhythm, and the instruments, all Thracian music is supposed to be Asiatic. This is evident also from the places where the Muses are held in honor. For Pieria, Olympus, Pimpla, and Leibethrum were anciently places, and mountains, belonging to the Thracians, but at present they are in the possession of the Macedonians. The Thracians, who were settled in Bœotia, dedicated Helicon to the Muses, and consecrated the cave of the Nymphs, Leibethriades. The cultivators of ancient music are said to have been Thracians, as Orpheus, Musaus, Thamyris; hence also Eumolpus had his name. Those who regard the whole of Asia as far as India as consecrated to Bacchus, refer to that country as the origin of a great portion of the present music. One author speaks of 'striking forcibly the Asiatic cithara;' another calls the pipes Berecynthian and Phrygian. Some of the instruments also have barbarous names, as Nablas, Sambyce, Barbitus, Magadis, and many others.
As in other things the Athenians always showed their admiration of foreign customs, so they displayed it in what respected the gods. They adopted many foreign sacred ceremonies, particularly those of Thrace and Phrygia; for which they were ridiculed in comedies. Plato mentions the Bendidean, and Demosthenes the Phrygian rites, where he is exposing Æschines and his mother to the scorn of the people; the former for having been present when his mother was sacrificing, and for frequently joining the band of Bacchanalians in celebrating their festivals, and shouting, Evoi, Saboi, Hyes Attes, and Attes Hyes, for these cries belong to the rites of Sabazius and the Great Mother.
But there may be discovered respecting these dæmons, and the variety of their names, that they were not called ministers only of the gods, but themselves were called gods. For Hesiod says that Hecaterus and the daughter of Phoroneus had five daughters, 'From whom sprung the goddesses, the mountain nymphs, And the worthless and idle race of satyrs, And the gods Curetes, lovers of sport and dance. 'The author of the Phoronis calls the Curetes, players upon the pipe, and Phrygians; others call them 'earth-born, and wearing brazen shields.' Another author terms the Corybantes, and not the Curetes, Phrygians, and the Curetes, Cretans. Brazen shields were first worn in Eubœa, whence the people had the name of Chalcidenses. Others say, that the Corybantes who came from Bactriana, or, according to some writers, from the Colchi, were given to Rhea, as a band of armed ministers, by Titan. But in the Cretan history the Curetes are called nurses and guardians of Jove, and are described as having been sent for from Phrygia to Crete by Rhea. According to other writers, there were nine Telchines in Rhodes, who accompanied Rhea to Crete, and from nursing Jupiter had the name of Curetes; that Corybus, one of their party, was the founder of Hierapytna, and furnished the Prasians in Rhodes with the pretext for saying that Corybantes were certain dæmons, children of Minerva and the sun. By others, the Corybantes are represented to be the children of Saturn; by others, of Jupiter and Calliope, or to be the same persons as the Cabeiri; that they went away to Samothrace, which was formerly called Melite; but their lives and actions are mysterious.
The Scepsian (Demetrius) who has collected fabulous stories of this kind, does not receive this account because no mysterious tradition about the Cabeiri is preserved in Samothrace, yet he gives the opinion of Stesimbrotus of Thasus, to the effect that the sacred rites in Samothrace were celebrated in honor of the Cabeiri. Demetrius, however, says that they had their name from Cabeirus, the mountain in Berecynthia. According to others, the Curetes were the same as the Corybantes, and were ministers of Hecate…
But Acusilaus, the Argive, mentions a Camillus, the son of Cabeira and Vulcan; who had three sons, Cabeiri, (and three daughters,) the Nymphs Cabeirides. According to Pherecydes, there sprung from Apollo and Rhetia nine Corybantes, who lived in Samothrace; that from Cabeira, the daughter of Proteus and Vulcan, there were three Cabeiri, and three Nymphs, Cabeirides, and that each had their own sacred rites. But it was at Lemnos and Imbros that the Cabeiri were more especially the objects of divine worship, and in some of the cities of the Troad; their names are mystical. Herodotus mentions, that there were at Memphis temples of the Cabeiri as well as of Vulcan, which were destroyed by Cambyses. The places where these demons received divine honors are uninhabited, as Corybantium in the territory Hamaxitia belonging to the country of the Alexandrians, near Sminthium; and Corybissa in the Scepsian territory about the river Eureis, and a village of the same name, and the winter torrent Æthaloeïs. The Scepsian says, that it is probable that the Curetes and Corybantes are the same persons, who as youths and boys were employed to perform the armed dance in the worship of the mother of the gods. They were called Corybantes from their dancing gait, and butting with their head (κορύπτοντας) by the poet they were called βητάπμονες, 'Come hither, you who are the best skilled Betarmones among the Phæacia;' Because the Corybantes are dancers, and are frantic, we call those persons by this name whose movements are furious.
Some writers say that the first inhabitants of the country at the foot of Mount Ida were called Idæan Dactyli, for the country below mountains is called the foot, and the summits of mountains their heads; so the separate extremities of Ida (and all are sacred to the mother of the gods) are called Idæan Dactyli. But Sophocles supposes, that the first five were males, who discovered and forged iron, and many other things which were useful for the purposes of life; that these persons had five sisters, and from their number had the name of Dactyli. Different persons however relate these fables differently, connecting one uncertainty with another. They differ both with respect to the numbers and the names of these persons; some of whom they call Celmis, and Damnameneus, and Hercules, and Acmon, who, according to some writers, were natives of Ida, according to others, were settlers, but all agree that they were the first workers in iron, and upon Mount Ida. All writers suppose them to have been magicians, attendants upon the mother of the gods, and to have lived in Phrygia about Mount Ida. They call the Troad Phrygia, because, after the devastation of Troy, the neighboring Phrygians became masters of the country. It is also supposed that the Curetes and the Corybantes were descendants of the Idæan Dactyli, and that they gave the name of Idæan Dactyli to the first hundred persons who were born in Crete; that from these descended nine Curetes, each of whom had ten children, who were called Idæan Dactyli.
Although we are not fond of fabulous stories, yet we have expatiated upon these, because they belong to subjects of a theological nature. All discussion respecting the gods requires an examination of ancient opinions, and of fables, since the ancients expressed enigmatically their physical notions concerning the nature of things, and always intermixed fable with their discoveries. It is not easy therefore to solve these enigmas exactly, but if we lay before the reader a multitude of fabulous tales, some consistent with each other, others which are contradictory, we may thus with less difficulty form conjectures about the truth. For example, mythologists probably represented the ministers of the gods, and the gods themselves, as coursing over the mountains, and their enthusiastic behavior, for the same reason that they considered the gods to be celestial beings, and to exercise a providential care over all things, and especially over signs and presages. Mining, hunting, and a search after things useful for the purposes of life, appeared to have a relation to this coursing over the mountains, but juggling and magic to be connected with enthusiastic behavior, religious rites, and divination. Of such a nature, and connected in particular with the improvement of the arts of life, were the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough of this subject.”
The previous analysis by Strabo suggests a Cretan- Phrygian connection. Strabo says there are four peaks of Ida called Olympos, and there are (at least) two mountains called Ida; both in ancient Phrygia (Troy) and Crete, presumably since Minoan times. But both these names, Olympos and Ida maybe considered Pelasgian, if we use this term for the omnigloss then spoken in East Mediterranean. Therefore the origin of Greek religion and culture must be considered of Pelasgian origin too. But what is ‘Pelasgian- Greek’ and what ‘Pelasgian- non-Greek?’
Wikipedia says that, according to the Greek mythology, the Korybantes were the armed and crested dancers who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing.
The Curetes were dancers who venerated Rhea, the Cretan counterpart of Cybele. Strabo mentions that the Curetes were assigned multiple identities and places of origin (i.e. Acarnanians, Aetolians, Cretans, or Euboeans). However, he further clarifies the identity of the Curetes and considers them solely Aetolians who took part in the quarrel over the Calydonian Boar.
The Cabeiri were possibly Phrygian deities and protectors of sailors, who were imported into Greek ritual. R. S. P. Beekes believes that their name is of non-Indo-European, pre-Greek origin. The Semitic word kabir (great) has been compared to Κάβειροι and the idea of ‘great’ gods expressed by the Semitic root kbr was definitively attested for North Syria in the thirteenth century BCE. A. H. Sayce had suggested a connection to Hittite habiri (looters, outlaws), but subsequent discoveries have made this implausible on phonological grounds. Dossein compares Κάβειροι to the Sumerian word kabar, ‘copper.’ The name of the Cabeiri recalls Mount Kabeiros, a mountain in the region of Berekyntia in Asia Minor, closely associated with the Phrygian Mother Goddess. The name of Kadmilus (Καδμῖλος), or Kasmilos, one of the Cabeiri who was usually depicted as a young boy, was linked even in antiquity to camillus, an old Latin word for a boy-attendant in a cult, which is probably a loan from the Etruscan language, which may be related to Lemnian. However, according to Beekes, the name Kadmilus may be of pre-Greek origin, as is the case with the name Cadmus.
Therefore the Cabeiri seem to have been the unifying complex of deities under which the Curetes and the Corybantes performed their war dances. If the Curetes were Minoans and the Corybantes Phrygians then probably both Minoans and Phrygians may claim a common origin which can be based on the universal cult of the Cabeiri. Let’s note the similarity between the Cabeiri (Semitic cabir), Caphtor (Minoan Crete), Cadmiros (Cadmus), and so on. If I had to choose one group over the other (Phrygians vs. Minoans) I would chose the Phrygians. If the cult was related to war dances, the Minoans are not regarded as a war-like nation. Perhaps the Neo-palatial phase in Cnossos was inaugurated by Thraco-Phrygian elements, at about the same time when they invaded Greece. Therefore both Mycenaeans and Minoans (at least the ruling class) could be of the same Northern origin. However, the difference between the Mycenaean and the Minoan language suggests that the supposed invaders adopted instead of replacing the languages already spoken in Crete and Greece.
The Phrygian goddess Hecuba was also related to the worship of the Cabeiri. If the root of both words Couretes/Corybantes is ‘couros’ (= ‘boy’) then they were both ‘followers’ of Hecuba and the Cabeiri. If the word couros is related to coura= healing (not corys= helmet) then the name could have stemmed from an unknown root which originally had to do with libation/healing, not with war dancers/followers. Couros could be even a Minoan deity (if the Couretes were Minoan). The nurture of Jupiter in Crete and his marriage with Rhea may suggest replacement in religion (if Jeus was IE and Rea was Minoan). According to Strabo, Hera was helped by the musical noise made by the Curetes to distract Kronos from devouring his son, Jeus. The story suggests that Jeus was a hero who escaped in Minoan Crete and who was nurtured and protected by locals. But if Greek religion was nurtured in Minoan Crete (or even originated in Crete as Jeus may have in fact been born in Crete according to some legends) then it is incompatible to consider its ‘Northern origin.’
Therefore we may pose the next question. If IEs were originally Asians in the broad sense, where exactly Asia used to be? According to the ancients the Ukrainian steppes didn’t even exist (the Caspian Sea was supposed to end in the North Ocean). Therefore when we refer to the ‘North’ we shouldn’t exceed the Taurus mountain range (which was supposed to stretch all across Asia) far to the North. This were the limits of the ‘Old World,’ on the fringes of which we may find tribes of people who were coming from nowhere to become civilized. This is also why 2/3 of modern English is Latin not German. We should think accordingly for the origin of the Greek (and the Latin) language too.
5. Further discussion
Up to this point the conclusion we have reached is that in most cases the evolution of sounds and forms of Greek place names does not indicate language replacement. In fact the resemblance between the older and newer forms suggests that, even if the existing place names were borrowed by newcomers (replacement of place names is usually the exception), either the languages were related to each other or the newcomers were absorbed by the previous culture at a high degree.
5.1 Kurgan Hypothesis
The mainstream consensus among Indo-Europeanists favors the ‘Kurgan hypothesis,’ which places the Indo-European homeland in the Pontic steppes of the Chalcolithic period (4th to 5th millennium BCE).
A kurgan (Russian: курга́н) is a tumulus, a type of burial mound or barrow, heaped over a burial chamber, often of wood. The Russian noun, which is already attested in Old East Slavic, is borrowed from an unidentified Turkic language, compare Modern Turkish kurğan, which means ‘fortress.’
The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language. The Yamnaya-people were the likely result of admixture between Eastern-European hunter gatherers and hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. Their culture is materially very similar to that of the people of the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries from further east, in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.
The Altaic origin of (at least part of) the Yamna people may also explain the presence of the Tocharians in Mongolia. Therefore ‘PIE’ could have equally been ‘Proto-Altaic,’ or a common Eurasiatic language may be recognized in the Stepes. Furthermore, if the first IE clade to split was the Anatolian clade, it is more reasonable to assume that the IE homeland was further to the South. Therefore it seems that the gathering of IE peoples in the Stepes in the Eneolithic (4th- 5th millennium BCE), was just an episode of a wider process which begun much earlier.
5.1.1 Mounted horses
A number of hypotheses exist on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed. The clearest evidence of early use of the horse as a means of transport is from chariot burials dated c. 2,000 BCE. However, an increasing amount of evidence supports the hypothesis that horses were domesticated in the Eurasian Steppes approximately 3,500 BCE; recent discoveries in the context of the Botai culture suggest that Botai settlements in the Akmola Province of Kazakhstan are the location of the earliest domestication of the horse.
Here follows a reconstruction concerning the Proto-Indo-European word for ‘horse:’
Reconstructable form: PIE *éḱwos (masc.).
*éḱwos > Proto-Anatolian *áḱḱwos > Proto-Luvian *áttswos
> Cuneiform Luvian azzuwas, Hieroglyphic Luvian á-zú-wa-;
> *asbe > Lycian esbe.
*éḱwos > *ékwë > Proto-Tocharian *yə́kwë
> *yəkw > *yŭk > Tocharian A yuk;
> Tocharian B yakwe.
*éḱwos > Proto-Indo-Iranian *áćwas;
> Vedic áśvas;
> Proto-Iranian *atswah > Avestan aspō, Old Persian asa.
*éḱwos >→ Greek *íkwkwos (cf. Mycenaean i-qo; but why *i-?? contamination with some other word?) > *íppos (cf. compound names like Ἄλκιππος /Álk-ippos/, with no aspiration) → ἵππος /híppos/ (again, where does the /h-/ come from?); problematic cognate.
*éḱwos > Proto-Italic *ékwos > Latin equos.
*éḱwos > Proto-Celtic *ekwos > Gaulish Epo- (in names), Old Irish ech.
*éḱwos > Proto-Germanic *ehwaz > Old Norse jór, Old English eoh; cf. also Old Saxon ehuskalk ‘mounted retainer’, Gothic aíƕatundi ‘thornbush’ (*‘horse-tooth’).
*éḱwos > Proto-Balto-Slavic *éšwas; derived fem. *ešwā́ > Lithuanian ašvà ‘mare’.
*éḱwos > *eš > Armenian êš ‘donkey’.
However the word in use by most modern ‘IE’ languages for ‘horse’ is irrelevant to the ‘PIE’ root *ekwos:
Russian лошадь (loshad)
Greek άλογο (alogo)
The general pattern from the above list is that different language groups use a different word for ‘horse,’ while none of them uses a word derived from the ‘PIE’ *ekwos (with the exception perhaps of Germanic). Therefore the root- word (*ekwos) probably has to do with an official title (compare for example the words ‘horse’ and ‘equestrian’) or with a luxurious item (the totemic War-Horse vs. the common horse).
- This difference between the official (the ‘totemic’) word and the common word shows that apparently the official root- word (*ekwos) is a loan from some language to the rest.
Also, the word ‘horse’ in
Concerning the origins of the word, the Kazakh language (in reference to the domestication of the horse in Kazakhstan) is of Turkic origin (the same as the word kurgan). This again reinforces the suspicion that these first people where not ‘PIEs’ but, perhaps PEAs (Proto- Eurasians), consisting of both IE and Altaic components.
Also, the word ‘horse’ as follows:
(Akkadian) sissu> (Assyrian) suissa> (Proto-Anatolian/Hittite) (assuwa)> (Lycian) *asbe/esbe> Proto-Indo-Iranian *áćwas, and then both
→ (Vedic) áśvas > Avestan aspō
→ (Altaic) *ast- > (Turkish) at
The Greek forms ippos/ atti reveal the double origin.
(about the Akkadian word go to [http://www.aina.org/articles/akkadianwords.pdf])
Therefore it is equally possible that the word originated in Mesopotamia. Perhaps Eurasians were introduced with the animal later on, adapted the name to their own vocabulary, and this became the new name for the special breed of horses (the chariot-horse), while local populations kept using local names in parallel.
5.1.2 Wheels and chariots
Another argument of IE linguistics concerns the wheel and the chariot. In fact the argument is that the PIEs did have words for the wheel. The candidates put forward nine reconstructed PIE word forms, selected by the them as evidence for the PIEs having wheels. These are:
*hurki, argued to mean “wheel”
*roteh2, argued to mean “wheel”
*kwekwlo-, argued to mean “wheel”
*kwelh1-, argued to mean “turn” perhaps in the sense of a turning wheel.
*h2eks-, argued to mean “axle”
*h2ih3s-, argued to mean “thill” or “wagon shaft”
*wéĝh-, argued to mean “convey in a vehicle”
*h3nebh-, argued to mean “nave” or “wheel hub”
*iugó-, argued to mean “yoke”
‘*kwekwlo-’ means ‘cycle:’
- The Basque word for circle is zirkulu (similar to ‘circle’).
- The Hungarian word is kör (similar to the Slavic ‘krug’/‘kruh,’
- The Arabic word is halqa (similar to PIE *hurki).
- The Hebrew words are ee-GOOL/ mah-ah-GAHL. The terms ‘Gool’ and ‘Ghal’ are similar to the Greek ‘coilos’ (curved).
Furthermore, I have found this,
Gar. Kar. An ancient root for ‘surrounding’ and ‘enclosing,’ thus ‘guarding.’
Akkadian khar, ‘round’;
Egyptian ker, ‘circle’;
Aryan gar, ‘assemble,’ kar, ‘round,’ ‘roll,’ ‘run’;
Hebrew gor, ‘turn’;
Arabic kar, ‘turn’;
Hence also many words for ‘running,’ such as Mongol kar, ‘to run’; Akkadian kurra, Hindi ghora, ‘horse’; Akkadian kar, ‘to speed’; Finnic kars, ‘to spring,’ ‘to run.’
Words for ‘circle’ and ‘enclosure’ come from this root. [https://books.google.gr/books?id=maSQ-4Ag5qsC&pg=PA128&lpg=PA128&dq=the+words+circle+in+akkadian&source=bl&ots=JnytLth8Sl&sig=-qmATJNgtPiM7neZ54F0dG-YGqM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCs7iBkbfKAhVDPhQKHV59DOsQ6AEILzAD#v=onepage&q=the%20words%20circle%20in%20akkadian&f=false]
The identification just shows that all these people had in common the ‘wheel’ or the ‘circle,’ not armed vehicles or chariots. Therefore the common ancestry of the word ‘circle’ may go well back to the Paleolithic.
- Therefore the root *kwelh is not PIE but Nostratic.
5.2 Krahe’s hydronyms
Old European is the term used by Hans Krahe (1964) for the language of the oldest reconstructed stratum of European hydronymy (river names) in Central and Western Europe. The character of these river names is pre-Germanic and pre-Celtic and dated by Krahe to the 2nd millennium BCE.
But this is what I wanted to point out: for example the place names
share, remarkably but not surprisingly, the suffixes which we have been talking about:
–alos, –anta, –na/–nas, –tas, etc.
Again in the second map we have place names such as
which have the same suffixes (in fact the main difference between the place names in the two maps is an –s– preceding the theme –ala–).
I don’t know if Krahe wanted to prove that Old European languages were replaced by IE languages in the 2nd millennium BCE or if he just gathered the place names for the shake of reference, but probably these place names date earlier in time. How much earlier I don’t know. Concerning the Eastern Meditteranean, they could date as far back as the beginning of the Neolithic. Krahe’s maps are limited to West Europe but as we have already seen the –ala– theme is abundant also in the East Mediterranean (e.g. in Greek, als/thalassa= sea, salos= noise made by waves, salio= saliva, etc.) There is nothing to imply replacement. To suppose that newcomers adopted names related to the sea would be logical if they came from a place without sea. But didn’t they have rivers? How come that the theme (–ala–) is used both for the sea and for rivers? If the newcomers adopted all the hydronymy, isn’t it more sensible to suppose continuity instead of replacement? I would say that themes related to the sea, or to rivers, tend to be stable. Therefore such themes may date back well to the Paleolithic.
More concerning Krahe’s hydronymy:
1st counter example:
Atlas: Titan, son of Iapetus and Clymene, supposed to uphold the pillars of heaven, which was his punishment for being the war leader of the Titans in the struggle with the Olympian gods. The name in Greek perhaps means ‘The Bearer (of the Heavens),’ from a-, copulative prefix, + stem of tlenai ‘to bear,’ from PIE root *tele- ‘to lift, support, weigh.’ Mount Atlas, in Mauritania, was important in Greek cosmology as a support of the heavens.
1st conclusion: If the name ‘Atlas’ is IE, then ‘Atlanda’ (Alanda/Atlantis) is also IE.
2nd counter- example:
salmon: (n.) early 13c., from Anglo-French samoun, Old French salmun (Modern French saumon), from Latin salmonem (nominative salmo) ‘a salmon,’ probably originally ‘leaper,’ from salire ‘to leap’ (see salient (adj.)), though some dismiss this as folk etymology. Another theory traces it to Celtic. Replaced Old English læx, from PIE ‘lax,’ the more usual word for the fish (see lox). In reference to a color, from 1786.
Presumably the word ‘salmon’ is IE too. Therefore it seems that during the 2nd millennium BCE all Europe had been already speaking ‘IE’ languages.
- The –ala– theme is common in the Greek language, either in nouns (e.g. alas= salt/sea), or in place names. Examples from Strabo’s Geography include possibly Alicyrna and Calliaros (similar to modern Cagliari in Italy). Another example is the modern Greek city Atalante. Also toponyms in –alos/–aros, –ali (like acrogiali= beach)/–ari (like Cagliari) contain it. As with Strabo so with Krahe the similarities in toponyms seem to support, instead of opposing, the indigenous origin of PIE languages in Europe, at least in the sense that the European languages evolved continuously even if Europe had been invaded by newcomers from time to time.
5.3 Neolithic Continuity
The idea of Neolithic continuity for the European languages was put forward by Colin Renfrew and has been further supported by glotto-chronological studies (to be shown later on).
The Anatolian hypothesis proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. The hypothesis suggests that the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) lived in Anatolia during the Neolithic era, and associates the distribution of historical Indo-European languages with the expansion during the Neolithic revolution during the seventh and sixth millennia BCE.
The main proponent of the Anatolian hypothesis was Colin Renfrew, who in 1987 suggested a peaceful Indo-Europeanization of Europe from Anatolia from around 7,000 BCE with the advance of farming by demic diffusion (‘wave of advance’). Accordingly, most of the inhabitants of Neolithic Europe would have spoken Indo-European languages, and later migrations would at best have replaced these Indo-European varieties with other Indo-European varieties.
The main strength of the farming hypothesis lies in its linking of the spread of Indo-European languages with an archaeologically known event (the spread of farming) that is often assumed as involving significant population shifts.
Further support for the Anatolian hypothesis comes from a study by Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson. As they say,
“In striking agreement with the Anatolian hypothesis, our analysis of 87 languages with 2,449 lexical items produced an estimated age range for the initial Indo-European divergence of between 7,800 and 9,800 years BP.”
No matter what was the method used in the previous study, there are some elements which contradict the Anatolian hypothesis. Marija Gimbutas in her review of Renfrew’s theory, said among other things:
“According to Renfrew, the first Indo-European languages came to Europe from Anatolia around 6,000 BCE, together with the first domesticated plants and animals. This, he suggests, is the key to the solution of the Indo-European problem. He has not raised the crucial question of describing the culture and, more important, the religion and social structure of these early agriculturalists. No evidence is offered that the Neolithic culture of Europe (in my terminology non-Indo-European ‘Old Europe,’ ca. 6,500- ca. 3,500 BCE) was Indo-European in the sense heretofore understood. It is difficult to furnish arguments for such a hypothesis when every temple and tomb-shrine, every statue and wall painting, every painted sherd and inscribed cult object we discover cries out to us that this culture of art, of love of life, and of balanced partnership stood in opposition to all of what we know as Indo-European.
If the earliest agriculturalists of Europe were Indo-European-speakers, why are basic agricultural terms non-Indo-European? And why is the terminology associated with religious worship, especially the names of goddesses, notably non-Indo-European?
It is astounding that Renfrew, long the leading voice of antimigrationism in prehistoric Europe, now speaks of the migration of farmers from east to west and from southeast to northwest. Indeed, this is the route of diffusion for the food-producing economy. Small immigrant groups of small-statured Mediterranean people with sheep and grain may have arrived on the Greek mainland by boat across the Aegean from Anatolia during the first half of the 7th millennium BCE and from there moved north to Macedonia and even as far as the Carpathians. But the agriculturalization of the north and west of southeastern Europe was a process of acculturation, a mixture of local populations and traditions with prominent influences from the southeast…
Europe from the beginning of agriculture to the Christian era consists of two very different strata, Old European and Indo-European. What is understood today as ‘Western civilization’ is derived from the merging of the two. I see many two-way acculturative processes. The main ingredients of every Indo-European culture in Europe may be described as substratal and superstratal. There was a collision of two ideologies, two religions, and two social systems. Indo-European culture did not simply evolve from Old European civilization, and the same applies to Anatolia and India. Renfrew’s ‘key to the solution’ of Indo-European origins- making non-Indo-European agriculturalists speak Proto-Indo-European- is a gross distortion of European and Asiatic prehistory.”
As far as Gimbutas is concerned we may ask ourselves,
- War is not the privilege of IEs. In fact there are examples of war-like agricultural societies, such as the Incas in Latin America.
- If IEs do not share a common vocabulary of agricultural terms (since most terms should have been common as loans from their Neolithic predecessors) then it seems that agriculture was more or less invented independently (thus Renfrew is also wrong). As far as goddesses are concerned, Venus seems to be a universal name (we will talk about Paleolithic European statuettes later on).
- Even if there had been a collision of two cultures (‘Old Europe vs. IEs’), Europe was never ‘kurganized.’
In fact, if the first IEs were farmers from Anatolia, the lexicon of agricultural terms should be the same for all IE languages. But this is not the case. This suggests that the first IEs were not farmers, unless they invented agriculture independently. Furthermore, the Neolithic ‘invasion’ of Europe from the East seems to have stopped in Southeast Europe. This is logical because Central and North Europe, heavily forested, would not have been an ideal place for farmers. This is why these regions, in many cases, seem to have passed directly from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age.
Nevertheless, reacting to criticism, Renfrew revised his proposal to the effect of taking a pronounced Indo-Hittite position. Renfrew’s revised views place only Pre-Proto-Indo-European in 7th millennium BCE Anatolia, proposing as the homeland of Proto-Indo-European proper the Balkans around 5,000 BCE, explicitly identified as the ‘Old European culture’ proposed by Marija Gimbutas. He thus still situates the original source of the Indo-European language family in Anatolia around 7,000 BCE. Reconstructions of a Bronze Age PIE society based on vocabulary items like ‘wheel’ do not necessarily hold for the Anatolian branch, which appears to have separated from PIE at an early stage, prior to the invention of wheeled vehicles.
The strongest support for a Neolithic ‘Indo-Europeanization’ of Europe comes from archaeological evidence. The two previous maps refer to Neolithic and Early Bronze Age cultures in Europe, and are also related to genetic data. As far as the present discussion is concerned, we see how well, e.g. the Kongemose, Tardenoisian, Kunda, Bug-Dniester, Printed Cardium Pottery, Thessalian Neolithic and Helladic Neolithic archaeological horizons correspond to the cultures of historical times, i.e. the Germans, the Celts, the Baltics, the Slavs, the Italics, the Thessalian-Pelasgians (Thracians, Phrygians, etc.) and the Greek-Pelasgians, respectively. In fact the correspondence is so straightforward that one has to turn a blind eye not to consider it.
This is another map, which shows the distribution of Cardium Pottery Culture. The earliest Impressed Ware sites, dating to 6,400-6,200 BCE, are in Epirus and Corfu, which eventually extended from the Adriatic sea to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and south to Morocco (many other sites will be nowadays submerged. Northward and westward all secure radiocarbon dates are identical to those for Iberia 5,500 BCE, which indicates a rapid spread of Cardial and related cultures: 2,000 km from the gulf of Genoa to the estuary of the Mondego in probably no more than 100–200 years. This suggests a seafaring expansion by planting colonies along the coast.
This may be the sea route which one branch of the Neolithic settlers took, while another branch came to Europe by land from Anatolia, the Caucasus, and along the Black Sea. These movements coincided with the deglaciation of Europe. The newcomers would have confronted a sparsely populated landscape, therefore we may assume the right initial conditions for a founder effect, which may also explain the uniformity of languages observed later on in place names.
(The distinction between a ‘Thessalian’ and a ‘Helladic’ archaeological horizon is interesting because it may suggest an initial biglossy which later on converged into a unified Greek language.)
The following table (which I made) is based on Eupedia maps of Europe and the Near East, from the Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age.
(‘#’ means ‘same as previous, ‘?’ means ‘unknown/uncertain,’ while ‘-’ means ‘deceased.’)
- There is an apparent relationship between the archeological-genetic horizons and historical languages.
- In many cases the continuity is straightforward (e.g. Germans, Greeks, Italians, Syrians, Georgians), while in other cases we have a merge or split of cultures (e.g. either Comb Ceramic Pottery split to give birth to Uralics and Baltics, or the Baltics rose by the merge of the Kiukenen and Srubna Cultures, while the Slavs probably emerged by the merge of the Srubna and Trzciniec cultures).
- In other cases, we have the disappearance of cultures (which are also explicit on the table), for example the Almagra Culture.
(As far as the Kurds are concerned, according to Wikipedia, they claim origins from the Hurrians and the Medes).
These direct correspondences suggest that there is no reason to suppose cultural (therefore also linguistic) replacement in these areas. On the contrary, the languages of Europe and the Near East most probably evolved through assimilation.
5.4 The European Megalithic
The Paleolithic cave paintings in Europe belong to the first Cro-Magnons who came to Europe from Asia. The populations of Europe seem to have been following a recurring pattern of migration according to glaciation cycles. Probably during glaciation periods most of people would abandon Europe for warmer climates in the Near East and North Africa, while during interglacial periods they would return to Europe. The last time this may have happened is the time of the Younger Dryas (11,000- 9,500 BCE). Therefore it is possible that the Neolithic farmers who came to Europe in the Early Neolithic were Paleolithic Europeans returning to their homelands from the Near East.
The possibility of a Paleolithic origin for the languages of Europe has been put forward by Mario Alinei, in the context of the Paleolithic Continuity Theory. The Paleolithic Continuity Theory (PCT), or the Paleolithic Continuity Paradigm (PCP), is a hypothesis suggesting that the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) can be traced back to the Upper Paleolithic, several millennia earlier than the Chalcolithic or at the most Neolithic estimates in other scenarios of Proto-Indo-European origins. The PCT posits that the advent of Indo-European languages should be linked to the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe and Asia from Africa in the Upper Paleolithic. Employing ‘lexical periodization,’ Alinei arrives at a timeline deeper than even that of Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis.
The framework of PCT is laid out by Alinei in four main assumptions:
1. Continuity is the basic pattern of European prehistory and the basic working hypothesis on the origins of IE languages.
2. Stability and antiquity are general features of languages.
3. The lexicon of natural languages, due to its antiquity, may be ‘periodized’ along the entire course of human evolution.
4. Archaeological frontiers coincide with linguistic frontiers.
Let’s follow Alinei’s views in his own words:
Firstly, Alinei criticizes Marija Gimbuta’s kurgan hypothesis about the origins of IE:
“…By placing the arrival of the IEs in the 4th millennium, and the process of transformation from Proto-IE to separate language groups in the 3rd, the subsequent process, by which the separate language groups would evolve into the major attested languages, will inevitably take place in the II and I millennium that is in the Bronze and Iron Age. Although most IE specialists are still reluctant to admit it, this chronology, as well as the scenario behind it, can now be considered as altogether obsolete. The evidence collected by archaeology in the last thirty years, in fact, overwhelmingly prove the absence of any large scale invasion in Europe, and the uninterrupted continuity of most Copper and Bronze Age cultures of Europe from Neolithic, and of most Neolithic cultures from Mesolithic and final Paleolithic.”
Alinei also criticizes Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis as follows:
“Renfrew’s theory (Neolithic Discontinuity Theory)… is undoubtedly superior to the traditional Invasion Theory, as far as it does eliminate the myth of the PIE Blitzkrieg against the peaceful Old Europeans. However, for the rest it creates more problems than it solves:
(1) Archaeology proves that most European Neolithic cultures directly continue earlier Mesolithic cultures, and even in those areas where intrusions are archaeologically ascertained, the Mesolithic populations were quickly involved in the acculturation process: there is no real discontinuity between Mesolithic and Neolithic.
(2) The two Southern European areas, where Neolithic cultures do show infiltrations from the Middle East, are precisely the areas where non-IE linguistic traits are most evident and important, as every linguist who is familiar with the linguistic record of ancient (and modern) Italy and Greece will readily admit. Which points precisely to the contrary of what the NDT implies, namely that the South of Europe should have received the strongest influence from the PIE coming from the Middle East. To explain the real linguistic situation, in fact, the NDT assumption must be simply reversed: the Middle Eastern farmers introducing Neolithic into Southern Europe were precisely the non-Indo-European groups responsible for the non-IE element of the area.
(3) As far as the North and the West of Europe are concerned, the NDT is obliged to assume that IE ‘arrived’ there long after the first Neolithic cultures. However, that period is precisely the one in which archaeology detects no trace whatsoever of discontinuity: there is, for example, absolutely no trace of the ‘arrival’ of the Celts in Western Europe (which simply means that they were always there), and as to Germanic people, it is preposterous to think that the farmers of the LBK, Proto-Germanic according to the NDT, would be motivated to spread northward to Scandinavia and to Norway, would adopt the Mesolithic fishing tools and deep-sea fishing techniques and habits of the rich Mesolithic specialized fishing cultures of that area, without adopting, however, any part of their fishing terminology, and especially without adopting any of their place names: the whole Scandinavian toponymy is either Germanic or Uralic! Obviously, the convergence between the continuity of Northern peoples, fishing cultures and technologies, and the Germanic or Uralic character of terminologies and place names point to continuity of language, just as it does in the Uralic area.”
Alinei bases his theory on the notions of continuity, conservation and periodization. An example of the latter notion is the following one:
He says that “If IE words for ‘dying’ (coming from PIE *-mer) belong to the PIE lexicon, while for ‘burying’ there are different words in most IE languages, this must be seen as evidence that by the time ritual burying began, in Upper Paleolithic, IE groups were already differentiated.”
“Similarly,” he says “if the name of several wild animals, among which that of the bear (PIE *rkÞo-s), belong to the PIE lexicon, this means that these animals belonged to the cognitive and cultural world of IE pre-religious Paleolithic hunters. Conversely, the so called ‘noa’ names of the bear (i.e the ‘taboo-names’) in the Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic languages, all different from one another, can only indicate that by the time religious concern for hunted animals connected with totemism emerged in Upper Paleolithic (along with the earliest attestations of bear cult), IE languages were already differentiated.”
It seems that each language group has a common word for the bear, which is different between groups. This probably means that the groups were already separated when they encountered bears, and since bears are to be found all over Eurasia, these language groups seem to have been living separate since the beginning. This however does not indicate a chronology but some location where bears are not to be found.
Furthermore, the same groups of languages seem to have separately invented or adopted agriculture, because, as Alinei shows, the basic agricultural terms in IE languages are different:
“The sharp differentiation of farming terminology in the different IE languages, while absolutely unexplainable in the context of Renfrew’s NDT, provides yet another fundamental proof that the differentiation of IE languages goes back to remote prehistory. This is admitted even by a few traditionalists: as Francisco Villar writes, “in the common [Indoeuropean] language a lexicon connected to farming does not exist or hardly exists” and “the common IE terminology for farming is so scarce to allow a dilemma to rise: it is possible that the IEs’ knowledge of farming was modest, […] but it is even possible that they had no knowledge of farming at all.” While this finding can be easily explained within the PCP, it becomes a huge problem once Neolithic intrusive farmers have been assumed to be the Proto-IEs: “This hypothesis clashes with the Neolithic thesis […] according to which IEs would essentially be the inventors of farming, which would be the most important and characteristic activity of their society,” and “It is unthinkable that the people who invented and diffused farming would not have a rich and specific lexicon to designate the elements and the techniques of farming”.”
Alinei also relates archeological to linguistic evidence to show that the supposed homeland of PIE was just the birth place of Turkish- Altaic tribes, while the Balto-Slavs (as well as the rest of the ‘IE’ groups) were already in their historical places:
“On the steppes of Eastern Europe, a conspicuous and well-known Neolithic-Chalcolithic frontier separates the farming cultures of Bug-Dnestr, Tripolye AI, Tripolye AII, Gorodsk-Usatovo, Corded Ware and Globular Amphora in Ukraine, from the pastoral, horse-raising and horse-riding cultures of Sursk-Dnepr, Dnepr-Donec, Seredny Stog/Chvalynsk, Yamna (kurgan!) and Catacombs, in the Pontic steppes: this is the frontier that moved Marija Gimbutas to envisage the epochal clash between the peaceful autochthonous non-IE farmers of the ‘Old Europe,’ and the warlike intrusive IE who submerged them. In the light of the PCP and of the available linguistic evidence, instead, this frontier corresponds to an earlier linguistic phylum frontier between an already separated and flourishing eastern Slavic population of farmers to the West, and warlike Turkic pastoral nomadic groups to the East, which would be responsible, among other things, of the two innovations of horse raising and horse-riding.
Linguistically, the new interpretation has the advantage of explaining (A) the antiquity and the quantity of Turkic loanwords precisely for horse terminology in both branches of Samoyed, in the Ugric languages, as well as in Slavic languages, and (B), more generally, the quantity of Turkic agro-pastoral terms in South-Eastern European languages, including Hungarian, which would have been brought into its present area precisely by the kurgan culture.
Interestingly, the uninterrupted continuity of Altaic steppe cultures, from Chalcolithic to the Middle Ages, can be symbolized precisely by the kurgans themselves: for on the one hand, the custom of raising kurgans on burial sites has always been one of the most characteristic features of Altaic steppe nomadic populations, from their first historical appearance to the late Middle Ages. On the other, the Russian word kurgan itself is not of Russian, or Slavic, or IE, origin, but a Turkic loanword, with a very wide diffusion area in Southern Europe, which closely corresponds to the spread of the kurgan culture.”
Finally he bases his theory on genetic data:
“In genetics, the school founded and led by Luca Cavalli Sforza has made fundamental discoveries about the relationship between genetics and linguistics, such as:
(A) The areal distribution of genetic markers largely corresponds to that of the world languages.
(B) Language differentiation must have proceeded step by step with the dispersal of humans (probably Homo sapiens sapiens).
(C) Independent geneticists working on DNA have recently ascertained that that 80% of the genetic stock of Europeans goes back to Paleolithic.”
The Paleolithic Continuity Hypothesis (or Paradigm) pushes the origins of a common ‘PIE’ language back into the remote past of Homo Sapiens. If the Cro- Magnons painted horses in caves 30,000 or 35,000 years ago then certainly these animals were discovered and probably exploited a long time before the IEs. However if the native populations of Europe had also domesticated the horse, it’s really hard to explain why the Greeks had the myth of the Centaurs, who were half human- half horse, if they had been already familiar with horse riding. This may explain why the totemic, or technological, word for horse (equos) is common, while the common word is different. But there is nothing to suggest that Europeans didn’t become familiar with the (common) horse independently (although they were acquainted with mounted wariors later on).
To suppose, however, that the languages spoken in Europe during the Paleolithic evolved into the modern IE (or simply European) languages is rather far-fetched. For example, there are languages spoken outside Europe (the Indo-Iranian clade for example) that have similarities with European languages but probably have nothing to do with the European Paleolithic. If Indo-Iranians also existed during the Paleolithic, how can we explain the similarities? Furthermore, the Romanization of South Europe took place in historical times, certainly much later even than the Bronze or the Iron Age. Isn’t it more appropriate to consider that the Romance languages look alike because of their Romanization rather than a common origin in the Paleolithic? Even if some people lived in Eurasia during the Paleolithic, was there enough communication between them to form a common linguistic isogloss? Therefore, if the IE model finds it hard to explain conserved similarities 5,500 years after the time of the original mother- language, it is much harder to explain these similarities after 15,000 years or so.
But let’s follow the bear-wolf paradigm. Bears in ancient times could be found all over Eurasia (in the Northern parts) as well as in North Africa (in the Atlas mountains). Bears could be also found in Anatolia but not in the Levant and certainly not in Mesopotamia. Wolves on the other hand may have been found in all previous places. Interestingly the name for wolf is zeev in Hebrew and velvel in Yiddish. I am not a specialist in the Jewish language and I am aware that the Yiddish language was heavily influenced by European languages. However if a linguist can prove a correlation between the words velvel (Askenazi Jewish) and zeev (original Jewish) then the word velvev is certainly cognate with the word wolf. The word for bear in Jewish is quite different (dohv).
Did both Semitic and IE languages split from a common, Nostratic, language spoken in the Near East (a place where there are wolves but not bears) about 10,000- 15,000 years ago? The bear-wolf example may not be sufficient on its own to prove anything. However we have examples, such as the words for circle (common both in IE and Semitic), wheat (common in Greek and Jewish), horse/equos (different common name but similar official name in IE languages), kurgan (Altaic in origin), which set some limits: a probable common origin in the Near East; an initial split forming two branches, one in Anatolia and East Mediterranean, and another one towards the Caucasus and the Pontic steppes (this latter could be identified with the ‘IEs;’) probably a reunification of the two branches in Central and West Europe (having perhaps even greater regression if we also consider Semitic sea-farers which may have reached West Europe directly from the Levant); and of course indirect assimilation processes (word loans), which do not need movements of people but interactions within the context of an isogloss.
More about the bear and the wolf:
First of all, we may note that if the Basque word for the bear (hartz) is not a loan from IE languages into the Basque language then both the Basques and the people of South Mediterranean could be of Paleolithic origin (the worlds hartz and arktos/orso are certainly cognates).
Secondly, the reconstructed types *h₂ŕ̥tḱos and *bher-, may suggest a common complex form which might sound something like *harswar-, in accordance to the binary type ‘Eqwos’/‘As(t)was’ for horse. However this term (‘*harswar-’), may suggest an Anatolian common origin, just like the combined reconstructed Anatolian word for horse (Proto-Luvian *áttswos).
-Punjabi (Pakistan) nuyanama
Tamil (Dravidian) tanka
+Tajik bardoshta (also hirs)
Thirdly the closely related Altaic name ‘ayi,’ (Albanian ‘Ari,’ arush/arushe) just as in the case of the horse (Aryan asvas, Altaic a(s)ti), again suggests a common Eurasiatic origin for both language groups (IE and Altaic). (This is also suggested by the close similarity of the Mongolian word ‘ureh’).
But in any case we see that,
- The word ‘bear’ within ‘IE’ language groups differs as much as in different language macro-families.
- It seems that separate ‘IE’ language groups had never originated in the same area but they had always been separate.
- In any case the distribution of the common word reveals a homogeneous population spreading from West Europe to Armenia and the regions of Central Eurasia, which was split by people who came later on further from the North.
More analytically, we may mention the following: - Common word in South Eurasia (including Turkish, and South European languages). - Both previous forms (ayi/ari) are found in the Caucasus (representing probably a place where the two language groups met). - Similar in Persian but different in Indian. This reinforces the aspect of a common origin in South Eurasia. - Different in Slavic. These people, expanding all across North Eurasia, may have come later on, penetrating the original homogeneous group (also suggested by remnants of the previous form in parts of the Baltic Sea). - Different in Baltic. - Different word in Germanic languages, suggesting perhaps an ancient ancestry of these people. Germanics probably penetrated England, where the previous, Celtic, form was used. - Same in Persian. - Different in Indian. What is interesting according to the previous analysis is that the division of languages is quite different (than the IE or any other hypothesis). It suggests a homogeneous population spreading across Eurasia (however not including the Steppes of North Eurasia). The similarity in Persian but difference in Indian suggests that the original distribution may be pushed further to the South (not to the North). Thus there may never have been an ‘Altaic’ clade, but a uniform language across a ‘habitable zone’ stretching all across South Eurasia, independent from people living either in the North (the Steppes people) and in the South (Semites).
Proto-Indo-European root *wlqwos/*lukwos
(It is found in most of European languages)
Irish mac tire
Tajik (Persian) gurg
Tamil (Dravidian) onay
Turkish kurt (modern) or böri (ancient/traditional)
We may notice,
- Similar in most European languages.
- Similarity between European languages and Persian.
- Different in Hindi.
- Different in Turkic (compared to IE).
- Different in Arabic.
It is interesting to note in the previous map a fertile zone (represented by the light blue color), including the Fertile Crescent and India (in our case also South Europe). If there have been IEs, the most probable place of origin would consist of that zone, below the Steppes. The people of the Northern Steppes, the Urals, and the Altai highlands would have come in regular contact with the people of the ‘Fertile Zone,’ accumulating the culture. Thus any common form of language would have formed on those fringes, before this language entered Europe. But presumably this contact would have been going on since the first people would have moved from the Fertile Zone to the North, after the last Ice Age.
As far as the word for the wolf is concerned, it is difficult to explain why while the word for the bear is common in a vast area of Eurasia, this is not the case for the wolf. Perhaps the words are related to culture since the beginning (e.g. the word for the bear ‘arktos/ursa’ is related to the constellation, also serving for navigation). Therefore the similarity may refer to the common meaning. This didn’t happen for the wolf, for which each language group kept its own word. However, as far as Europe is concerned, the uniformity of the word may suggest a common Paleolithic origin.
5.5 The Younger Dryas phenomenon
The Younger Dryas was a 1,000-1,500 year period of cold climatic conditions and drought approximately 13,000 BP (about 11,000 BCE). It is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets (either because of global warming or by an impact with an asteroid).
The Dryas stadials were cold periods which interrupted the warming trend since the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago. The Younger Dryas saw a rapid return to glacial conditions in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere between in sharp contrast to the warming of the preceding interstadial deglaciation. For example, in the UK fossil evidence suggests that mean annual temperature dropped to −5°C (modern mean annual temperature 9.7°C), and periglacial conditions prevailed in lowland areas, while icefields and glaciers formed in upland areas. Nothing of the size, extent, or rapidity of this period of abrupt climate change has been experienced since.
In other words, maximum summer temperature those days would have been equal to contemporary maximum winter temperature. This means that Northern latitudes would be uninhabitable whereas in South Europe survival would be marginal.
Other features seen include: replacement of forest in Scandinavia with glacial tundra; more dust in the atmosphere, originating from deserts in Asia; drought in the Levant, perhaps motivating the Natufian culture to develop agriculture; decline of the Clovis Culture and extinction of animal species in North America.
Measurements of oxygen isotopes suggest the ending of the Younger Dryas took place over just 40–50 years. Other proxy data, such as dust concentration, and snow accumulation, suggest an even more rapid transition, requiring about a 7°C warming in just a few years. Total warming in Greenland was 10±4°C. The end of the Younger Dryas has been dated to around 11,550 BP (9,550 BCE).
Perhaps the collective stories about the Great Flood have their ultimate origin at that early period, as the rapid and abrupt global warming after the end of the Younger Dryas would have caused floods in more than one places. But if we follow this climate change, we will find ourselves far away from the Northern latitudes of Eurasia, further to the South. If temperatures had dropped as much as 15 degrees, even South Europe could have been uninhabitable. On the other hand, due to the drought, deserts would have expanded. The Sahara desert, for example, would have caused devastating sand storms all around the Mediterranean.
Most people leaving in Northern latitudes probably moved southwards. If there were any populations surviving around the Mediterranean, their traces will be lost due to the rise of the sea level after the Younger Dryas. I don’t know how many people lived in Eurasia at that moment, but the migratory wave out of Eurasia, which because of the rapid climate change could have been equally explosive, probably caused a great impact on the populations already occupying Southern latitudes in North Africa and the Near East.
In fact this is the time when the first agricultural communities appear in human history (excluding the Far East). The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 13,000 to 9,800 BCE in the Levant. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities are possibly the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. There is some evidence for the deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at the Tell Abu Hureyra site, the site for earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians made use of wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.
Radiocarbon dating places this culture from the terminal Pleistocene to the very beginning of the Holocene, from 12,500 to 9,500 BCE. The period is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500– 10,800 BCE) and Late Natufian (10,800– 9,500 BCE). The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas (10,800 to 9,500 BCE). In the Levant, there are more than a hundred kinds of cereals, fruits, nuts and other edible parts of plants, and the flora of the Levant during the Natufian period was not the dry, barren, and thorny landscape of today, but woodland.
While the period involved makes it difficult to speculate on any language associated with the Natufian culture, linguists who believe it is possible to speculate this far back in time have written on this subject. As with other Natufian subjects, opinions tend to either emphasize North African connections or Eurasian connections. Hence, Alexander Militarev and others have argued that the Natufian may represent the culture which spoke Proto-Afroasiatic which he in turn believes has a Eurasian origin associated with the concept of Nostratic languages. Some scholars, for example Christopher Ehret, Roger Blench and others, contend that the Afroasiatic Urheimat is to be found in North or North East Africa, probably in the area of Egypt, the Sahara, Horn of Africa or Sudan. Within this group, Ehret, who like Militarev believes Afroasiatic may already have been in existence in the Natufian period, would associate Natufians only with the Near Eastern pre-Proto-Semitic branch of Afroasiatic.
Perhaps it would be rather unscientific to take the biblical story of the Great Flood as the basis for any scientific theory, but the biblical story of Noah echoes stories about a big flood, which were incorporated into the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, or even into the Greek myth of Deucalion. The names of the heroes don’t coincide, suggesting perhaps that there were different heroes representing different tribes or cultures.
Even though the immigrants from Eurasia may have not merged completely with the Natufians in the Near East, so that Afroasiatic and Eurasiatic languages may have shared common features but stayed separate, I tend to believe that, if there is any reality in the story of the Flood, the most probable place for the garden of Eden is Mesopotamia, the great valley of the rivers Tiger and Euphrates, which valley during the period of the Last Ice Age probably stretched all across the Persian Gulf.
According to Wikipedia, The Persian Gulf today has an average depth of only 35 m. When sea levels were low, the combined Tigris-Euphrates river flowed through a wide flat marshy landscape. During the last glaciation, which ended 12,000 years ago, worldwide sea levels dropped 120 to 130 meters, leaving the bed of the Persian Gulf well above sea level during the glacial maximum. It had to have been a swampy freshwater floodplain, where water was retained in all the hollows. Reports of the exploration ship ‘Meteor’ have confirmed that the Persian Gulf was an entirely dry basin about 15,000 BCE.
In a 1981 Journal of Cuneiform Studies article, ‘The Tangible Evidence for the Earliest Dilmun,’ Theresa Howard-Carter espoused her theory identifying Dilmun with Qurna, an island at the Strait of Hormuz. Her scenario put the original mouths of the Tigris-Euphrates rivers, which she thought should be the site of the primeval Dilmun, at or even beyond the Straits of Hormuz. Theresa Howard-Carter also wrote: “It is more likely that the original Persian Gulf inhabitants lived along the banks of the lower or extended Shatt al-Arab, ranging some 800 km across the dry Persian Gulf bed. We can thus postulate that the pre-Sumerian cultures had more than ample time to be born and flourish in a riverine setting, encouraged by the agricultural potential and the blessings of a temperate climate. The fact that the body of proof for the existence of these societies must now lie at the bottom of the Persian Gulf furnishes at least a temporary excuse for the archaeologist's failure to produce evidence for their material culture.”
Also, an article published in Current Anthropology in 2010 revealed that a fertile landmass now submerged beneath the Persian Gulf may have been home to some of the earliest human populations outside Africa. Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist and researcher with the University of Birmingham, says that the area in and around this ‘Persian Gulf Oasis’ may have been host to humans for over 100,000 years before it was swallowed up by the Indian Ocean around 8,000 years ago.
Perhaps remnants of this ancient land still existed around 6,000 BCE. Besides the first humans, this place was also a probable refuge of the populations of Eurasia during the Younger Dryas. There already existed the Kebaran culture (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BCE), or the Antelian culture before, but the presence, for example, of the European Gravettian (30,000– 24,000 BCE) in the Caucasus and Zagros mountains suggests interactions between Eurasians and Afroasians.
Thus Mesopotamia about 12,000 years ago may have been very fruitful not only dietarily but also linguistically. The near-by Zagros mountains may have been the birth place of Indo- Iranian, while a movement of people westwards may have brought similar languages into Anatolia and Greece. Incidentally, this would have been the first farmers in Europe. But their true impact on modern European languages (10,000 years afterwards) is difficult to be found.
However the similarity of place names all across the Eastern Aegean, Italy, Greece, Anatolia and the Levant, as far as Spain and parts of North Africa, is apparent. Even if newcomers (IEs) changed place names, the persistence of the older place names suggests assimilation instead of replacement of languages. There wouldn’t be enough time for IEs to replace all the corresponding place names. Instead it is much more plausible to explain the similarity by assuming ‘waves of advance,’ after the Flood, in the beginning of the Neolithic, on foot and by boat, all across the Mediterranean, at the time when the Nostratic language broke into the corresponding branches. The IEs (if any) represent the latest of such waves.
How else may we explain the apparent similarity (identity I’d say) between, for example, the names Al- Qurna in modern Iraq, Alicyrna in ancient Greece, Alicarnassos in ancient Anatolia (modern Alicarnas, Turkey), Cyrna/Cyrnos the ancient name of Corsica? People from Corsica have never invaded Iraq, or vice- versa. But such common place names are widespread all across the inbetween way. It is interesting to note here that concerning the English language (the prevalent IE language) more than 2/3 of its vocabulary is of foreign origin (mostly Latin), and it may be proved that the foreign contribution is even higher considering Celtic influences still unknown. Of course, Latin and Celtic are also considered IE languages. But if the case of the English language is similar to that of Latin (considering influences from Neolithic populations and from Greek), and if the Greek language was greatly influenced by Anatolian and Near Eastern languages (Carian, Lycian, Minoan, Phoenician), then the end result (the English language) may represent the tip of the iceberg, the latest of many successive strata of languages which were added to a linguistic continuum spreading from the West coasts of Europe, across the Mediterranean, further to the East. If most place names in Europe are pre-IE, as well as most words concerning plants and animals, terms for agriculture and husbandry, words related to the sea, as well as words related to copper and bronze technology, with the exception perhaps of the ‘horse’ and the ‘chariot’ (but again with respect to warfare), then there is little space left for a dominant IE super-stratum in the languages of Europe.
In order to determine the origin of any language, or groups of languages, we have to make some assumptions which in most cases are arbitrary. As far as the descent of human speech is concerned, we may assume that, according to the Out- of- Africa hypothesis, the first people who entered Europe 40,000 years ago most probably used some form of language. To complicate things further, we may also assume that the Neanderthals, who already inhabited Europe, could speak. Therefore the resulting Paleolithic languages of Europe could have been a mixture of Homo Sapiens and Neanderthal languages.
But to assume that modern European languages directly descend (even as far as the deepest strata are concerned) from the Paleolithic languages of Europe, this is an extraordinary claim because the time scale is enormous. Even if we may identify and exclude all later linguistic elements, any Paleolithic words will have evolved at such extent that even the roots may be unrecognizable. Thus we are forced to assume some time and space scale (whose length is arbitrarily set according to our capabilities or ambitions) so that our search will be confined by the limits of that scale.
Some people may claim that the time when a language is crystalized is when it is written down. We may say that written speech expresses the form and structure of language in a direct and unambiguous way, so that observations can be made and conclusions can be drawn. In such a case, for example, the origin of the Greek language can be traced back in Mycenaean times, as the language is attested in Linear B tablets, while all assumptions about previously spoken languages may be thought of as pointless (unless we invent some time machine and go back to Greece in pre- Mycenaean times to find out about the languages previously spoken). Thus while written records are the true solid evidence, all projections into the past of the recorded language are ‘inspired assumptions.’
But perhaps the most arbitrary assumption is that there will be a straightforward relationship between similar languages and common genetic origin. In some cases this is true, as, for example, in the case of the Tocharians. Their DNA shows that they probably were Caucasians (in a territory where people nowadays are Asians), while their language also shows an IE origin. On the other hand, people tend to adopt the language which is already spoken in the place where they settle. During the Roman period, for example, newcomers to the territories of the Roman Empire adopted the Latin language independently of their race. Also, the wide extent of Latin across the Mediterranean may be interpreted as an isogloss consisting of similar languages which were spoken even before the Romanization period. In the latter case, genetic and cultural traits might coincide but because of different reasons. I believe therefore that it would be interesting to see a new branch of philology arising in the future, treating language as an entity composed of memes (independently from genes), so that language would consist of ‘cultural units’ (memes), in analogy to the body which consists of genes.
Another remark I want to make concerns the aspect of indirect connections between languages. Cognates between different languages could be the result of acculturation (loan words) instead of common (genetic) origin. Therefore two populations separated by a great distance may share a common vocabulary not because of common genetic origin but through trade or through interactions with a third culture inbetween. For example, the similarities between the ancient Greek and Persian languages could be explained through a common meme pool which was formed in Asia Minor, in the Greek colonies (which were under Persian rule), an assumption which is perhaps more reasonable than to suppose that the Greeks and the Persians both stemmed from a common place of origin. Not only that, but also the high degree of uniformity in Strabo’s place names suggests that the common cultural pool spread all across the Mediterranean (so that the Mediterranean itself represented such a pool). Therefore the common vocabulary may be explained by assuming indirect and intermediate ways, such as myths and stereotypes, art and technology, trends and fashion, inventions and imitation, warfare or trade.
I have already mentioned some aspects of symmetry (e.g. in pairs such as Elba/Ebla or ethnos/entos). I have assumed that such symmetries should be interpreted as aspects of isoglosses, in the sense that we need a common entity to be split by the symmetry in the first place. In the appendix the satem-centum symmetry will be mentioned, together with some of its aspects and implications. Symmetry in general plays an essential role in the formation of the assumptions. In fact the gene- meme correspondence (to relate similarities in languages to similarities in genes) expresses a form of symmetry. However we may uncover symmetries which go much deeper and which have to do with the languages per se (even before assuming any genetic relationship). We will see for example that the word for ‘mother’ is almost universal, having a meaning which transcends the world of genes, and which therefore has to do with our own collective memory as a species. Such fundamental words, a list of which could be certainly constructed by linguists, are related to archetypal patterns of human speech, and may express the way our own thoughts and centers of speech in the brain function.
6.1 Cultural assimilation
The uniformity in place names we have encountered shows that probably all the people across the Mediterranean used the same language (or words belonging to the same omnigloss). This could be interpreted in two ways. Either that all these people had the same origin (Neolithic farmers from the Near East who settled in Europe during a big wave of advance) or that different groups of people at different times entered Europe and adopted elements of this omnigloss (the lingua franca of the time) in order to communicate with each other. However both alternatives converge to the same fact: There must have been at some early stage a common vocabulary to account for the similarities, before the Latin or the Greek language appeared. Therefore the question is basically one not of common genetic but of common cultural origin. In other words, the important question is not where the people had come from but which was the unifying factor by which different phyletic groups merged wherever they may have settled.
6.1.1 The phenomenon of acculturation
Wikepedia explains the notion: Acculturation is the process of cultural and psychological change that results following meeting between cultures. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both interacting cultures. At the group level, acculturation often results in changes to culture, customs, and social institutions. Noticeable group level effects of acculturation often include changes in food, clothing, and language. At the individual level, differences in the way individuals acculturate have been shown to be associated not just with changes in daily behavior, but with numerous measures of psychological and physical well-being. Cultural assimilation may involve either a quick or gradual change depending on circumstances of the group. Full assimilation occurs when new members of a society become indistinguishable from members of the other group.
The transactional nature of acculturation is particularly notable in the evolution of languages. In some instances, acculturation results in the adoption of another country’s language, which is then modified over time to become a new, distinct, language. For example, Hanzi, the written language of Chinese language, has been adapted and modified by other nearby cultures, including: Japan (as Kanji), Korea (as Hanja), and Vietnam (as Chữ-nôm).
6.1.2 A memetic origin of language
If common phyletic origin may be related to genes then common cultural origin may be related to memes. Wikipedia explains that a meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.
The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in ‘The Selfish Gene,’ as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.
Proponents theorize that memes may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influence a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. A field of study called memetics arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model.
Therefore language should be treated as a meme, not as a gene. Any theory of language should treat language as the process and the result of social behavior, therefore as a product of nurture, not of nature. Even if we may find correspondences between language and genetic groups, such a relationship should be considered mostly incidental. For example, we may suppose that a common genetic group uses the same language because these people live, or used to live, in the same region. However, the opposite is not necessarily true. People may share the same language no mater what their genetic relationship may be. We may also say that the common meaning of words is more important than the morphology of the words (if the words are cognates for example). Notions and ideas are not transmitted by genes. Thus we should expect that the language which prevails is that of the fittest- in cultural, not genetic, terms. If during the Bronze Age the fittest were the IEs who invaded Europe then we should expect to find the technological and cultural elements which made them prevail. The horse, the chariot, new Gods and cults, new burial practices are some of those. But the Iron Age cultures of Europe gave up most of those practices (with the exception perhaps of Gods). Is this a sign of regression to older, pre- IE habits, or do we have to assume that the IEs represent just another ‘wave of advance’ in the history of Europe, one among many which preceded and followed?
6.1.3 Modern relative gene research
The two previous maps show the journey of mankind, according to the Out of Africa hypothesis. Y-DNA is related to male, while mtDNA is related to female lineages. We’ve already made some hints about the possibility of relating different groups of suffixes (and people) to certain genes. But we should not forget that language, finally, establishes itself through adaptation and imitation. I have categorized some characteristic haplogroups which may be interesting and revealing. The maps and information which follow are from Wikipedia’s and Eupedia’s pages concerning the haplogroups.
Haplogroup I (30,000- 25,000 ΥBP) is primarily a European haplogroup, and is considered a unique indigenous European haplogroup. It represents about one fifth of the population of Europe. It can be found in the majority of current European populations with maximum in North (subclade I1) and South East (subclade I2) Europe.
It is believed that during the LGM, haplogroup I was divided in North and South Europe, so that subclades I1 in Scandinavia and I2 in Southeastern Europe diversified by isolation. However, it is not known which haplogroup the Solutrians belonged to. In any case, this distribution shows an approximate Southwest- Northeast division of Europe. After the LGM, the European populations should have reunited, and/or were joined by Neolithic newcomers from the East.
So far there is available archaic Y-DNA from the culture of Linear Pottery (LBK) in Germany, and from the culture of Cardium Pottery in Italy, in the south-west of France and in southeastern Spain. All these sites have yielded G2a people, which is currently a powerful element that agriculture has emerged and spread by people of this haplogroup. The greater genetic diversity of haplogroup G is located between the Levant and the Caucasus, a good indicator for the region of origin of this haplogroup. It is believed that early Neolithic farmers spread from the Levant West to Anatolia and Europe, as well as East to Mesopotamia and South Asia, and South to the Arabian Peninsula and North-North East Africa. The taming of the sheep, goats and cows is considered to have taken place in the mountainous region of eastern Anatolia, including the Caucasus and the Zagros mountains.
Today G2a subgroup is located mainly in the mountain areas of Europe. This may be because the Caucasians farmers searched for a hilly terrain similar to that of their original homeland, suitable for goats. But it is much more likely that the G2a farmers sought refuge in the mountains to avoid intruders from the Bronze Age, as were the IE Europeans.
It is interesting to note that the distribution of haplogroup G matches the distribution of the Etruscan language, in Etruria, Sardinia, the Raetic Alps, and perhaps in the region of the Basques (who call their language Euskara). Therefore the Etruscans could be remnants of a Neolithic population who came in Europe probably by boats, and who may also represent the Luwians (thus a possible connection between the Etruscans and the Tyrsenians of coastal Anatolia), due to the high frequency of the haplogroup in Anatolia and the affinity of Luwian languages with Caucasian languages. We have also mentioned that the population of Dimini in Greece could be of the same origin. These G- people probably intermingled with Paleolithic survivors of Europe (carrying the I haplogroup), also with Neolithic and Bronze Age immigrants from the Near East carrying the J haplogroup, and apparently they were later dispersed by immigrants carrying the R haplogroup.
Haplogroup J appears at the same time as haplogroup I (~30,000 YBP). Its concentrations show a further division between The ‘North’ and the ‘South.’ The subclade J1 can be described as ‘Arabic,’ or ‘Middle-Eastern,’ while the subclade J2 can be described as ‘Mediterranean-Aegean’ and it is related to the indigenous populations of Anatolia and the Aegean Sea. Haplogroup J was probably transferred from the Middle East to Europe by immigrants during the Bronze Age, or the Neolithic.
Haplogroup R (34,300- 19,900 YBP) is considered the ‘haplogroup of the IEs.’ Subclade R1a probably came from the Eurasian steppes, and is associated with the culture of the Scythians and the extension of the first IEs. R1b may have originated in the same region as R1a or alternatively in the South Caucasus region. Europe is dominated by R1b in the West, and R1a in the East.
The two previous maps show the possible expansions of R1a and R1b haplogroups. R1a is thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches. It is believed that the Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Yamna culture (3,300-2,500 BCE). Their dramatic expansion was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4,000-3,500 BCE). The southern Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b lineages, while the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant. The first major expansion of R1a took place with the westward propagation of the Corded Ware (or Battle Axe) culture (2,800-1,800 BCE) from the northern forest-steppe in the Yamna homeland. This was the first wave of R1a into Europe- Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The Corded Ware R1a people would have mixed with the pre-Germanic I1 and I2 aborigines, which resulted in the first Indo-European culture in Germany and Scandinavia, or perhaps the Proto-Balto-Slavic branch.
If we assume a direct relation between languages and haplogroups then G will be related to the Caucasian languages, I to the languages of Scandinavia and the Balkans, J to the languages of Greece and Italy, and R to the languages of West Europe (also North-West India; thus the IE connection). It is also interesting to note that all these haplogroups appeared at about the same time (about 30,000 ago). Thus the prevalence of haplogroup R in Northern Europe (also in North-West India) may also suggest the prevalence of the same language who came from Central Asia (the alleged birthplace of haplogroup R).
However, taking a look at Y-DNA haplogroups by ethnic group, the highest concentration of R1a is found in Kyrgyz (Altaics), while the highest concentrations of R1b are found in Welsh, Basques, Bashkirs (Altaic), Irish and Catalans.
While Basques (or Bashkirs) do not speak an IE language, the highest concentrations of R1b suggest marginalized populations (Celts or Catalans, even Basques), on the fringes of West Europe. On the other hand the high concentrations of R1a in Altaic populations would suggest a direct relationship with Eastern Europeans (who also have high concentrations of R1a). Judging thus by the genetic evidence one may conclude that North Europe has to be divided in two different language groups (one referring to R1b ‘Celtic’ West Europe, and another one referring to R1a ‘IE- Altaic’ East Europe- Central Asia). But this is not the case. Neither an R1a ‘Slavonic-Altaic’ branch may explain the ‘Indo-Europeanization’ of Europe. Unless Altaics and IEs split at an early stage in Central Asia. But why then wouldn’t they come into Europe with the first Cro- Magnons? Does this mean that R, I, J, and G haplogroups (which incidentally appeared simultaneously) formed distinct phyletic groups (Central Asians, Europeans, Near- Easterners, and Caucasians respectively), while the similarities in languages have to be explained differently?
As far as a possible correlation between haplogroups and suffix groups is concerned, let’s just make some hints. In all likelihood the –ssa/–si suffix group is related to the Caucasian G haplogroup. At about the same time the J haplogroup people moved from the Near East to Europe. Toponyms such as Bembina or Phabra suggest that the corresponding endings (–na and –ra respectively) could be theirs. Therefore peoples who also used such suffixes later on may have been of the same origin (Illyrians, some of the Pelasgian people in Thessaly, perhaps Minoans, etc.) We should note that while haplogroup G is later on found in isolated areas, haplogroup J has a wide distribution all across the South Mediterranean. I would also express some reservation concerning the possibility that the bearers of the –quos suffix may be related to haplogroup I, and therefore belong to and stem from the Paleolithic inhabitants of Europe. Later on these people would have split in two by the intrusion of the R1 people. This is supposed to have happened in the Bronze Age, and R haplogroup has been identified with the IE languages. If this is so then the –quos endings may be of Bronze Age (not Paleolithic) origin.
In any case the aforementioned haplogroups descend from haplogroup F. This haplogroup and its subclades contain more than 90% of the world’s existing non-African male population.
We see for example that both I and J haplogroups coalesce in the Zagros mountains (but before the first modern humans entered Europe or the Near East). If history repeats itself, some other people in more recent times (about 10,000 years ago) may have joined in the Near East (after abandoning Europe) and then separated once again to compose the first people who resettled Europe after the Flood. But the point is that all these gene interactions, for example the proximity of IJ and R haplogroups, the close paths I and R1b haplogroups follow, the admixture of I2, J1 and G haplogroups in South East Europe, etc., make it improbable that the languages of Europe can be solely attributed to the R1a Steppes People, who supposedly lived isolated in the Pontic steppes for quite some time, and then entered Europe in a massive invasion.
Perhaps we might identify a Proto- Eurasiatic language with the people of haplogroup F somewhere in India. Such a rapid move of Homo Sapiens out of Africa to India may have been caused by the presence of Homo Neanderthal in the Near East at the time. In all likelihood these Homo Sapiens could speak. Is it far-fetched to infer such a distant common origin of modern languages as we know them? Perhaps the existence of place names such as Phabra both in ancient Greece and in modern Pakistan bridges such a tremendous gap in space and time. Thus the –ra ending, which appears in this case, is no less ‘IE’ than ‘Semitic.’
6.2 Symbolic representations
One of the main assumptions of IE theory is that the female figurines of Old Europe were replaced by the male figurines of the IEs when they came in Europe. Of course such a sharp distinction is absurd because the IEs would also have had female goddesses, and a transition from female representations of the supernatural in agricultural societies to male representations in a war oriented society in not the privilege of IEs but of any society.
Of particular interest within European prehistory are the remnants of the earliest known artistic depictions and in particular the female statuettes known as Venus figurines, the presence of which was evident in their dispersal across vast regions of Europe. Although there are reported dates for Venus figurines ranging from 29,000- 14,000 years B.P, by far the majority of the Venus figurines appear between 23,000 and 25,000 B.P.
The forms of aesthetic art that emerged during the Upper Paleolithic are divided into parietal art such as cave wall paintings, engravings and relief sculpture and mobiliary art such as figurines and portable objects. The earlier mobiliary art focused on vulvas, animal depictions and human figurines, generally of the female form. The animal statues and other mobiliary art were by no means as prevalent as these so-called female Venus figurines, which featured prominently over vast expanses of Europe and were found from the Russian steppe to south-west France and northern Spain, covering a distance of over 4000 km.
Numerous similarities and correlations seem to occur across different sites, seemingly pointing to a somewhat universal symbolism and a sense of uniformity throughout European female figurines. Although asserting that the central archaeological message and the mythology of the Gravettian group has to do with woman, Delporte warns against all- encompassing generalizations with regard to these matters and asserts that the concept of woman personified in the figurines is not homogenous and alludes to various roles and representations He states that these diverse roles included woman as generator of life; as generator of pleasure, and as a sort of central axis around which are organized different manifestations of thought and expression. [http://templeoftheoldways.yolasite.com/venus-figurines.php]
We see that female representations had already existed in Europe in Paleolithic times. Therefore there is no reason to separate the earliest and the latest inhabitants of Europe as far as the cult of a primordial Venus is concerned. We should also expect, for example, that the similarity in the words Venus and woinos in Greek, the same as wine in English, should’t be considered coincidental (representing, for example, some feast with wine related to the Goddess). Apparently this similarity predates by far the IEs (even if the word ‘Venus’ bears an ‘IE’ etymology).
6.2.1 Archetypal origins
Archetypal linguistic structures (roots) may refer to the Nostratic language, or, better, to the Proto-Language, while the roots may directly correspond to basic structures of human speech. Here I would like to mention the following example, concerning the word for ‘mother,’
The PIE root *méh₂tēr (English mother, or Greek mētēr) is similar, while the more common forms (English mom, Modern Greek mama) are identical to those in the list. Therefore we may that the word ‘mother’ is Proto- Human.
The uniformity of the word ‘mother’ point to a common (not biological but) symbolic origin of language. The power of symbolism was understood early in human evolution. Cave paintings manifest an astounding degree of abstraction. Humans watched the sky and the stars and they had the ability to wonder about all the miracles of the sky and the earth around them. In all cultures there are recurring patterns concerning notions about life, death, rebirth, the spirits, natural phenomena, the destiny of humans. Myths involving cultural heroes who save humanity after a great natural disaster are widespread and they seem to reflect a deeper human need of purpose and salvation. All humans believe in Gods, no matter how they name them. In other words, these archetypal patterns exist independently and they correspond to deeper functions of the human ‘psyche.’
Carl Gustav Jung developed an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.
Jung described archetypal events: birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites; archetypal figures: great mother, father, child, devil, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, hero and archetypal motifs: the apocalypse, the deluge, the creation. Although the number of archetypes is limitless, there are a few particularly notable, recurring archetypal images, “the chief among them being” (according to Jung) “the shadow, the wise old man, the child, the mother ... and her counterpart, the maiden, and lastly the anima in man and the animus in woman.” Alternatively he would speak of “the emergence of certain definite archetypes ... the shadow, the animal, the wise old man, the anima, the animus, the mother, the child.”
There are scientists who even relate archetypes with the genetic code:
Stevens suggests that DNA itself can be inspected for the location and transmission of archetypes. As they are co-terminous with natural life they should be expected wherever life is found. He suggests that DNA is the replicable archetype of the species.
Stein points out that all the various terms used to delineate the messengers- templates, genes, enzymes, hormones, catalysts, pheromones, social hormones- are concepts similar to archetypes. He mentions archetypal figures who represent messengers such as Hermes, Prometheus or Christ. Continuing to base his arguments on a consideration of biological defense systems he says that it must operate in a whole range of specific circumstances, its agents must be able to go everywhere, the distribution of the agents must not upset the somatic status quo, and, in predisposed persons, the agents will attack the self.
Rossi suggests that the function and characteristic between left and right cerebral hemispheres may enable us to locate the archetypes in the right cerebral hemisphere. He cites research indicating that left hemispherical functioning is primarily verbal and associational, and that of the right primarily visuospatial and apperceptive. Thus the left hemisphere is equipped as a critical, analytical, information processor while the right hemisphere operates in a ‘gestalt’ mode.
Henry alluded to Maclean’s model of the tripartite brain suggesting that the reptilian brain is an older part of the brain and may contain not only drives but archetypal structures as well. The suggestion is that there was a time when emotional behavior and cognition were less developed and the older brain predominated. There is an obvious parallel with Jung’s idea of the archetypes ‘crystalizing out’ over time.
Here we may make a distinction between ‘prototypes’ and ‘archetypes.’ Prototypes are common patterns, established at some time in the course of history and transmitted from culture to culture. Archetypes, on the other hand, are more fundamental. They exist independently from tradition, they are not transmitted, but instead they pre-exist in the human psyche as ‘guiding patterns’ of behavior. (So we may relate memes to ‘prototypes,’ not archetypes.) In order to connect them with language processes, whether or not we may trace their imprints on genes, we may assume that the human psyche, all over the world and throughout the ages, is expressed with certain patterns of behavior (thus also language), which may be traced and predicted.
As far as language is concerned, we may say that people manifest the same patterns of speech, independently of race or culture. All languages, for example, consist of verbs, nouns and adjectives, tenses and cases. We may even make a step further to suggest that not only the meanings but also the sounds of some words are of archetypal origin. The word for the circle, for example, kyklos in Greek, kikel in Jewish, may reveal an archetypal image of ‘roundness,’ expressed by the repetitive and closed form of the word.
6.2.2 The horse and the wheel
The word for the common horse, as we have seen, is different in modern ‘IE’ languages, while the world for the ‘official’ horse is the same. Here we see that it is the symbol of the animal that persists rather than the animal itself. The word ‘ippos’ in Greek is probably a loan word. No etymology can be found in the Greek language resulting in a word with double p. The original world could have been ‘ispos,’ becoming ‘ippos’ after the replacement of the ‘s’ with another ‘p.’ I won’t try to find an etymology for ‘ispos,’ because if the word were Greek it wouldn’t have changed in the first place. Most probably it is a loan word that was given by the first horse riders to all other peoples. Furthermore, these alleged horse riders may have in turn borrowed the word from someone else, although they were the carriers of the new word. By the way, the Turkish word for horse is ‘at,’ similar to the Greek word ‘ati.’ Should we expect a common origin for the Greek and Turkish languages, or had we better consider another word that was borrowed by both of them?
Let’s now come to the case of the circle. This is a table with the word in different languages,
Hebrew ee- gool/mah-ah-gahl
The word for the circle differs in different language groups, as these groups seem to have given different meaning to the same symbol. What may have been the original word I don’t know, although we have to assume that it would correspond to the same symbol (‘roundness’ for example). The words for the circle, the wheel, or the wheeled vehicle are believed to stem from the same PIE root ‘veclo,’ ‘queqlos,’ or something like that. However, if this is true then the IEs would have identified the wheel with the circle. But while the wheel is a relatively new invention, the circle as a notion is primordial. For example, the similarity in Hebrew (ee-gool), Greek (kyklos), Basque (zirkulu), Irish (ciorcal), Maltese (ċirku) suggests so, and it may also suggest a pre- IE origin. But how deep the connection could be? I found on the net the word for the circle in a couple of African languages too,
We may note this,
The Zulu word ‘circle,’ may be just a loan from English (otherwise the identity would be extraordinary). The word ‘jikeleza’ however is similar and probably original (since the corresponding verb has the meaning ‘to go around’). We see therefore that in all likelihood the Zulu language (at least as far as the word for the circle is concerned) belongs to the same group of languages, together with the Greek or the Hebrew language. On the other hand, the Swahili word ‘duara’ is similar to the Arabic or even the Turkish or Persian word for the circle. Perhaps this is a loan word introduced into the Swahili language for some reason (religion for example). But the Swahili word ‘zunguka,’ is similar to the Zulu word ‘zungeza,’ which is apparently related to the aforementioned word ‘jikeleza.’ Both Zulu and Swahili belong to the Bandu languages of South Africa. If we establish a connection between the Bandu languages and Afro-Asiatic, and in turn between Afro-Asiatic and IE (and since a cognate word for the circle can be found in all three groups), then the world for the circle may well go back to the first people who left Africa. This is not so extraordinary if we consider the primordial character of the symbol corresponding to this word.
6.2.3 The bear and the wolf
We have seen that according to professor Alinei, the reason why IE uses different names for the bear is because the common name was replaced by the totemic name. According to him, this is proof of the Paleolithic origin of these languages, because there is evidence that totemism had already evolved during that time. However, the same languages do share a common word for the wolf. Why then a ‘totemic’ word for the wolf never appeared? The symbolism of wolves cannot be considered less important than the symbolism of bears. In such a case, the reasonable explanation may be that these people originally inhabited an area with wolves but not bears. If this is so then the place of common origin would not be the Steppes. It must have been further to the South were bears don’t exist (but wolves do). But as we have seen both words are different in different language groups, suggesting that these language groups evolved separately. In fact if these groups had adopted the ‘totemic’ word either for the bear or for the wolf then we would expect the same cognate to appear in different language groups (totemic words should be considered archetypal therefore they would be preserved). This could explain for example the similarity in Greek (arktos) and Latin (ursus). However this similarity could be attributed to the astronomical significance of the symbol (Ursus Major/Minor). Perhaps the affinity between these two cultures made the totemic (the archetypal) name prevail, while in most other European languages the common name (‘honey-eater,’ ‘brown,’ good calf,’ etc.) survived. We might also relate the word for the bear to the Latin ‘borealis’ or the Greek ‘boreas’ (North). But in this case the etymology is considered unknown, therefore the root could be pre-IE. As far as the wolf is concerned, the sound betrays the origin of the word (the wolf makes ‘woof).’ In some IE languages the wolf may also ‘bark,’ as in the Sanskrit word ‘varkas’ for the wolf. However the fact that barking is identified in IE languages with wolves (not with dogs) may suggest a very deep common origin for these languages, before dogs were domesticated (presumably 30,000- 40,000 years ago).
6.2.4 Psychic twins
The archetypal myth of the ‘psychic twins’ is that of Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces). They were twin brothers, together known as the Dioskouri by the Greeks, or Gemini by the Romans. Castor was mortal but Pollux was the divine son of Zeus, who seduced Leda in the guise of a swan. When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair was regarded as the patrons of sailors and were also associated with horsemanship.
The heavenly twins appear also in the Indo-European tradition, as the Greek Dioscuri, the Vedic Ashvins, the Lithuanian Ašvieniai, the Latvian Dieva deli, the Sicilian Palici, The Germanic Alcis (gods), the Roman Romulus and Remus, the Anglo-Saxon Hengest and Horsa.
O’Brien reconstructs a horse goddess with twin offspring, pointing to Gaulish Epona, Irish Macha, Welsh Rhiannon, and Eddaic Freyja in the tale of the construction of the walls of Asgard, seeing a vestige of the birth of hippomorphic twins in Loki in the form of a mare giving birth to eight-legged Sleipnir. The myths surrounding Hengest and Horsa could come from a common source, since they were descendants of Woden and Hengest’s name meant ‘stallion’ (in German: Hengst) Shapiro points to Slavic Volos and Veles, and collects the following comparative properties: sons of the Sky God, brothers of the Sun Maiden, association with horses, dual paternity, saviors at sea, astral nature, magic healers, warriors and providers of divine aid in battle, divinities of fertility, association with swans, divinities of dance, closeness to human beings, protectors of the oath, assisting at birth, founders of cities.
Here we see an example of how common meaning is more important than common form. Both Dioscuri were excellent horsemen and hunters, and they participated in the hunting of the Calydonian Boar and they later joined the Argonauts. But probably the myth had already existed (before IEs associated the myth with horses), since we may even relate the name Dioscuri (Dios- kouros) to the Minoan Curetes. Therefore it is equally probable that horse-back riders when they came into Europe adopted the myth and adapted it to their own life style. Thus what connects the Greeks with the Celts, for example (or even the Minoans), is not the common word but the common meaning.
6.3 Fundamental symmetries
A straightforward assumption concerning symmetries can be stated as follows,
- Symmetries express transformations within the system.
‘Within the system’ means in this case within the same language. Symmetries in physics are related to conservation laws (and involve the system in which the separate symmetrical parts are included). In language symmetries can be exposed by transformations between words, either the words belong to (different dialects of) the same language or to different languages. We have seen examples, such as the pairs tharsos>thrasos, entos-ethnos, Macedna-Macenda, etc. In all previous examples the meaning is preserved, while the latter example may reveal some correspondence between the language of the Hittites (who used toponyms in –nda) and ancient Macedonians.
We may also expand the syllogism to include possible examples of different languages, as in the pairs Baal-Alba, Ebla-Elba, etc. It is not necessary that the words of each pair belong to different languages (possibly Afroasiatic words which were adopted by IE). All these words may represent anagrams within the context of the same language. But the point is that the words were not replaced. Instead they were transformed probably because of different vocabulary structure of the different languages. However the fact that the words were kept shows that the newcomers (if again the words did not directly evolve from one form to the other) came not as conquerors but as immigrants. The symmetry therefore suggests to us the correspondence.
6.3.1 Satem- Centum symmetry
A famous symmetry in linguistics is the centum/satem (= ‘one hundred’) symmetry in IE languages. Centum are the west IE languages while satem the East ones (with the exception of Tocharian). The epicenter of this symmetry is thought to be in the Pontic steppes. But other symmetries may be found which will shift the center to another place even earlier in time.
In fact the presence of the Tocharian (centum) language in the Far East creates a paradox (at least as far as the origin of all these languages is concerned). Otherwise, the satem/centum division may be wrong. One way to get over this problem is to suppose that the satem branch penetrated a homogenous centum group from the South-East to the North-West (or vice-versa), somewhere between the Armenians and Balto-Slavs. But if the center of PIE is supposed to be found in the satem group, how come the earliest clades were centum?
Another way to explain the paradox is to suppose that the centum branch covered all the area from West Europe to the Tocharians in the East, and that the South-East branch including Indo-Iranian was satemized later on and moved to the Steppes. However, even if IEs inhabited the Steppes since the beginning, these people would be centum, not satem (since the earlier branches are considered to be the centum ones). But the distribution of the centum group may suggest an earlier ancestry of the corresponding languages. Also, it is even probable that the satem group evolved first, moved from the South-East to the North-West, and gave two centum branches at the same time, the European and the Tocharian branch. In this case the homeland of the IEs should be traced further to the South.
Incidentally, the Anatolian branch likely falls outside the centum-satem dichotomy; for instance, Luwian indicates that all three dorsal consonant rows were maintained separately in Proto-Anatolian. The centumization observed in Hittite is therefore assumed to have occurred only after the break-up of Proto-Anatolian.
Such an observation reinforces the Anatolian Hypothesis, which puts the IE homeland in Anatolia in the Neolithic. However it seems that the whole problem is even more complicated. As Anatolian languages seem to have been a mixture of Afroasiatic in the South and Caucasian in North and Central Anatolia, also with IE components represented by the Hittites and by populations living on the South coasts of the Black Sea, Anatolia may represent a crucible of languages but not the birthplace of any (except from Luwian). The pervading element therefore may be that an apparently homogenous centum group of people was penetrated by a different population who came from the East and borrowed the word for ‘one hundred,’ although they ‘satemized’ the word as they adapted it to their own vocabulary.
But let’s see the word for ‘one hundred’ in different languages:
English (a) hundred
Greek (eka) to
Guarati (eka) so
Hindi (ek) sau
Hebrew meh- ah
Mongolian (neg) zuu
Nepali (eka) saya
Persian (yek) sad
Swahili mia (moja)
Tajik (yak) sad
- The reconstructed form for ‘hundred’ in PIE is *ḱm̥tóm.
We may note the following:
First of all, the word ‘satem’ is the accusative of ‘sata,’ while the reconstructed form ‘qwantom’ is based on the Latin ‘quantum,’ neutral form of ‘quantus.’ Therefore the reconstruction is biased in favor of the Latin language.
But perhaps the satem/centum comparison is irrelevant. For example, the similarity between the Guarati ‘eka-so’ and the Greek ‘ekato’ implies that ‘eka’ stands for ‘one’ and ‘so/to/sau/sto’ stands for ‘hundred.’ Therefore the Greek word for ‘hundred’ is not ‘kato’ (a centum form to be compared with a satem form ‘sato’).
Furthermore, the Hindi form for ‘one hundred ‘eka-sau’ (similar to the Guarati or to the Greek form) implies that probably the original form is complex. In this case the ‘centum’ term would be the first part ‘eka,’ while the ‘satem’ term would be the second part ‘sau’ of the complex form. Thus the original word for ‘one hundred’ would contain both the (‘centum’) ‘k’ and the (‘satem’) ‘s.’ We may even reconstruct an analytical form ‘*e-ka-sa-to,’ so that both the ‘centum’ and the ‘satem’ term may be found in the same reconstructed form.
Consequently it seems that some languages kept the first part ‘eka’ (English ‘a-hund-’), others the second part ‘sau’ (Russian ‘sto’), while others kept both parts (Nepali ‘eka saya.’ This argument may be further supported by the Basque ‘ehun(ean).’ Apparently the Basques have nothing to do with ‘centumization,’ since the origin of their language is considered pre-IE. We may even compare the Basque (e)hun–, with the Catalan –cent, thus take the composite form ‘ehun–cent’ (= ‘one- hundred’), analogous to the Indian form ‘eka-sau.’ Thus the symmetry is quite different. It is composed of the binary form ‘eka-sau,’ instead of one word which changed a ‘k’ into an ‘s.’
Incidentally the similarity between the Basque and the Germanic form (both preserved the first part of the complex form) in opposition to Catalan or Celtic (who preserved the second part), if we also take into account the antiquity of the Basque language, suggests that probably the word for ‘one hundred’ is of pre-IE origin. Additionally the symmetry exposes a vast distribution. Compare for example, Javanese ‘satus,’ Nepali ‘eka-saya,’ Finnish ‘sata,’ Hungarian ‘száz,’ Estonian ‘(üks)sada,’ Turkish ‘yüz,’ Mongolian ‘(neg) zuu,’ even the Japanese ‘hyaku.’ The distribution seems to cover all Eurasia. On the other hand there is an obvious but different Afroasiatic group, e.g. compare, Arabic ‘miaya,’ Hebrew ‘meh- ah,’ Maltese ‘mija,’ Swahili ‘mia (moja).' Thus there seems to be a fundamental division between these two clades, Eurasiatic and Afroasiatic, going far back in time.
How are we to interpret such a distribution and symmetry? The fact that Basque ‘(e)hun,’ or English ‘(a)hundred’ and German ‘(ein)hundert,’ together with Japanese ‘hyaku’ kept the first part, creates a paradox of the same kind as that between the Tocharians and the rest of IEs in the original satem-centum division. To get over the paradox we may assume that the two groups split from an original group (who used the complex form) perhaps somewhere in Central Asia, so that after the split the groups in the two extremes kept the ‘centum’ part. Another way is to suppose that the ‘eka’ (the ‘centum’) members moved from the West and the East and met with the ‘sau’ members in Central Eurasia. If this is the case then the first component (‘eka’) may be even earlier, spreading all across Eurasia, and was later on penetrated by the ‘sau’ people who lived independently somewhere in Central Asia. The latter people could have been the IEs.
No matter what the genetic relationship between Germans and Japanese may be, the point is that the only way to explain the paradox is to suggest that the two specific groups, which may have split from a common group who used the complex form of the word, expressed the same behavior in the separate places where they settled at the same time. In this case this would have to do with a memetic (instead of a genetic) clock.
The satem-centum hypothesis may also be ambiguous as follows. Take for example the pair of place names, Nicaea/Nisaea. Were there at the same time two distinct populations in Greece at the time of Strabo creating a centum/satem biglossy? Both Greek and Latin are considered centum. Were there any satem speakers in Greece or Italy in ancient times, or such centum/satem ambiguities are expected to be found within the limits (of different dialects) of the same language?
The centum-satem biglossy in Anatolian can be also expressed by the Proto-Luwian word ‘assuwas’ (horse). If this word is considered complex, we may split it in two components, (Proto-Altaic) *ast– and (Proto-IE) –*eqw–. Presumably the symmetry is between Eastern and Western Eurasiatic language groups respectively, with the center of symmetry in Anatolia (the complex form ‘assuwas’). However the Akkadian/ Assyrian word for horse ‘sissu’/‘suissa’ probably tells us that the Anatolians took the word from the Assyrians, adding the suffix –wa(s) (‘assuwas’). Therefore even if the word is not complex it seems that it stems from the Akkadian/ Assyrian vocabulary.
We may now summarize some conclusions as follows,
- The word ‘one hundred’ seems to stem from a complex form (*eka-sato).
- Different languages kept either the first part or the second part (or both parts).
- The word seems to be pre-IE with a vast distribution in Eurasia.
- This assumption might be further supported by the reconstructed Anatolian form for another word, *atts-wos (horse), of which some languages kept one part (e.g. Turkish ‘at’ or Latin ‘equus’), while other kept both (e.g. Luwian/Hittite ‘assuwas’).
- The presence of the complex forms in Anatolia suggests that Eurasiatic languages either diverged from Anatolia or that they merged in Anatolia.
- The vast distribution of the symmetry (from the Basque ‘ehun’ to the Japanese ‘hyaku’ for ‘hundred’) suggests that the latter option is more likely.
- With respect to Anatolia, this may be the birthplace of an isogloss which evolved later on, in the 3rd millennium BCE, and which gave birth to the IE languages as we know them.
6.3.2 Non- locality in evolution
In biology, a mutation in order to survive has to be passed from one generation to another. Mutations are changes in the genetic code in the same sense that changes in words result in different languages. With one basic exception: changes in words do not necessarily imply biological heredity. For example, if we find the same genetic marker (mutation) in two distant locations then the likelihood is that people carrying that mutation moved from one location to the other. But if we find the same word transformed in two different places then we may also assume that the word was given from one population to another, while the word was adapted to another vocabulary. In such a sense while genetic interactions are always local (genetic traits cannot be transmitted without physical contact), language processes may occur without direct contact between the populations involved.
This is not to say that words travel by themselves (although in modern times this can be done by telecommunication). But the contact may occur indirectly, through trade for example. In such a case the transformation of some word can be attributed to an agent (the merchant) who interacts between two populations, transfers the word from one population to the other, and who also corrupts the word because of differences in his own language. This is depicted in the previous diagrams. Local interactions (first diagram) take place directly between two events (e.g. two populations), A and B. The non- local connection is shown in the second diagram. The events A and B (the populations) do not interact directly but they are connected through event O (the ‘merchant’). In physics, things in free fall reach the ground simultaneously not because they are interacting with each other but because they are connected through the gravitational field. In the case of languages, the ‘field’ may be represented by an isogloss which spreads across distant places and guides ‘things’ to move. These ‘things’ are people, products, ideas and languages. So this is a ‘cultural’ field which acts as the unifying factor, bringing, among other things, languages together.
Isoglosses are in fact non-local by nature. They unite many different languages and they bring these languages together by making them converge towards a common form. The faster and more intensely the communication between the populations comes about, the wider the unification of the languages is. The Mediterranean, as soon as maritime trade routes may have opened, represents a good candidate for the background of an isogloss. We have the appearance of writing in Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,500 BCE, which points to the formation of some form of centralized government. Thus products would have traveled through great distances for the needs of the central governments. Together with the products also the words for these products would have been adopted. But such products are not just goods related to agriculture, metallurgy, shipping, and so on, but also notions related to metric systems and numbers, gods and myths, social and political organization, and so on. It is not coincidental that most modern political terms (like the words ‘congress,’ ‘people,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘senate,’ and so on) are loans (from Latin, Greek, or even Etruscan as far as the word ‘people’ is concerned). Language therefore may be even defined as the result of cultural unification.
We have supposed that a good starting point for the formation of an isogloss (which resulted in modern IE languages, also including elements from other Eurasiatic or Afroasiatic groups) is the Eastern Mediterranean in the 3rd millennium BCE. During this period writing is established in many regions of the Near East as well as in Minoan Crete, the Minoans would have started settling colonies together perhaps with other sea- farers from Anatolia and the Levant, bronze trade started, and together with bronze all kinds of goods and ideas would have been circulating around the Mediterranean. Most place names across the Mediterranean may belong to this period, or they could be even earlier. But the point is that the place names have been preserved, so it seems that whoever came to these regions later on adopted the names. But if they adopted the place names than why not having also adopted the overall cultural context of civilizations older and more progressed?
Even if we assume that the ‘most civilized’ does not always prevail, so that the ‘barbarian’ IEs finally imposed their culture and language, we have already seen that the most representative words of an alleged IE vocabulary may be foreign. The word ‘kurgan’ is Altaic, the word for the wheel is identical to that for the circle (it may therefore date much earlier), while the horse seems to have been an intrusive element, introducing a new word for the ‘war- horse,’ which was used in parallel with the pre-existing word for the ‘ordinary horse’ (in English nobody says ‘equos’ instead of ‘horse’). Thus words such as ‘equestrian’ came directly from Latin (not because the Celts used such a root). My own guess therefore is that the alleged IEs were just another migratory people, war-like or not, introducing nevertheless elements of their own vocabulary in the existing collective vocabulary of the languages of Europe, even, in the best of cases, organizing the pre- existing cultures by taking control over them, thus crystalizing and registering the corresponding cultural elements. But the culture was not the privilege of theirs.
Perhaps I could move a step further to assume the existence of a collective unconscious which may apply not only to psychology but also to sociology, therefore culture. We have seen the universality of the word ‘mother,’ and there is no apparent or logical reason to assume that this word derived from a few people who populated the whole planet. The divergence of the word in so a linear and direct process would be so great that in modern languages there would be no similarity at all. Instead, there seems to be some factor which remains constant and oversees the process. Even if we don’t know yet what this factor is, it is rather appropriate to assume that it’s nature is archetypal, and that it acts, not through genetic, but through cultural and mental contact.
According to my survey, the place names all around the Southern coasts of Europe, as far as Western Asia and the Near East, show a high degree of uniformity, suggesting an isogloss which started to form, perhaps, since the Neolithic Revolution, about 10,000 years ago, in Western Eurasia and North Africa, and which was probably amalgamated during the Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BCE.
In my survey I used the method of suffix analysis. A predominant suffix in the Greek language is the –jos ending. Ironically enough, if one considers that this suffix had been introduced into the Greek language by IEs, then one faces the paradox that –jos endings in particular and –s endings in general are seldom found in IE languages.
The generic –s ending may have originated from or evolved to genitives. One option is that this ending was added to previous place names, e.g. Ramnu → Ramnus (assuming that ‘Ramnu’ is a pre-Greek form, while ‘Ramnus’ is a Greek form). However such an assumption is not correct. For example, names such as Pelop’s< Pelopas may not be reduced to ‘non-s’ names. Not only this but also it seems that the ending had already existed and that it naturally evolved into –sos endings through a process which rendered nominatives and genitives interchangeable; e.g. nom. Tyrins → gen. Tyrins’s → nom. Tyrinsos; e.g. → nom. anaks (king) → gen. anaks’s → nom. anaksos< anaktos, or the fem. form nom. anaksa (queen) → gen. anaksa’s< anassas.
Thus the –ss–complexes which have been considered pre-Greek may be proven to be proto-Greek. Not only this but also another allegedly pre-Greek theme, the –nth suffix, may be similarly treated; e.g. Tiryn’s → Tyrinsos< Tyrinthos (masc.)/Tyrintha (fem.). Even if we consider that the former name (Tiryns) is pre-Greek so that later-comers added another –os suffix, both languages would have used –s endings, therefore there is no reason to assume two different languages instead of two dialectical variations of the same language.
Not only this but also –anda suffixes fall into the same category. Such endings are common in the Hittite language and are also found all across Caria in ancient Anatolia. Let’s not forget also to mention place names such as Engl–and or Deutschl–and, which bear the same ending. One may assume that all such themes are pre-IE. But the problem again is that (at least as far as the Geek language of which I am familiar is concerned) such themes are also found in common words, e.g. anthos (flower), entha (inside)< entos/ethnos (nation), etc. We have also seen Krahe’s hydronyms which, although considered pre-IE, they may be similarly analyzed, e.g. compare Krahe’s Alanda with the modern Greek city Atalante and also with the Greek common words alas (salt) or als/thalassa (sea). In the latter case the –ss– ending occurs naturally as: (the theme) (th)als + (a suffix) –sa.
Additionally the high degree of interchangeability which we have encountered suggests the presence of a unified language. For example, as far as the –anda/–indos and –sos endings are concerned, we have already seen that Tiryns/Tirynsos ↔Tiryntha/Tirynthos. An equivalent form representing another place name is Tylissos. We have also seen examples with respect to the other suffixes, e.g. the –(m)na suffix is almost universal. Common in ‘Ukrainian’ names such as the Amazon Myrina (according to Herodotus the Amazons did come from Ukraine), which is also the name of the capital of Lemnos (a Greek island); abundant in Greece (Athina, Raphina, Mycena(e), etc.; common in Italy and in Etruscan place names (but Etruscans are not considered IEs); also common in Summerian/Akkadian in the form –nu. But as far as the Greek (or the Italian) language is concerned the –na ending is common not only in place names but also in nouns and adjectives. Let’s also not forget to remember ‘Al Qurna’ (the ancient ‘Dilmun.’) Let’s compare, e.g. A Coruña (Spain), Cyrene (Libya), Cyrnos (ancient name of Corsica), Halicyrna and Cyllene (Greece), Halicarnas/Halicarnassa (Turkey/Anatolia). Or even the Yamna Culture in Ukraine (the alleged homeland of the IEs). But did IEs conquered all these places in prehistoric times? Or, in all likelihood, they have been part of this tremendous isogloss?
One may consider the similarity between the words Yamna and Cyrna (–na suffix) as a mere coincidence. But such suffixes reappear in Russia in other forms too, e.g. Volgograd (–and suffix). All these are some examples which according to my analysis made me realize that in all likelihood there is linguistic continuity between the forms. The interchangeability between the suffixes of places names and their wide distribution suggests the presence of an isogloss whose dimensions are tremendous both in space-time and in significance.
No matter how far back in time such a story may go, I find the 3rd millennium BCE an interesting period for the formation of an isogloss at least around the Eastern Mediterranean. This is because copper and tin trade, among other goods, during this period, for the needs of the first historical states in Egypt and Mesopotamia (even the Harappa Culture in the Indus valley), would have led to a high degree of cultural uniformity. Such a suggestion would be in unison with Collin Renfrew’s Anatolian Hypothesis. However according to my view the IE languages didn’t originate in Anatolia but Anatolia was the place where people from the ‘North’ and the ‘South’ met. Therefore the Luwian languages may offer a good chance to analyze and separate the different components, Caucasian, IE, Semitic, even Luwian ‘proper.’
If then we try to take a step further back in time, we are faced with the archaeological horizon of the Neolithic. Obviously there is a one-to-one correspondence between the Neolithic cultures of Europe and the historical different peoples. Archaeological continuity suggests cultural continuity which in turn suggests language continuity. We might go even further to the time of the Younger Dryas in the beginning of the Neolithic and assume a gathering of populations in the Near East (coming from the evacuated Ice Age Northern parts of Eurasia and blending with local populations in South-West Asia), forming the common terms of the Nostratic language; e.g. the word dolphin, delphin in Greek, is the same in Jewish and Arabic; or the numbers six and seen (compare the Jewish shesh= six and sheva= seven); or the word for the circle, PIE‘*kwekwlo-,’ Akkadian ‘khar’ (round), Basque ‘zirkulu,’ Hungarian ‘kör,’ Mongol ‘kar,’ etc. Thus the word is not related to the ‘armed vehicles’ of the IEs but to a notion which dates much earlier, when a common notion for the ‘circle’ was formed.
As far as IE are concerned, we may identify an independent Eurasiatic component which, due to the similarities in words, would include Altaic, Uralic, and Indo-Aryan (as an independent branch). For example, the word ‘kurgan’ is Altaic; ‘eqwos,’ (horse), is a reconstructed form which probably entered the IE vocabulary as a loan from Indo-Aryan languages (asvas/aspa) or even from Altaic (*ast-). But if we also compare the Akkadian/Assyrian form (sissu/suissa) or even the (Proto-Anatolian/Hittite) (assuwa), we see that we can trace a cognate even in Semitic languages Such indications, together with the aforementioned example concerning the word for the circle, show us that the most probable interpretation is that people belonging to more or less independent branches of languages (e.g. Indo-Aryans, Altaics, Balto-Slavs, Greco-Anatolians, Caucasian-Luwians, etc.) share a common vocabulary which was formed on the fringes of their common existence. Anatolia certainly may represent such an area of common influences, Indo-Aryans lived on the fringes of ancient Mesopotamia, Balto-Slavs and Altaics would have come back and forth on both sides of the Ural mountains, and so on. Therefore there is nothing to suggest one language group prevailing over the others.
But even if assume that all such similarities point to a common origin of the corresponding languages, either the common origin be due to IEs of the Bronze Age, or to Neolithic farmers and sea-farers of the Neolithic, time and space scales are big enough so that, even if the languages initially spoken were the same, the divergence would be so great that nowadays few common elements would be found (with the exception perhaps of a small number of very stable and persistent words and forms). It is only communication through trade what could keep a constant flow of words and ideas between those distant people. The exchange of goods always results in the exchange of ideas. And the more intense the trade is, the more the words and the corresponding languages are unified. Thus what truly matters in language is not common genetic origin but common culture.
Acculturation is the process by which languages are assimilating (imitating) each other, without any direct (genetic) contact. Isoglosses may form when people are permanently settled (so that language becomes rich and stable enough) and the trade routes are open (along which common words and notions are shared). In such a sense cultural fields are non-local because the exchange of ideas is not due to physical movement of people but to indirect contact.
In this study we have also considered the fundamental aspect of symmetry in languages, such as the centum-satem division. We have supposed that symmetry always expresses correlation between languages, thus some form of common (cultural) origin; e.g. the pair of place names Baal/Alba may be seen as an ‘entangled pair’ between two different language groups but which nevertheless expose their common roots through the symmetry. The centum-satem example made us realize the possibility of deeper forms of symmetry, expressed by complex forms of words in which both the ‘centum’ and the ‘satem’ term is represented. The example of the Greek ‘ekato’ or Guarati ‘eka-sau,’ compared on one hand to the Basque ‘ehun’ or Japanese ‘hyaku,’ and on the other hand to the Russian ‘sto’ or Georgian ‘as,’ shows that different languages preserved either the first or the second or both parts of the symmetrical complex word.
Such complex forms or simple roots of words may also expose the primordial character of a vocabulary which can be common to all people independently of place and time. For example we have seen the universal word for mother. Even if we assume that this word points to a common genetic origin of all people, it is the symbolic expression of the notion, not the ‘mother’ as a biological entity what is preserved. Thus archetypal structures of the human brain, expressed by common ideas and similar words, may expose the inherent functions of human speech and explain the deepest aspects of isoglossic symmetries.
There’s nothing left to say except perhaps express my wish I haven’t made the same mistake as Evans did, who believed that Mycenaean and Minoan were the same because of the similarities in the two scripts (Linear B and Linear A). However these two languages may indeed be related if Minoan belonged to the Luwian isogloss. The similarities, on the other hand, of the Greek language with Thracian and Carian (possibly two major components of the Greek language) indicate a wider Greco- Anatolian isogloss, in which Minoan (together with other languages such as Etruscan) may be included. Such components however wouldn’t replace the language already spoken in Greece, but presumably added new words, notions and grammatical structures. Therefore we had better assume that the Greek language evolved from this isogloss, although keeping its own particularities. A similar story may be described for the Italian language. The uniformity of languages spoken in the Western Mediterranean is obvious, and the Latin languages may have formed during this early period, long before the time of the Roman Empire. But even if Latin were introduced all across France, Spain and Portugal, even partly in England (also in Romania), the point is that again we have an isogloss, a lingua franca, due to acculturation (not due to common genetic origin). Consequently, as far as the contemporary lingua franca is concerned, at least 50% of modern English is Latin, which is even higher if we consider French influence (also a Romance language), of what remains most is Celtic, while no more than 10%-15% is purely Germanic. But one may say that all these languages are IE (Latin, Celtic and Germanic). However English is neither of these; it is an independent language. Moreover, if we follow the history of all these languages backwards in time, we move from Latin in the Roman Age to (the influence of) Greek during the Classical Times of the Iron Age, and from Greek to the languages of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. But we may also attempt another step backwards to include the whole Mediterranean during the Neolithic (to include, e.g., the names of most domesticated plants and animals), or even further at the end of the last Ice Age to consider a concentration of people all across the habitable zone of the Fertile Crescent, some of which people evolved to the Neolithic farmers who would make the journey back to Europe, just to rejoin some of their Paleolithic ancestors. I believe therefore that IE (in the form of the modern English lingua franca) evolved through this gradual process of accumulation and acculturation, like a collective archetype, a big meme, or a global virus, in the form of a common language. Whether the Proto-language (together with the first people) left Africa 50,000 ago, was partially spoken 30,000 ago in the caves of Europe, was reunited 10,000 ago in the Near East in the form of the Nostratic language, and some of its clades were represented by speakers in the Pontic steppes 5,000 BCE, or by an isogloss which was formed in the 3rd millennium BCE in East Mediterranean, even if it has evolved into the modern lingua franca spoken in the USA, in 2,015 CE, it is the same spot which may be found somewhere else in the future, always moving and evolving, while what stays the same is the myth and its roots which never change. It is exactly the way we interpret the myth what makes the difference.
Lexica I used,
Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon
ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY
Linear B Lexicon
For the abstracts of Strabo’s Geography I used the book,
Strabo: Geography in Greek + English (SPQR Study Guides Book 46) [Kindle Edition]
Toponyms in Strabo’s Geography, last revised April/2016, Chris Tselentis, Athens Greece.