- Hieroglyphic Luwian: An Introduction with Original Texts
What is “Hieroglyphic Luwian,” and why does a book about it deserve the attention of classicists? If a Greek had visited Anatolia in the second millennium b.c., the chances are that he would have heard people speaking Luwian, which was used widely in Hittite-controlled territories, particularly in the South, possibly also in the West; the Lycian and Carian languages of the first millennium b.c. are closely related to it. Luwian existed in two main forms, corresponding to two scripts used to write it. One is cuneiform Luwian, known from Hittite records, and the other is Hieroglyphic Luwian (HL), used by the Hittites in the second millennium b.c., but also by the many so-called “NeoHittite” kingdoms of South-Eastern Anatolia and North Syria, some of whom continued to make use of it down to the Assyrian expansion of the late eighth century b.c. HL is known principally from monumental inscriptions, but also from seals and correspondence written on lead strips. The script consists of over five hundred pictorial or semi-pictorial signs representing words (logograms), syllables, or determinatives. It has been suggested that it arose in the second millennium as an indigenous Anatolian response to the much older Egyptian hieroglyphic script. The last half century has seen major progress in understanding both the script and the language, partly as the result of the discovery of an Anatolian equivalent to the Rosetta Stone: an HL:Phoenician bilingual (eighth century b.c.) which came to light at Karatepe in SE Anatolia in 1946, and partly through increased understanding of Luwian as written in cuneiform texts.
These advances also illuminate the history of the region. To give a recent example, a new inscription from Tel Ta’yinat near Aleppo dated to the eleventh-tenth centuries b.c. is now believed to attest to the existence of a kingdom called “Palistin,” which might provide an historical correlate for the biblical Philistines. HL has also contributed something to the understanding of early Greek history: over the last fifteen years a consensus has emerged in the English-speaking world that the kingdom of “Ahhiyawa” known from Hittite texts is likely to have been Mycenaean Greece, and the key to this geographical reconstruction is a reinterpretation [End Page 139] by J. D. Hawkins of an HL inscription in the Karabel Pass close to Izmir, which he showed marked the boundary of the kingdom of Mira, known to have been near Ahhiyawa. (This inscription was known already to Herodotus [2.61], who believed that it was one of a number left by the Egyptian pharaoh Sesostris.) Again, the Karatepe bilingual attests to the existence of king called Warika, descended from someone called Muksas (HL) or MPS (Phoenician); the latter sounds like Mopsos, often linked to this area in Greek sources, and a recently discovered bilingual HL:Phoenician inscription from nearby Çineköy identifies his kingdom as “Hiyawa,” perhaps a shortened form of Ahhiyawa; did the Mycenaeans settle here in the twelfth century b.c.? There may even have been cultural and linguistic links between Luwians and Greeks; for example, one of the Luwian words for ruler in these texts is “tarwani-,” which has been cited the source for Greek τύραννος.
In this context, it would obviously be to the advantage of classicists interested in early Greek activity in Anatolia and the Levant to know the basics of HL, and this is where Annick Payne’s excellent introduction comes in. Anyone who works through it will emerge with a basic knowledge of the language and script, and, in addition, will have read through twelve complete texts. Her thirty-page introduction, which requires no knowledge of any other language or script, presents the signs used by the script, including a brief section on “the history of decipherment,” before preceding to an admirably clear and up-to-date survey of the basics of phonology, morphology, and syntax. This is followed by the...