Tag Archives: bronze age


As I mentioned before, I am currently taking a class on the Languages and Writing Systems of Anatolia, focusing on the ancient Hittites and some of their neighbors and successors in the region. These languages have long been recognized as part of the Indo-European language family, but they have common features among themselves which are not shared with the rest of the IE family.

Ignasi-Xavier Adiego, in Anatolian languages and Proto-Indo-European, discusses these differences in detail. One of the most striking is that the Anatolian languages do not have a separate feminine noun gender: Nouns are either neuter or “animate” (also known as “common” gender). Did Proto-Anatolian change after the separation, losing a lot of features of the ancestral language? Alternatively, perhaps Proto-Anatolian preserves the orginal forms. In this case Proto-Anatolian was the first language to separate from Proto-Indo-European. It is possible to speak of an earlier Proto-Indo-Hittite which was the common ancestor of Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Anatolian. After the separation Proto-Indo-European then innovated, and the results of those innovations are seen in the rest of the Indo-European family. This idea is nearly a century old, and I first learned about it in the 1960’s, but it seems to be attracting more attention now.

Alwin Kloekhorst, in The Anatolian stop system and the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, discusses some of the phonetic changes: Which direction did they go? Based on other examples of language change, he argues that it is more likely that Proto-Anatolian preserved the ancestral forms and Proto-Indo-European innovated rather than the other way around. This supports the Indo-Hittite hypothesis.

One source of confusion in this discussion: The ancient Phrygian language, while an Indo-European language spoken in Anatolia in the Iron Age, is linguistically not part of the Anatolian family. It is not well known, but seems to most closely related to Greek. However, the roughly contemporary Lydian, Lycian and, Carian languages, and a couple others, are part of the Anatolian family.

Hittite Iron

I am currently taking a class on the Languages and Writing Systems of Anatolia, focusing on the ancient Hittites and some of their neighbors and successors in the region. One of our readings was Alfonso Archi, “When Did the Hittites Begin to Write in Hittite?” in Pax Hethitica: Studies on the Hittites and their Neighbours in Honour of Itamar Singer. On p. 39 I read:

The words of the Tabarna, the Great King, are of iron. They are not to be thrust aside, not to be thrust aside, not to be broken. He who changes (them) his head will be cut off
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The Archaeology of Armageddon

From 1925 until 1939 The University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (OI) conducted an archaeological expedition at Tel Megiddo, in what is now northern Israel. This was literally the Biblical Armageddon and has an archaeological record going back to c. 3500 BCE. Eric Cline’s Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon is a fascinationg account of these excavations. The author interleaves descriptions of the discoveries with the story, which Cline describes as a soap opera, of the participants in the dig.

I discovered the OI back in the 1960’s and it has been a part of my life ever since. However, I had no idea it was such an important player in the archaeological work between the world wars. It is amazing what could be done with Rockefeller money in those days.

The site was occupied almost continuously from about 3500 BCE until about 586 BCE, but a direct connection to King Solomon has yet to be found. What were thought to be Solomon’s stables now seem to date from the reign of Ahab, about 870-850 BCE. Ahab and his father Omri get a terrible press in the Biblical book of 1 Kings, but unlike their predecessors in both Israel and Judah, they are mentioned in contemporary Moabite and Assyrian records. We do not yet have such a verification of the Biblical account for David and Solomon.

A techie note from church

This morning in Church it was my turn to read the lesson from the Hebrew scriptures, about Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of Silver (Genesis 37). I also read the assigned part
of Psalm 105, where this story also comes up.

17 He sent a man before them, *
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet in fetters; *
his neck they put in an iron collar.

I saw the phrase “iron collar” and my mind immediately went “Anachronism!”. Continue reading

Large Scale Engineering in the Bronze Age

Extensive remains of vast Mycenaean citadel revealed

A team of archaeologists is excavating the remains of a vast ancient Mycenaean citadel, known as Glas or Kastro (castle)….The area is estimated to measure ten times the size of the ancient citadel of Mycenaean Tiryns and seven times that of Mycenae.

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The Ancient Minoan Culture…

DNA reveals their Origin

Nothing really wrong with this, but I think the conclusion is too strong. What it proves is that the Minoans in general were not invaders from elsewhere. But foreign cultural influences can come in by ways other than massive invasion and genocide. Look at all the speakers of Indo-European languages: Quite a variety of genetic types even in antiquity.