Luwian language

Luwian belongs to the Anatolian group of the
Indo-European language family. It is the main
language of the Anatolian hieroglyphic inscri-
ptions, and it is also attested in the cuneiform
archives of Hattusˇa, usually through passages
or isolated words embedded in Hittite texts. In
some cases, these passages are introduced by
the Hittite adverb luwili, “in Luwian,” from
which the English name of the language is
derived (Melchert 2003: 128).
In the early second millennium BCE Luwian
was spoken in the central part of ANATOLIA.
Subsequent Luwian migrations were connected
with the expansion of the Hittite state, where
Hittite was the socially dominant language,
but Luwian speakers were more numerous (see
HITTITE, HITTITES). The unstable balance between
Hittite and Luwian speakers continued to shift
in favor of the second group, to the point that
the Hittite elite was fully bilingual in Luwian
(Yakubovich 2009). After the collapse of the
Hittite Empire, Luwian remained the principal
language of the Neo-Hittite states situated
in southwestern Anatolia and northern Syria.
These states continued to produce Luwian
texts in the Anatolian hieroglyphic script
until about 700 BCE.
There is a limited number of Luwian loan-
words in Greek, notably Pήgasος, “Pegasus,”
and tύrannος, “tyrant.” Attempts have been
made to explain the contacts between the
two languages by assuming the substantial
presence of Luwians on the Aegean coast of
Anatolia, or even arguing that Luwian was
the principal language of Bronze Age Troy
(Starke 1997). However, the only assured inter-
face between Luwians and Greeks in the Early
Iron Age is the coast of Cilicia and northern
Melchert, C., ed. (2003) The Luwians. Leiden.
Payne, A. (2004) Hieroglyphic Luwian. Wiesbaden.
Starke, F. (1997) “Troia im Kontext des historisch-
politischen und sprachlichen Umfeldes
Kleinasiens im 2. Jahrtausend.” Studia Troica 7:
Yakubovich, I. (2009) Sociolinguistics of the Luvian
language. Leiden.
The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, First Edition. Edited by Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine,
and Sabine R. Huebner, print pages 4174–4175.
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published 2013 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah24134