5 - Lycian  pp. 46-55


By H. Craig Melchert

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Lycian was the autochthonous language of the land of Lycia at least during the middle and late first millennium BC. Recent evidence from the Hieroglyphic Luvian inscription of Yalburt – specifically, forms of the place names for Tlos, Pinara, and Xanthos – has now proven that the “Lukka-Lands” of the second-millennium Hittite cuneiform texts do refer to historical Lycia, that is, roughly the mountainous peninsula on the southwest coast of Anatolia lying between the Gulf of Telmessos and the Bay of Attaleia (modern Gulf of Fethiye and Gulf of Antalya; see Poetto 1993). Obviously, without direct textual evidence from Lycia itself during the second millennium it is quite impossible to characterize with any precision the language of “Lukka” in that era.

Lycian shares a number of specific features, including innovations, with Luvian, and it is widely held that Lycian and Luvian form a subgroup within the Anatolian family; in other words, that they reflect a prehistoric “Proto-Luvian” language which had developed out of Proto-Anatolian along different lines from Hittite, Palaic, and Lydian, the other assured members of the Anatolian group (see, inter alios, Oettinger 1978). One may even read that Lycian is a later form of Luvian, though not necessarily of that form of Luvian which is directly attested in the second millennium.