Lycian language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

formerly in Anatolia
speaker extinct


  • Lycian
Official status
Official language in -
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2

ine (other Indo-European languages)

ISO 639-3


Lycian was the language of the ancient Lycians . It was an Indo-European language and belonged to the subgroup of the Anatolian languages . It was closely related to Luwian and was spoken in Lycia in southern Anatolia .

In the Lycian there were different dialects, as Lycian A and Lycian B are designated. Lycian B is also called Milyisch and is sometimes referred to as an independent language.

Some names found on inscriptions suggest pre-Indo-European residents of Lycia . According to this, ancient Anatolian elements persisted in Lycia for a very long time, which can be explained by the remoteness and inaccessibility of the area.

Writing and deciphering

The Lycian language was used from the 5th century BC. Chr. A script that was probably derived from a West Greek alphabet and is represented by about 180 stone inscriptions, u. a. of rock graves, and 200 coin legends from the 5th and 4th centuries BC Documented. The period of the language monuments is only about 180 years. Already in the 4th century BC The language is subject to strong Hellenistic influences - the population began to give themselves Greek names. The script is not fully deciphered, many readings are based on hypotheses. The phonetics is still unclear. Lycian was probably extinct at the end of Hellenism .

Two linguistic monuments play a key role in the deciphering of language. The trilingue of Letoon from 337 BC, discovered in 1974 . Chr. And the stele of Xanthos 400 v. BC, a grave pillar that is labeled on all four sides. On the trilingue a Lex sacra (cult rule) is published in three languages: Greek , Aramaic and Lycian. There is at least one Greek summary on the Xanthic stele. Nevertheless, the Lycian text has so far withstood attempts at translation. So far one only understands that the heroic deeds of the son of a certain Harpagos of King Xeriga , who had conquered several castles and won competitions, are depicted on the stele . The names, the genealogies and the dispositions for subsequent burials are apparently recorded on the grave monuments.

The font is contained in Unicode in the Lycian block and is therefore standardized for use on computer systems.


  • H. Craig Melchert: Lycian . In: Roger D. Woodard (Ed.): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004, pp. 591-600. ISBN 0-521-56256-2 .
  • H. Craig Melchert: A dictionary of the Lycian language. Beech Stave Press, Ann Arbor et al. 2004. ISBN 0-9747927-0-5 .
  • Günter Neumann: The Lycian and its relatives (= news of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philolog.-Histor. Class, 2004, No. 7). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2004.
  • Günter Neumann: Glossary of Lycian (= Dresden contributions to Hethitology 21). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2007. ISBN 978-3-447-05481-2 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Benndorf , George Niemann : Travel in Southwest Asia Minor . tape 1 : Travels in Lycia and Caria. Carl Gerold 'Sohn, Vienna 1884, Minara – Pinara, p. 55, nos. 21-23 ( online ).
  2. ^ Michael Everson : Proposal to encode the Lycian and Lydian scripts in the SMP of the UCS. (PDF; 475 kB) ISO / IEC JTC1 / SC2 / WG2, February 5, 2006, accessed on March 10, 2013 (English).