In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Greek and Anatolian

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Homer and Hittite
  • Mycenaeans in Anatolia: Archaeology
  • Lexical Borrowings and Onomastics
  • Fraseological and Syntactical Borrowings
  • Greek and Anatolian Religion
  • Greek and Minor Anatolian Languages (Lycian, Carian, Lydian)

Classics Greek and Anatolian
José Virgilio García Trabazo
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 July 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0381


For more than a century now, progress in the field of comparative Indo-European linguistics has been enormous, largely due to the continuous increase of our knowledge of the Anatolian languages since the decipherment of Hittite in 1915 by Hrozný. In the field of classical Greek studies, the decipherment of the Linear B script (achieved by M. Ventris in 1952; results published in: M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, “Evidence for Greek Dialect in the Mycenaean Archives.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 73 (1953): 84–103) has expanded the chronology, documentation, and scope of the Greek language, which has now become largely contemporary with the Anatolian cultures of the Bronze Age. Studies of Greek-Anatolian interactions have traditionally focused on the Hittite language, the best attested and best known of the Anatolian group. In recent decades this situation has changed significantly, especially since the decipherment of the Luwian hieroglyphs. Therefore, in any current bibliographical repertoire it is essential to include references to the latest developments in Luwian studies and in the so-called “minor Anatolian languages” (Lycian, Lydian, Carian). The distribution of the bibliographic material selected here combines traditional and more contemporary criteria. This explains the inclusion of the traditional references to Homeric epics, largely related to the so-called Aḫḫiyawa Question. Since much of the history of research in the field of Greek-Anatolian comparison has taken place within these patterns, it is advisable to be familiar with the main milestones of previous research. This will make it possible—as has no doubt already begun to happen—to carry out a rigorous reassessment of those conceptions that are no longer useful, and at the same time to integrate into new lines of interpretation the textual materials that continue to emerge and pose new challenges to researchers. Bibliographical references on archaeology are limited to those that contribute directly to the discussion on the existence of a cultural bridge between Greece and Anatolia. Undoubtedly, one of the basic points on which the whole discussion hinges is that of linguistic contact. For this reason, the bibliography on lexical, phraseological, and syntactic borrowings forms, to a large extent, the basic core of the collected material. The comparison between Greek and Anatolian religions is one of the most productive fields in recent years. Without a doubt, religion is—as is the general rule in the ancient world—almost inextricably integrated into the framework of Greek and Anatolian cultures and societies. This does not, of course, prevent us from highlighting the most significant works in this field. But, as is the case with virtually all the categories used, they can never be regarded as watertight compartments; rather, most of them complement each other.

General Overviews

Excellent and very useful overviews have been published in recent years. Bianconi 2021 is both a very good introduction and an overview of the history of research. Hajnal 2018 and Hajnal 2014 focus mainly on linguistic contacts, but without neglecting the historical and archaeological framework. On Anatolian influences in Greek, the excellent works Simon 2018 and Oreshko 2018 offer very critical, and even skeptical, perspectives on much previous research. García Ramón 2011 also focuses on linguistic contacts, and also critically integrates diverse perspectives. Rose 2014 and Hawkins 2010 provide good and well-documented introductions within encyclopedias or companions.

  • Bianconi, Michele. 2021. “There and back again”: A hundred years of Graeco-Anatolian comparative studies. In Linguistic and cultural interactions between Greece and Anatolia: In search of the Golden Fleece. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 122. Edited by Michele Bianconi, 8–39. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill.

    The more updated history of the existing scholarship on the subject. Provides a synopsis and a status quaestionis. At the same time, it is an introduction to the topic for whoever approaches it for the first time, by giving bibliographical references to and by outlining a diachronic framework in which the whole volume is inscribed. Available online by subscription.

  • García Ramón, José Luis. 2011. Sprachen in Kontakt im Griechenland und Kleinasien im 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr. In Historische Mehrsprachigkeit. Workshop des Zentrums für Antike Kulturen des Mittelmeerraumes und des Zentrums Sprachenvielfalt und Mehrsprachigkeit an der Universität Köln, Juli 2008. Edited by Dietrich Boschung and Claudia Maria Rehl, 23–45. Aachen, Germany: Shaker.

    The article provides an overview of the linguistic relations between Greek and Anatolian in the second millennium BCE. It examines several possible explanations for the specific common features: “areal diffusion,” “sprachbund,” or inheritance; the problem of substrata and adstrata in Greece; language contact and multilingualism: Greeks and Trojans, Anatolian names in Greek and Greek names in Anatolian. According to the author, Greek-Anatolian isoglosses need not be of Anatolian origin.

  • Hajnal, Ivo. 2014. Die griechisch-anatolischen Sprachkontakte zur Bronzezeit - Sprachbund oder loser Sprachkontakt? In Strategies of translation: Language contact and poetic language. Akten des Workshops, Köln, 17.-18. Dezember 2010. Edited by José Luis García Ramón and Daniel Kölligan, 105–116. Pisa, Italy, and Rome: Fabrizio Serra editore (= Linguarum Varietas 3, 2014–4, 2015).

    A philological and onomastic analysis of the Mycenaean texts related to the historical and archaeological problem of the Greek-Anatolian contacts. Includes a survey on the Hittite toponyms like Aḫḫiya(wa) and Aššuwa, usually associated respectively with Greek possible counterparts, Ἀχαιοί and Ἀσίη.

  • Hajnal, Ivo. 2018. Graeco-Anatolian contacts in the Mycenaean period. In Handbook of comparative and historical Indo-European linguistics, Vol. 3. Edited by Jared Klein, Brian Joseph, and Matthias Fritz, 2037–2055. Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter.

    A very up-to-date report, including a study of the archaeological and philological background, methodological issues, the problem of lexical, phraseological, and structural borrowings, a final evaluation, and a complete list of bibliographical references. Available online by subscription.

  • Hawkins, Shane. 2010. Greek and the languages of Asia Minor to the classical period. In A companion to the ancient Greek language. Edited by Egbert J. Bakker, 213–227. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444317398.ch15

    The chapter focuses on issues of language contact between Greek and the languages of Asia Minor down to the classical period of ancient Greece. It discusses some of the major issues dealt with by scholars in the field. It contains a section on the historical and social contexts for language contact, and a final section on “language artefacts” or phenomena created when speakers of different languages communicate.

  • Oreshko, Rostislav. 2018. Anatolian linguistic influences in Early Greek (1500–800 BC)? Critical observations against sociolinguistic and areal background. Journal of Language Relationship 16.2: 93–118.

    DOI: 10.31826/jlr-2018-161-209

    The paper addresses the question of Anatolian influence in Early Greek (about 1500–800 BCE). The first part deals with methodological questions of language contact. In the second part, eleven important cases of presumable Anatolian lexical borrowings in Greek are critically analyzed. The analysis suggests that Anatolian influence on the vocabulary of Early Greek was minimal (if any), which strongly speaks against the possibility of influences in morphology, phonetics, or phraseology.

  • Rose, Sarah. 2014. Greek and Anatolian languages. In Encyclopedia of ancient Greek language and linguistics. Edited by Georgios K. Giannakis, 27–31. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill.

    The chapter consists of an updated overview of the relations between Greek and the Anatolian languages, from 2200 to 1100 BCE. It is structured as follows: 1. Introduction; 2. Early Interactions (dealing with the alleged Anatolian substratum); 3. Mycenaean/Linear B (interactions between Myceneans and western Anatolia); 4. Hittite and Greek (mainly religious and phraseological parallels). Includes a bibliography with thirty-nine entries. Available online by subscription.

  • Simon, Zsolt. 2018. Anatolian influences on Greek. In Change, continuity, and connectivity: North-eastern Mediterranean at the turn of the Bronze Age and in the early Iron Age. Edited by Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò and Marek Węcowski, 376–418. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag.

    It is an in-depth and well-documented study of Anatolian influences on Greek. The work consists mainly of a critical review of up to 159 alleged Anatolian lexical borrowings into Greek. It includes an abundant and up-to-date bibliography.

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