Map of the Ancient Middle East

Many different languages were spoken in early Anatolia (Asia Minor). Some of the less well-known languages include Luwian/Luvian and Lycian.


The Luwians, Hittites, and Paleans, all Indo-European-speaking peoples, entered Anatolia around 2000 BC. They found a land inhabited by the Hattians or Proto-Hattians in the north and another group in the south. By 1800 BC, the Indo-Europeans groups were the dominant force in Anatolia. (5)

The Luvian or Luwian language was spoken in the Tarsus mountains in southern Anatolia. They supplanted a non-Indo-European Hurrian-speaking people. Luvian texts, using a cuneiform script, appear in Hattusas from 1600 to 1200 BC. A hieroglyphic script was used from 1300 to 700 BC. (6, 7)

At one time, Luvian was spoken in the south, Hittite in the east, and Palaic in the northwest. The three languages were related. Hittite and Palaic were especially similar. Although Palaic was used in tablets in Hattusas, it is thought that the language was only used in ritual contexts by this time. (6, 7)

Male Luwian Names

Tibe - A Luwian name? (1)

Ura-Tarhundas - The Luwian name of a king from 10th century BC Carchemish. Talmi-Teshub is the Hurrian form. (2)


Tarhunt - Luwian form of the weather god known to the Hitties as Tarhun or Tarhunna (3)


Lycian (500 - 300 BC) was a later form of Luwian that was spoken in southern Anatolia during classical times. Lydian was another Anatolian language spoken in northern Anatolia during classical Greek Times. (6, 7)

Male Lycian Names

Ermedumnou - Lycian name thought to have been influenced by Celts in Galatia (4)

Wazzije - A Lycian name? (1)


(1) Genitive Case and Possessive Adjective in Anatolian

(2) (When) Did it Happen? Further Resources : Further material referred to in note 8 of the accompanying Grove booklet B 29 Deities

(3) Encyclopaedia Britannica Online - Tarhun

(4) BMCR Book Review of Philip Freeman, The Galatian Language. A Comprehensive Survey of the Language of the Ancient Celts in Greco-Roman Asia Minor, Reviewed by Stephen Colvin, Yale University - 12/14/02.

(5) The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East, Wolfram von Soden, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

(6) Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference To More Than 400 Languages, Andrew Dalby, New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

(7) The Anatolian languages, C. aan de Wiel, April 14, 2000.

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Updated November 20, 2009