Aryan Migration to Nepal

It is really interesting to know how and where you have come from. I am an Aryan born in Nepal and right from my childhood I had a deep thought about my origin as well. Aryans are not an indigenous people of Nepal; most of them have reached Nepal migrating through India. But that was not my main concern, I was more concerned about how the whole map of Aryan people movement from the very beginning, when there were no boarders or continents.

I had one Iranian (Persian) friend with whom when I discussed about human migration and their descent. Once she told me that she is an Aryan descent Persian, and I was very surprised and i said that I too am an Aryan, and asked her that from which tribe I belong to, then she replied that I might be Kurdish as well. Then I was so confused, I had previously thought that only Brahmins and Chettri were Aryans, I had thought her to be similar to Arab but which she seem to be not. Then I had a deep quest to know how Aryans migrated from middle east Asia, because I my Great grand mother had told me that our ancestor had migrated from far away from near to modern Iraq. I already felt that I was not a kurdish but i need to know that precisely. Then I started research about the matter on internet.

Then I felt that if we could track the data of evolution of our language then we can track the human migration route as well. Then I started to track the roots of every language, we Aryans use Sanskrit as the language used for worship and other things, and Sanskrit is the mother of many other languages as well. I had heard somewhere that Sanskrit was the mother language of even the European languages, but when I read the language tree I was totally wrong. I know there is no absolute truth till now still I thought Sanskrit the mother of all languages but indo-Iranian language was the mother language even of the Sanskrit language. But we still might be wrong because Sanskrit is supposed to be one of the oldest language till now. So lets not go deeper in finding which language is the mother of all languages Because we just want to find the migration route of Aryans to Nepal.

Aryan Migration to Nepal


Haplogroup R and the Kura araxes culture

Two important subclades of Haplogroup R1a1a appear to broadly divide the European and Asian parts of this large clade: R-Z283 (R1a1a1b1) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Europe (Pamjav 2012), while R-Z93 (R1a1a1b2) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Asia.

These two subclades descends from Haplogroup R1a1a (M17)/(M198), which makes up the vast majority of all R1a over its entire geographic range. R1a1a descends it self from Haplogroup R1a1 (SRY1532.2), that originated as a single mutation of one male, the R1a1 originator considered to be the ancestor of all individuals carrying R1a1.

Haplogroup R1a1 descends from R1a (M420), which descends from Haplogroup R1 (M173), which it self is descends of Haplogroup R (M207). Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian depression and the Hindu Kush).

Haplogroup R

Haplogroup R (M207) is believed to have arisen around 20,000-34,000 years ago (Karafet 2008), somewhere in Central Asia or South Asia, where its ancestor Haplogroup P-M45 is most often found at polymorphic frequencies (Wells 2001). It has been proven by ancient DNA to be at least 23,000 years.

Haplogroup R is found throughout all continents, but is fairly common throughout Europe, South Asia and Central Asia. Small frequencies are found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Indigenous Australians (Kayser 2003). It also occurs in Caucasus, Near East, West China, Siberia and some parts of Africa.

The two currently defined subclades are R1 (M173) and R2 (M479). Haplogroup R1 have a possible time of origin for 26,000 years ago while haplogroup R2 is estimated to be 12,000 years old.

The origins of R1 remain unclear. Haplogroup R is part of the family of haplogroup P (M45), and a sibling clade, therefore, of haplogroup Q (M242), which is common in the Americas and Eurasia. In Eurasia, Q’s geography includes eastern areas such as Siberia.

Based on these ancestral lineages, an inferred origin for R1 to the east of the West Asia. For example, Kivisild 2003 believes the evidence “suggests that southern and western Asia might be the source of this haplogroup” and “Given the geographic spread and STR diversities of sister clades R1 and R2, the latter of which is restricted to India, Pakistan, Iran, and southern central Asia, it is possible that southern and western Asia were the source for R1 and R1a differentiation.”

Soares 2010 felt in their review of the literature, that the case for South Asian origins is strongest, with the Central Asian origin argued by (Wells 2001) being also worthy of consideration.

Haplogroup R2 is defined by the presence of the marker M479. The paragroup for the R2 lineage is found in Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and among Tatars in Bashkortostan in Russia and Ossetins in North Caucasus.

Haplogroup R1a (M420) probably branched off from R1* around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum 19,000 to 26,000 years ago. Little is know for certain about its place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions.

R1a is present at high frequency of 40 % plus from the Czech Republic across to the Altai Mountains in Siberia and south throughout Central Asia. Absolute dating methods suggest that this marker is 10–15,000 years old, and the microsatellite diversity is greatest in southern Asia.

The diversity can be explained by other factors though. The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia.

Haplogroup R1a1 (SRY1532.2) is defined by SRY1532.2, also referred to as SRY10831.2. SNP mutations understood to be always occurring with SRY1532.2 include SRY10831.2, M448, L122, M459, and M516.

This family of lineages is dominated by the R-M17 branch, which is positive for M17 and M198. The paragroup R-SRY1532.2* is positive for the SRY1532.2 marker but lacks either the M17 or M198 markers.

The R-SRY1532.2* paragroup is apparently less rare than R1* but still relatively unusual, though it has been tested in more than one survey.

Underhill 2009 for example report 1/51 in Norway, 3/305 in Sweden, 1/57 Greek Macedonians, 1/150 Iranians, 2/734 Ethnic Armenians, and 1/141 Kabardians.(Underhill 2009) While Sahoo 2006 reported R-SRY1532.2* for 1/15 Himachal Pradesh Rajput samples (Sahoo 2006).

Haplogroup R1a1a (M17)/(M198) makes up the vast majority of all R1a over its entire geographic range. It is defined by SNP mutations M17 or M198, which have always appeared together in the same men so far.

Two important subclades of haplogroup R1a1a appear to broadly divide the European and Asian parts of this large clade: R-Z283 (R1a1a1b1) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Europe (Pamjav 2012), while R-Z93 (R1a1a1b2) appears to encompass most of the R1a1a found in Asia.

The modern distribution of R-M17 is distinctive. There are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in South Asia, around India, and the other in Eastern Europe, around Poland and Ukraine. The demographic reasons for this are the subject of on-going discussion and attention among population geneticists and genetic genealogists, however, such patterns could be the combined result of (i) migrations and admixture, (ii) natural selection, and (iii) random genetic drift.

Despite deserved criticism by most archaeologists and anthropologists, even prominent historians and archaeologists have recently attempted to “marry” the evidence from the social sciences with that of genetic anthropology. Whilst the notion that genes, language and culture are co-eval is highly questionable, the link between R1a and “Indo-Europeans” remains a topic of considerable scholarly interest.

Until 2012, there was extensive scholarly debate as to the origins of haplgroup R-M17. This was a result of (i) a lack of further phylogenetic resolution of R-M17 into ‘daughter’ sub-clades and (ii) the evidently erroneous belief that measure of “STR diversity” can unambigiuosly qualify as to which population harbours the ‘oldest’ R-M17 haplogroups.

A large corpus of scholars had found that Indian, or more generally, South Asian populations, had the highest STR diversity. On the basis of these studies, and using the Evolutionary Effective Mutation Rate, several of the above authors concluded that R-M17 has been present in South Asian populations since the Neolithic, having originated there.

They further used this evidence to refute the hypothesis that R-M17 arrived with Indo-European invaders from the north. However, the use of this mutation rate has received criticism, as it should not be used with haplogroup populations which clearly show evidence of population expansion, such as R-M17.

Thus, using this mutation rate could artificially ‘blow out’ the actual age of R-M17 by as much as three-fold. Indeed, authors using the contrary, “germline mutation rate” (which is the rate empirically observed in father-son studies) arrive at more recent age estimates. In fact, Busby et al recently argued that the use of STR diversity in calculating ‘ages’ of haplogroups is highly problematical.

Other studies variously proposed Eastern European, Central Asian and even Western Asian origins for R – M17.

The decade-long debate as to which Eurasian region possessed the most diverse, hence oldest, STR values within R-M17 has been effectively put to an end with the discovery of R-M17 sub-clades. SNPs offer a clearer and more robust resolution than STRs. These findings have actually been known for a few years by genealogical companies and enthusiast genealogists, however, two academic, peer-reviewed papers were finally produced by Pamjav et al (2012, 2013). They discovered that all their tested Indian R-M17 samples belong to the Z-93 sub-clade, which is a derivative, “daughter” branch of R-M17.

In contrast, Eastern European populations belong to different daughter branches of R-M17, namely Z- 280 and M-458. The former is widely distributed over south-eastern, central-eastern and eastern Europe, and as far as Central Asia.(Pamjav 2012) Indeed, Central Asia “is an overlap zone for the R1a1-Z280 and R1a1-Z93”, being found in Mongol and Uzbek populations . On the other hand, M-458 is more geographically restricted to central-eastern Europe.

Furthermore, this study found that the undifferentiated, ‘parental’ M-198 existed in the European populations, but was not found in the Indian groups sampled (consisting of 256 Malaysian Indians, 301 Roma, 203 Dravidians from India).

Nevertheless, the authors concluded that “This pattern implies that an early differentiation zone of R1a1-M198 conceivably occurred somewhere within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region as they lie between South Asia and Eastern Europe”, from where “South Asian’ Z-93 and “European” Z-283 sub-clades differentiated and spread in opposite directions.

Archaeologists recognize a complex of inter-related and relatively mobile cultures living on the Eurasian steppe, part of which protrudes into Europe as far west as Ukraine. These cultures from the late Neolithic and into the Iron Age, with specific traits such as Kurgan burials and horse domestication, have been associated with the dispersal of Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Nearly all samples from Bronze and Iron Age graves in the Krasnoyarsk area in south Siberia belonged to R-M17 and appeared to represent an eastward migration from Europe.

In central Europe, Corded Ware period human remains at Eulau from which Y-DNA was extracted appear to be R-M17(xM458) (which they found most similar to the modern German R-M17* haplotype.


Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA) is the dominant paternal lineage of Western Europe. In human genetics, Haplogroup R1b is the most frequently occurring Y-chromosome haplogroup in Western Europe and in parts of sub-Saharan Central Africa (for example around Chad and Cameroon). R1b is also present at lower frequencies throughout Eastern Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, and parts of North Africa, South Asia, and Siberia.

Due to European emigration it also reaches high frequencies in the Americas and Australia. While Western Europe is dominated by the R1b1a2 (R-M269) branch of R1b, the Chadic-speaking area in Africa is dominated by the branch known as R1b1c (R-V88). These represent two very successful “twigs” on a much bigger “family tree.”

Early research focused upon Europe. In 2000 Ornella Semino and colleagues argued that R1b had been in Europe before the end of Ice Age, and had spread north from an Iberian refuge after the Last Glacial Maximum. Age estimates of R1b in Europe have steadily decreased in more recent studies, at least concerning the majority of R1b, with more recent studies suggesting a Neolithic age or younger.

Only Morelli et al. have recently attempted to defend a Palaeolithic origin for R1b1b2. Irrespective of STR coalescence calculations, Chikhi et al. pointed out that the timing of molecular divergences does not coincide with population splits; the TMRCA of haplogroup R1b (whether in the Palaeolithic or Neolithic) dates to its point of origin somewhere in Eurasia, and not its arrival in western Europe.

Barbara Arredi and colleagues were the first to point out that the distribution of R1b STR variance in Europe forms a cline from east to west, which is more consistent with an entry into Europe from Western Asia with the spread of farming. A 2009 paper by Chiaroni et al. added to this perspective by using R1b as an example of a wave haplogroup distribution, in this case from east to west.

The proposal of a southeastern origin of R1b were supported by three detailed studies based on large datasets published in 2010. These detected that the earliest subclades of R1b are found in western Asia and the most recent in western Europe.

While age estimates in these articles are all more recent than the Last Glacial Maximum, all mention the Neolithic, when farming was introduced to Europe from the Middle East as a possible candidate period. Myres et al. (August 2010), and Cruciani et al. (August 2010) both remained undecided on the exact dating of the migration or migrations responsible for this distribution, not ruling out migrations as early as the Mesolithic or as late as Hallstatt but more probably Late Neolithic.

They noted that direct evidence from ancient DNA may be needed to resolve these gene flows. Lee et al. (May 2012) analysed the ancient DNA of human remains from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany identifying two males as belonging to the Y haplogroup R1b. Analysis of ancient Y DNA from the remains of populations derived from early Neolithic settlements such as the Mediterranean Cardium and Central and North European LBK settlements have found an absence of males belonging to haplogroup R1b.

The Spread

The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe (fourth by length), rising near Smolensk and flowing through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. The total length is 2,145 kilometres (1,333 mi) with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi).

The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations. The Dnieper is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine and is connected via the Dnieper-Bug Canal to other waterways in Europe.

In antiquity, the river was known to the Greeks as the Borysthenes and was part of the Amber Road. Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga.

Genetic studies based on modern male Scandinavian DNA suggest the advent of Ahrensburg “culture” may be associated with the bearers of the Haplogroup R1a1, that are postulated to have originally expanded to Europe and brought the reindeer hunters of the Ahrensburg “culture” from the Dniepr-Don Valley in Ukraine during the Late Glacial Maximum and reached Scandinavia between 13,000 and 7600 years ago.

Archaeological evidences have suggested that the core of the oldest populations colonising Scandinavia 11 00012 000 thousand years ago came from the present Germany. They probably went through the Jutland and the now submerged Doggerland, and then headed northward via the ice-free coastal area of Norway.

Their lithic tools suggest they belonged to the Ahrensburgian culture,that thrived in central and eastern Europe (artifacts have been found in Poland, Lithuania and Russia) in the so called ‘Late Glacial’, that is at the end of the LGM, when the increase of temperature and precipitation triggered the recession of the ice sheets.

The analysis of many Ahrensburg sites and the related lithic tools has suggested that this culture started from the Dniepr valley in Ukraine, one of the sites were humans found refuge during the LGM.

The analysis of Y chromosome polymorphisms in present European populations has indicated that Eu 19 (that is also characterised by other Y chromosome markers: 49a,fht11, SRY 1532G) expanded between 13 000 and 7600 years ago from the Dniepr-Don Valley area, probably when groups that initially sought refuge in that area during the LGM were allowed to migrate by the improved climatic conditions to those regions of Europe previously covered by ice.

In fact this Y chromosome lineage, is by far more frequent is eastern Europe with a decreasing westward gradient. In addition it is much more diversified in eastern European populations. The highest degree of diversification was observed in Ukranians.

It is then possible that Ahrensburgian men, as well as most of the men descending from the Ukranian LGM refuge bore Eu19 Y chromosomes. The microsatellite haplotypes linked to M17 in Norwegian individuals represents indeed a subset of the repertoire observed in eastern Europe. In particular it was observed the prevalence of the 15.3/1 (21/19 repeats) and of the 16.5/1 (23/19 repeats) haplotypes with their relative derivatives.

The Eu19 16.5/1 haplotype is also very common in eastern Europe, while Eu 19 15.3/1 haplotype is common in Norway, but very rare elsewhere. This peculiar pattern of microsatellites affiliated with EU19 may be explained by a founder effect, subsequent isolation in Norwegians (and possibly the Scandinavians) and eventual in loco expansion, as also observed elsewhere.

If it seems reasonable to assume that most of the Ahrensburgian men bore the Eu19 Y chromosomes, it cannot be excluded that they mixed with other groups before moving northward to Norwegian coasts. In particular, late glacial central Europe was characterised by the expansion of northern Balkan groups, where the frequency of M170 Y chromosomes (EU 7) was probably very high.

In addition, based on the differentiation of haplogroup V in Scandinavia, it also seems that groups coming from the northern Spain refuge entered Norway. Should this be true, it is likely that M173 Y chromosomes (EU18) also entered Norway during the late glacial.

R1a is also thought to have been the dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, that evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches. The Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Yamna culture (3300-2500 BCE).

With the exception of rather recent migrants from the Urals, it has been proposed that the appearance of domestic economies in Scandinavia arrived from central and northern Europe.

These populations would have likely been Indo-European speakers that possibly fostered the Proto Baltic-Slavic-Germanic linguistic unity to the Baltic area and to north-eastern Europe. Specifically the Corded Wares culture from Central Europe (present Germany) and the Battle-Axe culture from Jutland.

The spread of agriculture correlated with the Corded WaresBattle Axe cultures and possibly involved the displacement of some of the previous populations, but in other cases, such as Poland and northern Russia it was mainly a cultural phenomenon. In Norway, hunting and fishing became a secondary source of sustenance. However it is debated if this was a consequence of the displacement of the previous populations, or of a cultural switch driven by a few newcomers.

The present German gene pool shows a high frequency of Eu7 and Eu18 haplotypes. These haplotypes, which account for about 75% of the Norwegian Y chromosome pool, are then likely to have been brought to Norway by those groups who also brought the Indo-European languages and the agriculture.

However, at present, it is not possible to evaluate how much this migration impacted the Norwegian gene pool. First, because it is not possible to distinguish between lineages brought in the late glacial time and those brought 56000 years ago.

In addition, non-random mating phenomena may also play a role. It is possible that these cultures were composed of a subset of elite males, who reduced the reproductive success of other males and then the Y chromosome may emphasise the real genetic contributions of the central European migration to Norway.

It has to be noticed that also part of the Eu19 lineage could have entered Norway with the migrations that brought the transition to agriculture. In fact, although very low in Germany, this lineage is very high in Poland, Hungary and in the former Czeckslovakia. However the network of microsatellite haplotypes attached to this lineage seems to suggest a long time in loco differentiation.

Either because of late glacial or of more recent migrations the Norway Y chromosome gene pool appears to be very close to present day Germans. In fact the st and the Fst data indicate Germans and a few other Central European populations as being the closest to the Norwegians.

When we compare our results with those based on different polymorphic systems, we can infer that these conclusions are also valid for Swedish, while Finns and Saami had a quite different genetic history with a great impact of Uralic Finno-Ugric speaking population.

Ornella Semino et al. propose a postglacial spread of the R1a1 gene from the Ukrainian LGM refuge, subsequently magnified by the expansion of the Kurgan culture into Europe and eastward. The greatest variation in R1a1a is found in South Asia particularly North India. This conclusively proves that South Asia is the most probable source of R1a1a. Wells suggests the origin, distribution and age of R1a1 points to an ancient migration, possibly corresponding to the spread by the Kurgan people in their expansion across the Eurasian steppe around 3000 BC.

Their dramatic expansion was possible thanks to an early adoption of bronze weapons and the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes (circa 4000-3500 BCE). The southern Steppe culture is believed to have carried predominantly R1b (M269 and M73) lineages, while the northern forest-steppe culture would have been essentially R1a-dominant.

The first expansion of the forest-steppe people occured with the Corded Ware Culture (see Germanic branch below). The migration of the R1b people to central and Western Europe left a vacuum for R1a people in the southern steppe around the time of the Catacomb culture (2800-2200 BCE).

The forest-steppe origin of this culture is obvious from the introduction of corded pottery and the abundant use of polished battle axes, the two most prominent features of the Corded Ware culture. This is also probably when the satemisation process of the Indo-European languages began since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language groups belong to the same Satem isogloss and both appear to have evolved from the the Catacomb culture.

Ancient DNA testing has confirmed the presence of haplogroup R1a1a in samples from the Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, from Kurgan burials (circa 1600 BCE) from the Andronovo culture in southern Russia and southern Siberia, as well as from a variety of Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

Across Caucasus

The Tell Halaf/Ubaid culture are tied both to the Southern Levant and then to the Trancausia area and possibly inspiring both Kura-Axes and Maykop development. There are some very early branches of Haplogroup R1b1a2 (M269) in the Near East, as well as the non M269 R1b1c (V88) that may have expanded into Africa from there. The Kura-Axes and Maykop area becomes core to the Circumpontic Metallugy Province. We have M269 L23xL51 in the Caucasus and Anatolia and L51 types of R1b showing up with Bell Beakers, metallurgists, in Western Euroope. 

The Paleolithic origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. Some of the oldest forms of R1b are found around the Caucasus, in Iran and in southern Central Asia, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age. A branch of R1 would have developed into R1b then R1b1 and R1b1a in the northern part of the Middle East around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (circa 20,000 years ago), while R1a migrated north to Siberia.

R1b1a presumptively moved to northern Anatolia and across the Caucasus during the Neolithic, where it split into R1b1a1 (M73) and R1b1a2 (M269). The Near Eastern leftovers evolved into R1b1c (V88), now found at low frequencies among the Lebanese, the Druze, and the Jews. The Phoenicians (who came from modern day Lebanon) spread this R1b1c to their colonies, notably Sardinia and the Maghreb.

R1b1a2 (the most common form in Europe) and R1b1a1 is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, including almost all Europe (except Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, European Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south. The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (7000-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region. It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus.

Horses were first domesticated around 4600 BCE in the Caspian Steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. Nevertheless it is unlikely that R1b was already present in the eastern steppes at the time, so the domestication of the horse should be attributed to the indigenous R1a people.

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This could have happened during or just after the Neolithic, or both. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around the Caucasus it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world.

It is possible that a first R1b migration from Anatolia in the 5th or even 6th millennium BCE introduced sheep into the steppe, an animal whose wool would play an important role in Celtic and Germanic (R1b branches of the Indo-Europeans) clothing traditions up to this day. Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, appeared apparently out of nowhere in the north-west Caucasus.

The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran. Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture (3500-2500 BCE) developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE).

Middle Eastern R1b people had been living and blending to some extent with the local R1a foragers and herders for over a millennium, perhaps even two or three. The close cultural contact and interactions between R1a and R1b people all over the Pontic-Caspian Steppe resulted in the creation of a common vernacular, a new lingua franca, which linguists have called Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Linguistic similarities exist between PIE and Caucasian and Hurrian languages in the Middle East on the one hand, and Uralic languages in the Volga-Ural region on the other hand, which makes the Pontic Steppe the perfect intermediary region. Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others.

During the Yamna period cattle and sheep herders adopted wagons to transport their food and tents, which allowed them to move deeper into the steppe, giving rise to a new mobile lifestyle that would eventually lead to the great Indo-European migrations. This type of mass migration in which whole tribes moved with the help of wagons was still common in Gaul at the time of Julius Caesar, and among Germanic peoples in the late Antiquity.

The Yamna horizon was not a single, unified culture. In the south, along the northern shores of the Black Sea coast until the the north-west Caucasus, was a region of open steppe, expanding eastward until the Caspian Sea, Siberia and Mongolia (the Eurasian Steppe).

The western section, between the Don and Dniester Rivers (and later the Danube), was the one most densely settled by R1b people, with only a minority of R1a people (5-10%). The eastern section, in the Volga basin until the Ural mountains, was inhabited by R1a people with a substantial minority of R1b people (whose descendants can be found among the Bashkirs, Turkmans, Uyghurs and Hazaras, among others). The northern part of the Yamna horizon was forest-steppe occupied by R1a people, also joined by a small minority of R1b (judging from modern Russians and Belarussians, the frequency of R1b was from seven to nine times less lower than R1a).

The western branch would migrate to the Balkans and Greece, then to central and Western Europe, and back to their ancestral Anatolia in successive waves (Hittites, Phrygians, Armenians, etc.). The eastern branch would migrate to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Siberia, and South Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India). The northern branch would evolve into the Corded Ware culture and disperse around the Baltic, Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.

Maykop was an advanced Bronze Age culture, actually one of the very first to develop metalworking, and therefore metal weapons. The world’s oldest sword was found at a late Maykop grave in Klady kurgan 31. Its style is reminiscent of the long Celtic swords, though less elaborated.

Horse bones and depictions of horses already appear in early Maykop graves, suggesting that the Maykop culture might have been founded by steppe people or by people who had close link with them. However, the presence of cultural elements radically different from the steppe culture in some sites could mean that Maykop had a hybrid population.

Without DNA testing it is impossible to say if these two populations were an Anatolian R1b group and a G2a Caucasian group, or whether R1a people had settled there too. The two or three ethnicities might even have cohabited side by side in different settlements.

The one typical Caucasian Y-DNA lineage that does follow the pattern of Indo-European migrations is G2a3b1, which is found throughout Europe, Central Asia and South Asia. In the Balkans, the Danube basin and Central Europe its frequency is somewhat proportional to the percentage of R1b.

Maykop people are the ones credited for the introduction of primitive wheeled vehicles (wagons) from Mesopotamia to the steppes. This would revolutionise the way of life in the steppe, and would later lead to the development of (horse-drawn) war chariots around 2000 BCE.

Cavalry and chariots played an vital role in the subsequent Indo-European migrations, allowing them to move quickly and defeat easily anybody they encountered. Combined with advanced bronze weapons and their sea-based culture, the western branch (R1b) of the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea shores are excellent candidates for being the mysterious Sea Peoples, who raided the eastern shores of the Mediterranean during the second millennium BCE.

The rise of the IE-speaking Hittites in Central Anatolia happened a few centuries after the disappearance of the Maykop and Yamna cultures. Considering that most Indo-European forms of R1b found in Anatolia today belong to the R1b-Z2103 subclade, it makes little doubt that the Hittites came to Anatolia via the Balkans, after Yamna/Maykop people invaded Southeast Europe.

The Maykop and Yamna cultures were succeeded by the Srubna culture (1600-1200 BCE), possibly representing an advance of R1a1a people from the northern steppes towards the Black Sea shores, filling the vacuum left by the R1b tribes who migrated to Southeast Europe and Anatolia.

There is substantial archaeological and linguistic evidence that Troy was an Indo-European city associated with the steppe culture and haplogroup R1b. The Trojans were Luwian speakers related to the Hittites (hence Indo-European), with attested cultural ties to the culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

The Hittites (c. 2000-1178 BCE) were the first Indo-Europeans to defy (and defeat) the mighty Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires. There are two hypotheses regarding the origins of the Hittites. The first is that they came from the eastern Balkans and invaded Anatolia by crossing the Bosphorus. That would mean that they belonged either to the L23 or the Z2103 subclade.

The other plausible scenario is that they were an offshoot of the late Maykop culture, and that they crossed the Caucasus to conquer the Hattian kingdom (perhaps after being displaced from the North Caucasus by the R1a people of the Catacomb culture). In that case the Hittites might have belonged to the R1b-M269 subclade.

The first hypothesis has the advantage of having a single nucleus, the Balkans, as the post-Yamna expansion of all Indo-European R1b. The Maykop hypothesis, on the other hand, would explain why the Anatolian branch of IE languages (Hittite, Luwian, Lydian, Palaic) is so archaic compared to other Indo-European languages, which would have originated in Yamna rather than Maykop.

The first city of Troy dates back to 3000 BCE, right in the middle of the Maykop period. Troy might have been founded by Maykop people as a colony securing the trade routes between the Black Sea and the Aegean. The founding of Troy happens to coincide exactly with the time the first galleys were made. Considering the early foundation of Troy, the most likely of the two Indo-European paternal haplogroups would be R1b-M269 or L23.


R1b1a2 (2011 name) is defined by the presence of SNP marker M269. R1b1a2* or M269(xL23) is found at highest frequency in the central Balkans notably Kosovo with 7.9%, Macedonia 5.1% and Serbia 4.4%. Kosovo is notable in also having a high percentage of descendant L23* or L23(xM412) at 11.4% unlike most other areas with significant percentages of M269* and L23* except for Poland with 2.4% and 9.5% and the Bashkirs of southeast Bashkortostan with 2.4% and 32.2% respectively. Notably this Bashkir population also has a high percentage of M269 sister branch M73 at 23.4%. Five individuals out of 110 tested in the Ararat Valley, Armenia belonged to R1b1a2* and 36 to L23*, with none belonging to subclades of L23.

European R1b is dominated by R-M269. It has been found at generally low frequencies throughout central Eurasia, but with relatively high frequency among Bashkirs of the Perm Region (84.0%). This marker is also present in China and India at frequencies of less than one percent. The table below lists in more detail the frequencies of M269 in various regions in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The frequency is about 71% in Scotland, 70% in Spain and 60% in France. In south-eastern England the frequency of this clade is about 70%; in parts of the rest of north and western England, Spain, Portugal, Wales and Ireland, it is as high as 90%; and in parts of north-western Ireland it reaches 98%. It is also found in North Africa, where its frequency surpasses 10% in some parts of Algeria.

As discussed above, in articles published around 2000 it was proposed that this clade been in Europe before the last Ice Age, but by 2010 more recent periods such as the European Neolithic have become the focus of proposals.

A range of newer estimates for R1b1b2, or at least its dominant parts in Europe, are from 4,000 to a maximum of about 10,000 years ago, and looking in more detail is seen as suggesting a migration from Western Asia via southeastern Europe. Western European R1b is dominated by R-P310.

It was also in this period between 2000 and 2010 that it became clear that especially Western European R1b is dominated by specific sub-clades of R-M269 (with some small amounts of other types found in areas such as Sardinia).

Within Europe, R-M269 is dominated by R-M412, also known as R-L51, which according to Myres et al. (2010) is “virtually absent in the Near East, the Caucasus and West Asia.” This Western European population is further divided between R-P312/S116 and R-U106/S21, which appear to spread from the western and eastern Rhine river basin respectively.

Myres et al. note further that concerning its closest relatives, in R-L23*, that it is “instructive” that these are often more than 10% of the population in the Caucasus, Turkey, and some southeast European and circum-Uralic populations. In Western Europe it is also present but in generally much lower levels apart from “an instance of 27% in Switzerland’s Upper Rhone Valley.”

In addition, the sub-clade distribution map, Figure 1h titled “L11(xU106,S116)”, in Myres et al. shows that R-P310/L11* (or as yet undefined subclades of R-P310/L11) occurs only in frequencies greater than 10% in Central England with surrounding areas of England and Wales having lower frequencies.

This R-P310/L11* is almost non-existent in the rest of Eurasia and North Africa with the exception of coastal lands fringing the western and southern Baltic (reaching 10% in Eastern Denmark and 6% in northern Poland) and in Eastern Switzerland and surrounds.

In 2009, DNA extracted from the femur bones of 6 skeletons in an early-medieval burial place in Ergolding (Bavaria, Germany) dated to around 670 AD yielded the following results: 4 were found to be haplogroup R1b with the closest matches in modern populations of Germany, Ireland and the USA while 2 were in Haplogroup G2a.

Population studies which test for M269 have become more common in recent years, while in earlier studies men in this haplogroup are only visible in the data by extrapolation of what is likely. The following gives a summary of most of the studies which specifically tested for M269, showing its distribution in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia as far as China and Nepal.


The geographical distribution of this haplotype is such that it is shared by Armenians and two other populations from the Caucasus. Moreover, it is lacking in most other populations from the Caucasus, as well as in the other populations from further east. On the other hand, it is more frequently found in Europe, where as we know, haplogroup R1b tends to have higher frequencies as well.

The Armenian modal haplotype is also the modal R1b3 haplotype observed by Cinnioglu in Anatolia. According to him, apparently it entered Anatolia from Europe in Paleolithic times, and diffused again from Anatolia in the Late Upper Paleolithic.

An alternative explanation may be that the particular haplotype may have been associated with the movement of the Phrygians into Asia Minor. The Phrygians were an Indo-European people of the Balkans who settled in Asia Minor, and the Armenians were reputed to be descended from them.

It would be interesting to thoroughly study the populations of modern Thrace, Anatolia, and Armenia, and to investigate whether a subgroup of R1b3 chromosomes linked by the Armenian modal haplotype may represent the signature of a back-migration into Asia of Balkan Indo-European peoples.

Combined with advanced bronze weapons and their sea-based culture, the western branch (R1b) of the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea shores are excellent candidates for being the mysterious Sea Peoples, who raided the eastern shores of the Mediterranean during the second millennium BCE.

The Phrygians and the Proto-Armenians are two other Indo-European tribes stemming from the Balkans. Both appear to have migrated to Anatolia around 1200 BCE, during the ‘great upheavals’ of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Phrygians (or Bryges) founded a kingdom (1200-700 BCE) in west central Anatolia, taking over most of the crumbling Hittite Empire. The Armenians crossed all Anatolia until Lake Van and settled in the Armenian Highlands. Nowadays 30% of Armenian belong to haplogroup R1b, the vast majority to the L23 subclade.

Armenian DNA Project – News

Kura-Araxes culture

The period between the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C. was the time of great cataclysmic events in the Caucasus; its cultural advances were influenced by changes within its boundaries as well as interactions with the outside world. The most significant occurrence of this epoch was the appearance of a large number of peoples of Mesopotamian cultural identity who contributed to speeding up the rhythm of its cultural development, adding “explosive” character to its progress.

During this period the South Caucasus experienced two powerful waves of Middle Eastern expansion: the first at the time of Late Neolithic culture of Sioni in the 4th-5th millennia B.C., and the second at the period of Tsopi culture in the Late Neolithic Age, at the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th millennium B.C., which is known as the Uruk expansion era.

Later, in the second half of the 4th and throughout the 3 rd millennium B.C., during the Early Bronze Age the Kura-Araxes culture of the Caucasus spread throughout the greater part of the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia, northern parts of Iran, Middle East and even Europe.

In this context, recent archaeological finds in the Southern and Northeastern Caucasus gave yet another, entirely new nuance to scientific researches into the ancient past of the Caucasus. They made it clear that incursion of these peoples into the Caucasus was not a onetime event, but continued for a significantly long period.

Reasoning by the topography of the archaeological finds in Mesopotamia, it becomes clear that large masses of migrant settlers from that area did not move straight along the route to Transcaucasia in order to reach the destination faster. Actually, they settled down in every region of the Caucasus, in the mountains and flatlands, in areas where they could maintain a lifestyle familiar to them.

It seems obvious that from that period on, two cultures of the Caucasus that had been at different stages of development could coexist peacefully on the basis of their mutual participation in metallurgical manufacturing; it was this type of communal economy that gave impetus to a speedy development of the local culture. This is well illustrated by the metallurgical items of the Kura-Araxes culture, which is significantly more advanced in comparison with the preAeneolithic culture.

At present the situation has changed drastically. On the basis of a whole series of radiocarbon analyses, it has been proved that burial mounds of the ancient pit-grave culture are of a significantly later period in comparison with Maikop archaeological sites.

This allows scholars to assume that the tradition of building this type of burial mounds emerged precisely in the Maikop culture. Its ties with Levant and Mesopotamian antiquities point to its earlier origin. At the same time, a whole range of chronological data obtained with radiocarbon analysis has established that the settlements and burial mounds of the South Caucasus containing Uruk artefact are coexistent with the Maikop culture and, accordingly, the ancient pit-grave culture and its burial mounds belong to a later period.

Therefore, today we cannot possibly ascribe the emergence of this kind of burial mounds in the Maikop culture as well as similar contemporaneous sites in the South Caucasus to the influence of the steppe zone cultures. Moreover, there were no adverse conditions that would have prevented emergence of this type of burial mounds in the Caucasus itself

Akhundov (2007) recently uncovered pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and Makharadze (2007) has also excavated a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia.

Materials recovered from both these recent excavations can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli (Glonti and Dzavakhishvili 1987). They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus.

Similarly, on the basis of her survey work in eastern Anatolia north of the Oriental Taurus mountains, C. Marro (2007)likens chafffaced wares collected at Hanago in the Sürmeli Plain and Astepe and Colpan in the eastern Lake Van district in northeastern Turkey with those found at the sites mentioned above and relates these to similar wares (Amuq E/F) found south of the Taurus Mountains in northern Mesopotamia.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

The ‘homeland’ (itself a very problematic concept) of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community is difficult to pinpoint precisely, a fact that may suggest that there is no single well-demarcated area of origin, but multiple interacting areas including northeastern Anatolia as far as the Erzurum area, the catchment area drained by the Upper Middle Kura and Araxes Rivers in Transcaucasia and the Caspian corridor and adjacent mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan.

While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged.

In other words, sometime around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE or slightly subsequent to the initial appearance of the Maikop culture of the NW Caucasus, settlements containing proto-Kura-Araxes or early Kura-Araxes materials first appear across a broad area that stretches from the Caspian littoral of the northeastern Caucasus in the north to the Erzurum region of the Anatolian Plateau in the west.

For simplicity’s sake these roughly simultaneous developments across this broad area will be considered as representing the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age or the initial stages of development of the KuraAraxes/Early Transcaucasian culture.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture had shown that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby.

Structures within settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements, facts that suggest they probably had a poorly developed social hierarchy for at least a significant stretch of their history. Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls.

They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs.

At some point the culture’s settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism, and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass both crop and livestock agriculture.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses (introduced around 3000 BCE, probably by Indo-European speaking tribes from the North).

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

In its earliest phase, metal was scant, but it would later display “a precocious metallurgical development which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts.

Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians. The Kura Araxes culture may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Kura-Araxes materials found in other areas are primarily intrusive in the local sequences. Indeed, many, but not all, sites in the Malatya area along the Upper Euphrates drainage of eastern Anatolia (e.g., Norsun-tepe, Arslantepe) and western Iran (e.g., Yanik Tepe, Godin Tepe) exhibit – albeit with some overlap – a relatively sharp break in material remains, including new forms of architecture and domestic dwellings, and such changes support the interpretation of a subsequent spread or dispersal from this broadly defined core area in the north to the southwest and southeast.

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Transcaucasia. As Amjad Jaimoukha puts it: The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. According to E.I.Krupnov (1969:77), there were elements of the Maikop culture in the early memorials of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Meken and Bamut kurgans and in Lugovoe in Serzhen-Yurt.

Similarities between some features and objects of the Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures, such as large square graves, the bold-relief curvilinear ornamentation of pottery, ochre-coloured ceramics, earthen hearth props with horn projections, flint arrowheads, stone axes and copper pitchforks are indicative of a cultural unity that pervaded the Caucasus in the Neolithic Age.

The new high dating of the Maikop culture essentially signifies that there is no chronological hiatus separating the collapse of the Chalcolithic Balkan centre of metallurgical production and the appearance of Maikop and the sudden explosion of  Caucasian metallurgical production and use of arsenical copper/bronzes.

More than  forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high  chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans  occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b).

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population (see section below). Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.

Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory.

The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage.

Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects, but before they ceased being in geographic contact.

Graeco-Aryan is invoked in particular in studies of comparative mythology, e.g. by West (1999) and Watkins (2001).


R1b1a1 (2011 name) is defined by the presence of SNP marker M73. It has been found at generally low frequencies throughout central Eurasia, but has been found with relatively high frequency among particular populations there including Hazaras in Pakistan (8/25 = 32%); and Bashkirs in Bashkortostan (62/471 = 13.2%), 44 of these being found among the 80 tested Bashkirs of the Abzelilovsky District in the Republic of Bashkortostan (55.0%). Four R-M73 men were also found in a 523-person study of Turkey, and one person in a 168-person study of Crete.

In 2010, Myres et al. report that out of 193 R-M73 men found amongst 10,355 widespread men, “all except two Russians occurred outside Europe, either in the Caucasus, Turkey, the Circum-Uralic and North Pakistan regions.”

Central Asia

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River).

Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi’s excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi’s work began to be translated in the 1990s.

There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.

At Jeitun (or Djeitun), mudbrick houses were first occupied c. 6000 cal. BCE. The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia.

Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.

During the Copper Age, the population of this region grew. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.

Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east – in the ancient Delta of the River Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BCE the cultural unity of the culture split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups.

Altyndepe (the Turkmen for “Golden Hill”) is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC.

Namazga V and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian. The site is notable for the remains of its “proto-Zoroastrian” ziggurat.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.

Tepe Fullol (also known as Khush Tepe) is a village in northern Afghanistan where the treasure of Fullol was found, consisting of twenty vessels in gold and silver dated to the Bronze Age. It was accidentally discovered in 1965 by Afghan farmers in a grave cache and provided the first evidence of the Oxus civilisation (also known as BMAC) in northern Afghanistan.

Tepe Fullol is situated in Baghlan Province at the junction of the Khost and Sai valleys. On the basis of iconographic comparisons, the treasure has been dated to between 2600 and 1700 BC. There is also a mound, covering an area 14 by 18 metres (46 by 59 ft) and 20 metres (66 ft) high.

The area’s wealth probably derived from precious materials extracted from the nearby mountains , in particular lapis lazuli from Badakshan, which were widely traded. The vessel’s designs include animal imagery, such as a boar, a stag, snakes and bearded bulls (the latter derived from distant Mesopotamia), indicating that at this early date Afghanistan was already part of an extensive network of trade and cultural exchanges.

Badakhshan (meaning “Badakh Mountains”) is a historic region comprising parts of what is now northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan. The name is retained in Badakhshan Province which is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the far northeast of Afghanistan, and contains the Wakhan Corridor. Much of historic Badakhshan lies within Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province located in the in south-eastern part of the country. The music of Badakhshan is an important part of the region’s cultural heritage.

Badakhshan has a diverse ethno-linguistic and religious community. Tajiks are the majority while a minority of Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs also live there. There are also groups of speakers of several Pamir languages of the Eastern Iranian language group.

During the 20th century within Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan the speakers of Pamir languages formed their own separate ethnic identity as Pamiris. The Pamiri people were not officially recognized as a separate ethnic group in Tajikistan, but in Tajikistan Pamiri movements and associations have been formed.

The main religions of Badakhshan are Ismaili Islam and Sunni Islam. The people of this province have a rich cultural heritage and they have preserved unique ancient forms of music, poetry and dance.

Badakhshan was an important trading center during antiquity. Lapis lazuli was traded exclusively from there as early as the second half of the 4th millennium BC. Badakhshan was an important region when the Silk Road passed through. Its significance is its geo-economic role in trades of silk and ancient commodities transactions between the East and West.

Sar-i Sang is a settlement in the Kuran Wa Munjan District of Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, famous for its ancient lapis lazuli mines producing the world’s finest lapis. Sar-i Sang lapis lazuli mine, probably dating from proto-historic times. It consists of one old disused shaft and two new shafts. This was the main source of lapis lazuli in the ancient world, with lapis from here occurring in such famous archaeological discoveries as the Royal Treasure of Ur and the Tomb of Tutankhamun.

As the domestication of pack animals and the development of shipping technology both increased the capacity for prehistoric people to carry heavier loads over greater distances, cultural exchanges and trade developed rapidly. In addition, grassland provides fertile grazing, water, and easy passage for caravans. The vast grassland steppes of Asia enabled merchants to travel immense distances, from the shores of the Pacific to Africa and deep into Europe, without trespassing on agricultural lands and arousing hostility.

From the 2nd millennium BC nephrite jade was being traded from mines in the region of Yarkand and Khotan to China. Significantly, these mines were not very far from the lapis lazuli and spinel (“Balas Ruby”) mines in Badakhshan and, although separated by the formidable Pamir Mountains, routes across them were, apparently, in use from very early times.

The Yaz culture is an early Iron Age culture of Bactria and Margiana (ca. 1500-1100 BC). It has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta. So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this was taken as evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or so-called sky burial.

Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur, where extensive irrigation systems have been discovered, migrated into the Murghab Delta, where small, scattered settlements appeared, and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.

In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe. It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-i Shōkhta in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site of about 55 hectares in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 BCE. It’s located about 60km north of Mary, Turkmenistan (the capital city of Mary Province).

The site was discovered by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. Sarianidi discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion. He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the Avesta as haoma. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma.

The northern part of the complex had a central citadel-like structure about 100m by 180m (350 by 600 feet) in size. A southern complex is about 1.5 hectares in size. The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River’s course moved to the west. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab’s delta region; over 150 ancient settlements dating to the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE) have been found there.

The palace of North Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres. Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace.

Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BCE found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BCE was found at Altyn-Depe.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese “small seal” characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, assumed to be from the Western Han dynasty.

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and an Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe.

The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BCE. In the delta of the River Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channeled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo Culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC. The culture they created is known as Tazabag’yad.

About 1800 BCE the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Andronovo-Tazabag’yab culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Andronovo-Tazabagyab coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Andronovo-Tazabagyab traditions.

As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian. Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southeastern Iran. Bactrian Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.

As James P. Mallory phrased it: It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism. The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.

However, archaeologists like B. B. Lal have seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and thoroughly disputed the proclaimed relations.

While others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.


The Waugh Family An historical and photographic perspective

The Waugh Family
An historical and photographic perspective

“Waugh was the name given to our people (the Britons) by the Anglo-Saxons”

The Waugh Family An historical and photographic perspective 

“Waugh was the name given to our people (the Britons) by the Anglo-Saxons”


*Walhaz (ᚹᚨᛚᚺᚨᛉ) is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning “foreigner”, “stranger”, “Roman”, “Romance-speaker”, or “Celtic-speaker”. The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages.

The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning “French”, Old High German walhisk, meaning “Romance”, Modern German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance-speakers, Dutch waals “Walloon”, Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning “Romano-British”, and Modern English Welsh.

The form of these words imply that they are descended from a Proto-Germanic form *walhiska-. It is attested in the Roman Iron Age Tjurkö Bracteate inscription as walhakurne “Roman/Gallic grain”, apparently a kenning for “gold” (referring to the “bracteate” itself).


Pagan Symbols

Celtic Symbols


The origin of haplogroup I1-M253 in Eastern Europe

One of the actual issues of modern genetic genealogy is the origin of a haplogroup. It is not easy to connect data on genetics, archeology, linguistics, anthropology and other related sciences. In this paper the author tries to find the root of haplogroup I1-M253 in Eastern Europe.

The origin of haplogroup I1-M253 in Eastern Europe Alexander Shtrunov

In 11-10th millennium BC global climate changes took place, this led to the melting of theice cover in Scandinavia. Vegetation penetrated to the territories cleared from the ice cover, withthe main food of local population – reindeer – following after it; that caused the migration of Paleolithic hunters. The colonization of Scandinavia,Baltic and Central Eastern Europe was started.
In the Mesolithic haplogroup I1 faced theeastern newcomers, who related confidently withhaplogroup N1c. They had Uraloid appearance(with a Mongoloid and Caucasoid features).Spreading of Uralic languages in Eastern Europeis connected with N1c.
Relations between the newcomers and abori-ginal population were generally peaceful; it isevident from mixed graves and gradual appear-ance of mixed anthropological types.
The next important step to the formation of present situation was made by the carriers of cord ceramics cultures, who had haplogroup R1a, and were related to the spreading of South-ern European agricultural and pastoral tribes inCentral Europe.
In the 3rd millennium BC tribes of corded ce-ramics from Central Europe entered the Balticregion (Corded ware culture) and the upper andmiddle Volga areas (Fatyanovo-Balanovo cultures. Their anthropological type wassharply dolichocranic with moderately broad-Caucasoid type.
Most likely the tribes of corded ceramics werequite aggressive and forced out aboriginal popu-lation (I1/N1c) to the remote areas and partiallyassimilated it. Aboriginal population could notcompete with the newcomers economically andmilitarily, because it was not familiar with metal-lurgy and productive farming.
Mass migration of Slavic tribes (VII-VIII cen-turies AD) that have made significant changes tothe gene pool of Eastern Europe should also bementioned. The Slavs were mainly the carriers of haplogroup R1a (more) and I2a.
As a result of these processes carriers of Haplogroup I1 were partially displaced from theirareals and assimilated by more developed newcomers.
In the end I would like to highlight the basic conclusions:
– Roots of haplogroup I1 evidently came fromsuch Paleolithic cultures as Ahrensburgian andSwiderian; its carriers represented were the partof autochthonous population of Northern andEastern Europe.
– The main activities of carriers of haplogroupI1 were hunting and gathering.
– Initial anthropological appearance of carriersof haplogroup I1 was sharply dolichocranic,broad-faced, tall Caucasoid type.
– Carriers of haplogroup I1 were speakers of Paleo-European language, which didn’t belong tothe Uralic or Indo-European families. Its traceswere reveiled in the European toponimy and inthe Sami language.
Compact local maximum of frequencies of I1in the center of the Russian Plain is the consequence of ancient migrations of Paleolithic popu-lation of Europe, which led to the foundation of Upper Volga culture (the 6-5th millennium BC).


The Budini with their deep blue eyes and bright red hair

The Budini (Greek: Boudinoi) were an ancient people who lived in Scythia, in what is today Ukraine. In his account of Scythia (Inquiries book 4), Herodotus writes that the Geloni were formerly Greeks, having settled away from the coastal emporia among the Budini, where they “use a tongue partly Scythian and partly Greek”:

“The Budini for their part, being a large and numerous nation, is all mightily blue-eyed and ruddy. And a city among them has been built, a wooden city, and the name of the city is Gelonus.

Of its wall then in size each side is of thirty stades and high and all wooden. And their homes are wooden and their shrines. For indeed there is in the very place Greek gods’ shrines adorned in the Greek way with statues, altars and wooden shrines and for triennial Dionysus festivals in honour of Dionysus.”

“Above the Sauromatae (Sarmatians), possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair.

The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads; unlike any of the neighbouring races, they eat lice.

Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face.

With the skins of this last the natives border their capotes: and they also get from them a remedy, which is of virtue in diseases of the womb… Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a desert, seven days’ journey across…”

The fortified settlement of Gelonus was reached by the Persian army of Darius in his assault on Scythia during the 5th century BC, already burned to the ground, the Budini having abandoned it before the Persian advance.

The Scythians sent a message to Darius: “We are free as wind and what you can catch in our land is only the wind”. By employing a scorched earth strategy, they avoided battles, leaving “earth without grass” by burning the steppe in front of the advancing Persians (Herodotus). The Persian army returned without a single battle or any significant success.

Later located eastward probably on the middle course of the Volga about Samara, the Budini are described as fair-eyed and red-haired, and lived by hunting in the dense forests. In their country was a wooden city called Gelonos, inhabited with a “distinct race”, the Geloni, who according to Herodotus were Greeks that became assimilated to the Scythians. Later writers add nothing to our knowledge of the Budini, and are more interested in the tarandus, an animal that dwelt in the woods of the Budini, possibly the reindeer (Aristotle ap. Aelian, Hist. Anim. xv. 33).

Red hair is the rarest natural hair color in humans. The non-tanning skin associated with red hair may have been advantageous in far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce. Studies by Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1976) hypothesized that lighter skin pigmentation prevents rickets in colder climates by encouraging higher levels of Vitamin D production and also allows the individual to retain heat better than someone with darker skin.

In 2000, Harding et al. concluded that red hair was not the result of positive selection and instead proposed that it occurs because of a lack of negative selection. In Africa, for example, red hair is selected against because high levels of sun would be harmful to untanned skin. However, in Northern Europe this does not happen, so redheads come about through genetic drift.

According to some researchers, the Budinis were a Finnic tribe ruled by the Scythians. The 1911 Britannica surmises that they were Fenno-Ugric, of the branch now represented by the Udmurts and Komis (this branch is now called “Permic”), forced northwards by later immigrants. Edgar V. Saks identifies Budini as Votic people, a people of Votia in Ingria, the part of modern-day northwestern Russia that is roughly southwest of Saint Petersburg and east of the Estonian border-town of Narva.


The Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language. Through history they have been known in Russian as Chud Otyatskaya, Otyaks, or Votyaks (most known name), and in Tatar as Ar. The Udmurt language belongs to the Uralic family.

The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort ‘meadow people,’ where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) ‘meadow, glade, turf, greenery’ (related to Finnish itää ‘to germinate, sprout’) and the second part (Udmurt murt ‘person’; cf. Komi mort, Mari mari) is an early borrowing from Indo-Iranian *mertā or *martiya ‘person, man’ (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated Feb. 25, 1557, in which alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi ‘meadow people’.

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name ‘meadow people’ refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river general. Recently, the most relevant is the version of V. V. Napolskikh and S. K. Belykh. They suppose that ethnonym was borrowed from the Iranian entirely: *anta-marta ‘resident of outskirts, border zone’ (cf. Antes) → Proto-Permic *odə-mort → Udmurt udmurt.

Anthropologists relate Udmurts to the Urals branch of Europeans. Most of them are of the middle size, often have blue or gray eyes, high cheek-bones and wide face. The Udmurt people are not of an athletic build but they are very hardy. and there have been claims that they are the “most red-headed” people in the world. Additionally, the ancient Budini tribe, which is speculated to be an ancestor of the modern Udmurts, were described by Herodotus as being predominantly red-headed.

Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas: Kirov Oblast and Perm Krai of Russia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Mari El. The Udmurt population is shrinking; the Russian census reported 637,000 of them in 2002, compared to 746,562 in 1989.


Based on linguistic reconstruction, the prehistoric Permians are assumed to have split into two peoples during the first millennium BC: the Komis and the Udmurts. Around 500 AD, the Komis further divided into the Komi-Permyaks (who remained in the Kama River basin) and the Komi-Zyrians (who migrated north).

The name “Komi” may come from the Udmurt word “kam” (meaning “large river”, particularly the River Kama) or the Udmurt “kum” (meaning “kinfolk”). The scholar Paula Kokkonen favours the derivation “people of the Kama”. The name “Zyrian” is disputed, but may be from a personal name Zyran.

The Komi or Zyrian people is an ethnic group whose homeland is in the north-east of European Russia around the basins of the Vychegda, Pechora and Kama rivers. They mostly live in the Komi Republic, Perm Krai, Murmansk Oblast, Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Federation. They belong to the Permian branch of the Uralic peoples.

The Komis are divided into eight sub-groups. Their northernmost sub-group is also known as the Komi-Izhemtsy (from the name of the river Izhma) or Iz’vataz. This group numbers 15,607. This group is distinct for its more traditional, strongly subsistence based economy which includes reindeer husbandry. Komi-Permyaks (125,235 people) live in Perm Krai (Komi-Yazvas group) and Kirov Oblast (Upper-Kama Komi group) of Russia.

The Komi language belongs to the Permian branch of the Uralic family. There is limited mutual intelligibility with Udmurt. There are three main dialects: Pechora, Udor and Verkhne-Vyshegod. Until the 18th century, Komi was written in the Old Permic alphabet introduced by Saint Stephen of Perm in the 14th century. Cyrillic was used from the 19th century and briefly replaced by the Latin alphabet between 1929 and 1933. The Komi language is currently written in Cyrillic, adding two extra letters – Іі and Ӧӧ – to represent vowel sounds which do not exist in Russian. The first book to be printed in Komi (a vaccination manual) appeared in 1815.

From the 12th century the Russians began to expand into the Perm region and the Komis came into contact with Novgorod. Novgorodian traders travelled to the region in search of furs and animal hides.

The Novgorodians referred to the southern Komi region as “the Great Perm”. Komi dukes unified the Great Perm with its centre at the stronghold of Cherdyn. As the Middle Ages progressed, Novgorod gave way to Moscow as the leading Russian power in the region.

In 1365, Dmitry Donskoy, Prince of Moscow, gave Stephen of Perm the task of converting the region to Christianity. Stephen’s mission led to the creation of the eparchy of Perm in 1383 and, after his death, Stephen became the patron saint of the Komis. He also devised an alphabet for the Komi language.

Nevertheless, some Komis resisted Christianisation, notably the shaman Pama. The Duke of Perm only accepted baptism in 1470 (he was given the Christian name Mikhail), possibly in an attempt to stave off Russian military pressure in the region.

Mikhail’s conversion failed to stop an attack by Moscow which seized Cherdyn in 1472. Mikhail was allowed to keep his title of duke but was now a vassal of Moscow. The duchy only survived until 1505 when Mikhail’s son Matvei was replaced by a Russian governor and Komi independence came to an end.

In the 1500s many Russian migrants began to move into the region, beginning a long process of colonisation and attempts at assimilating the Komis. Syktyvkar was founded as the chief Russian city in the region in the 18th century. The Russian government established penal settlements in the north for criminals and political prisoners.

There were several Komi rebellions in protest against Russian rule and the influx of Slav settlers, especially after large numbers of freed serfs arrived in the region from the 1860s. A national movement to revive Komi culture also emerged.

Russian rule in the area collapsed after World War I and the revolutions of 1917. In the subsequent Russian Civil War, the Bolsheviks fought the Allies for control of the region. The Allied interventionist forces encouraged the Komis to set up their own independent state with the help of political prisoners freed from the local penal colonies.

After the Allies withdrew in 1919, the Bolsheviks took over. They promoted Komi culture but increased industrialisation damaged the Komis’ traditional way of life. Stalin’s purges of the 1930s devastated the Komi intelligentsia, who were accused of “bourgeois nationalism”.

The remote and inhospitable region was also regarded as an ideal location for the prison camps of the Gulag. The influx of political prisoners and the rapid industrialisation of the region as a result of World War II left the Komis a minority in their own lands.

Stalin carried out further purges of the Komi intellectual class in the 1940s and 1950s, and Komi language and culture was suppressed. Since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Komis have reasserted their claims to a separate identity.

Most Komis belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, but their religion often contains traces of pre-Christian beliefs of the traditional mythology of the Komi people of northern Russia. A large number of Komis are Old Believers, which are Christians that separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652 and 1666. Old Believers continue liturgical practices which the Russian Orthodox Church maintained before the implementation of these reforms.


Votes are the oldest known ethnic group in Ingria. They are probably descended from an Iron-age population of north-eastern Estonia and western Ingria. Some scientists claim they were a tribe of Estonians, who developed a separate identity during isolation from other Estonians. It is speculated the ancient Estonian county of Vaiga got its name from Votians. The Kylfings, a people active in Northern Europe during the Viking Age, may have also been Votes.

Earliest literary references of Votes by their traditional name are from middle-age Russian sources, where Votes are referred to as Voď. They were previously considered Chudes together with Estonians in Russian sources, and Lake Peipus near Votian homelands is called Chudsko ozero, meaning “Lake of Chudes” in Russian.

Veliky Novgorod (also Novgorod the Great), or just Novgorod, is one of the oldest cities of Russia, founded in the 9th or 10th century, and most important historic cities in Russia. It serves as the administrative center of Novgorod Oblast. It is situated on the M10 federal highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. The city lies along the Volkhov River just downstream from its outflow from Lake Ilmen. UNESCO recognised Novgorod as a World Heritage Site in 1992.

The Sofia First Chronicle first mentions it in 859; the Novgorod First Chronicle mentions it first in the year 862, when it was allegedly already a major station on the trade route from the Baltics to Byzantium.

Archaeological excavations in the middle to late 20th century, however, have found cultural layers dating back only to the late 10th century, the time of the Christianization of Rus’ and a century after it was allegedly founded, suggesting that the chronicle entries mentioning Novgorod in the 850s or 860s are later interpolations.

In 1069 Votes were mentioned taking part in an attack on the Novgorod Republic by the Principality of Polotsk. Eventually Votes became part of the Novgorod Republic and in 1149 they were mentioned taking part in an attack by Novgorod against Jems who are speculated to be peoples of Tavastia. One of the administrative divisions of Novgorod, Voch’skaa, was named after Votes. After the collapse of Novgorod, the Grand Duchy of Moscow deported many Votes from their homelands and began more aggressive conversion of them.

Missionary efforts started in 1534, after Novgorod’s archbishop Macarius complained to Ivan IV that Votes were still practicing their pagan beliefs. Makarius was authorized to send monk Ilja to convert the Votes. Ilja destroyed many of the old holy shrines and worshiping places. Conversion was slow and the next archbishop Feodosii had to send priest Nikifor to continue Ilja’s work. Slowly Votes were converted and they became devoted Christians.

Sweden controlled Ingria in the 17th century, and attempts to convert local Orthodox believers to the Lutheran faith caused some of the Orthodox population to migrate elsewhere. At the same time many Finnish peoples immigrated to Ingria. Religion separated the Lutheran Finns and Orthodox Izhorians and Votes, so intermarriage was uncommon between these groups. Votes mainly married other Votes, or Izhorians and Russians. They were mostly trilingual in Votic, Izhoran and Russian.

Ingrian (also called Izhorian) is a nearly extinct Finnic language spoken by the (mainly Orthodox) Izhorians of Ingria. It has approximately 120  speakers left, most of whom are aging. It should not be confused with the Southeastern dialects of the Finnish language that became the majority language of Ingria in the 17th century with the influx of Lutheran Finnish immigrants (whose descendants, Ingrian Finns, are often referred to as Ingrians).

The immigration of Lutheran Finns was promoted by Swedish authorities (who gained the area from Russia in 1617), as the local population was (and remained) Orthodox.

In 1848, the number of Votes had been 5,148, (Ariste 1981: 78). but in the Russian census of 1926 there were only 705 left. From the early 20th century on, the Votic language no longer passed to following generations. Most Votes were evacuated to Finland along with Finnish Ingrians during World War II, but were returned to the Soviet Union later.

As a distinct people, Votes have become practically extinct after Stalinist dispersion to distant Soviet provinces as ‘punishment’ for alleged disloyalty and cowardice during World War II. Expelees allowed to return in 1956 found their old homes occupied by Russians.

In 1989, there were still 62 known Votes left, with the youngest born in 1930. There were 73 self-declared Votes in the 2002 Russian census. Of them 12 lived in St. Petersburg, 12 in Leningrad Oblast and 10 in Moscow. In 2008 Votes were added to the list of Indigenous peoples of Russia, granting them some support to preserving their culture.

There have been some conflicts with Votic villagers and foresters, and in 2001 the Votic museum was burned in the village of Lužitsõ. Another possible problem is a port which is being constructed to Ust-Luga. It is planned that some 35,000 people would move near historic Votic and Izhoran villages.

The Votes in Latvia were called krieviņi in Latvian. The word comes from krievs, which means “Russian”. Historical sources indicate the Teutonic Knights led by Vinke von Overberg captured many people in Ingermanland during their attack there in 1444–1447, and moved them to Bauska, where a workforce was needed to build a castle. It is estimated that some 3,000 people were transferred there. After the castle was built, the Votes did not go back, but were settled in the vicinity of Bauska and became farmers.

Gradually, they forgot their own language and customs and were assimilated by the neighboring Latvians. They are first mentioned in literature of 1636. The first “modern” scientist to study them was Finnish Anders Johan Sjögren, but the first person to connect them with Votes was Ferdinand Johan Wiedemann in 1872. Latvian poet Jānis Rainis had some Votic roots.

Most Votes were able to speak Izhorian and Russian as well as the Votic language. In fact, Izhorian was more common in every day use than Votic in some villages. Votic was commonly used with family members, while Russian and Izhorian were used with others. Russian was the only language used in Churches. Votes often referred to themselves as Izores, since this term was more commonly known among others. The term came in use when people wanted to make a difference between Lutheran and Orthodox Finnic populations in Ingria.

The Votic language is still spoken in three villages of historical Votia and by an unknown number of fluent Votic speakers in the countryside. The villages are Jõgõperä (Krakolye), Liivcülä (Peski), and Luuditsa (Luzhitsy).


Arima, Couch of Typhoeus

Arima, couch of Typhoeus, the most deadly monster of Greek mythology, as Homer expresses it, is a hard-to-place site in Greek mythology, said to be where Zeus defeated Typhon and where Echidna dwells. Hylea is pointed to be where was the Echidna’s cave between people Arimi or Harimi, the Greeks on the Euxine believed that this was somewhere in Scythia.

The last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, Typhoeus was known as the “Father of All Monsters”; his wife Echidna (“she viper”), who was half woman half snake, was likewise known as the “Mother of All Monsters” because most of the monsters in Greek myth were mothered by her.

Hesiod’s Theogony described her as: […] the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days.

According to Apollodorus, Echidna was the daughter of Tartarus and Gaia, while according to Hesiod, either Ceto and Phorcys or Chrysaor and the naiad Callirhoe were her parents.

Another account says her parents were Peiras and Styx (according to Pausanias, who did not know who Peiras was aside from her father). Echidna was a drakaina, with the face and torso of a beautiful woman (depicted as winged in archaic vase-paintings) and the body of a serpent, sometimes having two serpent’s tails.

She is also sometimes described, as Karl Kerenyi noted, in archaic vase-painting, with a pair of echidnas performing sacred rites in a vineyard, while on the opposite side of the vessel, goats were attacking the vines: thus chthonic Echidnae are presented as protectors of the vineyard.

The site of her cave Homer calls “Arima, couch of Typhoeus”. When she and her mate attacked the Olympians, Zeus beat them back and punished Typhon by sealing him under Mount Etna. However, Zeus allowed Echidna and her children to live as a challenge to future heroes.

Although to Hesiod, she was an immortal and ageless nymph, according to Apollodorus, Echidna used to “carry off passers-by”, until she was finally killed where she slept by Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant.

Echidna is also sometimes identified as the mother by Heracles, a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus, of Scythes, along with his brothers Agathyrsus and Gelonus, (or Geloni), also known as Helonians (or Heloni).

While Scythes is an eponymous king of the Scythians, Iranic equestrian tribes who were mentioned as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes starting with the 7th century BC up until the 4th century AD, Agathyrsus is an eponymous king of the Agathyrsi, a people of Scythian, or mixed Dacian-Scythian origin, who in the time of Herodotus occupied the plain of the Maris (Mures), in the mountainous part of ancient Dacia now known as Transylvania, Romania.

Herodotus states that the Geloni, which are mentioned as a nation in northwestern Scythia, were originally Hellenes who settled among the Scythian tribe Budini, who according to some researchers were a Finnic tribe ruled by the Scythians, and that they are bilingual in Greek and the Scythian language.

Their capital was called Gelonos or Helonos, originally a Greek market town. In his account of Scythia, Herodotus writes that the Gelonii were formerly Greeks, having settled away from the coastal emporia among the Budini, where they “use a tongue partly Scythian and partly Greek”:

“The Budini for their part, being a large and numerous nation, is all mightily blue-eyed and ruddy. And a city among them has been built, a wooden city, and the name of the city is Gelonus. Of its wall then in size each side is of thirty stades and high and all wooden. And their homes are wooden and their shrines. For indeed there is in the very place Greek gods’ shrines adorned in the Greek way with statues, altars and wooden shrines and for triennial Dionysus festivals in honour of Dionysus…

Above the Sauromatae (Sarmatians), possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair.

The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads; unlike any of the neighbouring races, they eat lice.

Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face.

With the skins of this last the natives border their capotes: and they also get from them a remedy, which is of virtue in diseases of the womb… Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a desert, seven days’ journey across…

The fortified settlement of Gelonus was reached by the Persian army of Darius in his assault on Scythia during the 5th century BC, and burned to the ground, the Budini having abandoned it in their flight before the Persian advance.

The Scythians sent a message to Darius: “We are free as wind and what you can catch in our land is only the wind”. By employing a scorched earth strategy, they avoided battles, leaving “earth without grass” by burning the steppe in front of the advancing Persians (Herodotus). The Persian army returned without a single battle or any significant success.

Recent digs in Bilsk, Ukraine have uncovered a vast city identified by the Kharkov archaeologist Boris Shramko as the Scythian capital Gelonus.

The name according to Herodotus, who took his mythology from “the Greeks who dwell about the Pontos”, derives from their eponymous mythical founder, Gelonus brother of Scythes, sons of Heracles, an expression of observed cultural links in genealogical terms. Herodotus also mentions that the Greeks apply the ethnonym both to the actual Gelonians of Greek origin and by extension to the Budinoi.

At the end of the fourth century AD, Claudian in his Against Rufinus (book 1) polemically portrays the tribes of Scythia as prototypical barbarians: There march against us a mixed horde of Sarmatians and Dacians, the Massagetes who cruelly wound their horses that they may drink their blood, the Alans who break the ice and drink the waters of Maeotis’ lake, and the Geloni who tattoo their limbs: these form Rufinus’ army.

Sidonius Apollinaris, the cultured Gallo-Roman poet of the sixth century, includes Geloni, “milkers of mares” (equimulgae) among tribal allies participating in the Battle of Chalons against Attila in 451 AD.

E.A. Thompson expresses his suspicions about some of these names: The Bastarnae, Bructeri, Geloni and Neuri had disappeared hundreds of years before the times of the Huns, while the Bellonoti had never existed at all: presumably the learned poet was thinking of the Balloniti, a people invented by Valerius Flaccus nearly four centuries earlier.

Later located eastward probably on the middle course of the Volga about Samara, the Budini are described as fair-eyed and red-haired, and lived by hunting in the dense forests.

The 1911 Britannica surmises that they were Fenno-Ugric, of the branch now represented by the Udmurts and Komis (this branch is now called “Permic”), forced northwards by later immigrants. In their country was a wooden city called Gelonos, inhabited with a “distinct race”, the Geloni, who according to Herodotus were Greeks that became assimilated to the Scythians.

Later writers add nothing to our knowledge of the Budini, and are more interested in the tarandus, an animal that dwelt in the woods of the Budini, possibly the reindeer (Aristotle ap. Aelian, Hist. Anim. xv. 33).

The Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language of the Uralic family. Through history they have been known in Russian as Chud Otyatskaya, Otyaks, or Votyaks (most known name), and in Tatar as Ar.

The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort ‘meadow people,’ where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) ‘meadow, glade, turf, greenery’ (related to Finnish itää ‘to germinate, sprout’) and the second part (Udmurt murt ‘person’; cf. Komi mort, Mari mari) is an early borrowing from Indo-Iranian *mertā or *martiya ‘person, man’ (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated Feb. 25, 1557, in which alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi ‘meadow people’.

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name ‘meadow people’ refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river general. Recently, the most relevant is the version of V. V. Napolskikh and S. K. Belykh. They suppose that ethnonym was borrowed from the Iranian entirely: *anta-marta ‘resident of outskirts, border zone’ (cf. Antes) → Proto-Permic *odə-mort → Udmurt udmurt.

Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas: Kirov Oblast and Perm Krai of Russia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Mari El.

Anthropologists relate Udmurts to the Urals branch of Europeans. Most of them are of the middle size, often have blue or gray eyes, high cheek-bones and wide face. The Udmurt people are not of an athletic build but they are very hardy and there have been claims that they are the “most red-headed” people in the world. Additionally, the ancient Budini tribe, which is speculated to be an ancestor of the modern Udmurts, were described by Herodotus as being predominantly red-headed.

Typhon was described in pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke, as the largest and most fearsome of all creatures. His human upper half reached as high as the stars, and his hands reached east and west. Instead of a human head, a hundred dragon heads erupted from his neck and shoulders (some, however, depict him as having a human head, with the dragon heads replacing the fingers on his hands).

His bottom half consisted of gigantic viper coils that could reach the top of his head when stretched out and constantly made a hissing noise. His whole body was covered in wings, and fire flashed from his eyes, striking fear even into the Olympians.

Typhon attempts to destroy Zeus at the will of Gaia, because Zeus had imprisoned the Titans. Typhon overcomes Zeus in their first battle, and tears out Zeus’ sinews. However, Hermes recovers the sinews and restores them to Zeus. Typhon is finally defeated by Zeus, who traps him underneath Mount Etna.

Typhon may be derived from the Greek (typhein), to smoke, hence it is considered to be a possible etymology for the word typhoon, supposedly borrowed by the Persians (as Tufân) and Arabs to describe the cyclonic storms of the Indian Ocean.

The Greeks also frequently represented him as a storm-demon, especially in the version where he stole Zeus’s thunderbolts and wrecked the earth with storms (cf. Hesiod, Theogony; Nonnus, Dionysiaca).

Typhon was known to be a large humanoid beast. Typhon was the last child of Gaia. After the defeat of his brothers, the Gigantes, Gaia urged him to avenge them, as well as his other brothers, the Titans.

In the alternative account of the origin of Typhon (Typhoeus), the Homeric Hymn to Apollo makes the monster Typhaon at Delphi a son of archaic Hera in her Minoan form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus or Mars, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia and confined there in the enigmatic Arima, or land of the Arimoi, en Arimois (Iliad, ii. 781–783).

It was in Cilicia that Zeus battled with the ancient monster and overcame him, in a more complicated story: It was not an easy battle, and Typhon temporarily overcame Zeus, cut the “sinews” from him and left him in the “leather sack”, the korukos that is the etymological origin of the korukion andron, the Korykian or Corycian Cave located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in Greece in which Zeus suffers temporary eclipse as if in the Land of the Dead.

The region of Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia had many opportunities for coastal Hellenes’ connection with the Hittites to the north. From its first reappearance, the Hittite myth of Illuyankas has been seen as a prototype of the battle of Zeus and Typhon.

Walter Burkert and Calvert Watkins each note the close agreements. Watkins’ How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press) 1995, reconstructs in disciplined detail the flexible Indo-European poetic formula that underlies myth, epic and magical charm texts of the lashing and binding of Typhon.

Since Herodotus, Typhon has been identified by some scholars with the Egyptian Set. In the Orphic tradition, Typhon leads the Titans when they attack and kill Dionysus, just as Set is responsible for the murder of Osiris. Furthermore, the slaying of Typhon by Zeus bears similarities to the killing of Vritra by Indra (a deity also associated with lightning and storms), and possibly the two stories are ultimately derived from a common Indo-European source.

Similarities can be found in the battle between Thor and Jormungand from Norse myths, as well as (perhaps) an incident in the Irish Metrical Dindsenchas in which the Dagda fights a giant octopus. Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job.

Comparisons can also be drawn with the Mesopotamian monster Tiamat and its slaying by Babylonian chief god Marduk. The similarities between the Greek myth and its earlier Mesopotamian counterpart do not seem to be merely accidental. A number of west Semitic (Ras Shamra) and Hittite sources appear to corroborate the theory of a genetic relationship between the two myths.

In the Iliad, following the catalogue of ships, Homer returns to describing the tramp of the huge Achaean army; it is like the resounding earth beneath the “anger of Zeus who delights in thunder, whenever he lashes the ground around Typhoeus in Arima (en Arimois), where they say is Typhoeus’ bed”. “Even the ancients were uncertain,” Robin Lane Fox observes, in preface to offering an identification of “Arima”.

Some readers have assumed that an unattested people, the Arimoi, were intended. Homer’s interjection “they say” seems to place Arima at a certain remove from his experience and those of his hearers. “It is clear that ancient critics did not know which region this signified,” comments G.S. Kirk concerning this passage.

Hesiod remarks that “Arima” is where Echidna, the chthonic mate of Typhon, dwells, “there in earth’s secret places. For there she has her cave on the underside of a hollow rock, far from the immortal gods, and far from all mortals. There the gods ordained her a fabulous home to live in which she keeps underground among the Arimoi, grisly Ekhidna.”

A fragment from a lost poem of Pindar notes that in the “highly celebrated Corycian cave”, “once, among the Arimoi” Zeus had battered Thyphoeus, with “fifty” heads.

Strabo gives a brief list of the places where “Arima” had been sited by previous writers: Lydia, Syria, Cilicia, and even Sicily and the west.

Fox notes that in north Syria, where the early Greek trading post of Al Mina lay, the presence, from the ninth century onwards, the presence of “Aramaeans”, speaking and writing Aramaic. Even earlier, royal Assyrian texts of c. 1060 refers to a land A-ri-me, A-ri-mi or A-ra-me eastwards in Mesopotamia; its people recur in a text of Sargon c. 710 BCE A-ra-me.

The truth is more subtle than a simple identification with such a “distant hint”, as Fox demonstrates, linking myth, surviving inscriptions and other documentation to identify “Arima” with the territory surrounding the Corycian cave, an identification first made by Alexander’s historical advisor, Callisthenes: “the Arimoi are located by the Corycian cave near Calycadnus and the promontory of Sarpedon; the neighboring mountains are called ‘Arima'”.

Fox confirms Callisthenes with an inscription in the temple built at the cave’s entrance that records a visitor’s propitiation of Pan and Hermes, at this “broad recess in the earth at Arima”; Hermes and goat-Pan (Aigipan) rescued Zeus, deprived of his “sinews” from his first defeat at the hands of Typhon.

Fox notes that “in inscriptions found at the nearby settlement of Corycos, Zeus is specifically entitled the ‘Zeus of Victory,’ referring to his victory, therefore, in the war with Typhon”; he also notes in passing the earlier Hittite place name Erimma in Cilicia.

Corycus was an ancient city in Cilicia Trachaea, Anatolia, located at the mouth of the river called Şeytan deresi; the site is now occupied by the town of Kızkalesi (formerly Ghorgos), Mersin Province, Turkey.

In the Corycian Cave (now Cennet ve Cehennem), 20 stadia inland, says Strabo, the best crocus (saffron) grows. He describes this cave as a great hollow, of a circular form, surrounded by a margin of rock, on all sides of a considerable height; on descending into this cavity, the ground is found to be uneven and generally rocky, and it is filled with shrubs, both evergreen and cultivated; in some parts the saffron is cultivated: there is also a cave here which contains a large source, which pours forth a river of pure, pellucid water, but it immediately sinks into the earth, and flowing underground enters the sea: they call it the Bitter Water.

Pomponius Mela (i.13) has a long description of the same place apparently from the same authority that Strabo followed, but more embellished. This place is probably on the top of the mountain above Corycus.

This place is famed in Greek mythology. It is the Cilician cave of Pindar (Pythian Ode i. 31), and of Aeschylus (Prom. Vinct. 350), and as Arima, couch of Typhoeus, it is the lair of Zeus’ fiercest opponent, the giant Typhon or Typhoeus.

Cennet and Cehennem (English: heaven and hell) are the names of two big sinkholes on the Taurus Mountains, in Mersin Province, Turkey. They are situated next to each other in the rural area of Silifke district which in turn is a part of Mersin Province.

Top opening of Cennet is 250 x 110 m2 ( 820 x 360 ft2 ) and its average dept is 70 metres (230 ft). It is possible to reach the bottom of Cennet by a primitive staircase composed of 300 steps. At the bottom towards south, there is a smaller and 150 steps deeper cave. In this cave are the ruins of a monastery built in the 5th century by a certain Paulus and dedicated to Virgin Mary. In this monastery one can hear the sound of a small underground stream from the monastery to the gulf of Narlıkuyu.

Cehennem is a deeper sinkhole with a depth of 128 metres (420 ft). But its top opening is smaller with dimensions 70 x 50 m2 ( 210 x 150 ft2 ) . More over, the upper edge of the opening is concave. So, it is impossible to reach the bottom of Cehennem.

In antiquity this coast was part of Cilicia, named for a Phoenician or Assyrian prince that had settled here. Trade from Syria and Mesopotamia over the mountains to central Anatolia passed through here, through the Cilician Gates. The geographer Strabo, described the region as being divided into “Rugged Cilicia” and “Flat Cilicia”. The capital of both sections of Cilicia was Tarsus and Mersin was its seaport.

The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m.

The Cilician Gates have been a major commercial and military artery for millennia. In the early 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway was built through them, and today, the Tarsus-Ankara Highway (E90, O-21) passes through them.

The southern end of the Cilician gates is about 44 km north of Tarsus and the northern end leads to Cappadocia.

Yumuktepe (modern Mersin), which guards the Adana side of the gateway, with 23 layers of occupation, is at 4,500 BCE, one of the oldest fortified settlements in the world. The ancient pathway was a track for mule caravans, not wheeled vehicles. In ancient history the Hittites, Greeks, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Mongols, and the Crusaders have all traveled this route during their campaigns. The Bible testifies that Saint Paul of Tarsus and Silas went this way as they went through Syria and Cilicia. The Book of Galatians speaks of the cities of Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium – cities visited by Paul on his first journey (Acts 14; Gal. 1:2), with the purpose of strengthening their churches, at the beginning of the second preaching journey (Acts 15:40-41).

The distance from the Anatolian plateau to the Cilician plain is about 110 kilometres (68 mi). In ancient times this was a journey of nearly five days. Saint Paul spoke, according to the Bible, about being in “dangers from rivers” and “dangers from robbers” (2 Cor. 11:26). This may explain why at 4.500 BCE, at the South Eastern end of the Cilician Gates was one of the world’s first existing fortresses (later Mersin). The Army of the Ten Thousand, Alexander the Great before the Battle of Issus, Paul of Tarsus on his way to the Galatians, and part of the army of the First Crusade all passed through the Cilician Gates, the site of the medieval fortress of Baberon (or Barbaron), then a stronghold of the medieval Armenian Principality of Cilicia.

When German engineers were working on the railroad link between Haydarpaşa Terminal in Istanbul, at the shore of the Sea of Marmara and Baghdad, they were unable to follow the steep-pitched, narrow, and tightly winding ancient track through the pass. The series of viaducts and tunnels they built are among the marvels of railroad engineering. The route was opened in 1918; the narrow-gauge working line moved Ottoman troops and war material to the Mesopotamian front in the closing months of World War I.


Ugaritic Baal and Anat Cycle

Ugaritic Baal and Anat Cycle

Baal Cycle


The Taurus Mountains – The place of the thunder gods

The Taurus Mountains

The Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east. It is a part of the Alpide belt in Eurasia.

The bull

The bull was commonly the symbol and depiction of ancient Near Eastern storm gods, hence Taurus the bull, etc., and hence the name of the mountains. The mountains are a place of many ancient storm-god temples (Alberto Ravinell and Whitney Green, The Storm-god in the Ancient Near East, p. 126).

Torrential thunderstorms in these mountains were deemed by the ancient Syrians to be the work of the storm-god Adad to make the Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise and flood and thereby fertilise their land (H.W.F. Saggs, The greatness that was Babylon: a survey of the ancient civilization of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, Sidgwick & Jackson, 2nd Revised edition, 1988, p. 380).

The pass known in antiquity as the Cilician Gates crosses the range north of Tarsus. During World War I, a German and Turkish railway system through the Taurus Mountains proved to be a major strategic objective of the Allies. This region was specifically mentioned as a strategically controlled objective slated for surrender to the Allies in the Armistice, which ended hostilities against the Ottoman Empire.


Kummanni (Hittite: Kummiya) was the name the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. It was the center of the kingdom, situated in the highlands. Primarily a Hurrian state, with a capital at Kummanni, Kizzuwatna remained an independent power until the late fifteenth century, when it was conquered by the Hurrian state of Mitanni.

The city of Kummanni persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Its location is uncertain, but the Hittite toponym Kummanni is considered likely to refer to the classical settlement of Comana (Latin: Comana Cataoniae; frequently called Comana Chryse or Aurea, i.e. “the golden”, to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus) and later Cataonia in Cappadocia, and later Cataonia, but the identification is not considered proven. Its ruins are at the modern Turkish village of Şar, Tufanbeyli district, Adana Province.

Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, the mighty weather god Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.” Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kummani was the Araratian (Urartian) weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. He formed part of a triad along with Khaldi, also known as Khaldi, or Hayk, of Ardini (the name of the founder of the Armenian nation and the Armenian name of the Armenian nation), and the solar god Shivini, or Artinis, of Tushpa, (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”) and it persists in Armenian names to this day).

The ancient Araratian cities of Teyseba and Teishebaini were named after Theispas. He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, and the Hurrian god, Teshub. He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) panthenon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi, a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Another epithet for the city of Comana, found in inscriptions, is Hieropolis ‘sacred city’, owing to a famous temple of the Syrian Moon goddess Enyo or, in the local language: Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria).

Men, also known at Antioch in Pisidia as Men Ascaënus, was a god worshipped in the western interior parts of Anatolia. The roots of the Men cult may go back to Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC. Ancient writers describe Men as a local god of the Phrygians.

Lunar symbolism dominates his iconography. The god is usually shown with a crescent like open horns on his shoulders, and he is described as the god presiding over the months. He is depicted with a Phrygian cap and a belted tunic. He may be accompanied by bulls and lions in religious artwork. The iconography of Men partly recalls that of Mithras, who also wears a Phrygian cap and is commonly depicted with a bull and symbols of the sun and moon.

Dr Mehmet Taşlıalan, who has studied the remains of Antioch in Pisidia, has remarked that the people who settled on the acropolis in the Greek colonial era, carried the Men Askaenos cult down to the plain as Patrios Theos and in the place where the Augusteum was built there are some signs of this former cult as bucrania on the rock-cut walls. The Imperial Temple also features an unusual bucranium frieze.

In later times, Men may have been identified with both Attis,  the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology, of Phrygia and Sabazius, the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians, of Thrace; he may shared a common origin with the Zoroastrian lunar divinity Mah, the Avestan language word for both the moon and for the Zoroastrian divinity that presides over and is the hypostasis of the moon.

Strabo and Julius Caesar visited it; the former enters into long details about its position in a deep valley on the Sarus (Seihoun) river. The temple and its fame in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian nature-goddess, were celebrated with much solemnity.


The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa. Kumarbi, the son of Anu (the sky) and the father of the storm god Teshub, is the chief god of the Hurrians. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. His home, as described in mythology, is the city of Urkesh.

Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”, CTH 344), the Song of Ullikummi (CTH 345), the Kingship of the God KAL (CTH 343), the Myth of the dragon Hedammu (CTH 348), the Song of Silver (CTH 364).

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible.

The song relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

In the Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, as such the Hurrian creation myth most likely shares a Proto-Indo-European cognate with the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god. The Phrygian goddess Cybele would then be the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Hebat, Hepa; his wife, the mother goddess, regarded as the Sun goddess among the Hittites. Drawn from the Sumerian goddess Kubau, known as Hawwah, also known as Eve amongst the Aramaeans and some others.

Teshub’s brothers are Tigris (personification of the river), Ullikummi (stone giant), a giant stone monster, son of Kumarbi and the sea god’s daughter [Ullikummi’s older brother, Hedammu, is a sea monster and appropriately the son of the sea god’s daughter, Sertapsuruhi; Ullikummi himself is Kumarbi’s son by a female cliff], and Tashmishu.

In Hittite and Hurrian mythology, Aranzah (or Aranzahas in the Hittite nominative form) is the Hurrian name of the Tigris River, which was divinized. He was the son of Kumarbi and the brother of Teshub and Tašmišu, one of the three gods spat out of Kumarbi’s mouth onto Mount Kanzuras. Later he colluded with Anu and the Teshub to destroy Kumarbi (The Kumarbi Cycle).

Ishkur in Sumerian, Adad in Akkadian, Amurru in Amoritic and Hadad in Aramaic

Kummanni, also known as Kumme, was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, generally considered to be the first King of Assyria in the Neo-Assyrian period, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.”

Adad-nirari II is generally considered to be the first King of Assyria in the Neo-Assyrian period. He firmly subjugated the areas previously under only nominal Assyrian vassalage, conquering and deporting troublesome Aramean, Neo-Hittite and Hurrian populations in the north to far-off places.

Adad-nirari II then twice attacked and defeated Shamash-mudammiq of Babylonia, annexing a large area of land north of the Diyala River and the towns of Hīt and Zanqu in mid Mesopotamia. He made further gains over Babylonia under Nabu-shuma-ukin I later in his reign. He also campaigned to the west, subjugating the Aramean cities of Kadmuh and Nisibin. Along with vast amounts of treasure collected, he also secured the Kabur river region.

Ishkur in Sumerian, Adad in Akkadian, Amurru in Amoritic and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. All three are usually written by the logogram dIM. The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad.

In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (MAR.TU).

Amurru/Martu was probably a western Semitic god originally. He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

Amurru also has storm-god features. Like Adad, Amurru bears the epithet ramān ‘thunderer’, and he is even called bāriqu ‘hurler of the thunderbolt’ and Adad ša a-bu-be ‘Adad of the deluge’. Yet his iconography is distinct from that of Adad, and he sometimes appears alongside Adad with a baton of power or throwstick, while Adad bears a conventional thunderbolt.

Amurru’s wife is sometimes the goddess Ašratum (see Asherah) who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god. If Amurru was identical with Ēl, it would explain why so few Amorite names are compounded with the name Amurru, but so many are compounded with Il; that is, with Ēl.

The Baal Cycle is a Ugaritic cycle of stories about the Canaanite god Baal, also known as Hadad the god of rain, storm and fertility. They are written in Ugaritic, a language written in a cuneiform alphabet, on a series of clay tablets found in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), situated on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, a few kilometers north of the modern city of Latakia, far ahead of the now known coast.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead. Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inana/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil. Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

The lamassu

A lamassu is a protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion’s body, eagle’s wings, and human’s head. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

The lamassu is a celestial being from Mesopotamian mythology. Human above the waist and a bull below the waist, it also has the horns and the ears of a bull. It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art, sometimes with wings. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances.[citation needed] The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.


Adana’s name has had many different versions over the centuries: Adanos, Ta Adana, Uru Adaniya, Erdene, Edene, Ezene, Batana, Atana, Azana, Addane. The city Adana in southern Turkey is situated on the Seyhan River, 30 kilometres (19 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, in south-central Anatolia. It is the administrative seat of the Adana Province and has a population of 1.6 million, making it the most populated city of the region. It is a major agricultural and commercial center.

Adana-Mersin metropolitan area, with a population of over 3 million, stretches over 70 kilometres (43 miles) from east to west and 25 kilometres (16 miles) from north to south; encompassing the cities of Mersin, Tarsus and Adana.

Adana Province is a province of Turkey located in south-central Anatolia. With a population of 2,085,225, it is the fifth most populous province in Turkey. The administrative seat of the province is the city of Adana, home to 78% of the residents of the province.

Adana is located in the heart of Çukurova, historically known as Cilicia, at the northeastern edge of the Mediterranean, where it serves as the gateway to the Çukurova plain, which has historically been known in the West as the Cilicia plain. This large stretch of flat, fertile land covers a geographical, economical and cultural region that includes the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye, and Hatay southeast of the Taurus Mountains. Home to approximately six million people, the region is mostly a large stretch of flat, fertile land regarded as one of the most agriculturally productive areas of the world.

From Adana, crossing the Çukurova westwards, the road from Tarsus enters the foothills of the Taurus Mountains. The temperature decreases with every foot of ascent, as the road reaches an altitude of nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m). It goes through the famous Cilician Gates, the rocky pass through which armies have coursed since the dawn of history, and continues to the Anatolian plain.

This region lies to the north-east of Cyprus, on the southern Anatolian coast where it meets Syria, stretching from its eastern plains (Celicia Pedias, or ‘flat’) to the rugged western section (Celicia Trachea, or ‘rugged’), formed by spurs of the Taurus mountains.

The history of the Tepebağ tumulus in the middle of Adana dates to the Neolithic Period, 6000 B.C., and the time of the first human settlements. It is considered to be the oldest city of the Çukurova region. A place called Adana is mentioned by name in a Sumerian epic, the Epic of Gilgamesh, but the geography of this work is too imprecise to identify its location.

Although it had been inhabited since the eighth millennium BC, it first emerged into history during the Hittite period where it formed part of Kizzuwatna, which according to the Hittite inscription of Kava, found in Hattusa (Boğazkale), was the first kingdom that ruled the ancient city of Adaniya, under the protection of the Hittites by 1335 BC.

At that time, the name of the city was Uru Adaniyya, and the inhabitants were called Danuna, and was one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples, who were of Indo-European origin.

Beginning with the collapse of the Hittite Empire, c. 1191-1189 BC, invasions from the west caused a number of small kingdoms to take control of the plain, as follows: Quwê Assyrians, 9th century BC; Persians, 6th century BC; Alexander the Great in 333 BC; Seleucids; the pirates of Cilicia; Roman statesman Pompey the Great; and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Cilician Kingdom).

Khilakku (Cilicia) was a Luwian-speaking neo-Hittite state which emerged in former south-western Kizzuwatna in the mid-ninth century BC. It occupied a pocket of territory on the fertile coastal plains of Çukurova, ancient Cilicia, which was sandwiched between Tabal to the north and the kingdom of Que to the east. Its earlier Anatolian name of Khilikku came to be known as Cilicia by later Greeks and Romans.

In the 5th century BC Cilicia is invaded and annexed by Babylonian king Nergalsharusur, although some sources state that Appuashu resists him. The Persians take control of Cilicia. Although Appuashu probably resists again, this time he is unsuccessful and probably becomes a vassal for a decade or so. The region eventually forms part of the wide swathe of lands under the control of the Armenians and later the Lesser Armenians.

The history of Adana is intrinsically linked to the history of Tarsus, a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. They often seem to be the same city, moving as the neighbouring Seyhan River changed its position. Their respective names also changed over the course of the centuries. Adana was of relatively minor importance during the Roman’s influential period, while nearby Tarsus was the metropolis of the area.

Tarsus was located at the crossing of several important trade routes, linking Anatolia to Syria and beyond. Because the ruins are covered by the modern city, archaeology has barely touched the ancient city.

The ancient name is Tarsos, derived from “Tarsa”, the original name of the city in the Hittite language, which was possibly derived from a pagan god, Tarku, as Hittites were the first settlers. Excavation of the mound of Gözlükule, a tumulus within the borders of Tarsus city, Mersin Province, reveals that the prehistorical development of Tarsus reaches back to the Neolithic Period and continues unbroken through Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages.

With a history going back over 6,000 years, Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders, a focal point of many civilisations including the Roman Empire, when Tarsus was capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, where Paul the Apostle was born.

Located on the mouth of the Berdan River (Cydnus of the antiquity), which empties into the Mediterranean Sea, Tarsus is a junction point of land and sea routes connecting the Cilician plain (today called Çukurova), central Anatolia and the Mediterranean sea. The climate is typical of the Mediterranean region, summers very very hot, winters chilly and damp.

Initially settled in the Neolithic Period, Gözlükule became an important settlement and a port during the 2nd millennium BC. It was located at the intersection of the main road systems, one following the Mediterranean sea side, the other following valleys through Toros Mountains to Anatolian plateau (so called Cicilian Gates). Eventually the city of Tarsus was established just north of Gözlükule. But Gözlükule was still active as the port of Cilicia. In 41 BC Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony entered Tarsus using the port of Gözlükule.

During the era of Pompey, the city was used as a prison for the pirates of Cilicia. For several centuries thereafter, it was a waystation on a Roman military road leading to the East. After the permanent split of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the area became a part of the Byzantine Empire, and was probably developed during the time of Julian the Apostate.

With the construction of large bridges, roads, government buildings, irrigation and plantation, Adana and Cilicia became the most developed and important trade centers of the region. Ayas (today Yumurtalık), and Kozan (formerly Sis) were the other major urban and administrative centers in the area, especially during the period of the Cilicians.

Tarsus has a long history of commerce and is still a commercial centre today, trading in the produce of the fertile Çukurova plain; also Tarsus is a thriving industrial centre of refining and processing that produces some for export. Industries include agricultural machinery, spare parts, textiles, fruit-processing, brick building and ceramics.

Agriculture is an important source of income, half of the land area in the district is farmland (1,050 km²) and most of the remainder is forest and orchard. The farmland is mostly well-irrigated, fertilised and managed with the latest equipment.


The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m.

The Cilician Gates have been a major commercial and military artery for millennia. In the early 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway was built through them, and today, the Tarsus-Ankara Highway (E90, O-21) passes through them.

The southern end of the Cilician gates is about 44 km north of Tarsus and the northern end leads to Cappadocia. This coast has been inhabited since the 9th millennium BC.

Cilicia was settled from the Neolithic period onwards. Dating of the ancient settlements of the region from Neolithic to Bronze Age is as follows: Aceramic/Neolithic: 8th and 7th millennia BC; Early Chalcolithic: 5800 BC; Middle Chalcolithic (correlated with Halaf and Ubaid developments in the east): c. 5400-4500 BC; Late Chalcolithic: 4500- c. 3400 BC; and Early Bronze Age IA: 3400-3000 BC; EBA IB: 3000-2700 BC; EBA II: 2700-2400 BC; EBA III A-B: 2400-2000 BC.

In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine Empire. Cilicia extends inland from the southeastern coast of modern Turkey, due north and northeast of the island of Cyprus.

Cilicia extended along the Mediterranean coast east from Pamphylia, to the Amanus Mountains, which separated it from Syria. North and east of Cilicia lie the rugged Taurus Mountains that separate it from the high central plateau of Anatolia, which are pierced by a narrow gorge, called in Antiquity the Cilician Gates.

Ancient Cilicia was naturally divided into Cilicia Trachaea and Cilicia Pedias divided by the Lamas Su. Salamis, the city on the east coast of Cyprus, was included in its administrative jurisdiction.

The Greeks invented for Cilicia an eponymous Hellene founder in the purely mythic King Cilix, but the historic founder of the dynasty that ruled Cilicia Pedias was Mopsus, identifiable in Phoenician sources as Mpš, the founder of Mopsuestia who gave his name to an oracle nearby. Homer mentions the people of Mopsus, identified as Cilices, as from the Troad in the northernwesternmost part of the peninsula.

The kings of Adana are traced from the “house of Mopsos,” given in hieroglyphic Luwian as Moxos and in Phoenician as Mopsos, in the form mps. They were called the Dananiyim. The area also reports a Mopsukrene (Mopsus’ fountain in Greek) and a Mopsuhestia (Mopsus’ hearth in Greek), also in Cilicia.

Mopsus or Mopsos was the name of two famous seers in Greek mythology. A historical or legendary Mopsos or Mukšuš may have been the founder of a house in power at widespread sites in the coastal plains of Pamphylia and Cilicia (today’s Turkey) during the early Iron Age.

Mopsus, a celebrated seer and diviner, was the son of Manto, daughter of the mythic seer Tiresias, and of Rhacius of Caria or of Apollo himself, the oracular god. Greeks of the Classical age accepted Mopsus as a historical figure, though the anecdotes concerning him bridge legend and myth.

Cilicia Trachea (“rugged Cilicia”; the Assyrian Khilakku or Khilikku, also sometimes transcribed as Hilakku or Hilikku, classical “Cilicia”) is a rugged mountain district formed by the spurs of Taurus, which often terminate in rocky headlands with small sheltered harbors, a feature which, in classical times, made the coast a string of havens for pirates, but which in the Middle Ages led to its occupation by Genoese and Venetian traders.

The district is watered by the Calycadnus and was covered in ancient times by forests that supplied timber to Phoenicia and Egypt. Cilicia lacked large cities.

Cilicia Pedias (“flat Cilicia”— Greek: Κιλικία Πεδιάς; Assyrian Kue), to the east, included the rugged spurs of Taurus and a large coastal plain, with rich loamy soil, known to the Greeks such as Xenophon, who passed through with his 10,000 Greek mercenaries, for its abundance (euthemia), filled with sesame and millet and olives and pasturage for the horses imported by Solomon. Many of its high places were fortified.

The plain is watered by the three great rivers, the Cydnus (Tarsus Çay), the Sarus (Seyhan) and the Pyramus (Ceyhan), each of which brings down much silt from the deforested interior and which fed extensive wetlands. The Sarus now enters the sea almost due south of Tarsus, but there are clear indications that at one period it joined the Pyramus, and that the united rivers ran to the sea west of Kara-tash. Through the rich plain of Issus ran the great highway that linked east and west, on which stood the cities of Tarsus (Tarsa) on the Cydnus, Adana (Adanija) on the Sarus, and Mopsuestia (Missis) on the Pyramus.

The area had been known as Kizzuwatna in the earlier Hittite era (2nd millennium BC). The region was divided into two parts, Uru Adaniya (flat Cilicia), a well-watered plain, and “rough” Cilicia (Tarza), in the mountainous west.

The Cilicians appear as Khilikku in Assyrian inscriptions, and in the early part of the first millennium BC were one of the four chief powers of western Asia. Homer mentions the plain as the “Aleian plain” in which Bellerophon wandered, but he transferred the Cilicians far to the west and north and made them allies of Troy. The Cilician cities unknown to Homer already bore their pre-Greek names: Tarzu (Tarsus), Ingira (Anchiale), Danuna-Adana, which retains its ancient name, Pahri (perhaps modern Misis), Kundu (Kyinda, then Anazarbus) and Karatepe.

There exists evidence that circa 1650 BC both Hittite kings Hattusili I and Mursili I enjoyed freedom of movement along the Pyramus River (now the Ceyhan River in southern Turkey), proving they exerted strong control over Cilicia in their battles with Syria.

After the death of Murshili around 1595 BC, Hurrians wrested control from the Hitties, and Cilicia was free for two centuries. The first king of free Cilicia, Isputahsu, son of Pariyawatri, was recorded as a “great king” in both cuneiform and Hittite hieroglyphs. Another record of Hittite origins, a treaty between Ishputahshu and Telepinu, king of the Hittites, is recorded in both Hittite and Akkadian.

In the next century, Cilician king Pilliya finalized treaties with both King Zidanta II of the Hittites and Idrimi of Alalakh, in which Idrimi mentions that he had assaulted several military targets throughout Eastern Cilicia.

Niqmepa, who succeeded Idrimi as king of Alalakh, went so far as to ask for help from a Hurrian rival, Shaushtatar of Mitanni, to try and reduce Cilicia’s power in the region. It was soon apparent, however, that increased Hittite power would soon prove Niqmepa’s efforts to be futile, as the city of Kizzuwatna soon fell to the Hittites, threatening all of Cilicia. King Sunassura II was forced soon after to accept vassalization under the Hittites, and became the last king of ancient Cilicia.

In the 13th century BC, a major population shift occurred as the Sea Peoples, named by Egyptians as part Philistine, Sicilian, Tyrrhenian, Etruscan and Sardinian, overran Cilicia. The Hurrians that resided there deserted the area and moved northeast towards the Taurus, where they settled in the area of Cappadocia.

In the 8th century BC, the region was unified under the rule of the dynasty of Mukšuš, whom the Greeks rendered Mopsos and credited as the founder of Mopsuestia, though the capital was Adana. Its multicultural character is reflected in the bilingual inscriptions of the 9th and 8th centuries, written both in Indo-European hieroglyphic Luwian and West Semitic Phoenician.

In the 9th century BC the Assyrians began to conquer the region, and it became part of the Assyrian Empire until the late 7th century BC.

Under the Persian empire Cilicia was apparently governed by tributary native kings, who bore a Hellenized name or title of “Syennesis”; but it was officially included in the fourth satrapy by Darius. Xenophon found a queen in power, and no opposition was offered to the march of Cyrus the Younger.

The great highway from the west existed before Cyrus conquered Cilicia. On its long rough descent from the Anatolian plateau to Tarsus, it ran through the narrow pass between walls of rock called the Cilician Gates. After crossing the low hills east of the Pyramus it passed through a masonry (Cilician) gate, Demir Kapu, and entered the plain of Issus.

From that plain one road ran southward through another masonry (Syrian) gate to Alexandretta, and thence crossed Mt. Amanus by the Syrian Gate, Beilan Pass, eventually to Antioch and Syria; and another ran northwards through a masonry (Armenian) gate, south of Toprak Kale, and crossed Mt. Amanus by the Armenian Gate, Baghche Pass, to northern Syria and the Euphrates.

By the last pass, which was apparently unknown to Alexander, Darius crossed the mountains prior to the battle of Issus. Both passes are short and easy, and connect Cilicia Pedias geographically and politically with Syria rather than with Asia Minor.


Excavations by John Garstang of the hill of Yumuktepe (modern Mersin), which guards the Adana side of the gateway, have revealed 23 levels of occupation, the earliest dating from ca. 6300 BC. In the layer which corresponds to roughly 4500 BC, one of the oldest fortified settlements in human history exists, but the site appears to have been abandoned between 350 BC and 300 BC.

In his book named Prehistoric Mersin Garstang lists the tools unearthed in the excavations. The earliest tools are made of either stone or ceramic. Both agriculture and animal husbandry (sheep, cattle goats and porke) were among the economic activities in Yumuktepe.

According to Isabella Caneva, during chalcolithic age an early copper blast furnace was in use in Yumuktepe. Probably Yumuktepe was a coastal settlement. But because of the alluvion carried by the nearby river Müftü, now the mound is 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) north of the Mediterranean shore.

During historical era, Yumuktepe was a part of Kizuwatna a vassal kingdom of Hittite Empire. In a document of 1440 BC, the city of Pitura had been mentioned. Pitura might be the ancient name of the settlement. It seems, like most Hittite lands, sea people from Europe plundered Yumuktepe in 13th century BC. A second blow was from Assyrian Empire from Upper Mesopotamia.

In subsequent centuries, the city became a part of many states and civilizations including the Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids and Lagids. During the Ancient Greek period, the city bore the name Zephyrion and was mentioned by numerous ancient authors.

Apart from its natural harbor and strategic position along the trade routes of southern Anatolia, the city profited from trade in molybdenum (white lead) from the neighbouring mines of Coreyra. Ancient sources attributed the best molybdenum to the city, which also minted its own coins.

The area later became a part of the Roman province of Cilicia, which had its capital at Tarsus, while nearby Mersin was the major port. The city, whose name was Latinized to Zephyrium, was renamed as Hadrianopolis in honor of the Roman emperor Hadrian. During early Byzantine Empire, the nearby settlement of Soli (10 kilometres (6.2 mi) at the west) flourished and Yumuk was abandoned.

The ancient pathway was a track for mule caravans, not wheeled vehicles. In ancient history the Hittites, Greeks, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Mongols, and the Crusaders have all traveled this route during their campaigns. The Bible testifies that Saint Paul of Tarsus and Silas went this way as they went through Syria and Cilicia. The Book of Galatians speaks of the cities of Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium – cities visited by Paul on his first journey (Acts 14; Gal. 1:2), with the purpose of strengthening their churches, at the beginning of the second preaching journey (Acts 15:40-41).

The distance from the Anatolian plateau to the Cilician plain is about 110 kilometres (68 mi). In ancient times this was a journey of nearly five days. Saint Paul spoke, according to the Bible, about being in “dangers from rivers” and “dangers from robbers” (2 Cor. 11:26). This may explain why at 4.500 BCE, at the South Eastern end of the Cilician Gates was one of the world’s first existing fortresses (later Mersin). The Army of the Ten Thousand, Alexander the Great before the Battle of Issus, Paul of Tarsus on his way to the Galatians, and part of the army of the First Crusade all passed through the Cilician Gates, the site of the medieval fortress of Baberon (or Barbaron), then a stronghold of the medieval Armenian Principality of Cilicia.

When German engineers were working on the railroad link between Haydarpaşa Terminal in Istanbul, at the shore of the Sea of Marmara and Baghdad, they were unable to follow the steep-pitched, narrow, and tightly winding ancient track through the pass. The series of viaducts and tunnels they built are among the marvels of railroad engineering. The route was opened in 1918; the narrow-gauge working line moved Ottoman troops and war material to the Mesopotamian front in the closing months of World War I.

The Denyen

According to numerous sources, the name Adana is derived from the Hittite Adaniya of Kizzuwatna. According to the Hittite inscription of Kava, found in Hattusa (Boğazkale), a people called the Denyen or Danuna settle in Adana and are identified as inhabitants of the city Adana. The kingdom of Kizzuwatna was the first kingdom that ruled Adana, under the protection of the Hittites by 1335 BC. At that time, the name of the city was Uru Adaniyya, and the inhabitants were called Danuna.

They be could one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples, known as the Denyen, who were of Indo-European origin. Other groups of Denyen are also believed to settle in Cyprus. After the collapse of the Mycenean civilization (1200 BC) some refugeees from the Aegean area went to the coast of Cilicia. The inhabitants Dananayim or Danuna are identified as one group of the sea-peoples who attacked Egypt on 1191 BC during the reign of Ramesses III.

Others assert that it is related to the legendary character Danaus, or to the Danaoi, a mythological Greek tribe who came from Egypt and established themselves in the Greek city Argos. The earlier Egyptian texts for a country Danaya are inscriptions from Thutmosis II (1437 BC) and Amenophis III (1390-1352 BC). It is also possible that the name is connected with the PIE da-nu (river) Da-na-vo (people living by the river), Scythian nomad people, water demons in Rigveda (Danavas).

In the Iliad of Homer, the city is called Adana. In Hellenistic times, it was known as Antiochia in Cilicia or Antiochia ad Sarum; “Antiochia on the Sarus”). The editors of The Helsinki Atlas tentatively identify Adana as Quwê (as contained in cuneiform tablets), the Neo-Assyrian capital of Quwê province. The name also appears as Coa, and may be the place referred to in the Bible, where King Solomon obtained horses. (I Kings 10:28; II Chron. 1:16). The Armenian name of the city is Atana or Adana.

According to an ancient Greco-Roman legend, the name has its origins in Adanus and Sarus, the two sons of Uranus, who came to a place near the Seyhan (Sarus) River, where they built Adana. An older legend relates the city’s name to Adad (also known as Tesup or Ishkur), the Thunder God in the Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite mythologies, who was believed to live in the nearby forest, and whose name was given to the region.

The Hittites’ names and writings have been found in the area, evidencing this possibility. The theory goes that since the Thunder God brought so much rain and this rain in turn brought such great abundance in this particular region, this god was loved and respected by its inhabitants and, in his honor, the region was called the “Uru Adaniyya”; in other words “the Region of Ada”.

Quwê – also spelled Que, Kue, Qeve, Coa, Kuê and Keveh – was a “Neo-Hittite” Assyrian vassal state or province at various times from the 9th century BCE to shortly after the death of Ashurbanipal around 627 BCE in the lowlands of eastern Cilicia, and the name of its capital city, tentatively identified with Adana, in modern Turkey. According to many translations of the Bible, it was the place from which King Solomon obtained horses. (I Kings 10: 28, 29; II Chron. 1:16).

The Denyen

The Denyen have been identified with the people of Adana, in Cilicia who existed in late Hittite Empire times. They are also believed to have settled in Cyprus. A Hittite report speaks of a Muksus, who also appears in an eighth-century bilingual inscription from Karatepe in Cilicia.

They were raiders associated with the Eastern Mediterranean Dark Ages who attacked Egypt in 1207 BC in alliance with the Libyans and other Sea Peoples, as well as during the reign of Rameses III. The 20th Egyptian Dynasty allowed them to settle in Canaan, which was largely controlled by the Sea Peoples into the 11th century BC. Mercenaries from the Peleset manned the Egyptian garrison at Beth-shan, and the Denyen shared the same fashion as them which some archeology suggests signifies a shared cemetery there.

These areas also show evidence of close ties with the Aegean as a result of the Late Helladic IIIC 1b pottery found in these areas. Some scholars argue for a connection with the Greek Danaoi – alternate names for the Achaeans familiar from Homer. Greek myth refers to Danaos who with his daughters came from Egypt and settled in Argos. Through Danaë’s son, Perseus, the Danaans are said to have built Mycenae.


There are suggestions that the Denyen joined with Hebrews to form one of the original 12 tribes of Israel. The most famous Danite was Samson, whom some suggest is derived from Denyen tribal legends.

Modern artists use the “scales of justice” to represent the Tribe of Dan due to Genesis 49:16 referencing Dan judging his people. However, more traditional artists use a snake to represent Dan, based on Genesis 49:17.

A minority view first suggested by Yigael Yadin attempted to connect the Denyen with the Tribe of Dan “Judge”, also sometimes spelled as “Dann”, described as remaining on their ships in the early Song of Deborah, contrary to the mainstream view of Israelite history.

It was speculated that the Denyen had been taken to Egypt, and subsequently settled between the Caphtorite Philistines and the Tjekker, along the Mediterranean coast with the Tribe of Dan subsequently deriving from them.

They were excluded from the list of sealed tribes in the Book of Revelation for pagan practices, but they were given a northern portion of land in future Israel according to the Book of Ezekiel.

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Dan, a son of Jacob and Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant (Genesis 30:4). In the biblical account, Dan is one of the two children of Bilhah, the handmaid of Jacob’s wife Rachel, the other child of Bilhah being Naphtali. Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Dan and Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin (being descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives).

Some have noted that the territory of the handmaid tribes happens to be the territory closest to the north and eastern borders of Canaan, thus exposing them to Assyria and Aram. However, other tribes born to wives, including the firstborn Reuben, were also included on the eastern outskirts, and immediately adjacent to Israel’s more traditional enemies at the time of their entry to Canaan, the Moabites and Ammonites (wars with Aram and Assyria did not begin until over 500 years after the entry to Canaan- I Kings 11:25, II Kings 15:19).

The tribe was the last to receive its territorial inheritance. According to the biblical narrative, the tribe had originally tried to settle in the central coastal area of Canaan, but due to enmity with the Philistines who had already settled there, were only able to camp in the hill country overlooking the Sorek Valley, the camp location becoming known as Mahaneh Dan (“Camps of Dan”). (Joshua 19)

The region they were trying to settle included the area as far north as Joppa, and extending south into the Shephelah in the area of Timnah; as a result, the modern state of Israel refers to the region as Gush Dan (the Dan area). However, as a consequence of the pressure from the Philistines, the tribe abandoned hopes of settling near the central coast, instead migrating to the north of the country, and after conquering Laish, refounded it as their capital (renaming it Dan). (Judges 18)

According to the Hebrew Bible, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. Dan was allocated the most northerly region, to the north of the Galilee, and west of the Jordan, stretching north as far as Laish, Dan’s main city (which became known as Dan). (Joshua 19:40-48)

In the Biblical census of the Book of Numbers, the tribe of Dan is portrayed as the second largest Israelite tribe (after Judah). Some textual scholars regard the census as being from the Priestly Source, dating it to around the 7th century BC, and more likely to reflect the biases of its authors, though this still implies that Dan was one of the largest tribes at a point fresh to the memories of the 7th century BC.

In the Blessing of Moses, which some textual scholars regard as dating from only slightly earlier than the deuteronomist, Dan is seemingly prophesied to leap from Bashan; scholars are uncertain why this should be since the tribe are not recorded as having ever been resident in the Bashan plain, which lies to the east of the Jordan.

From after the conquest of the land by Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel in c. 1050 BC, the Tribe of Dan was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed, and in times of crisis the people were led by ad hoc leaders known as Judges.

With the growth of the threat from Philistine incursions, the Israelite tribes decided to form a strong centralised monarchy to meet the challenge, and the Tribe of Dan joined the new kingdom with Saul as the first king.

After the death of Saul, all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul, but after the death of Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son and successor to the throne of Israel, the Tribe of Dan joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, king of a re-united Kingdom of Israel. However, on the accession of Rehoboam, David’s grandson, in c. 930 BC the northern tribes split from the House of David to reform a Kingdom of Israel as the Northern Kingdom.

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Dan was conquered by the Assyrians, and exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost.

Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel, claim descent from the Tribe of Dan, whose members migrated south along with members of the Tribes of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, into the Kingdom of Kush, now Ethiopia and Sudan, during the destruction of the First Temple. This position is supported by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. They are said to have fought with the natives. Religious writers have tried to attach the serpent voodoo God Danbhala to this group, as the practice they suggest was a heterodox form of Ethiopian Judaism.

According to the Book of Revelation (7:4-8), the tribe of Dan is the only original tribe of Israel which is not included in the list of tribes which are sealed. No mention is made of why they are excluded. It has been suggested that this could be because of their pagan practices. This made Hippolytus of Rome and a few Millennialists propose that the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.


Samson (meaning “man of the sun”) or Sampson, is one of the last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16).

According to the biblical account, Samson was given supernatural strength by God in order to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats such as killing a lion, slaying an entire army with only the jawbone of an ass, and destroying a pagan temple. Samson had two vulnerabilities, however: his attraction to untrustworthy women and his hair, without which he was powerless. These vulnerabilities ultimately proved fatal for him.

Samson is believed by Jews and Christians to have been buried in Tel Tzora in Israel overlooking the Sorek valley. There reside two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoah’s altar (Judges 13:19–24). It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s activity takes place during a time when God was punishing the Israelites, by giving them “into the hand of the Philistines”. The Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah, an Israelite from the tribe of Dan, in the city of Zorah, and to his wife, who had been unable to conceive. The Angel of the Lord proclaims that the couple will soon have a son who will begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.

The wife believed the Angel of the Lord, but her husband wasn’t present, at first, and wanted the heavenly messenger to return, asking that he himself could also receive instruction about the child who was going to be born.

Requirements were set up by the Angel of the Lord that Manoah’s wife (as well as the child) were to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and her promised child was not to shave or cut his hair. He was to be a “Nazirite” from birth. In ancient Israel, those wanting to be especially dedicated to God for a while could take a nazarite vow, which included things like the aforementioned as well as other stipulations.

After the Angel of the Lord returned, Manoah soon prepared a sacrifice, but the Angel of the Lord would only allow it to be for God, touching his staff to it, miraculously engulfing it in flames. The Angel of the Lord then ascended up into the sky in the fire revealing that it had been God in angelic form, as the Angel of the Lord and “an” angel are two different things.

This was such dramatic evidence as to the nature of the Messenger, that Manoah feared for his life, as it has been said that no-one can live after seeing God; however, his wife soon convinced him that if God planned to slay them, he would never have revealed such things to them to begin with. In due time the son, Samson, is born; he is reared according to these provisions.

Academics have interpreted Samson as a demi-god (such as Hercules or Enkidu) enfolded into Jewish religious lore, or as an archetypical folklore hero, among others. These views sometimes interpreted him as a solar deity, popularized by “solar hero” theorists and Biblical scholars alike. The name Delilah may also involve a wordplay with the Hebrew word for night, ‘layla’, which “consumes” the day.

Samson bears many similar traits to the Greek Herakles (and the Roman Hercules adaptation), inspired himself partially from the mesopotamian Enkidu tale: Herakles and Samson both battled a Lion bare handed (Lion of Nemea feat), Herakles and Samson both had a favorite primitive blunt weapon (a club for the first, an ass’s jaw for the latter), they were both betrayed by a woman which led them to their ultimate fate (Herakles by Dejanira, while Samson by Delilah). Both heroes, champion of their respective people, die by their own hand: Herakles ends his life on a pyre while Samson makes the Philistine temple collapse upon himself and his enemies.


In Greek mythology Danaus, or Danaos, was the twin brother of Aegyptus and son of Achiroe and Belus, a mythical king of Egypt. The myth of Danaus is a foundation legend (or re-foundation legend) of Argos, one of the foremost Mycenaean cities of the Peloponnesus. In Homer’s Iliad, “Danaans” (“tribe of Danaë”) and “Argives” commonly designate the Greek forces opposed to the Trojans.

Danaus had fifty daughters, the Danaides, twelve of whom were born to Polyxo and the rest to Pieria and other women, and his twin brother, Aegyptus, had fifty sons. Aegyptus commanded that his sons marry the Danaides. Danaus elected to flee instead, and to that purpose, he built a ship, the first ship that ever was.

In Greek mythology, the Daughters of Danaus, also Danaids, Danaides or Danaïdes, were the fifty daughters of Danaus. They were to marry the fifty sons of Danaus’s twin brother Aegyptus, a mythical king of Egypt. In the most common version of the myth, all but one of them killed their husbands on their wedding night, and are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. In the classical tradition, they come to represent the futility of a repetitive task that can never be completed (see also Sisyphus).

Tell Dan

Dan, is a city mentioned in the Bible, described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, belonging to the Tribe of Dan. The city is identified with the tel known as Tel Dan (“Mound of Dan”), or Tel el-Qadi (“Mound of the Judge”, literal translation of the Hebrew name Tel Dan, “Dan” meaning “judge”, or “one who judges”) in Israel.

Dan is situated in Israel, in the area known as the Galilee Panhandle. To the west is the southern part of Mount Lebanon; to the east and north are the Hermon mountains. Melting snow from the Hermon mountains provides the majority of the water of the Jordan River, and passes through Dan, making the immediate area highly fertile. The lush vegetation that results makes the area around Dan seem somewhat out of place in the otherwise arid region around it.

According to the archaeological excavations at the site, the town was originally occupied in the late Neolithic era (c 4500 BCE), although at some time in the fourth millennium BC it was abandoned, for almost 1,000 years.

Dan was first identified by Edward Robinson in 1838, and has been securely identified with the archaeological site of Tel Dan, which the Book of Judges (Judges 18:27-29) states was known as Laish prior to its conquest by the Tribe of Dan, whereas in Joshua 19:47 it is called Leshem.

According to the Book of Judges, prior to the Tribe of Dan occupying the land, the town was known as Laish, and allied with the Sidonians; This might indicate they were Phoenicians (Sidonians were Phoenicians from the city of Sidon), who may or may not have been Canaanite.

Sidon has been inhabited since very early in prehistory. The archaeological site of Sidon II shows a lithic assemblage dating to the Acheulean, whilst finds at Sidon III include a Heavy Neolithic assemblage suggested to date just prior to the invention of pottery. It was one of the most important Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest. From here, and other ports, a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded.

Homer praised the skill of its craftsmen in producing glass, purple dyes, and its women’s skill at the art of embroidery. It was also from here that a colonizing party went to found the city of Tyre. Tyre also grew into a great city, and in subsequent years there was competition between the two, each claiming to be the metropolis (‘Mother City’) of Phoenicia.

Glass manufacturing, Sidon’s most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale, and the production of purple dye was almost as important. The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.

The alliance had little practical benefit due to the remoteness of the town from Sidon, and the intervening Lebanon mountains. The town was also isolated from the Assyrians and Aram by the Hermon mountains; the Septuagint mentions that the town was unable to have an alliance with the Aramaeans. The masoretic text does not mention the Aramaeans, but instead states that the town had no relationship with any man – textual scholars believe that this is a typographic error, with adham (man) being a mistake for aram.

According to Judges concerning Micah’s Idol, the Tribe of Dan did not at that point have any territory to their name (Judges 18:1), and so, after scouting out the land, eventually decided to attack Laish, as the land around it was fertile, and the town was demilitarised.

Most Biblical scholars now believe that the Tribe of Dan originated as one of the Sea Peoples, hence remaining on their ships in the early Song of Deborah, and not having Israelite land to their name, though conservative scholars argue that the Tribe of Dan migrated because they were forced out of their original lands by the Philistines.

The Bible describes the Tribe of Dan brutally defeating the people of Laish and burning the town to the ground, and then building their own town in the same spot. The narrative states that Laish subsequently became known as Dan, after the name of the tribe, and that it housed a sanctuary filled with idols, which remained in use until the time of captivity of the land and the time that the house of God ceased to be in Shiloh.

Scholars think that the former refers to the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by Tiglath-pileser III in 733/732 BCE, and that the latter refers to the time of Hezekiah’s religious reform; an alternative possibility, however, supported by a minority of scholars, is that time of captivity of the land is a typographic error and should read time of captivity of the ark, referring to the battle of Eben-Ezer, and the Philistine capture of the Ark, and that the ceasing of the house of God being in Shiloh refers to this also.

According to 2 Kings 10:29 and 2 Chronicles 13:8, Jeroboam erected two golden calves as gods in Bethel and Dan. Textual scholars believe that this is where the Elohist story of Aaron’s Golden Calf actually originates, due to opposition in some sections of Israelite society (including the Elohist themselves) to the seeming idol-worship of Jeroboam.

However, Biblical scholars believe that Jeroboam was actually trying to outdo the sanctuary at Jerusalem (Solomon’s Temple), by creating a seat for God that spanned the whole kingdom of Israel, rather than just the small space above the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem; the seat for God in the Jerusalem sanctuary was represented by a cherubim on either side, while scholars believe that Jeroboam was using the calves to represent the sides of his seat for God – implying his whole kingdom was equal in holiness to the Ark.

Within the remains of the city wall, close to the entrance of the outer gate, parts of the Tel Dan Stele were found. The basalt stone bears an Aramaic inscription referring to one of the kings of Damascus; the excavators of the site believe that the king it refers to is Hazael (c 840 BCE), though a minority argue that it instead refers to Ben-Hadad (c 802 BCE).

A small part of the inscription remains, with text containing the letters, which some archaeologists agree refers to House of David (Beth David in Hebrew. In the line directly above, the text reads ‘MLK YSR’L’, i.e. “King of Israel”. Hebrew script from the era is vowel-less), which would make the inscription the first time that the name David has been found at an archaeological site dating before 500 BCE.

Dan suffered in the era of expansion by the Aramaeans, due to being the closest city to them in the kingdom of Israel. The several incursions indicated by the Book of Kings suggest that Dan changed hands at least four times between the Kingdom of Israel and Aramaeans, around the time that Israel was ruled by Ahab and the Aramaeans by Ben Hadad I, and their successors. Around this time, the Tel Dan stele was created by the Aramaeans, during one of the periods of their control of Dan. When the Assyrian empire expanded to the south, the kingdom of Israel initially became a vassal state, but after rebelling, the Assyrians invaded, the town fell to Tiglath-pileser III in 733/732 BCE.

In 1992, in order to tidy up the site for presentation to visitors, a heap of debris was removed which dated from the time of the Assyrian destruction of the city by Tiglath-pileser III in 733/2 BCE. A hitherto unknown earlier gateway to the city was uncovered. The entrance complex led to a courtyard paved with stone with a low stone platform. In the 9th century BCE, the podium was enlarged, and major fortifications were built, a city wall with buttresses and a complex gate. The podium was enlarged further in the 8th century BCE by Jeroboam II, then destroyed by Tiglath-pileser III.


The Hurrians and Adana

The Hurrians

The Hurrians, probably originators of the various storm-gods of the ancient Near East, were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. Modern scholars place them in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia at their probable earliest origins. Hurrian settlements are distributed over three modern countries, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The heart of the Hurrian world is dissected by the modern border between Syria and Turkey. Several sites are situated within the border zone, making access for excavations problematic. A threat to the ancient sites are the many dam projects in the Euphrates, Tigris and Khabur valleys. Several rescue operations have already been undertaken when the construction of dams put entire river valleys under water.

They spoke an ergative-agglutinative language conventionally called Hurrian, which is unrelated to neighbouring Semitic or Indo-European languages, and may have been a language isolate. The Iron Age Urartian language is closely related to Hurrian. Several notable Russian linguists, such as S. A. Starostin and V. V. Ivanov, have claimed that Hurro-Urartian languages were related to the Northeast Caucasian languages.

From the 21st century BC to the late 18th century BC, Assyria controlled colonies in Anatolia, and the Hurrians, like the Hattians, adopted the Assyrian Akkadian cuneiform script for their own language about 2000 BCE. Texts in the Hurrian language in cuneiform have been found at Hattusa, Ugarit (Ras Shamra), as well as in one of the longest of the Amarna letters, written by King Tushratta of Mitanni to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was the only long Hurrian text known until a multi-tablet collection of literature in Hurrian with a Hittite translation was discovered at Hattusa in 1983.

Hurrian names occur sporadically in northwestern Mesopotamia. They occupied a broad arc of fertile farmland stretching from the Khabur River valley in the west to the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in the east. The Khabur River valley was the heart of the Hurrian lands. This region hosted other rich cultures (see Tell Halaf and Tell Brak).

The first known Hurrian kingdom emerged around the city of Urkesh (modern Tell Mozan) during the third millennium BCE. There is evidence that they were allied with the Akkadian Empire, indicating they had a firm hold on the area by the reign of Naram-Sin of Akkad (ca. 2254–2218 BCE).

The city-state of Urkesh had some powerful neighbors. At some point in the early second millennium BCE, the Amorite kingdom of Mari to the south subdued Urkesh and made it a vassal state. In the continuous power struggles over Mesopotamia, another Amorite dynasty made themselves masters over Mari in the eighteenth century BCE. Shubat-Enlil (modern Tell Leilan), the capital of this Old Assyrian kingdom, was founded some distance from Urkesh at another Hurrian settlement in the Khabur River valley.

The Hurrians also migrated further west in this period. By 1725 BCE they are found also in parts of northern Syria, such as Alalakh. The Amoritic-Hurrian kingdom of Yamhad is recorded as struggling for this area with the early Hittite king Hattusilis I around 1600 BCE.

Hurrians also settled in the coastal region of Adaniya in the country of Kizzuwatna, southern Anatolia. Yamhad eventually weakened to the powerful Hittites, but this also opened Anatolia for Hurrian cultural influences. The Hittites were influenced by the Hurrian culture over the course of several centuries.

The Hittites continued expanding south after the defeat of Yamhad. The army of the Hittite king Mursili I made its way to Babylon and sacked the city. The destruction of the Babylonian kingdom, as well as the kingdom of Yamhad, helped the rise of another Hurrian dynasty.

The first ruler was a legendary king called Kirta who founded the multi-ethnic kingdom of Mitanni (known also as Hanigalbat/Ḫanigalbat, and to the Egyptians as nhrn) around 1500 BCE. Mitanni, the largest and most influential Hurrian nation, gradually grew from the region around the Khabur valley and was the most powerful kingdom of the Near East in c. 1450–1350 BCE.

Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit an Indo-Aryan superstrate, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion. The Mitanni being perhaps an Indo-European-speaking people who formed a ruling class over the Hurrians.

Another Hurrian kingdom also benefited from the demise of Babylonian power in the sixteenth century BCE. Hurrians had inhabited the region northeast of the river Tigris, around the modern Kirkuk. This was the kingdom of Arrapha.

Excavations at Yorgan Tepe, ancient Nuzi, proved this to be one of the most important sites for our knowledge about the Hurrians. Hurrian kings such as Ithi-Teshup and Ithiya ruled over Arrapha, yet by the mid-fifteenth century BCE they had become vassals of the Great King of Mitanni. Arrapha itself was destroyed by the Assyrians in the fourteenth century BCE.

By the thirteenth century BCE all of the Hurrian states had been vanquished by other peoples. The heart of the Hurrian lands, the Khabur river valley, became an Assyrian province. It is not clear what happened to the Hurrian people at the end of the Bronze Age. Some scholars have suggested that Hurrians lived on in the country of Subartu north of Assyria during the early Iron Age.

The Hurrian population of Syria in the following centuries seems to have given up their language in favor of the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian or, more likely, Aramaic. This was around the same time that an aristocracy speaking Urartian, similar to old Hurrian, seems to have first imposed itself on the population around Lake Van, and formed the Kingdom of Urartu. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples, except perhaps in the kingdom of Urartu, also known as Armenia.

Knowledge of Hurrian culture relies on archaeological excavations at sites such as Nuzi and Alalakh as well as on cuneiform tablets, primarily from Hattusa (Boghazköy), the capital of the Hittites, whose civilization was greatly influenced by the Hurrians.

Tablets from Nuzi, Alalakh, and other cities with Hurrian populations (as shown by personal names) reveal Hurrian cultural features even though they were written in Akkadian. Hurrian cylinder seals were carefully carved and often portrayed mythological motifs. They are a key to the understanding of Hurrian culture and history.

The Hurrian urban culture was not represented by a large number of cities. Urkesh was the only Hurrian city in the third millennium BCE. In the second millennium BCE we know a number of Hurrian cities, such as Arrapha, Harran, Kahat, Nuzi, Taidu and Washukanni – the capital of Mitanni.

Although the site of Washukanni, alleged to be at Tell Fakhariya, is not known for certain, no tell (city mound) in the Khabur Valley much exceeds the size of 1 square kilometer (250 acres), and the majority of sites are much smaller.

The Hurrian urban culture appears to have been quite different from the centralized state administrations of Assyria and ancient Egypt. An explanation could be that the feudal organization of the Hurrian kingdoms did not allow large palace or temple estates to develop.

The Hurrians were masterful ceramists. Their pottery is commonly found in Mesopotamia and in the lands west of the Euphrates; it was highly valued in distant Egypt, by the time of the New Kingdom.

Archaeologists use the terms Khabur ware and Nuzi ware for two types of wheel-made pottery used by the Hurrians. Khabur ware is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots, while Nuzi ware has very distinctive forms, and are painted in brown or black.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

The Mitanni were closely associated with horses. The name of the country of Ishuwa, which might have had a substantial Hurrian population, meant “horse-land”. A famous text discovered at Hattusa deals with the training of horses. The man who was responsible for the horse-training was a Hurrian called Kikkuli. The terminology used in connection with horses contains many Indo-Aryan loan-words (Mayrhofer, 1974).

Among the Hurrian texts from Ugarit are the oldest known instances of written music, dating from c. 1400 BCE. Amongst these fragments are found the names of four Hurrian composers, Tapšiẖuni, Puẖiya(na), Urẖiya, and Ammiya.

The Hurrian religion, in different forms, influenced the entire ancient Near East. The Hittites were influenced by the Hurrian culture over the course of several centuries. The Hurrian culture made a great impact on the religion of the Hittites. From the Hurrian cult centre at Kummanni in Kizzuwatna Hurrian religion spread to the Hittite people. Syncretism merged the Old Hittite and Hurrian religions.

The population of the Indo-European-speaking Hittite Empire in Anatolia included a large population of Hurrians, and there is significant Hurrian influence in Hittite mythology. Their pantheon was also integrated into the Hittite one, and the goddess Hebat of Kizzuwatna became very important in Hittite religion towards the end of the 13th century BC. A corpus of religious texts called the Kizzuwatna rituals was discovered at Hattusa.

Šauška, or Šawuška, was a Hurrian goddess who was also adopted into the Hittite pantheon. She is known in detail because she became the patron goddess of the Hittite king Hattusili III (1420–1400 BC) following his marriage to Puduhepa, the daughter of the goddess’s high priest. Her cultic center was Lawazantiya in Kizzuwatna.

Shaushka is a goddess of fertility, war and healing. She is depicted in human form with wings, standing with a lion and accompanied by two attendants. She was considered equivalent to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar and is sometimes identified using Ishtar’s name in Hittite cuneiform.

Hurrian cylinder seals often depict mythological creatures such as winged humans or animals, dragons and other monsters. The interpretation of these depictions of gods and demons is uncertain. They may have been both protective and evil spirits. Some is reminiscent of the Assyrian shedu.

The Hurrian gods do not appear to have had particular “home temples”, like in the Mesopotamian religion or Ancient Egyptian religion. Some important cult centres were Kummanni in Kizzuwatna, and Hittite Yazilikaya.

Harran was at least later a religious centre for the moon god, and Shauskha had an important temple in Nineve, when the city was under Hurrian rule. A temple of Nergal was built in Urkesh in the late third millennium BCE. The town of Kahat was a religious centre in the kingdom of Mitanni.

The Hurrian myth “The Songs of Ullikummi”, preserved among the Hittites, is a parallel to Hesiod’s Theogony; the castration of Uranus by Cronus may be derived from the castration of Anu by Kumarbi, while Zeus’s overthrow of Cronus and Cronus’s regurgitation of the swallowed gods is like the Hurrian myth of Teshub and Kumarbi. It has been argued that the worship of Attis drew on Hurrian myth. The Phrygian goddess Cybele would then be the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.


Kizzuwatna  is the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. It was situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey, and occupied a wide oval of territory between the Hittites to the north and west, and the increasingly powerful state of Mitanni to the south and east. It encircled the Taurus Mountains and the Ceyhan river.

The center of the kingdom was the city of Kummanni, situated in the highlands. In a later era, the same region was known as Cilicia.
Primarily a Hurrian state, with a capital at Kummanni, Kizzuwatna remained an independent power until the late fifteenth century, when it was conquered by Mitanni.

The country possessed valuable resources, such as silver mines in the Taurus Mountains. The slopes of the mountain range are still partly covered by woods. Annual winter rains made agriculture possible in the area at a very early date. The plains at the lower course of the Ceyhan river provided rich cultivated fields.

A Bronze Age archaeological site, where early evidence of tin mining was found, is at Kestel. Tin was as scarce and valuable as petroleum is today in the Bronze Age. It was a vital ingredient of bronze, used with copper to make the alloy.

In 1989, on a hill opposite the mine, associates found piles of Bronze Age pottery, close to 50,000 ground stone tools and evidence that this site had been continuously occupied from 3290-1840 BC. A great deal of the city was semi subterranean. The Kestel mine stopped producing at the end of the third millennium BC.

King Sargon of Akkad claimed to have reached the Taurus mountains (the silver mountains) in the 23rd century BC. However, archaeology has yet not confirmed any Akkadian influence in the area. The trade routes from Assyria to the karum in the Anatolian highlands went through Kizzuwatna by the early 2nd millennium BC.

Kizzuwatna emerged from the ‘land of Adaniya’ (modern Adana) near the coast during the dark age of the sixteenth century BC. The earliest Hittite records refer to both Kizzuwatna and neighbouring Arzawa as Luwia, so it is possible they emerged from a single territorial association.

Several ethnic groups coexisted in the coastal region of Adaniya in the country of Kizzuwatna, southern Anatolia. The Hurrians inhabited this area at least since the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. The Hittite expansion in the early Old Kingdom period (under Hattusili I and Mursili I) was likely to bring the Hittites and the Luwians rom the north to southeastern Anatolia. Other regional peoples, such as the Teucri, also included Luwian elements amongst their make-up, showing how far they spread.

The Luwian language was part of the Indo-European language group, with close ties to the Hittite language. Both the local Hittites and the Luwians were likely to contribute to the formation of independent Kizzuwatna after the weakening of the Hittite Old Kingdom.

The toponym Kizzuwatna is possibly a Luwian adaptation of Hittite *kez-udne ‘country on this side (of the mountains)’, while the name Isputahsu is definitely Hittite and not Luwian. Hurrian culture became more prominent in Kizzuwatna once it entered the sphere of influence of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni.

The kings of Kizzuwatna of the 2nd millennium BC had frequent contact with the Hittites to the north. Puduhepa, queen of the Hittite king Hattusili III, came from Kizzuwatna, where she had been a priestess.

In the power struggle that arose between the Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, Kizzuwatna became a strategic partner due to its location from the reign of Shunashura I, until the Hittite king Arnuwanda I overran the country and made it a vassal kingdom. Isputahsu made a treaty with the weakened Hittite king Telepinu, although some sources say Tudhaliya II (I), which with the dating used here place that king at least fifty years later than this event. Later, Kizzuwatna shifted its allegiance, perhaps due to a new ruling dynasty.

Kizzuwatna rebelled during the reign of Suppiluliuma I, but remained within the Hittite empire for two hundred years. In the famous Battle of Kadesh (c. 1274 BC), Kizzuwadna supplied troops to the Hittite king.


Arzawa in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC (roughly from late 15th century until the beginning of the 12th century) was the name of a region and a political entity (a “kingdom” or a federation of local powers) in Western Anatolia.

The core of Arzawa is believed to have been located along the Kestros River (Küçük Menderes), with its capital at Apasa, later known as Ephesus.

It was the successor state of the Assuwa league, a confederation of states in western Anatolia formed to oppose the Hittite empire that included parts of western Anatolia, but got defeated and conquered by the Hittites under an earlier Tudhaliya I around 1400 BC.

Arzawa was the western neighbour and rival of the Middle and New Hittite Kingdoms. On the other hand it was inclose contact with the Ahhiyawa of the Hittite texts, which corresponds to the Achaeans of Mycenaean Greece. Moreover, Achaeans and Arzawa formed a coalition against the Hittites, in various periods.

When the Hittites conquered Arzawa it was divided into three Hittite provinces: a southern province called Mira along the Maeander River, which would later become known as Caria; a northern province called the Seha River Land, along the Gediz River, which would later become known as Lydia; and an eastern province called Hapalla.

The languages spoken in Arzawa during the Bronze Age and early Iron Age cannot be directly determined due to the paucity of indigenous written sources. The current consensus among scholars is that the linguistic identity of Arzawa was predominantly Luwian, based, inter alia, on the replacement of the designation Luwiya with Arzawa in a corrupt passage of a New Hittite copy of the Laws, which appears to reflect a change in the name of the region.

However, one scholar has recently argued that Luwiya and Arzawa were two separate entities, because Luwiya is mentioned in the Hittite Laws as a part of the Hittite Old Kingdom, whereas Arzawa was independent from the Hittites during this period. He also argued that there was no significant Luwian population in Arzawa, but instead that it was predominantly inhabited by speakers of Proto-Lydian and Proto-Carian.

The inscription of the Karabel rock-carved prince-warrior monument in Mount Nif was read as attributing it to “Tarkasnawa, King of Mira”, a part of the Kingdom of Arzawa.

The zenith of the kingdom was during the 15th and 14th centuries BC. The Hittites were then weakened, and Arzawa was an ally of Egypt. This alliance is recorded in the correspondence between the Arzawan ruler Tarhundaradu and the Pharaoh Amenophis III called the Arzawa letters, part of the archive of the Amarna letters (Nr.31 and 32), having played a substantial role in the decipherment of the Hittite language in which they were written.

According to Hittite records, in ca. 1320 BC Arzawa joined an anti-Hittite alliance together with the region of Millawanta (Milet) under the king of Ahhijawa (the latter widely accepted as Mycenaean Greece or part of it).

As a response of this initiative, the Hittite kings Suppiluliuma I and Mursili II finally managed to defeat Arzawa around 1300 BC. The king of Arzawa managed to escape to Mycenaean controlled territory. Arzawa was then split by the Hittites it into vassal kingdoms. These were called; Kingdom of Mira, Hapalla and “Land of the River Seha” (present-day Gediz or Bakırçay rivers or both). Also, Mursili’s son Muwatalli added as vassal Wilusa (Troy).

These kingdoms, usually termed simply as “lands” in Hittite registers, could have formed part of the Arzawa complex already during the existence of Arzawa kingdom.

Known western Anatolian late-Bronze Age regions and/or political entities which, to date, have not been cited as having been part of the Arzawa complex are; Land of Masa (“Masha”), Karkiya, associable with Iron Age “Caria”, and Lukka lands, associable with Iron Age “Lycia”.

After the collapse of the Hittite Empire from the 12th century, while Neo-Hittite states partially pursued Hittite history in southern Anatolia and Syria, the chain seems to have broken as far as Arzawa lands in western Anatolia were concerned and these could have pursued their own cultural path until unification came with the emergence of Lydia as a state under the Mermnad dynasty in the 7th century BC.

There has been evidence from a British expedition in 1954 to Beycesultan in inner western Anatolia which suggests that the local king had central heating in his home. Nothing more was heard from this invention until Gaius Sergius Orata reinvented it in Ancient Rome around 80 BCE.


Melid (Hittite: Malidiya and possibly also Midduwa; Akkadian: Meliddu; Urartian: Melitea; Latin: Melitene) was an ancient city on the Tohma River, a tributary of the upper Euphrates rising in the Taurus Mountains. It has been identified with modern Arslantepe near Malatya, Turkey.

The site has been inhabited since the development of agriculture in the fertile crescent dating to the Uruk period. From the Bronze Age the site became an administrative center of a larger region in the kingdom of Isuwa, the ancient Hittite name for one of its neighboring Anatolian kingdoms to the east, in an area which later became the Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu.

The earliest settlements in Isuwa show cultural contacts with Tell Brak to the south, though not being the same culture. Agriculture began early due to favorable climatic conditions. Isuwa was at the outer fringe of the early Mesopotamian Uruk period culture.

The people of Isuwa were also skilled in metallurgy and they reached the Bronze Age in the fourth millennium BC. Copper were first mixed with arsenic, later with tin. The Early Bronze Age culture were linked with Caucasus in the northeast.

In the Hittite period the culture of Isuwa show great parallels to the Central Anatolian and the Hurrian culture to the south. The monumental architecture was of Hittite influence.

The land of Isuwa was situated in the upper Euphrates river region. The river valley was here surrounded by the Anti-Taurus Mountains. To the northeast of the river lay a vast plain stretching up to the Black Sea mountain range.

The plain had favourable climatic conditions due to the abundance of water from springs and rainfall. Irrigation of fields was possible without the need to build complex canals. The river valley was well suited for intensive agriculture, while livestock could be kept at the higher altitudes. The mountains possessed rich deposits of copper which were mined in antiquity.

The Isuwans left no written record of their own, and it is not clear which of the Anatolian peoples inhabited the land of Isuwa prior to the Luwians. They could have been Indo-Europeans like the Luwians, related to the Hittites to the west, Hattians, Hurrians from the south, or Urartians who lived east of Isuwa in the first millennium BC.

The area was one of the places where agriculture developed very early in the Neolithic period. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3000 BC. The first states may have followed in the third millennium BC. The name Isuwa is not known until the literate Hittite period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Isuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts.

To the west of Isuwa lay the hostile kingdom of the Hittites. The Hittite king Hattusili I (c.1600 BC) is reported to have marched his army across the Euphrates river and destroyed the cities there. This corresponds with burnt destruction layers discovered by archaeologists at town sites in Isuwa at roughly this date.

The Hittite king Suppiluliuma I records how in the time his father, Tudhaliya II (c.1400 BC), the land of Isuwa became hostile. The enmity was probably aggravated by the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni to the south.

Mitanni tried to form an alliance against the Hittites. According to a fragmentary Hittite letter, the king of Mitanni, Shaushtatar, seems to have waged war against the Hittite king Arnuwanda I with support from Isuwa. These hostilities lasted into Suppiluliuma’s own reign when ca. 1350 BC he crossed the Euphrates and entered the land of Isuwa with his troops. He claims to have made Isuwa his subject.

Isuwa continued to be ruled by kings who were vassals of the Hittites. Few kings of Isuwa are known by names and documents. One Ehli-sharruma is mentioned as being king of Isuwa in a Hittite letter from the thirteenth century BC. Another king of Isuwa called Ari-sharruma is mentioned on a clay seal found at Korucutepe, an important site in Isuwa.

The city was heavily fortified, probably due to the Hittite threat from the west. The Hittites conquered the city in the fourteenth century BC. In the mid 14th century BC, Melid was the base of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I on his campaign to sack the Mitanni capital Wassukanni.

After the end of the Hittite empire, from the 12th to 7th century BC, a new state emerged in Isuwa, the independent Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu, one of the so-called Neo-Hittite states, with Melid as its center. A palace was built and monumental stone sculptures of lions and the ruler erected.

The encounter with the Assyrian king of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) resulted in the kingdom of Melid being forced to pay tribute to Assyria. With the demise of the Hittites the Phrygians settled to the west, and to the east the kingdom of Urartu was founded.

The most powerful neighbour was Assyria to the south. The encounter with the Assyrian king of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) resulted in Kammanu being forced to pay tribute to Assyria.

Kammanu continued to prosper however until the Assyrian king Sargon II (722-705 BC) sacked the city in 712 BC. At the same time the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatolia from the Caucausus to the northeast.

The movement of these nomadic people may have weakened Kammanu before the final Assyrian invasion, which probably caused the decline of settlements and culture in this area from the seventh century BC until the Roman period.

The Neo-Hittite state show influences both from the Phrygia, Assyria and the eastern kingdom of Urartu. After the Scythian people movement there appear some Scythian burials in the area.

The ancient land of Isuwa has today virtually disappeared beneath the water from several dams in the Euphrates river. The Turkish Southeastern Anatolia Project which started in the 1960s resulted in the Keban, Karakaya and Atatürk Dam which entirely flooded the river valley when completed in the 1970s. A fourth dam, Bireçik, was completed further south in 2000 and flooded the remainder of the Euphrates river valley in Turkey.

A great salvage campaign was undertaken in the upper Euphrates river valley at instigation of the president of the dam project Kemal Kurdaş. A Turkish, US and Dutch team of archaeologists headed by Maurits van Loon began the survey. Work then continued downstream where the Atatürk Dam was being constructed.

The excavations revealed settlements from the Paleolithic down into the Middle Ages. The sites of Ikizepe, Korucutepe, Norşuntepe and Pulur around the Murat (Arsanias) river, a tributary of the Euphrates to the east, revealed large Bronze Age settlements from the fourth to the second millennium BC. The center of the kingdom Isuwa may have lain in this region which would equate well with the Hittite statements of crossing the Euphrates in reaching the kingdom.

The important site of Arslantepe near the modern city of Malatya luckily remained safe from the rising water. Today an Italian team of archaeologists led by Marcella Frangipane are working at the site and studying the surrounding area. The site of Arslantepe was settled from the fifth millennium BC until the Roman period. It was the capital of the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Malatya.


The Hurrians are found also in parts of northern Syria, such as Alalakh, an ancient city-state, a late Bronze Age capital in the Amuq River valley of Turkey’s Hatay Province.  It was occupied from before 2000 BC, when the first palace was built, and likely destroyed in the 12th century BC and never reoccupied. The city contained palaces, temples, private houses and fortifications. Modern Antakya has developed near the site.

Alalakh was founded by the Amorites (in the territory of present-day Turkey) during the Middle Bronze Age in the 2nd millennium BC. The first palace was built c. 2000 BC, contemporary with the Third Dynasty of Ur. The written history of the site may begin under the name Alakhtum, with tablets from Mari in the 18th century BC, when the city was part of the kingdom of Yamhad (modern Aleppo).

A dossier of tablets records that King Sumu-epeh sold the territory of Alakhtum to his son-in-law Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, retaining for himself overlordship. After the fall of Mari in 1765 BC, Alalakh seems to have come under the rule of Yamhad again. King Abban of Aleppo bestowed it upon his brother Yarim-Lim, to replace the city of Irridi. Abban had destroyed the latter after it revolted against his brother Yarim-Lim.

A dynasty of Yarim-Lin’s descendents was founded, under the hegemony of Aleppo, that lasted to the 16th century. According to the short chronology found at Mari, at that time Alalakh was destroyed, most likely by Hittite king Hattusili I, in the second year of his campaigns.

After a hiatus of less than a century, written records for Alalakh resume. At this time, it was again the seat of a local dynasty. Most of the information about the founding of this dynasty comes from a statue inscribed with what seems to be an autobiography of the dynasty’s founding king.

According to his inscription, in the 15th century BC, Idrimi, a Hurrianised Semitic son of the king of Aleppo who had been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna, king of the Mitanni, may have fled his city for Emar, traveled to Alalakh, gained control of the city, and been recognized as a vassal by Barattarna.

The inscription records Idrimi’s vicissitudes: after his family had been forced to flee to Emar, he left them and joined the “Hapiru people” in “Ammija in the land of Canaan.” The Hapiru recognized him as the “son of their overlord” and “gathered around him”; after living among them for seven years, he led his Habiru warriors in a successful attack by sea on Alalakh, where he founded the kingdom of Mukish and ruled from Alalakh as a vassal to the Mitanni.

The city state of Alalakh to the south expanded under its new vigorous leader Idrimi, himself a subject of the Mitannian king Barattarna. Idrimi also invaded the Hittite territories to the north, resulting in a treaty with the country Kizzuwatna. King Pilliya of Kizzuwatna had to sign a treaty with him.

Alalakh was probably destroyed by the Sea People in the 12th century BC, as were many other cities of coastal Anatolia and the Levant. The site was never reoccupied, the port of Al Mina taking its place during the Iron Age.

After the fall of the Hittite empire, several minor Neo-Hittite kingdoms emerged in the area, such as Tabal, Quwe and Kammanu, a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite state in South Central Anatolia in the late 2nd millennium BC, formed from part of Kizzuwatna after the collapse of the Hittite Empire. Its principal city was Melid.


Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show. The city appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus.

The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani (Armenians) to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.

In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo’s name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time. Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad. The Amoritic-Hurrian kingdom of Yamhad (ca. 1800–1600 BC), alternatively known as the ‘land of Ḥalab,’ was the most powerful in the Near East at the time and  is recorded as struggling for this area with the early Hittite king Hattusilis I around 1600 BCE.

Yamhad eventually weakened to the powerful Hittites, and Yamḥad was destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the 16th century BC.However, Aleppo, which had cultic importance to the Hittites for being the center of worship of the Storm-God, soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife. This opened Anatolia for Hurrian cultural influences. The Hittites were influenced by the Hurrian culture over the course of several centuries.

Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, Parshatatar, king of the Hurrian Armenian kingdom of Mitanni, conquered Aleppo in the 15th century BC. Subsequently, Aleppo found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni and the Hittites and Egypt.

The Hittite Suppiluliumas I permanently defeated Mitanni and conquered Aleppo in the 14th century BC. When the Hittite kingdom collapsed in the 12th century BC, Aleppo became part of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Arpad (also known as the state of Bit Agusi) at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, and later it became the capital of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Hatarikka-Luhuti.

Aleppo itself was known as Halman, and this changed over time to Hatarikka (or Hadrach, in the Old Testament). While the Iron Age Aleppo may initially have been independent, it quickly became a south-eastern province within another Aramean Syro-Hittite state known as Pattin (or Unqi), before falling into the hands of Hamath.

In the 9th century BC, Aleppo was conquered by the Assyrians and became part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire until the late 7th century BC, before passing through the hands of the Neo-Babylonians and the Achamenid Persians.