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date: 14 May 2021

Lycian languagelocked

  • H. C. Melchert

Extract

The Lycian language is documented in somewhat fewer than 200 inscriptions on stone and in several dozen very short imprints on coins, the latter consisting only of personal and place names, often abbreviated. These texts start with the 6th cent. but most of them date from the 5th and 4th cents. bce. They are written in an alphabet derived from or closely related to that of Greek. All but a handful of the stone inscriptions are funerary texts with highly stereotyped contents. One important exception is the ‘inscribed pillar’ of *Xanthus. Much of this lengthy text remains obscure, owing to problems of vocabulary, but it is clear that it describes the military exploits of a particular dynastic family and the establishment of various cultic centres. Invaluable for understanding the Lycian language is the ‘Letoon trilingual’, which describes in parallel Lycian, Greek, and *Aramaic versions the establishment of a cult of King Caunius (a cult name evidently connected with *Caunus; see H.

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