The development of Anatolian hieroglyphs in the context of Hittite-Luwian bilingualism

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Affiliation: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameVostok. Afro-Aziatskie obshchestva: istoriia i sovremennost
EditionIssue 6

The Empire of Hattusa (frequently referred to as the Hittite Empire in earlier literature) was situated on the territory of present-day Turkey and northern Syria and saw its heyday in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE. A peculiarity of the sociolinguistic situation in the Empire of Hattusa was the simultaneous use of two writing systems: the cuneiform and the Anatolian hieroglyphs (also called Hittite or Luwian hieroglyphs in earlier publications). Contrary to a number of hypotheses about the development of Anatolian hieroglyphs on the periphery of Asia Minor, among the Luwian native speakers, this paper strives to demonstrate that its evolution took place in Hattusa, in the bilingual Hittite and Luwian environment. The research methodology consists, on the one hand, of the stratification of the available Anatolian hieroglyphic inscriptions and, on the other hand, of studying acrophonic derivations underlying the values of Anatolian syllabograms. The final part of the paper addresses the causes that could motivate the rulers of Hattusa to deploy and develop the system of Anatolian hieroglyphs, even though the cuneiform script was already available. The author concludes that this policy was an attempt at cultural self-assertion against the background of the more developed written tradition of Ancient Mesopotamia.

KeywordsEmpire of Hattusa, Hittite, Luwian, Anatolian hieroglyphs, acrophonic analysis
Publication date27.12.2018
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