Greeks in ancient Central Asia: the Ionians

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In the comments to "A Sino-Mongolian tale in three languages and five scripts" (10/10/19), Michael Watts remarked:

I was just reading about the conflict between the Han and Da Yuan. Yuan 宛 is supposed to reflect the Greek self-appellation (presumably Ἰάονες or similar), or a Sanskrit rendition thereof. This made me curious what the reconstructed ancient pronunciation of 宛 was.

To which Chris Button replied:

宛 would go back to Old Chinese *ʔwàn and so its identification with Sanskrit "Yavana" or Pali "Yona" for Ionian is well founded.

Let us delve into this business of Greeks in Central Asia a bit more deeply.  As Chris Button pointed out:

Ionians appear in Indic literature and documents as Yavana and Yona. In documents, these names refer to the Indo-Greek Kingdoms; that is, the states formed by the Macedonians, either Alexander the Great or his successors on the Indian subcontinent. The earliest such documentation is the Edicts of Ashoka, dated to 250 BC, within 10 or 20 years.

Before then, the Yavanas appear in the Vedas, as early as the 2nd millennium BC. The Vedas are to be distinguished from the much earlier Vedic period. In the Vedas, the Yavanas are a kingdom of Mlechhas, or barbarians, to the far west, out of the line of descent of Indic culture, in the same category as the Sakas, or Skythians (who spoke Iranian), and thus probably were already Greek. The Ionians of the Aegean are the identity customarily assigned to them.


Since Indic and Iranian are closely linked in their early phases, it is not surprising that we also find the Ionians mentioned in Iranian texts in a form close to that of those in Indic sources:

Ionians appear in a number of Old Persian inscriptions of the Achaemenid Empire as Yaunā (), a nominative plural masculine, singular Yauna; for example, an inscription of Darius on the south wall of the palace at Persepolis includes in the provinces of the empire "Ionians who are of the mainland and (those) who are by the sea, and countries which are across the sea; …." At that time the empire probably extended around the Aegean to northern Greece.


Now we need to learn something about the history, ethnicity, and culture of the "Great Ionians":

Dayuan (or Tayuan; Chinese: 大宛; pinyin: Dàyuān; literally: 'Great Ionians') was a country in Ferghana valley in Central Asia, described in the Chinese historical works of Records of the Grand Historian and the Book of Han. It is mentioned in the accounts of the famous Chinese explorer Zhang Qian in 130 BCE and the numerous embassies that followed him into Central Asia. The country of Dayuan is generally accepted as relating to the Ferghana Valley, controlled by the Greek polis Alexandria Eschate (modern Khujand, Tajikistan).

These Chinese accounts describe the Dayuan as urbanized dwellers with Caucasian features, living in walled cities and having "customs identical to those of the Greco-Bactrians", a Hellenistic kingdom that was ruling Bactria at that time in today's northern Afghanistan. The Dayuan are also described as manufacturers and great lovers of wine.

The Dayuan were the descendants of the Greek colonists that were settled by Alexander the Great in Ferghana in 329 BCE (see Alexandria Eschate), and had prospered within the Hellenistic realm of the Seleucids and Greco-Bactrians, until they were isolated by the migrations of the Yuezhi around 160 BCE. It appears that the name "Yuan" was simply a transliteration of Sanskrit Yavana or Pali Yona, used throughout antiquity in Asia to designate Greeks ("Ionians"), so that Dayuan would mean "Great Ionians" or "Great Greeks".

By 100 BC, the Dayuan were defeated by the Han dynasty in the Han-Dayuan war. The interaction between the Dayuan and the Chinese is historically crucial, since it represents one of the first major contacts between an urbanized Western civilization and the Chinese civilization, opening the way to the formation of the Silk Road that was to link the East and the West in material and cultural exchange from the 1st century BCE to the 15th century.


Chris Buttons' *ʔwàn seems serviceable as an Old Sinitic reconstruction of 宛.  For the sake of comparison, we may also mention the following:

Middle Sinitic


Old Sinitic

(BaxterSagart): /*[ʔ]o[r]ʔ/
(Zhengzhang): /*qonʔ/


Regardless of how we reconstruct the Middle and Old Sinitic, there can be no doubt that the people of the East Asian Heartland (EAH) were aware of the Ionians and knew of them by name already in B.C. times.  They knew that the people of Da Yuan ("Great Ionia") produced fabulous "blood-sweating", "thousand-tricent" horses (also called "Ferghana horses"), grew alfalfa (to feed the horses!), grapes, and many other prized commodities, and so forth.  In other words, they were far from ignorant about the peoples, cultures, and languages of Central Asia and beyond westward.

Greek and Roman knowledge of the Far East was also extensive.  Ptolemy (A.D. ca. 100-ca. 170) listed Dunhuang, the vital Silk Road city in the Gansu Corridor, in his Geography of the Greco-Roman world, referring to it as Θροανα (Throana), which I believe may derive from an Iranian word druvana meaning something like "fortress for tax collecting" (source), though I would welcome confirmation of this finding.

In any event, in our ongoing series of investigations of early East-West linguistic interchange, we need to take seriously the fact that contact between distant peoples did occur and that clines of cultural exchange contributed greatly to their mutual development.


Selected readings


  1. martin schwartz said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 12:46 am

    The Ionians were indeed part of the Achæmenian Persian empire, whence the ethnonym (originally Iawo:n-, where my w = digamma)
    spread to other Near Eastern peoples for the Greeks in general,
    just as the Roman knowledge of the Western Greek tribe Graioi/Græi,
    adj. Græcus gave rise to the word for Greeks in western languages, while the Greeks themselves referred broadly to their ethnicity
    as Hellenes, and the territory Hellas. In Central Asia the name *"Ionian" thereby came to designate the (Greco-)Macedonians whom Alexander first put in place.
    Martin Schwartz

  2. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 5:51 am

    The earliest occurrence of the term Yavana in Old Indo-Aryan is in the Astadhyayi of Panini (fourth century BCE), not in the much earlier Vedas as your unsourced and unreliable Wikipedia source claims.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 6:21 am

    From Tsu-Lin Mei:

    烏弋山離 'Alexandria' is the name of a city in Central Asia. Scholars of Old Chinese often cite this term to show that 弋 has initial *l and 離has initial *r during the Western Han. Laufer's Sino-Iranica is still worth consulting. I think "the Ionians" is too speculative for my taste.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 12:35 pm

    Yavana Kingdom:



    Note the section on chronology (orally transmitted [with comparative data available] vs. written):

  5. Michael Watts said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 5:06 pm

    The Ionians were indeed part of the Achæmenian Persian empire, whence the ethnonym (originally Iawo:n-, where my w = digamma)
    spread to other Near Eastern peoples for the Greeks in general,
    just as the Roman knowledge of the Western Greek tribe Graioi/Græi,
    adj. Græcus gave rise to the word for Greeks in western languages, while the Greeks themselves referred broadly to their ethnicity
    as Hellenes, and the territory Hellas.

    This is true for Achaemenid Persia (c. 500 BC), but it's not a claim we can make for the Vedas referring to Yavana in 2000 BC. To Homer, Hellas was just one of several regions ruled by, if I remember right, Achilles (or rather Peleus). There are different words used to refer to the Greeks collectively, but Hellenes isn't one of them.

    Homer does mention the Ionians, I assume as an individual tribe like the Hellenes rather than a collective reference.

  6. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 21, 2019 @ 7:29 pm

    It doesn't matter, Victor; there is no mention whatsoever of the "Yavanas" in the (four) Vedas, which is what the Wikipedia article quoted in your initial post conversely claims.

    The names for the Greeks attested in ancient Indian sources, Yavana (Sanskrit) and Yona(-ka) (Pali, Aśokan Prakrit), came to Gandhāra from across the Hindukush. Starting from the reign of Aśoka (mid-third century BCE), who in one of his rock edicts refers to a Seleucid king as Aṃtiyoko… Yonarāja ("Antiochus… king of Greeks"), the synonymous names Yavana and Yona certainly designated the Greeks. This is far less certain for the earlier period (fourth century BCE), viz. for Pāṇini's mention of the "Yavanas". Since the phonetic shape of Yavana/Yona is clearly similar to that of some foreign "western" names designating all Greeks, such as Old Persian Yauna, Imperial Aramaic Ywn, and Babylonian Yawanu (all attested in Achaemenid documents), the derivation of Yavana/Yona from a native Indo-Aryan root can be excluded. That's why there is a consensus today that the ethnonym Yavana/Yona was borrowed into Old Indo-Aryan from Achaemenid sources.

    The attestation of the Sanskrit name Yavana in Pāṇini (as its feminine derivative yavanānī, Aṣṭādhyāyī 4.1.49) is certainly earlier than that of the Prakrit name Yona in Aśokan edicts. The form yavanānī is assumed by most scholars to refer to the script of the "Yavanas" (in contrast with the later Sanskrit form yavanī 'a Greek female'), for Kātyāyana's vārttika (critical annotation) #3 on Pāṇini 4.1.49 glosses yavanānī as "yavanāllipyā" ('Yavana script or handwriting'). It is likely that Pāṇini was familiar with a "western" script (Sanskrit lipi, a term occurring in his sūtras) that was not that of the Greeks. Indeed, that Pāṇini knew of the Greek script seems a rather unlikely possibility. The Pāṇinean term lipi could have equally indicated a script used by the Persians – possibly Imperial Aramaic, used as the administrative language throughout the Achaemenid empire.

    Now, as to the form in which the name Yavana was borrowed into Sanskrit in Pāṇini's time, there are various possibilities to be considered:

    1) Sanskrit Yavana was a back-formation from an earlier Prakrit form *Yona, itself a loan from Old Persian Yauna 'Greek'. This is the standard explanation offered by the scholars (its original inspirator was probably D.C. Sircar), yet A.K. Narain objected that "there is no warrant for taking Yona as an earlier form. One might conclude from the correspondence of Old Persian Yauna – Middle Indo-Aryan Yona, that there existed an old form *Yona older than Yavana. But this equivalence of sounds applies to inherited words coming independently from an Indo-Iranian source, which Yavana is not, being a loan word. At best one can say that both Yavana and Yona are borrowed from the West, i.e. the Persians and the Semitic peoples" (A.K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1957, p. 169). I guess the two lexical forms, Sanskrit Yavana and Prakrit Yona, may have been borrowed at about the same time after the Indians of Gandhāra came into contact with the Greeks settled in the easternmost satrapies of the Achaemenid empire.

    2) The immediate source of the two words "may have been [the language of] the Greeks who were already settled in regions to which Pāṇini's knowledge could have very easily extended" (Narain, op. cit., p. 169). This hypothesis is, however, unlikely. Only if all of those Yavanas/Yonas were Ionians from Asia Minor resettled to the far east of the Achaemenid empire – which may not have been the case: cf. the deportation to Bactria of the Barcaeans, of Dorian ancestry, referred to by Herodotus – their autonym would have been Íōn (borrowed into Indo-Aryan as Yona). Moreover, if Sanskrit Yavana does not derive from Prakrit Yona (see #1), Greek Íōn is phonetically unlikely to have been its direct source, though it could still theoretically have been the direct source for Prakrit Yona.

    3) Sanskrit Yavana could have been derived from the Babylonian form Yawanu (attested as ia-a-ma-nu in the Babylonian cuneiform version of the text of Darius I's Behistun Inscription). This is considered by Narain (op. cit., p. 169) among various other possibilities, but I would tend to exclude this source for the borrowing as Babylonian was never spoken in countries bordering on Gandhāra.

    4) Sanskrit Yavana could have been derived from Aramaic Ywn (closer to the Sanskrit form if vocalized as y[a]w[a]n) since Imperial Aramaic was the language of communication and government in the Achaemenid empire, and there is evidence of it having been used in eastern Iran, not far from Gandhāra. In contrast to this, the other ancient Indian term designating the Greeks, Prakrit Yona, could have been derived from the Old Persian form Yauna through a monophthongization of the diphthong au (a common process in Middle Indo-Aryan).

    Hypothesis #4 is the one I personally favor, although I have some residual doubts as to whether Greek Íōn could not have been an alternative source for Prakrit Yona.

  7. Victor Mair said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 1:41 am

    I will arrange for the revision of the Wikipedia article. May take a few days, as I am at an academic conference in Germany.

  8. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 5:23 am

    A few more considerations on the etymology of Greek Io:nes 'Ionians' (sg. Io:n rare) = Iáones (epic poetry; sg. Iao:n rare; note that a shorter form *Iones can also be assumed on the basis of Iónios 'the Ionic Sea').

    According to Frisk's and Beekes' Greek etymological dictionaries, comparison with Egyptian and West Asian forms of this ethnonym allows for the reconstruction of an original *Iá:wones (wherein /w/ represents digamma, an archaic Greek letter that had the phonetic value of a voiced labial-velar approximant, and Proto-Greek long /a/ is still preserved). Further analysis in Greek is virtually impossible; the proper meaning is unknown, so that the ethnonym is without a certain etymology.

    The name i-ja-wo-ne is attested in two Linear B tablets from the Mycenaean layers at Knossos in Crete, yet a section of scholars think it more likely to be the dative singular of a personal name rather than the nominative plural of the ethnic 'Ionian'. Therefore, the matching of the proposed reconstruction *Iá:wones with this attested Mycenaean form, i-ja-wo-ne, may be illusory, and this prevents scholars from tracing the ethnic 'Ionian' back to the Mycenaean era on safe grounds.

    The tentative Greek (Indo-European) etymologies proposed for Io:nes thus far are hardly convincing. Two among the most discussed hypotheses are the following:

    1) 'ia-criers' (the Greek interjection ia, Ionian ié:, was also a type of cry or call) – by which the prehistoric Ionians are turned into 'berserk'-like warriors;

    2) 'adorers of Apollon Ié:ios' (the one who is called with the cry 'ie: Paio:n', roughly meaning 'O Healer!').

    Yet it is well-known ethnonyms often come from the outside. It is also conceivable that the name *Iá:wones did not initially designate a Greek, but rather an Anatolian or even Cypriot population. Etymological hypotheses to this effect have been, indeed, suggested by some scholars. It is generally assumed that the name *Iá:wones is connected with the Yaw(a)naya (= Iaunaia) people mentioned in Assyrian documents dating from the second half of the eighth century BCE. Another form of this name attested in Neo-Assyrian cuneiform texts is Yawanu (= Iauanu). Both forms are written in cuneiform script with an /m/ substituting for the /w/ (e.g. as ia-am-na-a-a, ia-a-ma-nu, ia-ma-nu), which fact has been attributed since W.F. Albright's times to a "Babylonian fashion" followed by Assyrian scribes. Phonetically, the name is Yawan- (suffixed in two different ways). Two Northwest Semitic forms, Hebrew Ya:wa:n and Aramaic Ywn, were apparently borrowed from Assyrian; besides, there are Demotic Egyptian Wynn and Old Persian Yauna (the latter, too, apparently borrowed from Assyrian). Each of these terms designated the Greeks (not only the Ionians) in the respective languages.

    Though the name Yaw(a)naya was employed by the Assyrians to designate all Greeks, Ionian or otherwise, it was also used by them for some non-Greek populations settled on the Anatolian seaboard, from the Aegean Sea to Cyprus – an area in which Ionian traders, navigators and soldiers are likely to have formed an important ethnic component since the early centuries of the first millennium BCE. A conservative view is that the name Yaw(a)naya was originally derived from the self-ethnonym of the Ionians who lived in southwestern Asia Minor, and then applied to all maritime populations of the Anatolian seaboard; yet, the two innovative hypotheses I am going to illustrate now hold exactly the reverse, namely, that the early Ionians of Asia Minor accepted as their term of self-designation a geographical name indicating a land that had been named so by non-Greeks. Either hypothesis posits a borrowing of the ethnonym *Iá:wones from an eastern, non-Greek language – Anatolian in the first case, Semitic in the second:

    1) Italian Anatolianist O. Carruba suggests that both the reconstructed Greek form *Iá:wones and the Assyrian Yawan- (along with the derived West Asian forms) go back to the Hittite placename Ahhiyawa, which, as it is well-known, designated a kingdom in the Aegean region that many scholars assume to have been a powerful Mycenaean State. According to Carruba, the Luwian form of this name was *Ahhiyawane, which he reconstructs on the basis of a recently discovered eighteenth century BCE Anatolian inscription – the Hieroglyphic Luwian-Phoenician bilingual inscription of Çineköy – mentioning the land of "hi-ia-wa/i[-ni]" (= Hiyawa[-ni/a]) located in the coastal area of Adana in Cilicia. He considers the place-name Hiyawa(-ni/a) a Luwian equivalent of Hittite Ahhiyawa characterized by aphaeresis (the loss of one or more sounds or letters at the beginning of a word). In sum, the Luwian place-name Hiyawani/Hiyawana, a younger form of the Hittite place-name Ahhiyawa, would have been the basis for the Ionians' endonym *Iá:wones and, at one time, for the Assyrian exonym Yaw(a)naya/Yawanu, designating Greek-speaking groups (Ionians) who sailed, traded, fought, and in certain cases settled permanently along the southern coasts of Asia Minor (and, most likely, also some non-Greek allies of the Ionians).

    2) The other hypothesis, formulated by the ANE scholar J.D. Muhly, analyzes *Iá:wones in terms of a formation involving an Indo-European ethnic suffix -wani, best attested in Luwian, attached to 'i:-, the West Semitic word for 'island'. The 'Ionians' would have been, thus, the 'Islanders', and their term of self-designation would have been a hybrid Semitic-Anatolian compound formed with the root 'i:- and the suffix -wani (thus, **'i:-wani > Greek *Iá:wones, Assyrian Yawan- etc.). According to Muhly, these linguistic developments must have taken place in Cilicia and Cyprus.

  9. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 5:26 am

    N.B. Please forgive my typo 'Ionic Sea' for 'Ionian Sea'.

  10. Victor Mair said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 6:12 am

    From Hiroshi Kumamoto:

    An additional note to Dr. Brighenti's excellent comment on the topic.

    "there is no mention whatsoever of the "Yavanas" in the (four) Vedas"

    As Böhtlingk-Roth VI, sp. 85 points out, there is a mention of "yavana" as a tribe name in the Atharvaveda-Pariśiṣṭa (a group of supplements, appendices to the AV), which belongs to an undeterminably late date, but Vedic nonetheless.

    See the first line of Albrecht Weber's Verzeichnis, Part 1, p. 92:

  11. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 6:43 pm

    On the post-Vedic character of the language and most of the contents of the Atharvaveda-Pariśiṣṭa, see Michael Witzel at

    B. R. Modak (The Ancillary Literature of the Atharva-Veda: A Study with Special Reference to the Pariśiṣṭas. New Delhi: Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishtan, 1993) comes to the conclusion that the date of the compilation of the Atharvaveda-Pariśiṣṭa lies somewhere between the second century BCE and the fifth century CE (p. 473).

    Thus, this work, traditionally forming part of the Vedic canon, is actually post-Vedic (as well as post-Pāṇini, and post-Aśoka).

    In any event, although I concede it is formally correct to say there is a mention of the Yavanas in a canonical Vedic work, what is claimed in the Wikipedia article I had contested is that "the Yavanas appear in the Vedas, as early as the 2nd millennium BC," and that this occurrence of the name Yavana would be earlier than its attestation in Aśoka's rock edicts in the third century BCE…

  12. Chris Button said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 7:11 pm

    *ʔwàn seems serviceable as an Old Sinitic reconstruction of 宛

    (Baxter–Sagart): /*[ʔ]o[r]ʔ/
    (Zhengzhang): /*qonʔ/

    Probably worth noting that the *-r coda in Baxter-Sagart's reconstruction would have shifted to *-n by the time we are talking about. They propose **-r becomes *-n or *-j depending on "dialect", although in reality, **-r became *-l (which they unfortunately don't reconstruct in OC) and then vacillated with *-n as would be expected on phonetic grounds.

    As for *-o- as opposed to *-wa-, that simply reflects not distinguishing underlying phonology from surface reflexes. That is to say, while the nucleus may well have surfaced as something like [o] for many speakers, for others it may have been [ʊ̯o] or [ʊ̯a], etc. In terms of the reconstructed phonology, the only viable option is /wa/ since we are not reconstructing idiolects or even (contrary to what is sometimes claimed) dialects.

  13. Scott P. said,

    October 22, 2019 @ 10:33 pm

    In sum, the Luwian place-name Hiyawani/Hiyawana, a younger form of the Hittite place-name Ahhiyawa, would have been the basis for the Ionians' endonym *Iá:wones and, at one time, for the Assyrian exonym Yaw(a)naya/Yawanu, designating Greek-speaking groups (Ionians) who sailed, traded, fought, and in certain cases settled permanently along the southern coasts of Asia Minor (and, most likely, also some non-Greek allies of the Ionians).

    "Ahhiyawa" is itself thought to come from "Achaioi" (Achaeans), isn't it?

  14. Hiroshi Kumamoto said,

    October 23, 2019 @ 10:59 pm

    I fully agree with Dr. Brighenti that the Wikipedia article in question is "unsourced and unreliable", and that the earliest mention on record of "Yavana" would probably be Pāṇini.

    The two cases where we find "yavana" in the AV Pariśiṣṭa are both in omen texts, one concerning the new moon and the other concerning constellations.

    AVParis 50.2.4
    AVParis 56.1.5

    The whole text is can also be seen in:

    For the contexts of these passages see Modak pp. 335 and 345, respectively.

    Incidentally, the URL referred to by Witzel (quoted by Dr. Brighenti above) has a typo; read instead of

    It seems to me that the use of the word "Vedic" is tricky. In a general sense "Vedic literature" can cover part of the Vedāṅga texts with more or less explicit affiliation with a particular Veda (and śākhā as in the case of śrauta- and gṛhya-sūtras). But when we say post-Vedic, it means that the language and contents are not as old as the Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas. So these late texts are both Vedic and post-Vedic!

  15. Francesco Brighenti said,

    October 24, 2019 @ 11:38 am

    @Scott P.
    > "Ahhiyawa" is itself thought to come from "Achaioi"
    > (Achaeans), isn't it?

    Here is how Anatolianist Onofrio Carruba and his continuators trace the Greek name of the Aegean Sea and the Greek ethnic names 'Achaean', 'Ionian', and 'Aeolian' to one and the same Anatolian toponym, Aḫḫiya.

    Starting point: PIE *akw(-a)- 'water' > Anatolian (*/-iya/-suffixed adj.) *akw-iya 'pertaining to the water, situated in the water' > 'island' > *ahwiya (with */-k-/ before */w/ > */-h-/) > *ahhiya > Aḫḫiya (toponym).

    (Unfortunately, the existence of a PIE root *akw(-a)- for 'water' is generally not accepted, and there are, however, no known Anatolian reflexes of it, pace Carruba…)

    Developments in the Anatolian > Greek borrowing process according to Carruba & Co.:

    1) Hittite Aḫḫiya (older form) 'the Great Water/island region' (possibly the Anatolian name of the Aegean Sea, lit. 'the [Sea of] Islands') > *Ahhya > *Aihha (/*Aikha?) > Greek *Aἰγα > (*/-yo/-suffixed adj.) Αἰγα-ῖος (πόντος) 'Aegean (Sea)'.

    2) Hittite Aḫḫiya-wa (newer form with -wa suffix, often used for ethnic names) 'the countries and/or peoples of the Great Water/island region' > *Ahhiyaw- > *Ahhyaw- > *Akhaw- (with */-hhy-/ > */-kh-/) > Greek (*/-yo/-suffixed adj.) *Ἀχαϝ-ιοί (ϝ = digamma [*/w/]) > *Ἀχαιϝοί > Ἀχαιοί 'the Achaeans'.

    3) Luwian *Aḫḫiya-wanni (with -wanni suffix, often used for ethnic names) 'Greeks settled on the southwestern Anatolian coasts' > *(A)iyaunni (with /-ḫḫ-/ > Ø) > Greek *Ἰάϝονες (ϝ = digamma [*/w/]) > Ἰάονες 'the Ionians'.

    4) Hittite (A)ḫḫiyawa > Luwian toponym Ḫiyawa(-na) (name of a kingdom in Cilicia, perhaps representing another, parallel Anatolian source for Greek *Ἰάϝονες > Ἰάονες 'the Ionians') > Assyrian etc. Yawan- formations ('the Greeks').

    5) Hittite(-"Lydian") *Aḫḫiyawa-li 'Greeks settled on the northwestern Anatolian coasts'> *Aiyawali (with /-ḫḫ-/ > Ø) > *Aiyauli > Greek Αἰολέες 'the Aeolians'.

    6) Hittite *Aḫḫiyaw-ašša 'Greeks settled in Caria' = Egyptian /'-q-j-w-š/ (to be read as Aqaiwaša?) 'Eqweš or Ekwesh, name of one of the Sea Peoples'.

  16. Victor Mair said,

    October 25, 2019 @ 11:27 am

    I asked some specialists in Hittite and other Anatolian languages whether item 6), i.e., Ekwesh / 'Eqweš, in the preceding comment could be a reference to horses

    Craig Melchert replied:

    The attempt of Carruba et al. to get all those ethnica from one source, and from IE, was in my view not viable from the start. New evidence that Lydian does *not* delete the "second" laryngeal (which is what geminate -hh- would need to be) makes it even harder to get Aioles etc.

    The word cited naturally cannot be 'horses' if from one of the "Luvic" languages, since the *k' came out as an affricate/sibilant: HLuvian azwa-/azu- and Lycian esbe-. Hittite has a u-stem for 'horse' (ANŠE.KUR.RA-u-). Kloekhorst in his dictionary assumes this (and the Luvic) are a hoary archaism *ék'u-. I don't believe it, but for your idea it doesn't matter, since the Hittite plural would have been *ekk(u)wes either from *ék'u- or *ék'wo-. I would think that the problem would be that the reference seems to be to the name of a people.

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