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Anatolian languages: Map


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Extent of the Hittite Empire
Map showing area where the Luwian language was spoken

Map showing areas where later Anatolian languages were spoken

The Anatolian languages are a group of extinct Indo-European languages, which were spoken in Asia Minormarker, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.


The Anatolian branch is generally considered the earliest to split off the Proto-Indo-European language, from a stage referred to either as Indo-Hittite or "Middle PIE", typically a date in the mid-4th millennium BC is assumed. Under the Kurgan hypothesis, there are two possibilities of how early Anatolian speakers could have reached Anatolia: from the north via the Caucasus, and from the west, via the Balkans, with the Balkans route being considered somewhat more likely by Mallory (1989) and Steiner (1990).


  • Hittite (nesili), attested from ca. 1600 BC to 1100 BC, official language of the Hittite Empire.
  • Luwian (luwili), a close relative of Hittite spoken in adjoining regions sometimes under Hittite control.
  • Lycian (Lycian A; standard Lycian), spoken in Lycia in the Iron Age, a descendant of Luwian, extinct in ca. the 1st century BC, fragmentary.
    • Milyan, also called Lycian B, a dialect of Lycian, known from a single inscription.
  • Carian, spoken in Caria, fragmentarily attested from graffiti by Carian mercenaries in Egypt from ca. the 7th century BC, extinct ca. in the 3rd century BC.
  • Pisidian and Sidetic (Pamphylian), fragmentary.
  • Palaic, spoken in north-central Anatolia, extinct around the 13th century BC, known only fragmentarily from quoted prayers in Hittite texts.
  • Lydian, spoken in Lydia, extinct in ca. the 1st century BC, fragmentary.

There were likely other languages of the family that have left no written records, such as the languages of Lycaonia and Isauria.


Anatolia was heavily Hellenized following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and it is generally thought that by the 1st century BC the native languages of the area were extinct. This makes Anatolian the first known branch of Indo-European to become extinct, the only other known branch that has no living descendants being Tocharian, which ceased to be spoken around the 8th century.

Some words descended from the Anatolian languages may still live in the modern Turkish language, especially place names such as Sidemarker and Adanamarker.


Hittite seems to exhibit a simpler morphology than others of the older Indo-European languages. Some Indo-European characteristics seem to have disappeared in Hittite, and other IE language branches developed different innovations. Hittite contains a number of archaisms that have disappeared from other IE languages. Notably, Hittite has no IE gender system opposing masculine : feminine; instead it exhibits a rudimentary noun class system based on an older animate : inanimate opposition.

It has been proposed that the Tyrsenian and the wider Aegean language family are related to the Anatolian branch, but in mainstream linguistics the evidence in support of such claims is not considered conclusive.

See also


  1. While models assuming an Anatolian PIE homeland of course do not assume any migration at all, and the model assuming an Armenian homeland assumes straightforward immigration from the East.


  • J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London (1989).
  • G. Steiner, The immigration of the first Indo-Europeans into Anatolia reconsidered, JIES 18 (1990), 185–214.
  • Patri, Sylvain (2007), L'alignement syntaxique dans les langues indo-européennes d'Anatolie, (StBoT 49), Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, ISBN 978-3-447-05612-0

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