Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean: a critical guide to electronic resources
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Particolare di iscrizione geroglifica luvia di epoca imperiale ittita (XIII sec.)

Detail of Luwian hieroglyphic inscription of the Hittite imperial period (13th century)

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Hieroglyphic Luwian

1300 B.C. - 600 B.C.

edited by: Giulia Torri (translation revised by Melanie Rockenhaus)
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Anatolia hieroglyphic, or Luwian hieroglyphic, is a writing system attested in Anatolia and Syria between 14th and the 7th century B.C. In the last phase of the Late Bronze age it was used by the Hittites and other inhabitants of Anatolia in glyptic and in monuments. After the end of the Hittite domination, in the Iron Age, hieroglyphic script continued to be employed especially on stone inscriptions (9th - 7th century B.C.). Each word was a combination of signs vertically assembled and disposed on horizontal lines. They were organized in a boustrophedon manner on the writing board.

Hieroglyphic script uses the following sign categories:

- Logograms expressing a word with just one sign and conventionally transliterated in capital letters using Latin terms (for ex.: ANNUS, CAELUM, MAGNUS, TONITRUS etc.). There are, in fact, very few logographic signs whose corresponding Luwian word is known.

- Syllabograms: syllabic characters used for their phonetic value in the composition of words. They are constituted by simple vowels (V) or by consonant-vowel combinations (C-V). There are rare examples of consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel combinations.

- Determinatives: logograms used, like in the cuneiform system, to determine the semantic field to which words pertain.

Origin and possible kinship of this writing system are at the moment unknown. David Hawkins suggested a connection with the systems of the Aegean word and in particular with the Cretan hieroglyphs that seems to have had a parallel typological development to Anatolian hieroglyphs (Melchert 2003, 168).

However, considering the lack of proofs, it is only possible to state that the Anatolian Hieroglyphic script was a creation of the Luwian population of the late Bronze Age.


Chronology and location of the inscriptions

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