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Languages and Writing Systems of Anatolia

(Oriental Institute, 5 weeks)

April 15, 2021 – May 20, 2021
Zoom: Thursdays 17.00–19.00 CST (recorded for participants)
$295 (nonmembers), $236 (members), $118 (docents), $74 (UChicago/Lab School students)

The Oriental Institute, 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. 


The Anatolian language family is a group of related languages spoken during the Bronze and Iron Ages across a broad stretch of modern-day Turkey. For two millennia, these languages – Hittite, Luwian, Palaic, Lydian, Lycian, Carian, Pisidic, and Sidetic – were recorded on different media in both borrowed and indigenous Anatolian scripts. In this six-week course, we will survey the languages comprising the Anatolian family, and discuss their relation to one another and the larger Indo-European family of languages. To do this we will engage with both descriptions of the relevant languages and literature on historical and comparative linguistics more generally. We will also explore the origins and development of the writing systems in which these languages were recorded: the Mesopotamian cuneiform adopted by the Hittites, the local hieroglyph script used to inscribe Luwian rock monuments, and the Greek-derived alphabets engraving first-millennium mausoleums.

Please note that this is not a language class: while the course instructor, Emily Smith, may discuss aspects of the grammar and vocabulary of different languages for comparison, the purpose of the class is to provide an overview of the linguistic situation in Anatolia in the second and first millennia BC. Participants will not be learning to read or translate individual languages. No prior knowledge of linguistics or Anatolian languages is necessary.


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