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It is generally assumed that western Asia Minor was originally to a
large extent – if not completely – Luwian. It is remarkable, however,
that the name Luwian does not live on: Greek sources have not
yielded a name that resembles the word Luwian. Of course, this is
not a serious problem, for the name may simply have disappeared,
but it may be useful to keep this in mind.

On the other hand there is a name which at a given time appears
and for which we know no antecedent: Lydian. Herodotus tells us,
more than once (1,7; 7,74), that the Meiones, after a period of famine
– when the Tyrsenoi left them and sailed to Italy – changed their name
to Lydians. We are not told what the reason was for this change. As
the Tyrsenoi, presented as a part of the Lydians, moved to another
country, one might suspect that the (other) Lydians, who remained
in Asia Minor, also resettled in another area. It is only natural to
assume that the Meiones/Lydians occupied a land that had the name
‘Lydia’, or a country where the people had the name Lydians, and
that they got, or took, themselves the name ‘Lydian’. I argued along
these lines in 2002, 212 (also 2003, 16f.) where I further suggested
that it was because of the invasion of the Phrygians that the Lydians
moved southward.

At this point one is reminded of a Lydian sound law, to which
Th. Van den Hout (2002) called attention in connection with
the name(s) of the Lydians. The law was established by Melchert
(see1994, 364), viz. that n became d in Lydian. If we now assume a
starting form *luwiy- this would give *luw(i)d- and with syncope of
the -i- *luwd-. This form may well have become *l)d- with a long
u. In Greek the forms Lud-Òw, LÊd-iow, Lud-¤a indeed have a long
u. I owe the idea of the syncope to Craig Melchert, who read a fi rst
draft of the article. This can hardly be a coincidence: we can therefore
consider the proposed development as certain, I think. The sound law
was formulated for n between vowels, so the d may have appeared

Kadmos Bd. 42, S. 47–49
ISSN 0022-7498

Page 2

48 Robert Beekes

before the syncope of the -i-. We have no indication for the date of
the development. We fi nd Gr. Lud- fi rst in Alcaeus and Sappho, i.e.
shortly before 600. We have further early testimony in the account
by Assurbanipal, who speaks of Luddi (see Van den Hout; also e.g.
DNP s.v. Gyges). Assurbanipal’s dates are 668–630, so this testimony
is slightly earlier than the Greek one. My assumption was that the
relevant events occurred after the Phrygian invasion. Though the date
of their arrival is not certain, it may not have been too long after 1200
B.C., which would fi t well. Our proposal implies that the sound law
n > d only occurred after the Lydians adopted the word Luw(i)ya-.
Though they may have learned the name at an earlier date, it seems
more probable that the sound law operated around 1200, and more
probably shortly after that date. (If the sound law was (much) earlier,
the -y- would rather have been retained in the loan.)

One might object that our evidence for the name Luwiya – the
Hittite texts – disappears early. See e.g. Melchert 2002, 32; cf. Bryce
in Melchert 2002, 40. In later texts of the laws the name is replaced
by Arzawa, which is a more political designation. I understand that
the name is not known from later times. (Bryce (ib. 43), following
Laroche and others, considers the possibility that the term Lukka
was used to designate the Luwians in general. I do not think that
this is an objection to my proposal: the term may have lived on to
designate people.)

The positive indications may be summarized as follows. It is gener-
ally accepted that the country of the (classical) Lydians was originally
Luwian speaking (e.g. Melchert 2002, 22). This implies that at some
moment the Lydians moved into these Luwian territories. The date
and the cause of this movement are not essential here. The move-
ment will have been such an important event in the history and the
formation of the Lydians that they got another name. So this will be
the change of name mentioned by Herodotus. It is often seen that a
people takes (or gets) its name from the country where it settled; the
Hittites are a good example. Thus, it often happens that a people has
the ‘wrong’ name, as with the Hittites. So a priori we may expect that
the name Lydian derives from Luwian. The phonetic resemblance
between the two forms strengthens this expectation.

Of course we must not say, on the basis of what we proposed, that
“the Lydians were Luwians”. What happened is that the Lydians
moved southward and occupied former Luwian land, and happened
to get the name of this land (or their inhabitants). It changes noth-
ing as to the question of the linguistic position of Lydian, which has

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