Billie Jean Collins, Mary R. Bachvarova and Ian C. Rutherford (edd.), Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and their Neighbours. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008. Pp. x + 213, incl. 2 black-and-white maps and 5 black-and-white illustrations. ISBN 978-1- 84217-270- 4. UK£45.00.
Naoíse Mac Sweeney
Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, U.K.
This edited volume is a timely exploration of a controversial and recently reinvigorated topic. The interaction between the societies of the Aegean and Anatolia was the subject of much scrutiny in the early and mid twentieth century, with interpretations at the time largely casting the civilised Greek Aegean in contrast to the barbarous and backwards peoples of Anatolia. This approach has been criticised in recent years, with new theoretical models being applied and new evidence coming to light. There is currently a substantial and growing interest in the complex and multi-directional interactions between Anatolia and the Aegean during the first and second millennia BCE. This book, like the 2004 conference on which it is based, draws from this new research.
The volume contains twenty separate papers, divided into five sections: ‘History, Archaeology and the Mycenaean-Anatolian Interface’ (pp. 11-62), ‘Sacred Interactions’ (pp. 63-84), ‘Identity and Literary Traditions’ (pp. 85-116), ‘Identity and Language Change’ (pp. 117-56), and ‘Anatolia as Intermediary: the First Millennium’ (pp. 157-202). The papers cover a broad range of topics and make use of a wide selection of source material, ensuring that there is likely to be something new here for even the most dedicated expert on the topic. As to be expected from any conference volume, the quality of these papers is variable. However, the general standard is high, and the thematic unity of the collection is such that the book as a whole makes for enjoyable reading.
The introduction by the editors is perhaps the least engaging part of the volume. In addition to the usual summary of the contents, the introduction also includes a discussion of current theories of cultural interaction. While such introductory theoretical discussions can provide a conceptual framework for the following papers, this one is unfortunately too brief and too patchy to do so. However, this is a relatively small concern given the overall strength of the book.
The Late Bronze Age section of the book opens with a paper by Cline, who uses the idea of the ‘contested periphery’ -- an area caught between and disputed by two opposed political or cultural entities -- as a way to approach Troy. The Iliad, he argues, reflects a broader tradition of conflict in the region, while archaeological and documentary evidence points to a mixed population. Cline’s theory is certainly plausible, but presumes western Anatolia to be a peripheral area to the Mycenaean and Hittite ‘core’ heartlands. This assumption is far from watertight, and the very model of geographic cores and peripheries has come under criticism recently for the cultural preconceptions it implies. The section continues with Singer’s exciting paper on purple dyers in Lazpa/Lesbos. Singer traces the evidence for purple dyeing in the Levant and at Troy, before turning to the Lazpa dyers. Attested in Hittite records, Singer suggests these dyers were a sign of Hittite interest in (and perhaps even influence over) the Aegean coast. Next, Nikoloudis’s paper uses onomastic evidence, ethnics, and toponyms in the Linear B texts to consider the extent of multiculturalism in the Mycenaean world, suggesting that there was perhaps more diversity than had previously been thought. The final paper in this section is Mason’s discussion of Hittite influence on Lesbos. Using later Greek myths as well as contemporary texts, and linking in well with Singer’s paper, Mason argues that there are some grounds for postulating a Hittite association with the island.
The second section, on cultic interactions, starts with an intriguing paper by Oettinger on the legendary seer Mopsos. Classical Greek myths concerning Mopsos at Colophon and in Cilicia may have a more ancient origin, Oettinger suggests, since Hittite documents and Iron Age inscriptions both mention him as mythical founder of a royal Cilician dynasty. Miller’s paper deals with Mesopotamian cultic influences in Anatolia, focusing on the rituals surrounding the re-foundation of the cult of the ‘Goddess of the Night’ from Kizzuwatna to Samuha. Rutherford concludes the section with his enlightening analysis of Hittite and archaic Greek choral traditions, highlighting the conspicuous connection in both traditions between performance and ritual.
The third section on literary sources starts with Bryce’s paper on the Iliad. In it, Bryce rehearses the accepted wisdom that Homer’s epic does not suggest a ‘clash of civilisations’ between the Aegean and Anatolia, and recounts the conventional evidence for interaction between the two regions long before the time of Homeric composition. Bachvarova’s contribution is an innovative treatment of the issue of human decision-making and divine will in Mesopotamian, Hittite, and early Greek literature; pointing out interesting differences as well as similarities between the different literary traditions. The final paper in the section is a fascinating contribution by Gilan, considering Hittite ethnicity by exploring the emergence of the Hittite state. Gilan argues that the forging of the new state would have required the construction of a collective identity, although this may not necessarily be ‘ethnic’ in character.
The fourth section of the book deals with linguistic interactions. Payne discusses the development of Luwian hieroglyphic, reflecting on the possible significance of the script’s contemporary use alongside cuneiform, and highlighting the potential political value of using such an indigenous script in monumental settings. Yakubovitch’s erudite paper makes a strong argument for a reappraisal of current theories about the Luwians, using the chronology of linguistic parallels with Hittite and Mycenaean Greek to argue that Luwians must have originally been spoken in central Anatolia (perhaps in the area of the Konya Plain), rather than further west as has hitherto been thought. The paper by Watkins is patchier, comprising a somewhat confused text which discusses both a new interpretation of a letter from the Ahhiyawan to the Hittite king, and the linguistic connections between Luwian, Lycian and Hellenistic Greek vocabulary for pillars as mortuary monuments. Luraghi’s paper on possessive constructions in Luwian, Hittite and Old Armenian is dense and might be difficult reading for non-linguists, but hints at an intriguing conclusion: that the grammatical similarity in these three languages suggest a period where their speakers were in close geographical proximity in eastern Anatolia. Melchert’s paper closes this penultimate section, proposing a new potential derivation for the Greek word molybdos from the Lydian mariwda.
The fifth and final section of the book moves into the first millennium. The first paper continues the linguistic theme, considering various different names for the goddess Kybele/Kubaba. In it, Munn argues that the Phrygian Meter Kubeleya is related to this long-lived and extremely diverse cult tradition, and that the epithet Kubeleya can indeed be derived from Kubaba. Vassileva’s paper traces the evidence for the activities of an historical King Midas in southeastern Anatolia. It is argued that the surviving inscriptions and Neo- Assyrian texts show the Phrygian king may have had more influence in this area than has previously been assumed. Taylor returns to the subject of Kybele in his paper on the gallos priests of Kybele in the Roman imperial period and the GALA professional cultic singers of Bronze Age Mesopotamia. Taylor asserts that there are notable similarities between these two groups of cult personnel, although the two are far from identical. Ebbinghaus’ paper breaks new ground in its discussion of animal-headed vessels in the eighth and seventh centuries BC. It presents archaeological and iconographic evidence to suggest that these vessels were used as markers of elite status in contexts as diverse as Sargon’s Neo- Assyrian court, the ‘Midas Mound’ tumulus at Gordion, and the sanctuary of Hera on Samos. The last paper of the volume is Franklin’s offering on Greek and Lydian musical traditions. Franklin makes the tenuous argument that Greek and Lydian musicians could have been present at the Neo- Assyrian court, and thus that Greek and Lydian music could have been influenced by the Assyrians as a result.
There are a number of typographical errors across the book, and in several places knowledge is assumed of French, German, and the academic traditions surrounding both Mesopotamian literature and scholarship on linguistics. However, the volume is a strong and exciting read overall. Most of the papers are engaging and informative, and quite a few of them offer startling new insights into their respective subjects. As a whole, the papers work well together and complement each other, although the emphasis is slightly greater on linguistics than on other disciplines. In conclusion, this book makes valuable reading, and deserves attention from scholars of both Anatolia and the Aegean, and from specialists in both the first and the second millennium BCE.