Presentation

Luwian is a language of ancient Anatolia and Syria, which is attested in writing between 1500 and 700 BC. It belongs to the Anatolian group of the Indo-European family and thus represents a close relative of Hittite. It is attested in two scripts: Anatolian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform.

Detail of Luwian Hieroglyphic inscription, Karkemish (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

The majority of Luwian cuneiform texts still lack cohesive translations, even though the meanings of most words are well known. This is due to the fact that these are mostly ritual incantations, the interpretation of which cannot be separated from the study of the respective ritual traditions and religious worldviews. In addition, there is no such thing as a uniform Luwian religion, but individual incantations rather reflect local traditions and discourse patterns of individual parts of Anatolia and northern Syria. The key to their understanding is comparing Luwian religious texts with similar compositions in other languages coming from the same areas.

Hittite cuneiform tablet. By Mr. Granger (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The first aim of the Luwili project consists in publishing all the Luwian religious texts in cuneiform transmission that still remain without translation. According to the current consensus, these texts stem from the Hittite capital Hattusa itself as well as the areas known as Lower Land and Kizzuwatna in Hittite sources. The research methodology of the project consists in the systematic comparison of religious formulae attested in various languages but coming from the same microareas, with the goal of elucidating the structure of Luwian texts. Thanks to this philological inquiry, the Luwili project will try to determine the modalities of Luwian religious discourse through a detailed analysis of its communication strategies. This research will contribute to two different scientific fields at the same time. First, it will help the scholarly community to understand better the Luwian language, which will be useful to both Hittitologists and Indo-Europeanists. Second, it will contribute in a significant way to the history of religions, as it will facilitate scholarly access to a new corpus of religious texts and provide a thorough analysis of the religious discourse associated with this corpus.

East wall of Chamber B depicting the God Šarruma embracing King Tudhaliya IV, Yazilikaya, Turkey. (By Carole Raddato [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons).

The second aim of the proposed research program consists in studying Luwian religious discourse from the comparative and anthropological perspectives in order to define the cultural and linguistic specificities of each Luwian religious tradition of Anatolia and Syria. For doing so, all the project members will gather around a conference that will be held in the end of the second year of the project, exchanging views on the ways Luwian religious discourse interacted with that of the neighbouring languages. The results of the Luwili project will be a commented edition of Luwian cuneiform texts and proceedings of the year two conference, published as two separate volumes. The edition of the Luwian texts will also be published as an open source in the Hethitologie Portal Mainz website.

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