Hittite Culture in a Small Museum

I visited a small museum in Helsinki with an exhibition of textiles of a Finnish fashion designer Jukka Rintala. In the museum cellar I happened to find old statues from different cultures.

A statue beloning to the Hittite culture, found from Northern Syria

One of the statues originated from the Hittite culture, and was dated from 2000 BC. The language of Hittites, the Hittite language, was an Indo-European language, belonging to the Anatolian language branch.

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Thraco-Phrygian Languages?

I had to check twice when I saw the word “thraco-phrygian”. Where are they supposed to live in Europe?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Thraco-Phrygian as an adjective “of, relating to, or constituting a tentative branch of the Indo-European language family to which are sometimes assigned various languages of the Balkans and Asia Minor not otherwise assignable

So they were living on the Balkans, and browsing on the Ethnohistory map found them there 1500BC.

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Slavic Tribes Living Far in the West

Today Slavic languages are spoken in Eastern Europe, in countries like Russia, Poland, Czech, and Serbia, to name a few. But almost a thousand year earlier there lived Slavic speaking tribes close to today’s Netherlands. See the map below and compare it with today’s political borders.

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So I Read 1500 Year Old Scandinavian Language

The oldest runestones in Sweden are written in a language that was called Old Scandinavian (or Proto Norse). In that time the language was understtod throughout Scandinavia.

Järsberg runestone, 1400 years after it was written.

I visited one of the runestones in Järsberg, Sweden, in the summer. And I encountered a verbform that is still easily read today: ᚹᚫᚱᛁᛏᚢ writu (write). So despite the almost 1500 years there is still something very common with the language.

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Runic Swedish

I visited during the summer holidays the perhaps best known runestone in Sweden. The stone is called “Rök runestone” and has both an impressive size and a lot of Runic Swedish in its inscription. Runic Swedish was the predecessor of today’s Swedish and it was spoken 1000 years ago.

Rök Runestone still standing the time in 2017

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Semitic Languages in Europe 500BC

We know that the Arabs and Jews speak Semitic languages. And the Arabic speaking tribes conquered much of the Iberian peninsula around AD700.

But there were Semitic speaking tribes in Europe much before, the Carthaginians. They establised colonies around the Mediterranean and were finally crushed by the ancient Romans much later. Anyway around 500BC the Semitic tribes — represented by the Carthaginians — had a strong presence on the shores of the Mediterranean, as shown on the map.

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The Ancient Ligurians 1000BC

The Ligurian language was spoken in pre-Roman times and into the Roman era by an ancient people known as the Ligures.
Very little is known about this language which is generally believed to have been Indo-European.

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Top 25 English Verbs

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, these are the 25 most commonly used verbs in English: 1. be, 2. have, 3. do, 4. say, 5. get, 6. make, 7. go, 8. know, 9. take, 10. see, 11. come, 12. think, 13. look, 14. want, 15. give, 16. use, 17. find, 18. tell, 19. ask, 20. work, 21. seem, 22. feel, 23. try, 24. leave, 25. call.

All these verbs are one-syllable words; the first two-syllable verbs are become (26th) and include (27th).
Furthermore, 20 of these 25 are Old English words, and three more, get, seem, and want, entered English from Old Norse in the early medieval period. Only try and use came from Old French.

It seems that English prefers terse, ancient words to describe actions or occurrences.

Italic Peoples 500BC

The Italics were all the peoples who spoke an idiom belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages and had settled in the Italian peninsula.

As seen on the map, the Italic tribes and Italic languages were spoken on a very small area in the beginning. One of the languages, though, was Latin. The Roman conquests eventually spread it throughout the peninsula and beyond in the Roman Empire. The evolved dialects of Latin gave birth to the Romance languages; French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc. that are nowadays spoken allover the world.

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Sigynni, the Tribe I Never Knew About

The Sigynnae (Sigynni) were an obscure people of antiquity. They are variously located by ancient authors. Sigynnae — as mentioned by Herodotus — were “a people widely spread in the Danubic basin in the 5th century BC”.

The Sigynni were likely to be Iranian (Indo-Aryan) people.

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