Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.12.14

Billie Jean Collins, Mary R. Bachvarova, Ian Rutherford (ed.), Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and Their Neighbours: Proceedings of an International Conference on Cross-cultural Interaction, September 17-19, 2004, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.   Oxford:  Oxbow Books, 2008.  Pp. 213.  ISBN 9781842172704.  $90.00.  

Reviewed by Brendan Burke, University of Victoria (
Word count: 1736 words

[Table of contents is listed at the end of the review.]

This volume is based on a conference conceived by Rutherford and Bachvarova, and co-organized by them and Collins at her home institution of Emory University. The title, "Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and Their Neighbours", suggests that a variety of points of contact are under discussion and the volume is divided into five parts. These subsections outline the various interfaces envisioned by the editors: History, Archaeology, and the Mycenaean-Anatolian Interface; Sacred Interactions; Identity and Literary Traditions; Identity and Language Change; Anatolia as Intermediary: the First Millennium. These divisions are noted only in the table of contents, not between the various chapters.

This is an important collection of scholarship related to a broad topic of Aegean-Anatolian interconnectivity. As the editors note, citing Sherratt and Sherratt 1998,1 'Anatolia's geographical position made it a key player in the eastern Mediterranean network, while at the same time its diverse topography helped to develop a distinctive role within that network for each region' (p. 3). In Part 1 , Cline's analysis of the Trojan War, as an historical event, a literary construction, and a modern cultural phenomenon, does very well to frame the theme as a 'contested periphery'. The parallels cited by Cline are illuminating and the theoretical constructs of such peripheries are most interesting and lay the groundwork for further investigations. Singer's masterful paper, "Purple-Dyers in Lazpa" might be overlooked because of the focused title of the chapter, yet this is one of the richest contributions in the volume, making a connection between terms for 'purple-makers' to 'tribute bearers'. Nikoloudis appropriately follows Singer by examining the references in the Linear B texts at Pylos to women with ethnic names connected with Ionia and east Greece. She argues convincingly that the Linear B evidence reflects a more culturally diverse population in the Late Bronze Age than was previously thought. Mason's contribution, examining Hittite Lesbos, explores many avenues with great potential, and his conclusions, while he admits 'do not add up to very much' (p. 60) are a refreshing effort, and should spur more classically oriented scholars to look at Hittite evidence within early Greek history, with a particular focus on the western Anatolian coast.

Part 2, "Sacred Interactions," begins with Oettinger, who discusses Mopsos, the Greek seer (son of Apollo and Manto, according to Pausanias), and connects the name with the historical figure Muksas, mentioned in the Hittite Madduwattas letter. This contribution is knowledgeable but highly abbreviated, written in the form of talking points (e.g., 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. through 9) rather than a well-constructed article or chapter. Oettinger obviously has much of great interest to say but the presentation is too truncated to create a coherent argument. Likewise Miller also has a great deal to say in the next chapter, entitled, 'Setting up the Goddess of the Night Separately', and makes great demands on his reader by not providing background for those not trained in Near Eastern languages. This is not an uncommon problem for this volume; many contributors refer to topics obliquely, thinking that the topic is well-trodden. For example, Miller begins his contribution with, "Local hypostases of supra-regional deities are well known to any student of the ancient Near East" (p. 67) and later, "The hermaphroditic character of Ishtar need not be further detailed" (p. 69). Rutherford's discussion of songs and song culture does an excellent job highlighting differences through time and space in song culture in Anatolia and early Greece. The chapter suggests various approaches to the study of songs and examines performances in religious contexts.

In Part 3, "Identity and Literary Traditions," Bryce discusses 'Homer at the Interface' and makes reference to Homer's audiences. This audience might not be unlike the contributors to this volume, for Bryce states they 'were familiar with the large repertoire of tales that arose out of the tradition of the Trojan War, and Homer had no intention of going over well-trodden ground.' Bryce's extensive knowledge of the Hittites is applied to the Homeric world, and even extends the discussion to Augustan propaganda of the Roman era. Bachvarova takes the discussion of Near Eastern elements in Homeric poetry and moves the argument further. In this excellent chapter she presents several possibilities for how certain themes came to prevail in the Homeric epic of Troy by close readings of Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hurro-Hittite works. It is a very useful chapter for Classicists lacking the familiarity Bachvarova has with these texts. Gilan's paper on the many problems associated with Hittite ethnicity is a model of clarity and is very well written. Complex arguments regarding religion, language, culture and history, are well presented in a coherent paper.

Part 4 is "Identity and Language Change," which is heavily focused on linguistic and textual problems. Payne's paper on Hittite hieroglyphic writing and its uses in comparison to cuneiform brings up interesting questions with particular reference to Luwian. Watkins' discussion is wide ranging and thorough, looking at the 'colonization' and ancestry of certain words, 'hermit crabs', as he deftly defines them. Luraghi, like some other contributors, assumes a great deal of her reader: 'As is well known, adnominal possession displays some peculiar features in Anatolian'. The contribution is dense and looks at linguistic borrowing resulting from widespread bilingualism throughout the Anatolian interface. Melchert in a vein similar to Watkins examines /moliwdos/ "lead" and makes a strong case for connecting it with Lydian mariwda- "dark, black".

Part 5, "Anatolia as Intermediary: the First Millennium," begins with Munn's discussion of Greco-Roman Kybele as Kubaba and addresses a contentious issue about the connection (or not) of the two divinities. His chapter takes the minority view, that they are connected, and condenses a great deal of information but makes no reference to iconography or specific religious aspects of the individual divinities. Vassileva examines the role of King Midas in Southeastern Anatolia in a thoroughly researched chapter. She summarizes the case for equating the name Gordias with Assyrian references to Kurtî/Gurdî and clarifies the thorny issues of Tyana and Tabal in relation to Phrygia. Taylor's article examines Mesopotamian GALA and the possible relationship to the Galloi devoted to Cybele in Greek and Roman sources. Historical continuity of the religious tradition from Luwian and Hittite to Phrygian is explored. Ebbinghaus's analysis of elite interactions is based on her extensive study of animal-headed vessels. She begins with the situlae at Gordion and Samos and discusses the use of these vessels in the east and west. It is a refreshing paper that successfully extends the theme of the conference into the first millennium BC. John Franklin concludes the volume with, 'The Feast of Music', which examines the role of music in Lydia and addresses its strong connection with Assyria. This chapter may be a bit peripheral to the volume's concentration on Hittites, Greeks and their neighbours, but it is valuable for bringing up a range of issues. Representations of music and musicians in literature are included, and reference is made to scenes in art, but no illustrations accompany the text.

The conference organizers, volume editors, and contributors are to be congratulated for their stimulating research. The contributors, it is said in the preface, are 'more or less equally divided between Classicists and Anatolianists' (p. 5). It is somewhat unfortunate that a list of affiliations and contact information for each contributor is not included in the volume since terms like 'Classicists' and 'Anatolianists' are fairly arbitrary and one might rather learn if individual contributors come from specific disciplines and identify as, for example, archaeologists, linguists, historians, or art historians. One quibble I have with this otherwise valuable book is that although archaeological topics are addressed, there is an absence, or perhaps dearth, of material culture and archaeology in the discussion. Contributions by scholars working in east Greece and western Turkey might have given an even broader view of a thoroughly fascinating topic. The volume is heavily based on textual sources and linguistics, and the contributions which do refer to material culture seem to use these as another type of historical text, rather than material culture as studied by archaeologists. A wide spectrum of scholars will find material of interest here, although it should be noted that many of the contributions are quite technical and perhaps not written for the general public. Bibliographical references are wisely included after each chapter and an index to the entire volume concludes the book. Two maps are included, showing Anatolia and the Aegean in the Bronze and Iron Ages, and a single contribution includes illustrations (Ebbinghaus's). The volume is also perhaps in need of more careful copy-editing since lapses are frequent.2 I have no doubt, however, that research in the future will make great use of the many significant contributions found in this volume.

Table of Contents

1. Billie Jean Collins, Mary R. Bachvarova and Ian Rutherford, Introduction

Part 1: History, Archaeology and the Mycenaean-Anatolian Interface

2. Eric Cline, Troy as a "Contested Periphery": Archaeological Perspectives on Cross-Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Interactions Concerning Bronze Age Anatolia

3. Itamar Singer, Purple-Dyers in Lazpa

4. Stavroula Nikoloudis, Multiculturalism in the Mycenaean World

5. Hugh Mason, Hittite Lesbos?

Part 2: Sacred Interactions

6. Norbert Oettinger, The Seer Mopsos as a Historical Figure

7. Jared Miller, Setting up the Goddess of the Night Separately

8. Ian Rutherford, The Songs of the Zintuhis: Chorus and Ritual in Anatolia and Greece

Part 3: Identity and Literary Traditions

9. Trevor Bryce, Homer at the Interface

10. Mary Bachvarova, The Poet's Point of View and the Prehistory of the Iliad

11. Amir Gilan, Hittite Ethnicity? Constructions of Identity in Hittite Literature

Part 4: Identity and Language Change

12. Annick Payne, Writing Systems and Identity

13. Ilya Yakubovitch, Luwian Migration in Light of Linguistic Contacts

14. Calvert Watkins, "Hermit Crabs," or New Wine in Old Bottles: Anatolian-Hellenic Connections from Homer and Before to Antiochus I of Commagene and After

15. Silvia Luraghi, Possessive Constructions in Anatolian, Hurrian and Urartean as Evidence for Language Contact

16. H. Craig Melchert, Greek mólybdos as a Loanword from Lydian

Part 5: Anatolia as Intermediary: The First Millennium

17. Mark Munn, Kybele as Kubaba in a Lydo-Phrygian Context

18. Maya Vassileva, King Midas in Southeastern Anatolia

19. Patrick Taylor, The GALA and the Gallos

20. Susanne Ebbinghaus, Patterns of Elite Interaction: Animal-Headed Vessels in Anatolia in the Eighth and Seventh Centuries BC

21. John Franklin, "A Feast of Music": The Greco-Lydian Musical Movement on the Assyrian Periphery


1.   A. Sherratt, and S. Sherratt (1998) Small Worlds: Interaction and Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean. In E. H. Cline and D. Harris-Cline (eds.) The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium, 329-42. Aegaeum 18. Liège, Université de Liège.
2.   For example, some lapses are: p. 1 'Other cultures elements...'; p. 17 '... in comparing this areas with ...'; p. 28 'Achylles'; p. 75 '... deemed to be importance to the Hittite..'; p. 76 '...describing a six-say festival...'; p. 80 '...affiliation of performers to towns, In discussing...'; p. 121 'autochthenous'; p. 173 '...a summary upon we may base...'; p. 175 '...participation of group of people...', p. 176 '...resembles of the rites of...'; p. 193 'recorded the defeat of Croesus' defeat...'

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