This book, an essay of discovery, treats the antecedents, not the delicate genius, of Hellenism. It is the result of many years’ work, beginning with the purchase of Hesychius in 1874, when I was an undergraduate. He that begins to work on Hesychius is navigating uncharted seas. Even yet every one finds new things every time he opens that book. The only person that seems to find no difficulties is Moriz Schmidt, the latest editor; and in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopaedie, a warning is given that his edition must be used with caution.
I search for the beginnings of Greek civilisation in Asia Minor. Imported things carried their names with them. Words from other lands which came across Asia Minor retained their native form: e.g. Cyrus and Xerxes brought the Arabian camel, India or Ceylon sent the peacock, no tin is mined in Anatolia. The names originated in more distant homes.
Often I write Anatolian words in the Latin alphabet, although they are transmitted us only in Greek; but the latter alphabet is less suited to Anatolian pronunciation than Latin. I often omit accents intentionally, as Greek accentuation does not suit the words as the Asian mouth pronounces them.
The book contains the Gifford Lectures in the University of Edinburgh, 1915–1916. They have been wholly rewritten. The important subjects of death and burial, and the worship of ancestors and others, remain untouched for the present. Yet those subjects bulked very largely in Asian life and thought.
By grace of Sir John Murray, Chapter III. was an article in the Quarterly Review. Chapter I. prefaced an address to the Congress of Historic Sciences, 1922, at Brussels, Chapter IV. to the First Congress of Byzantine Studies at Bucarest, 1924. All have been rewritten more or less completely.
Circumstances necessitated writing from memory, with rare opportunities of consulting books; but I write what has grown to be part of my mind during fifty-one years’ study, and no library would have changed my ideas except the discovery of the authorities from whom Hesychius and Diogenianus drew.
I have tried to acknowledge much help from many friends; but especially I must name here Buckler and Sayce, whose ingenuity and kindness never flagged. Time has passed quickly, war has stopped work, and knowledge has grown slowly but steadily.
Much that is here said is unproved. Who can prove that a mountain had a meaning to the Anatolian people five thousand years ago? If any one cannot see the meaning, he should hold his own opinion and throw aside my humble book. I can only state what I have learned in long thinking, travel, discussion, and even controversy. Unfortunately, Anatolian history has been always a battlefield. Those who have not travelled, and have seen nothing, are even more positive than those who have travelled and seen a little; and the use of covered wagons prevents the traveller from seeing the country. Gradually, however, wise theory has found general acceptance, often with modifications by the originator or by others; yet it has always retained the continuity of a growing truth. For example take the Hittite theory: it is now the Hittite truth, modified and improved. I have lived as a scholar through the whole controversy, from the time when the theory was first proposed, through the long period when the word Hittite was a jest among classical scholars. Now that theory has become a subject of serious study, and those who once laughed (if they were old enough to laugh) write books and articles on Hittite history, and trace the line of Hittite kings; and they even fix the limits beyond which study and theory must not go, and progress is forbidden.
I can safely speak of the Hittites, because my book does not touch that subject. I deal only with Anatolian, pre-Hittite, submerged to some degree by Hittite and later conquests, and post-Hittite. Beliefs, customs, thought, and words, which have lasted through the Hittite, Phrygian, Greek, and Roman periods down to the present day, form the subject of this and, as I hope, of other volumes. I do not write to convince, but to register and suggest. Time will prove or correct. When I find in Hesychius and in late-Phrygian inscriptions and in modern Turkish a word, oa, oua, ôba, ova, I recognise an Anatolian word, probably showing that the early ground-stock of Anatolia was akin to Old-Turkish both in character and in language. The Anatolians saw that heaven is full of forms of earthly things, water-carrier, goat, bear, lion, serpent, etc., and that earth is, as Plato knew, the imperfect copy of the heavenly model. That this thought originated in Anatolia I do not believe; but I study it as it appears there.
My starting-point in each case may be a non-Greek word in Hesychius, or a modern place-name (evidently of ancient origin), or a relief of the Roman period, or a Christian martyr legend, interpreted with sympathetic imagination, and with the firm belief that the Anatolian mind is what it was in the beginning. I do not go back to the neolithic period. The use of metals and of many domesticated animals, also a considerable degree of social organisation and of domestic handicraft, were established before I begin. Of the palaeolithic period few traces are known to me. What is needed is not travel, as when ancient topography had to be traced, but systematic excavation, which in some places must be deep.
It is convenient to use the name Asianic for all that concerns the great peninsula of Asia Minor, with its many tribes and its many languages, most of which have long perished. There is no ancient name for Asia Minor as a whole; it never was a unity. The name Anatolia I use as almost equivalent to it; but strictly Anatolia is distinguished from Karamania, the south coast of Asia Minor. This book and my studies are confined mainly to the central platean. Cilicia and Pamphylia in various journeys I have only partially traversed, and many problems remain there which I have often wished to study on the spot. “Asian” in the page headings is too wide for my subject, but was shortened from Asianic, which appears on the title-page.
As the pioneer in the study of Asia Minor, history names
ARCHIBALD HENRY SAYCE,
the palakînos (Hesychius, obelised by Schmidt).
Apology is due for occasional repetition in different chapters, due to the desire to make each point clear.
W. M. RAMSAY.
Edinburgh, October 18, 1926.