The Luwians were a group of Indo-European speaking people who lived in western Asia Minor and the Northern western Levant in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian sub-family, which was written in cuneiform imported from Mesopotamia, and a unique native Hieroglyphic script, which was sometimes used by the linguistically related Hittites also.
The origin of the Luwians can only be guessed at. A wide variety of suggestions exist, even today, which are connected to the debate over the original homeland of the Indo-European speakers: suggestions include the Balkans, the Lower Volga and Central Asia. Even then, little can be proved about the route that the ancestors of the Luwians took to end up in Anatolia. It is also unclear whether the separation of the Luwians from the Hittites and the Pala occurred in Anatolia or earlier.
It is possible that the Demircihüyük culture (c.3500-2500 BC) is connected with the arrival of Indo-Europeans in Anatolia, since Proto-Anatolian must have split off around 3000 BC at the latest on linguistic grounds.
Middle Bronze Age
Certain evidence of the Luwians begins around 2000 BC, with the presence of personal names and loan words in Old Assyrian Empire documents from the Assyrian colony of Kültepe, dating from between 1950 and 1700 BC (Middle Chronology), which shows that Luwian and Hittite were already two distinct languages at this point.
Accordiing to most scholars, the Hittites were then settled in upper Kızılırmak and had their economic and political centre at Kaniš-Neša (from which the Hittite language gained its native name, nešili). The Luwians might well have lived in southern and western Anatolia, perhaps with a political centre at Purushanda. The Assyrian colonists and traders who were present in Anatolia at this time refer to the local people as nuwaʿum without any differentiation. This terms seems to derive from the name of the Luwians, with the change from l/n resulting from the mediation of Hurrian.
The Old Hittite laws from the 17th century BC contain cases relating to the then independent regions of Palā and Luwiya. Traders and displaced people seem to have moved from one country to the other on the basis of agreements between Ḫattarsus and Luwiya. It appears that the Luwians never formed a single unified Luwian state, but were divided into a number of Luwian kingdoms. During this period, the kingdoms of Šeḫa and Arzawa developed in the west, focussed on the Maeander valley. In the south was the state of Kizzuwatna, which was inhabited by a mixture of Hurrians and Luwians. The kingdom of Tarḫuntašša developed during the Hittite New Kingdom, in southern Anatolia. Whether the kingdom of Wilusa, located in northwest Anatolia on the site of Troy, was a Luwian state cannot be clearly determined on current evidence and is a matter of controversy in contemporary scholarship.
Kizzuwatna was the Hittite and Luwian name for ancient Cilicia. The area was conquered by the Hittites in the 16th century BC. Around 1500, the area broke off and became the kingdom of Kizzuwatna, whose ruler used the title of "Great King", like the Hittite ruler. The Hittite king Telipinu had to conclude a treaty with great king Išputaḫšu, which was renewed by his successors. Under King Pilliya, Kizzuwatna became a vassal of the Mitanni. Around 1420, King Šunaššura of Mitanni renounced control of Kizzuwatna and concluded an alliance with the Hittite king Tudḫaliya I. Soon after this, the area seems to have been incorporated into the Hittite empire and remained so until its collapse around 1190 BC at the hands of Assyria and Phrygia.
Šeḫa was in the area of ancient Lydia. It is first attested in the fourteenth century BC, when the Hittite king Tudḫaliya I campaigned against Wilusa. After the conquest of Arzawa by Muršili II, Šeḫa was a vassal of the Hittite realm and suffered raids from the Arzawan prince Piyamaradu, who attacked the island of Lazpa which belonged to Šeḫa.
Arzawa is already attested in the time of the Hittite Old Kingdom, but lay outside the Hittite realm at that time. The first hostile interaction occurred under king Tudḫaliya I or Tudḫaliya II. The invasion of the Hittite realm by the Kaskians led to the decline of Hittite power and the expansion of Arzawa, whose king Tarḫuntaradu was asked by Pharaoh Amenhotep III to send one of his daughters to him as a wife. After a long period of warfare, the Arzawan capital of Apaša (Ephesus) was surrendered by King Uḫḫaziti to the Hittites under King Muršili II. Arzawa was split into two vassal states: Mira and Ḫapalla.
After the collapse of the Hittite realm around 1190 BC, several small principalities developed in northern Syria and southwestern Anatolia. In south central Anatolia, was Tabal which probably consisted of several small city-states, in Cilicia there was Quwê, in northern Syria was Gurgum, on the Euphrates there were Melid, Kummuh, Carchemish and (east of the river), Masuwara, while on the Orontes River there were Unqi-Pattin and Hamath. The princes and traders of these kingdoms used Hieroglyphic Luwian in inscriptions, the latest of which date to the 8th century BC. The Karatepe Bilingual inscription of prince Azatiwada is particularly important.
- H. Craig Melchert (ed.): The Luwians. Brill 2003, ISBN 90-04-13009-8.
- Hartmut Blum: "Luwier in der Ilias?" In: Hans-Joachim Behr, Gerd Biegel and Helmut Castritius (ed.): Troia – Traum und Wirklichkeit: Ein Mythos in Geschichte und Rezeption. Tagungsband zum Symposion im Braunschweigischen Landesmuseum am 8. und 9. Juni 2001 im Rahmen der Ausstellung „Troia: Traum und Wirklichkeit“. Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, Braunschweig 2003, ISBN 3-927939-57-9, pp. 40–47.
- Ilya S. Yakubovich: Sociolinguistics of the Luvian Language, Leiden 2010. ISBN 978-90-04-17791-8.
- Eberhard Zangger: The Luwian Civilisation. The Missing Link in the Aegean Bronze Age, Yayinlari, Istanbul 2016, ISBN 978-605-9680-11-0.
- Luwian Studies.org
- Urs Willmann: Räuberbanden im Mittelmeer. In: Zeit Online, 2016
- "The Luwians: A Lost Civilization Comes Back to Life" keynote lecture by Dr. Eberhard Zangger given at Klosters' 50th Winterseminar, 18 January 2015 (online at Luwian Studies YouTube Channel)