Sidetic language

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RegionAncient southwestern Anatolia
Extinctafter the third century BCE
Sidetic script
Language codes
ISO 639-3xsd

The Sidetic language is a member of the extinct Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family known from legends of coins dating to the period of approximately the 5th to 3rd centuries BCE found in Side at the Pamphylian coast, and two Greek–Sidetic bilingual inscriptions from the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE respectively. The Greek historian Arrian in his Anabasis Alexandri (mid-2nd century CE) mentions the existence of a peculiar indigenous language in the city of Side. Sidetic was probably closely related to Lydian, Carian and Lycian.

The Sidetic script is an alphabet of the Anatolian group. It has 25 letters, only a few of which are clearly derived from Greek. It is analysed from coin legends in what is possibly Sidetic. The script is essentially undeciphered.[1]


Inscriptions and coins[edit]

Inscriptions in Sidetic language, exhibits of the Museum of Side, Turkey

Coins from Side were first discovered in the 19th century, which bore legends in a then-unknown script. In 1914, an altar came to light in Side with a Greek inscription and a Sidetic one, but the latter could not be deciphered. It was only after the discovery of a second Greek-Sidetic bilingual inscription in 1949, that Hellmut Theodor Bossert was able to identify 14 letters of the Sidetic script using the two bilinguals.[2] In 1964 a large stone block was unearthed near the east gate of Side, with two longer Sidetic texts, including loan words from Greek (istratag from στρατηγός, 'commander' and anathema- from ἀνάθημα, 'votive offering'). In 1972, a text was found outside Side for the first time, at the neighbouring town of Lyrbe-Seleukia. Currently, eleven Sidetic coins and several coins with Sidetic legends are known.


In addition to the inscriptions, two Sidetic words are known from ancient Greek texts: ζειγάρη for rock partridge, mentioned by the ancient lexicographer Hesychius, and λαέρκινον for Valeriana, cited by Galen. In addition, it is believed that some incomprehensible characters in the third book of Hippocrates' Epidemics were originally quotations of the doctor Mnemon of Side, which might have been in the Sidetic script.[3]

Catalogue of Sidetic texts[edit]

The designated number and date of discovery are given:

  • S1 Artemon bilingual from Side (1914).
  • S2 Apollonios bilingual from Side (1949).
  • S3 & S4 Strategoi dedications from Side (1964).
  • S5 Altar table (1969).
  • S6 Euempolos bilingual from Lyrbe-Seleukia (1972).
  • S7 Inscription on a pot (1982).
  • S8 Inscription on stone (1982).
  • S9 List of names - at eight lines, this is the longest Sidetic inscription (1995).
  • S10 5th century BC coins with around twenty different legends. (since 19th century)
  • S11 Possible words from Mnemon of Side (1983).
  • S12 Scarab (2005)[4]
  • S13 Graffito from Lyrbe-Seleukia (2014)

Characteristics of Sidetic[edit]

The inscriptions show that Sidetic was already strongly influenced by Greek at the time when they were created. Like Lycian and Carian, it was part of the Luwian language family. However, only a few words can be derived from Luwian roots, like malwadas 'votive offering' (Luwian malwa-) and maśara 'for the gods' (Luwian masan(i)-, 'god', 'divinity'). It has been argued that there were also Anatolian pronouns (ab, he/she/it) and adverbs (osod, 'there').

The nominative singular is unmarked, while the genitive ends in -(a)s and the dative in -o (singular) and -a (plural). No verbs have yet been securely identified.

Like the neighbouring Pamphylian language, aphaeresis is frequent in names in Sidetic (e.g. Poloniw for Apollonios, Thandor for Athenodoros), as is syncope (e.g. Artmon for Artemon).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Not The Roadmap". Unicode Consortium. 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
  2. ^ Bossert, H. T. (1950). "Scrittura e lingua di Side in Pamfilia". PDP. 13: 32–46.
  3. ^ Nolle, Johannes (1983). "Die "Charaktere" im 3. Epidemienbuch des Hippokrates und Mnemon von Side". Epigraphica Anatolica. 2: 8.85–98.
  4. ^ Rizza, Alfredo (2005). "A new epigraphic Document with Sidetic(?) signs". Kadmos. 44 (1–2): 60–74. doi:10.1515/KADM.2005.010. S2CID 162036788.

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