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Musker und Phryger: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte Anatoliens vom 12. bis zum 7. Jh. V. Chr.

Musker und Phryger: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte Anatoliens vom 12. bis zum 7. Jh. V. Chr. By ANNE-MARIA WATKE. Beihefte zum Tubinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, series B, vol. 99. Wiesbaden: DR. LUDWIG REICHERT VERLAG. 2004. pp. xvi 389, maps. [euro]45 paper.

Scholars have long identified the Anatolian ruler Mita of Maku known from Assyrian cuneiform texts of the eighth century B.C.E. with his contemporary Midas of Phrygia attested in classical sources. Consequently, many have also equated the population of MuKku with the Phrygians, despite significant differences in the temporal and geographic distribution of references to the two peoples. That is, the Assyrians speak only of the Maku, while the later Greeks mention only Phrygians. In the volume under review, revision of a 2002 dissertation presented to the Philosophisch-Historische Fakultat of Stuttgart University, Anne-Marie Wittke seeks to resolve this problem through a thorough examination of all ancient textual material relevant to Mu[section]ku and Phrygia, for neither of which, however, are useful native records available.

The author's methodology is straightforward: in separate sections for Mu[section]ku and for Phrygia she presents the relevant passages--Akkadian, Urartian, Hittite, Hieroglyphic Luwian, Phoenician, Greek. Latin, or Hebrew--mostly in the transliteration and translation of the original standard editions by other writers, for philology is not her primary concern. Her commentary on these texts focuses on geographic questions, as befits a study produced in conjunction with her preparation of Kane B IV 8 ("Ostlicher Mittelmeerraum and Mesopotamian urn 700 v. Chr.") of the Tiibinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients. She also discusses the archaeology of central Anatolia. taking into account the recent redating of the destruction layer at Gordion to ca. 830-800.

Concerning the Mugku, whose language remains unknown and whose political structure she characterizes as that of a chiefdom (p. 180). Wittke assigns them at least partial responsibility for the collapse of the Late Bronze Age states of Iguwa and Alg/zi (Hittite)/Alzu (Assyrian) (p. 179) on the upper Tigris. By the second half of the eighth century, she suggests, the Mugku had been displaced to the west, to the region of the southern Halys bend, likely as a result of Assyrian pressure, where they were ultimately absorbed by an expansionist Phrygia (p. 129). In a phenomenon common in the development of geographic names (cf. allemand for "German"). the Assyrians transferred their traditional designation for a peripheral component of a political entity to the group as a whole--hence Mita "of Mugku" (p. 183).

As for the Phrygians, for whom no native designation has yet been identified (p. 295), Wittke believes that they were originally a confederation of several chiefdoms (p. 235), unified into a centralized state--comparable to the "Neo-Hittite" polities to the south and east (p. 241)--by the rulers of Gordion before the middle of the eighth century (p. 239). Although the only partially intelligible contents of the some 250 inscriptions in their "Trummersprache" (p. 194) contribute little to our historical knowledge, from records in other languages and from archaeology the author identifies a number of striking characteristics of the culture of the Phrygians. such as the total absence of images of their rulers (p. 260). the worship of the goddess Cybele (pp. 237-41), and a strong interest in music (pp. 214, 240). Of course, this latter point is made solely on the basis of Greek sources.

She sees no evidence that the Phrygians had any role in the fall of the Hittite empire (pp. 277. 282). or that their arrival in western Anatolia--from Thrace'?--was marked by violence (p. 285). The mature Phrygian culture resulted from a melding of the newcomers with surviving Luwians and Hittites (p. 273). Although the latest Phrygian inscription dates from the fifth century C.E. (p. 237). the political entity that employed this tongue was conquered and swallowed up by the Achaemenids, and Phrygian culture was eventually and gradually dissolved by Hellenism.

Wittke's exegesis of the sources and her reconstruction of historical developments are generally convincing. I might criticize here only her apparent belief in the deadly qualities of bull's blood (p. 237) and her acceptance of the claim that, hethitische Schriftzeichen" were (re-)used at Goalion (p. 238). For this latter observation she relies on Lynn E. Roller, Nonverbal Graffiti. Dipinti. and Stamps. Gordion Special Studies 1 (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1987). 2 and fig. I. I A-4-10. Roller identifies a mark incised upon several sherds as the hieroglyphic sign for king (Laroche. Les hieroglvItes Nukes [Paris. 19601. no. 17), but the latter consists of a tall isosceles triangle containing an upside-down cross, while the Gordion graffiti appear to present--some examples have been truncated by breaks--an equilateral triangle with a single short vertical in the middle of its lowest side. In any event, it is surely too daring to postulate the survival of the writing system on such slender evidence concerning a single sign, especially when the remainder of the Gordion potmarks reveal no relationship to hieroglyphic graphemes.

A most useful appendix presents a detailed catalogue of central Anatolian geographic names with summaries of the relevant archaeological and textual evidence for the first millennium B.C.E. This book should find a place in the library of anyone interested in the history and culture of Anatolia in this period.

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Author:Beckman, Gary
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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