In this volume, we began by providing the reader with an overview of the methodology employed to investigate linguistic contacts from both a technical and a cultural-historical perspective. We then described the geohistorical context of Anatolia during the Bronze Age, starting from the proto-historical phases of the third millennium (roughly coinciding with the Early Bronze Age), continuing through the Old Assyrian age of the kārum (covering most of the Middle Bronze Age), and concluding with the mature and best documented Hittite period (coinciding with the Late Bronze Age).
Historical contextualization is of the utmost importance for the study of any aspect of the ancient world: it prevents overgeneralizations and guarantees that the hypotheses formulated have a credible background. Accordingly, our ability to investigate contacts is directly proportional not only to the extension of available documentary corpora (in terms of the number and variety of the documents) but also to the extension of the geographical areas for which we have information. Luckily, the size of the Old Assyrian network was large enough by the Middle Bronze Age for us to obtain useful data, especially when combined with information collected through archaeological investigations conducted within and outside the boundaries of the region in which the Assyrian markets were active. By the Kārum age, Anatolia was a mixed-salad of different cultures that were so historically and linguistically intertwined that trying to separate the Indo-European Anatolian groups from other cultures, especially that of Hatti, is simply impossible. Some linguistic features of Hattian testify to a long period of cohabitation with Indo-Europeans, and the administrative documents of the kārum archives show that families were mixed. Even in the eastern site of Kaneš, anthroponomastic data point to the presence of both Luwic and Hattian linguistic material.
The situation appears to have become quite complicated by the era for which we can access the first Old Assyrian documents. The few Anatolian loanwords in Assyrian are mostly very technical terms (realia, names, or local institutions), which, along with the grammatical mistakes in Assyrian texts written by local scribes, seem to point to a straightforward substrate-superstrate relationship. However, Hittite is not the only substrate, even in Kaneš: a few Anatolian loans are Luwic, forming a further reminder of the centuries of cultural mixing and superposition that produced Middle Bronze Anatolia.
The third Bronze Age Anatolian language, Palaic, apparently played no role in the Kaneš documentation, which must have been the result of where it was spoken. A similarly minor role was played by Hattian, which is only attested in proper names; if any Palaic names are mentioned, they are probably indistinguishable from Hittite names and therefore unrecognizable to us. If we ever locate the archives of western or northern settlements, the situation that would emerge would probably be quite different.
Sociolinguistic patterns tend to evolve gradually but change rapidly when large political shifts occur. The single large political shift in preclassical Anatolia was the birth, reorganization, and expansion of the Hittite polity. This series of events took place between the final years of the Middle Bronze Age and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. The wealth of epigraphic material from the Hittite archives, distributed over a period long enough to allow the identification of diachronic changes, and combined, for the final centuries of the Bronze Age, with occasional comparanda from the archives of the peri-Anatolian Near Eastern area, provide evidence of a politically centripetal but culturally multivariate system. The cultural diversity of the Hittite world was matched by linguistic diversity. There is evidence for a network of interacting languages, including a northwestern circle that involved Hattian and Palaic, which appear to have been entangled from an early date, and a broader group of languages that interfered with one another lexically and grammatically during the Late Bronze Age proper. By this time, Palaic was almost certainly an extinct language (and may have been so for a long time), and Hattian, while possibly still alive, seems to have been merely a written language in Hattuša, so any lexical exchange between it and Hittite probably occurred earlier or was merely a learned phenomenon (comparable to the Latin loans in modern Italian); most of the contact phenomena seem to pertain to the field of textual translation. Hattian-Hittite bilingual texts, whose composition hints at the involvement of Hattian native speakers, were still produced in the 13th century, but the later specimina were probably copies made from earlier redactions.
From the 16th or 15th centuries onwards, Hittite interacted with Luwian, Hurrian, and Akkadian in different and quite productive ways. The status of Akkadian in Hittite-controlled central Anatolia was complex. We have argued that waves of influence of the Mesopotamian culture(s) introduced different grapholects of Akkadian into the Hittite scribal offices. All shared some substrate-induced idiosyncrasies at the grammatical level, but the Akkadian variety at the base changed from the Old Babylonian with Syrianizing forms used in the Old Hittite political texts (similar to the variety of Old Babylonian used in the earliest land grants) to the Middle Babylonian of the diplomatic documents (the earliest being roughly contemporary to the land grants) to the Assyrianizing forms found in the Late Hittite correspondence with the Assyrian kings. The late technical and literary had a complex linguistic background depending on the traditions in which they originated. Contemporaneously, Mittanian and Assyrian were introduced, as well as mixed ducti in paleography.
As for Hurrian, we argued in this work for a minimalist approach to its sociolinguistic status in central Anatolia and Hatti proper. The sparse evidence for originally Hurrian loanwords in Middle Bronze Age Old Assyrian is, in general, explainable as the result of interference that occurred in northern Mesopotamia at an earlier stage. Encounters with Hurrian peoples and groups as well as the references to Hurrian polities or polities with Hurrian rulers were not indicative of a presence of a significant Hurrian minority in central Anatolia. Based on historical and contextual evidence, Hurrian culture did not strongly influence Hatti until the late 15th century BCE, after the intensification of the international relationships with the most ‘Anatolian’ of the Hurrian polities, the kingdom of Kizzuwatna in Cilicia. This is consistent with the philological evidence that strongly anchors the production of the earliest copies of Hurrian texts to the reigns of Tuthaliya I, Arnuwanda I, and Tuthaliya III. Sociolinguistically, this seems to be the phase when a Hurrian-speaking elite was present at the court of Hattuša and Hurrian termini technici began to appear in ritual, religious, and magical texts. Hurrian loanwords in both Hittite and Luwian seem to have been frequently transmitted via Kizzuwatna.
The role of Luwian is, however, very different than the role of the other Sprachen der Boghazköi-Inschriften. As shown in several studies published in the early 2000s, culminating with Yakubovich’s (2010) sociolinguistic study, Luwian and Hittite converged in central Anatolia from the 14th century onwards, with reflexes both in the lexicon and the grammar. Judging from the limited but valuable evidence supplied by glosses and commentaries—for example, in some late technical texts in Akkadian such as medical omina (CTH 537) and recipes (CTH 808)—the language used in that era appears to have been a variety of Hittite with inclusions of Luwian lexemes and structures. It probably reflected the competencies of native Late Hittite speakers in Hattuša during the age of the Hittite Empire proper.
Late Hittite Hattuša appears to have been a bilingual location, but the language spoken was probably a ‘L2-izing variety of L1’ as in most bilingual settings. We can safely assume that Hittite speakers spoke a variety of Hittite that had undergone Luwian influence on both the levels of grammar and lexicon (with Luwian intervening to mediate borrowing from other languages, as testified by the processes of morphological adaptation that involved Luwian morphs). It was not a process of creolization because the main code remained Hittite despite the Luwo-Hittite glossing, at least for Hittite native speakers as opposed to the constantly growing group of Luwian speakers. Had Hittite not died out by the 12th century BCE, perhaps creolization would have been a possible outcome, but we can only speculate.
Similarly speculative would be any attempt to assess possible contact scenarios between Hittite and Luwian outside of Hattuša during the imperial age, when the Hittite political and military presence increased in the west-central portions of the Anatolian peninsula. There must have been contacts, but direct textual evidence is not available, and indirect hints that Hittite and Hittite texts circulated in the West—for example, the presence of Near Eastern topoi in the Homeric literature—do not permit us to draw any conclusions about the linguistic map of the Luwian regions during the Final Bronze Age. The situation in the Aegean interface area will be discussed in Volume 2.
The findings presented in this first volume center on Hattuša and the type of Hittite written by its scribes. This is the result, as previously stated, of the significance of the archives of Hatti and of the relative paucity of relevant material from other regions. Although archives from northern Syria and northern Mesopotamia provide some useful comparanda, neither the Hattian culture nor—except for sparse hieroglyphic materials—the Luwian culture left any direct written records for the Bronze Age. The archaeological failure to find any royal or private archives with Hurrian texts from the kingdom of Mittani proper increases the importance of the Hittite documentation. This situation may give the impression that most contact phenomena are localized and pertain to cities and small areas rather than larger regions. Volume 2, which will be dedicated to the Iron Age and Aegean interface, will give a similar impression, although not entirely for the same reasons. The fact that wider phenomena of convergence, such as the phonological constraints on initial sonority in Hittite, Hurrian, and Hattian, are rare and often questionable must be due, at least in part, to the limited number of areas where written documents have been discovered. But given the strong relationship between cultural and linguistic interference and the way people and populations moved and interacted in antiquity, the polarized, small-scale nature of linguistic interference may have been a consequence of a world in which groups perceived their identities as rather localized, and long-distance contacts were in fact very often a sum of short-distant ones.