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What language did the Trojans speak?

The Trojan War plays an important role in Greek mythology. But there is much more to Troy than mythology. The exhibition ‘Troy. City. Homer. Turkey’ can be viewed from 7 December to 5 May 2013. Leiden linguist Alwin Kloekhorst wrote an article for the exhibition catalogue on the language of Troy.

Precursor of Etruscan

Little is known about the language spoken in Troy. Some researchers suspect it was Luvian, others that it was Lydian. Kloekhorst concluded that the original language of Troy was possibly a precursor of Etruscan. To this day there have been no archaeological finds that can provide any evidence in the matter. The historical sources on Troy are inconclusive, although some indirect indications can be found. The information which is available on Troy comes from the royal archives of the Hittite Empire, of which Troy was part. Kloekhorst did some research and in his article he discusses the language which he and other researchers think might have been spoken in Troy, as well as their reasons for thinking so. Without textual sources, however, it remains unclear what language the Trojans actually spoke. The article has been published under the title ‘The language of Troy’.


Troy was described for the first time in the mythical legends of the Greek poet Homer. His heroic epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, tell the story of the Trojan War. The Greeks occupy Troy thanks to a ruse involving the famous Trojan Horse. The location of the city has long been a matter for speculation. Around 1870, in North-West Turkey, archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the remnants of a city which he thought was Troy. Throughout the years, much research has been done and bits of the past have been brought to light. The theme of the exhibition ‘Troy. City, Homer and Turkey’ at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam is the myth forming around the city. The exhibition concludes the festivities that took place in 2012 to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of the official diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.

(2 2 December 2012)



Global Interaction of Civilizations and Languages is one of the themes for research at Leiden University

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