After Illyrians began their movement to the south from the Danube valley, Phrygian tribes which probably came to the Balkans together with some branches of the Hellenic group were forced to leave their settlements and start the migration which was to play an important role in the whole Indo-European history.
Masses of Phrygian tribes, which lived along the Lower Danube on fertile lands and therefore could be very numerous, invaded countries inhabited by other nations, so the chain reaction of migrations started. In two centuries the East Mediterranean will be in chaos - two greatest civilizations will fall, thousands of people will change their homes and homelands, countries will be plundered. The Bronze Age was replaced by the Iron Age - the one we still live in.
Phrygians, who could make a community with Hellenic and Armenian groups of the Indo-European family, are believed to come from Asia via South Russian steppes. First they lived in the northern Balkans, contacting with Thracians, Illyrians and Doric Greeks, and now had to cross the Bosporus and to settle in West Asia Minor, among non-Indo-European tribes who lived in Troy and other towns here.
1250 BC First mentioning about Lycians
The country which is named "Lukka" in Hittite documents was for sure Lycia and was situated along the southern shores of Anatolia. The name itself can be aboriginal: Anatolian people were fond of borrowing names of towns, countries and themselves from native population, Hittites got their name from Hatti, Palaic tribes - from the country and town of Pala. Lycians were a branch of Luwians, which moved westwards from Luwija and soon colonized these lands.
Their language was even less Indo-European than Luwian, with quite a lot of loanwords, agglutinative grammar features and even strange sounds which were picked up in Lycian: too many nasals, for example. The structure of the language allows us to say that it was for sure the descendant of Luwian.
Lycians are several times mentioned in Egyptian sources (under different names) as one of the "Sea Peoples" which started to act in the Mediterranean at this time. Another region in Asia Minor, Cilicia, also derives from Lycians.
Around the 15th century BC the division happened of the common Balto-Slavic ethnic group into two subbranches - Slavic and Baltic. The most ancient traces of Baltic cultures can be found along the Vistula and the Oder rivers; and now they began to migrate eastwards and northwards - until in the 13th century reached the Baltic Sea and the Daugava (Dvina) river. The archaeological discoveries show very close ties of the population here with the Vistula region in the next several centuries.
These lands, modern Lithuania, southern Latvia, northern Poland and parts of Belorussia, were at that time occupied by Finnish tribes, living on hunting and fishing. But the population was not dense in these woody regions, so Baltic peoples could find much land to settle and cultivate. The mutual contacts of Finnish and Indo-European nations led to the assimilation of Finns in the south, and vice versa the assimilation of Balts in the north. Baltic languages acquired many words, phonetic and morphological features from Finnish, which are seen even now in Lithuanian and Latvian. As for those tribes which settled in what was later Prussia, came into close contact with Slavic, thus accumulating much of the relative Slavic grammar and vocabulary.
The epoch of "Sea Peoples" was similar to later times of Hunns and Goths in the Roman Empire, or Vikings in the Medieval Europe. Migrations in Southern Europe and Asia Minor caused great masses of people to lead the nomadic style of life. Thousands of people took up piracy and began traveling through the sea seeking for a better country or just for plunder. The changes in the climate at that time could also be a reason for generating such a wave of sea moves.
"Sea Peoples" did not belong to the exact ethnic group, their armadas were composed of different nations. Some of them are known, according to Egyptian, Hittite documents and Greek myths; some names are unknown, they disappeared from the history. Egyptians named Hellenes (Achaeans), Carians, peoples of Asia Minor. The Bible tells about Philistines who are also considered as one of the "Sea Peoples"; Greeks tell about Lelegs and Pelasgians, and also mention Tyrsenians, future Etruscans who could come to Italy from Asia as well.
In several decades the Hittite Kingdom was raided and destroyed - it will never rise again. At that very time Mycenaean cities on Crete and Cyprus were turned into ruins and conquered. Palestine and Syria were invaded, and for a long time were struggling with aggressors. Egyptian lands in Palestine were lost - even the Delta of the Nile was partly occupied by the pirate ships, and pharaoh Pamesses III could hardly resist them. All these changes were accompanied by the Doric invasion in Greece and the fall of the Mycenaean civilization.
1230 BC Achaeans conquer Troy
People long thought Homerus simply invented Troy and the famous war for it. His epic was considered as one of Greek myths, until an adventurer named Henrich Schlimann studied the Homerus's texts attentively, went to Turkey and excavated Troy from one of deserted hills.
The war described in detail in the Greek epic, must have reflected one of the episodes of the war between Asiatic shore cities and Greek polises, the war for trade profits. Triy was a rather rich and influential, so Achaeans had to struggle cruel merchant competition with it. It was evidently strong enough to resist the invasion, so Hellenic countires had to unite in order to destroy the Asiatic power of Troy. Another theory says that the Troy war was just one of "Sea Peoples" naval raids - Achaeans were one of the most active "Sea Peoples" at that time. The city of Mycenae and its king Agamemnon Atreides were joined by several minor Greek polises and made the strong force.
The siege of the city lasted ten years, according to the poem, and then was captured and destroyed. Archaeological research shows that the town was eliminated by the fire. Achaeans got the ooportunity to settle on fertile lands in West Asia Minor and to found prosperous colonies there. But it was the last military victory of Mycenaean Greeks; some 80 years later the civilization was crushed by Doric invaders.
Constant pressing of Doric and Aeolian tribes from the north of Greece, economic problems and other, maybe unknown reasons force the Achaean population to leave their homes and go to neighbouring Mediterranean islands, to Asia Minor and even to Southern Italy. Probably, it was the first attempt of the future Great Greek Colonization.
Taking an important part in the Sea Peoples' piracy, Achaeans gradually settled in Crete, Cyprus, on the Aegean Islands, founded famous colonies on the Asiatic shores and developed old ones, like Miletus, Galicarnassus, Colophon and others. At the same time the Achaean military force was preparing to the invasion of Troy, the rich city in Asia Minor.
Last relics of pre-Hellenic population of islands in the Aegean and the Mediterranean were slowly assimilated by Indo-Europeans from continental Greece.
1200 BC Celtic cultures
in Gaul and Germania
From this time Celts gradually become the most powerful nation in Northern Europe. They easily and quickly spread over vast lands of France (Gaul), Germany, Low Countries, the Alps, penetrated on the Iberian peninsula. Celts were wary and numerous which helped them to conquer lands of ancient European tribes and to widen their domain.
Celtic tribes are believed to have been moving first along the Middle
Danube to the west; later their cultures can be archaeologically traced
in Southern Germany and in Central Gaul; Celts slowly assimilated aboriginal
peoples of those regions, and neolithic cultures which flourished in Europe
before Indo-Europeans came, were preserved in the 12th century BC only
in the Low Rhine lands, somewhere in the Alps and on the peninsula of Brittany.
The British Isles were not yet visited by the Indo-European settlers, though
continental cultures - Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Greek - developed trade
contacts with the islands.
The Common Celtic language was at that time still very similar to its relatives Italic, Illyrian and Venetic. Besides, Celtic words and word elements were borrowed by Slavic and Germanic languages in this very early epoch.
1200 BC Illyrians arrive
at South Italy
Inscriptions discovered in south-eastern Italy, written in one of Italic alphabets, were identified as using the language similar to Illyrian. After Illyrians occupied the regions of Dalmatia and reached the Adriatic shores, they crossed the narrow sea space and found themselves in Italy.
This migration is believed to take place together with similar moves of Italic tribes from the Balkans to Italy - we mean the second Italic wave, including Osco-Umbrian peoples. Illyrians also settled on the Apennine peninsula, and lived there until they were completely assimilated by Roman settlers.
This Illyrian branch was called Messapic by ancient authors. Nowadays we can state that the Messapic language was rather different from Illyrian: first of all in lexical composition, where it shows many "italisisms". Messapic inscriptions are all of the same type - burial sacred messages, that is why the grammar basis and the known vocabulary of the language remain poor. It the 1st and the 2nd centuries AD Messapic tribes in Italy mixed with Italics, and the language disappeared.
The next step of the Great Movement of Peoples was made in the early 13th century, when Doric tribes, representatives of the Hellenic group of the Indo-European family, began migrating south from the Balkans, to the centers f the Mycenaean civilization.
Mycenae and other cities of Greece at that time were already rather weak: overcrowded by people who could not provide enough food for themselves, deep involved and weakened in conflicts of the Mediterranean (including the most famous of them: the Trojan War), losing many favours of the overseas trade. That is why Doric invaders were fortunate soon to destroy much of the civilization. City blocks of Mycenae were burned, and its acropolis was destroyed. Tyrinth suffered constant attacks. The king's palace in Pilos was totally destroyed and was never restored since then.
Doric peoples did not know monarchy, they used a kind of military democracy, that is why were especially fond of destroying palaces and houses of kings and nobles. Ancient city centers were avoided at that time, and people did not want to settle there. Much of the rich Mycenaean culture was, subsequently, lost, as well as the complicated Achaean alphabet, which was useless for primitive peasants. Interesting, that the Greek epic preserved some hostile attitude towards the writing itself: maybe it reflected the attitude of people to state officers, tax collectors and their records.
Doric possessed iron working, but lacked culture, art and writing. A new period of civilization began in Greece.
At this time (or even earlier) archaeological cultures which are believed to have been connected with Thracians occupy the territory of modern Romania, Bulgaria and reach the Aegean Sea. Together with Illyrians and Doric Greeks, Thracians were following Phrygians in their way south, but while Phrygians mostly preferred to cross the Marmare Sea and go to Asia Minor, Thracians remained in Europe.
Long contacts and close relations between Thracians, Phrygians and Illyrians made many linguists think that these three languages were close relatives. But that can be not true: Illyrian possesses several features that make it closer to Italic, Celtic and even Tocharic languages, Phrygian shows similarities with Greek and Armenian, and Thracian appeared to have had many common peculiarities with Balto-Slavic tongues.
Thracians spread over the fertile lands of the Lower Danube and its tributaries, and soon became very numerous. Rich gold and silver deposits were found here, and this made Thracians one of the richest and powerful nations of East Europe of that time. However, they still did not manage to create the state, and live by tribes: scientists distinguish Dacians, Paeonians, and many others.
This meant the last effect of the Movement of Peoples which began two centuries before on the northern Balkans. After Illyrian tribes (Messapic) found the short sea way from Dalmatia to Italy, Italics which still lived next to Illyrians also began penetrating to Italy, where their closer relatives already lived - first Italics, Latins and Faliscans, came to Italy from the north-east even about 2000 BC.
Now was the turn of this new wave, which presented Oscan and Umbrian peoples in Italy. They occupied mainly the eastern and southern regions of the peninsula, the fact which proves they did not go from the north. Osco-Umbrians migrants assimilated or mixed with aboriginal Italic tribes, partly acquiring their language features, their religion and often even their names. Picens, for example, worshipped the wood-pecker (picus in Latin), an autochthonic deity, and acquired their name from it, maybe because the real name of the tribe was too hard fro Indo-Europeans to pronounce (the same happened with Picts in Scotland). Umbrians is also a pre-Italic name. Many linguistic features in Umbrian, Picene, Volscian are strange enough to be identified as the substratum.
Some linguists think Latino-Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian subgroups are separate and do not belong to one Italic group. In this case the contacts between them must have been very intimate, to elaborate the vocabulary and the grammar so much alike.
Despite many bright statements which can be found on the Web nowadays, the Etruscan problem remains with us, and their origin and their language classification are still unknown. If we summarize all that has been said and found about Etruscans, we can see that the majority of discoveries confirm ancient theories of their Asiatic homeland. Several historical facts, archaeological relics, words from Egyptian, Greek and Italic sources, some similarities between Etruscan and Hurrian languages, and finally the problem of the Lemnos Stele - all these are in favour of Asia Minor as the original land of Etruscans.
They came to Italy and occupied northern and partly central districts of the peninsula. Soon, due to overseas trading and contacts with higher civilizations of Phoenicians, Greeks and Egyptians, Etruscans acquired writing, invented their own alphabet and brought up their original culture, so unlike other cultures of that time Europe.
Linguists have been studying the links between Etruscan and other language families for many centuries already, but still little progress was done. One of the great mysteries of Europe still fascinates.
The Indo-Iranian peoples may have compiled one common epic when they lived together, before the linguistic and geographical division. But the writing, and, therefore, written variants of this epic appeared much later, and in Iran this happened already in the new era. Avesta was the collection of the religious texts, the most ancient of which tell about archaic Indo-European beliefs, and later are influenced by Zoroastrism. Though Avesta was created and declared sacred in about 8th century BC, its first codification took place a thousand years later. All these years the epic existed in its oral form, and the language in which it was spoken was already dead.
Many historians believe it was Zoroastr himself who codified and tried to systematize the songs of Avesta. Anyway, this oral tradition, later written, is the most valuable sources of ancient Iranian languages. Though the most ancient Avestan texts which exist nowadays date back to the 13th century AD, no doubt that the language they use is much older.
753 BC Rome is founded
This year Rome was born on the seven hills - this statement is not true. Already in the 9th century BC a little tribe of Italics came to this place, which was rather attractive for living: the Tiber is wide and calm here, in its mouth people discovered salt deposits, hills were fertile. The first hill to be inhabited was Palatine, where ancient relics of houses and irrigation can be found. Later on Latins settled on Janicule, where an ancient village of aborigines existed for ages. Sabines, another Italic tribe relative to Latins, occupied Quirinale, Viminale, Esquilin. Some settlers appeared on the hill of Celius. And the seventh hill was the Capitol which was settled later.
So the ancient legends of Romul who unified Latins and Sabines are not quite true - they just mixed within these seven hills. We don't know who managed to unify all seven into one town - it must have happened synthetically and naturally, due to the increasing population which had to occupy the valley between the hills.
On the other bank of the Tiber there were lands of Etruscans, who gradually expanded their domains. In Rome Etruscan blocks of houses played an important role, practically all trade relations were conducted with Etruscans, and much of the religion was also borrowed from them. According to the traditional history of Rome, the first king was Romulus, a Latin. He was succeeded by Numa Pompilius, a Sabine, and then by Tullus Gostilius, a Latin again. The next king was a Latin again, Ancus Marcius, and in 616 BC the Etruscans take power in Rome - their leader Lucumon from Tarquinii (Lucii Tarquinii) was declared king. Since then, Etruscans ruled the city until 510 BC.
750 BC - 250 AD Phrygian
About 200 inscriptions found in Asia Minor, mainly in Gordion, the capital of the Phrygian kingdom, are called "Old Phrygian". They were written in an alphabet which was very close to the Greek script. As the Phrygian language is also close to Greek, a few linguists used to think at first that the documents represented a Greek dialect. Usually the written sentences are short and, as everywhere in the ancient world, were inscribed on burial stones etc. Some of them, however, tell about historical events happened in Phrygia, and about the deeds of Phrygian kings. Many inscriptions were also found on the "graffiti" pottery.
The "New Phrygian" texts date back to the 2nd - 3rd centuries AD. They were written in the Greek alphabet, and the language itself at that time was influenced strongly by Greek. There is a theory that these two periods of the inscriptions are two different languages - Old and New Phrygian. But the more common point of view is that they are only two stages of the development of the same Phrygian language.
First Greek settlements appeared in Syria, Palestine and Cilicia already in the 9th century, but these were not colonies (apoikia) yet, but trading points (emporia) with quite small population. And about 750 BC Greek merchants from the island of Euboia founded the first Greek colony abroad - Pitecussa in Southern Italy. Soon Cumae, Naxos, Messana and Regius followed it, and the colonization became constant. The most active polises who took part in colonizing new lands were Euboian cities and towns of the northern Peloponnisos. As for Spartiats, for example, they had only one colony, Tarent, which was used as the place for exile from Sparta.
By the beginning of the next century all the South Italian coast was occupied by numerous Greek colonies. In 734 Corinthians founded Syracuse in Sicily, which later became the most powerful and rich of all Greek colonies in the Mediterranean. Soon colonies became so rich that in their turn settled in new settlements. That is how citizens of Cumae founded NeaPolis (New City). Asiatic colonies sent expeditions and settled on the Black Sea shores, and even reached the Caucasus.
The Greek presence in foreign lands couldn't help influencing the life of aboriginal peoples. The most strong Greek influence took place in Asia Minor, where languages of the Anatolian group were borrowing many Greek words. The same thing can be said about Italic tongues.
Midas, a Phrygian leader, married with a Greek woman, united all Phrygians, gained control over vast treasuries, and founded the Phrygian kingdom. He built a city in the center of the country, named Gordion, famous for its giant city walls, even now seen from the sand.
Successful wars and diplomacy allowed Midas to create a real power in Anatolia. He concluded an alliance with Lydians, who lived to the south from Phrygia, subjugated neighbouring tribes and stopped the expansion of the Assyrian Empire. In 709 BC Midas and Sargon II of Assyria signed a peace treaty. Midas sponsored arts, writing and construction in his country, and Phrygian inscriptions preserved very grateful attitude towards him.
But already in 730 BC the kingdom faced a new threat - nomadic Cymmerians from the Steppes.
Hordes of horseback nomadic tribes which were called Cymmerians by Greek authors first showed what is so terrible about the Asiatic nomads in Europe. At that time Central Asia was beginning to suffer shortage of food for people and cattle because of the global temperature rising, so since then masses of peoples from Asia began their gradual expansion to both to Europe and to China where they could pillage or settle. Another reason for migrations was the struggle among nomadic peoples, for example, historians believe that Cymmerians were pushed from Central Asia by Scythians.
Cymmerians were the first. This people of Iranian origin, which came to the Caspian steppes from the south, now moved west and invaded Eastern Europe, where they had to fight with Thracians and Illyrians in Pannonia, and Asia Minor, where they came via the Caucasus. In Anatolia, Cymmerians were first paid tribute and used as mercenary troops for different empires (the usual Empires' way of treating nomads), but later decided to demand more (see later).
This year the Assyrian chronicle first mentions the mountainous country named Khaiasa in northern Mesopotamia. This is believed to be the first mentioning of Armenians who lived here for ages. Armenian peoples used to be too weak to found their own state, and therefore had to survive under the Assyrian supremacy. But as the power of the Assyrian Empire was declining, Armenians who called themselves "Khai" were unified by several legendary kings of the tribe named "Armi" and therefore started to play an important role in the history of the Middle East.
In the 7th century BC Armenians became quite numerous and spread over the western Anatolia and lands along the Upper Euphrates. They assimilated Hurrians and Urartian, neighbouring nations, and founded a kingdom which was long vassal to Media, and then to Persia but in fact independent.
The Armenian language, close to Greek, Phrygian, and Indic, preserved its original structure and vocabulary. As well as the religion of Armenians, their language borrowed a lot from Urartian and Hurrian, however laving untouched the vocabulary, which remained quite Indo-European.
Lydia and its population was mentioned already by Homer as Maeonians. Sardis, the capital of the country, probably was founded even before Anatolian peoples came from the Hittite Kingdom here to the West Asia Minor. Lydians mixed with the aboriginal population and developed their own language descended directly from Hittite, though with some significant innovations and changes.
Vast deposits of gold in Lydia near the rivers Galis and Meandros, and the trade on naval and surface ways from Europe to Asia made Lydians a rich people, and this fact encouraged the development of the monarchy here. Until Phrygia was strong enough to control all Asia Minor, Lydian kings had to live as Phrygian satellites. But now, as the Phrygian kingdom was deeply involved into wars with Cymmerian invaders, Aliattus, the king of Lydians, proclaimed independence. After the fall of the Phrygian state, Lydia became the most powerful country in the region.
At this time the first Lydian texts appear, written in a kind of the Greek alphabet with some diacritics for special sounds.
The Ancient Persian and Greek tradition follows the theory that Medians came from the north to Iran, being one of the branches of Scythians. But in the 8th century they mixed with other Iranian tribes living in what is now Kurdistan and Azerbaijan, and became a numerous and strong nation. Medians were illiterate and uncivilized, they had only several cities, but were wary enough to resist the Assyrian Empire, and finally in 625 BC together with Babylonians managed to crush the Assyrian power.
The king named Kiaxar of Media quickly expanded the borders of his kingdom, conquering Iran, Northern Mesopotamia, even lands along the Indus and Asia Minor. As a result of long wars with Lydia in Anatolia, Media set its borders with Lydia at the river Galis. But endless wars and the weak administrative and economic system was a fatal disadvantage for the kingdom.
Medians failed to influence any of peoples conquered by them. When the kingdom was destroyed, Medians soon disappeared, and two centuries later no one could even tell what the Median language looked like, for very few inscriptions and documents were left from them. The biggest state of the period, Media was fated to disappear.
Several attempts of Phrygians to crush the nomadic power of Cymmerians appeared unsuccessful, and this year nomads eliminated the Phrygian kingdom, destroyed and pillaged its capital Gordion, and legendary king Midas had to commit a suicide.
Cymmerians were probably allied with Lydians whose country was not touched by the nomadic wave. Lydians were in hostile relations with Phrygia, so much of its territory now was occupied by Lydia. But Phrygian peoples were not eliminated, and Phrygian inscriptions still appear in Asia Minor.
As for the Cymmerians, they did not know yet that their fate was already prepared. Lydian, Median and Babylonian ambassadors were quickly moving to the Caspian Steppes to call another power to destroy the Cymmerian strength in Asia.
A new wave of nomads came from Central Asia. Scythians crossed the Caucasus and appeared in northern Iran and in Asia Minor. They had to play the decisive role in the political and ethic processes which were going on in the Near East at that time. The political balance between powers was too complicated to exist for long: the power in Asia was divided between the moribund Assyrian Empire, the increasing strength of the Median Kingdom, Lydia, the New Babylon Kingdom and Egypt.
After Cymmerians destroyed Phrygia, they were becoming stronger and stronger. Kingdoms no longer wanted to accept them as mercenary troops, and were glad to remove Cymmerians somehow from Asia. Moreover, a strong alliance of Media, Babylon, Elam and Lydia against Assyrians was not powerful enough to crush the Empire. That is why a lot of states were interested in the Scythian help, and Scythians came.
In 655 Cymmerians were eliminated, and disappeared from Asia, leaving only terrible memories. But Assyrians managed to bribe Scythian leaders, and they refused the Babylonian proposal to destroy Ninevia, the Assyrian capital.
Scythians were maybe not quite Indo-European peoples, but a mixture of nations of Central Asia, including some Turkish and Altaic element. Their language, though remaining Iranian, carried a lot of borrowed non-Indo-European features. The Scythian language influenced many tongues of Asia and Europe, including Slavic, Thracian, Baltic, and Iranian.
This is not the exact date of the Celtic emergence on the British Isles. But around this time Celtic settlements begin to appear in southern Britain.
In the 9th and 8th centuries BC the "urn culture" occupied much of Western Europe, though not touching Northern Spain, Brittany and England. The Celts were multiplying quite fast, and therefore needed new lands to settle. Small groups of Celtic migrants arrived in Britain and occupied its fertile lands. In the 7th century BC cultural and economic ties between continental Europe and Britain become closer, but while in Europe the Celts continue their fast development and generate the material culture of Halstadt, the British Isles begin to fall behind this development - the Channel leaves insular Celts in isolation.
The Celtic coming to Britain and later to Ireland, where they came into close contact with the Picts and other aboriginal tribes of the islands, marks the important event in the Indo-European history: now the languages of this family occupy all Europe and the part of Asia which remains Indo-European today. Reaching the westernmost regions of Europe, Indo-Europeans had to stop, and a new period of their chronology begins.