The first mention in history of Caria and its inhabitants was in the cuneiform texts of the Old Assyrian and Hittite Empires, who called the area Karkissa. History forgot about it for almost four centuries until the second citation by the legendary Greek poet Homer in his catalogue of ships.
The Carian language belonged to the Hittite- Luwian subfamily of Indo-European languages, and was related to Lycian and Lydian. Those who lived in the west of the country spoke a language closer to Greek.
According to Herodotus the inhabitants of Miletus spoke Greek with a Carian accent, which implies that during the dark ages, between about 1200 and 800 BC, the Greeks settled on the coast of Caria. Herodotus himself was a good example of the close ties between the Carians and Greeks: his father is called Lyxes, which is the Greek rendition of a good Carian name, Lukhsu.
Because of the hard and poor nature of Caria's land, Carians, like many other mountain people at the time, hired themselves out as mercenaries and military specialists. According to Herodotus, the Greeks were indebted to the Carians for three military inventions: making shields with handles; putting devices on shields; and fitting crests on helmets. Because of this last invention, the Persians called the Carians "cocks".
What, however, was the relationship between the Carians and the Egyptians? And how did they help Egypt?
Friday, April 09, 2010
In the footsteps of the Bronze Men
Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)