Re: Pelasgian, Tyrrhenian, and Achaean

From: Joseph S Crary
Message: 9462
Date: 2001-09-14


I have to say that many of the discussions presented on this site are
extremely enlightening. The variety of insights present here, some
provided as informative and others as counter arguments have vastly
expanded my view of concepts and constructs I thought circumscribed.

>Let's imagine that there was one group of peoples called the
Pelasgians and one people that at a certain time was called the
Tyrrhenians. Let's pretend they spoke the same language but had
somewhat different cultures.<

Based on the earliest Hellenic sources and the physical inscriptions
and texts the Tyrrhenians were Pelasgians, however not all Pelasgians
were Tyrrhenians. Remember this is my opinion.

>Now, let's imagine further that the Pelasgians, different breeds and
numerous tribes of common origin, lived spread among other peoples on
the eastern (and even western?) Mediterranean islands. Including
Crete, Lemnos, Thera, Cyprus and Rhodes, while the people (later to
be) called Tyrrhenians lived in ( the area that later became) Lydia,
according to Herodotus.<

Herodot and Thucydides provide somewhat of a historical distribution
of Pelasgian peoples; Thessalia, Atticia, Arcadia, and parts of
coastal Thrace and western Anatolia. Then some of the Pelasgian
population was displaced by the Achaeans to several but not many of
the Aegean islands and western Anatolia. Latter, possibly at the end
of the LBA, some of the Attic-Pelasgians lost their cultural identity
while others were displaced. It is unclear what happen to the
Pelasgians in Thessalia. However, within the context of the LBA, the
Tyrrhenians are first mentioned as migrating to west central Italy
and the Pelasgians/Tyrrhenians arrival on Lemnos.

I believe the Idea that the Pleasgians were an ancient people of the
Mediterranean is based on this rendering of

Herodotus, The Histories 1.56

He found by inquiry that the chief peoples were the Lacedaemonians
among those of Doric, and the Athenians among those of Ionic stock.
These races, Ionian and Dorian, were the foremost in ancient time,
the first a Pelasgian and the second a Hellenic people.

Here is a copy of Hellenic text in a Latin script:

historeôn de heuriske Lakedaimonious kai Athênaious proechontas
tous men tou Dôrikou geneos tous de tou Iônikou. tauta gar
ên ta
prokekrimena, eonta to archaion to men Pelasgikon to de Hellênikon

I believe this is a better rendering:

Then on inquiring [he] found [the] Lakedaimonious and Athênaious
[the] former case the Dôrikou race followed by the Iônikou as
being preferred, from the beginning in this case a Pelasgikon and
Hellênikon peoples.

To me the last line appears to be saying that from the beginning the
Pelasgians and Greek people were together. Not that the Pelasgians
were an ancient population of Greece. Actually the traditional
rendering itself doesn't suggest that the Pelasgian were an ancient
population of the Greek peninsula.

I think these lines make more sense when one looks at the
archaeological record. The culture of Greece in the EH has a distinct
local/Anatolian appearance. Traditionally, the arrival of the Achaean
culture into the Greece has been associated with the destruction
levels that span the EH III and MH I transition. However, many
researchers have commented that this culture is extremely different
to the latter Hellenic culture and that many of its attributes have
strong similarities, although local, to an earlier form of Anatolian
culture. If one looks at specific elements of the EB eastern
Balkan culture there also remains a very Anatolian appearance and
herein can be traced the predecessor of the MH and LH culture of

This may seem all very neat, however the Anatolian-like nature of the
Balkan and Greek MBA cultures provide another problem. It suggests
that overall this complex had a very strong, or was dominated by a
non- or pre-IE element. Thus, how can one correlate the
archaeological, linguistic, and historical information? How can one
find the IE Achaeans within this complex? Linear B demonstrates that
there is no disputing the Greeco nature of Achaean. The only answer
is that the Achaean culture is not readily discernable within this
complex. This would explain some of the differences between the
Achaean and latter Hellenic cultures. However, if this is indeed the
case it may actually address the route, timing, and how IE
populations and polities moved across the landscape.

Overall, it indicates that, in light of the Yamnaya culture, the main
body of the IE-Antolian block had to have entered Anatolia primarily
from the east through the Caucasus. This hints that some elements of
the IE-Antolian block continued with the Celto-Italic, Aryo-Greeco-
Armemic, and Balto-Slavic blocks west into the southern Ukraine and
central europe. When coupled with information about the cultural
differences between the Achaean and latter Helladic groups its also
evident that pattern of movement and distribution was linear between
and within the major IE linguistic blocks. It also suggests that
these early IE groups were very adaptable. In other words the
Achaeans had become to some degree culturally Pelasgian.

I have to go for now

JS Crary