Lydian alphabet


The Lydian alphabet was adapted from an archaic version of the Greek alphabet. The majority of letters are based on Greek letters, though ten of them were new inventiones to write sounds unique to Lydian. The pronunciation of some of the letters, the one transliterated as for example, is uncertain.
Approximately 100 Lydian inscriptions and bits of graffiti dating from the 5th and 4th centuries BC are known. A number of Lydian coins from the 7th century BC have also been found. The inscriptions are mainly epitaphs on graves typically beginning with eś w?naś (this grave).

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: alphabet
  • Writing direction: mainly right to left in horizontal lines. Occasionally written from left to right.
  • Number of letters: 26
  • Some letters have several variant forms

Used to write

Lydian, a member of the Anatolian branch of Indo-European languages that was spoken in western Anatolia (modern Turkey) up to about the 1st Century BC, when the Lydians adopted Greek as their language.

Lydian alphabet

Lydian alphabet

Sample text in Lydian

Sample text in Lydian


[o]ṛaλ islλ bakillλ esṭ mrud eśśk [vãnaś]
3 laqrisak qelak kudkit ist esλ vãṇ[aλ]
4 bλtarvod akad manelid kumlilid silukalid akit ṇ[ãqis]
5 esλ mruλ buk esλ vãnaλ buk esνaν
6 laqirisaν bukit kud ist esλ vãnaλ bλtarvọ[d]
7 aktin nãqis qelλk fẽnsλifid fakmλ artimuś
8 ibśimsis artimuk kulumsis aaraλ biraλk
9 kλidaλ kofuλk qiraλ qelλk bilλ vcbaqẽnt

Translation (German)

Am 5. im (Monat) Marh.ašo-n, im Jahre 10 Artaxerxes des Königs,
2 in Sardes, in diesem Monat, die Stele und die Gruft (? und) die Säule,
3 das Grundstück und der Vorraum gegenüber der Grabkammer (?), dieser Vorraum von jetzt ab
4 dem Mane, Sohn des Kumli Sirukai (gehören wird). Und wer gegenüber dieser Stele oder
5 der Gruft oder der Säule gegenüber dem Vorraum bei der Gruft,
6 danach wer also beschädigen oder zerschlagen wird, welchen Teil auch immer davon,
7 die Artemis von Kolo und Ephesus soll sein Hof und Haus,
8 Habe, Boden und Wasser, welchen Teil auch immer zerstören, (ihm und) seinen Erben.

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