The Carians (Greek: Κάρες; "Kares") were the inhabitants of Caria.

Greek mythology

According to Greek tradition, the Carians were named after an eponymous Car, one of their legendary early kings. [Herodotus. "Histories", 1.171.] Classical Greeks would often claim that Caria was originally colonized by Ionian Greeks. Homer records that Miletus (later an Ionian city) was a Carian city at the time of the Trojan War and that the Carians, of incomprehensible speech, joined the Trojans against the Achaeans under the leadership of Nastes, brother of Amphimachos ("he who fights both ways") and son of Nomion; these figures appear only in the "Iliad" and in a list in Dares of Phrygia's epitome of the Trojan War: [Homer. "Iliad", 2.865ff.]

"Nastes led the Carians, men of a strange speech. These held Miletus and the wooded mountain of Phthires, with the water of the river Maeander and the lofty crests of Mount Mycale. These were commanded by Nastes and Amphimachus, the brave sons of Nomion. He came into the fight with gold about him, like a girl; fool that he was, his gold was of no avail to save him, for he fell in the river by the hand of the fleet descendant of Aeacus, and Achilles bore away his gold."

Historical accounts

Herodotus recorded that Carians believed themselves to be aborigines of Caria. [Herodotus. "Histories", 1.171.] In his time, the Phoenicians were calling them "KRK" in their alphabetic script. This corresponds to the Karkiya or Karkisa mentioned in the Hittite records. Modern linguistics supports a supposition that the Carian language was a descendant of the Luwian language, a member of the Anatolian family of languages. Other Luwian offshoots include Lycian and Lydian. Bronze Age Karkiya aided the confederacy of Assuwa against Tudhaliya I. But later, in 1323 BC, Arnuwandas II was able to write to Karkiya for them to provide asylum for the deposed Manapa-Tarhunta of Seha River. The Karkiyans did so, and allowed Manapa-Tarhunta to take back his kingdom. Unlike the Luwiyans in the Near East, the Karkiyans did not retain their literacy through the Dark Age. They next appear in records of the eighth century BC. The golden armour of Amphimachos mentioned by Homer clearly reflects a reputation of Carian wealth that may precede the Greek Dark Age and be recalled in oral tradition or be contemporaneous with late eighth-century Homer. The Carians are clearly mentioned at 2 Kings 11:4 and possibly at Samuel 8:18, 15:18, and 20:23. Carians are also named as mercenaries in inscriptions found in ancient Egypt and Nubia, dated to the reigns of Psammetichus I and II. They are sometimes referred to as the Cari or Khari. Carian remnants have been found in the ancient city of Persepolis or modern Takht-e-Jamshid in Iran.

Carians and Leleges

The Carians were often linked by Greek writers to the Leleges, but the exact nature of the relationship between Carians and Leleges remains mysterious. The two groups seem to have been distinct, but later intermingled with each other. Strabo wrote that they were so intermingled that they were often confounded with each other. [Strabo. "Geographica", 7.321; 13.611.] However, Athenaeus stated that the Leleges stood in relation to the Carians as the Helots stood to the Lacedaemonians. [Athenaeus. "The Deipnosophists", 6.271.] This confusion of the two peoples is found also in Herodotus, who wrote that the Carians, when they were allegedly living amid the Cyclades, were known as "Leleges". [Herodotus. "Histories", 1.171.]


One of the Carian ritual centers was Mylasa, where they worshipped their supreme god, called 'the Carian Zeus' by Herodotus. Unlike Zeus, this was a warrior god. One of the Carian goddesses was Hecate, who was later adopted by the Greeks in the sixth century BC. She was the patron of road crossings. Herodotus calls her Athena and says that her priestess would grow a beard when disaster pended (Histories 8.104). On Mount Latmos near Miletus, the Carians worshipped Endymion, who was the lover of the Moon and fathered fifty children. Endymion slept eternally, in the sanctuary devoted to him, which lasted into Roman times.

Archaeological evidence

Throughout the 1950s, J.M. Cook and G.E. Bean conducted exhaustive archaeological surveys in Caria. [Bass, p. 356. [Footnote] "G. E. Bean and J. M. Cook, "BSA" 47 (1952) 171ff; "BSA" 50 (1955) 85ff; "BSA" 52 (1957) 58ff."] Cook ultimately concluded that Caria was virtually devoid of any prehistoric remains. According to his reports, third millennium finds were mostly confined to a few areas on or near the Aegean coast. No finds from the second millennium were known aside from the Submycenean remains at Asarlik and the Mycenean remains at Miletus and near Mylasa. Archaeologically, there was nothing distinguishing about the Carians since the material evidence so far only indicated that their culture was merely a reflection of Greek culture. [Cook, p. 50 under Caria. "Except in the extreme east, where it is approached from the Maeander valley, Caria seems to be almost totally barren of prehistoric remains; considering the archaeological reconnaissances that have recently been carried out here, this lacuna is noteworthy. Finds of third-millennium date are confined to a very few points on or near the Aegean coast, with the curious exception of one find-spot which seems to be near Yatağan at the head of the Marsyas valley. No second-millennium remains are known apart from the Mycenaean at Miletus, the Submycenaean at Asarlik (Termera) opposite Cos, and the reports of Mycenaean from the vicinity of Mylasa. It is now asserted by some scholars that the Carians were a people, perhaps Indo-European, who inhabited the interior of Anatolia and only descended to Caria and the Aegean at the end of the Bronze Age; but this is far from harmonising with the Greek tradition about them, and the writer for one finds it difficult to explain the Mycenaean in Caria (and perhaps adjacent islands) as being anything other than Carian. Our difficulty with early Caria is that we have no means as yet of distinguishing Carians; archaeologically their culture appears as little more than a reflection of contemporary Greek culture. Excavation of early Carian settlements is urgently needed."]

During the 1970s, further archaeological excavations in Caria revealed Mycenean buildings at Iasus (with two "Minoan" levels underneath them) [Mitchell and McNicoll, p. 63 under Mycenaeans in Asia Minor. "At Iasus Mycenaean buildings, approximately dated by the presence of LH IIIa ware, have been found below the protogeometric cemetery. Below this again two 'Minoan' levels are reported, the earlier containing local imitations of MM II-LM I ware, the later imported pieces of the Second Palace Period ("AJA" [1973] , 177-8). Middle and Late Minoan ware has also occurred at Cnidus ("AJA" [1978] , 321)."] as well as Protogeometric and Geometric material remains (i.e. cemeteries and pottery). [Mitchell and McNicoll, p. 79 under Caria. "There has been much archaeological activity in Caria, and there is little doubt that the discoveries made in the last decade, when fully published, will provoke a reappraisal of Carian history at all periods. Mycenaean discoveries at Iasus and elsewhere have already been mentioned (p. 63). Protogeometric and geometric finds have also been abundant. On the coast a tomb at Dirmil produced 8th century B.C. pottery (C. Özgünel, "Belleten" 40 [1976] , 3 ff.) and there is geometric pottery from the settlement at Iasus, as well as protogeometric ware of a distinct Carian style from the cemetery beneath the Roman agora ("ASAA" [1969/70] , 464 ff.). Inland, at Beçin, the fortified site which was presumably the precursor of Mylasa, a geometric cemetery has been excavated by A. Akarca ("Belleten" xxxv [1971] , 1-52). These finds and the Carian geometric style are discussed by J. N. Coldstream, "Geometric Greece" (1977), 258-60. Since then a group of geometric "kotylai" from Euromus has been published by C. Özgünel, "AA" (1977), 8-13."] Interestingly, archaeologists confirmed the presence of Carians in Sardis, Rhodes, and in Egypt where they served as mercenaries of the Pharaoh. In Rhodes, specifically, a type of Carian chamber-tomb known as a "Ptolemaion" may be attributed to a period of Carian hegemony on the island. [Mitchell and McNicoll, p. 79 under Caria. "Carians also made their mark abroad, and recent work sheds light on their presence in Sardis (J. G. Pedley, "JHS" [1974] , 96-9), Rhodes (P. M. Fraser, "Rhodian Funerary Monuments" [1977] , 5, a chamber-tomb of Carian type known as the Ptolemaion, probably belonging to the period of Carian hegemony in the island for which see "id"., "BSA" [1972] , 122-3), and above all in Egypt as mercenaries in the Pharaonic armies (O. Masson, "Bull. Soc. Fr. d'Egyptologie" lvi [1969] , 25-36; A. B. Lloyd, "JEA" [1978] , 107-10)."] Despite this period of increased archaeological activity, the Carians still appear not to have been an autochthonous group of Anatolia since both the coastal and interior regions of Caria were virtually uninhabited throughout prehistoric times. [Bass, p. 356. "J. M. Cook, after his thorough and exhaustive survey of the area with G. Bean, doubts that the Carians occupied Caria during the second millennium B.C. for, with the exception of Miletus, and Mylasa with its scanty Mycenaean remains, "the coast appears a blank on the map . . . and the interior of Caria seems to have been virtually uninhabited throughout prehistoric times. Paton and Myres had previously suggested that the lack of Mycenaean remains in Caria, within sight of so many islands which were occupied by Mycenaeans, must have been due to some unknown mainland opposition."]

Of course, the assumption that the Carians descended from Neolithic settlers is contradicted by the fact that Neolithic Caria was essentially uninhabited. [Drews, p. 260. "That Neolithic Caria was uninhabited is quite incredible. Hacilar directly east of Caria, was a Neolithic settlement already in 8000 B.C."] Though a very small Neolithic population did exist in Caria, [Drews, p. 260. "In short, the population of Neolithic Caria may have been very small..."] the people known as "Carians" may in fact have been of Aegean origin that settled in southwestern Anatolia during the second millennium BC. [Bienkowski and Millard, pp. 65-66. "Caria, Carians A region of south-west Turkey, south of *Lydia, Caria was first settled in the *Neolithic but became a distinctive culture only in the first millennium BC. Carians may originally have been of *Aegean origin and settled in the area in the second millennium BC. The earlier first-millennium BC communities seem to have been independent, mainly *temple centres for native deities, and Caria came under Lydian control. There was considerable *Hellenistic influence, and already the *pottery of the eighth and seventh centuries BC had a geometric tradition similar to that of east Greece. In 546 BC, Caria was brought under *Persian rule and placed under the Lydian satrapy. By the fourth century BC, its culture was similar to that of a *Greek city-state. The Carian *language is related to Luwian (*Hittite) and is known from inscriptions written in a local form of the Greek *alphabet discovered in Caria and others in Egypt by Carian mercenaries."]


ee also

*Carian language
*Carian script


*Bass, George F. "Mycenaean and Protogeometric Tombs in the Halicarnassus Peninsula". "American Journal of Archaeology", Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 1963), pp. 353-361.
*Bienkowski, Piotr and Millard, Alan Ralph. "Dictionary of the Ancient Near East". University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. ISBN 0812235576
*Cook, J.M. "Greek Archaeology in Western Asia Minor". "Archaeological Reports", No. 6 (1959 - 1960), pp. 27-57.
*Drews, Robert. "Greater Anatolia and the Indo-Hittite Language Family: Papers Presented at a Colloquium Hosted by the University of Richmond, March 18-19, 2000". Institute for the Study of Man, 2001 (Original from the University of Michigan). ISBN 0941694771
*Mitchell, S. and McNicoll, A.W. "Archaeology in Western and Southern Asia Minor 1971-78". "Archaeological Reports", No. 25 (1978 - 1979), pp. 59-90.

External links

* [ Livius - Caria (Jona Lendering)]

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