:"This article is about the ancient people called the Achaeans. See
Achaea (MUD)for the MUD."The Achaeans (Greek: polytonic|Ἀχαιοί, "Akhaioi") is one of the collective names used for the Greeks in Homer's " Iliad" (used 598 times) and " Odyssey". The other names are the Danaans (polytonic|Δαναοί, used 138 times in the "Iliad") and Argives (polytonic|Ἀργεῖοι, used 29 times in the "Iliad"). In the historical period, the Achaeans were the inhabitants of the region of Achaea, a region in the north central part of the Peloponnese. The city states of this region formed a confederation known as the Achaean Leaguewhich was influential during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.
The Achaeans are one of the four main tribes occupying the ancient Greek mainland (Achaeans,
Aeolians, Ionians, Dorians). The name Achaeans came to mean all the Greeks at the time of the Trojan War.
The Homeric "long-haired Achaeans" would have been a part of the
Mycenaean civilizationthat dominated Greece from ca. 1600 BC, with a history as a tribe that may have gone back to the prehistoric Hellenic immigration in the late 3rd millennium BC. It has been suggested that the Achaeans had not settled in the Greek mainland until the Dorian invasions of the 12th century BC. It is possible that Homer's Achaean leaders held power in the Mycenean world but were replaced by the Dorians. Herodotus identified the Achaeans of the northern Peloponnese as descendants of these earlier Achaeans.
A scholarly consensus has not yet been reached on the origin of the historic Achaeans, and is still hotly debated. Former emphasis on presumed race, in which John A. Scott could write an article on Achaean blondness, compared to the dark locks of "Mediterranean" Poseidon, [Scott, "The Complexion of the Achaeans" "The Classical Journal".20..6 (March 1925:366-367)] on the basis of hints in Homer, has been laid aside. The contrasting view that "Achaeans", as understood through Homer, are "a name without a country", an "ethnos" created in the Epic tradition, [As William K. Prentice expressed this long-standing skepticism of a genuine Achaean ethnicity in the distant past, at the outset of his article "The Achaeans", "American Journal of Archaeology" 33.2 (April 1929:206-218) p 206 ] has modern supporters among those who conclude that "Achaeans" were redefined in the fifth century, as contemporary speakers of
Aeolic Greek. Professor Karl Belochhas suggested that there was no Dorian invasion, but rather that the Peloponnesian Dorians were the Achaeans. [K. J. Beloch, "Griechische Geschichte", 1: I, p. 92, and p. 88, n. 1.] Professor Eduard Meyer, disagreeing with Beloch, has instead put forth the suggestion that the real-life Achaeans were mainland pre-Dorian Greeks. [Eduard Meyer, "Geschichte rles Alterturns", 112, I (1928), p. 251] His conclusion is based on his research on the similarity between the languages of the Achaeans and pre-historic Arcadians. And Professor William Prentice disagrees with both, noting that archeological evidence suggests that the Achaeans instead migrated from “southern Asia Minor to Greece, probably settling first in lower Thessaly” probably prior to 2000 BC. [ Prentice 1929:206-218.]
Some Hittite texts mention a nation lying to the west called "Ahhiyawa". An important example is the "
Tawagalawa Letter" [ [http://www.hittites.info/translations.aspx?text=translations/historical%2fPiyama-radu+Letter.html Translation of the Tawagalawa Letter] ] written by an unnamed Hittite king of the empire period (14th century B.C.) to the king of "Ahhiyawa", treating him as an equal and suggesting that Miletus("Millawanda") was under his control. It also refers to an earlier "Wilusa" episode" involving hostility on the part of "Ahhiyawa". In the earliest reference to this land, in a letter outlining the treaty violations of the Hittite vassal Madduwatta, [ [http://www.hittites.info/translations.aspx?text=translations/historical%2fCTH147_Madduwatta.html Translation of the Sins of Madduwatta] ] it is called "Ahhiya". Ahhiya(wa) has been identified with the Achaeans of the Trojan Warand the city of Wilusa with the legendary city of Troy(note the similarity with polytonic|(ϝ)Ίλιον, "(w)Ilion", the name of the acropolisof Troy). However the exact relationship of the term "Ahhiyawa" to the Achaeans beyond a similarity in pronunciation is hotly debated by scholars, even following the discovery that Mycenaean Linear Bis an early form of Greek; the earlier debate was summed up in 1984 by Hans G. Güterbock of the Oriental Institute. [Hans G. Güterbock, "Hittites and Akhaeans: A New Look" "Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society" 128.2 (June 1984), pp. 114-122. Bibliography.]
During the 5th year of Pharaoh
Merneptah, a confederation of Libyan and northern peoples is supposed to have attacked the Western Delta. Included amongst the ethnic names of the repulsed invaders is the Ekweshor Eqwesh, whom some have seen as Achaeans. Homer mentions an Achaean attack upon the delta, and Odysseusspeaks of the same when he talks to the shade of Menelaus. Later Greek myths also say that Helen had spent the time of the Trojan Warin Egypt, and not at Troy, and that after Troy the Greekswent there to recover her. There is also the strange myth of the brothers Aegyptusand Danaus, sons of Belus, with the latter supposedly coming from Egypt, that Marianne Luban has suggested may date to this time.
The same Egyptian sources indicate that
Merneptahdefeated the invasion, killing 6,000 soldiers and taking 9,000 prisoners. To be sure of the numbers, among other things, he took the penises of all uncircumcised enemy dead and the hands of all the circumcised, from which history learns that the Ekwesh were circumcised, a fact causing some to doubt they were Greek.
Greek mythology, the perceived cultural divisions among the Hellenes were represented as legendary lines of descent that identified kinship groups, among them the Achaeans. The Greek "ethnoi" were named in their honor Achaeans, Danaans, Kadmeioi, Hellenes, Aeolians, Ionians, Dorians. Kadmos and Danaos came from Egypt, and Pelops from Phrygiasettled in mainland Greece and were assimilated and Hellenized. Hellen, Graicos, Magnis, and Macedon were sons of Deucalion and Pyrrha, the only people who survived the Great Flood; the "ethne" were said to have originally been named after the elder son Graikoi but renamed later after Hellen who was proved to be the strongest. Sons of Hellen and the nymph Orsiis were Dorus, Xuthos, and Aeolus. Sons of Xuthos and Kreousa, daughter of Erechthea, were Ion and Achaeus. [ [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Achaeans "Encyclopaedia Britannica" 1911: "Achaeans"] ]
Achaea, Achaea (Roman province)
Historicity of the Iliad
Achaean Leaguewas a confederationof Greek city states in Achaea, a territory on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. An initial confederation existed during the 5th through the 4th century BC.
* [http://ancientgreece-earlyamerica.com Detailed cultural studies of Minoan Crete and relations with the mainland "Mycenean" tribes of Achaians]
* [http://www.salimbeti.com/micenei The Greek Age of Bronze weapons and warfare]
*Tsotakou-Karveli. "Lexicon of Greek Mythology". Athens: Sokoli, 1990.
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