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Lydian
Quick Facts
TypeC&V Alphabetic
GenealogyProto-Sinaitic
LocationWest Asia > Anatolia
Time800 BCE to 100 BCE
DirectionLeft to Right

The Lydians were one of the many nations of ancient Anatolia. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire, the Lydian people emerged as a local power in western Anatolia. They remained an independent state until absorption into the Persian Empire, and later into Alexander the Great's Empire. Firmly in the Hellenistic world, the Lydians slowly lost their culture and their language, and the last Lydian inscription was recorded in the 1st century BCE.

The language of the Lydians belonged to a branch of the Anatolian language family that also included older tongues such as Hittite and Luwian as well as contemporaneous languages such as Carian, Lycian and Phrygian. Unlike the older languages, which employed logophonetic scripts, Lydian adopted the early Greek alphabet for its writing system and modified it to suit its phonology.

The following is the Lydian alphabet:

In the table above, each row contains three subrows. The first subrow is the Lydian letter. The second subrow (in blue) is the traditional transliteration of Lydian. The third subrow (in red) is the phonetic transcription of Lydian. Note: [ã] and [ẽ] are nasalized vowels, meaning that the vowels are pronounced with a resonance in the sinus cavity. Of interest also are the consonants [ty], [dy], and [ly], which are palatalized versions of the consonants [t], [d], and [l]. They are like the original consonants simultaneously pronounced with the [y] sound.

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