Johannes Krause Thomas Trappe Caroline W Biography & Facts
Tyrsenian (also Tyrrhenian or Common Tyrrhenic), named after the Tyrrhenians (Ancient Greek, Ionic: Τυρσηνοί Tyrsenoi), is a proposed extinct family of closely related ancient languages put forward by linguist Helmut Rix (1998), which consists of the Etruscan language of northern, central and south-western Italy, and eastern Corsica (France); the Rhaetic language of the Alps, named after the Rhaetian people; and the Lemnian language of the Aegean Sea. Camunic in northern Lombardy, in between Etruscan and Rhaetic, may belong here too, but the material is very scant. The Tyrsenian languages are generally considered Pre-Indo-European and Paleo-European.
In 1998 the German linguist Helmut Rix proposed that three then unclassified ancient languages belonged to a common linguistic family he called Tyrrhenian: the Etruscan language spoken in Etruria, the Rhaetic language of the southern Alps, and the Lemnian language, only attested by a small number of inscriptions from the Greek island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea.Rix's Tyrsenian family is supported by a number of linguists such as Stefan Schumacher, Carlo De Simone, Norbert Oettinger, Simona Marchesini, or Rex E. Wallace. Common features among Etruscan, Rhaetic, Lemnian have been found in morphology, phonology, and syntax. On the other hand, few lexical correspondences are documented, at least partly due to the scanty number of Rhaetic and Lemnian texts and possibly to the early date at which the languages split.
Tyrsenian was probably a Paleo-European language family predating the arrival of Indo-European languages in Europe. Helmut Rix dated the end of the Proto-Tyrsenian period to the last quarter of the 2nd millennium BC. Carlo De Simone and Simona Marchesini have proposed a much earlier date, placing the Tyrsenian language split before the Bronze Age. This would provide one explanation for the low number of lexical correspondences.In 2004 L. Bouke van der Meer proposed that Rhaetic could have split from Etruscan from around 900 BC or even earlier, at any rate no later than 700 BC since divergences are already present in the oldest Etruscan and Rhaetic inscriptions, such as in the grammatical voices of past tenses or in the endings of male gentilicia. From around 400 BCE, the Rhaeti became isolated from the Etruscan area by the Cisalpine Celts, thus limiting contacts between the two languages. Such a late datation has not enjoyed consensus, because the split would still be too recent, and in contrast with the archaeological data, the Rhaeti in the second Iron Age being characterized by the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture, in continuity with late Bronze Age culture and early Iron Age Laugen-Melaun culture. The Raeti are not believed, archeologically, to descend from the Etruscans, as well as it is not believed plausible that the Etruscans are descended from the Rhaeti, while the relationship between the Etruscan and Rhaetic languages is thought to date back to a remote stage of prehistory.After more than 90 years of archaeological excavations at Lemnos, nothing has been found that would support a migration from Lemnos to Etruria or to the Alps where Rhaetic was spoken. The indigenous inhabitants of Lemnos, also called in ancient times Sinteis, were the Sintians, a Thracian population. While the results of the previous excavations indicate that the Early Iron Age inhabitants of Lemnos could be a remnant of a Mycenaean population and, in addition, the earliest attested reference to Lemnos is the Mycenaean Greek ra-mi-ni-ja, "Lemnian woman", written in Linear B syllabic script. Scholars such as Norbert Oettinger, Michel Gras and Carlo De Simone think that Lemnian is the testimony of an Etruscan commercial settlement on the island that took place before 700 BC, not related to the Sea Peoples. Alternatively, the Lemnian language could have arrived in the Aegean Sea during the Late Bronze Age, when Mycenaean rulers recruited groups of mercenaries from Sicily, Sardinia and various parts of the Italian peninsula.In addition, recent archeogenetic analysis of Etruscan individuals who lived between 800 BC and 1 BC have concluded that the Etruscan language, and therefore the other languages of the Tyrrhenian family, may be a surviving language of the languages that were widespread in Europe from at least the Neolithic period before the arrival of the Indo-European languages, as already argued by German geneticist Johannes Krause who concluded that it is likely that the Etruscan language (as well as Basque, Paleo-Sardinian and Minoan) "developed on the continent in the course of the Neolithic Revolution". The lack of recent Anatolian-related admixture and Iranian-related ancestry among the Etruscans, who genetically joined firmly the European cluster, might also suggest that the presence of a handful of inscriptions found at Lemnos, in a language related to Etruscan and Rhaetic, "could represent population movements departing from the Italian peninsula".Strabo's (Geography V, 2) citation from Anticlides attributes a share in the foundation of Etruria to the Pelasgians of Lemnos and Imbros. The Pelasgians are also referred to by Herodotus as settlers in Lemnos, after they were expelled from Attica by the Athenians. Apollonius of Rhodes mentioned an ancient settlement of Tyrrhenians on Lemnos in his Argonautica (IV.1760), written in the third century BC, in an elaborate invented aition of Kalliste or Thera (modern Santorini): in passing, he attributes the flight of "Sintian" Lemnians to the island Kalliste to "Tyrrhenian warriors" from the island of Lemnos.
Etruscan: 13,000 inscriptions, the overwhelming majority of which have been found in Italy; the oldest Etruscan inscription dates back to the 8th century BC, and the most recent one is dated to the 1st century AD.
Rhaetic: 300 inscriptions, the overwhelming majority of which have found in the Central Alps; the oldest Rhaetic inscription dates back to the 6th century BC.
Lemnian: 2 inscriptions plus a small number of extremely fragmentary inscriptions; the oldest Lemnian inscription dates back to the late 6th century BC.
Camunic: maybe related to Rhaetic, about 170 inscriptions found in the Central Alps; the oldest Camunic inscriptions dates back to the 5th century BC.Evidence
Cognates common to Rhaetic and Etruscan are:
Cognates common to Etruscan and Lemnian are:
shared dative-case suffixes *-si, and *-ale
attested as aule-si Etruscan 'to Aule' on the Cippus Perusinus inscriptions
attested as Hulaie-ši Lemnian 'for Hulaie', Φukiasi-ale 'for the Phocaean' on the Lemnos Stele
a past tense suffix *-a-i
-⟨e⟩ as in ame 'was' ( ← *amai) in Etruscan
-⟨ai⟩ as in šivai 'lived' in Lemnian
two cognate words describing ages
avils maχs śealχisc Etruscan 'and aged sixty-five'
aviš sialχviš Lemnian 'aged sixty'Fringe scholarship and superseded theories
Aegean language family
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