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The name Pelasgians (Ancient Greek: Πελασγοί - Pelasgoí, s. Pelasgós) was used by some ancient Greek writers to refer to groups of people who preceded the Hellenes. Some of these people still dwelt in several locations in mainland Greece, Crete, and other regions of the Aegean, as neighbors of the Hellenes, into the 5th century BC. However, other ancient Greek and Roman writers describe them as Greeks.[1][2][3] Even though ancient Greek references to the Pelasgians are confusing, many Greek writers agreed that Pelasgians had spoken a "barbaric" or "unsophisticated Greek" language. No secure archaeological connection of Pelasgians with a Late Neolithic site has been made.

Whether the Pelasgian language was pre-Indo-European or not, the distinction between Pelasgians and Tyrrhenians and the extent to which Pelasgian was a single language or not, are modern disputes that are colored by contemporary nationalist issues. There is also a theory suggesting that the Philistines or Peleset of the ancient Levant were connected with the Pelasgians. Scholars have since come to use the term "Pelasgian" somewhat indiscriminately, to indicate all the autochthonous inhabitants of the Aegean lands before the advent of the Greeks; a number of other recent theories as to their nature are also discussed below.

Classical Greek uses

In Homer

The ethnonym Pelasgoí (Pelasgians) is of unknown etymology. It first occurs in the poems of Homer: the Pelasgians in the Iliad appear among the allies of Troy. In the section known to scholars as the Catalogue of Ships, which otherwise preserves a strict geographical order, they stand between the Hellespontine cities and the Thracians of south-east Europe, i.e. on the Hellespontine border of Thrace (2.840-843). Homer calls their town or district "Larisa" and characterises it as fertile, and its inhabitants as celebrated for their spearsmanship. He records their chiefs as Hippothous and Pylaeus, sons of Lethus son of Teutamus. Iliad, 10.428-429, describes their camping ground between the town of Troy and the sea.

The Odyssey, 17.175-177, places the Pelasgians in Crete, together with two apparently indigenous and two immigrant peoples (Achaeans and Dorians), but gives no indication to which class the Pelasgians belong. Lemnos (Iliad, 7.467; 14. 230) has no Pelasgians, but a Minyan dynasty. Two other passages (Iliad, 2.681-684; 16.233-235) apply the epithet "Pelasgic" to a district called Argos about Mount Othrys in southern Thessaly, and to the temple of Zeus at Dodona, in Epirus. But neither passage mentions actual Pelasgians; Hellenes and Achaeans specifically people the Thessalian Argos, and Dodona hosts Perrhaebians and Aenianes (Iliad, 2.750) who are nowhere described as Pelasgian. It looks therefore as if "Pelasgian" was used in Homeric epic connotatively, to mean either "formerly occupied by Pelasgians" or simply "of immemorial age."


Strabo quotes Hesiod as expanding on the Homeric phrase, calling Dodona "seat of Pelasgians" (fragment 225); he speaks also of the eponymous ancestor of the Pelasgians, Pelasgus (Ancient Greek: Πελασγός), the father of the culture-hero of Arcadia, Lycaon. After Hesiod, a number of early authors flesh out his brief statement. An early genealogist, Asius of Samos, describes Pelasgus as the first man, literally born of the earth to create a race of men. An early poet, Hecataeus, makes Pelasgus king of Thessaly (expounding Iliad, 2.681-684); Acusilaus applies this Homeric passage to the Peloponnesian Argos, the Argolid, and engrafts the Hesiodic Pelasgus, father of Lycaon, into a Peloponnesian genealogy.

Hellanicus repeats this identification a generation later, and identifies this Argive or Arcadian Pelasgus with the Thessalian Pelasgus of Hecataeus. Aeschylus regards Pelasgus as earthborn (Supplices I, sqq.), as in Asius, and ruler of a kingdom stretching from Argos to Dodona and the Strymon; but in Prometheus 879, the "Pelasgian" land simply means Argos. Sophocles takes the same view (Inachus, fragment. 256) and for the first time introduces the ethnonym Tyrrhenoi, apparently as synonymous with "Pelasgians". Euripedes calls the inhabitants of Argos Pelasgian Orestes 857, and 933, if genuine.

In Herodotus

Herodotus, like Homer, has a denotative as well as a connotative use. He describes actual Pelasgians surviving and speaking mutually intelligible dialects

  • at Placie and Scylace on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont;
  • near Creston on the Strymon; in this area they have "Tyrrhenian" neighbors (Persian Wars 1.57).

Herodotus wrote:

"What language however the Pelasgians used to speak I am not able with certainty to say. But if one must pronounce judging by those that still remain of the Pelasgians who dwelt in the city of Creston above the Tyrsenians, and who were once neighbours of the race now called Dorian, dwelling then in the land which is now called Thessaliotis, and also by those that remain of the Pelasgians who settled at Plakia and Skylake in the region of the Hellespont, who before that had been settlers with the Athenians, and of the natives of the various other towns which are really Pelasgian, though they have lost the name,--if one must pronounce judging by these, the Pelasgians used to speak a Barbarian language. If therefore all the Pelasgian race was such as these, then the Attic race, being Pelasgian, at the same time when it changed and became Hellenic, unlearnt also its language. For the people of Creston do not speak the same language with any of those who dwell about them, nor yet do the people of Phakia, but they speak the same language one as the other: and by this it is proved that they still keep unchanged the form of language which they brought with them when they migrated to these places." (Book 1, The Histories)

He alludes to other districts where Pelasgian peoples lived on under changed names; Samothrace and Antandrus in the Troad probably provide instances of this. In discussing Lemnos and Imbros he describes a Pelasgian population whom the Athenians conquered only shortly before 500 BC, and in connection with this he tells a story of earlier raids of these Pelasgians on Attica, and of a temporary settlement there of Hellespontine Pelasgians, all dating from a time "when the Athenians were first beginning to count as Greeks."

Contrary to modern understanding, Herodotus was convinced that the Hellenes were not invaders, but descendants of Pelasgians:

"The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied."

That the Athenians were autochthonous was expressed mythically in the stories of Erechtheus and Erichthonius and was emphatically stated by Isocrates in Panegyric 23-5:

"For we did not win the country we dwell in by expelling others from it, or by seizing it when uninhabited, nor are we a mixed race collected together from many nations, but so noble and genuine is our descent, that we have continued for all time in possession of the land from which we sprang, being children of our native soil, and able to address our city by the same titles that we give to our nearest relations, for we alone of all the Hellenes have the right to call our city at once nurse and fatherland and mother."

Elsewhere "Pelasgian" in Herodotus connotes anything typical of, or surviving from, the state of things in Greece before the coming of the Greeks (in this sense one could regard all of Greece as formerly "Pelasgic"). The clearest instances of Pelasgian survivals in ritual and customs and antiquities occur in Arcadia, the "Ionian" districts of the north-west Peloponnese, and Attica, which have suffered least from hellenization. In Athens itself the prehistoric wall of the Acropolis and a plot of ground close below it received veneration in the 5th century as "Pelasgian"; so too in Thucydides (2.17).

We may note that all Herodotus' examples of actual Pelasgi lie round, or near, the actual Pelasgi of Homeric Thrace; that the testimony of Thucydides (4.106) confirms the most distant of these as to the Pelasgian and Tyrrhenian population of the adjacent seaboard: also that Thucydides adopts the same general Pelasgian theory of early Greece, with the refinement that he regards the Pelasgian name as originally specific, and as having come gradually into this generic use.

The historian Ephorus preserves a passage from Hesiod that attests to a tradition of an aboriginal Pelasgian people in Arcadia, and developed a theory of the Pelasgians as a warrior-people spreading from a "Pelasgian home", and annexing and colonizing all the parts of Greece where earlier writers had found allusions to them, from Dodona to Crete and the Troad, and even as far as Italy, where again their settlements had been recognized as early as the time of Hellanicus, in close connection once more with "Tyrrhenians."

Nothing in the ancient discussion of the Pelasgians is inconsistent with the Greeks, at least the Athenians, being autochthonous. Greece has been inhabited at least since the Neolithic, and there is no reason to believe that the classical Greeks were not also genetic and cultural descendants from the pre-existing inhabitants, even if the Greek languages originated from an external source.

The copious additional information given by later writers either interprets local legends in the light of Ephorus's theory, or explains the name "Pelasgoi"; as when Philochorus expands a popular etymology "stork-folk" into a theory of their seasonal migrations; or Apollodorus says that Homer calls Zeus 'Pelasgian' "because he is not far from every one of us".

The connection between the Pelasgians and the Tyrrhenians, which began with Hellanicus, Herodotus and Sophocles, becomes confusing in the 3rd century, when the Lemnian pirates and their Attic kinsmen become plainly styled as Tyrrhenians, and early fortress-walls in Italy (like those on the Palatine Hill in Rome) appear as "Arcadian" colonies. The character of the ancient citadel wall at Athens has given the name "Pelasgic masonry" to all constructions of large, unhewn blocks fitted together with mortar, from Asia Minor to Spain, the massive character that has also been called "cyclopean".

Modern theories

Modern theories about Pelasgians are sometimes colored by myths of national origin, notably (in alphabetical order) Albania, Greece and Turkey. Popularizations tend to be more colorful. The history and character of justifications of present rights to territory by demonstrating the presence of an ancestral population in deep history— Urrecht— are discussed at Revanchism. In all the following theories there is a mainstream, supported by philology, archaeology and toponymy, and there are divergent fringe theories with specific appeals.

Pelasgians as pre-Indo-European people

From an undefined, perhaps tribal name, both Classical historians and archeologists have come to use the name "Pelasgian" to describe the inhabitants in the lands around the Aegean Sea and their descendants before the arrival of the waves of proto-Greek-speaking invaders during the 2nd millennium BC. Though Wilamowitz-Moellendorff wrote them off as mythical, the results of archaeological excavations at Çatalhöyük by James Mellaart (1955) and F. Schachermeyr (1979) led them to conclude that the Pelasgians had migrated from Asia Minor to the Aegean basin in the 4th millennium BC. Further, scholars have attributed a number of non-Indo-European linguistic and cultural features to the Pelasgians:

  • Groups of non-Indo-European loan words in the Greek language, borrowed in its prehistoric development
  • Non-Indo-European roots for many Greek place names in the region, containing the consonantal strings "-nth-" (e.g. Corinth, Probalinthos), or its equivalent "-ns-" (e.g. Tiryns); "-tt-", e.g. in the peninsula of Attica, Mounts Hymettus and Brilettus/Brilessus, Lycabettus Hill, the deme of Gargettus etc, or its equivalent "-ss-", e.g. Larissa, Mount Parnassus, the rivers Kephissus and Ilissus etc.
  • Certain mythological stories or deities (usually goddesses such as Artemis) that have no parallel to the mythologies of other Indo-European peoples like the Germans, Celts or Indians.
  • A small number of non-Greek inscriptions, the best-known found on Lemnos (the Lemnos stele). These inscriptions use a version of the western Greek alphabet similar to that used in the Old Italic alphabet employed for Etruscan inscriptions.

Not all of these features belong to the same people. In western Anatolia, many "-ss-" placenames derive from the adjectival suffix also seen in cuneiform Luwian and some Palaic; the classic example is Bronze Age Tarhuntassa (loosely, "City of the Storm God Tarhunta"), and later Parnassus may be related to the Hittite word parna- or "house". Because of insufficient evidence from the 2nd millennium BC, no consensus exists on the relationship of these "Pelasgian" elements to their neighbors – although much speculation has taken place, sometimes fueled by a desire for association with some of the earliest known inhabitants of Europe.

But much is not known about the Pelasgians, and may never be known. As Donald A. Mackenzie, wrote in 1917:[4]

"Before these [Hellenic] invaders entered into possession of the country [of Greece] it had been divided between various 'barbarous tribes', including the Pelasgi and their congeners the Caucones and Leleges. Thirlwall, among others, expressed the view 'that the name Pelasgians was a general one, like that of Saxons, Franks, or Alemanni, and that each of the Pelasgian tribes had also one peculiar to itself'. The Hellenes did not exterminate the aborigines, but constituted a military aristocracy. Aristotle was quoted to show that their original seat was near Dodona, in Epirus, and that they first appeared in Thessaly about 1384 BC. It was believed that the Hellenic conquerors laid the foundation of Greek civilization."

Mackenzie continues, quoting George Grote:

"By what circumstances, or out of what pre-existing elements, the aggregate was brought together and modified, we find no evidence entitled to credit. There are, indeed, various names affirmed to designate the ante-Hellenic inhabitants of many parts of Greece — the Pelasgi, the Leleges, the Curetes, the Kaukones, the Aones, the Temmikes, the Hyantes, the Telchines, the Boeotian Thracians, the Teleboae, the Ephyri, the Phlegyae, &c. These are names belonging to legendary, not to historical Greece — extracted out of a variety of conflicting legends by the logographers and subsequent historians, who strung together out of them a supposed history of the past, at a time when the conditions of historical evidence were very little understood. That these names designated real nations may be true but here our knowledge ends."

The poet and mythologist Robert Graves, in his works on Greek mythology, asserts that certain elements of that mythology originate with the native Pelasgian people — namely the parts related to his concept of the White Goddess, an archetypical Earth Goddess — drawing additional support for his conclusion from his interpretations of other ancient literature: Irish, Welsh, Greek, Biblical, Gnostic and medieval writings. Mainstream scholarship considers Graves' thesis at best controversial, although certain literary circles and many neo-pagan groups have accepted it.

A Turkish scholar, Polat Kaya, has recently offered a translation of one of the inscriptions on Lemnos, based on his theory that it reflects a language related to Turkish. However, in the period of the putative date of the inscription the Turkish people lived several thousand miles away in southeastern Siberia. They began to migrate westward only about 300 AD, a fact that has hindered acceptance of Kaya's translation. This theory is almost unanimously ignored by scholars.[5]

Some Georgian scholars (including M.G. Tseretheli, R.V. Gordeziani, M. Abdushelishvili, and Dr. Zviad Gamsakhurdia) connect the Pelasgian with the Iberian-Caucasian cultures of the prehistoric Caucasus, known to the Greeks as Colchis. This may sound plausible since there were many autochthonic Caucasian peoples dwelling in Anatolia such as the Hattians before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans.

The Bulgarian linguist Vladimir Georgiev claimed that the Pelasgians were Indo-Europeans, with an Indo-European etymology of pelasgoi from pelagos, "sea" as the Sea People, the PRŚT of Egyptian inscriptions,[6] and related them to the neighbouring Thracians. He even proposed a soundshift model from Indo-European to Pelasgian. Another Bulgarian scholar, Alexander Fol, defends the theory that in fact the name Pelasgians is not just ethnic, but cultural and religious definition for the pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Greece.

The Austrian linguist Johann Georg von Hahn attempted to connect the pre-Indo-European Pelasgian language with Albanian. Today, the Albanian language is universally classified as an Indo-European language by linguists. This hypothesis, therefore, has attracted little general support.[7]

A. J. Van Windekens (1915—1989) offered rules for an unattested hypothetical Indo-European Pelasgian language in Le Pélasgique (1952) and Études pélasgique (1960); selecting vocabulary for which there was no Greek etymology, Van Windekens claimed to find Pelasgian etymologies in many place names and other vocabulary of ancient Greece, in names of heroes, animals, plants, garments, artifacts, social organization.

Pelasgians as Hellenes

According to a number of classical quotes and modern studies, the Pelasgians were Hellenes (Greeks), and the direct ancestors of later Greek tribes. The arguments supporting this connection are as follows:

  1. That the term "barbarian" had a dual meaning. Aside from meaning "non-Hellenic," the term "barbarian" has been used by Greek tribes/city-states to deride other Greek tribes/city-states that were deemed unsophisticated in their use of the Hellenic language/culture.[8] For example, when Athenian orator Demosthenes attacked Philip II of Macedon in the Third Philippic, he deemed the Macedonians as non-Hellenic, unrelated to the Hellenes, and not even worthy of being deemed as "barbarians." This indicates that the utilization of the term "barbarian" in many ancient Greek accounts was reflective of the socio-political competition that existed between various Greek city-states, tribes, and civilizations.
  2. From this dual meaning, Herodotus did not imply that the Pelasgians were non-Hellenes when he described them and their language as "barbaric." Support for this argument is found within a passage where Herodotus deemed the Hellenes as a branch of the Pelasgians.[9] Moreover, it was not an uncommon phenomenon for a Greek tribe to speak Greek crudely to the point where it was difficult for other Greeks to understand.[10] So, when Herodotus (1.57) concludes that the Athenians changed language when they joined the Hellenic body, it means that they advanced linguistically, socially, and culturally from their Pelasgian forebears. Herodotus (6.137) also discusses the expulsion of Pelasgians by the Athenians from Attica to Lemnos. However, this passage may be derived from an event whereby the Athenians expelled Pelasgian Boeotian refugees (closely related to them culturally and linguistically) to the Ionian colonies.[11] Herodotus is also known for not distinguishing the difference between linguistically similar dialects and languages that are completely separate from Greek.[12] As a result of this ambiguity, the language of the Pelasgians was "barbaric" in the sense that it was an unsophisticated form of Hellenic as opposed to being non-Hellenic.[13]
  3. That the autochthonous nature of the Athenians (an ancient belief to which Herodotus, Isocrates, Plutarch and others attest) implies they are descended from the autochthonous Pelasgians. The Athenians deemed themselves "true Hellenes" due to their well-developed society.
  4. During the early 20th century, archaeological excavations conducted by the Italian Archaeological School and by the American Classical School on the Athenian Acropolis and on other sites within Attica revealed Neolithic dwellings, tools, pottery, and sheep skeletons. All of these discoveries showed significant resemblances to the Neolithic discoveries made on the Thessalian acropolises in Sesklo and Dimini. These discoveries helped provide physical confirmation of ancient records that described the Athenians as the descendants of the Pelasgians (who were primarily the Neolithic inhabitants of Thessaly).[14]
  5. During the 1980s, the Skourta Plain project identified Middle Helladic and Late Helladic sites on mountain summits near the plains of Skourta. These fortified mountain settlements were, according to tradition, inhabited by Pelasgians up until the end of the Bronze Age. Moreover, the location of the sites is an indication that the Pelasgian inhabitants sought to "ethnically" (a fluid term according to Foreigners and Barbarians) and economically distinguish themselves from the Mycenean Greeks who controlled the Skourta plain.[15]

See also


  1. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, Book 1, 17 (LacusCurtius) - Afterwards some of the Pelasgians who inhabited Thessaly, as it is now called, being obliged to leave their country, settled among the Aborigines and jointly with them made war upon the Sicels. It is possible that the Aborigines received them partly in the hope of gaining their assistance, but I believe it was chiefly on account of their kinship; for the Pelasgians, too, were a Greek nation originally from the Peloponnesus.
  2. Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 12.1 (Perseus) - Here, when a sacrifice had been prepared to Jove, according to the custom of their land, and when the ancient altar glowed with fire, the Greeks observed an azure colored snake crawling up in a plane tree near the place where they had just begun their sacrifice..."Rejoice Pelasgian men, for we shall conquer; Troy will fall; although the toil of war must long continue--so the nine birds equal nine long years of war." And while he prophesied, the serpent, coiled about the tree, was transformed to a stone, curled crooked as a snake.
  3. Strabo,Geography, Book V, 2.4 (LacusCurtius) - As for the Pelasgi, almost all agree, in the first place, that some ancient tribe of that name spread throughout the whole of Greece, and particularly among the Aeolians of Thessaly...Again, Aeschylus, in his Suppliants, or else his Danaan Women, says that the race of the Pelasgi originated in that Argos which is round about Mycenae. And the Peloponnesus too, according to Ephorus, was called "Pelasgia."
  4. Mackenzie, Myths of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe, (1917), p 75.
  5. The only references found on a search are self-published, and one article dismissing Kaya's further theory that Sumerian is a form of Turkish. Dr. Kaveh Farrokh ""Pan-Turanianism takes aim at Azerbaijan: A Geopolitical Agenda" Rozaneh, Nov, December 2005. A JSTOR search on "Polat" and "Kaya" shows no references to the names used together at all. Searches conducted on December 19, 2006.
  6. V. Georgiev, La toponymie ancienne de la péninsule balkanique et la thèse mediterannée Sixth International Onomastic Congrees, Florence-Pisa, April 1961 (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), 1961, noted in M. Delcor, "Jahweh et Dagon (ou le Jahwisme face à la religion des Philistins, d'après 1 Sam. V)" Vetus Testamentum 14.2 (April 1964, pp. 136-154) p. 142 note.
  7. Pelasgians and others
  8. Foreigners and Barbarians (adapted from Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks), The American Forum for Global Education, 2000. The status of being a foreigner, as the Greeks understood the term does not permit any easy definition. Primarily it signified such peoples as the Persians and Egyptians, whose languages were unintelligible to the Greeks, but it could also be used of Greeks who spoke in a different dialect and with a different accent...Prejudice toward Greeks on the part of Greeks was not limited to those who lived on the fringes of the Greek world. The Boeotians, inhabitants of central Greece, whose credentials were impeccable, were routinely mocked for their stupidity and gluttony. Ethnicity is a fluid concept even at the best of times. When it suited their purposes, the Greeks also divided themselves into Ionians and Dorians. The distinction was emphasized at the time of the Peloponnesian War, when the Ionian Athenians fought against the Dorian Spartans. The Spartan general Brasidas even taxed the Athenians with cowardice on account of their Ionian lineage. In other periods of history the Ionian-Dorian divide carried much less weight.
  9. Herodotus on the Pelasgians and the Early Hellenes (George Rawlison, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1885) - The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied.
  10. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, pp. 9-10. Whether the Pelasgi were anciently a foreign or Grecian tribe, has been a subject of constant and celebrated discussion. Herodotus, speaking of some settlements held to be Pelaigic, and existing in his time, terms their language "barbarous;" but Mueller, nor with argument insufficient, considers that the expression of the historian would apply only to a peculiar dialect; and the hypothesis is sustained by another passage in Herodotus, in which he applies to certain Ionian dialects the same term as that with which he stigmatizes the language of the Pelasgic settlements. In corroboration of Mueller's opinion, we may also observe, that the "barbarous-tongued" is an epithet applied by Homer to the Carians, and is rightly construed by the ancient critics as denoting a dialect mingled and unpolished, certainly not foreign. Nor when the Agamemnon of Sophocles upbraids Teucer with "his barbarous tongue," would any scholar suppose that Teucer is upbraided with not speaking Greek; he is upbraided with speaking Greek inelegantly and rudely. It is clear that they who continued with the least adulteration a language in its earliest form, would seem to utter a strange and unfamiliar jargon to ears accustomed to its more modern construction.
  11. Buck, p. 79. The presence of the Pelasgians in Boeotia should represent in some traditions the original inhabitants, many, if not most, of whom were expelled to Athens. The confused story in Herodotus (6.137) about the expulsion of some (non-Athenian) Pelasgians from Athens may be a dim memory of the forwarding of refugees, closely akin to the Athenians in speech and custom, to the Ionian colonies.
  12. Herodotus' Conception of Foreign Languages (Thomas Harrison, University College, London) - The entire frame within which the Greeks viewed foreign languages was, in a number of ways, very different. First, although on a number of occasions Herodotus refers to, or implies, the existence of a common Greek language, including the quotation with which I began (8.144.2), Herodotus has no unambiguous way of referring to dialect as distinct from language. On one occasion he appears at first sight to come close to a formula for describing dialect. The cities of Ionia do not use the same language (glossan) as one another, but have four characteres glosses, or forms of language (1.142.3). He goes on immediately, however, in turning to the cities of Lydia (Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Clazomenae and Phocaea) to say that these cities 'do not agree at all' in their language with the other Ionians but 'sound the same as one another' (homologeousi kata glossan ouden, sphisi de homophoneousi, 1.142.4). Elsewhere Herodotus talks of the 'Attic language' (glossan, 6.138.2). This haziness in the distinction of language and dialect is not unique to Herodotus. The expression 'the Attic language', for example, is used in the poetry of Solon; Thucydides can speak of the 'Dorian language' and Aeschylus of the Phocian. The term dialektos can be used of foreign languages and of the range of accents within a city[63] as much as of differences between cities or regions. The distinction between dialect and language is, of course, inevitably a hazy one, given that it is often dictated rather more by political than linguistic criteria.
  13. Herodotus' Conception of Foreign Languages (Thomas Harrison, University College, London) - In other instances, however, Herodotus concedes a greater degree of non-Greek influence on Greek. Herodotus' account, for example, of the adoption by the Pelasgians of the names of the gods (2.52.1) suggests a much closer relationship between the Pelasgian and Greek languages. Before they heard the names of the gods, the Pelasgians (assuming, interestingly, the existence of a number of gods) called them simply theoi, on the grounds that they had 'established (thentes) all affairs in their order'. This etymology, advanced apparently in all seriousness, seems to suggest that the Pelasgians spoke a language at least 'akin to' Greek.
  14. Procopiou, pp. 21-22. Our knowledge of the neolithic age is much greater. Some forty years ago excavations on the Athenian Acropolis and on other sites in Attica brought to light many indications of neolithic life - dwellings, vases, tools, skeletons of sheep - which confirmed the traditions recorded by Herodotus that the Athenians were descended from the Pelasgians, the neolithic inhabitants of Thessaly. Indeed the neolithic vases of Attica date from the earliest neolithic age (5520-4900) like the ceramics from the Thessalian acropolis of Sesclos, as well as from the later neolithic age (4900-3200) like those from the other Thessalian acropolis of Dimini...The search for traces of the neolithic age on the Acropolis began in 1922 with the excavations of the Italian Archaeological School near the Aesclepium. Another settlment was discovered in the vicinity of the Odeion of Pericles where many sherds of pottery and a stone axe, both of Sesclos type, were unearthed. Excavations carried out by the American Classical School near the Clepshydra uncovered twenty-one wells and countless pieces of handmade pottery, sherds of Dimini type, implements of later Stone Age and bones of domestic animals and fish. The discoveries reinforced the theory that permanent settlement by farmers with their flocks, their stone and bone tools and ceramic utensils had taken place on the rock of the Acropolis as early as the sixth millenium.
  15. French, p. 35. Skourta Plain project. The fourth and final season of the survey of the Skourta plain was conducted in 1989 by M. and M.L.Z. Munn (ASCS). "Explorations begun in 1985 and 1987 were extended into new parts of the plain and surrounding valleys, so that by now a representative portion (approximately 25%) of most of the inhabitable areas of the three koinotites of Pyli, Skourta, and Stefani have been examined intensively. 66 sites were discovered or studied for the first time in the course of this highly productive season, yielding a total of 120 premodem sites studied by our survey since 1985. The survey should have identified all major settlement sites (over 5 ha) and a representative sample of smaller sites in the study area. A summary of the chief conclusions to be drawn from the four seasons can be made. ... MH settlement is established on two summits overlooking the plain (Al, A10), one of which, Panakton (Al), becomes the most substantial LH site in the area. A fortified MH settlement is also established on a peak in rugged country beyond the NE edge of the plain (Jl), between the Mazareika and Vountima valleys, in which other settlements are established in the LH era (B21, 52 also B33 in the Tsoukrati valley). The remoteness of this NE sector, and the great natural strength of the MH site and a nearby LH IIIC citadel (J2), suggest that the inhabitants of these glens and crags sought to protect and separate themselves from peoples beyond the peaks that surrounded them, perhaps because they were ethnically distinct and economically more or less independent of the Myc Greeks who dominated the plains. Traditions of Pelasgians in these mountains at the end of the BA raise the possibility that these may have been Pelasgian sites. Once abandoned, in the LH IIIC or PG eras, most of these sites in the NE sector are not again inhabited for well over a millennium. Elsewhere, within the more accessible expanse of the Skourta plain itself, LH settlements are established on many sites which are later again important in the C era (Al, B4, B7, B11, B18, C17, cf. A50, C3).


These references include both mainstream scholarship and fringe theories.
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