RegionPisidia, ancient southwestern Anatolia
Extinctafter the second century AD
Early forms
Pisidian script
Language codes
ISO 639-3xps

The Pisidian language is a member of the extinct Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family spoken in Pisidia, a region of ancient Asia Minor. Known from some fifty short inscriptions from the first to second centuries AD, it appears to be closely related to Lycian, Milyan, and Sidetic.


Map showing where inscriptions in the Pisidian language have been found.

Pisidian is known from about fifty funeral inscriptions, most of them from Sofular (classical Tymbrias). The first were discovered in 1890; five years later sixteen of them were published and analyzed by Scottish archaeologist William Mitchell Ramsay.[1] The texts are basically of a genealogical character (strings of names) and are usually accompanied by a relief picturing the deceased. Recently inscriptions have also been found at Selge, Kesme (near Yeşilbağ), and Deḡirmenözü.[2] Four inscriptions from the Kesme region seem to offer regular text, not merely names. By far the longest of them consists of thirteen lines.[3]

Pisidian script

Pisidian is written left to right in a script that closely resembles the Greek alphabet. A few letters are missing (phi, chi, psi, and possibly theta), and two others were added (characters F and И, both denoting a /w/- or /v/-sound). In recently discovered inscriptions two new signs 𐋌 and ╪ have turned up; they are rare and it is not clear whether they are variants of other signs or entirely different characters (maybe rare sibilants).[4] Texts are written without word dividers.

A typical example (the accompanying relief shows two men and a veiled woman):

Δωταρι Μοσητωσ Ειη Δωτ<α>ρισ Δωταρι Ενεισ
[Here lie] Dotari, [son] of Moseto; Eie [daughter] of Dotari; [and] Dotari [son] of Enei.

Alternatively, the end of the line may (with a different word division) be read as Δωταριε Νεισ, with dative Dotarie, meaning (...) to Dotari [the son] of Nei. In addition, Ειη may also be a dative (= Ειε-ε). The whole line would then mean:

Dotari, [son] of Moseto, [has made this tomb] for Eie [daughter] of Dotari [and] for Dotari [son] of Enei.


Due to the one-sided character of the inscriptions, little is known about the grammar. Two cases are assured: nominative and genitive; the presence of a dative is disputed:

case ending example meaning
Nominative ΔΩΤΑΡΙ Dotari (Dotari is a man's name)
Dative -e (??) ΔΩΤΑΡΙΕ (?) to Dotari
Genitive -s ΔΩΤΑΡΙΣ Dotari's

About the verb nothing can be said: Pisidian verbal forms have not yet been found.


Pisidian personal name Δωτάρι Dotari may reflect the Indo-European root for "daughter".[5] However, as Dotari is documented as a man's name this etymology is not assured.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Ramsay, W.M. (1895). "Inscriptions en langue Pisidienne". Revue des universités du Midi. Nouvelle Série. 1 (2): 353–362. Retrieved 15 April 2021. Archived at BnF Gallica.
  2. ^ "List of Pisidian texts currently in Trismegistos". Trismegistos. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  3. ^ Adiego, Ignasi-Xavier (2017). "The longest Pisidian inscription (Kesme 2)". Journal of Language Relationship. 15 (1): 1–18. doi:10.31826/jlr-2017-151-205. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  4. ^ Brixhe, Claude; Özsait, Mehmet (2013). "Cours moyen de l'Eurymédon: apparition du pisidien [Pisidian texts emerge at the middle course of the Eurymedon River]". Collection de l'Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l'Antiquité. 1277 (2): 231–250. Retrieved 7 November 2021. (In French.)
  5. ^ Blažek, Václav. “Indo-European kinship terms in *-ə̯2TER.” (2001). In: Grammaticvs: studia linguistica Adolfo Erharto quinque et septuagenario oblata. Šefčík, Ondřej (editor); Vykypěl, Bohumil (editor). Vyd. 1. V Brně: Masarykova univerzita, 2001. p. 25. http://hdl.handle.net/11222.digilib/123188
  6. ^ Simon, Zsolt (2017). "Selected Pisidian problems and the position of Pisidian within the Anatolian languages" (PDF). Journal of Language Relationship. 15 (1): 37. doi:10.31826/jlr-2017-151-207. S2CID 212688432. Retrieved 15 April 2021.


Further reading