Eraattested late 6th century to 4th century BCE[1][2]
Greek alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3scx
Ethnolinguistic map of Italy in the Iron Age, before the Roman expansion and conquest of Italy

Siculian (or Sicel) is an extinct Indo-European language spoken in central and eastern Sicily by the Sicels. It is attested in less than thirty inscriptions from the late 6th century to 4th century BCE, and in around twenty-five glosses from ancient writers.[1]


Ancient sources state that Siculians entered Sicily from the Italian Peninsula either around the 13th century or the middle of the 11th century BCE (or in two waves), driving the prior inhabitants, the Sicanians and Elymians, to the west of the island.[4]

The prevalent modern view is that Siculian was an Italic language, although the scarcity of sources and the difficulties in interpreting inscriptions and glosses make it impossible to come to a definitive conclusion.[5]


They used the Greek alphabet, along with a native one based upon Western Greek scripts, probably the Euboic-Chalkidic version.[1] According to scholar Markus Hartmann, "of the fewer than thirty inscriptions in total, only six appear to be at least in part intelligible and to be Siculian (i.e., most certainly neither Greek nor belonging to some other Italic or pre-Italic language)."[6]

nendas ˌ puṛẹṇọṣ ˌ tebeg ˌ praarei ˌ en ˌ bo?renai ˌ vide ˌ pagostike ˌ aite?ṇ?ụbe.

— Stele from Sciri Sottano (c. 600 BCE)[7][6]

tamuraabesakedqoiaves ˌ eurumakes ˌ agepipokedḷutimbe levopomanatesemaidarnakei- buṛeitaṃomịaetiurela

— Amphora from Montagna di Marzo (late 6th–early 5th century BCE)[6]

iamˌakaramˌe?p??asˌkaag?esˌgẹpẹḍ2te?toˌveregai- es? ˌ eka ˌ doara[ịẹạḍ]

— Block of sandstone from Mendolito (late 6th century BCE)[8][6]

nunus ˌ teṇti ˌ mím ˌ arustainam ˌ íemitom ˌ esti ˌ durom ˌ nanepos ˌ durom ˌ íemitom ˌ esti ˌ velíom ˌ ned ˌ emponitantom ˌ eredes ˌ vịino ˌ brtome

— Guttus (or askos) from Centorbi (early 5th century BCE)[6]


  1. ^ a b c Hartmann 2017, p. 1854.
  2. ^ Siculian at MultiTree on the Linguist List
  3. ^ Giacomo Devoto (1951). Gli antichi Italici (second ed.). Florence: Vallecchi. p. 68.
  4. ^ de Simone 1999, p. 500; de Simone 2006, p. 690; Hartmann 2017, p. 1854.
  5. ^ Palmer 1988, pp. 43–45; Agostiniani 1992, p. 538; Tribulato 2012, p. 167; Hartmann 2017, p. 1854.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hartmann 2017, p. 1855.
  7. ^ "Inscribed Stele inscribed in the Sikel language". Voci di Pietra. Castello Ursino Civic Museum.
  8. ^ Tribulato, Olga; Mignosa, Valetina (2021). "Marking identity through graphemes? A new look at the Sikel arrow-shaped alpha". In Boyes, Philip J.; Steeleand, Philippa M.; Astoreca, Natalia Elvira (eds.). The Social and Cultural Contexts of Historic Writing Practices. Oxford, England: Oxbow Books. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-78925-479-2. JSTOR j.ctv2npq9fw.21. OCLC 1243743745.


  • Agostiniani, Luciano (1992). "Les parlers indigènes de la Sicile prégrecque". Lalies. 11: 125–157. ISSN 0750-9170.
  • de Simone, Carlo (1999). "L'epigrafia sicana e sicula". Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa: 499–507. ISSN 0392-095X.
  • de Simone, Carlo (2006). "Ancora su Siculo e Sicano". In Michelini, Chiara (ed.). Guerra e pace in Sicilia e nel Mediterraneo antico (VIII−III sec. a.C.). Vol. 2. Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore. pp. 689–692. ISBN 978-8876422102.
  • Hartmann, Markus (2017). "Siculian". In Klein, Jared; Joseph, Brian; Fritz, Matthias (eds.). Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. Vol. 3. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1854–1857. doi:10.1515/9783110542431-026. ISBN 978-3-11-054243-1. S2CID 242076323.
  • Palmer, Leonard Robert (1988). The Latin Language. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-2136-9.
  • Tribulato, Olga (2012). Language and Linguistic Contact in Ancient Sicily. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-85193-0.

Further reading

  • Agostiniani, Luciano (2012). "Alfabetizzazione della Sicilia pregreca". Aristonothos. Rivista di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico (4): 139–164. doi:10.6092/2037-4488/1940. ISSN 2385-2895.
  • Agostiniani, Luciano; Cordano, Federica (2002). "L'ambiente siculo" [The Sicilian Environment]. In Cordano, Federica; Di Salvatore, Massimo (eds.). Il Guerriero di Castiglione di Ragusa: Greci e Siculi nella Sicilia Sud-orientale: atti del Seminario, Milano, 15 maggio 2000 [The Warrior of Castiglione di Ragusa: Greeks and Sicilians in south-eastern Sicily: proceedings of the Seminary, Milan, 15 May 2000]. Hesperìa (in Italian). Vol. 16. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider. pp. 77–89. ISBN 88-8265-163-0.
  • Dell'Oro, Francesca (2017). "Une Nouvelle Attestation du Substrat « sicule » en Sicile ?: Quelques Réflexions à Propos de la Légende Méconnue d'une Monnaie d'Himère" [A New Attestation of the 'Siculian' Substrate in Sicily?: Some Thoughts on the Unrecognized Legend of a Himeran Coin]. Historische Sprachforschung / Historical Linguistics. 130: 5–16. doi:10.13109/hisp.2017.130.1.5. JSTOR 26532658.
  • Martzloff, Vincent (2011). "Variation linguistique et exégèse paléo-italique. L'idiome sicule de Montagna di Marzo" [Linguistic variation and Paleo-Italic exegesis. The Sicilian idiom of Montagna di Marzo]. In van Heems, Gilles (ed.). La variation linguistique dans les langues de l'Italie préromaine: Actes du IVe Séminaire sur les langues de l'Italie préromaine organisé à l'Université Lumière-Lyon 2 et la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 12 mars 2009 [Linguistic variation in the languages of pre-Roman Italy: Proceedings of the 4th Seminar on the languages of pre-Roman Italy organized at the Université Lumière-Lyon 2 and the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, March 12, 2009]. Série philologique. Vol. 45. Lyon, France: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée. pp. 93–130. ISBN 978-2-35668-021-1.
  • Martzloff, Vincent (2017). "Retour sur l'inscription sicule de Montagna di Marzo" [Return to the Sicilian inscription of Montagna di Marzo]. In Ancillotti, Augusto; Calderini, Alberto; Massarelli, Riccardo (eds.). Forme e strutture della religione nell'Italia mediana antica: III Convegno Internazionale dell'Istituto di Ricerche e Documentazione sugli antichi umbri 21–25 settembre 2011 [Forms and Structures of Religion in Ancient Central Italy: 3rd International Conference of the Institute of Research and Documentation on Ancient Umbrians 21–25 September 2011]. Studia Archaeologica. Vol. 215. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider. pp. 491–516. ISBN 978-88-913-0488-9.
  • Prag, Jonathan (2020). "The Indigenous Languages of Sicily". Palaeohispanica (20): 531–551. doi:10.36707/palaeohispanica.v0i20.376. ISSN 1578-5386. S2CID 230709663.