The renewed Turco-Italian Excavations at Karkemish since 2011 have contributed to a new understanding of this capital city through its many occupational phases, especially as regards the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, corresponding to the Empire and Late Hittite historical phases . The epigraphic materials from the latter phase that have been retrieved do not just expand the already substantial corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions from the Iron Age known thus far, but also continue to provide new historical and linguistic insights, which in turn allow us to put forward novel interpretations of previously known inscriptions. This article represents a case in point. In the religious and administrative core of the Late Hittite city, the so-called Lower Palace area, we retrieved the top part of an inscribed funerary stele (KH.16.O.378) made of limestone . The front and left sides of the stele are partially preserved, with three-stepped crenelations on its top bearing a rosette in their middle. The inscription runs sinistroverse. An edition of it is presented below (§ 1). The name of the owner of the stele is lost; only the owner’s qualification as “the woman of Tarhu-wasu” and the profession of Tarhu-wasu as the “sacred priest of the Harmanean god(dess)” are preserved. However, the spelling of this professional name in the present text offered the cue for a study of the Anatolian hieroglyphic sign L375 and a series of related signs, whose results are reported in the second part of this article (§§ 2-3).
1. Edition of the Funerary Stele KH.16.O.378
Date: Early 8th century BCE (based on paleography).
Dimensions: ht. 39.5 cm; w. 41.5 cm; th. 25.5 cm; line ht. 9.5 cm.; preserved line length: 34.5 cm.
UTM 37S coordinates: 412291.262 E, 4076588.19 N; elevation 351.7 m amsl.
Current location: Gaziantep Museum.
[za-wa/I STELE-za f PN I ]TONITRUS-hu-wa/i-su-sa
(DEUS)hara/i-ma-na-wa/i-na-sa-a |PURUS-L375-sá FEMINA-ti-sa
[This stele (is) of PN,] wife/woman of Tarhu-wasu,
the sacred priest of the Harmanean god(dess).
[I ]TONITRUS-hu-wa/i-su-sa, “of Tarhu-wasu”. The name Tarhu-wasu can be interpreted as a possessive compound: “(Having) the favor of the Storm-god”; or as a Satznamen: “The Storm-god succeeds / The Storm-god (has) succeded” . This name is well attested in the Hittite Empire period as well as in the Late Hittite one; in fact, this could be the same individual as the one who is mentioned in CEKKE § 17l .
(DEUS)hara/i-ma-na-wa/i-na-sa-a, “of the Harmanean god(dess)”. Harmana possibly played an important role in the cult of the consort of the Stag-god, Alanzu(wa), in the Bronze Age pantheon of Anatolia. The attestations for this yet unlocated city of the Iron Age are as follows:
KARKAMIŠ A15b § 10 :
(DEUS) hara/i-ma-na-wa/i-na-sa-pa-wa/I (URBS)DEUS.DOMUS -tà AEDIFICARE+MI-ha
“I built the temple of the Harmanean god(dess)”.
KULULU 5 § 1:
“(the deity) Alanzuwa, in the city of Harmana”.
It seems that, during the reign of Yariri, a Harmanean deity was introduced into the pantheon of Karkemish with a temple consecrated to him/her (and the findspot of our stele may suggest that this temple was located in the Lower Palace area). In light of KULULU 5 § 1 (see above), one can perhaps equate this deity with Alanzu(wa).
|PURUS-L375-sá = kummayalli(ya)s,  “of the sacred priest”. The L375 sign should be analyzed as a phonetic complement and the only phonetic value that can apply to it is /li/ (for additional attestations of L375 = /li/, see below). The word kummayalli- is also attested in cuneiform Luwian, in KUB 35.110. The present text makes it clear that the word in question represents a title of a cult official, a kind of priest. It can be equated with Hitttite suppis LÚSANGA, “sacred SANGA-priest”, or simply “sacred priest”.
2. The Anatolian Hieroglyphic Signs L375 and L144 (= *521): New Values
2.1. The phonetic value of L375
The L375 sign is attested in several texts as a syllabogram to write the verb lili(ya)-, meaning, we suggest, “to change; improve; alter, falsify”. MANUS/MANUS.L218 might add or imply a negative sense, while SA4 adds a positive sense to the verb: “to improve”. The preverbs/adverbs arha and sara delimit or denote the intensity of the action.
2.1.1. Attestations of L375 in the writing of the verb lili(ya)-:
188.8.131.52. GÜRÜN upper § 6 (curse protasis):
za-pa-wa/I (COR)za+ra/i-sà REL-i-sa|| ARHA (MANUS)li-L375-ti
za=pa=wa zar(t)-sa kwis arha liliti
“(He) who shall change this will (lit. heart)…”
184.108.40.206. ŞIRZI (side) § 5 (curse protasis):
|za-pa-wa/I || i-mara/I PES2 .PES-pa-mi-na |REL-sá |ARHA |li-L375-ti
zan=pa=wa immara tarpamin kwis arha liliti
“(He) who shall alter/change this countryside path...”
220.127.116.11. ŞIRZI (top) § 8 (curse protasis):
[|z]a[-I]a-pa-wa/I [kwi/a]-za-ma[-ia] |ARHA [|]REL-sá [|]L375-[li-t]I
zaya=pa=wa kwanzamaya arha kwis liliti
“(He) who shall falsify/change these carvings, …”
18.104.22.168. CEKKE § 21 (curse protasis):
ni-pa-wa/I FINES-hi-zi ARHA MANUS.L218-lu/a/I ha-I
nipa=wa irhinzi arha lili hai
“or he shall be convinced to change the frontiers,...”
22.214.171.124. TELL AHMAR 5 § 12:
|SUPER+ra/i-a-wa/i-ta |(SA4)li-li-ia wa/i-na-*a |COR-tara/i-i-na BONUS-li-ia-nu-wa/I
sara=wa=an=ta liliya a=wa=an atrin walliyanuwa
“You (= Hamiyata) improve him up! And exalt him, himself!”
2.1.2. Attestations of L375 in the writing of personal names:
126.96.36.199. KARKAMIŠ A16e1
DOMUS-ní-L375[…] (= Parnili)
188.8.131.52. ASSUR letter d § 1 (CHLI, 535)
2.1.3. Attestations of L375 in hapax legomena:
184.108.40.206. KARKAMIŠ A19j1 (CHLI, 204):
[wa/i-mu]-tá (DEUS)ku+AQUILA-sá || L129-ri+i-L375 a-tá za-a-ti |á-sa5 -za-ta-a [< a >=wa=mu]=ta Kupapas arili anta zati assazata
“And inside the alili-bird (= through the observation of an augural bird), thus spoke Kubaba to me: …”
220.127.116.11. SULTANHAN § 46-47 (CHLI, 467; curse protasis):
|za-pa-wa/I |a+ra/i-ma-za |REL-sa-a |za+ra/i-ti-ti-i-I || |ni-pa-wa/i-ta-a |“FEMINA”-na-ti-i-sa |ta-L375-li-i-sa |pa+ra/i-sa5 +ra/i |u-pa-i
za=pa=wa aramanza kwis zartiti nipa=wa=ata wanattis talilis parsari upai
“He who desires this renown, either he (is) of a TALILI-women (and) brings/ carries it (=the name/renown) by (that) occasion...”.
Although the hapax legomenon ta-L375-li-I could theoretically be also read as *talali,  this is not enough to posit a vocalization in /a/ of the L375 sign in the Late Hittite period; therefore, a transliteration of it as li4 is suggested here.
One can observe that the L74 sign (whose form is also very similar to L375) is possibly the cursive form of the L129. Both the phonetic (/ali/) and logographic (augural bird of prey) values fit the contexts of all the known attestations (see Table 2, below).
2.2. The Phonetic Value of L144 (= the “Empire” forerunner of L375)
The appearance of the L375 sign is a bird-head with a sketchy body presenting an abstract depiction of its bumpy fore-neck and chest. One can observe that L144 has a similar form (see Table 3) and can be interpreted as the Transitional and Empire Period form of L375. The examples below support this equivalence. We may also add the L461 sign as a homonym of L144, as the occurrences of the former suggest that it was used to write an identical syllable or word.
3. The New Values Attributed to L375 and L144: Some Consequences
3.1. Comments on some spellings (in table 4 above) that include L144 and/or L461
3.1.1. L144-OMNIS = Alantalli
This personal name, which is otherwise known from cuneiform sources, is possibly a derivative of *alant-, “(he who) belongs to the place”, and may then mean “local? ”. Or it could be a derivative of the toponym Alanta. A possible alternative writing of it, L128+li, occurs in KARABEL A. Finally, note the similar name Alantimuwa, “Having the might of the place”, written either I LOCUS-ti||-L273-wa/i-sa or I LOCUS-la/i-ti-mu-wa/i-sa in sources from the Late Hittite period.
3.1.2. L144-mu(wa/i) = Alamuwa
An alternative writing of the same name in the Late Hittite period is [ I ]á-lá/í-mu(wa/i)- sá
3.1.3. L144-tá = Alanta
See Alantalli, above.
3.1.4. a-L144-L461 = Alalli
This can be interpreted as “He who belongs to Ala”.
3.1.5. (DEUS.FEMINA)L461 = (divine-woman/lady) Ala
BOROWSKI 26 clearly shows that the divine name Ala could be written with the L461 sign alone. Thus, L19 in STAG-rhyton and EMİRGAZİ altars should be analyzed as a logogram instead of considering it as a part of the name of the goddess Ala.
3.2. The spellings of the divine name Ala and the epigraphs of the STAG-rhyto
One of the personal names in Table 4 above is a theophoric compound with the name of the goddess Ala. One can legitimately assume that the name of this goddess could also have been written otherwise, that is, syllabically or with a homophonic value. In fact, the L172 sign has the phonetic value /ala/ when it occurs in the initial position in the Empire period. If we assume that L172 was also used to write the homophonic divine name Ala, then the epigraphs on the STAG-rhyton might be interpreted as follows:
The epigraph on the right must go with the individual who libates and the offerers, according to the direction of the sign OMNIS2 (L430). In fact, both signs of this epigraph are dextroverse, and the first sign is not CERVUSx but rather L172 (ala), here used, presumably, to write the name of the goddess Ala (Fig. 4). Furthermore, the libating individual (and/or his gesture of adoration) along with all the other offerers depicted here can be taken as a part of the inscription itself: LIBARE (and) ADORARE, “to libate/offer (and) worship”. Thus, the scene with the epigraph on the right can be read as follows:
Ala OMNIS2 (LIBARE = depiction of offerers)
“Libating/offering to all (the names of) Ala.”
While the epigraph on the left reads:
FRONS2  REGIO OMNIS2 FILIA
“The foremost daughter of the entire country/all lands”.
Or, as a less likely alternative, by interpreting L19 (FRONS2 ) as a postposition:
(depiction of Ala and/or her bird of prey = ALA) FRONS2 REGIO OMNIS2 FILIA Ala OMNIS2 (LIBARE = depiction of offerers)
“In front of Ala, the daughter of the entire country/all lands, libating/offering to all (the names of) Ala”.
3.3. Attestations of L461 and L19 (FRONS2 ) in Context
One can apply the interpretation proposed above for the sign L19 (FRONS2 ) to the inscription of EMİRGAZİ altars. The sign L19 (FRONS2 ) follows the divine Mount Sarpa as a postposition in all attestations (listed below).
3.3.1. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 2-3:
wa/i-*a (DEUS)MONS.THRONUS FRONS2 CERVUS3 .L463-zi/a PONERE zi/a-ha-wa/i-mi STELE pa+ra/i-*a PONERE
“I set up the stone/object of the stag(-god) of the countryside (= EMİRGAZİ 1 A-D) in front of (=at the foot of ? ) the Mount Sarpa, and afterward I put this stele (= EMİRGAZİ 2 or lost).”
3.3.2. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 26 (curse apodosis):
See 18.104.22.168 below.
3.3.3. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 29:
wa/i-na-*a (DEUS)SOL SOL+RA/I (DEUS)TONITRUS.CAELUM (DEUS) CERVUS3 -ti.L463 (DEUS)MONS.THRONUS FRONS2 (DEUS.FEMINA) L461 su-na-sa-ti PUGNUS-mi-tu
“May the Sun-goddess of Arinna, the Storm-god of the sky, the Stag-god of the countryside, in front of the divine Mount Sarpa, make him firm/strengthen him with the abundance of Ala”.
3.3.4. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 30:
REL-i(a)-sa-ha (DEUS)MONS.THRONUS FRONS2 CERVUS3 .L463-zi/a PONERE
And (he) who will put the Stag(-god) of the countryside-stone in front of the divine Mount Sarpa…
3.3.5. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 37:
wa/i-tu-*a (DEUS)CERVUS3 -ti.L463 (DEUS)MONS.THRONUS FRONS2 (DEUS.FEMINA)L461 su-na-sa-ti á-na+ra/i-zú-ha-ti PRAE hwi/a-i(a)-tu
“May the Stag-god of the countryside, in front of the divine Mount Sarpa, run before him with the abundance (and) forcefulness of Ala!”
Accepting a further attestation of L19 used as a logogram (FRONS2 ) in KARAKUYU might improve our understanding of this inscription, as well:
FRONS2 MONS.THRONUS (MONS)L417(3)-wa/i-tá (MONS)su-na+ra/I CERVUS4 .IACULUM HATTI(URBS)×MONS.TU TONITRUS.PURUS. L417(4) REL-i-pa
“(I/he) hunt(ed) in front of (=at the foot of ? ) the Mount Sarpa, Mount Saluwanda, Mount Sunnara, (and) indeed, (at) the Storm-god’s sacred vault of Mount Tudhaliya in(side) Hattusa”.
3.4. Royal L398 and Ala’s L398
A controversial sign, L398, is attested both in association with the goddess Ala and as an epithet (or a part of it) of the king connected with hunt (and/or hunting ground). The form of the sign looks like a rectangular object(?), an encircled area(?), or also a piece of ground being shaped. We tentatively suggest it could be a kind of road (cf. sub 22.214.171.124 and fn. 16, above). The sign in question has possibly the phonetic value /tu/ in KARAHÖYÜK (ELBİSTAN) and on some seals (see 5.2). All the known attestations of L398 in context are given below.
3.4.1. L398 as a logogram:
126.96.36.199. EMİRGAZİ 1 § 26 (curse apodosis):
wa/i-tu-tá-*a (DEUS)SOL SOL+RA/I (DEUS)TONITRUS.CAELUM (DEUS) CERVUS3 -ti.L463 (DEUS)MONS.THRONUS FRONS2 (DEUS.FEMINA) L461 REX.L398-zi/a sara/i-zi/a INFRA tara/i-zi/a-nú-wa/i-tu
“For him, in front of the divine Mount Sarpa, may the Sun-goddess of Arinna, the Storm-god of the sky (and) the Stag-god of the countryside turn/throw down the superior/high royal L398s of Ala!”
188.8.131.52. EMİRGAZİ 2 § 13:
184.108.40.206. YALBURT Block 16-10:
(By the grace of the Storm-god, I conquered all lands,)
CERVUS4 wa/i-sà-ti || wa/i-mi-*a HEROS L463.L398 CERVUS4 .IACULUM MAGNUS.REX
“and by the grace of the Stag(-god), I (am) the Hero, the Countryside-L398, the Hunter, the Great King”.
220.127.116.11. EMİRGAZİ 3:
(DEUS)CERVUS3 -ti.L463 wa/i-sà-ti wa/i-mi-*a CERVUS4 .IACULUM L463. L398 H[ERO ...]
“and by the grace of the Stag-god of the countryside, I (am) the Hunter, the Countryside-L398, the H[ero ...].”
18.104.22.168. BoHa 19.411 and BoHa 19.695-696:
“Great/Chief (of) L398(s)”.
22.214.171.124. BOROWSKI 16:
HI-VIR.ZI/A BONUS2 L398
“Hekur-ziti, wealthy (man of) L398”.
3.4.2. L398 as a syllabogram:
126.96.36.199. KARAHÖYÜK (ELBİSTAN) § 24:
a-wa/i-sa (DEUS)TONITRUS POCULUM.PES.L67 LIS-L398 a-sa-tu
a=wa=as Tarhunzas POCULUM.PES.L67 (za)sali(ya)s=tu astu
“Let him, the Storm-god of ELBİSTAN, be the prosecutor against him!”
188.8.131.52. Bo 5.8:
“Zitu, the Prince.”
184.108.40.206. BoHa 19.623:
LINGUA+CLAVUS-L398-tà-sa = Haddudasa.
220.127.116.11. BoHa 19.598:
BOS-L398 = (M)u(wa/i)tu? .
18.104.22.168. BoHa 19.765:
22.214.171.124. BoHa 19.698-699:
L144-L461-L398 = Ala/i-alatu or L144-L461.L398 = Ali-ALA-L398 (possibly “high? Ala’s road”).
126.96.36.199. BOROWSKI 36:
cccL398-sà-LUNA/sa? = Tusasa?
Similar constructions to that of 188.8.131.52 can be observed with REX.L398 (184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11) and L463.L398 (18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124). Alternatively, one could suggest “royal road” for REX.L398; “countryside road” for L463.L398; and, as an epithet of the king, “hero of the countryside road(s)”, for L463.L398.HEROS (126.96.36.199) and HEROS.L463.L398 (188.8.131.52).
The spelling PURUS-L375-sá in KH.16.O.378 reveals that L375 has a phonetic value /li/. The graphic resemblance of the sign L144 (= *521) with L375 leads us to identify it as the “Empire” (and “Transitional”) form of L375, while its attestations on seals and in KARAHÖYÜK (ELBİSTAN) allow us to posit a phonetic value /ala/i/ for it. Furthermore, the L375 sign (sometimes misidentified as L19) is attested with L461 in several inscriptions and seal legends. A contextual analysis of these attestations provided new readings and interpretations for these signs.
In addition, we could establish that the L19 sign has both phonetic (á) and logographic (FRONS2 ) values in the Empire period. Occurrences of L19 together with the goddess Ala show that this sign is not part of the spelling of the goddess’ name, but it rather represents a postposition. The logographic values (“in front of / at the foot of ? ” and “foremost”) suggested in this paper fit the attestations of L19 in EMİRGAZİ altars, KARAKUYU inscriptions, and the left side of the STAG-rhyton.
As for the signs originating from a bird of prey (see the signs for BUTEO in Table 5), they occur with the phonetic values /ala/i/ and /li/ in a series of personal names (see Table 4). Finally, a newly recognized verb, lili(ya)-, “to alter/change; improve”, allows us to improve our comprehension of several passages in Iron Age hieroglyphic inscriptions (see 2.1).
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Peker, Hasan, Anadolu Hiyeroglif Yazılı Belgeler 1: Geç Hitit Karkamış Krallığı Yazıtları, Ante Quem, Bologna 2022.
Peker, Hasan, “Philological Remarks on the Sealings from Empire Period of Karkemish”, Administrative Practices and Political Control in Anatolian and Syro-Anatolian Polities in the 2nd and 1st Millennium BCE, eds. Clelia Mora - Giulia Torri, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2023, pp. 127-159.
Poetto, Massimo, “Un nuovo verbo luvio-geroglifico: zapa-, e la sua correlazione al luvio cuneiforme zapp(a)-”, Ex Anatolia Lux. Anatolian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of H. Craig Melchert on the Occasion of his Sixty-fifth Birthday, eds. Ronald Kim - Norbert Oettinger - Elisabeth Rieken - Michael Weiss, Beech Stave Press, Ann Arbor - New York 2010, pp. 296-302.
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* before numerals see CHLI, p. 24.
BoHa 14. Boehmer Rainer Michael - Güterbock, Hans Gustav, Glyptik aus dem Stadtgebiet von Boğazköy. Grabungskampagnen 1931-1939, 1952-1978, Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlin 1987.
BoHa 19. Herbordt Suzanne - Hawkins, John David, Die Prinzen- und Beamtensiegel der hethitischen Großreichszeit auf Tonbullen aus dem Nişantepe-Archiv in Hattusa, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein 2005.
BoHa 22. Dinçol, Ali - Dinçol, Belkıs, Die Prinzen- und Beamtensiegel aus der Oberstadt von Boğazköy-Hattuša vom 16. Jahrhundert bis zum Ende der Grossreichszeit, Verlag Philipp von Zabern Mainz am Rhein.
CHD. The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute, Chicago, 1980-.
CHLI. Hawkins, John David, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions 1. Inscriptions of the Iron Age, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin-New York 2000.
L before numerals. Sign numbers after Laroche, Emmanuel, Les hiéroglyphes hittites I. L’écriture, Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 1960.
NH. Laroche, Emmanuel, Les Noms des Hittites, Librairie C. Klincksieck, Paris 1966.
NEWELL. von der Osten, Hans Henning,. Ancient Oriental Seals in the Collection of Mr. Edward T. Newell, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago-Illinois 1934.
TK I. Peker, Hasan, Texts from Karkemish I. Luwian Hieroglyphic Inscriptions from the 2011-2015 Excavations, Ante Quem, Bologna 2016.
SBo 2. Güterbock, Hans Gustav, Siegel aus Boğazköy II, Berlin 1942.