Eteo-Cypriot inscription from Amathus,Cyprus

Eteo-Cypriot was the pre-Hellenic language of Cyprus spoken on the island during the Iron Age.

The word 'Eteos' means true and refers to pre-Hellenic indigenous languages. 'Eteocretan' is used in a similar way.

From the 10th century BC it began to come under strong pressure from the language of the Greek colonists, the Arcadian-Cypriot Greek, and continued to decline steadily until the 4th century BC when it disappeared.

It was written in the so-called Cypriot syllabary.

Ruins of Amathus

The nature and origin of the language still remains a mystery and is known to us only from a few inscriptions, some of which were bilingual in Eteo-Cypriot and Greek.

Some linguists claim that the language is related to that of the Lemnos inscription and Etruscan, while others link it to Semitic languages, but none of these views has been substantiated to date due to the scarcity of finds and evidence.

However, it is speculated that the language of the Cyprian syllabary is the same as that of the Cypro-Minoan syllabary which is a variant of the Minoan linear A.

The best known Eteo-Cypriot inscription is a marble slab found in the acropolis of Amathus in 1913 and dating back to 600 BC.It is a bilingual inscription in Eteo-Cypriot and Attic Greek.


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