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Intercultural anthroponomy in Hellenistic and Roman Galatia - with maps drafted by Michael Grün and April Ross

Altay Coşkun


From 278 BC, Celtic mercenaries started to be involved in the dynastic wars of Asia Minor and began to settle in eastern Phrygia as ‘Galatians’. From there they ruled substantial parts of central and western Anatolia until the creation of the Roman province of Galatia in 25 BC. Despite their historical importance, little is known about their cultural identity, so that a closer look at their personal names helps to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge. After a general intro­duction to the onomastic resources for central Anatolia, it is pointed out that Celtic compound names dominated among the aristocracy of Hellenistic Galatia. Proso­po­graphical information is then employed to explain that the rare use of foreign names in the course of the 1st century BC was mainly due to intermarriage with the nobility of neighbouring territories. Despite the growing impact of Hellenization and Romanization in the same period, Greek and Roman personal names became more popular than Celtic names only in the latter half of the 1st century AD, though Celtic names only disappear in the course of the 3rd century. Surprising is the resurgence of Phrygian names in imperial inscriptions, which may at least partly be explained by the amalgamation of the priestly elite of Pessinus and the Tolistobogian nobility. But in some places, there seems to have been a continuity of Phrygian settlement that may go back to the early Hellenistic period if not beyond. This appears to be implied in rural naming patterns, where a high degree of homogeneity as to the use of either Phrygian or Celtic names is attested in the epigraphic record. The evidence becomes even more striking if the implications of intercultural naming practices are also considered. The assumption of an early ‘Galatization’ of central Anatolia, soon followed by its ‘Hellenization’, is therefore in need of modification.

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