In the Neo-Babylonian period, Cilicia is known to produce iron tips. In Uruk, in 628 B.C., during the reign of Kandalanu (647-627 B.C.) (Frame 2007 [1]: 191ff.; Brinkman 1984 [2]: 105–111), iron from Hume (=Que, Cilicia) is used in the form of a sikkatum (RlA, VIII, 101: "un talent sous forme de pointes (sikkat) du pays de Hume" (NCBT 1093) (Brinkman 1988 [3]: 155 n. 149). Also the Hebrew word sikkim (Jos 33:55), which means "pointed object", is certainly related to the Akkadian sikkatu. Since the days of the Hittite Empire, Cilicia has been known for iron and at first it is really puzzling that the few mentions of iron in the Iliad are devoted to the Cilicians in the Troad and jealously extended to another people, the Lycians, both important allies of the Trojans and inhabitants of the Ida mountain range. Even if Xanthos on the southwestern coast of Anatolia is the historical homeland where the dead Sarpedon is taken to be honored as a hero, the Homeric Cilicians don't share with the Lycians this double territoriality. It is remarkable though that those rare mentions of sideros, in the Iliad (Létoublon 2018 [4]) tell of Pandarus, the valiant Lycian archer, who used an iron-tipped arrow (Il. 4.123) (Beloch 1874 [5]; Lang 1906 [6]) and of the Cilician king Eetion (Il. 23.826-835) who owned a lump of iron he used to hurl (Ready 2007 [7]). One reasonable deduction from what we read in Homer is that the Cilicians may have had the role of miners and dealers of raw iron, while the Lycians were the true metallurgists who forged iron tips for their arrows. This would contradict what we know from the nearest historical source we have just cited at the beginning of this entry. The historical Cilicians exported iron tips to Mesopotamia, and it would be hazardous to extend this notion to Homeric ones. I am going to tackle this question in the related entries listed below.

Originally Published: April 9, 2021

Last Updated: May 2, 2021

  1. Frame, G., Babylonia 689-627 B.C. A political history. 2007, Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul.
  2. Brinkman, J.A., Prelude to empire: Babylonian society and politics, 747-626 B.C. 1984, Philadelphia, Pa.: Babylonian Fund, University Museum.
  3. Brinkman, J.A., Textual Evidence for Bronze in Babylonia in the Early Iron Age, 1000–539 BC. 1988, Kegan Paul International: London; New York. p. 135-168.
  4. Létoublon, F., Living in Iron, Dressed in Bronze: Metal Formulas and the Chronology of the Ages. Brolly, 2018. 1(2): p. 7-39.
  5. Beloch, G., Bronzo e ferro nei carmi omerici. Rivista di Filologia e di Istruzione Classica, 1874. 2: p. 2-49.
  6. Lang, A., Bronze and Iron in Homer. Revue Archéologique, 1906. 7: p. 280-296.
  7. Ready, J.L., Toil and Trouble: The Acquisition of Spoils in the" Iliad". Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974), 2007: p. 3-43.