Herodotus considered the Lycians a true exception because of their matrilineal parental system (I 173, 4-5; Erodoto 1988 [1]: 58). This "myth", even though not currently supported by epigraphical evidence (Pembroke 1965 [2]; Bryce 1978 [3]; Bryce 1979 [4]; Schweyer 2002 [5]: 188-189; Mirkovic 2011 [6]), is on the contrary strengthened by the attested cult of the mother goddess (Laroche 1979 [7]: 75-76; Frei 1990 [8]: 1765, 1791, 1812-1813; LLES 68, 176; DL 194ff.; Glyk 83-85, 191), called "mother of this sanctuary" (ẽni qlahi ebiyehi) in the epichoric inscriptions, but later syncretized with Leto (TL 56.4, 134.4; DL 69; Bryce 1981 [9]: 81-82; Glyk 82, s.v. ẽni-), mother of Apollo, threatened by the serpent Python and bound to wander through Lycia (Fontenrose 1959 [10]; Bryce 1983 [11]; Schürr 2016 [12]). The special relationship of the people of this country with the goddess - entitling them to be considered "seed of the woman" (Gn 3:15) - their mythical dwelling at Mount Ida's slopes according to Homer, their nomadism candidate the Lycians to be worthy heirs of the Idaean Dactyls, also called Cabiri or Corybantes or Curetes (Strabo 10.3.7; Blakely 2007 [13]). According to the witness of Marmor Parium, ("Parian Marble"), a Hellenistic chronicle (1581/80-299/98 B.C.) on a slab from the Greek island of Paros, we get to know that Dactyls (Celmis, and Damnameneus) invented iron smelting on Mt. Ida in 1432 B. C. The cult of these wizards, blacksmiths, warriors is well attested in Lycia, especially in Trysa, but in Hellenistic times (Noll 1971 [14]; Childs 1976 [15]; Szemethy 2005 [28]; Radt 2008 [16]; Daumas 2010 [17]; Landskron 2016 [18]; Niemann & Benndorf 2017 [19]), and in various areas of Western Anatolia, it is an honour to trace one's origins back to similar founders (Lloyd-Jones 1999 [20]; Lloyd-Jones 1999 [21]; Austin 1999 [22]; Gagné 2006 [23]; Bremmer 2009 [24]; Bremmer 2013 [25]). The hypothesis that the Cainites, the "seed of the woman," are Lycians finds unexpected confirmation from archaeology, which has reached an agreement on the nomadism of the Lukka. The Cainites are a nomadic people, moving to Nod and finally to Tabal (Tubal-Cain) and Cilicia (Adah's children). The end of this migration, "to the east", leaves little room for alternative explanations: if the term is Tabal, in eastern Anatolia, the Troad, Mount Ida are an ideal starting point because, there, ancient mythology located the beginnings of the iron industry, the peculiar activity of Tubal, son of Lamech. A leitmotif would thus be claimed: the production of iron, a metal for which Cilicia was known in Babylon in the 7th century. The bellicose character of the Dactyls, the myth that wants them assistants of the mother goddess, founders of the iron industry and distinguished in two families, the Dactyls of the right and the left (Johnston 2013 [26]: 102ff.), has striking parallels with the Biblical distinction between the Cainites and the Sethites, two related clans, but fighting each other, prone to revenge. Obviously, this tentative reconstruction of Genesis proto history faces one main objection: why should the Hebrew scribal tradition give such a chronological primacy to a people, Lycians/Lukka, who don't seem to play a role in the most ancient creation or flood myths? Most likely, these scribes were trained by reading and copying the classical texts of the ANE tradition, such as Enūma eliš and nowhere a mention of Lukka can be found. Any attempt to reply to this critical argument should consider Noah and try to gather the hints at a Hittite reformulation of a central character in the Mesopotamian flood myths, that is Utnapishtim. So far, I have not mentioned a feature of Lukka that stirred the worried attention of the courts in LBA, that is their naval prowess, a special skill they deployed in piracy, and surely, they were part of the so-called "Sea Peoples". Hittite scribes promoted a shift of geographical coordinates in the Gilgamesh myth, locating Ullu's seat in the North. Ullu is the name used for Utnapishtim in the Hittite version of the Gilgamesh myth (Beckman 2019 [27]), and it will be important to understand when this reframing of ancient myths leading northward was ready to be used by later scribes and what kind of political and religious ideology could support the continuity of such new tradition.


A summary of the "Lycian" elements in Genesis

  1. Adam names his wife ḥawah, "Eve," and the Lycian for "sheep" is xawa- (DLL 81). There is a homology between the roles of Eve and Rachel. Their names candidate them to start essential genealogies:
    1. The name "Eve" is commented like this: "because she was the mother of all living" (Gn 3:20)
    2. Rachel's name means "sheep" in Hebrew (raḥel, HALOT 1216) and she gave birth to all the tribes of Israel.
  1. Eve is represented in a "friendly" talk with the snake and later "friendship" develops into a feud between her descent, the "seed of the woman", and the "seed of the snake." Among the Lycian myths, we find the hero Amisodarus (or Isaras, LLES 243, 246; HE 41, 118, 164, 553), who fed the Chimera according to Homer (Il. 16.28).
    1. Amisodarus feeding the serpentine Chimera may represent the ante fact of the feud, that in Lycian mythology is led by Bellerophon, the "slayer of *(B)elleros" (Watkins 1995 [29]: 385 n. 4).
    2. Bellerophon is an adopted hero according to Homer's Iliad. He is from Ephyra, identified with Corinth by Eumelus, while in Homer, it corresponds to Argos (Privitera 1970 [30]: 70ff.). Cain, too, is "adopted" according to my interpretation: his name may correspond to the Hittite kaina- "in-law".
    3. Where is the serpent in Cain's story? A speaking snake, capable of having children fighting as equals against woman's children, is a living paradox that can be solved only by admitting HE represents the totemic symbol of those left out of the garden in Eden. In other words, as it is evident in Genesis that Adam was TAKEN (Gn 2:15) to live in the garden, we are allowed to think that he was chosen (Gn 2:8) among the humans mentioned in Genesis 1:26-29. It is crucial, for the prosecution of this research, that the garden where the privileged Adam was taken lies in Eden, in a territory inhabited by people who are not immune from envy and I have already suggested to look for this place in north-eastern Anatolia, at the slopes of Mt. Ida where Homer locates a colony(?) of Lycians. In that area, namely Troad and Hellespont, we know from Strabo (§13.1.14) of the serpent tribe, the Ophiogeneis, living in Parion. My suggestion, at the moment, is that a colony of Lycians living around Mt. Ida, celebrated in mythology as the seat of Zeus himself and inhabited by the Dactyls, blacksmiths and wizards, might have provided the model for the garden in Eden. The serpent and its descent? The area surrounding Mt. Ida has been ruled by the Lydians, and according to Homer, who calls them Maeonians, the root of their royal ancestry is in the Gygean Lake, inhabited by Echidna, a mythical snake (see Bellerophon).

Originally Published: April 14, 2021

Last Updated: July 6, 2021

  1. Erodoto, Le storie. Libro I. La Lidia e la Persia, ed. D. Asheri. 1988, Roma-Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla-A. Mondadori.
  2. Pembroke, S., Last of the Matriarchs: A Study in the Inscriptions of Lycia. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient/Journal de l'histoire economique et sociale de l'Orient, 1965: p. 217-247.
  3. Bryce, T., Two terms of relationship in the Lycian inscriptions. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 1978. 37(3): p. 217-225.
  4. Bryce, T., Lycian tomb families and their social implications. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient/Journal de l'histoire economique et sociale de l'Orient, 1979: p. 296-313.
  5. Schweyer, A.-V., Les Lyciens et la mort: une étude d'histoire sociale. 2002, Paris: De Boccard.
  6. Mirkovic, M., Son-in-law, Mother's Brother, and Father in Lycian Inscriptions. Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Romanistische Abteilung, 2011. 128(1): p. 352-365.
  7. Laroche, E., L'inscription lycienne, H. Metzger, Editor. 1979, Klincksieck: Paris. p. 49-127.
  8. Frei, P., Die Götterkulte Lykiens in der Kaiserzeit. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, 1990. II(18.3): p. 1729-1864.
  9. Bryce, T., Disciplinary agents in the Sepulchral Inscriptions of Lycia. Anatolian Studies, 1981: p. 81-93.
  10. Fontenrose, J.E., Python. A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins. 1959: University of California Press.
  11. Bryce, T.R., The arrival of the goddess Leto in Lycia. Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte, 1983(H. 1): p. 1-13.
  12. Schürr, D., Von Leto, Fröschen und so weiter. Brückenschläge zwischen Versailles und Hattusa, in Vir doctus Anatolicus. Studies in memory of Sencer Şahin / Vir doctus Anatolicus. Sencer Şahin anısına yazılar, S. Şahin, et al., Editors. 2016, Kabalcı Yayıncılık: İstanbul. p. 761-779.
  13. Blakely, S., Pherekydes' Daktyloi: Ritual, Technology, and the Presocratic Perspective. Kernos, 2007. 20: p. 43-67.
  14. Noll, R., Ein fürstlicher Grabbezirk griechischer Zeit in Kleinasien (Das Heroon von Gölbaşi-Trysa). Antike Welt, 1971. 2(4): p. 40-44.
  15. Childs, W.A., Prolegomena to a Lycian Chronology, II: The Heroon from Trysa. Revue archéologique, 1976(Fasc. 2): p. 281-316.
  16. Radt, W., Review: Hubert D. Szemethy: "Die Erwerbungsgeschichte des Heroons von Trysa. Ein Kapitel Österreichisch-Türkischer Kulturpolitik. Mit einem Beitrag von Şule Pfeiffer-Taş". Wien: Phoibos Verlag 2005. Gnomon, 2008. 80(1): p. 44-50.
  17. Daumas, M., L'hérôon de Gjölbashi-Trysa et le culte des Cabires. Revue des études béotiennes, 2010: p. 567-580.
  18. Landskron, A., Das Heroon von Trysa, 13 A. Ein Denkmal in Lykien zwischen Ost und West: Untersuchungen zu Bildschmuck, Bauform und Grabinhaber. 2016, Wien: Holzhausen.
  19. Niemann, O. and G. Benndorf, Das Heroon von Gjölbaschi-Trysa. 2017: BoD–Books on Demand.
  20. Lloyd-Jones, H., The pride of Halicarnassus. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 1999: p. 1-14.
  21. Lloyd-Jones, H., The Pride of Halicarnassus (ZPE 124 [1999] 1-14): Corrigenda and Addenda. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 1999: p. 63-65.
  22. Austin, C., Notes on the "Pride of Halicarnassus". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 1999: p. 92.
  23. Gagné, R., What is the Pride of Halicarnassus? Classical Antiquity, 2006. 25(1): p. 1-33.
  24. Bremmer, J.N., Zeus’ Own Country: Cult and Myth in the Pride of Halicarnassus, in Antike Mythen. Medien, Transformationen und Konstruktionen, U. Dill and C. Walde, Editors. 2009, De Gruyter: Berlin-New York. p. 292-312.
  25. Bremmer, J.N., Local Mythography: The Pride of Halicarnassus, in Writing Myth. Mythography in the Ancient World, S. Trzaskoma and R.S. Smith, Editors. 2013, Peeters: Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA. p. 55-74.
  26. Johnston, S.I., Restless Dead: Encounters between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece. 2013, Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  27. Beckman, G., The Hittite Gilgamesh. 2019, Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press.
  28. Szemethy, H., Die Erwerbungsgeschichte des Heroons von Trysa. Ein Kapitel Österreichisch-Türkischer Kulturpolitik. Mit einem Beitrag von Şule Pfeiffer-Taş. 2005, Wien: Phoibos.
  29. Watkins, C., How to Kill a Dragon. 1995, New York: Oxford University Press.
  30. Privitera, G.A., Dioniso in Omero e nella poesia greca arcaica. 1970, Roma: Edizioni dell'Ateneo.