I am wondering whether the Phrygian city "Ankara" (today capital of Turkey) meant really "anchor" in Phrygian? We know it means anchor in Greek, a sibling language to Phrygian with many isoglosses, but was the meaning exactly the same in Phrygian?

I read in Pausanias "Description of Greece" (1.4.5) where he mentions the city of Ankara and says "ἄγκυρα δέ, ἣν ὁ Μίδας ἀνεῦρεν" (the anchor which Midas found). Considering that άγκυρα comes from the PIE root *ang-/*ank- "to bend, bow, curve, cavity", I am wondering whether the original Phrygian myth refers to the plataeu of Ankara which is like a basin and not an anchor. Why would Midas find randomly an anchor 900m above sea level? Not to mention that the anchor is not mentioned as being significant for something. Could it be that the Phrygians who told the story to Pausanias said ἄγκυρα without thinking that in Greek it explicitly means anchor?


We don't know, and Pausanias' Just-So story likely means nothing at all. (You've already pointed out, @midas, the implausibility of your namesake finding any anchors in Ankara.) FWIW, this is what Sevan Nişanyan's Index Anatolicus has to say on the etymology (running via Google Translate):

Amkuwa in the Kaniş Karum documents of the period 2000-1800 BC and Ankuwa / Ankuwaş in the Hittite sources in the imperial period are probably Alikar village of Yozgat Sorgun, 200 km east of Ankara. It is unknown how the name of this city, which is one of the most important settlements of the Bronze Age, is transferred to Ankara. In ancient times there are at least four Ánkyras in Anatolia and the Balkans. The meaning and source of the word is not clear.

So Nişanyan at least identifies Ankara with a Hittite toponym (even if it that toponym wasn't a toponym of Ankara itself; if the Greek Ankyra applied to more than one town, I guess, so could the Hittite Amkuwa.) If that is correct, then even if Ankyra meant something more like "basin" in Phrygian, that could be no less a folk etymology of the name than the Greek "anchor".

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