Ionians, Or Laones (Gr. and an ancient maritime race of Greek descent, having their chief seat in western Asia Minor and the adjacent islands. The name was extended to cover countries further west as Greece and the Greeks became better known, appearing in various dialectic forms, as Javan (Yavan) with the Hebrews, Yuna or Yauna with the Persians, Uinim with the Egyptians, and the Yavanas or Yonas in India. E. Curtius conjectures that after the Ionians had learned navigation and become masters of their own sea, they sailed in the track of the Phoenicians, and settled beside them in all parts of the eastern Mediterranean. The monuments of Egypt show as early as the 18th dynasty the same group of hieroglyphs by which the Greeks were designated at the time of the Ptolemies, and it is believed that the Uinim first known to the Egyptians were the Ionian Greeks. If this is correct, the Ionians were settled already about 1500 B. C. in the delta of the Nile. Cyprus is called Yavnan, the island of the Ionians
when it first became known to the Assyrians in the reign of Sargon; but in some of Sargon's inscriptions it is corrupted into Yat-nan. The Mosaic table of nations mentions the children of Javan, among whom are included the Kittim of Cyprus; but the name Javan, as is expressly stated, covers a multitude of islands. The prophet Joel curses the towns of Tyre and Sidon for selling the children of Judah and Jerusalem to the children of Javan, and removing them far away among the gentiles. It is therefore supposed that the Hebrews were acquainted with the Ionians as early as 1000 B. C. It is noticeable that the term 'laoves only once occurs in the Iliad, and that in one of its later parts. The legendary accounts of the Greeks say that about the middle of the 11th century B. 0. the Ionians emigrated from Attica and settled on the shores of Asia Minor, expelling and exterminating some of the inhabitants, while others were allowed to amalgamate with them.
Other myths speak of nations from the east settling in European Greece. Notwithstanding the pride taken by the Greeks in their autochthony, they constantly connect the foundation of their social life with the arrival of highly gifted strangers, whose supernatural power and wisdom were believed to have brought a new order into their life. E. Curtius says: "Two different points of view are, however, undeniably maintained throughout these myths: in the first place, the notion of the foreign element, . . . and secondly, the notion of common relationship." "In what other way can these two undeniably dominant ideas be explained and harmonized, except by assuming that the colonists in question were also Hellenes; that they came from the east indeed, but from a Greek east, where, with the receptivity of mind characteristic of the Ionian race, they had domesticated among themselves, and given a Hellenic transformation to, the civilization of the East, in order to hand it over in this state to the brethren of their own race? But since these Ionic Greeks, for so we may shortly designate them as a body of population, had not only settled in their own home, but also among the Phoenicians, in lands colonized by the latter, in Lycia and in Caria, and in the delta of the Nile, the settlers coming from the other side, the heroes and founders of towns in question, easily came to be called Phoenicians and Egyptians. For it is inconceivable that Canaanites proper . . . ever founded principalities among a Hellenic population." Thus at the beginning of history Curtius finds traces of the Ionians on the shores of the sea of Thessaly, and of the sea of Euboea, called Hellopia, after a son of Ion; in southern Boeo-tia, especially on the Asopus and the declivities of the Helicon; in the whole of Attica; further in a long connected line on either shore of the Saronic and Corinthian seas; in Argolis, and on all the coasts of the Peloponnesus; and in the mountainous country of the interior.
The movement of the Ionians from Attica to the W. coast of Asia Minor was accordingly a re-migration to the original settlements. It was the natural result of the overpeopling of southern Greece, occasioned by the violent advance of the northern highlanders or the continental tribes of the Hellenic nation. In the midst of these movements, which had revolutionized all the states from Olympus to Cape Malea, Attica alone had remained tranquil; but it now became the refuge of the multitudes driven out of the other districts, and the narrow and poor little land was overflowing with inhabitants, so that relief became necessary. All the Greeks belonging to the old Ionic race, suffering under this great pressure, therefore started, and having preserved an inner connection notwithstanding their dispersion, they reassembled in the middle coast tracts of Asia Minor, and this land around the mouths of the four rivers became the new Ionia, into which were transplanted the political institutions, priesthoods, and festive rituals of Attica. (See Ionia.) - The Yavanas in ancient Sanskrit literature are supposed to have been Ionians, who made inroads into India through the northwest, probably through Cashmere, coming from the Euphrates, and penetrating as far as Orissa. The term Yavana was applied also to Greeks left by Alexander to garrison the banks of the Indus. Though Sir William Jones interprets the word as designating Ionians or Asiatic Greeks, yet the chief argument in favor of it is the difficulty of attaching it to any other people.
Yavana does not seem to be exclusively applied to the Greeks. According to Caldwell, it had originally that signification, and was subsequently applied to any race approaching India from the west. According to Lassen, it was used to designate only the Semitic nations. The modern Hindoos of northern India apply the term Yavana to Mohammedans of every description, but it is certain that in works prior to the Mohammedan era some other people must be intended. Bunsen supposes that it may be an ancient inaccurate name of a people who pushed on toward the Mediterranean. In the present state of these researches it is impossible to retrace with certainty the occupancy of central Asia and India by the ancient Ionians. - See Ernst Curtius, Die Ionier vor der ionischen Wanderung (Berlin, 1855), and Geschichte und Topographie Kleinasiens (1872); Hunter, "Orissa" (London, 1872); and Chabas, Les peuples connns par les Egyptiens, in L'Antiquite prehisto-rique (Paris, 1873).