2013/02/27: The compilation we know as the "Iliad" was written centuries later. The scientists tracked the words in the "Iliad" the way they would track genes in a genome.
The researchers employed a linguistic tool called the Swadesh word list, put together in the 1940s and 1950s by American linguist Morris Swadesh. The list contains approximately 200 concepts that have words apparently in every language and every culture, Pagel said. These are usually words for body parts, colors, necessary relationships like "father" and "mother."
They looked for Swadesh words in the "Iliad" and found 173 of them. Then, they measured how they changed.