The Achaeans (also Akhaians, Greek Αχαιοί) is the collective name given to the Greek forces in Homer's Iliad (used 598 times). An alternative name, used interchangeably, is Danaans (Δαναοί, used 138 times) and Argives (Αργίτες, used 29 times). Argives is a political annotation drawn from the original capital of the Achaeans, Argos. Danaans is the name attributed to the tribe first dominating the Peloponnese and the area near Argos. Achaeans is the name of the tribe that, reinforced by the Aeolians, first dominated Greek territories, centering itself around its capital in Mycenae.

More specifically, Achaea in Homer is the kingdom of Agamemnon, chief commander of the Greek forces, the northern part of the Peloponnese, roughly corresponding to the modern prefectures of Achaea, Corinthia and Argolis. The Homeric Achaeans would have been a part of the Mycenaean civilization that dominated Greece from ca. 1600 BC, with a history as a tribe that may have gone back to the prehistoric Hellenic immigration in the late 3rd millennium BC.

Some Hittite texts mention a nation in western Anatolia called Ahhiyawa; in particular the Hittite king Mursili II in ca. 1320 BC wrote a letter to the king of the Ahhiyawa, treating him as an equal and suggesting that Miletus (Millawanda) was under his control, and also referring to an earlier "Wilusa episode" involving hostility on the part of the Ahhiyawa. This people has been identified with the Achaeans of the Trojan War and the city of Wilusa with the legendary city of Troy (note the similarity with Ilion, the name of the acropolis of Troy). However the exact relationship of the term Ahhiyawa to the Achaeans beyond a similarity in pronunciation is hotly debated by scholars.

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