Unknown Ancient Language Found on Clay Tablet
Cambridge archaeologists working in Turkey have found the evidence for a previously unknown ancient language which dates back more than 2,500 years, to the time of the Assyrian Empire. The archaeologists working at Ziyaret Tepe, the probable site of the ancient Assyrian city of Tušhan, believe that this language may have been spoken by deportees originally from the Zagros Mountains, on the border of modern-day Iran and Iraq. In keeping with a policy widely practiced across the Assyrian Empire, these people may have been forcibly moved from their homeland and resettled in what is now south-east Turkey, where they would have been set to work building the new frontier city and farming its hinterland.
The evidence for the language they spoke comes from a single clay tablet, which was preserved after it was baked in a fire that destroyed the palace in Tušhan at some point around the end of the 8th century BCE. Inscribed with cuneiform characters, the tablet is essentially a list of the names of women who were attached to the palace and the local Assyrian administration. A paper in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies reports the discovery.