Thursday, May 10, 2012

Archaeologists discover lost language

Detail from the tablet found at Ziyaret Tepe. Inscribed with Cuneiform characters, the tablet consists of a list of women's names, many of which appear to be from a previously unknown language. Credit: John Mac

Evidence for a forgotten ancient language which dates back more than 2,500 years, to the time of the Assyrian Empire, has been found by archaeologists working in Turkey.

Researchers working at Ziyaret Tepe, the probable site of the ancient Assyrian city of Tušhan, believe that the 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 practised 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.

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