Lost language spoken 3,000 years ago discovered on ancient clay tablet inscribed with 'mysterious ritual text' | The Sun

A NEWLY discovered clay tablet from 3,000 years ago has revealed a lost language that includes a ritual text from one of the most powerful ancient empires.

It was excavated from Boğazköy-Hattuşa in north-central Turkey, at the site of Hattusha, which was the Hittite capital from about 1600 BC until about 1200 BC.

The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The tablet was discovered earlier this year, and the findings were published by the University of Würzburg on September 21.

It was discovered on an annual expedition that was led by Andreas Schachner, an archaeologist at the German Archaeological Institute.

Schachner was immediately able to tell the tablet was written in ritual text.

"The introduction is in Hittite," Schachner told Live Science.

"It is clear that it is a ritual text."

The expedition found 30,000 other clay tablets and most of them were written in cuneiform.

The tablets were "mainly found in clusters connected to half a dozen buildings," Schachner told Live Science.

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"But we find text all over the [site] that are moved around by erosion."

Schacher explained the reason for the clusters of texts is because they were most likely kept together as a library or archive.

They narrowed down several of the tablets and sent them to be studied back in Germany.

Daniel Schwemer, a professor and chair of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of Würzburg specified exactly which region it was from.

He identified it as the language of Kalašma, a region on the north-western edge of the Hittite heartland near the modern Turkish city of Bolu.

It was explained that the Hittite people were very interested in foreign religious rituals.

"The Hittites were uniquely interested in recording rituals in foreign languages," Schwemer said in the University of Würzburg statement.

The Hittites were one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world as they fought the Battle of Kadesh against the Egyptians for control of Canaan which is now part of southern Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. 

It is unclear exactly what the tablet says.

Researchers are still studying it to clarify and will not release any photos of it until they are finished.



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However, the findings have led scientists in a better direction to understanding how ancient languages worked during that time.

"The rituals provide valuable glimpses into the little-known linguistic landscapes of Late Bronze Age Anatolia, where not just Hittite was spoken," Schwemer said.

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