Words from a previously unknown language have been discovered on an ancient clay tablet in Turkey. Archaeologists unearthed the tablet during excavations at Bogazköy-Hattusha in north-central Turkey, which is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A public research university in Germany, Julius-Maximilians Universität Würzburg, verified that the language inscribed on the tablet can be traced back to the Indo-European family.
The dig was led by Dr. Andreas Schachner, an archaeologist and professor at the German Archaeological Institute. Under the guidance of the German Archaeological Institute, excavations have been conducted at Bogazköy-Hattusha for over a hundred years.
Bogazköy-Hattusha was once the capital of the Hittite Empire, which ruled over a significant portion of what is now known as modern-day Turkey and Syria from about 1600 B.C. to 1200 B.C.
Thousands of clay tablets have been found at the site, revealing valuable information on what life was like during the Hittite period.
The inscriptions on the tablets are written in cuneiform, which is considered to be the oldest writing system known to date. The script was created more than 5,000 years ago by the ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia.
The majority of the tablets contain etchings in the Hittite language, now extinct. The Hittite language is believed to be the oldest tongue in the Indo-European family. Some other languages found on the tablets include Luwian and Palaic.
However, the tablet that was discovered in the most recent excavations was written in a language that experts had never seen before.
The words in the lost language were also written in cuneiform and were from a religious ritual. They were accompanied by an introduction in Hittite, explaining that it was a ritual text.