Archaeologists discover a language from the time of the Assyrian Empire

Archaeologists discover a language from the time of the Assyrian Empire

The researchers who are working on the Ziyaret Tepe deposit they have discovered a new language which they believe could have been used by the original inhabitants of the Zagros Mountains who were transferred to the Assyrian city of Tušhan. The transfer would obey a policy applied by the Assyrian Empire whereby people were relocated to work in border cities and take over their fields.

A clay board which was preserved after a fire that destroyed the Tušhan palace (sometime in the late 8th century B.C.), is the reason why researchers have discovered this new form of communication. The table is nothing more than a list of the names of the women who were linked to the palace and the local Assyrian administration.

Cambridge University McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Doctor John MacGinnis explains how the nature of these names has triggered the interest of researchers: “In total there are 60 preserved names, of which one or two are Assyrian and a few belong to another known language of that period, but most correspond to a previously unidentified language”. The scientific interest of this new finding lies in the fact that the image of “first multi-ethnic empire"What about the Assyrian Empire.

The task of deciphering the table fell on MacGinnis, who has identified a total of 144 names. Its intensive analysis includes, not only the Common languages ​​of the Assyrian Empire, but also others like the egyptian or the elamite. The findings indicate that only 15 readable names belong to a known language. The report also posits various theories about the provenance of the mysterious language.

One of them is that it could be the indigenous language spoken in the Tušhan area before the Assyrians arrived. But according to historians, that oral language was never written and, in addition, it is believed that it was dialect of Hurrian, which is known and does not appear to be related to most of the names in the table.

Another theory is that it is the language spoken by the mushki, a people migrating from eastern Anatolia around the time the chart was made. But it seems implausible, since no evidence that they infiltrated the Assyrian Empire nor that they were captured.

The most convincing theory is that the language in question it could have been used by a people from somewhere else in the Assyrian Empire, which would have been forced to relocate by the imperial administration. According to MacGinnis, this was a common practice of Assyrian kings, particularly after the empire began to expand during the 9th century BC: “It was an approach that helped them consolidate power, breaking the control of the ruling elites in the newly conquered areas. If people were deported to a new location, they were completely dependent on the Assyrian administration for their welfare.”.

Although historians already know that the Zagros Mountains belonged to a region invaded and annexed by the Assyrians, they also know that it is the only area of ​​the empire from which the language is unknown. MacGinnis comments that if the theory is correct, he suggests that “Iran is home to unknown languages”. He adds that “immediate impression"That causes the names listed in the table to be"those of those women who belonged to an isolated community”.

The Ziyaret Tepe deposit It is located on the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey and has been the subject of extensive archaeological excavations since 1997. The excavated remains are believed to belong to the border town of Tušhan and that the ruins would be those of the palace of the governor, built by the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (853 - 859 BC). The clay tablet was found in what may have been the throne room by Dr. Dirk Wicke, from the University of Mainz, working as part of a team led by Professor Timothy Matney, from the University of Akron (Ohio). When a fire destroyed the palace, perhaps around 700 BC, the board was fired and many of the contents of the reverse side were preserved.

Nowadays, the table is stored in Diyarbakir (Turkey), where it is expected to be presented to the public soon.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: Evoys AP Art History Lectures: Assyrian Art