The translator of the tablet, Dr. John MacGinnis of Cambridge University, says the tablet was written in Assyrian cuneiform and was very significant for historians. AA photos
Mysterious tablet’s secrets revealed by Anatolia News Agency. August 27, 2012.
DIYARBAKIR — A tablet from the eighth century BC in an unknown language found at the Ziyarettepe excavation has stirred excitement among scientists.
“The tablet in Ziyarettepe is quite important. The first evaluations and translation of the tablet were done in England. However, the first announcements are being made at our museum in Turkey,” said Nevin Soyukaya, director of the Diyarbakır Museum, which is supervising the excavation.
Soyukaya said the Ziyarettepe excavation had revealed a lot of knowledge. “Human history repeats with every excavation, as scientists say. The region provides important knowledge, and these important findings are brought to the Diyarbakır Museum.”
Dr. Timothy Matney, a professor at Akron University in the United States, said the settlement at Ziyarettepe, consisting of 32 hectares near the Tigris River (Dicle River), dated from the third century BC to 700 BC, making it one of the oldest settlements. “It was an important center for the Assyrians. It was an accommodation and state center for the Assyrian military, so there was a big palace where the state governor resided on the mound. We uncovered it, and the tablet was found in the burnt ruins of the throne room of the palace in the Assyrian state center Tuşhan.”
Possibilities for newly encountered language
The translator of the tablet, Dr. John MacGinnis of Cambridge University, said the tablet was written in Assyrian cuneiform and was very significant for historians and archeologists. The translation of the tablet took a very long time, he said. “We finally realized that women’s names were listed in the text. It is highly probable that these are the names of women who once worked in Tuşhan.”
He said the most surprising thing was that the names on the tablet were not Assyrian. “To figure that out, we were in contact with many specialist colleagues and compared it with many languages in the Middle East. But they said this language did not match any of them. For example it is not Persian, Elam, Egyptian, Arabic, Hebrew or Aramaic.”
He said the most likely possibility was that the names belonged to Shubrians. “Shubria was one of the names of this region before the Assyrians came here.” Another possibility, MacGinnis said, was that the women had been relocated to the area from the Zagros Mountains on the Iraqi-Iranian border. MacGinnis said the tablet was important because it showed a new language. He said the tablet listed the names Impane, Ninuaya, Sasimi, Bisunume, Malinayasi and Pinda. “Our work in the region will provide new data on this topic. All those findings indicate that it is the known state center called ‘Tuşhan’ in Ziyarettepe.”
History of the area
Over 3 million people were relocated by the Assyrians, according to Dr. Kemalettin Köroğlu of Marmara University. The Shubrian language is not well understood and was never written, he said, but a group of relocated women had worked in the Assyrian palace, and this was a standard practice of kings in the empire.The excavation is part of the “World Heritage Threatened by the Ilısu Dam Lake” project, a joint effort by the Culture Ministry, General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works.
Help Save Assyrian Heritage: The Ziyaret Tepe Archeological Project by Assyrian Rights. December 08, 2011.
The site of Ziyaret Tepe is an ancient Assyrian provincial capital on the river Tigris in southeastern Turkey, 60 km east of Diyarbakir. As an archaeological site it is of exceptional importance, as it is a provincial capital of the Assyrian empire. Since 1997, an international team has been exploring the ancient site of Ziyaret Tepe and is led by Prof. Timothy Matney of the University of Akron, Ohio (Project Director) and in collaboration Professor McGinnis of University of Cambridge and Field Director of the British Expedition to Ziyaret Tepe. The location of the site on the Tigris River means that it is now threatened with destruction by the floodwaters of the Ilisu Dam. The team is working hard to save as much of this heritage before it disappears in the next few years.
Please consider a donation to the project to help save this ancient Assyrian capital.
The work of the Cambridge University team is coordinated by the Ziyaret Tepe Archaeological Trust, a registered charity (No.1133366). The Big Give, the week December 5th-9th, The Big Give, will double all donations made online via their website to the Ziyaret Tepe Archaeological Trust.
For more information on this project and how to support it, please visit the following the links:
World Archaeology: Ziyaret Tepe by John MacGinnis and Timothy Matney. September 7, 2009.
From their heartland in Upper Mesopotamia, an area akin to the northern part of modern Iraq, the Assyrians had built up a rich and relatively powerful empire. However, they wanted more; so, in the 9th century BC, they set forth on a mission of unprecedented expansion – to the north, south, east and west. Their might reached dizzying heights, as they created an empire on a scale hitherto unimaginable.
But how did the Assyrians manage to expand and take so many new areas? Did they simply come ‘down like the wolf on the fold… gleaming in purple and gold’ as Lord Byron famously wrote? Or were other, more complex, processes at work? What do the contemporary texts say? And what does the archaeology reveal about the nature of their domination? For the past 12 years, we have been examining a site at the very northern edge of the Empire: Ziyaret Tepe, in the Upper Tigris region of southeast Turkey.
When, in the 9th century BC, Assyria set itself once more on a programme of outward expansion it ran up against new challenges in every direction that, in every direction, were different. The widely varying topography of the regions surrounding the Assyrian heartland had dictated distinct patterns of state formation which, combined with the equally diverse patterns of indigenous peoples and languages, led to alignments of polities and cultures unique to each area.
Last edited on 09/07/2012 at 10:14 AM (UTC3 Assyria)
United Nations: Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
THE GENERAL CONFERENCE of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization meeting in Paris from 17 October to 21 November 1972, at its seventeenth session,
Noting that the cultural heritage and the natural heritage are increasingly threatened with destruction not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions which aggravate the situation with even more formidable phenomena of damage or destruction,
Considering that deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world,
Considering that protection of this heritage at the national level often remains incomplete because of the scale of the resources which it requires and of the insufficient economic, scientific, and technological resources of the country where the property to be protected is situated,
Recalling that the Constitution of the Organization provides that it will maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge, by assuring the conservation and protection of the world's heritage, and recommending to the nations concerned the necessary international conventions,
Considering that the existing international conventions, recommendations and resolutions concerning cultural and natural property demonstrate the importance, for all the peoples of the world, of safeguarding this unique and irreplaceable property, to whatever people it may belong,
Considering that parts of the cultural or natural heritage are of outstanding interest and therefore need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole,
Considering that, in view of the magnitude and gravity of the new dangers threatening them, it is incumbent on the international community as a whole to participate in the protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value, by the granting of collective assistance which, although not taking the place of action by the State concerned, will serve as an efficient complement thereto,
Considering that it is essential for this purpose to adopt new provisions in the form of a convention establishing an effective system of collective protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value, organized on a permanent basis and in accordance with modern scientific methods,
Having decided, at its sixteenth session, that this question should be made the subject of an international convention,
Adopts this sixteenth day of November 1972 this Convention.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.