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Lost language found engraved in ancient clay tablet

The tablet, dating back more than 2500 years, is believed to be from the ancient Assyrian city of Tushan.

Tablet resizeEnlarge
A tablet with an ancient language engraved on it dating back more than 2,500 years was found by archaeologists working in Turkey. (John MacGinnis/University of Cambridge/Courtesy)

An ancient unknown language engraved on a clay tablet was unearthed by archaeologists working in Turkey.

The tablet, dating back more than 2500 years, is believed to be from the ancient Assyrian city of Tushan.

The New Scientist, the tablet contains the names of dozens of females who were possibly slaves from the Zagros mountains in modern Iran.

Typical names included Ushimanay, Alagahnia, Irsakinna and Bisoonoomay, reported the Telegraph.

University of Cambridge of researchers say that most of the names are from an undiscovered dialect, possibly a language called "Shubrian" - which was spoken in the region before the advent of the Assyrian empire.

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The tablet is inscribed with what are called "cuneiform characters" - writing with impressed triangles or pictographs - that were burned in the fire of a destroyed palace.

 The tablet may be from a region of the Assyrian empire in which there is no previous record of a known language.

"If correct this suggests that Iran was home to previously unknown languages,"  said University of Cambridge archaeologist John MacGinnis, reported Science Daily.

"The immediate impression is that the names on this tablet were those of women who belonged to an isolated community. It may be, however, that there were others whom we still have to find out about."

MacGinnis' report is published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120510/lost-language-found-engraved-ancient-clay-tablet