Archaeologists may have discovered the world’s oldest known ‘smiley face’ on a 3700-year old flask

oldest-smiley-face-3700-year-pottery_1Credit: Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish

While a wide range of emoticons are often available at your disposal in the present-day electronic media, the human inclination towards ideograms goes back to the origins of written language. And as it turns out, history, as opposed to your modern digital device, might just even claim the iconic smiley face – evident from the discovery of a seemingly ‘jolly’ painting on 3700-year old pottery piece. This flask fragment was found by an excavation project undertaken at the Karkemish, an ancient Hittite settlement that now lies near the volatile border region between Turkey and Syria.

The ‘smiley face’ in question here comprises three discernible strokes of paint – and the experts are still not sure if this suggestive arrangement had any symbolic context. According to Nikolo Marchetti, an associate professor in the Department of History and Cultures at the University of Bologna in Italy, and the director of the excavation group (who put forth his views in an interview conducted by Live Science) –

The smiling face is undoubtedly there. There are no other traces of painting on the flask. It has no parallels in ancient ceramic art of the area. As for the interpretation, you may certainly choose your own.

oldest-smiley-face-3700-year-pottery_2

Credit: Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish

The pitcher in itself, dating back to circa 1700 BC, might have been used to store sweetened beverage. Additionally, the archaeologists also discovered a few others vases, pots and even metal objects in the vicinity.

Now from the historical perspective, the extensive perimeters of ancient Karkemish (roughly translating to ‘Quay of [god] Kamis’), stretched over 135 acres, thus being equivalent to the combined area of more than 100 American football fields. And interestingly enough, the settlement was inhabited from the Neolithic times, circa 6th millennium BC, till the late medieval times, thus being controlled by various factions ranging from Hittites, Assyrians to even Romans.

It is also known as the site famous for the ‘mega’ Battle of Carchemish (Karkemish), circa 605 BC, fought between by the allied armies of Assyria and its vassal Egypt against their adversaries Babylonians – allied with the Medes, Persians and the roving Scythians. The pivotal encounter resulted in a decisive victory for the Babylonian camp, thus snuffing out the independence of the Neo-Assyrian state. The battle also relegated the influence of the native Egyptians in the Middle-Eastern state of affairs.

Finally, when it comes to the archaeological scope of the region, archaeologists and researchers have been visiting the site since late 19th century. However, considering the sheer scale of the ancient city, there have been a plethora of objects found in the 21st century, with many of the discoveries made by Marchetti’s research team since 2003.

Via: Live Science

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  • George J. Papadopoulos

    And it’s not like it’s that old compared to other findings from the fertile crescent…

  • Les Parks

    I should hope that really is a “Smiley Face” we forget that not only the ancients were human like us, but normal with every day lives. And they liked to have fun too.

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