Amid the ruins of a Middle Eastern palace dating back nearly 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, archaeologists believe they have discovered a previously unknown ancient language.
Working in southeast Turkey, a team excavating an Assyrian imperial governors’ palace in the ancient city of Tushan recently unearthed a 2,800-year-old clay writing tablet.
Cambridge University archaeologist John MacGinnis discovered the unknown language – which was likely spoken by a hitherto unknown people from the Zagros Mountains of western Iran – while deciphering the tablet, according to The Independent.
“The discovery is important because it may help reveal the ethnic and cultural origins of some of history’s first ‘barbarians’ – mountain tribes which had, in previous millennia, preyed on the world’s first great civilizations, the cultures of early Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq,” according to the British newspaper.
The clay tablet revealed the names of 60 women – probably prisoners of war or victims of an Assyrian forced-population transfer program.
But when MacGinnis began to examine the names in detail, he realized that 45, or three of every four, bore no resemblance to any of the thousands of ancient Middle Eastern names already known to scholars.
Ask most folks what language the first bible in North America was printed in and you’ll likely get a myriad of answers, ranging from English, French or Spanish to Dutch, Latin or Greek.
All would be wrong.
The first bible printed in North America was a translation of the Good Book published in Massachusett, a Native American language, by John Eliot in 1663.
Massachusett is a member of the Algonquian language family and was spoken by the Wampanoag nation, which lived in present-day Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Eliot, an English clergyman who emigrated to the Colonies in 1631, settled initially at Boston but a short time later moved to the nearby town of Roxbury, where he became pastor.
The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum is staging the first major exhibit on the work of Lorenzo Dow Turner, the 20th century black linguist whose work was the first to identify Gullah as a distinct language.
“He was the first person that went to listen to Gullah and realized this is not bad English – this is actually a language,” curator Alcione Amos said.
During breaks in his teaching at Howard University in Washington and Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., Turner pursued his linguistics research, hauling heavy recording equipment to the isolated Sea Islands off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts that were populated primarily by descendants of African slaves.
His studies were first to show that people of African heritage retained and passed on their cultural identity and language, despite slavery, according to The Associated Press.
A linguistic mystery centered on a long-extinct language continues to baffle researches studying symbol-inscribed stones in Scotland.
But these symbols are probably “words” rather than images, researchers say, which has raised criticism from some linguists.
Pictish is a term used for the extinct language or languages thought to have been spoken by the Picts, the people of northern and central Scotland in the Early Middle Ages.