Have we discovered every ancient language ever spoken?
Language has been our daily companion since day one of humankind’s career on Earth. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of researchers and users we know a lot about the rules of ancient languages and modern ones. But have we heard about every language ever spoken? The answer may shock you.
You may not have heard this name if you are not an academic, but despite its complex name, these languages are still alive and well! At least most of them, namely Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian and Italic groups. Nearly half of people on Earth speak an Indo-European language as their mother tongue. Why is this important for this article? It turns out that an excavation in Turkey discovered a new, unheard of Indo-European language!
The discovery in Boğazköy-Hattusha
For over 100 years, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Boğazköy-Hattusha in north-central Turkey has been analysed by scientists because of its cultural importance. In the late Bronze Age, it was where the capital of the Hittite Empire, one of the great powers of Western Asia, was located.
Among the discoveries are approx. 30,000 clay tablets covered in cuneiform writing. The one that interests us now is in fact a Hittite ritual text with… a quote from a previously unknown ancient language! Researchers place it as the language used in Kalasma, an area on the north-western edge of the Hittite heartland. We do not know yet how closely this ancient language is related to the other Luwian dialects of its age or even what the content is. Nevertheless, this discovery is electrifying the world of antiquity and those who are fascinated by human creativity manifested via language use and creation.
If you would like to learn more about this discovery and its future results, you can follow the reports from the German Archaeological Institute. We are surely excited to know what part of that ancient language the Hittites wanted to preserve on their clay tablets!