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Previously unknown language discovered at ancient site in Turkiye

September 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm

Archaeological excavations in Turkiye have led to the discovery of a previously unknown Indo-European language [@begusgasper/X]

Archaeological excavations in Turkiye have led to the discovery of a previously unknown Indo-European language.

The “new” language was brought to light at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bogazkoy-Hattusha in north-central Turkiye, which was once the capital of the Hittite Empire, a Late Bronze Age (1650 to 1200 BCE) civilisation.

According to, excavations at the site have been ongoing for more than a century under the direction of the German Archaeological Institute which have yielded almost 30,000 clay tablets written in cuneiform writing over the years, with most written in Hittite, said to be the oldest known Indo-European language.

However, recent work carried out under current site director, Professor Andreas Schachner of the institute’s Istanbul Department, has added new cuneiform findings.

Last week, the Corum Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism announced the finding of the new language in a ritual text inscribed on a tablet.

Epigraphist Daniel Schwemer from the University of Wurzburg in Germany identified the language as “a version of the language of Kalashma, which is believed to have been located in today’s Bolu or Gerede region, at the northwest end of Hittite territory,” the directorate said.

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“This discovery has the potential to make significant contributions to our understanding of ancient languages and history,” he added.

Discovering the “Kalashma” language at the site is not entirely unexpected as “the Hittites were uniquely interested in recording rituals in foreign languages,” Schwemer explained in a statement.

As the language has been identified as being related to the Indo-European languages, it means it stems from a family of languages still spoken today across most of Europe, as well as the Iranian plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent.

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