In the midst of the ancient Anatolian landscape, where the remnants of the once-mighty Hittite Empire lie, a groundbreaking discovery has emerged—a collection of clay tablets bearing an enigmatic script that has remained shrouded in mystery for over 3,000 years. Unearthed amidst the ruins of Hattusha, these tablets showcase a language previously unknown in the annals of the Middle East’s ancient civilizations.
Their origins trace back to the enigmatic kingdom of Kalasma, a Bronze Age society that once flourished on the periphery of the Hittite realm. Concealed within a Hittite cultic ritual text, these cryptic markings invite decipherment, promising to unveil the secrets of a forgotten civilization.
Andreas Schachner, the archaeologist behind this extraordinary find, cradles the weight of history in his hands. The inscriptions on these clay tablets hold the potential to illuminate a bygone era, establishing a connection between the contemporary world and the distant past.
For more than a century, a collaborative effort involving historians, archaeologists, and linguists has been underway to explore and translate the vast archive of Hattusa, including royal treaties, political correspondences, and legal and religious texts. While most tablets were inscribed in Hittite cuneiform, the archaeological site has yielded tablets in various languages, suggesting the presence of diverse ethnic groups under the Hittite Empire’s influence during its dominion over Anatolia from 1650 to 1200 BCE.
“The Hittites were uniquely interested in recording rituals in foreign languages,” notes Andreas Schachner.
The recent discovery of another language, though exciting, aligns with the Hittite practice of documenting rituals in languages beyond their own. As Anatolian historian Tulin Cengiz reveals, the royal archives of Hattusa mention deities worshiped in regions as distant as Syria and Mesopotamia.
“Embracing these gods with no self-pantheon indicates the existence of a tolerance culture,” adds Cengiz, shedding light on the multicultural and inclusive nature of the Hittite Empire.
As Schachner endeavors to unravel the mysteries embedded in these clay tablets, the enigma of the Kalasma language promises to enrich our understanding of ancient Anatolia and the complex tapestry of civilizations that once thrived within its borders.