Turkey-Iran: An Ancient Language Rediscovered
By Hwaa Irfan
One of the sad elements about globalization is the impact on language, especially indigenous languages. If one compares the English language today to what it used to be, one will understand what is meant. The English language has become reduced in terms of richness, expression, as well as grammar!
As everyone seeks to speak English as it is spoken today in order to boost their economic viability, status etc., the understanding of who we are, the world around us, and the cosmos also become reduced, if our souls could be eliminated there would no problem.
The same applies to ancient languages, which offer a wealth in body of knowledge of man’s relationship with him/her self, a struggle that many are increasingly going through today.
Why Dr. Dirk Wicke’s and Professor Timothy Matney team of Mainz University, and University of Akron, Ohio respectively would be up in the ancient Assyrian city of Tushan in south eastern Turkey, raises one’s curiosity, with a German archaeological team, and a Cambridge University professor. Far be it to say that there are more things in this world than warmongering, the team have discovered a previously unknown ancient language on clay tablets in a 2800 year old ‘Middle Eastern’ palace. Yes, Turkey is not in the Middle East, but so it is described by David Keys, the Archaeology Correspondent for The Independent, which is indicative of the cultural context of Key’s coverage on the discovery.
Published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies 2012, the discovery is deemed important because it is hoped that it will disclose the ethnic and cultural origins of what is considered the first ‘barbarians’ or mountain tribes which is believed to have preyed on the world’s first great civilizations, the cultures of early Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like geo-politics to me, the kind of geo-politics that let’s say for instance Israel would conjure up to lay claim to a territory. Us humans of the 21st century can be so arrogant, from comparing dolphin intelligence with human intelligence to assuming that the first peoples’ were more barbaric than our… let’s say the invention of a thermobaric bomb that burns the air, and everything in it, leaving no body count to say how many died, let alone what died. Of course, these are the comments and observations of a lay-person with no knowledge whatsoever.
The clay tablets that reveal previously unknown language, also reveals what is assumed the names of 60 women, which on further perusal by Cambridge archaeologist – Dr. John MacGinnis found 45 of those ‘names’ bore no resemblance to any Middle Eastern name known to scholars – one again maybe it’s because South Eastern Turkey is not in the Middle East, and the people of that region as far as most people known including the people themselves are not, and have never been Arabs. It is assumed that these women were prisoners of war, or victims of Assyrian forced population program like the program carried out by China to dilute its Muslim west (the Uiygurs), or Australia’ ‘Stolen Children’ or the U.S. theft of Texas (once part of Mexico).
The clay tablets were a part of the palaces’ archive, and the names found included: Ushimanay, Alagahnia, Irsakinna and Bisoonoomay – how they were able to dicpher the names in another issue. Other bloggers, more astute and knowledgeable have taken up the challenge like Gurdur. Gurdur was able to discover that Bissonomy was originally one of the 7a Virtues.
One commentator on Gurdur’s blog shared:
The name ‘Bisoonoomay’ found on the Tushan tablet is most likely a Prakrit name, ‘Vishnumaya.’ Two other Prakrit names were on the tablet, ‘Irsakinna,’ (Vrsakannya, bull’s daughter) and ‘Ushimanay’ (beautiful as dawn).
Prakit is the bridge between old and new Indo-Aryan language aligned with class and the caste system as revealed in some Indian classics.
- Sanskrit was spoken by kings and nobles
- Shauraseni was spoken by noble women
- Prakit was spoken by ordinary people
But Prakrit is the corpus of inscriptions of Emperor Asoka, and that of the Buddhist monks of old.
In Chaffinch’s Ancient and Classical Mythology, she is referred to as a goddess, who had two children from the god Io. Not be confused with io, the Internet country code for top-level domain (ccTLD), or Io computer programming language
However, Io is a name that crosses cultural boundaries. Io can be found in Maori traditional belief as Io Matua Kore” (Io the Parentless). The Maori speak of this knowledge travelling with their ancestors from the Middle East, to Hawaii and finally to New Zealand. Depending on pronunciation, one can even find Io as the goddess Ayo in West African cosmology.
In ancient Greece, Io was a nymph who the god Zeus fell in love with, and escaping the ever watchful eye of Zeus’ wife, Hera, Io ended up in Egypt. Io is also the name of the moon closest to the planet Jupiter, Zeus in Greek. Cutting into Jupiter’s electromagnetic field, volcanic Io is sulphuric representing adventure, creativity, and discovery as well as wrath like the Biblical brimstone. But Io’s volcanoes are driven by silicate magma, and silica is all about structure, and she remains in Jupiter’s reach as Jupiter strips Io of 1,000 kg (1 ton) of Io’s material every second via his magnetic field.
How the Indo-Aryan language of Prakit relates to the cuneiform language (cuneiform is believed to be the origins of writing) found is for a linguist to reveal.
Discovering the ethnic origins of South East Turkey has to take into consideration Iraq, Syria, Iran as these countries with the river valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris. Among documents discovered in at Bogazkoy 250 km north east of Ankara, Turkey (a Hittite stronghold), were treaties between the Hittites, and the Mitannis, which show no separation between Iranians and Indians. Reference was Indo-Iranian gods Indra, Natasya, Mitra and Varuna.
By about 1000 BC camel caravans were the long distance means of transport from the Hadramawt along the Hijaz coast of Arabia, linking India, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. In fact, the site where the Tushan tablets have been found revealing a lost language lies near Diyabarkir, where a bridge from the past – remnant of the old Silk Road still exists today.
The history of the region does portray Assyrians as conquerors of people from western Iran.
Today, ancient Tushan or Tashan is the site of Ziyaret Tepe, 60 km east of Diyarbakir, south east Turkey. Assyrians did conquer people from that region, which was western Iran. Tushan/Tashan was a garrison town. Their empire was established around 883 to 612 B.C. after the Babylonians left. Their empire was Mesopotamia and included the Near and Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt and large parts of Turkey and Iran), with its centre in Nineveh, Iraq. It was the first international empire where trade, religion, and artistic ideas flowed freely unlike today, where trade, religion, and artistic ideas are manipulated towards one goal! They were strongly influenced by Babylonia, their former rulers.
Tashan is a Chechen family name, and can be found in common usage in East, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Iran and Russia like a whisper from old Mesopotamia!
Where the tablets were found in the ancient Assyrian city of Tushan, an earlier part of the excavation (2009) found a cry for help:
“Death will come out of it! No-one will escape! I am done!”
It was a cry for help from the Assyrian leader Mannu-ki-Libbali in 630 BC written in cuneiform. The attack was coming from advancing Babylonian forces that smote down a deserted Tushun. This finding was from the excavation of John MacGinnis of University of Cambridge a part of the three stage exploration that began in 2000, and continued into 2011 with an international team.
Unlike Keys, who wrote the piece that attracted my attention, the aim of the excavation (Cambridge University) is to:
“… reconstruct the layout and organization of the city plan and to set this in the context of the nature and development of the impact of Assyrian rule on Anatolia. In all this we are never forgetful of what an immense privilege it is to be working on such an extraordinarily great site and of our duty to recover as much as possible of this unique heritage before it disappears forever.”
The area is scheduled for flooding to establish a hydroelectric dam in 2013.
“Assyria, Assyrians, Ashur, Nimrud and Nineveh.” http://factsanddetails.com/world.php?itemid=1528&catid=56&subcatid=363
“Io: Overview.” http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Io
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Evidence for a Peripheral Language in a Neo-Assyrian Tablet from the Governor’s Palace in Tušhan (pp. 13-20) John MacGinnis DOI: 10.1086/664450 Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664450
Keys, D. “Ancient Language Discovered on Clay Tablets Found Amid Ruins of 2800 Year Old Middle Eastern Palace.”
Williams, S. “Assyrian Leader’s Doomed Pleas for Help Discovered.” http://heritage-key.com/blogs/sean-williams/assyrian-leaders-doomed-pleas-help-discovered
“Ziyaret Tepe.” http://www.ane.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/ziyaret.html