4,000-Year-Old Assyrian Clay Tablets Hold Clues To 11 Lost Cities Dating Back To 2000 BC

In exciting archaeology news, researchers have started to study cuneiform writings from a multitude of 4,000-year-old Assyrian clay tablets, and the ones that they have studied so far have revealed important clues about 11 cities that have been lost to time. The first clay tablet that was examined is believed to have been a standard marriage contract that would have been used at the time, yet this tablet and many others are really very unique with their revelation of lost cities.

These Assyrian clay tablets were found in the once bustling city known as Kanesh in what is now Turkey and the tablets were written in the cuneiform script by Sumerians who created the first writing system that the world has ever known. Harvard Assyriologist Gojko Barjamovic and his team were the people responsible for the translation of these particular clay tablets, and researchers dedicated themselves to carefully going through 12,000 clay tablets, according to IFLScience.

The 4,000-year-old clay tablets contain important documents like different contracts and business transactions, and researchers came up with mathematical models to examine these cuneiform writings based on different things like how often specific goods would have been traded as well as the price of these goods. This enabled scientists to determine where the trade hubs were which points to the direction of the once great, lost cities.

Goods such as metals, wine, and wool would have been traded over a vast network of ancient cities, and scientists believe that there are 11 new cities which are open to discovery now because of these tablets. Some of the cuneiform tablets contain written comments from traders about how well they fared when it came to their journeys and work, as The Metro reports. One such tablet described how a trader met with a king, yet this king disappointingly chose not to buy any of the man’s textiles.

“I met with the king in Ninassa, but he did not buy a single textile.”

One of the lost cities researchers now know of is a place called Sinahuttum, which was faithfully described as a vibrant place to trade goods made of wool and a place which was also known as “a market for donkeys.”

The Assyrian clay tablets point to 11 previously unknown and lost cities.
The Assyrian clay tablets point to 11 previously unknown and lost cities. [Image by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]

Researchers working on the latest study of the Assyrian tablets explained how their findings of up to 11 lost cities based on their reading of these tablets also coincide with theories previously put forward by historians, according to Newsweek.

“In a rare example of collaboration across disciplines, we use a theory-based quantitative method from economics to inform this quest in the field of history. The structural gravity model delivers estimates for the coordinates of the lost cities. For a majority of cases, our quantitative estimates are remarkably close to qualitative proposals made by historians. In some cases where historians disagree on the likely site of lost cities, our quantitative method supports the suggestions of some historians and rejects that of others.”

With the most recent study of the 4,000-year-old Assyrian clay tablets, the hunt is now on for scientists to hopefully pinpoint all of these 11 lost cities.

[Featured Image by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]