A ‘Unique’ 3,200-Year-Old Ivory Tablet Has Been Discovered In Turkey Which May Have Originated In Assyria

The 3,200-year-old ivory tablet was discovered in Turkey's Malatya province and is very likely to be Assyrian.

A 3,200-year-old Assyrian ivory tablet has been discovered in Turkey.
Lukiyanova Natalia frenta / Shutterstock

The 3,200-year-old ivory tablet was discovered in Turkey's Malatya province and is very likely to be Assyrian.

A 3,200-year-old ivory tablet, which has been called a “unique artifact,” has been discovered in Turkey and archaeologists believe that it may have originally come from Assyria. The tablet, which has been dated to around 1,200 BC, is 4.3 by 8.1 centimeters (1.6 by 3.1 inches), with a thickness that has been measured at 0.8 cm (0.3 inches).

As the Daily Sabah has reported, the ancient artifact that was found at the Archaeological Site of Arslantepe two years ago has now been thoroughly studied by archaeologists, and Professor Marcelle Frangipane of the Sapienza University of Rome explained, “The ivory tablet is a very important finding, as it was found for the first time here.”

Describing the artwork that decorates the ivory tablet, Professor Frangipane noted that two goat figures and a tree-like plant can be spotted on the artifact and that while it may have originally been made in Turkey, it is very likely to have originated Assyria judging by its design

“There are two goat figures and there is a plant, like a tree, between these figures. There are decorational motives around the tablet. These motives were mostly used by Assyrians in Syria. The tablet may be coming from Assyria, or may have been made here.”

According to Professor Frangipane, the carvings fashioned on the ivory tablet also bear a strong resemblance to similar artifacts that archeologists have discovered in both Syria and Iraq, and suggested that it may have once been used as a furniture decoration. However, at this time no link has been established between the artifact and these countries, and it may be that the artwork itself was prevalent at this time in different regions and that trade may have also influenced the art on the tablet.

“It might be a decoration of furniture. It is a beautiful work of art and it is important for the history of the mound. It is the same with the motives in Syria, Iraq and Nemrut [in southeastern Adiyaman]; there may be a trade relation between them.”

Excitingly, however, an ivory tablet of this kind has never been discovered in Turkey before, and Professor Frangipane has said that “these kinds of artifacts are found in Syria and Mesopotamia, but it is a unique piece for here.”

Excavations have been ongoing in the Arslantepe region of Turkey since 1961 and have been performed in a partnership between the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Italian Archaeological Expedition of the Sapienza University of Rome. This area was once the birthplace of many great civilizations, including the Hittites, Romans, and Byzantines, so it makes sense that numerous ancient artifacts would be found here.

Now that the 3,200-year-old ivory tablet found in Turkey has been examined, it will be up to archaeologists to determine whether it is, in fact, Assyrian after all.