A team of Turkish and Italian archeologists have unearthed what could be the world’s oldest smiley emoji in one of the most important ancient cities of the world, Karkamış, located in the southeastern province of Gaziantep along Turkey’s border with Syria.
Nikolo Marchetti, a professor from Bologna University who is leading the excavation works at the ancient city near Gaziantep, told state-run Anadolu Agency that Karkamış was one of the key Hittite cities back in 2,000 B.C.
During excavations this season, the team found various ancient vases and pots in the necropolis site.
“One of the most interesting findings of this season was a pitcher with a smiley emoji on it. This pitcher, which traced back to 1,700 B.C., was used to drink sherbet, a sweet drink. We have probably found the oldest smiley emoji. We do not know with which purpose the craftsmen drew this symbol on the pitcher but we call it a smile,” Marchetti said, as quoted by Anadolu Agency on July 17.
The pitcher will be transferred to the Gaziantep Museum of Archeology, he added.
The team completed the first part of their seven-season-long excavation works in Karkamış last week. The excavations, which started on May 2 this season, were executed by a team comprised of 25 experts with a special focus on the place site and the tumulus site, and the whole area has now been taken under protection until September, when the excavation works would be resumed. The Karkamış Ancient City Archaeological Park will open after a seven-year excavation period on May 12, 2018, Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı announced earlier in July.
Despite Syria’s civil war, archaeologists on the Turkish side of border-straddling Karkamış unearthed sculptures, mosaics and other artifacts in relative safety.