Among the ruins of an ancient city found between Turkey and Syria, archaeologists have discovered the 1700 BCE equivalent of an emoji on a jug decorated with appears to be a big flat smiley face.
The happiest jug ever was unearthed by Turkish and Italian researchers, led by archaeologist Nicolo Marchetti of the University of Bologna in Italy, working on an excavation of the city of Carchemish (also knowns as Karkemish or Karkamış). Archaeologists only discovered the cheerful face when the jug was taken to a lab for restoration work.
While the exact meaning of the smiley will probably never be known, they have reason to be believed it was intentionally drawn.
“We have found a variety of cubes and urns. The most interesting of them is a pot belonging to 1700 BC that features an image of a ‘smile’ on it,” Marchetti told Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.
“The pot was used for drinking sherbet [a sweet drink]. Most probably, [this shows] the oldest smile of the world,” he added.
Although the “emoji jug” is certainly the pièce de résistance, the excavation also revealed hundreds of artifacts dating back thousands of years.
Carchemish was located on the west bank of the Euphrates River, between the modern-day Turkish city of Gaziantep and Aleppo in Syria. It was inhabited since at least the sixth millennium BCE onwards and is often compared to the world’s other greatest ancient cities like Troy, Jerusalem, Petra, and Babylon. Its rich history is partially thanks to the numerous different empires that at some time or other occupied the city, including the Mitanni, the Hittite, the Neo-Assyrian, and Roman Empire.
Carchemish even gets a mention in the Bible as the site of a battle between the allied armies of Egypt and Assyria against the armies of Babylonia.
Among the other discoveries was a large basalt slab decorated with two griffins, believed to date back to the late 10th century BCE. They also found delivery notes from around 3,300 years ago, indicating this prosperous city had a complex trade system. The researchers are hoping these could also give them an idea of how the city was organized and structured.
As for the “world’s oldest emoji”, it looks like it will be handed over to Gaziantep’s Archeology Museum for the public to enjoy, where it will undoubtedly be put on Snapchat and Instagram alongside numerous other emojis – and so the circle is complete.