Turkey: Worlds oldest emoji discovered on 3,700-year-old pitcher

Istanbul: Archaeologists excavating a site in southern Turkey have made an unexpected discovery: a 3,700-year-old smiley face was found carved on a pitcher.

A team of Turkish and Italian archaeologists have been exploring a site for the last seven years on the Turkish-Syrian border, which was once a home to Karkemish, an ancient Hittite city – but they have never encountered such an object before, Dr Nicolo Marchetti of Bologna University, who led the excavation, told The Independent.

“The smiling face is undoubtedly there (there are no other traces of painting on the flask) and has no parallels in the ancient ceramic art of the area,” he said.

The archaeologists also found other vases and pots, as well as metal goods in the ancient city.

The city was inhabited from the sixth millennium BC, until the late Middle Ages when it was abandoned, and populated by a string of different cultures, including the Hittites, Neo Assyrians and Romans, researchers said.

The Hittites were an Anatolian people who ruled an empire that stretched from modern-day Greece and Egypt across Turkey into Syria. Their civilisation eventually collapsed into smaller states during the Bronze Age and finally succumbed to the Neo-Assyrian empire in around 1,178 BC.