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News: Turkey
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Perhaps the world's oldest smiley, a painted flask from 1700 B.C. found in a burial site in Karkemish, an ancient city in modern-day Turkey. Photo Credit: Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish/Live Science.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Ancient smiley face dates back 3,700 years

It was painted on a flask

Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered a 3,700-year-old pitcher with a smiley face painted on it. The discovery was made in the ancient city of Karkemish in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep.

Karkemish was an ancient Hittite city measuring about 55 hectares and excavations there revealed vases, pots and metal goods. The pitcher with the smiley face was found in a burial chamber beneath a house and was probably originally used for a sweet sherbet-like drink. It dates back to 1,700 BC and there are no other traces of painting on it. Archaeologists realized it was there when they took the pitcher to the lab for restoration.

The city was inhabited from the 6th millennium BC, until the late Middle Ages. It was populated by various cultures, such as the Hittites, Neo Assyrians and Romans, while in the 1920s it was used as a Turkish military outpost.

Although archaeological works had taken place in the late 1800s and early 1900s by British archaeologists, a new team started excavating it in 2003, and in the last field season archaeologists unearthed the pitcher.

According to Nikolo Marchetti, an associate professor in the Department of History and Cultures at the University of Bologna in Italy who is leading the excavations, the item is unique in ancient ceramic art of the area.

NOTES