Clay tablets dating back 4,000 years show the beginnings of writing and literacy in ancient Anatolia, in the middle of modern-day Turkey, according to researchers.
Excavations in the province of Kayseri, southeast of Turkey’s capital Ankara, at an ancient tumulus or burial mound shed light on writing from around the year 2000 B.C., said Fikri Kulakoglu, a professor of archeology at Ankara University and head of the excavation team.
In 70 years of excavations at the Kultepe tumulus, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) northeast of Kayseri, some 23,000 cuneiform-script tablets have been found.
“These are the first written tablets in Anatolia. Anatolian people learned how to read and write in Kultepe. The first-ever literate people in Anatolia are from Kayseri,” said Kulakoglu.
Many of the tablets excavated are exercise tablets, apparently used by children to practice their writing.
The reading exercises in scripted tablets are signs of school-like instruction, he said.