Archaeologists in Turkey have made a significant discovery, unearthing a 2,800-year-old elephant tusk that is intricately carved. The artifact was found in what is believed to have been an Iron Age “center of power.” The carving, made from ivory, showcases a mythical sphinx, a combination of a human head and a winged lion. It also features a depiction of a real lion and two tall plants, possibly representing the mythical “tree of life.” Although the artwork dates back to the Iron Age, it was found in a layer of soil above the abandoned Bronze Age Hittite capital of Hattusa.
According to Andreas Schachner, an archaeologist from the German Archaeological Institute who has led excavations at Hattusa since 2006, this artifact indicates that the Iron Age settlement at the site held great significance, even though it was established after the Hittites had already left the city during the Late Bronze Age collapse.
The carved tusk measures about 12 inches in length and 4 inches in width. Schachner suggests that it might have been part of a piece of furniture, possibly added as an ornament to a wooden box or a wooden piece of furniture from that era. The carving is broken on the right and left sides, but the upper and lower sides remain intact, leading experts to believe that it might have been longer.
This discovery is unique among the findings at the Iron Age settlement near the Turkish village of Boğazköy. Schachner explains that they have never come across such a detailed artifact before. The symbols carved into the fragment could provide insights into the relationships between the settlement and other contemporary cultures.
Once the scientific studies of the ivory carving are complete, it will be exhibited at the Boğazköy Museum. This find sheds light on the significance of the Iron Age settlement and adds to our understanding of the history of the region.