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14 January 2012
Rare ancient artefact found in Malta

The discovery of a very small fragment of agate stone is causing excitement, as it has a 13th Century BCE cuneiform inscription. Not so surprising, you might think, for an artefact found in Mesopotamia, as the inscription shows that it was part of an object dedicated to the Mesopotamian moon god Sin. But this fragment was found in Malta!
     An excavation is being conducted at the site of a megalithic temple, from the late Neolithic Age, in an area on Malta known as Tas-Silg, which is an ancient sanctuary site. The excavation team is lead by palaeontology professor Alberto Casella from the University of Rome (Italy). The main question is how such an article could have found its way so far west and to such a remote location. One theory is that it may have been looted in a military campaign and then been passed through the hands of merchants and traders. Another theory centres around the high value which would have been placed on the object, which may suggest that the Tas-Silg sanctuary site may have had more significance than previously thought.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (22 Dec 2011)

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