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7 November 2017
Ancient inscription tells of Trojan prince, Sea people

A 3,200-year-old inscription in an ancient language called Luwian has been deciphered. The stone inscription, which was 29 metres long, describes the rise of a powerful kingdom which launched a military campaign led by a prince from Troy.
     If the inscription is authentic, it reveals a period when a confederation of people that scholars sometimes call the 'Sea People' destroyed cities and civilisations across the Middle East, causing the fall of the Hittite Empire along with other kingdoms. The kingdom of Mira, which engaged in this military campaign, was apparently part of this confederation of 'Sea People'.
     The inscription tells of how King Kupantakuruntas ruled a place called Mira in what is now western Turkey. According to the inscription, Mira controlled Troy (also in Turkey), and names a Trojan prince Muksus as leader of a naval expedition that succeeded in conquering Ashkelon (now in Israel), constructing a fortress there.
     The writing details how the King Kupantakuruntas' father, King Mashuittas, took control of Troy after a Trojan king named Walmus was overthrown, then reinstated Walmus in exchange for his loyalty. After the death of Mashuittas, Kupantakuruntas became guardian of Troy.
     The inscription was destroyed in the 19th century, but a copy of it was found in the estate of James Mellaart, a famous archaeologist who died in 2012. Mellaart discovered several ancient sites in his life, the most famous of which is Catalhoeyuek, a massive 9,500-year-old settlement in Turkey which some scholars think is the oldest city in the world.
     According to Mellaart's notes, the inscription was copied in 1878 by an archaeologist named Georges Perrot near a village called Beykoey, shortly before villagers used the stone as building material for a mosque. Mellaart was part of a team which worked to decipher and publish Perrot's copy, along with three now-missing bronze tablets and several other Luwian inscriptions, but Mellaart couldn't read Luwian, and the team was unable to publish its work before most of the team members died.
     Nobody deciphered Luwian until the 1950s, and few scholars today are able to read it. Some question the authenticity of the inscription.

Edited from LiveScience (7 October 2017), The Independent (10 October 2017)

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