3700-year-old Smiley Face Found on Painted Pitcher

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July 23, 2017

The smiley face might be older than many people think.

Archaeologists in Turkey have unearthed a pitcher that looks to modern eyes to sport a smiling face. The only paint on the pitcher is two dots above a swoosh. The pitcher is 3,700 years old.

Among the other goods found at a burial site beneath a house in the ancient Hittite city of Karmelish were vases and pots and other items made of metal. 

The ancient city of Karkemish, also spelled Carchemish, was a Hittite stronghold on the west bank of the Euphrates River. The city was the site of an epic battle in 605 B.C. that resulted in a major defeat for a force of Assyrian and Egyptian armies. Leading the victories Babylonian and Median forces was the famous Nebuchadnezzar II. The Battle of Karmelish gets a mention in both Jewish and Christian traditions. 

The site of Karkemish was rediscovered in the 19th Century; among the 20th Century archaeologists doing initial digging T.E. Lawrence, the famed "Lawrence of Arabia." Because of conflicts in the area, excavations have been sporadic in the past several decades. Even today, the dig sites are very near Turkey's border with Syria, itself engulfed in a civil war that has lasted for several years.

The smiley-face pitcher, archaeologists said, was used to hold sherbet, a Turkish sweet drink.

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