SHAFAQNA – Ancient artefacts dating back thousands of years have been unearthed in Bahrain Fort.
A clay tablet bearing ancient cuneiform script dating back to between 503BC and 504BC was discovered during a seven-week excavation in the southwestern side of the fort, along with a golden plate that has a figure of a woman engraved on it believed to belong to the era between 1BC and 1AD.
Archaeologists working for the French Archaeological Mission in Bahrain discovered that the tablet was used to document contracts using the Akkadian language, which was the trade language in the Middle East at the time.
The date of the contract was discovered when archaeologists found that.
An inscription on the tablet states the contract was written in the 19th year of King Darius I reign, who ascended to the throne of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 522BC.
It is the first cuneiform tablet dating to the first millennium to be discovered in Bahrain, said Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) archaeological affairs counselor and mission head Dr Pierre Lombard at a Press conference yesterday.
‘The contract read ’19th year of Darius’ who was the king of Babylon and other lands at that time and that has led us to calculate the period and reach a result that the tablet dates back to a period between 503BC and 504BC,’ he said during the Press conference held yesterday at Bahrain National Museum.
‘This means that this is the first cuneiform tablet from the first millennium before Christ that has been discovered in Bahrain, which had a Babylonian control at that time.
‘The tablet is quite a small object which belongs to the late Dilmun period.
‘It is a private judicial contract that was written in Akkadian, a language used in the Middle East at that time.’
However, the team was unable to identify the location of the contract’s signing because the back of the tablet was scratched. ‘We lost the indication of the name of the city where the contract was established because, obviously, people used to scratch the back of the contracts when it is over,’ explained Dr Lombard.
Archaeologists were also unable to interpret the reason behind the woman’s figure engraved on the golden plate.
‘The plate is very small and has a figure of a lady engraved on it and we believe that it dates back to the Tylos period,’ said Dr Lombard.
‘We found it some weeks ago in a vessel that was filled with sand but its interpretation is still a question mark to us.
‘One possible explanation is that it was very important to people during the ancient eras to appear to their god with their identity, so the plate might be a method of identification buried with the lady ‘“ however we still don’t have enough proof.’
Dr Lombard told the GDN the tablet was expected to be displayed at Bahrain National Museum, while the plate would be showcased in a new section of Bahrain Fort Museum, called Tylos Hall, that is yet to be opened.
The excavation work took place from March 7 to April 23 in Bahrain Fort, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008.