Luwian inscription telling of a Trojan prince and Sea People deciphered

Archaeologists announced deciphering the text of a copy of a 3,200-year-old stone inscription from the archive of James Mellaart, telling about the rise of a powerful kingdom called Mira, which launched a military campaign led by a prince named Muksus from Wilusa (ancient name for Troy).

Luwian inscription copied by Georges Perrot in 1878 (by James Mellaart)

The stone inscription was 29 meters long. The original no longer exist, as it was destroyed in the 19th century but records of the inscription, including a copy of it, were found in the estate of James Mellaart, a famous archaeologist who died in 2012. Written in Luwian the inscription was copied by the archaeologist Georges Perrot in 1878 at Beyköy in Turkey. According to Mellaart’s notes shortly after Perrot recorded the inscription, villagers used the stone as building material for a mosque. Mellaart left instructions saying that if the inscription could not be fully deciphered and published before he died, other scholars should do so as soon as possible. A scholar named Bahadır Alkım (who died in 1981) rediscovered Perrot’s drawing of the inscription and made a copy, which Mellaart, in turn, also copied. Mellaart was part of a team of scholars who, starting in 1956, worked to decipher and publish Perrot’s copy of the inscription, along with the now-missing bronze tablets and several other Luwian inscriptions, his notes say. Luwian is an ancient language that no more than 20 scholars can read today. This inscription was deciphered by an independent researcher Fred Woudhuizen and published with Eberhard Zangger of the Luwian Studies foundation, revealing its astonishing content.

The text tells the story of how King Kupantakuruntas ruled a kingdom called Mira located in present South-West Turkey. Mira controlled Troy after King Mashuittas, father of Kupantakuruntas, took control of it after a Trojan king named Walmus was overthrown. Shortly afterwards, King Mashuittas reinstated Walmus on the Trojan throne in exchange for his loyalty to Mira. Kupantakuruntas became king of Mira after his father died. He then took control of Troy, although he wasn’t its actual king, which didn’t stop him from describing himself in the inscription as a guardian of Troy, and instructing future kings to guard it as he did. The inscription moreover tells the story of a Trojan prince Muksus who led a naval expedition that succeeded in conquering Ashkelon, located in modern-day Israel, and constructed a fortress there.

the Dutch researchers state that if the inscription is authentic, it shines light on a period when a confederation of people that modern-day scholars sometimes call the Sea People destroyed cities and civilizations across the Near East.

(after James Mellaart & Live Science)

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