Rare Cuneiform inscription found in Malta

Italian archaeologists working in Malta have made a sensational discovery: an agate carved with cuneiform script dating back to the 2nd millennium BC, but whose votive nature can be traced to the city of Nippur, in Mesopotamia.

The finding took place during an excavation campaign conducted by an archaeological mission from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, led by paleontology professor Alberto Cazzella, in collaboration with the University of Foggia, represented by Giulia Recchia, and in agreement with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage in Malta, directed by Anthony Pace.

The agate is shaped like a crescent moon. It can be deduced from the inscription that a group of worshipers dedicated the precious stone to the moon god Sin, who was worshiped in the city of Nippur (Ninurta) in Mesopotamia.

The stone was found during archaeological digs carried out in Tas-Silg, one of the few sanctuaries that were in use continuously throughout the centuries – at least from the third millennium BC to the Byzantine era – comparable only to the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Tas-Silg was a megalithic temple during the late Neolithic; significant traces from that era still remain.

During the Phoenician-Punic era, it was transformed into a sanctuary to Astarte, while in the Roman era Juno was worshiped there. Finally, it was a baptistery during the Byzantine era.

The script on the agave opens the way for new scenarios. Interpreted by Father Werner Mayer of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, who ascribes it to the 13th century BC and the city of Nippur, in Mesopotamia, it is immediately evident that its presence in Malta is exceptional.

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