History’s Oldest Emoji Dates Back to 3700 Years

Image credit: Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish

In the southeastern region of Turkey, archaeologists have uncovered a vase estimated to be 3,700 years old, adorned with what seems to be the earliest representation of a smiley face emoji. This ancient emoji artifact was unearthed at the Karkamis site in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border.

Nicolo Marchetti, a professor of Archaeology from the University of Bologna in Italy and the leader of the excavation team, was quoted in Turkish news outlets.

He mentioned that the vase, initially found in fragments, was meticulously assembled to regain its initial shape. This particular vase, designed for consuming sweet beverages, showcases an image reminiscent of a smile.

Marchetti also highlighted that the Karkamis excavation is Turkey’s most extensive, spanning 65 hectares within Turkey and 35 hectares extending into Syria.

While the rise of emojis is a product of our technological era, the simple representation of a smiling face, depicted with two dots for the eyes and a curved line for the mouth, may have historical roots extending much further back.

This artifact will be transported to the Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology for further study and preservation.

The extensive exploration of the Karkamis site began on May 2, with about 25 specialists overseeing the excavation, set to continue until September.

Previously, the most ancient known instance of a smiley emoji was traced back to 1635, drawn by an attorney on a legal paper discovered in Slovakia. This was considered the earliest recorded use of the symbol prior to this recent discovery.