This Ancient Sunken City Has Reappeared in Iraq


After we hear of sunken cities, photos of stone ruins may come to thoughts — eerie, lovely and eternally trapped in an underwater world. One would by no means think about {that a} sunken metropolis may return to the floor.

But that’s precisely what has occurred in Iraqi Kurdistan, the place a 3,400-year-old metropolis believed to have as soon as been a metropolis of the misplaced Mitanni Empire reemerged throughout extreme drought.

The town, believed to be the traditional metropolis of Zakhiku, has been submerged within the Mosul reservoir because the Mosul Dam was constructed within the Nineteen Eighties. The misplaced metropolis got here to mild earlier within the 12 months because of the results of local weather change in Iraq, which has been experiencing a extreme drought. To fight the drought’s results on crops, authorities started drawing water from the Mosul reservoir in December — and thus introduced the ruins to the floor.

Making the most of a uncommon historic alternative, a staff of German and Kurdish archaeologists excavated the positioning and documented their findings from January to February.

“As a result of huge time strain, we dug in freezing temperatures, snow, hail, rain, even storms, in addition to the occasional sunny day, not figuring out when the water would rise once more and the way a lot time we’d have,” mentioned venture director Ivana Puljiz of the College of Freiburg.

Historical Texts Might Reveal Extra Secrets and techniques

The Mitanni empire was a big Indo-Iranian realm in northern Mesopotamia that existed from 1550 B.C. to about 1350 B.C. Its folks established diplomatic relations with the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose IV.  

Along with a palace, researchers discovered that town accommodates a fortified construction with a wall and towers, an industrial advanced and a large multistory storage constructing, believed to be some sort of warehouse.

“The excavation outcomes present that the positioning was an vital middle within the Mitanni Empire,” based on Hasan Ahmed Qasim, chairman of the Kurdistan Archaeology Group.

Archaeologists found these ceramic vessels on the web site which contained cuneiform tablets. (Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO)

Other than the architectural discoveries, the archaeologists discovered one thing much more thrilling: 5 ceramic vessels containing over 100 tablets written in cuneiform, the world’s oldest writing system. The inscriptions, which have but to be deciphered, might reveal the voices of the misplaced metropolis’s inhabitants for the primary time — at present, all we learn about Mitanni historical past comes from historic artifacts and what different cultures wrote about them.

All the artifacts recovered from the positioning, together with the cuneiform tablets, are actually being held in Iraq’s Duhok Nationwide Museum.

Earlier than water once more crammed the reservoir, archaeologists tried to stave off decay and erosion by overlaying the ruins with weighted plastic sheets. After revealing its secrets and techniques for future generations to review, the misplaced metropolis has since returned to its watery grave.

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