A crew of German and Kurdish archaeologists have uncovered a 3400-year-old Mittani Empire-era city as soon as situated on the Tigris River. The settlement emerged from the waters of the Mosul reservoir early this yr as water ranges fell quickly resulting from excessive drought in Iraq. The in depth city with a palace and several other massive buildings might be historic Zakhiku — believed to have been an essential heart in the Mittani Empire (ca. 1550-1350 BC).
Bronze Age city resurfaced resulting from drought
Iraq is one in every of the nations in the world most affected by local weather change. The south of the nation specifically has been struggling from excessive drought for months. To stop crops from drying out, massive quantities of water have been drawn down from the Mosul reservoir — Iraq’s most essential water storage — since December. This led to the reappearance of a Bronze Age city that had been submerged a long time in the past with none prior archaeological investigations. It is situated at Kemune in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
This unexpected occasion put archaeologists underneath sudden stress to excavate and doc at the very least elements of this huge, essential city as rapidly as attainable earlier than it was resubmerged. The Kurdish archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim, chairman of the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization, and the German archaeologists Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ivana Puljiz, University of Freiburg, and Prof. Dr. Peter Pfälzner, University of Tübingen, spontaneously determined to undertake joint rescue excavations at Kemune. These befell in January and February 2022 in collaboration with the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in Duhok (Kurdistan Region of Iraq).
Fritz Thyssen Foundation supported excavations
A crew for the rescue excavations was put collectively inside days. Funding for the work was obtained at brief discover from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation by the University of Freiburg. The German-Kurdish archaeological crew was underneath immense time stress as a result of it was not clear when the water in the reservoir would rise once more.
Massive fortification, multi-storey storage constructing, industrial complicated
Within a short while, the researchers succeeded in largely mapping the city. In addition to a palace, which had already been documented throughout a brief marketing campaign in 2018, a number of different massive buildings had been uncovered — a large fortification with wall and towers, a monumental, multi-storey storage constructing and an industrial complicated. The in depth city complicated dates to the time of the Empire of Mittani (approx. 1550-1350 BC), which managed massive elements of northern Mesopotamia and Syria.
“The huge magazine building is of particular importance because enormous quantities of goods must have been stored in it, probably brought from all over the region,” says Puljiz. Qasim concludes, “The excavation results show that the site was an important center in the Mittani Empire.”
The analysis crew was surprised by the well-preserved state of the partitions — typically to a peak of a number of meters — regardless of the undeniable fact that the partitions are fabricated from sun-dried mud bricks and had been underneath water for greater than 40 years. This good preservation is because of the undeniable fact that the city was destroyed in an earthquake round 1350 BC, throughout which the collapsing higher elements of the partitions buried the buildings.
Ceramic vessels with over 100 cuneiform tablets
Of explicit curiosity is the discovery of 5 ceramic vessels that contained an archive of over 100 cuneiform tablets. They date to the Middle Assyrian interval, shortly after the earthquake catastrophe struck the city. Some clay tablets, which can be letters, are even nonetheless of their clay envelopes. The researchers hope this discovery will present essential details about the finish of the Mittani-period city and the starting of Assyrian rule in the area. “It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades under water,” Pfälzner says.
Conservation undertaking to stop injury by rising water
To avert additional injury to the essential web site by the rising water, the excavated buildings had been utterly coated with tight-fitting plastic sheeting and coated with gravel fill as a part of an in depth conservation undertaking funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. This is meant to guard the partitions of unbaked clay and another finds nonetheless hidden in the ruins throughout occasions of flooding. The web site is now as soon as extra utterly submerged.