The ancient city reappeared due to drought in Iraq

Last winter, the great drought that hit different regions of Iraq gave rise to the remains of an ancient city submerged in the Mosul reservoir, near the city of Kemun, in the north of the country. At the moment, the origin of the city is not known for certain, whose existence has been known since the 1980s, when the Mosul Dam was built on the Tigris River. However, a group of archaeologists who analyzed the ruins hypothesized that it may have been the city of Zakhiko, which was an important center of trade during the Mitanni Empire, whose inhabitants were in northern Mesopotamia and who lived a period of maximum splendor around 1500 BC Christ.

In recent months in Iraq, as in other countries of the region, there was a period of severe drought, which caused great difficulties for agriculture. For this reason, since last December, the local authorities have allowed the withdrawal of large quantities of water from the Mosul Basin, the most important water reserve in the country. Lower-than-normal water levels made it possible to closely study the submerged city, which was already observed in 2018 during another drought.

Four years ago, archaeologists noticed walls more than 6 meters high and almost two meters thick, as well as a series of red and blue paintings, but they had neither the time nor the time to excavate the ground or properly examine the artifacts. recovered. But this year, a research group led by German archaeologists Ivana Polges and Peter Pfalzner, from the German universities of Freiburg im Breisgau and Tübingen respectively, was able to do just that, in cooperation with the president of the Kurdistan Archaeological Society Hassan Ahmed Qasim. .

Between January and February, the group of archaeologists mapped the city and its fortifications and towers, noting in particular some fairly large buildings, including a large industrial complex and a multi-storey warehouse, possibly used to store products for trade. According to researchers, it may be the remains of Zakhiko, which is believed to have been destroyed in 1350 BC by an earthquake.

In a press release presenting their research activities, the archaeologists said the walls were particularly well preserved, especially considering that they were built of sun-dried mud bricks that have been underwater for more than 40 years.

Among other things, archaeologists have found five earthenware vessels containing more than a hundred clay cuneiform tablets dating back to the Middle Assyrian period, after the city’s destruction (1350-1100 BC). They now hope that some of these tablets will contain letters or inscriptions that can provide useful information for reconstructing the city’s history.

Mitanni controlled much of northern Mesopotamia between 1550 and 1350 BC, with an empire that stretched from the Zagros mountain range, which crosses present-day Iran and Iraq, to ​​the Mediterranean. In the early years of the empire they clashed with Egypt for control of the territory of present-day Syria, resolving tensions with a truce stipulated during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose IV, around 1420 BC; After a few decades they fell first under the control of the Hittites, and then under the control of the Assyrians.

However, relatively little is known about them, especially in comparison with other populations that are close in space and time. They spoke the Hurrian language, which belonged to a branch of a language family that has now disappeared from today’s Armenia; But they worshiped some deities of Indo-European origin, as well as some names of the Mitanni kings that have come down to us.

As Qassem explained to the magazine, art newspaper, the area inhabited by Mitanni has not been fully explored, not only due to the lack of academic and economic resources, but also because the Iraqi authorities have always neglected the sites of the area – an autonomous region populated mainly by Kurds and interested in many people. Ethnic and political conflicts – for political reasons. According to Qasim, in the area east of the Tigris River, there are more than a hundred archaeological sites that are still almost unknown.

Now that the dam has been reopened, the ancient city has again been flooded. To avoid significant damage and facilitate its preservation in light of possible future investigations, some parts of the ruins were covered with plastic panels on which rows of stones were laid.

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