Drought in Iraqi Kurdistan reveals an ancient city in Mesopotamia

archeology Partially excavated in 2018, the remains of Zakhiko date back to the middle of the second millennium BC. Global warming is putting pressure on Iraq’s water reserves, exposing previously inaccessible archaeological sites.

For once, the remains of ancient Mesopotamia appeared from the depths of a lake, and not from the depths of a barren desert. Less fortunate than Musa, an archaeological site located in Iraqi Kurdistan that was rescued from the waves for a few weeks. In an upside-down deluge, the severe drought that swept Iraq last year dramatically reduced water retention in the Mosul Dam on the Tigris, simultaneously revealing the outlines of a Bronze Age city. Archaeologists present in the region have not failed to seize this fleeting wealth.

The site is unknown. The area appears as Kemune on contemporary maps, and was formerly called Zakhiku. World maps did not exist yet at this time when the eighteenth century pharaohs ruled Egypte The dynasty of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. This Mesopotamian land steeped in history, located about fifty kilometers north of Mosul, was flooded in the eighties, after the opening of the dam built during the era of Saddam Hussein. It was never excavated, until a previous drought in 2018 provided the opportunity for archaeologists to plant their shovels and trowels there. A good choice: This first excavation highlights the remains of a palace dating from the Kingdom of Mitanni, between 1550 and 1350 BC.

However, the harsh harshness of the recent drought has far outpaced the previous episode. The water needs of Iraqi farmers did not decrease in December, despite the mild temperatures, to the point that the reserves, which were already running, reached a critical threshold this winter. But the tragedy of the situation made the archaeological site of Zakhiko available again, and it was barely touched in 2018. With the support of archaeologists from the German universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, researchers from the Kurdistan Archaeological Organization (KAO) were able to discover today, between January and February, an unexpected urban cluster completely. He has spent most of the past forty years under the waters of the Tigris River.

water saving tablets

When reconnecting with the palace already discovered four years ago, which is probably the political center of Zakiko, archaeologists discovered around the structure an exquisitely preserved section of Mittanian. Large fortifications surrounded by towers, workshops, a huge warehouse … Many brick buildings have been preserved, sometimes reaching several meters in height. In addition to the excavated area, a surface survey of the site had enabled researchers to map the entire city area, approximately 6 hectares wide.

Drought in Iraqi Kurdistan reveals an ancient city in Mesopotamia

Go to Slide Show (8)

Even better, more than a hundred panels covered in cuneiform inscriptions were also counted at the bottom of five earthenware vases. ‘Miraculously preserved’ According to specialists, under the double impurities of water and land, these will be letters or archives after the earthquake of 1350 BC. JC marked the beginning of the end of Zakhiku. Notable detail, one of the panels is partially covered with a clay envelope. “This type of clay envelopes was used in the second millennium BC to enclose cuneiform tablets, like modern paper envelopes,” Details about le Figaro Archaeologist Ivana Polges of the University of Friborg.

These cuneiform tablets will soon be deciphered by the Assyrian scholarResearcher continues. We have no idea at this time about their content or the language used, but judging from the archaeological context, we suppose that these texts belong to private archives from the time of Middle Assyria. Located in the region of Upper Mesopotamia, between northern Syria and present-day Iraq, Mitanni is known to have formed a rival entity to the Hittite and Egyptian empires, before finally surrendering under the blows of the Assyrian expansion, at the end of the fourteenth centurye a century before our era. Away from the lost Mitanni capital, Shawkani, which can be found around the Syrian course of the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates, the city of Zakhiko will present a side documentary that will whet scholars’ appetites.

global warming effect

This new body of cuneiform literature in particular can offer new clues to understanding the end of Mitanni, as one can experience it from a sub-cluster of this ancient kingdom. Excavation results show that the site was an important Mitanni poleidentifies a joint press release from the institutions involved in the archaeological process. The giant warehouse is particularly eloquent. Its walls must have contained large quantities of goods that undoubtedly came from all over the region to be stored there. This richness arose from the strategic location of the city, at the source of the Tigris River and the fertile plains of Mesopotamia.

Researchers participating in the excavations said that the beautiful archaeological finds in Zakhiko could not have been heard and preserved without a small logistical miracle. According to archaeologists, the operation was launched “in a few days” Hardly, thanks to the close cooperation of the Iraqi authorities in the autonomous Kurdistan region, German research institutions and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, which funded the work. A major unknown factor pressed the archaeologists’ time: the renewed rise in the level of the artificial lake, known only to stars.

The inevitable rise in the tank level indicates the end of work. The 1,000-year-old stones were submerged by freshwater waves, when archaeologists finished covering the remains with tarpaulins and pebbles. The device should protect the site until the next dry period and the fall of the country’s water reserves. This type of event is bound to be repeated more and more due to climate change, the effects of which are severely felt in Iraq, year after year.

Leave a Comment