A 3400-Year-Old City Near The Tigris River Has Been Unearthed – Thanks To A Huge Drought


Among other countries, Iraq has also been suffering from the consequences of drought. This drought has brought up something from ancient times.

The drought that has afflicted Iraq in recent months caused the Mosul reservoir – the most important water storage in Iraq- to shrink, which led to the revelation of a 3,400-year-old Mittani Empire-era city submerged for decades. The city is located on the Tigris River in northern Iraq.

The dam was built in the 1980s. Therefore, the re-emergence of the ancient city named Kemune has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for scholars to investigate it before the water level increases and it gets drowned again.

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) improvised and decided to start rescue excavations at Kemune. The excavations were held in January and February 2022 in conjunction with the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in Duhok.

Since they were working against the clock, they managed to unearth the city quite fast.

A palace was already documented during a short campaign in 2018. Other large buildings from the extensive urban complex were found: a huge fortification with walls and towers, a monumental, multi-story storage building, and an industrial complex.

Although the walls are composed of sun-dried mud bricks and have been underwater for more than 40 years, the team of archeologists was surprised by the well-kept condition of the walls.

“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 Ivana Puljiz. “The excavation results show that the site was an important center in the Mittani Empire,” Hasan Qasim concludes.

It is astounding to see that the team also found some ceramic jars containing over 100 unfired clay tablets. They date from the Middle Assyrian period, shortly after an earthquake destroyed the city.


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