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Discovery of Bronze Age City in Iraq

Posted on Nov, 24, 2016
Contributed to WCHV by Danielle

bronzeEarlier this month a team of archaeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen announced that they have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq.

The team reported that the excavation work has shown that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, was established in about 3000 BC and was able to flourish for more than 1200 years. The archaeologists have also discovered that the settlement layers dating back from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC). The Akkadian empire is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

The 30 member team of archeologists are headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk. The team conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016 and was able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land as reported by CNN and Past Horizons website.

The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work. The archeologists can tell that the city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site. There was a lower town about one kilometre long outside the city centre. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archaeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city.

The settlement was connected to the neighbouring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.

Bassetki was only known to the general public in the past because of the “Bassetki statue,” which was discovered there by chance in 1975. This is a fragment of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin (about 2250 BC). The discovery was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003, but was later rediscovered by US soldiers. The archaeologists have now been able to substantiate their assumption that an important outpost of Akkadian culture may have been located there.

The team reports that although the excavation site is only 45 kilometres from territory controlled by the IS, it was possible to conduct the archeological work without any disturbances due to the fact that there is a great deal of security and stability in the Kurdish autonomous areas of Iraq.


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