An ancient city that flourished around 1, 200 years has been discovered in Iraq, in just 45 km from ISIS territory. Archaeologists from the University of Tübingnen, Germany revealed the buried city which was set around 3,000 BC under the modern village of Bassetki, located in autonomous region of Kurdistan. Couple of days after the discovery, the security of Iraq began to push in order to take Mosul back from ISIS.
The city measures around a kilometer in length and 599 meters across, featuring grand houses, a palace, a cemetery and even an extensive road network.
Evidence at the site also revealed that the city was part of the Akkadian Empire – regarded by some historians as the first empire in human history – dating from around 2340 to 2200 BC.
The city had a wall to protect it from invaders and was home to several large stone structures, an extensive road network, residential districts and grand houses. There is also evidence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad, according to the German research team.
The dead were buried at a cemetery outside the city and roadways connected it to the other regions of Mesopotamia (comprising modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and eastern Syria) and Anatolia (modern-dayTurkey).
“People always wondered why the statue came from this remote place. In 2013 we realized there is a large site from the early Bronze Age there,” Prof. Peter Pfälzner, director of the Department of Near Eastern Archeology at the University of Tübingen.
“It is actually not so rare that we find things like this — this area is extremely under-explored, so surprises of this kind are to be expected.”
The Bassetki statue dates from 2250 BC and in 2003 was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq war, luckily later on discovered by American soldiers and safely returned to the museum.
The excavation of the site lasted from August until October and involved 30 people. The archaeologists were working to excavate the site as soon as possible because the original highway, which led to the discovery of the statue during its construction 41 years before, is being extended into a six-lane road. This was due to cut right across the site of the Bronze Age city.
“We were alarmed and of course wanted to immediately start excavations to demonstrate this to the local authorities,” explained Pfälzner, who led the project alongside Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk, a nearby town.
“We were surprised how cooperative they were when we had a meeting with the director of the planning office. We outlined the zone and they changed the track of the new highway, moving it around the site in a wide bow, so the site was rescued.”