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4,000-Year-Old Lost Mesopotamian City Discovered in Iraq

4,000-Year-Old Lost Mesopotamian City Discovered in Iraq


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A 4,000-year-old lost city has been discovered in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to researchers.

“We weren’t expecting to discover a city here at all,” said Christine Kepinski, who explored the site, according to the French National Center for Scientific Research journal .

The excavation of the site, known as Kunara and located near the city of Sulaymaniyah, was only possible after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003. Researchers also noted that the ISIS terrorist group’s presence in Iraq also hampered their efforts.

“The situation is much more favorable now,” project leader Aline Tenu said in the journal.

4,000-Year-Old "Lost" City That Bordered Ancient Mesopotamian Empire. Credit: Tenu/Mission Archeologique Francaise du Peramagron

According to the journal, “This city stood in the heart of an unknown kingdom: that of the mountain people, who had until then remained in the shadow of their powerful Mesopotamian neighbors,” including the Akkadians. The Akkadian Empire is considered the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia and reached its peak about 4,000 years ago under ruler Sargon of Akkad . After its fall, historians believe it split into Assyria and Babylonia.

People lived in the city, located near the Zagros Mountains, around 2200 BC, archaeologists have theorized.

“The city of Kunara provides new elements regarding a hitherto unknown people that has remained at the periphery of Mesopotamian studies,” Tenu added.

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The lost city was found near the Zagros Mountains, pictured (sghiaseddin / Adobe Stock)

Meanwhile, dozens of clay tablets covered in cuneiform were also discovered, which showed how people may have delivered flour. Cuneiform is one of the oldest systems of writing.

Researchers said the city underwent a period of decline after it was ravaged by a fire 4,000 years ago, the researchers speculated.

Cuneiform specialist Philippe Clancier said the people who lived in the city had a good “grasp of Akkadian and Sumerian writing, as well as that of their Mesopotamian neighbors.”

An Akkadian tablet (public domain)

“The first tablets found in a building of the lower city register a large number of entries and departures of flour,” Clancier continued.

“It was actually a kind of flour office,” Tenu explained, adding that it was for the governor of Kunara.

“The city must have even been fairly prosperous,” Tenu noted. “As rare stones such as obsidian [and carnelian, a semi-precious gems stone] were used to produce entirely commonplace tools.”

Residents in the city “most likely took advantage of its strategic location on the border between the Iranian kingdom in the east and the Mesopotamian kingdom in the west and south,” Kepinski also theorized.

Researchers also discovered tools and ceramics that were bought and traded in the city’s ruins.

“It was surely the area’s agricultural wealth that promoted its rise. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of goats, sheep, cows, and pigs, suggesting the existence of a major livestock farming system. The presence of an irrigation network in the city’s south is also a reminder of the mastery the region’s inhabitants achieved in grain farming, especially barley and malt,” the journal also noted.

They haven’t found anything about the city’s original name, which is still a mystery, “But we will continue to look,” Tenu added.


    Mysterious 3,400-year-old palace discovered as drought reveals ruins

    The incredible ruins of an ancient palace in Iraqi Kurdistan have emerged from the waters of the Tigris River.

    A team of German and Kurdish archaeologists reports that, in fall 2018, receding waters in the Mosul Dam reservoir unexpectedly revealed the remains in the ancient city, Kemune.

    The Bronze Age palace was revealed on the eastern bank of the Tigris river in Iraq’s Duhok province. As part of a project involving the University of Tübingen in Germany, the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization and Duhok Directorate of Antiquities, archaeologists identified a building with mud brick walls up to 2 meters (6.56 feet) thick.

    Some of the building’s walls are more than 2 meters high and some of its rooms have plastered walls, according to Dr. Ivana Puljiz of the Tübingen Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies. “We have also found remains of wall paintings in bright shades of red and blue," she said in a statement, noting that murals were a feature of ancient palaces in the region.

    A terrace wall on the Western side of the palace. (University of Tubingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

    The ruins of the palace, which in ancient times stood on a terrace overlooking the Tigris Valley, are preserved to a height of about 23 feet.

    The site was once part of the ancient Mittani empire, which encompassed much of modern-day Iraq and Syria from the 15th century to the 14th century B.C.

    “The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades,” said Kurdish archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim in the statement.

    An aerial view of Kemune Palace from the west. (University of Tubingen, eScience Center, and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

    The area had been flooded following the construction of the Mosul Dam in the 1980s. "We discovered the site of Kemune already in 2010 when the dam had low water levels even at that time we found a Mittani cuneiform tablet and saw remains of wall paintings in red and blue,” said Qasim in the statement. “But we couldn’t excavate here until now.”

    Experts are eager to gain new insight into the Mittani Empire by studying 10 tablets with Cuneiform writing that were discovered in the palace. One of the tablets indicates that Kemune was likely the ancient city of Zakhiku, which means that it may have existed for 400 years. "The Mittani Empire is one of the least researched empires of the Ancient Near East," said Puljiz.

    Iraq continues to reveal its ancient secrets. Earlier this year, for example, a team of French archaeologists announced that it had located the remains of a lost ancient city in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    A room at the palace during the excavation. (University of Tubingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

    In 2017, archaeologists harnessed spy satellite imagery and drones to help identify the site of an ancient lost city in Northern Iraq.

    Over the course of six excavations between 2012 and 2018, researchers uncovered the ancient city at Kunara, near the Zagros mountains. Previously, experts had been prevented from exploring the site, near the modern city of Sulaymaniyah, by Saddam Hussein’s regime and conflicts in the region.

    The Qalatga Darband site overlooks the Lower Zab river at the western edge of the Zagros Mountains, is part of a historic route from ancient Mesopotamia to Iran.

    Kemune Palace from the south. (University of Tubingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

    A mural fragment discovered at the palace. (University of Tubingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

    In another project, experts from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard have scanned declassified Cold War-era images from U2 spy planes to reveal ancient structures across the Middle East.


    Mysterious 4,000-year-old lost city discovered

    A team of French archaeologists has located the remains of a lost ancient city in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Over the course of six excavations between 2012 and 2018, researchers uncovered the ancient city at Kunara, near the Zagros mountains. Previously, experts had been prevented from exploring the site, near the modern city of Sulaymaniyah, by Saddam Hussein’s regime and conflicts in the region.

    Located on the western border of the Mesopotamian Empire, the city may have been an important center of an ancient mountainous people known as the Lullubi, according to experts.

    Large stone foundations were discovered at the site, which dates to around 2200 B.C. Dozens of clay tablets covered with cuneiform writing were also found, shedding light on the city’s agriculture. For example, the first of the clay tablets discovered records the delivery of different types of flour.

    The archaeologists’ research indicates that the city’s demise occurred about 4,000 years ago when it was ravaged by fire.

    However, the city’s name is still unknown. Further excavation of the site will take place in the fall.

    Ancient sites in other parts of the world are also revealing their secrets. Last year, archaeologists in Greece located the remains of a lost city believed to have been settled by captives from the Trojan War.

    Separately in 2018, archaeologists in Western Mexico used sophisticated laser technology to discover a lost city that may have had as many buildings as Manhattan.

    In 2017, archaeologists harnessed spy satellite imagery and drones to help identify the site of an ancient lost city in Northern Iraq.


    Historical 4,000-year-old lost city discovered in Iraqi Kurdistan

    Mysterious 4,000-year-old lost city discovered on the site of Kunara, near Sulaimani city, Iraqi Kurdistan, March 2019.

    SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— In Iraqi Kurdistan, excavations carried out by a French archaeological mission have revealed an ancient city on the site of Kunara. Towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC, this city stood in the heart of an unknown kingdom: that of the mountain people, who had until then remained in the shadow of their powerful Mesopotamian neighbours.

    “The first excavations were perplexing!” This was not ArScAn laboratoire Archéologies et sciences de l’Antiquité (CNRS) [1] researcher Aline Tenu’s first archaeological mission in the Middle East, yet the discovery that she made with her colleague in Iraqi Kurdistan continue to yield many surprises. “You could call it a small revolution,” confirms their colleague Philippe Clancier, an epigraphist at ArScan.

    What exactly did they find? Over the course of six excavation campaigns, conducted between 2012 and 2018, the archaeologists unearthed the traces of an unexpected ancient city at the site of Kunara. It is located on the outskirts of the Zagros Mountains, on two small hills overlooking the right bank of a branch of the Tanjaro River, approximately 5 km southwest of the city of Sulaimani (modern-day cultural capital of Iraqi Kurdistan). “This area near the Iran-Iraq border was not very well explored until now,” Tenu points out. The ban on venturing into Kurdistan under Saddam Hussein’s regime as well as successive wars—the most recent against ISIS—did not make things any easier. “The situation is much more favourable now,” enthuses the archaeologist, emphasizing the warm support offered by local authorities.

    An unexpected discovery

    This discovery is all the more unexpected as Kunara is a rare find. Five excavation sites have unveiled large stone foundations stretching dozens of metres, in both the upper and lower parts of the site. They apparently date from the late 3rd millennium, circa 2200 BC. In other words, monumental structures were erected over 4000 years ago. “We weren’t expecting to discover a city here at all,” admits Kepinski, who initiated the mission before handing it over to Tenu.

    One morning in 2015, the ground beneath these structures that date back multiple millennia offered new surprises. “One of our partners said breathlessly ‘We found a tablet!’” Tenu recalls, filled with emotion. It was followed by dozens and dozens of others, in the shape of small clay rectangles approximately 10 centimetres on each side. They were all inscribed with closely-spaced cuneiform signs, which is to say in the shape of nails and wedges. There was no doubt, these were the same traces of writing that appeared in the Middle East in the middle of the 4th millennium BC, and that make this region the universal cradle of writing and history. Over 4000 years ago, the inhabitants of Kunara were part of this very small group of peoples who had already become a part of history!

    The first of the cuneiform tablets discovered during the Kunara excavation, Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. The tablet records the delivery of different types of flour.

    This was nevertheless not the stuff to shake the foundations of the hushed and richly-endowed world of Assyriology. Born in the mid-19th century [2] oriental archaeology has more than one legendary discovery among its excavations, including Babylon, Nineveh, Nimrud, and Ur, to cite just a few. All of these legendary cities continue to impress through their excessiveness and architectural audacity, in addition to their teeming sculpted bestiary full of chimeras—part human, part bull—standing watching over imposing palaces surrounded by labyrinths of small streets. All of these ancient cities spread between the Tigris and the Euphrates, the “land between the rivers” known as Mesopotamia. [3] Aside from their evident wealth, these archaeological sites have two exceptional distinguishing features: they are the oldest known cities, and as far as we know, humanity’s first city-states. Most importantly, it was within their walls that writing and the first literary forms were perfected, such as the legendary adventures of Gilgamesh. [4] In comparison, during the same period the peoples of Western Europe were at best erecting dolmens or a few monoliths, without leaving the least written trace.

    At the gates of Mesopotamia

    What can the few hundred metres of Kunara’s stone foundations and its modest written traces add to this prestigious list of archaeological and literary treasures? “The city of Kunara provides new elements regarding a hitherto unknown people that has remained at the periphery of Mesopotamian studies,” enthuses Tenu. The city of Kunara could prompt Assyriologists to reconsider this mountainous region, whose history has until now been written by a single hand, that of the Mesopotamian conquerors.

    This structure with small cup-shaped indents could have been used for ceremonies, the site of Kunara, Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, March 2019.

    This city was located on the western border of Mesopotamia, at the gates of Mesopotamia’s first empire, known as the Akkadian Empire, which united all of the city-states in the region. It was ruled by some of Mesopotamia’s greatest kings, who bore the laudatory title of “King of the Four Regions of the World.” A military victory won by one of these kings—Naram-Sin, grandson of the founder of the Empire—was immortalized on a stele of pink limestone that is exhibited at the Louvre Museum. “Naram-Sin is depicted triumphing over this people of the mountains, the Lullubi,” Tenu explains. In the exclusively Mesopotamian sources available today, the Lullubi are depicted as “barbarians” living secluded in the mountains. Nothing more than that was known.

    The discovery at Kunara shines a new light on this people. “It is possible that this city was one of the capitals of the Lullubi,” suggests the archaeologist. If this theory is confirmed, the history of the Lullubi would take on an entirely new scope, for far from living isolated from the world, the inhabitants of Kunara maintained commercial relations with very distant regions in both the east (toward Iran) and the north (toward Anatolia and the Caucasus). These links are attested to by the presence of various types of lithic tools (obsidian, basalt, carnelian) for which there are no nearby deposits. “The city must have even been fairly prosperous,” Tenu suggests, “as rare stones such as obsidian were used to produce entirely commonplace tools.” This openness toward the world and affluence is also illustrated by the presence of a number of moulds for metal blades. Kunara and its inhabitants were therefore full participants in the Bronze Age, which had begun a few centuries earlier in Mesopotamia.

    Power based on commerce and agriculture

    Connected to these tools and a profusion of ceramics—with some fragments handsomely adorned with zoomorphic patterns—is an entire series of unexpected fauna that once walked the earth in Kunara. The bones of bears and lions, which were prestigious wild animals at the time, attest to royal hunts or reverent gifts. The remains of two horses, an exceptional mount for the 3rd millennium, also confirm that Kunara was far from a peripheral area. “The city most likely took advantage of its strategic location on the border between the Iranian kingdom in the east and the Mesopotamian kingdom in the west and south,” suggests Kepinski.

    However, it was surely the area’s agricultural wealth that promoted its rise. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of goats, sheep, cows, and pigs, suggesting the existence of a major livestock farming system. The presence of an irrigation network in the city’s south is also a reminder of the mastery the region’s inhabitants achieved in grain farming, especially barley and malt. [5] For that matter, it is the inner workings of this agricultural economy that the scribes of Kunara engraved on the dozens of tablets found at the site. “They had a firm grasp of Akkadian and Sumerian [6] writing, as well as that of their Mesopotamian neighbours,” emphasizes Clancier, a specialist on cuneiform writing. “The first tablets found in a building of the lower city, register a large number of entries and departures of flour,” he continues. “It was actually a kind of flour office,” Tenu adds, “in all likelihood for the benefit of the ‘Ensi’ of Kunara.” The title of Ensi signifies both “king” and “governor.” Its mention in tablets, in addition to the title of Sukkal—a senior state dignitary—evoke a political administration based on the Mesopotamian model. A simple borrowing from its powerful neighbour, or a mark of submission to the Akkadian Empire? “It’s still too soon to know,” Tenu prudently says. “It could also be a hybrid organisation that was built over the course of successive annexations and independences.”

    A language and writing of its own

    This is incidentally what is suggested by the second group of tablets discovered in 2018, once again in the lower city, but in a different area. It is no longer a question of flour, but most certainly of grain, a much more valuable crop: “The tablets provide information about considerable warehouses, some reaching over 2000 litres,” Clancier ventures. These important volumes confirm sustained agricultural activity and large-scale gathering conducted by a major city. Yet it is the unit in which they are referred to that is surprising. “It is not the Akkadian imperial Gur, [7] but rather the Gur of Subartu, or literally the Gur of the North,” the epigraphist points out. This is a new and unique unit, attested only at Kunara: “The use of an original unit could resonate like an act of independence,” Tenu suggests.

    Another interesting element is that the tablets are brimming with points of origin, such as “Khabaya” or “Ninarshuna,” providing a list of names that is entirely new for Assyriologists. “While they are written in cuneiform, these names do not sound Mesopotamian,” Clancier confirms. Kunara and its surrounding region had its own appellations and language. The only regret is that to date, no tablet or inscribed brick has revealed the city’s original name. “But we will continue to look,” Tenu says with delight, her eyes already on the next excavation campaign scheduled for the autumn of 2019. New discoveries could help resolve unanswered questions. Who exactly were the inhabitants of Kunara? Were they even Lullubi? If not, who were they? And most especially, why did this city not spring back to life after the violent fire that apparently ravaged it over 4000 years ago? Let us hope that it will ultimately reveal the name it was given by this ever-mysterious mountain people.

    Footnotes
    1. Laboratoire Archéologies et sciences de l’Antiquité (CNRS/Inrap/Ministère de la Culture/Université Panthéon-Sorbonne/Université Paris Nanterre/Université-Vincennes-Saint-Denis).
    2. Assyriology began in 1842, when the French governor Paul-Emile Botta had monumental sculptures, in addition to one of the gates of what was the palace of Khorsabad (1st millennium BCE), unearthed from the semi-arid plains of northern Kurdistan.
    3. As it was literally referred to much later by the Greeks of Antiquity, meso meaning “between,” and potamos meaning “the rivers.”
    4. The exploits of this hero, king of Uruk (start of the third millennium) were described in a story, written in Akkadian during the 18th and 17th century BC.
    5. Malt was notably used to produce beer.
    6. Akkadian, the first Semitic writing, is a syllabary version derived from Sumerian cuneiform pictograms the two languages were mixed for a long time in Mesopotamia.
    7. One Gur equalled 300 litres.


    Contents

    During 1957–1961 Shanidar Cave was excavated by Ralph Solecki and his team from Columbia University, and nine skeletons of Neanderthal man of varying ages and states of preservation and completeness (labelled Shanidar I–IX) were discovered dating from 60,000–80,000 years BP. A tenth individual was recently discovered by M. Zeder during examination of a faunal assemblage from the site at the Smithsonian Institution. The remains seemed to Zeder to suggest that Neanderthals had funeral ceremonies, burying their dead with flowers (although the flowers are now thought to be a modern contaminant), and that they took care of injured and elderly individuals.

    Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. It has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, Mathematics, Astronomy and Agriculture." [4]

    Bronze Age Edit

    Sumer emerged as the civilization of Lower Mesopotamia out of the prehistoric Ubaid period (mid-6th millennium BC) in the Early Bronze Age (Uruk period) Classical Sumer ends with the rise of the Akkadian Empire in the 24th century BC. Following the Gutian period, there is a brief Sumerian renaissance in the 21st century, cut short in the 20th century BC by Amorite invasion. The Amorite dynasty of Isin persisted until c. 1600 BC, when southern Mesopotamia was united under Kassite Babylonian rule.

    The north of Mesopotamia had become the Akkadian-speaking state of Assyria by the late 25th century BC. Along with the rest of Mesopotamia it was ruled by Akkadian kings from the late 24th to mid 22nd centuries BC, after which it once again became independent. [5]

    Babylonia was a state in Lower Mesopotamia with Babylon as its capital. It was founded as an independent state by an Amorite king named Sumuabum in 1894 BC. [6] During the 3rd millennium BCE, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. [7]

    Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC, [8] but Sumerian continued to be used as a written or ceremonial language in Mesopotamia well into the period of classical antiquity.

    Babylonia emerged from the Amorite dynasties (c. 1900 BC) when Hammurabi (c. 1792–1750 BC), unified the territories of the former kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad. During the early centuries of what is called the "Amorite period", the most powerful city-states were Isin and Larsa, although Shamshi-Adad I came close to uniting the more northern regions around Assur and Mari. One of these Amorite dynasties was established in the city-state of Babylon, which would ultimately take over the others and form the first Babylonian empire, during what is also called the Old Babylonian Period.

    Assyria was an Akkadian (East Semitic) kingdom in Upper Mesopotamia, that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Akkadian Aššūrāyu).

    Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria, little is positively known. In the Assyrian King List, the earliest king recorded was Tudiya. He was a contemporary of Ibrium of Ebla who appears to have lived in the late 25th or early 24th century BC, according to the king list. The foundation of the first true urbanised Assyrian monarchy was traditionally ascribed to Ushpia a contemporary of Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Naplanum of Larsa. [9] c. 2030 BC.

    Assyria had a period of empire from the 19th to 18th centuries BC. From the 14th to 11th centuries BC Assyria once more became a major power with the rise of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

    Iron Age Edit

    The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–609 BC) was the dominant political force in the Ancient Near East during the Iron Age, eclipsing Babylonia, Egypt, Urartu [10] and Elam. During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside the Akkadian language.

    The Neo-Babylonian Empire (626–539 BC) marks the final period of the history of the Ancient Near East preceding Persian conquest. A year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Assurbanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian empire spiralled into a series of brutal civil wars. Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar, a member of the Chaldean tribe which had migrated from the Levant to south eastern Babylonia in the early 9th century BC. In alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, they sacked the city of Nineveh in 612 BC, and the seat of empire was transferred to Babylonia for the first time since the death of Hammurabi in the mid 18th century BC. This period witnessed a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science. The Neo-Babylonian period ended with the reign of Nabonidus in 539 BC. To the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and eventually Cyrus the Great established his dominion over Babylon.

    Achaemenid and Seleucid rule Edit

    Mesopotamia was conquered by the Achaemenid Persians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, and remained under Persian rule for two centuries.

    The Persian Empire fell to Alexander of Macedon in 331 BC and came under Greek rule as part of the Seleucid Empire. Babylon declined after the founding of Seleucia on the Tigris, the new Seleucid Empire capital. The Seleucid Empire at the height of its power stretched from the Aegean in the west to India in the east. It was a major center of Hellenistic culture that maintained the preeminence of Greek customs where a Greek political elite dominated, mostly in the urban areas. [11] The Greek population of the cities who formed the dominant elite were reinforced by immigration from Greece. [11] [12] Much of the eastern part of the empire was conquered by the Parthians under Mithridates I of Parthia in the mid-2nd century BC.

    Parthian and Roman rule Edit

    At the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the Romans, led by emperor Trajan, invaded Parthia and conquered Mesopotamia, making it an imperial province. It was returned to the Parthians shortly after by Trajan's successor, Hadrian.

    Christianity reached Mesopotamia in the 1st century AD, and Roman Syria in particular became the center of Eastern Rite Christianity and the Syriac literary tradition. Mandeism is also believed to have either originated there around this time or entered as Mandaeans sought refuge from Palestine. Sumerian-Akkadian religious tradition disappeared during this period, as did the last remnants of cuneiform literacy, although temples were still being dedicated to the Assyrian national god Ashur in his home city as late as the 4th century. [5]

    Sassanid Empire Edit

    In the 3rd century AD, the Parthians were in turn succeeded by the Sassanid dynasty, which ruled Mesopotamia until the 7th-century Islamic invasion. The Sassanids conquered the independent states of Adiabene, Osroene, Hatra and finally Assur during the 3rd century. In the mid-6th century the Persian Empire under the Sassanid dynasty was divided by Khosrow I into four quarters, of which the western one, called Khvārvarān, included most of modern Iraq, and subdivided to provinces of Mishān, Asuristān (Assyria), Adiabene and Lower Media. The term Iraq is widely used in the medieval Arabic sources for the area in the center and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term, implying no greater precision of boundaries than the term "Mesopotamia" or, indeed, many of the names of modern states before the 20th century.

    There was a substantial influx of Arabs in the Sassanid period. Upper Mesopotamia came to be known as Al-Jazirah in Arabic (meaning "The Island" in reference to the "island" between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), and Lower Mesopotamia came to be known as ʿIrāq-i ʿArab, meaning "the escarpment of the Arabs" (viz. to the south and east of "the island". [13]

    Until 602, the desert frontier of the Persian Empire had been guarded by the Arab Lakhmid kings of Al-Hirah. In that year, Shahanshah Khosrow II Aparviz (Persian خسرو پرويز) abolished the Lakhmid kingdom and laid the frontier open to nomad incursions. Farther north, the western quarter was bounded by the Byzantine Empire. The frontier more or less followed the modern Syria-Iraq border and continued northward, passing between Nisibis (modern Nusaybin) as the Sassanian frontier fortress and Dara and Amida (modern Diyarbakır) held by the Byzantines.

    Arab conquest Edit

    The first organized conflict between local Arab tribes and Persian forces seems to have been in 634, when the Arabs were defeated at the Battle of the Bridge. There was a force of some 5,000 Muslims under Abū `Ubayd ath-Thaqafī, which was routed by the Persians. This was followed by Khalid ibn al-Walid's successful campaign which saw all of Iraq come under Arab rule within a year, with the exception of the Persian Empire's capital, Ctesiphon. Around 636, a larger Arab Muslim force under Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās defeated the main Persian army at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah and moved on to capture the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By the end of 638, the Muslims had conquered all of the Western Sassanid provinces (including modern Iraq), and the last Sassanid Emperor, Yazdegerd III, had fled to central and then northern Persia, where he was killed in 651.

    The Islamic expansions constituted the largest of the Semitic expansions in history. These new arrivals did not disperse and settle throughout the country instead they established two new garrison cities, at al-Kūfah, near ancient Babylon, and at Basrah in the south, while the north remained largely Assyrian and Arab Christian in character.

    Abbasid Caliphate Edit

    The city of Baghdad was built in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Baghdad soon became the primary cultural center of the Muslim world during the centuries of the incipient "Islamic Golden Age" of the 8th to 9th centuries.

    In the 9th century, the Abbasid Caliphate entered a period of decline. During the late 9th to early 11th centuries, a period known as the "Iranian Intermezzo", parts of (the modern territory of) Iraq were governed by a number of minor Iranian emirates, including the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids, Buyids and Sallarids. Tughril, the founder of the Seljuk Empire, captured Baghdad in 1055. In spite of having lost all governance, the Abbasid caliphs nevertheless maintained a highly ritualized court in Baghdad and remained influential in religious matters, maintaining the orthodoxy of their Sunni sect in opposition to the Ismaili and Shia sects of Islam.

    Mongol invasion Edit

    In the later 11th century, Iraq fell under the rule of the Khwarazmian dynasty. Both Turkic secular rule and Abassid caliphate came to an end with the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. [14] The Mongols under Genghis Khan had conquered Khwarezmia by 1221, but Iraq proper gained a respite due to the death of Genghis Khan in 1227 and the subsequent power struggles. Möngke Khan from 1251 began a renewed expansion of the Mongol Empire, and when caliph al-Mustasim refused to submit to the Mongols, Baghdad was besieged and captured by Hulagu Khan in 1258. With the destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate, Hulagu had an open route to Syria and moved against the other Muslim powers in the region. [15]

    Turco-Mongol rule Edit

    Iraq now became a province on the southwestern fringes of the Ilkhanate and Baghdad would never regain its former importance.

    The Jalayirids were a Mongol Jalayir dynasty [16] which ruled over Iraq and western Persia [17] after the breakup of the Ilkhanate in the 1330s. The Jalayirid sultanate lasted about fifty years, until disrupted by Tamerlane's conquests and the revolts of the "Black Sheep Turks" or Qara Qoyunlu Turkmen. After Tamerlane's death in 1405, there was a brief attempt to re-establish the sultanate in southern Iraq and Khuzistan. The Jalayirids were finally eliminated by Kara Koyunlu in 1432.

    During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen defeated the Black Sheep and took control. Later, the White Sheep were defeated by the Safavids, who took control over Mesopotamia for some time. In the 16th century, most of the territory of present-day Iraq came under the control of Ottoman Empire as the pashalik of Baghdad. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (1533–1918) the territory of present-day Iraq was a battle zone between the rival regional empires and tribal alliances. Iraq was divided into three vilayets:

    The Safavid dynasty of Iran briefly asserted their hegemony over Iraq in the periods of 1508–1533 and 1622–1638. During the years 1747–1831 Iraq was ruled by the Mamluk officers of Georgian origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the Ottoman Empire, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the Janissaries, restored order and introduced a program of modernization of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed to overthrow the Mamluk regime and again imposed their direct control over Iraq. [18]

    British mandate Edit

    Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until World War I, when the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and suffered a defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (1915–16). However the British finally won in the Mesopotamian Campaign with the capture of Baghdad in March 1917. During the war the British employed the help of a number of Assyrian, Armenian and Arab tribes against the Ottomans, who in turn employed the Kurds as allies. After the war the Ottoman Empire was divided up, and the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was established by League of Nations mandate. Britain imposed a Hāshimite monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the politics of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds and the Christian Assyrians to the north. During the British occupation, the Kurds fought for independence, and the British employed Assyrian Levies to help quell these insurrections. Iraq also became an oligarchy government at this time.

    Although the monarch Faisal I of Iraq was legitimized and proclaimed King by a plebiscite in 1921, independence was achieved in 1932, when the British Mandate officially ended.

    Independent Kingdom of Iraq Edit

    Establishment of Arab Sunni domination in Iraq was followed by Assyrian, Yazidi and Shi'a unrests, which were all brutally suppressed. In 1936, the first military coup took place in the Kingdom of Iraq, as Bakr Sidqi succeeded in replacing the acting Prime Minister with his associate. Multiple coups followed in a period of political instability, peaking in 1941.

    During World War II, Iraqi regime of Regent 'Abd al-Ilah was overthrown in 1941 by the Golden Square officers, headed by Rashid Ali. The short lived pro-Nazi government of Iraq was defeated in May 1941 by the allied forces (with local Assyrian and Kurdish help) in Anglo-Iraqi War. Iraq was later used as a base for allied attacks on Vichy-French held Mandate of Syria and support for the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. [19]

    In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League. At the same time, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani led a rebellion against the central government in Baghdad. After the failure of the uprising, Barzani and his followers fled to the Soviet Union.

    In 1948, massive violent protests known as the Al-Wathbah uprising broke out across Baghdad with partial communist support, having demands against the government's treaty with Britain. Protests continued into spring and were interrupted in May when martial law was enforced as Iraq entered the failed 1948 Arab–Israeli War along with other Arab League members.

    In February 1958, King Hussein of Jordan and `Abd al-Ilāh proposed a union of Hāshimite monarchies to counter the recently formed Egyptian-Syrian union. The prime minister Nuri as-Said wanted Kuwait to be part of the proposed Arab-Hāshimite Union. Shaykh `Abd-Allāh as-Salīm, the ruler of Kuwait, was invited to Baghdad to discuss Kuwait's future. This policy brought the government of Iraq into direct conflict with Britain, which did not want to grant independence to Kuwait. At that point, the monarchy found itself completely isolated. Nuri as-Said was able to contain the rising discontent only by resorting to even greater political oppression.

    Republic of Iraq Edit

    Inspired by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, officers from the Nineteenth Brigade, 3rd Division known as "The Four Colonials", under the leadership of Brigadier Abd al-Karīm Qāsim (known as "az-Za`īm", 'the leader') and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif overthrew the Hashemite monarchy on July 14, 1958. The new government proclaimed Iraq to be a republic and rejected the idea of a union with Jordan. Iraq's activity in the Baghdad Pact ceased.

    In 1961, Kuwait gained independence from Britain and Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait. A period of considerable instability followed. The same year, Mustafa Barzani, who had been invited to return to Iraq by Qasim three years earlier, began engaging Iraqi government forces and establishing Kurdish control in the north in what was the beginning of the First Kurdish Iraqi War.

    Ba'athist Iraq Edit

    Qāsim was assassinated in February 1963, when the Ba'ath Party took power under the leadership of General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (prime minister) and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif (president). In June 1963, Syria, which by then had also fallen under Ba'athist rule, took part in the Iraqi military campaign against the Kurds by providing aircraft, armoured vehicles and a force of 6,000 soldiers. Several months later, `Abd as-Salam Muhammad `Arif led a successful coup against the Ba'ath government. Arif declared a ceasefire in February 1964 which provoked a split among Kurdish urban radicals on one hand and Peshmerga (Freedom fighters) forces led by Barzani on the other.

    On April 13, 1966, President Abdul Salam Arif died in a helicopter crash and was succeeded by his brother, General Abdul Rahman Arif. Following this unexpected death, the Iraqi government launched a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kurds. This campaign failed in May 1966, when Barzani forces thoroughly defeated the Iraqi Army at the Battle of Mount Handrin, near Rawanduz. Following the Six-Day War of 1967, the Ba'ath Party felt strong enough to retake power in 1968. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The Ba'ath government started a campaign to end the Kurdish insurrection, which stalled in 1969. This can be partly attributed to the internal power struggle in Baghdad and also tensions with Iran. Moreover, the Soviet Union pressured the Iraqis to come to terms with Barzani. The war ended with more than 100,000 mortal casualties, with little achievements to both Kurdish rebels and the Iraqi government.

    In the aftermath of the First Kurdish Iraqi War, a peace plan was announced in March 1970 and provided for broader Kurdish autonomy. The plan also gave Kurds representation in government bodies, to be implemented in four years. [20] Despite this, the Iraqi government embarked on an Arabization program in the oil rich regions of Kirkuk and Khanaqin in the same period. [21] In the following years, Baghdad government overcame its internal divisions and concluded a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in April 1972 and ended its isolation within the Arab world. On the other hand, Kurds remained dependent on the Iranian military support and could do little to strengthen their forces. By 1974 the situation in the north escalated again into the Second Kurdish Iraqi War, to last until 1975.

    Under Saddam Hussein Edit

    In July 1979, President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was forced to resign by Saddam Hussein, who assumed the offices of both President and Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.

    Iraq's Territorial Claims to Neighboring Countries

    Iraq's territorial claims to neighboring countries were largely due to the plans and promises of the Entente countries in 1919–1920, when the Ottoman Empire was divided, to create a more extensive Arab state in Iraq and Jazeera, which would also include significant territories of eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, all of Kuwait and Iran’s border areas, which are shown on this English map of 1920.

    Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war, the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988, termed Qādisiyyat-Saddām – 'Saddam's Qādisiyyah'), which devastated the economy. Iraq falsely declared victory in 1988 but actually only achieved a weary return to the status quo ante bellum, meaning both sides retained their original borders.

    The war began when Iraq invaded Iran, launching a simultaneous invasion by air and land into Iranian territory on 22 September 1980, following a long history of border disputes, and fears of Shia insurgency among Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority influenced by the Iranian Revolution. Iraq was also aiming to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state. The United States supported Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran. [22] Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of the revolutionary chaos in Iran and attacked without formal warning, they made only limited progress into Iran and within several months were repelled by the Iranians who regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982. For the next six years, Iran was on the offensive. [23] Despite calls for a ceasefire by the United Nations Security Council, hostilities continued until 20 August 1988. The war finally ended with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire in the form of United Nations Security Council Resolution 598, which was accepted by both sides. It took several weeks for the Iranian armed forces to evacuate Iraqi territory to honor pre-war international borders between the two nations (see 1975 Algiers Agreement). The last prisoners of war were exchanged in 2003. [23] [24]

    The war came at a great cost in lives and economic damage—half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers, as well as civilians, are believed to have died in the war with many more injured—but it brought neither reparations nor change in borders. The conflict is often compared to World War I, [25] in that the tactics used closely mirrored those of that conflict, including large scale trench warfare, manned machine-gun posts, bayonet charges, use of barbed wire across trenches, human wave attacks across no-man's land, and extensive use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas by the Iraqi government against Iranian troops and civilians as well as Iraqi Kurds. At the time, the UN Security Council issued statements that "chemical weapons had been used in the war." However, in these UN statements, it was never made clear that it was only Iraq that was using chemical weapons, so it has been said that "the international community remained silent as Iraq used weapons of mass destruction against Iranian as well as Iraqi Kurds" and it is believed.

    A long-standing territorial dispute was the ostensible reason for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In November 1990, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 678, permitting member states to use all necessary means, authorizing military action against the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait and demanded a complete withdrawal by January 15, 1991. When Saddam Hussein failed to comply with this demand, the Persian Gulf War (Operation "Desert Storm") ensued on January 17, 1991. Estimates range from 1,500 to as many as 30,000 Iraqi soldiers killed, as well as less than a thousand civilians. [26] [27]

    In March 1991 revolts in the Shia-dominated southern Iraq started involving demoralized Iraqi Army troops and the anti-government Shia parties. Another wave of insurgency broke out shortly afterwards in the Kurdish populated northern Iraq (see 1991 uprisings in Iraq). Although they presented a serious threat to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party regime, Saddam Hussein managed to suppress the rebellions with massive and indiscriminate force and maintained power. They were ruthlessly crushed by the loyalist forces spearheaded by the Iraqi Republican Guard and the population was successfully terrorized. During the few weeks of unrest tens of thousands of people were killed. Many more died during the following months, while nearly two million Iraqis fled for their lives. In the aftermath, the government intensified the forced relocating of Marsh Arabs and the draining of the Iraqi marshlands, while the Coalition established the Iraqi no-fly zones.

    On 6 August 1990, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Security Council sanctions committee. After the end of the Gulf War and after the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, the sanctions were linked to removal of weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687. [28] From 1991 until 2003 Iraq underwent hyperinflation, increased poverty and malnutrition. To varying degrees, the effects of government policy, the aftermath of Gulf War and the sanctions regime have been blamed for these conditions.

    The effects of the sanctions on the civilian population of Iraq have been disputed. [29] [30] Whereas it was widely believed that the sanctions caused a major rise in child mortality, recent research has shown that commonly cited data were fabricated by the Iraqi government and that "there was no major rise in child mortality in Iraq after 1990 and during the period of the sanctions." [31] [32] [33] An oil for food program was established in 1996 to ease the effects of sanctions.

    Iraqi cooperation with UN weapons inspection teams was questioned on several occasions during the 1990s. UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Richard Butler withdrew his team from Iraq in November 1998 because of Iraq's lack of cooperation. The team returned in December. [34] Butler prepared a report for the UN Security Council afterwards in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the level of compliance [2]. The same month, US President Bill Clinton authorized air strikes on government targets and military facilities. Air strikes against military facilities and alleged WMD sites continued into 2002.

    2003 invasion Edit

    After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in the United States in 2001 were linked to the group formed by the multi-millionaire Saudi Osama bin Laden, American foreign policy began to call for the removal of the Ba'ath government in Iraq. Neoconservative think-tanks in Washington had for years been urging regime change in Baghdad. On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105–235, which declared that ‘‘the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations.’’ It urged the President ‘‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.’’ Several months later, Congress enacted the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 on October 31, 1998. This law stated that it "should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime." It was passed 360 - 38 by the United States House of Representatives and 99–0 by the United States Senate in 1998.

    The US urged the United Nations to take military action against Iraq. American president George W. Bush stated that Saddām had repeatedly violated 16 UN Security Council resolutions. The Iraqi government rejected Bush's assertions. A team of U.N. inspectors, led by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix was admitted, into the country their final report stated that Iraqis capability in producing "weapons of mass destruction" was not significantly different from 1992 when the country dismantled the bulk of their remaining arsenals under terms of the ceasefire agreement with U.N. forces, but did not completely rule out the possibility that Saddam still had weapons of mass destruction. The United States and the United Kingdom charged that Iraq was hiding WMD and opposed the team's requests for more time to further investigate the matter. Resolution 1441 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 8, 2002, offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous UN resolutions, threatening "serious consequences" if the obligations were not fulfilled. The UN Security Council did not issue a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

    In March 2003, the United States and the United Kingdom, with military aid from other nations, invaded Iraq.


    Archaeologists Finally Identify a 4000-Year-Old Lost City in Iraq

    In 2016, archaeologists excavating in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq discovered the remnants of a Bronze Age city near the modern village of Bassetki. It was large, and it appeared to have been occupied for more than 1000 years, from around 2200 to 1200 BCE. Ancient Mesopotamia, home to the earliest civilizations on Earth, had many cities. So which one was it?

    The mystery remained until recently, when a language expert at the University of Heidelberg translated clay cuneiform tablets unearthed at the site in 2017. The archaeologists had discovered Mardaman, a once-important city mentioned in ancient texts, which had been thought lost to time.

    The inscriptions were likely written around 1250 BCE when Mardaman (also called Mardama) was a part of the Assyrian Empire. According to the University of Tübingen archaeologists who unearthed the tablets, they describe the "administrative and commercial affairs" between the citizens of Mardaman and their Assyrian governor Assur-nasir. The account led the researchers to believe that the area where the tablets were recovered was once the governor's palace.

    Peter Pfälzner, University of Tübingen

    Situated on trade routes connecting Mesopotamia, Anatolia (modern Turkey), and Syria, Mardaman was a bustling commercial hub in its day. It was conquered and rebuilt several times, but after it was toppled by the Turukkaeans from the neighboring Zagros Mountains sometime in the 18th century BCE, it was never mentioned again in ancient texts. Experts had assumed that marked the end of Marmadan. This latest discovery shows that the city recovered from that dark period, and still existed 500 years later.

    "The cuneiform texts and our findings from the excavations in Bassetki now make it clear that that was not the end," lead archeologist Peter Pfälzner said in a press statement. "The city existed continuously and achieved a final significance as a Middle Assyrian governor's seat between 1250 and 1200 BCE."

    This lost chapter of history may never have been uncovered if the clay tablets were stored any other way. Archeologists found the 92 slabs in a pottery vessel that had been sealed with a thick layer of clay, perhaps to preserve the contents for future generations. The state in which they were found suggests they were stashed away shortly after the surrounding building was destroyed.


    Lost Mesopotamian city discovered in Iraq


    The ancient city has yielded thousands of artefacts. Image Credit: CC BY 2.5 Marie-Lan Nguyen

    Situated on the banks of the Great Zab river, the discovery was made during an archaeological investigation of the Fertile Crescent - a 3,000-square-kilometer region that many believe to have been the birthplace of agriculture sometime around 10,000 years ago.

    The area had been off-limits for a long time due to political instability and the presence of ISIS.

    "What is surprising is the size of this settlement," said Rafal Kolinski of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. "All the earlier settlements evidenced in the area are very small in size, rarely exceeding 1 hectare. The same can be said of settlements contemporary to Xarab-i Kilashin, our urban site, which were mere villages."

    Covering a semi-circular area of the northern river bank with a diameter of around 300 meters, the site of Xarab-i Kilashin has already yielded an astonishing array of over 12,000 artefacts including pieces of pottery and terracotta stamps.

    The city was thought to have been home to a dignitary who ruled over the surrounding lands.


    Archeologists stumble upon 4,000-year-old “lost” city of ancient Mesopotamia

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    In the foothills of Zagros mountains, in what is nowadays Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Iraq both close to Iran and Turkey–is where the site of Kunara can be found. An archeological gem first spotted in 2011.

    At the end of the 3rd millennium B.C., archeologists say, this was a vibrant town, perhaps the capital of a mysterious kingdom that existed at the edges of Mesopotamia’s first great empire, the Akkadians.

    Ongoing excavations have been carried by a team of French archeologists. On March 19, 2019, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) published about the discovery.

    One theory is that the lost city could belong to the Lullubi people, Photo credit: Jolle, CC BY-SA 4.0

    One theory proposed is that this ancient, lost city belonged to the Lullubi people, little-known mountainous people, who, as artifacts tell, kept strong trade relationships with far-flung regions such as Iran on the east, and Anatolia and the Caucasus on the north.

    Some written accounts of the era, describe the Lullubi as barbarians. An artifact found at the Louvre Museum, depicting one of the great Akkadian kings, Naram-Sin, portrays how he celebrates his triumph over the Lullubi. But rare has been the accounts or artifacts attesting to the Lullubi from their own perspective. Perhaps until now.

    Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia. Shown are Washukanni, Nineveh, Hatra, Assur, Nuzi, Palmyra, Mari, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Nippur, Isin, Lagash, Uruk, Charax Spasinu and Ur, fromnorth to south . Credit: Goran tek -en, CC BY-SA 4.0

    While digging on the Kunara site, archeologists came across large stone foundations, both in the upper and lower layers. The stones have been dated to circa 2,200 B.C. Among the most interesting items which resurfaced were dozens of small clay tablets, which revealed cuneiform writing, typical for the region where writing began for the first time in the world, during the latter half of the 4th millennium B.C.

    CNRS cuneiform specialist Philippe Clancier said in a statements that the cuniform tablets revealed “a firm grasp of Akkadian and Sumerian writing, as well as that of their Mesopotamian neighbors.”

    The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin(circa 2250 BC), commemorating the victory of Akkadian Empire king Naram-Sin (standing left) over Lullubi mountain tribe and their king Satuni. Musée du Louvre. Credit: Rama, CC BY-SA 3.0 fr

    Upon deciphering, the tablets revealed accounting and administrative information related with the city’s large-scale agricultural and farming. A so far unknown unit of measurement was identified on these tablets, one different than the Mesopotamian gur, which according to experts, is a great hint the Lullubi run their city and/or kingdom independently. Nevertheless, the Lullubi fell under Akkadian dominion.

    Aline Tenu, who led the archeological expeditions to the Middle East site, stated that “the city of Kunara provides new elements regarding a hitherto unknown people that has remained at the periphery of Mesopotamian studies.”

    Anubanini relief showing Lullubi prisoners and their king, Credit: Koorosh Nozad Tehrani, CC BY-SA 2.0

    “It is possible that this city was one of the capitals of the Lullubi,” he said, which, if the theory confirmed, will make all the difference for the history of these mysterious people. Traditional interpretations have suggested they lived in isolation from the world, for example, but now it turns out they were much more advanced. They used rare gemstones such as obsidians for producing commonplace tools for work. To obtain such resources, the Lullubi must have kept close commercial relations with very remote regions indeed.

    “This openness toward the world and affluence is also illustrated by the presence of a number of moulds for metal blades. Kunara and its inhabitants were therefore full participants in the Bronze Age, which had begun a few centuries earlier in Mesopotamia,” writes Jean-Baptiste Veyrieras on the CNRS news website.

    Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, relief IV, Beardless warrior with axe , trampling a foe. Sundisk above. A name “Zaba( zuna ), son of …” can be read. [ This is possibly the son of Iddin-Sin, a ruler of the Kingdom of Simurrum. [

    More remnants attesting to a great civilization include bone remains of both livestock and bears and lions. The latter type of animals may stand as a proof that the Lullubi practiced royal huntings and offerings. Animal husbandry and crops growth relied on a developed irrigation system as well.

    Further excavations on the site may unveil the answers to many questions that remain obscured in mystery. Like…were the Lullubi peoples the real inhabitants of this great lost city? Is it true that the city never became part of the great Akkadian Empire? If the Lullubi weren’t the occupants of the city, then…who was?


    Significant Bronze Age city discovered in Northern Iraq

    Archeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq. The excavation work has demonstrated 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 archeologists also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

    Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work. 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 kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists 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 neighboring 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. Up until now, researchers were unable to explain the location of the find. The archeologists have now been able to substantiate their assumption that an important outpost of Akkadian culture may have been located there.

    Although the excavation site is only 45 kilometers from territory controlled by the Islamic State (IS), it was possible to conduct the archeological work without any disturbances. "The protection of our employees is always our top priority. Despite the geographical proximity to IS, there's a great deal of security and stability in the Kurdish autonomous areas in Iraq," said Professor Peter Pfälzner, Director of the Department of Near Eastern Archaeology at the IANES of the University of Tübingen. The research team consisting of 30 people lived in the city of Dohuk, which is only 60 kilometers north of Mosul, during the excavation work.

    In another project being handled by the "ResourceCultures" collaborative research center (SFB 1070), Pfälzner's team has been completing an archeological inspection of territory in the complete area surrounding Bassetki as far as the Turkish and Syrian borders since 2013 -- and 300 previously unknown sites have been discovered. The excavations and the research work in the region are due to be continued during the summer of 2017. "The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age. We're therefore planning to establish a long-term archeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues," says Pfälzner. The excavation work is being funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


    The last phase, 6th–4th century bce

    The last king to build at Ur was the Achaemenian Cyrus the Great, whose inscription on bricks is similar to the “edict” quoted by the scribe Ezra regarding the restoration of the Temple at Jerusalem. The conqueror was clearly anxious to placate his new subjects by honouring their gods, whatever those gods might be. But Ur was now thoroughly decadent it survived into the reign of Artaxerxes II, but only a single tablet (of Philip Arrhidaeus, 317 bce ) carries on the story. It was perhaps at this time that the Euphrates changed its course and with the breakdown of the whole irrigation system, Ur, its fields reduced to desert, was finally abandoned.

    Discoveries made on other sites have supplemented the unusually full record obtained from the Ur excavations. Knowledge of the city’s history and of the manner of life of its inhabitants, of their business, and of their art is now fairly complete and remarkably detailed.


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