The current drought is a massive problem for the people of Iraq. For archaeologists, however, the drying up of the Mosul dam in the north of the country presented an unexpected opportunity.
Climate change is currently becoming visible in many parts of the world. Extreme heat has already caused deaths in India, the Colorado River is drying up in the USA and water is also becoming scarce in Iraq. Where a reservoir previously stored water for the Mosul dam, a sandy desert will stretch this summer. And it held a surprise for a group of Kurdish and German archaeologists working in the area.
Because where the water had withdrawn, there was not just sandy ground – but a lost city, many thousands of years old. After the first excavations, the experts date it to 1550 to 1350 BC. Thus, the surprisingly well-preserved walls and foundations that the archaeologists discovered are a good 3400 years old!
Iraq: Bronze Age metropolis discovered
According to initial findings, it could be the city of Zakhiku, which was once an important center of the Mittani culture. It is said to have been located directly on the banks of the Tigris River, a strategically favorable location. In 1350 BC A severe earthquake destroyed large parts of the city and buried it under rubble, dust and stones. What must have been a catastrophe for the people at the time is a stroke of luck for the archaeologists – presumably this layer of rubble protected the walls and foundations from the effects of the environment during the following centuries.
The city palace became visible during a dry period in 2018 and was examined and documented by experts from Iraq, Freiburg and Tübingen. The fact that it belonged to an entire city was still pure speculation at the time. Now there could also be a warehouse, a kind of industrial area with workshops, as well as towers and protective walls. In addition, several inscribed clay tablets are likely to be particularly valuable for understanding the Mittani culture. “It really borders on a miracle that these cuneiform tablets, which were made from unfired clay, have survived under water for such a long time,” marvels Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen.
In order to protect the remains of the Bronze Age city if the water level should rise again, numerous remains of the wall have now been wrapped in plastic sheeting.