Archaeologists find remains of 4,500 y/o lost ancient palace in Iraq
Archaeologists discover the remains of a lost palace in the ancient Sumerian city of Girsu in southern Iraq.
Archaeologists have found the 4,500-year-old remains of a lost palace from the ancient Sumerian city of Girsu in southern Iraq.
Technology and drone photography were used by researchers to identify the subsurface remains of a previously unknown huge complex at the archaeology site Tablet Hill in the Iraqi city of Tello. Excavations damaged Tablet Hill during the 19th century and conflict during the 20th century.
During a press conference at the Iraq embassy in London on Friday, Tablet Hill was described as the "cradle of civilization" and "one of the most important heritage sites in the world that very few people know about."
One of the main reasons would be Girsu's status as one of the world's earliest-known cities. Sumerians also invented writing and established the first cities and first codes of law between 3,500 and 2,000 BCE, making them one of the ancient world's first civilizations.
Last fall at Tablet Hill, mudbrick walls were identified, and more than 200 cuneiform tablets with ancient Sumerian writing were found in spoil heaps, piles of material discarded from excavations during the 19th century. The tablets, detailing the administrative records of Girsu, were saved and transported to the Iraq Museum in Bagdad.
Archaeologists also discovered the Eninnu temple, the main sanctuary of the Sumerian god Ningirsu, the ancient city's namesake. The Temple of the White Thunderbird was one of the most important of the historical region of Mesopotamia. Before its recent discovery, the temple was only known by ancient inscriptions discovered at the fieldwork site 140 years ago.
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Heritage and the British Museum and Iraq's State Board of Antiquities made the discovery through a multi-year joint initiative, with funding from the J. Paul Getty Trust and Museum. The project specifically "addresses the damage caused by early excavations and modern looting" through site management and the field training of archaeology students and conservators in Iraq, a press statement said.
Girsu project director Dr. Sebastien Rey told the PA news agency during the press conference on Friday how the discovery finally made him feel validated.
"I remember when I started in 2016 no one believed me," he said. "I went to international conferences and everyone basically told me, 'Oh no you're making it up, you're wasting your time, you're wasting British museum UK government funding' – that's what they were telling me," he added, stressing that nobody supported him and whoever believed in this project, but they "just persevered".
"Of course, there was the research element and also the training, even if we had not discovered the temple it still would have been an amazing experience but the cherry on the cake was the temple."
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