Drought reveals ruins of 3,400-year-old lost city in Iraq
Catastrophic droughts in Iraq have uncovered the Mittani Empire-era metropolis for the first time.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remnants of a 3,400-year-old metropolis in the Middle East, attributed to climate change.
According to a team of German and Kurdish experts, catastrophic droughts in Iraq prompted the damming of the Mosul reservoir to rescue local crops. The Mittani Empire-era metropolis surfaced for the first time in decades as the reservoir drained.
The sprawling metropolis contains a palace and numerous big buildings that archaeologists believe are the remnants of Zakhiku, an important location in the Mittani Empire during the Bronze Age between 1550 and 1350 BC. The team says that these ruins had not been seen in over 40 years, because the area along the Tigris River was turned into a reservoir.
Iraq; capital of climate change
Climate change, according to the researchers, has a particularly profound impact on the ecosystem in Iraq. Climate change can cause devastating droughts that linger for months in the country's south. The country has been drawing from the Mosul reservoir to keep the land alive since December. That's when the Kemune ruins reappeared.
It gave experts a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to analyze the sight before water levels returned to normal. The team was able to map the majority of the city, adding to their expertise from a previous excursion in 2018. That research only discovered the undersea palace.
Several more structures, as well as a large fortress of walls and towers, were discovered in the current investigation. According to archaeologists, a huge earthquake devastated Mittani city in approximately 1350 BC, causing the upper portions of these walls to collapse on the buildings within, burying them. The team also believes that this is what has kept the structures so well preserved after being submerged for so long.
At the location, researchers also discovered a multi-story storage facility and some sort of industrial complex.
“The huge magazine building is of particular importance because enormous quantities of goods must have been stored in it, probably brought from all over the region,” said Dr. Ivana Puljiz, from the University of Freiburg, in a media release.
“The excavation results show that the site was an important center in the Mittani Empire,” added archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim, chairman of the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization.
Documents from the past
The researchers discovered something maybe even more important inside the ruins. Five clay jars containing nearly 100 cuneiform tablets were uncovered. Cuneiform is prehistoric writing that was employed by various tribes in the ancient Middle East.
These tablets originate from the Middle Assyrian period, just before the city was destroyed by an earthquake. Some of the tablets, which were still in clay envelopes when the crew discovered them, could have been letters.
“It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades underwater,” said Peter Pfalzner from the University of Tubingen.
Researchers covered much of the site in plastic before covering the houses with gravel to prevent deterioration. The Mosul reservoir is finally full, returning the city to its watery habitat – at least until climate change hits again.