Drought in Iraq causes 3,400-year-old city to reappear amid the Tigris River

Buildings have been found with preserved walls despite being made of mud bricks and being submerged for over 40 years; researchers believe the location to be Zakhiku

Disclosure/Wion/Photo: University of Tübingenmissing city in iraq
Researchers believe it is the city of Zakhiku

Archaeologists have found a city that is about 3,400 years old, located on the Tigris River, in the Iraq. The discovery was only possible due to the drought that hit the country and lowered the water level in the Mosul reservoir. According to the Wion News, a team of German and Kurdish researchers were responsible for locating the lost city, which contained a series of large buildings and also a ruined palace. The site is estimated to be Zakhiku, which dates back to the Bronze Age Mittani Empire between 1550 and 1350 BC.

Iraq has been heavily affected by climate change. The Kemune region has not received rain for a long time and the south of the country is suffering from an extreme drought. The Mosul reservoir has been the main source of water supply since December and has been used to prevent crops from drying out. The discovery took the researchers by surprise and forced them to excavate and document parts of the important city before it went under.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, the German archaeologist and professor at the University of Freiburg, stated that “based on what they found in 2018, we knew that the site could bring interesting discoveries”, but adds that “we didn’t know exactly what we would find”. Despite the importance of the discovery, the professor informs that “there are very few mentions of the name of the city in other sources” and that “new knowledge about it is only now being acquired”. However, Hasan Ahmed Qasim, president of the Archeology Organization of Kurdistan, assures that “the excavation results show that the site was an important center of the Mitanni Empire”.

To prevent further damage to the site from returning water, the excavated buildings – which were found to have preserved walls despite being made of sun-dried mud bricks and having been submerged for more than 40 years – were covered with tight plastic tarpaulins and with gravel as part of an extensive conservation project. Today, the city has already been submerged again and archaeologists hope that one day it will reappear.

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