4000-Year Old Lost City Discovered in Iraq

French archaeologists have uncovered an ancient city in the deserts of Iraq that is believed to be more than 4000 years old. The site is located in the Kurdistan region of the country and although research there has revealed some intriguing details about the place, even the name of the lost city remains a mystery.

Originally discovered back in 2012, the site has now been the subject of six independent digs, the most recent of which took place last year. This has led to the team of researchers exploring the ruins to publish their findings in the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) journal. The nameless city is said to have been located on the edge of the Mesopotamian Empire and may have been an important agricultural and trading center. One of the excavations even uncovered a tablet that was used to keep inventory of the delivery of different types of flour.

Who exactly built the city and what happened to them remains a mystery. It is thought that the metropolitan center was part of another civilization that sprung up close to Mesopotamia, but wasn’t a part of that empire. The ruins of the ancient site are found on the edge of the Zagros Mountains, not far from the border of Iran and Iraq. It also sits a mere 5 km (3.1 miles) from Soulaymaniyah, the modern-day cultural capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, overlooking the nearby Tanjaro River. This part of the world hasn’t been explored all of that much due to Saddam Hussein’s oppression of the Kurdish people and travel ban to the region. Now, it is opening up for the first time and revealing some interesting secrets.

So far, the excavations at the site have revealed large stone foundations that are dozens of meters in length. Archaeologists estimate the city itself was built around 2200 BC, but as eventually destroyed in a great fire. That caused the inhabitants to abandon it, so it has been sitting in the desert largely untouched since. The biggest surprise of all however, is that it even exists. Researchers were not expecting to find this kind of discovery in the Kurdistan region, which has made its mysteries all the more interesting.

Research will be ongoing at the site for some time, but historians have already been impressed with what they’ve found. It seems the inhabitants of the city were far from isolated, having traded with other civilizations both far to the east and west. This was evidenced in some of the tools and molds that were found in the ruins, indicating that the city had learned to make Bronze Age equipment that was common during the time.

Other tablets were unearthed last year and while they also contain records of trade and inventory, they also list the locations of places that the city dealt with. Many of the places listed in those records are new names for archaeologists, which means they could be just peeling off the first layer of an onion. The names don’t correlate with anything in Mesopotamia either, which means there could be more ruins and civilizations yet to be uncovered.

Truly fascinating stuff. I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again; I’m continually amazed and intrigued at the things we continue to discover across the globe, and it makes you wonder what else is out there just waiting for us to stumble across.

Kraig Becker

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