The archaeological site, Kimon, is believed to be the Bronze Age city of Zakhiko, a major center of the Mitanni Empire that reigned from 1550 to 1350 BC. The kingdom’s territory stretched from the Mediterranean to northern Iraq, according to Ivana Polges, a junior professor in the Department of Archeology and Near East Archeology at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, and one of the project directors.
Zakhiko sank underwater after the Iraqi government built the Mosul Dam in the 1980s and has rarely been seen since.
After Polges learned that the city had resurfaced, her team rushed to excavate the site because it was not known when the water level would rise again.
“Because of the tremendous time pressures, we dug in freezing temperatures, snow, hail, rain, even storms, as well as on the occasional sunny day, not knowing when the waters will rise again and how long we will have,” Polges said. .
The ancient city has now been reconquered, but researchers have been able to index much of the site.
A palace was already documented when the city emerged briefly in 2018, but several additional structures were documented during recent excavations. Some of the finds include a fortress complete with towers and walls, and a storage building several stories tall.
Many of the structures were made of sun-dried mud bricks, which usually don’t hold up well underwater, the researchers said. However, Zakhiko suffered an earthquake around 1350 BC, parts of the upper walls collapsed and covered buildings.
keep the past
Polges said that little is known about the ancient Mitanni who built the city, in large part due to the fact that researchers did not learn about the capital of the empire or discovered their archives. However, some artifacts unearthed during recent excavations can help provide insight.
Archaeologists have found five earthenware pots containing more than 100 clay cuneiform tablets, dating from after the earthquake. They are believed to be from the Middle Assyrian period, which lasted from 1350 to 1100 BC, and could shed light on the city’s demise and the rise of Assyrian rule in the region, according to a press release.
The tablets have not yet been deciphered, but Polges assumed that they belonged to a private archive.
“I am then curious to know what the study of cuneiform texts will reveal about the fate of the city and its inhabitants after the devastating earthquake,” she said.
All the artifacts that have been excavated, including the tablets, are in the Dohuk National Museum.
Before the city disappeared again underwater, researchers covered the ruins with airtight plastic sheets fastened with stones and pebbles. Puljiz hopes that these measures will protect the ancient site from water erosion and prevent it from disappearing completely.
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