Just a few weeks ago, a 3,400-year-old city remerged in Iraq — the entire city was underwater. It was rediscovered after a water reservoir in the country dropped quickly due to extreme drought. The whole thing is really cool — and there’s still more being discovered about it. The ancient city is being excavated by academics who are racing against time in order to get as much information and find as many artifacts, as they can. Here are some incredibly cool facts we’ve learned so far.
1. It's believed to be from the Bronze Age.
The archaeological site is called Kemune and it’s thought to be one of the major cities of the Mittani Empire. Mittani was an “Indo-Iranian empire centered in northern Mesopotamia that flourished from about 1500 to about 1360 BC,” according to Britannica.
Ivana Puljiz, a junior professor in the department of near eastern archaeology and assyriology at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, said via CNN, that the city was from the Bronze Age and was also known as the city of Zakhiku. The Bronze age followed the Old Stone Age and New Stone Age in the development of material culture, and as the name suggests, it marked the time when bronze was first used as a metal.
2. It's not the first time the city has been discovered.
The city was first discovered in the Kurdistan region of Iraq in 2013 when water levels in the area dropped and exposed the city which had been submerged. Five years later, the site was first excavated by Kurdish and German archaeologists in 2018. They focused their work on looking at the palace to see what they could learn.
When the drought was over, the water submerged the ancient city again and the scientists had to pause their work. But thankfully that wasn’t the last time that the city had emerged again.
3. Once it reemerged, scientists found tablets, walls and towers, and an industrial complex.
According to Phys.org, Iraq has been dealing with climate change issues. This has resulted in hard harvests. To prevent crops from drying out, water was diverted from the Mosul reservoir, the country’s largest water storage, in December. And in drawing out the water, the ancient city was visible again.
The researchers jumped at the chance to revisit the site and began to excavate it once more, hoping to learn more than previously and get as much information before the water returned. And they learned a lot!
“In addition to a palace, which had already been documented during a short campaign in 2018, several other large buildings were uncovered,” Phys.org explained, including “a massive fortification with wall and towers, a monumental, multi-story storage building, and an industrial complex.”
4. It’s now submerged in water again!
Scientists knew that the water levels would return and that before long, the city would once again be underwater. So, not only did they work quickly to learn what they could, scientists covered everything, waterproofing the buildings and materials in a way so they could continue their research once the ancient city emerges in the future.
“The excavated buildings were completely covered with tight-fitting plastic sheeting and covered with gravel fill as part of an extensive conservation project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation,” Phys org explained. “This is intended to protect the walls of unbaked clay and any other finds still hidden in the ruins during times of flooding.”