Ancient Remains of Important Bronze Age City of the Akkadian Empire Found in Iraq

Ancient Remains of Important Bronze Age City of the Akkadian Empire Found in Iraq


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Α very important city was recently unearthed in Northern Iraq by an international team of archaeologists from the University of Tübingen, a graphic university town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The team has been performing excavation work for the past few months almost 28 miles (45 kilometers) outside the newly founded city, which according to many historians and experts belonged to the Akkadian Empire (2340-2200 BC), one of the first empires in history.

First Empire in History

Widely considered as the first empire of the world, the Akkadian Empire was created by King Sargon of Akkad who invaded all the neighboring areas and pushed his influence and power farther north toward the Taurus Mountains where he conquered parts of Lebanon from the Hurrians. To the east, Sargon successfully invaded western Elam, while he also captured Magan in Oman. Sargon went on calling himself Sarru-Kinu Sargon which translates to “Sargon the True King”, and ruled all the conquered territories between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf until his death in 2279 BC. His dynasty would become a powerful empire that would last for over a hundred and fifty years and one of the greatest of its contributions was the Akkadian language, which was the main language of trade and cultural exchange at the time. Also, the capital city that gave its name to the empire and civilization, Akkad, was another contribution of King Sargon who founded the city in 2340 BC in honor of the Goddess Ishtar.

Bronze head of Sargon of Akkad was the first Mesopotamian ruler to control both southern and northern Babylonia, thus becoming the king of Sumer and Akkad and inaugurating the Akkadian Empire. ( Wikimedia Commons )

A Little Corner in Iraq Has Been Hiding Thousands of Years of History

Past Horizons reports that the site that is situated at a crossroad of ancient civilizations and is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, has an unexpected rich history and a great variety of ancient cultural ruins. According to the team of archaeologists and scientists, led by Dr. Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk, the settlement was founded almost five thousand years ago and flourished for more than 1,200 years. Its historical significance and importance is highlighted from the finds discovered during the excavation work, while many archaeologists speculate that the city had already constructed a massive wall by 2700 BC, in order to protect its civilians from invaders. The team also discovered pieces of Assyrian cuneiform tablets going back to 1300 BC, which indicate the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site.

Excavating down to the Bronze Age layers. Image: P. Pfälzner

Adad – The God of Weather

Adad, also known as Ramman, was the God of weather, hurricanes, storms, thunder and rain of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon. He had a double sanctuary in Assur which he shared with Anu, the earliest attested Sky Father deity in Sumerian religion, also known as "King of the Gods". Adad is often portrayed with a horned helmet holding lightning and thunderbolts. He’s usually also depicted riding or standing near a bull or lion-dragon. Worshipers also referred to Adad the “Lord of Foresight”, because of his ability to predict the future.

Stele of god Adad on a bull with a thunderbolt in hand ( CC 2.0 / Rama )

Back to Modern-Day Iraq

Despite the sociopolitical circumstances in the area and Iraq being a warzone for the past few years, the mission of the team wasn’t as dangerous or risky as some might falsely think. As the archaeologists noted, “Although the excavation site is only 28 miles (45 km) from territory controlled by the IS, it was possible to conduct the archaeological work without any disturbances.” [via Past Horizons]

That makes them optimistic for the future and they hope to return in the area to continue their excavations and the research work during the summer of 2017. Professor Peter Pfälzner reassure us, “The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age. We’re therefore planning to establish a long-term archaeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues.”


    Archaeology News Report

    Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work. The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site. There was a lower town about one kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city. The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.

    Bassetki was only known to the general public in the past because of the "Bassetki statue," which was discovered there by chance in 1975. This is a fragment of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin (about 2250 BC). The discovery was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003, but was later rediscovered by US soldiers. Up until now, researchers were unable to explain the location of the find. The archeologists have now been able to substantiate their assumption that an important outpost of Akkadian culture may have been located there.


    5,000-year-old city from Akkadian Empire discovered in northern Iraq

    The remains of an ancient city has been discovered in northern Iraq. The settlement, near the town of Dohuk, is believed to have served as an outpost for the Akkadian Empire, having been founded 5,000 years ago.

    The Bronze Age city was unearthed by archaeologist from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen during excavation work at the Kurdish village of Bassetki between August and October of this year.

    Their findings showed the city was established in 3,000 BCE. Settlement layers showed it flourished for 1,200 years, with layers indicating it was occupied during the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BCE).

    A city wall was erected approximately 2,700 BCE, while large stone structures were built in 1,800 BCE.

    On the outskirts, the team found a town that stretched around 1km, along with a number of grand houses dating to the Bronze Age.

    The city appears to have continued to thrive after the fall of the Akkadian Empire – evidence of extensive road networks built in 1800 BCE were uncovered during excavations. These would have connected the city to Mesopotamia and Anatolia.

    They also discovered Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating to 1,300 BCE. These tablets indicate there was a temple in the city dedicated to the Mesopotamian storm and rain god Adad.

    Excavating down to the Bronze Age layers in the upper part of Bassetki Peter Pfälzner

    Bassetki was first recognised as a site of archaeological importance in 1975 following the discovery of the Bassetki statue – a fragment of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin that dated to 2250 BCE. The latest excavation has helped archaeologists explain why the figure was found in the location. They believe the city served as an important outpost for the Akkadian Empire during its short history.

    Further excavations are now planned in the area surrounding Bassetki, with researchers expecting to begin work in summer next year. Peter Pfälzner, who led the latest dig, said: "The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age. We're therefore planning to establish a long-term archaeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues."


    Remnants of 'significant' Bronze-Age city discovered in Iraq

    Working about 28 miles from ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq, researchers have discovered evidence of a large Bronze-Age city that dates approximately to the year 3,000 BC, according to the University of Tübingen in Germany.

    Located near the town of Dohuk, Iraq, the city thrived for over a millennium, the university said it had defensive walls around it by the year 2,700 BC, and also featured roads, residential areas, and a cemetery outside of the city. The excavation is at a Kurdish village called Bassetki.

    “Despite the geographical proximity to [ISIS], there's a great deal of security and stability in the Kurdish autonomous areas in Iraq," Peter Pfälzner, the lead researcher behind the discovery and a professor at the University of Tübingen, said in a statement.

    The researchers also discovered pieces of tablets from about the year 1,300 BC— tablet fragments that imply that there was a temple to a Mesopotamian weather god, Adad, in the city, according to the university. They also found the suggestions of a “palatial building” from the Bronze Age, and said that this newly-discovered city was connected by roads to other settlements by around the year 1,800 BC.

    The archaeologists found evidence of an ancient empire, too— the Akkadian Empire, which dates to the years 2340-2200 BC. The Kurdish village of Bassetki is where an Akkadian statue of a god-king named Naram-Sin was found in 1975, and the researchers behind this new discovery think that this site could have been an important part of this very old empire.

    The lead archaeologist plans to do more digging in the area.

    "The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age,” Pfälzner said in the statement. “We're therefore planning to establish a long-term archeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues.”


    What sort of artwork did the Ancient Assyrians create?

    Carved Reliefs

    A wall relief showing a winged figure tending a sacred tree. (Photo: The Metropolitan museum of Art [Public domain])

    Written messages were also added to the scenes depicted. At Nimrud, across the figural reliefs of winged figures was carved a Standard Inscription. Akkadian rendered in cuneiform script, King Ashurnasirpal II listed his ancestry, titles, military victories, and his building projects. This inscription repeats across the panels. A not-so-subtle intimidation tactic and monument to the king, the repetitious message may have also been imbued with protective powers.

    Ivory Work

    Ivory furniture panel (with restored wood) showing a tree pattern, circa the 8th century BCE. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public domain])

    Scholars believe many of the ivory pieces found at cities such as Nimrud were crafted in North Syria and the Phoenician city-states. Paid as tributes to Assyrian kings, these ivory pieces share motifs with the art of Ancient Egypt&mdashincluding sphinxes and pharaonic crowns. Ivory pieces could be combined with colorful accents or inlaid in wood for a beautiful effect. These more delicate additions have often not survived intact.

    Bronze and Gold

    Gold was used in Assyrian trade and tribute as the precious metal could denote status and wealth. Embossed gold sheets could be used to decorate bronze objects, or to coat wood and other less precious materials. Golden tablets have also been documented. Elaborate gold jewelry was discovered en masse by archeologists in royal tombs, buried with a woman who may have been a queen.

    Bronze pendant showing the head of Pazuzu, the king of evil wind demons. Pazuzu could protect the wearer from Lamashtu, dangerous spirits. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public domain])

    Colorful Glass

    Neo-Assyrian glass inlays, 9th or 8th century BCE. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public domain])

    Cylinder Seals

    A molded-style cylinder seal with a cultic scene with the goddess Ishtar on a platform. (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public domain])

    The Assyrian Empire controlled many trade routes and had a thriving imperial bureaucracy that required frequent documentation. Crafted by a seal cutter, the seals could be marble, quartz, or another semi-precious stone. When rolled across wet clay tablets, the seal left behind its deign raised upon the clay. Many of these detailed miniature works of art can be seen in museum collections today in their variety, they offer a window into the business of non-royal Assyrians.

    Cuneiform Tablets and Cylinders

    The Esarhaddon Cylinder fragment from Fort Shalmaneser at Nimrud. (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0])

    Stone Stelae and Obelisks

    The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, created between 858 and 824 BCE of black limestone. (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0])

    Like the Egyptians, the Assyrians used stone obelisks as public monuments. Most famous is perhaps the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which was placed in the central plaza of the city of Nimrud for all to see in 825 BCE. The obelisk carries scenes that depict subjugated kingdoms paying tribute to the Assyrian king. Cuneiform script details the king's military victories as well. The text of the obelisk contains the first known mention of the Persians and may also reference Jehu, a King of Israel mentioned in the Bible.


    Archaeologists Unearth Bronze Age City in Iraq

    The mound of ruins at Bassetki, Iraq, with the broad area of the lower town where sheep now graze. Image credit: Peter Pfälzner.

    The settlement was established in about 3000 BC, and was able to flourish for more than 1,200 years, according to the team, led by Prof. Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk.

    The site is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan.

    “Although the excavation site is only 28 miles (45 km) from territory controlled by the IS, it was possible to conduct the archaeological work without any disturbances,” the archaeologists noted.

    “We lived in the city of Dohuk, which is only 37 miles (60 km) north of Mosul, during the excavation work.”

    “The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age,” Prof. Pfälzner added.

    “We’re therefore planning to establish a long-term archaeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues.”

    Excavation work on the Bronze Age overland roadway outside the village of Bassetki, Iraq. Image credit: Peter Pfälzner.

    Prof. Pfälzner, Dr. Qasim and their colleagues also discovered layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

    They suggest that the ancient city may have been an important Akkadian outpost.

    The significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work.

    The settlement already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from about 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC.

    The archaeologists also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site.

    There was a lower town about 3,300 feet (1 km) long outside the center of the settlement.

    Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archaeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age.

    The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.


    5,000 year old city from the Akkadian Empire found in northern Iraq

    In the eastern slope of the upper region of Bassetki, fragments of the Assyrian cuneiform tablets were found.

    The remnants of an ancient city have been found inside northern Iraq. The settlement, close to the town of Dohuk, is thought to have served as a post for the Akkadian Empire, dating back 5,000 years ago. Archaeologists have faith that the Akkadian Empire was the first world empire in human history.

    Excavating down to the Bronze Age layers in the upper part of Bassetki Photo Credit

    This Bronze Age city was excavated by archaeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies, also known as IANES. A crew from the University of Tübingen did the unearthing work at the Kurdish Village of Bassetki in the middle of August and October this year.

    Their discoveries prove that the city was started in 3,000 BCE. The settlement layers show that it flourished for 1,200 years, with some indicating that the settlement was occupied during the Akkadian Empire period, from 2340 to 2200 BCE.

    A city wall was put up around 2,700 BCE, while the huge stone structures were created in 1,800 BCE.

    Excavation work on the Bronze Age overland roadway outside the village of Bassetki. Photo Credit

    On the outer parts of the city, the team discovered a town that stretched about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles), along with a number of luxurious houses that dated back to the Bronze Age.

    It seems the city continued to thrive after the Akkadian Empire fell. There’s proof of extensive road networks that were built in 1800 BCE. Uncovered during the dig, these roads would have connected to the city to Anatolia and Mesopotamia.

    They also found Assyrian cuneiform tablets that dated back to 1,300 BCE. These tablets have indicated that there was a temple inside the city, dedicated to the Mesopotamian rain and storm god, Adad. Even though the statue was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq War of 2003, U.S. soldiers located it. Until this new discovery was made, researchers haven’t been able to explain the location of the Bassetki statue. The premise that an important post of the Akkadian culture might have been located there has now finally been verified.

    The team is also part of another project that is being managed by the Resource Cultures Collaborative Investigation Center (SFB 1070). Since 2013 they have been managing an archaeological inspection of the region surrounding Bassetki as far as the Turkish and Syrian borders. More than 300 sites have been found that no one knew about before. The research work and excavations in the region are scheduled to continue during the summer of 2017. It will be funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

    The excavations went down to the Bronze Age layers up to the parts of Bassetki. Bassetki had been first recognized as a site of archaeological significance in 1975 following the finding of the Bassetki statue. This was a piece of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin, and it was dated to 2250 BCE. The latest unearthing helped the archaeologists explain why the figure was discovered on the site. They believe that the city served as an important post for the Akkadian Empire throughout its short history.

    More excavations have been planned in the area that surrounds Bassetki. Researchers are expecting to start work during the summer of next year.

    Assyrian soldiers of Ashurbanipal carrying a statue of Adad (also known as Ramman), the god of tempest and thunder.

    Peter Pfälzner led the latest dig. He said that the area around Bassetki is providing unexpected cultural riches for the region.

    This place was located at the crossroads of communication routes between the Anatolian, Mesopotamian, and Syrian cultures during the Bronze Age. They’re planning to launch a long-term archaeological research project in the region in union with their Kurdish colleagues.


    The Ancient City of Ur

    Ur is an ancient city-state of Mesopotamia located in the Dhi Qar Governorate of southern Iraq.

    The earliest period of occupation dates from the prehistoric Ubaid period sometime between 6500 to 3800 BC, when the landscape was flooded regularly by the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, which some scholars suggest is the source of the Mesopotamian floods from mythology.

    During the 4th millennium BC, the region was settled by the Sumerians, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European agglutinative language isolate that developed a close cultural symbiosis with the East-Semitic Akkadians by the 3rd millennium BC.

    The first royal dynasty of Ur was established during the Early Bronze Age, with Ur becoming the capital of southern Mesopotamia around 2500 BC. The city would come under Akkadian influence with the rise of the Akkadian Empire between 2400 and 2200 BC, before coming under Gutian rule with the empire’s collapse during the mid-22nd century BC.

    Ur would once again come under Sumerian rule with the founding of the Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire by King Ur-Nammu around 2047 BC. This period would see a renaissance of Ur, reaching a population of 65,000 inhabitants and an empire that controlled the cities of Isin, Larsa, and Eshnunna, and extended as far north as Upper Mesopotamia.

    The state was organised into a highly centralised bureaucratic system in which the Code of Ur-Nammu was written, the oldest known law code that survives today. Various large-scale building projects were also constructed, most notably the Ziggurat of Ur in dedication to Nanna/Sîn, and an intricate system of irrigation channels to improve crop yields.

    By the late Bronze Age, the city came under the first dynasty of (Amorite) of Babylonia, but fell to the native Akkadian ruled Sealand Dynasty for over 270 years, and was reconquered into Babylonia by the successors of the Amorites, the Kassites in the 16th century BC.

    Over the centuries, the rulers of Ur would change hands several times, but the power and wealth of Ur would eventually decline around 530 BC with the fall of Babylonia to the Persian Archaemenid Empire, and was abandoned by the early 5th century BC (possibly as a result of the changing river patterns in the region).


    Significant Bronze Age city discovered in Northern Iraq

    Archeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq. The excavation work has demonstrated that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, was established in about 3000 BC and was able to flourish for more than 1200 years. The archeologists also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

    Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work.

    The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders. Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site.

    There was a lower town about one kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city. The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.

    Bassetki was only known to the general public in the past because of the “Bassetki statue,” which was discovered there by chance in 1975. This is a fragment of a bronze figure of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin (about 2250 BC). The discovery was stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad during the Iraq War in 2003, but was later rediscovered by US soldiers. Up until now, researchers were unable to explain the location of the find. The archeologists have now been able to substantiate their assumption that an important outpost of Akkadian culture may have been located there.

    Although the excavation site is only 45 kilometers from territory controlled by the IS, it was possible to conduct the archeological work without any disturbances. “The protection of our employees is always our top priority. Despite the geographical proximity to IS, there’s a great deal of security and stability in the Kurdish autonomous areas in Iraq,” said Professor Peter Pfälzner, Director of the Department of Near Eastern Archaeology at the IANES of the University of Tübingen. The research team consisting of 30 people lived in the city of Dohuk, which is only 60 kilometers north of Mosul, during the excavation work.

    In another project being handled by the “ResourceCultures” collaborative research center (SFB 1070), Pfälzner’s team has been completing an archeological inspection of territory in the complete area surrounding Bassetki as far as the Turkish and Syrian borders since 2013 – and 300 previously unknown sites have been discovered. The excavations and the research work in the region are due to be continued during the summer of 2017. “The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age. We’re therefore planning to establish a long-term archeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues,” says Pfälzner. The excavation work is being funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


    3,250-year-old Middle Assyrian tablets help uncover the location of the ancient city of Mardaman

    Cuneiform tablets, recovered from Bassetki in Iraq, have revealed something that eluded historians for decades: the location of the ancient royal city of Mardaman. Discovered last year by archaeologists from the University of Tübingen, the tablets contain Assyrian writings that were, only recently, translated.

    Existing between circa 2200 BC and 1200 BC, Mardaman was an important city in northern Mesopotamia. Although mentioned in several ancient sources, the city’s exact location was unknown to researchers until now. Conquered and ravaged several times during its existence, Mardaman was, at times, a kingdom or a provincial capital.

    The excavation works were carried out last summer in and around Bassetki, which is a village in the Dohuk Governorate of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. At the time, the team from Tübingen’s Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies led by Professor Peter Pfälzner, along with Dr. Hasan Qasim of the Duhok Antiquities Department, unearthed 92 small clay tablets belonging at the Bronze Age site. Further inspection revealed that the artifacts actually date back to the Middle Assyrian Empire, circa 1250 BC.

    The partly-crumbling tablets were brought to Dr. Betina Faist, a philologist at the University of Heidelberg and an Assyrian language specialist. From photographs of the 3,250-year-old tablets, she managed to translate the cuneiform script, thus revealing the region’s rich history. During her research, Faist also successfully uncovered the site of the ancient city of Mardaman.

    The writings further pointed to the city being the administrative seat of Middle Assyrian governor, Assur-nasir. In fact, Faist identified a hitherto-unknown province of the empire, encompassing parts of northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the 13th century BC. The tablets also contain detailed information about the governor’s responsibilities and activities in general. Speaking about the findings, Pfälzner said –

    All of a sudden it became clear that our excavations had found an Assyrian governor’s palace.

    Mardaman: A History Going Back To Circa 2,200 BC

    Although the Bronze Age city of Mardaman was originally discovered in 2013 , archaeologists stumbled across the Middle Assyrian clay tablets during excavation works last year. Around sixty of these ancient tablets were found inside a ceramic pot that doubled as a storage medium. Interestingly enough, this pot, along with two similar specimens, were wrapped in a thick coating of clay. Shedding more light, Pfälzner explained –

    They may have been hidden this way shortly after the surrounding building had been destroyed. Perhaps the information inside it was meant to be protected and preserved for posterity.

    Coming to the historical ambit of the Bronze Age settlement, Mardaman was probably founded some time in 3000 BC and thrived for over 2,000 years. It was cited in multiple Old Babylonian sources of the 18th century BC. According to the archaeologists, it could be the Assyrian Mardama, the center of a kingdom under the Old Assyrian Empire that was conquered by Amorite king Shamshi-Adad I circa 1786 BC. Under his reign, it became a part of the Upper Mesopotamian empire and later turned into an independent kingdom, controlled by Hurrian ruler Tish-ulme.

    For some time after that, the city witnessed a period of prosperity. However, soon afterward, it was attacked by the Turukkaeans, an ancient people in the northwestern parts of Iran during the Bronze Age. Elaborating further, Pfälzner said –

    The cuneiform texts and our findings from the excavations in Bassetki now make it clear that that was not the end. The city existed continuously and achieved a final significance as a Middle Assyrian governor’s seat between 1,250 and 1,200 BC.

    Interestingly, the history of Mardaman actually goes back even further to the early parts of the Mesopotamian civilization. The Bronze Age settlement was probably founded some time in 3000 BC and thrived for over 2,000 years. According to extant sources from the Third Dynasty of Ur (circa 2200 BC-2100 BC), the ancient city served as a major hub in the northern stretches of Mesopotamia. One such source dates back to the Akkadian Empire, which was the first ancient Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia. As per historical records, the city of Mardaman underwent destruction for the first time in around 2250 BC, at the hands of Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin.

    Furthermore, archaeologists have also found evidence of two Mittani cuneiform tablets from one of the settlement’s layers, which suggests that it was a part of the little known Mittani Kingdom till at least 14th century BC.

    Finally, as for the infrastructural scale of this settlement, geomagnetic resistance measurements (conducted last year) revealed the presence of a dedicated road network that connected the city. This alludes to the importance of the settlement in a region linking Mesopotamia and Anatolia, possibly as a trade hub. Analysis of the internal ruins also confirmed that the city was divided into residential districts and posh localities while being accompanied on the architectural level by a relatively large palatial complex dating from the Bronze Age.

    On the latest findings, the team added –

    The clay tablets of Bassetki make an important new contribution to the geography of Mesopotamia. Mardaman certainly rose to be an influential city and a regional kingdom, based on its position on the trade routes between Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria. At times it was an adversary of the great Mesopotamian powers. So the University of Tübingen’s future excavations in Bassetki are sure to yield many more exciting discoveries.


    Watch the video: The Ancient Sumerians: The Great Ziggurat of Ur. Ancient Architects


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