4,000-Year-Old Mesopotamian City Found Within the Shadow Of Ur

A 4,000-year-old urban settlement has been discovered on the road to Ur in modern Iraq. Researchers suspect the revelation represents a lost Mesopotamian city capital that was founded on the ashes of the collapse of archaic Babylonia in the middle of the second millennium BC. According to the Middle Eastern news site, Al-Monitor, a joint team of Russian and Iraqi archaeologists discovered the site on 24 June 2021 in the Tell al-Duhaila area in Dhi Qar Governorate, around 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the antediluvian city of Ur site.

The Dhi Qar Governorate in southern Iraq is perhaps best kenned as the backdrop for The Battle of Dhi, fought between Arab tribes and the Sassanid Imperium around the year 623 AD. However, long afore the Muslim incursion of the territory kenned today as Iraq, antediluvian cultures built thousands of ziggurat temples, sacred burial sites and proto-cities across the Mesopotamian delta. This is one of them, but it is perhaps more “important” that all the others.“New” Mesopotamian City: A Key Cradle-of-Civilization Site? Ten international university research teams commenced this research project in southern Iraq in 2019. Their revelation of the antediluvian urban space in the shadow of the famous city of Ur expands an already heftily ponderous archaeological excavation schedule in this region. The head of the Russian excavation, Preceptor Alexei Jankowski-Diakonoff, told Al-Monitor of than there subsist more than “1,200 archaeological sites” in this component of the Mesopotamian delta alone, which is an apperceived “cradle of civilization.”Perfectly exemplifying the consequentiality of this revelation, an article in The Art News Paper explicates that “ten university teams” are set to peregrinate to the Dhi Qar region in October this year to conduct the next phase of excavations. But why is this site getting such attention above the other 1,200 sites on the dig list? The answer is because it is located so proximate to the city of Ur, the paramount Sumerian city-state in antediluvian Mesopotamia.

Being located so proximate to Ur, this latest Mesopotamian city site is being deemed as potentially more “important” than the other 1,199 sites. How sites in Iraq are graded for “importance,” however, is something we will return to later.So far the archaeologists at the antediluvian settlement have unearthed “an oxidized arrowhead, traces of stoves and clay camel statues dating back to the early Iron Age, including an oven,” according to Al-Monitor. And again, highlighting the scientific paramountcy of the site, Prof. Jankowski-Diakonoff told journalists that it demonstrates “the first development in agriculture utilizing silt in Mesopotamia.” He verbalized is it an archaic storehouse of archaeological materials “preceding the emergence of the Sumerian civilization .”

If all that were not enough to warrant immediate funding, initial research at this site suggests it might be the “capital of a state founded following the political collapse at the terminus of the archaic Babylonian era [around the middle of the second millennium BC], which caused the systematic ravagement of the Sumerian civilization ’s urban life,” according to Jankowski-Diakonoff. The researcher is convinced further excavations might reveal artifacts with “cuneiform inditing in an undisturbed archaeological context”, which the scientist verbally expresses, “would be prodigiously important”.Amer Abdel Razak, the antiquity director in Dhi Qar, told Al-Monitor that the site is an “extremely consequential archaeological site ahead of the Russian team’s advent in Iraq” in October. However, “October” hinges on an incipient round of funding, and that depends on a chain of people demonstrating the sites paramountcy to people further up the Iraqi state mazuma tree. Sumaya al-Ghallab, head of the Committee for Culture, Tourism and Antiquity in the Iraqi parliament told Al-Monitor that he petitioned for “the compulsory funds and aegis for excavation teams.”What then must transpire to secure the October dig? This is to ask, what constitutes “importance” in Iraqi archaeology? A Vestnik Kavkaza article quotes Karrar al-Rawazeq, an archaeologist and member of the Muthanna antiquity rescue team, verbally expressing “Exploration and excavation works in the area will yield economic and cultural benefits only if the site was turned into a tourist and investment destination, which would magnetize funds and tourists .” And therein lies our answer, deflating as it may be. This site is liable to be excavated not because of its archaeological, gregarious or religious “importance,” but because the circumventing land would fortify a carpark, visitor’s center and ticket stall. Just like Disneyland.

July 16, 2021 | 10:50 pm