The “Lost City of Atlantis” isn’t real, but this one was.
An international group of archaeologists has unearthed a 3,400-year-old city under the Tigris River in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, they shared this week.
The Bronze Age village — erected sometime between 1475 BC and 1275 BC when the Mitanni Empire ruled over the northern Euphrates-Tigris region — emerged out of the Mosul reservoir, on the Tigris in Kemune, earlier this year as drought in the region has caused local waters to recede.
The mud-brick walled settlement consists of a palace, several towers and multi-story buildings, as well as other large structures, and may represent the ancient town of Zakhiku, a storied trade hub within the Kingdom of Mitanni.
“The huge magazine building is of particular importance because enormous quantities of goods must have been stored in it, probably brought from all over the region,” said Dr. Ivana Puljiz, of the University of Freiburg, in a statement to Phys.org submitted by their partnering institution, University of Tübingen. The Kurdistan Archaeology Organization also contributed in collaboration with the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in Duhok.
The site had never been thoroughly investigated by archaeologists before it was drowned about 40 years ago when the Mosul reservoir was built. It’s since returned to the surface amid a severe drought in the region since December, which has forced nearby communities in need of freshwater to draw from the dam.
In a matter of days, the unplanned event prompted a team of German and Kurdish researchers to begin excavation and finally map the city — before it’s potentially resubmerged.
Zakhiku was all but destroyed by an earthquake around 1350 BC. However, researchers uncovered more than 100 cuneiform tablets, some still folded within clay envelopes, which are said to date back to a period just after the disaster. The writings could provide valuable information about the society’s migration and the end of the Mittani era.
“It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades underwater,” said Tübingen’s Dr. Peter Pfälzner.