ERBIL — An ancient city dating back to the Mittani Empire-era over 3,400 years ago has resurfaced in the Tigris River in Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province, a local official confirmed.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Bekas Brifkani, head of Duhok Archaeology Directorate, told reporters that the re-emergence of the city happened due to draught which has significantly affected the water level in the Tigris River.
“After the water level continued to decrease, the remnants of the city resurfaced, which includes a massive settlement with a large number of buildings and antiquities,” Brifkani revealed, noting that they have so far found nearly 200 clay tablets inscribed with Cuneiform texts.
A team of German and Kurdish archaeologists is now excavating the site which includes a palace and several large buildings could be ancient Zakhiku – believed to have been an important center in the Mittani Empire (ca. 1550-1350 BC).
The first findings at the site were recorded in January this year, after which a team for the rescue excavations was put together within days.
In the first stages, funding for the work was obtained at short notice from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation through the University of Freiburg. The German-Kurdish archaeological team was under immense time pressure because it was not clear when the water in the reservoir would rise again, according to a report by idw.
The research team was stunned by the well-preserved state of the walls – sometimes to a height of several meters – despite the fact that the walls are made of sun-dried mud bricks and were under water for more than 40 years. This good preservation is due to the fact that the city was destroyed in an earthquake around 1350 BC, during which the collapsing upper parts of the walls buried the buildings.
Of particular interest is the discovery of five ceramic vessels that contained an archive of over 100 cuneiform tablets. They date to the Middle Assyrian period, shortly after the earthquake disaster struck the city. Some clay tablets, which may be letters, are even still in their clay envelopes. The researchers hope this discovery will provide important information about the end of the Mittani-period city and the beginning of Assyrian rule in the region. "It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades under water,” Prof. Dr. Peter Pfälzner from University of Tübingen said.