Baghdad — British archaeologists have discovered a previously unknown palace or temple near the ancient city of Ur in the first foreign excavation at the site in southern Iraq since the 1930s.
A small team of archaeologists working from satellite images hinting at a buried structure have uncovered the corner of a monumental complex with rows of rooms around a large courtyard, believed to be about 4,000 years old.
“The size is breathtaking,” says Jane Moon, a University of Manchester archaeologist who heads the expedition. Ms. Moon says the walls of the structure are almost nine feet thick, indicating that the building was of great importance or indicated great wealth.
The discovery is even more significant because of its location more than 10 miles from Ur, on what would then have been the banks of the Euphrates River — the first major archaeological find that far from the city. Read more.
On December 17th, the same day the last U.S. troops left Iraq, a group of archaeologists from Stony Brook University arrived in the country, becoming one of the first foreign archaeology teams to visit in more than 20 years.
According to a recent report by USA Today’s Dan Vergano, the team spent four weeks excavating a mound called Tell Sakhariya near the southern city of Nasiriyah. It was a “small” dig, but for international archaeologists who have tracked every conflict in the region with bated breath — and who have anxiously awaited another chance to study Iraq’s ruins — the news was significant.
Elizabeth Stone, one of the archaeologists on the trip, described it as “a really hopeful moment,” saying, “It was wonderful to be back.”
Vergano’s article includes information about other historic sites in Iraq, including Ur, famed as the birthplace of Abraham and home to the world’s largest ziggurat. Read more.
Iraqi and foreign archaeologists have uncovered a temple at the Sumerian city of Ur, which dates back to about 2500 B.C., the head of the Antiquities Department says. So far the scientists have uncovered one of the walls of the temple along with numerous graves from the same period, said Hussein Rashid.
Ur is one of ancient Iraq’s most fascinating cities. It has given the world priceless treasures from the Sumerian civilization that flourished in southern Iraq.
The Sumerians, whose ethnic and linguistic stock is still a mystery, invented writing and established a civil system of government in southern Iraq more than 5000 years ago.
“An Italian excavation team in coordination with their Iraqi counterparts have uncovered the wall of a temple dating to 2500 B.C. at Tel Abu Tabeer in the ancient city of Ur,” said Rashid.
Rashid said there were three foreign excavation teams currently working in Iraq. It is the first team of foreign archaeologists to be working in the country for more than two decades. Read more.
Standing before the imposing ziggurat which was once part of a temple complex at the Sumerian capital of Ur, Iraqi archaeologist Abdelamir Hamdani worried about the natural elements that are eating away at one of the wonders of Mesopotamia.
“Is there anybody thinking about preserving these monuments?” asked the doctoral student from New York’s Stony Brook University who is one of the leaders of a nascent project to conserve the few unearthed remains of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of civilization.
The buried treasures of Ur still beckon foreign archaeologists who have begun cautiously returning to Iraq, but experts like Hamdani say that preserving the sites is more urgent than digging for more. Read more.
Penn Museum’s Iraq’s Ancient Past reopens to the public following major gallery renovations. The world-renowned Mesopotamian collection from Ur forms the centerpiece of this exhibition exploring Iraq’s ancient cultural heritage.
In 1922-the same year that Howard Carter made headlines with the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt-the Penn Museum and the British Museum embarked upon a joint expedition to the ancient site of Ur in southern Iraq. Led by British archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley, this expedition astonished the world by uncovering an extraordinary 4,500-year-old royal cemetery with more than 2,000 burials that detailed a remarkable ancient Mesopotamian civilization at the height of its glory. Read more.