Category Archives: IRAQ

3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths – and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometry

3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths – and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometry

Tucked away in a seemingly forgotten corner of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Daniel Mansfield found what may solve one of ancient math’s biggest questions. First exhumed in 1894 from what is now Baghdad, the circular tablet — broken at the centre with small perpendicular indentations across it — was feared lost to antiquity. But in 2018, a photo of the tablet showed up in Mansfield’s inbox.

Mansfield, a senior lecturer of mathematics at the University of New South Wales Sydney, had suspected the tablet was real. He came across records of its excavation and began the hunt. Word got around about what he was looking for, and then the email came. He knew what he had to do: travel to Turkey and examine it at the museum.

Hidden within this tablet is not only the oldest known display of applied geometry but a new ancient understanding of triangles. It could rewrite what we know about the history of mathematics, Mansfield argues. These findings were published Wednesday in the journal Foundations of Science.

It’s generally thought that trigonometry — a subset of geometry and what’s displayed on the tablet in a crude sense — was developed by ancient Greeks like the philosopher Pythagoras. However, analysis of the tablet suggests it was created 1,000 years before Pythagoras was born. Babylonian mathematics, which already holds a place of renown in the pantheon of ancient math, might’ve been more sophisticated than historians have given it credit for.

“The way we understand trigonometry harks back to ancient Greek astronomers,” Mansfield tells Inverse. “I like to think of the Babylonian understanding of right triangles as an unexpected prequel, which really is an independent story because the Babylonians weren’t using it to measure the stars, they were using it to measure the ground.”

Dr. Mansfield observes the tablet.
Dr. Mansfield observes the tablet.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW FIRST — Mansfield is no stranger to a pair of white gloves and following his mathematical curiosity. Years before discovering this latest tablet, dubbed Si.427, Mansfield was hot on the trail of another ancient Babylonian “document:” Plimpton 322. While the location of this artefact was known (it’s located at Columbia University) its true purpose was not.

Like Si.427, which dates back to roughly 1900 to 1600 BCE, Plimpton 322 is covered in geometric markings — riddles academics have tried to decipher for years. While the reigning theory was that these markings were a kind of teacher’s cheat code for Babylonian homework problems, Mansfield and colleagues were not convinced. In a 2017 paper, Mansfield and colleagues propose Plimpton 322 might be a kind of proto-trigonometry table of values — suggesting it predates the development of trigonometry as we know it today.

The Plimpton 322 clay tablet: it’s about the size of a postcard.

“A modern analogy would be to say that it contains a mix of elementary school problems alongside the unsolved conjectures of mathematics,” writes Mansfield in the new paper.

WHAT’S NEW — Now, Mansfield argues the discovery of Si.427 could confirm his Plimpton 322 hunch. In essence, Si.427 is argued to be a case study of how this proto-trig could be used in practice.

Si.427 is what’s known as a cadastral document. These are used to document the boundaries of land ownership. There are other examples on record, but Mansfield argues this tablet is the oldest known example from the Old Babylonian period — a range that stretches from 1900 BCE to 1600 BCE. On the tablet are legal and geometry details about a field that was split after some of it were sold.

This research suggests Plimpton 322 was used similarly: It might have been a surveyor’s cheat sheet, instead of a teacher’s. It’s possible Plimpton 322 was the theoretical solution to the practical problems a surveyor using Si.427 might have encountered.

“It’s a discovery that has come to us far outside our mathematical culture,” Mansfield says. “It seems new and fresh to us, even though it’s almost 4,000 years old.”

Using the principles of right triangles and perpendicular lines, ancient surveyors could evenly divide the land to avoid disputing neighbours.

WHY IT MATTERS — While these tablets are the kind of thing you might easily walk past on display in a museum, Mansfield said this discovery could actually have a huge implication for how we understand these ancient mathematics. Namely, it means mathematicians were working with so-called Pythagorean triples (trios of numbers that satisfy the infamous a^2+b^2 = c^2 equation) long before Pythagoras himself was even born. It also helps answer a slightly less academic question: How do you evenly divide up disputed land?

“This is from a period where land is starting to become private — people started thinking about the land in terms of ‘my land and your land,’ wanting to establish a proper boundary to have positive neighbourly relationships,” Mansfield explains in a statement.

“And this is what this tablet immediately says. It’s a field being split, and new boundaries are made.”

HOW DOES IT WORK? — As for how triangles sketched in clay translate to farmer’s fields, it all comes down to perpendicular lines. Essentially, surveyors would choose two Pythagorean triples (which were inherently right triangles) and extend the boundary line of the resultant rectangle by eye to create true perpendicular lines that spread across the entire field.

“This proves that our Babylonian surveyor had a solid theoretical understanding of the geometry of rectangles and right triangles and used it to solve practical problems,” Mansfield says in the video.

Extending the boundary of these triangles allowed surveyors to create incredibly straight lines without manually measuring or laying them out beforehand.

There are also instances of resizing these triangles to better fit the physical shape of the field at hand, which surveyors would’ve liked done by referencing a table of trig values like Plimpton 322, the study suggests. This table would’ve been a comprehensive list of Pythagorean triples and the steps to resizing them.

WHAT’S NEXT — This discovery may have laid to rest one ancient math mystery, there’s still plenty more where that came from, Mansfield says.

“Ancient mathematics is not as sophisticated as modern mathematics,” he says. “But sometimes you want to simple answers instead of sophisticated ones.”

He’s not “just talking about how mathematics students want their exams to be.” The advantage of a simple approach is its quickness — and Mansfield wants to examine whether or not this approach has any real-world applications.

“This approach might be of benefit in computer graphics or any application where speed is more important than precision,” he says.

Abstract: Plimpton 322 is one of the most sophisticated and interesting mathematical objects from antiquity. It is often regarded as teacher’s list of school problems, however new analysis suggests that it relates to a particular geometric problem in contemporary surveying.

Iraq says the US returning 17,000 looted ancient treasures

Iraq says the US returning 17,000 looted ancient treasures

Iraq says the US returning 17,000 looted ancient treasures
Gilgamesh was a major hero in ancient Mesopotamian mythology and the protagonist of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Next month, museum-goers in Iraq are in for a surprise. Eighteen years after it was looted from the city, a clay tablet bearing the Epic of Gilgamesh, regarded as one of the world’s oldest surviving pieces of literature, is set to return to the place of its birth.

Iraq Tuesday reclaimed more than 17,000 ancient artefacts looted and smuggled out of the country after the US invasion in 2003, reported The New York Times.

About 12,000 of the returned artifacts had been housed in the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC and 5,381 had been held by Cornell University. Both institutions have been pulled up by US authorities in the past for holding artifacts that were not acquired through appropriate means.

Iraqi culture and foreign ministries disclosed to the NYT that US authorities had reached an agreement with Iraq to return items seized from dealers and museums in the US. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi brought back the artifacts on his plane, after making an official visit to the US last week.

After 1991, when the Iraqi government lost control of parts of southern Iraq following the first Gulf War, widespread looting occurred at historical sites. The looting continued after the US-led invasion in 2003 — the year that also witnessed the end of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Many artefacts were also smuggled or destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants during the period between 2014 and 2017 when it controlled some parts of Iraq.

The Gilgamesh tablet

The Gilgamesh tablet is a prized and much-anticipated retrieval.

The 3,500-year-old clay tablet bearing the Epic of Gilgamesh is considered one of the world’s first pieces of notable literature. The epic is believed to predate Homer’s Iliad by 1,500 years and is one of the beloved tales of Mesopotamia — present-day Iraq.

Iraq says the US returning 17,000 looted ancient treasures
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a 3,500-year-old Sumerian tale considered one of the world’s first pieces of literature

The epic is based on the many adventures of the handsome athletic king of Uruk, Gilgamesh (2900–2350 BC).

Many of the other clay tablets and seals that have been returned by the US also are linked to Mesopotamia — one of the world’s earliest civilisations — and even to Irisagrig, a lost ancient city.

The tablet will return to Iraq in September after legal procedures are wrapped up, Iraq’s Culture Minister Hassan Nadhem told Reuters. Speaking on the cultural value of the artifacts, he told The New York Times: “This is not just about thousands of tablets coming back to Iraq again — it is about the Iraqi people.”

Back to places of origin

In 2013, the US Justice Department urged Cornell University to give back thousands of ancient tablets believed to have been looted from Iraq in the 1990s, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In 2019, US authorities seized the Gilgamesh tablet displayed at the Washington museum after it was revealed to have been smuggled, auctioned and sold to an art dealer in Oklahoma.

An American antiquities dealer had bought the tablet from a London-based dealer in 2003, the US Department of Justice said in a statement last week.

Australia, too, in a statement last week, announced it would return 14 works of art, worth a combined $3 million, to the Indian government.

The 4,000-year-old city discovered in Iraq

The 4,000-year-old city discovered in Iraq

In Iraqi Kurdistan, a team of French archaeologists discovered the ruins of a long-lost ancient city. The ancient city of Kunara, in the Zagros mountains, was discovered by archaeologists over the course of six excavations between 2012 and 2018.

Previously, experts had been prevented from exploring the site, near the modern city of Sulaymaniyah, by Saddam Hussein’s regime and conflicts in the region.

The discovery is described in the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) journal.

The first of the cuneiform tablets was discovered during the Kunara excavation. The tablet records the delivery of different types of flour.

Located on the western border of the Mesopotamian Empire, the city may have been an important centre of an ancient mountainous people known as the Lullubi, according to experts.

Large stone foundations were discovered at the site, which dates to around 2200 B.C. Dozens of clay tablets covered with cuneiform writing were also found, shedding light on the city’s agriculture. For example, the first of the clay tablets discovered records the delivery of different types of flour.

The archaeologists’ research indicates that the city’s demise occurred about 4,000 years ago when it was ravaged by fire.

However, the city’s name is still unknown. Further excavation of the site will take place in the fall.

The small cup-shaped indents in this structure may have served a ceremonial purpose, according to archaeologists.

Ancient sites in other parts of the world are also revealing their secrets. Last year, archaeologists in Greece located the remains of a lost city believed to have been settled by captives from the Trojan War.

Separately in 2018, archaeologists in Western Mexico used sophisticated laser technology to discover a lost city that may have had as many buildings as Manhattan.

In 2017, archaeologists harnessed spy satellite imagery and drones to help identify the site of an ancient lost city in Northern Iraq.

An arrowhead fragment made of obsidian, or volcanic glass. that was discovered at the site. The obsidian comes from Anatolia, which is several hundred miles from Kunara, according to experts.

The Qalatga Darband site overlooks the Lower Zab river at the western edge of the Zagros Mountains, is part of a historic route from ancient Mesopotamia to Iran.

A vase decorated with snakes and scorpions was discovered at the site of the ancient city.

Experts recently created a stunning digital reconstruction of a centuries-old lost city discovered in South Africa. In another project, researchers have shed new light on the events that led to the demise of the ancient Cambodian megacity of Angkor.

3400-year-old palace from a mysterious kingdom surface in Iraq during drought

3400-year-old palace from a mysterious kingdom surface in Iraq during drought

After the waters in the Mosul Dam reservoir have receded, researchers said they’ve uncovered “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region.” According to researchers, the Mittani Kingdom is one of the least understood ancient civilizations.

3400-year-old palace from a mysterious kingdom surface in Iraq during drought
Aerial view of the Kemune Palace from the west. The imposing palace would have once stood just 20 meters from the Tigris River.

A team of German and Kurdish archaeologists found a 3,400-year-old palace belonging to the enigmatic Mittani Empire, which they had found while excavating at the Neolithic settlement of Umm el-Qaab in southern Iraq, the University of Tübingen published on Thursday.

The discovery was only made possible by a drought that significantly reduced water levels in the Mosul Dam reservoir.

“The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades and illustrates the success of the Kurdish-German cooperation,” said Hasan Ahmed Qasim, a Kurdish archaeologist of the Duhok Directorate of Antiquities who worked on the site.

Shrouded in mystery

Last year, the team of archaeologists launched an emergency rescue evacuation of the ruins when receding waters revealed them on the ancient banks of the Tigris. The ruins are part of only a handful discovered from the Mittani Empire.

“The Mittani Empire is one of the least researched empires of the Ancient Near East,” said archaeologist Ivana Puljiz of the University of Tübingen. “Even the capital of the Mittani Empire has not been identified.”

Terrace wall on the western side of Kemune Palace.
Mural fragment discovered in Kemune Palace. 

‘Archaeological sensation’

The team had little time to spare as water levels continued to rise, eventually submerging the ruins again. At least 10 cuneiforms clay tablets were discovered inside the palace.

“We also found remains of wall paints in bright shades of red and blue,” Puljiz said. “In the second millennium BCE, murals were probably a typical feature of palaces in the Ancient Near East, but we rarely find them preserved. Discovering wall paintings in Kemune is an archaeological sensation.”

A team of researchers in Germany will now try to interpret the cuneiform tablets.

They hope that the clay tablets will reveal more about the Mittani Empire, which once dominated life in parts of Syria and northern Mesopotamia.

Remains Of Long-Lost Temple Of Musasir Discovered In Iraq

Remains Of Long-Lost Temple Of Musasir Discovered In Iraq

In an ancient stone carving, warriors brandishing shields and swords swarm over the columned facade of a grand temple. On one side, a palace stands with three women perched on top; on the other, above private homes, a ruler on a throne dictates to royal scribes. In the foreground, the peaks of northern Iraq soar.

For centuries, scholars and archaeologists have speculated about the whereabouts of this near-mythical temple and the powerful city where it resided. While they know its history, the storied city’s exact location has long been lost to time, until a recent report by a local archaeologist claimed to have hit upon the temple’s remains. Using clues pulled from surviving records and descriptions, Dlshad Marf Zamua believes that, after seven years of research, he’s found the last traces of Musasir in what is now a village called Mdjeser in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More than 2,500 years ago, the holy structure was the shining glory of the ancient capital city of Musarir, also known as Ardini, in modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan. For hundreds of years, around the first millennium BC, the house of worship and its home city was renowned as holy sites. Scholars believe that the temple was built in the late ninth century BC to honor the god Haldi—a winged warrior standing on a lion—and the goddess Bagbartu in the Iron Age kingdom of Urartu, which considered Haldi its national deity.

Remains Of Long-Lost Temple Of Musasir Discovered In Iraq

This ancient metropolis separated Urartu, a cross-section of Armenia, Iraq, eastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran, from the powerful empire of Assyria. The capital city had long been written about, first by an Assyrian king who said it was “the holy city founded in bedrock,” then by a later king who referred to the city’s ruler as a “mountain dweller,” and its own seal called it “the city of the raven.”

The adorned temple of Haldi was described as having multiple gates, where large numbers of animals were sacrificed. There was supposedly a courtyard, and scholars believe regional kings were crowned on its grounds, where they would later erect bronze statues in their own honor.

The region was a constant battleground for political powers in the Middle East, and in 714 B.C., the armies of Sargon II of Assyria captured and plundered the holy Musasir. Within the temple, they found a cache of treasure hoarded for centuries. The crusading king’s loot totaled an estimated one ton of gold and 10 tons of silver.

This was the eighth campaign for Sargo II, and one of the last major conquests led by a series of kings who would unite the Middle East under the rule of Assyria. Sargo II used claims of treachery by local rulers to justify the invasion, but it became clear that the vast wealth of the city was the real goal. He pledged the newfound riches to fund construction of “Sargon’s Fortress” the next year, with plans of making it the new center of Assyria, one of the great ancient empires. It was on the walls of Sargon II’s massive new palace that workers engraved scenes of the sacking of Masasir.

A 19th-century drawing of an ancient relief that depicts the sacking of the temple of Haldi by the Assyrians.
Several life-sized human statues of bearded males, dating back to the seventh or sixth centuries B.C., have also been discovered in Kurdistan.

In the carving, the temple is depicted with a classical pediment front and a colonnade of columns supporting the structure. If accurate, historians believe it could be the first known temple to use both those styles.

For the last 40 years, since they were unearthed during a military upheaval, local villagers in Mdjeser have been using these column bases in their homes and buildings, incorporating them into stairs, seats, or courtyard additions.

Marf Zamua, who teaches at Salahaddin University in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and is working on his PhD in Assyriology in the Netherlands, began collecting these recently exposed pieces. The 17 column fragments he’s found so far have led him to believe he’s discovered the long-lost temple. Along with these major finds are a collection of relics, seven stone statues, pottery, and a bronze depiction of a wild goat found in the area.

Life-size human statues and the remains of an ancient temple dating back some 2,500 years have been discovered in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The region’s hilly environment, shown here.

It hasn’t been an easy task. Four decades of turmoil have devastated archaeological sites, but the chaos has also resurfaced previously buried treasures. Beginning in 2005, Marf Zamua began to document Late Bronze Age and Iron Age sites that were revealed during a period of unrest. He went from village to village looking for what had been uncovered. “Most of the objects [were] re-used for their daily life, such as using column bases as stairs and seats,” he remembers, “and statues as column stones in their houses.”

He also made a connection between architectural similarities between the modern village and the ancient city—idiosyncrasies in building styles that are uncommon elsewhere in the region, like the lack of outer compound walls and stacked houses. These findings were presented in June at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Basel, Switzerland.

Paul Zimansky, a professor of archaeology and ancient history at Stony Brook University, says the general area has been thought to contain the mythic temple for many years. And while he’s not yet convinced of the temple’s discovery, he says the bases found “may well belong to some sort of public building of the appropriate time.” He calls Marf Zamua’s discoveries “a major contribution to the archaeology of this valley.”

“I hope he can continue his work in spite of all the political turmoil,” Zimansky says. “The remoteness of the area has been both its curse and its blessing throughout history.”

Uncovering these treasures in Iraq has posed a special set of challenges for excavators. The area saw the suspension of digs after the 1981 Gulf War, Marf Zamua says, when the Iranian and Iraqi armies sowed the earth with thousands of landmines. Later, Kurdish fighters clashed with Iran and Turkey, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein destroyed thousands of Kurdish villages, including Mdjeser.

As it goes, history is bound to repeat itself. Just as Sargon II plundered Urartu to fund his war chest, antiquities across Syria and Iraq have been bombed flat and looted by rebels and government forces alike. In Iraq, invading militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham have torn through Mosul’s museum and are destroying ancient treasures at an alarming rate.

Marf Zamua denounces the pillaging, but says the rebels have been targeting Islamic architecture and relics more than pre-Islamic sites. Luckily, the Kurdish army has been successfully protecting the border since the surge, and Marf Zamua says he’s unconcerned about the interference with his work—he and the local antiquities department are moving ahead with plans to launch fuller excavations into locations where the objects were found

But there’s no telling whether the remnants of a mythic temple built to honor a winged man on a lion’s back will survive its resurrection. “They destroy anything they do not like,” Marf Zamua says of the modern-day invaders.

A winged bull with a human head, found during excavations. Stored in the Louvre.
A 19th-century drawing of an ancient relief depicting the plundering of the temple by the Assyrians.
Sargon II with a nobleman.
Armenian priests – astrologers are the keepers of the eternal fire of wisdom and knowledge
Drawing 12 zodiac houses. The revolutionary Dudosimal (twelve) system of Armenian Chaldean astrologers
Heavenly bull Taurus. Esoteric cuneiform table of Chaldean astrologers. Instruction book of rules
Part of a broken cuneiform script about observing celestial bodies in order to predict the future on the basis of cosmic phenomena. Up to natural disasters

Ancient Greek Inscription Unearthed in Iraq

Ancient Greek Inscription Unearthed in Iraq

The Department of Antiquities in Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province announced on Monday the discovery of an ancient artefact that dates back over 2,000 years.

The artifact was found in an ancient hillside 10 kilometers west of Duhok province.

Kurdistan 24 reports that an engraved tablet has been unearthed in northern Kurdistan’s Duhok province. “After careful study, we found out that the stone tablet is engraved with Hellenistic script and dates back to 165 B.C.

Experts in Duhok found the item back in March but only estimated that its age recently.

The Hellenistic era is a period in history that followed the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, who conquered much of the Middle East and spread Greek influence.

Ahmed explained that the engravings had been translated into Kurdish by researchers, who also concluded that the inscriptions refer specifically to Demetrius— a Hellenistic-era ruler of the region around the second century B.C.

The writing makes references to the period that followed the coming of Alexander the Great, he noted.

“This discovery will pave the way for researchers to conduct further archaeological investigations in the foreseeable future [in the Kurdistan Region],” said Ahmed.

The research findings will be published in academic journals, according to the museum official.

Ahmed’s statement comes after the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism on Monday announced it had unearthed a number of historic sites in Erbil province.

5,000-Year-Old Cultic Area Unearthed in Iraq

Ritual site of a Mesopotamian god of war found in Iraq that was used for animal sacrifices

Archaeologists have discovered 5,000-year-old sacred places in Iraq for 5,000 years which have been used for rituals intended to appease a Mesopotamian warrior god.

The team working at the Telloh site believes it was used for parties, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather.

Next to the pit were cups, bowls, jars and animal bones which, according to experts, are the remains of animal sacrifices. However, a bronze duck-shaped object was also discovered that may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, swamps and water birds, LiveScience reported. The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer, one of the first cities in the world.

5,000-Year-Old Cultic Area Unearthed in Iraq
A sacred plaza has laid hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior-god and a recent excavation has uncovered its gruesome past. Archaeologists working at the site in Telloh discovered the area was used for feasts, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather.

A sacred place has been hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years and has been used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior god and a recent excavation has exposed its horrible past. Archaeologists working at the Telloh site have discovered that the area was used for festivals, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting and weather

The area has been of interest to archaeologists for years, as it is home to important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Recently, experts have investigated the centre of Girsu where the Ningirsu temple once stood.

Here they found more than 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and beakers, all of which have been damaged over time. There was also a treasure trove of animal bones hidden under the dirt, which archaeologists say are remains of the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit.

Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and spouted vessels, all which have been damaged over time
There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit
The cite was used some 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian war god

Here they found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and beakers, all of which have been damaged over time. There was also a treasure trove of animal bones hidden under the dirt, which archaeologists believe to be the remains of animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit

The city was used about 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian god of war. A bronze figurine that looks like a duck has also been discovered, which the team, who told LiveScience in an email, believe they were dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, swamps and water birds, as well as a vase engraved with text on the goddess.

Sébastien Rey, director of the Tello / Ancient Girsu project at the British Museum, and Tina Greenfield, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, led this excavation at the site.

The area has been of interests to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Recently experts have been investigating the centre of Girsu where the temple of Ningirsu was once standing
The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer -one of the earliest cities in the world

The area has been of interest to archaeologists for years, as it is home to important Sumerian remains and artefacts. Experts recently investigated the centre of Girsu, where the Ningirsu temple once stood

The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer – one of the first cities in the world. Because a thick layer of ash was found on the ground, the team speculates that massive parties have taken place in the area.

These clues link the region to the place “where, according to cuneiform texts, religious festivals were held and where the people of Girsu gathered to feast and honour their gods,” said Rey and Greenfield in the email.

Clay tablets, also known as cuneiform tablets found in Girsu, depict residents holding religious ceremonies in the sacred square. The text tells of a religious celebration in honour of Ningirsu that took place twice a year and lasted three or four days, said Rey and Greenfield.

WHAT IS OLD MESOPOTAMIA?

A historic area of ​​the Middle East that covers most of what is now known as Iraq, but which also extends to include parts of Syria and Turkey. The term “Mesopotamia” comes from Greek, which means “between two rivers”.

The two rivers to which the name refers are the Tiger and the Euphrates. Unlike many other empires (such as the Greeks and Romans), Mesopotamia was made up of many different cultures and groups.

Mesopotamia should be better understood as a region which has produced several empires and civilizations rather than any civilization. Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” mainly due to two developments: the invention of the “city” as we know it today and the invention of writing.

Mesopotamia is an ancient region of the Middle East that is most of modern Iraq and parts of other countries. They invented cities, the wheel and agriculture and gave women almost equal rights

Thought to be responsible for many early developments, he is also credited with the invention of the wheel. They also gave the world the first massive domestication of animals, cultivated large tracts of land, and invented tools and weapons.

In addition to these practical developments, the region has seen the birth of wine, beer and the delimitation of time in hours, minutes and seconds. The fertile land between the two rivers is believed to have provided a comfortable existence for hunter-gatherers which led to the agricultural revolution.

A common thread throughout the region is the equal treatment of women. Women enjoyed almost equal rights and could own land, file for divorce, own their own business, and enter into commercial contracts.

5,000-year-old Iraqi city discovered under a 10 meter-deep mound

5,000-year-old Iraqi city discovered under a 10 meter-deep mound

In the Kurdistan province of northern Iraq, an ancient town called ‘Idu’ was discovered. Hidden under a mound of 32 feet (10 meters), it is believed that the city was an entertainment center between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago.

King inscriptions made for walls, tablets, and plinths of the stone show that once it was full of lavish palaces. It is thought the inscription was made by the local kings celebrating the construction of the royal palace.

Archaeologists at the University of Leipzig in Germany spent the next few years excavating the area. They believe the city of Idu spent much of its time under the control of the Assyrian Empire about 3,300 years ago.

The ancient city of Idu is now part of a Tell that rises about 32 feet (10 metres) above the surrounding plain. The modern day name of the site is Satu Qala and a village lies on top of the Tell
This cylinder seal dates back around 2,600 years, to a time after the Assyrians had re-conquered Idu. The seal would show a mythical scene if it was rolled on a piece of clay. It depicts a crouched bowman, who may be the god Ninurta, facing a griffon
The city is thought to have been a hub of activity between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago. The above image shows a living structure, with at least two rooms, that may date to around 2,000 years ago when the Parthian Empire controlled the area in Iraq

But archaeologists also found evidence that it was a fiercely independent city. Its people fought for and won, 140 years of independence before they were reconquered by the Assyrians.

Among the treasures found were artwork showing a bearded sphinx with a human head and the body of a winged lion. Above it was the words: ‘Palace of Ba’auri, king of the land of Idu, son of Edima, also king of the land of Idu.’

They also found a cylinder seal dating back roughly 2,600 years depicting a man crouching before a griffon.

‘We were lucky to be one of the first teams to begin excavations in Iraq after the 2003 war,’ archaeologists Cinzia Pappi told MailOnline.

‘The discovery of ancient Idu at Satu Qala revealed a multicultural capital and a crossroad between northern and southern Iraq and between Iraq and Western Iran in the second and first millennia BC.

‘Particularly the discovery of a local dynasty of kings fills a gap in what scholars had previously thought of as a dark age in the history of ancient Iraq.

‘Together these results have helped to redraw the political and historical map of the development of the Assyrian Empire.’ The city was hidden beneath a mound, called a tell, which is currently home to a village called Satu Qala.

‘For wide-scale excavations to continue, at least some of these houses will have to be removed,’ said archaeologists Cinzia Pappi.

‘Unfortunately, until a settlement is reached between the villagers and the Kurdistan regional government, further work is currently not possible.’

Archaeologists plan to continue excavating the site once they reach an agreement. In the meantime, a study on the materials from the site, now stored in the Erbil Museum of Antiquities, has just been completed in co-operation with the University of Pennsylvania.

Together, the researchers will explore the surrounding area to determine the extent of the kingdom of Idu in its regional context. The findings have been reported in the journal Anatolica.