Category Archives: IRAQ

The rediscovery of Noah a 6,500-year-old skeleton, who survived a great flood

The rediscovery of Noah a 6,500-year-old skeleton, who survived a great flood

The rediscovery of Noah a 6,500-year-old skeleton, who survived a great flood
A 6,500-year-old skeleton was unearthed at the Ur site in Iraq. Here, the skeleton was coated in wax in the field and lifted whole along with surrounding dirt.

Scientists at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia are quite literally cleaning the skeletons out of their closets. Museum staff recently rediscovered a 6,500-year- old human skeleton that’s been boxed up in the basement for 85 years.

Tucked away in a storeroom, the wooden box had no identifying numbers or catalogue cards. But a recent effort to digitalize some of the museum’s old records brought forth new information about the mysterious box’s history and the skeleton, nicknamed “Noah,” inside.

The human remains inside the box were originally unearthed between 1929 and 1930 at the site of Ur in modern-day Iraq by Sir Leonard Woolley and his team of archaeologists from the Penn and British Museums, according to the records.

Woolley’s excavation is best known for uncovering the famous Mesopotamian “royal cemetery,” which included hundreds of graves and 16 tombsladen with cultural artefacts. But the archaeologist and his team also discovered graves that preceded Ur’s royal burial ground by about 2,000 years.

A lightweight plaster mixture is placed over the covered skeleton, the 6,500-year-old human remains discovered at the Ur site in Iraq, in order to protect it during shipping. The silt is already being cut away under the skeleton to make room for the carrying board.

In a flood plain, nearly 50 feet (15 meters) below the surface of the site of Ur, the team found 48 graves dating back to the Ubaid period, roughly 5500 B.C. to 4000 B.C.

Though remains from this period were extremely rare even in 1929, Woolley decided to recover only one skeleton from the site. He coated the bones and surrounding soil in wax, boxed them up and shipped them to London, then Philadelphia.

A set of lists outlined where the artefacts from the 1929 to 1930 dig were headed — while half of the artefacts remained in Iraq, the others were split between London and Philadelphia. One of the lists stated that the Penn Museum was to receive a tray of mud from the excavation, as well as two skeletons.

But when William Hafford, the project manager responsible for digitalizing the museum’s records, saw the list, he was puzzled. One of the two skeletons on the list was nowhere to be found.

Further research into the museum’s database revealed the unidentified skeleton had been recorded as “not accounted for” as of 1990. To get to the bottom of this mystery, Hafford began exploring the extensive records left by Woolley himself.

After locating additional information, including images of the missing skeleton, Hafford approached Janet Monge, the Penn Museum’s curator of physical anthropology. But Monge, like Hafford, had never seen the skeleton before.

That’s when Monge remembered the mysterious box in the basement.

When Monge opened the box later that day, she said it was clear the human remains inside were the same ones listed as being packed up and shipped by Woolley.

The skeleton, she said, likely belonged to a male, 50 years or older, who would have stood somewhere between 5 feet 8 inches (173 centimetres) to 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm) tall.

Penn Museum researchers have nicknamed the re-discovered skeleton “Noah,” because he is believed to have lived after what archaeological data suggests was a massive flood at the original site of Ur.

New scientific techniques that weren’t yet available in Woolley’s time could help scientists at the Penn Museum determine much more about the time period to which these ancient remains belonged, including diet, ancestral origins, trauma, stress and diseases.

Archaeologists uncover the ancient city and hundreds of artefacts close to Baghdad

Archaeologists uncover the ancient city and hundreds of artefacts close to Baghdad

An archaeological dig in Al-Suwaira, some 60km south of Baghdad, has revealed an ancient Parthian (247BC to 224AD) city and unearthed more than 200 artefacts.

Archaeologists uncover the ancient city and hundreds of artefacts close to Baghdad
A Parthian site has been discovered south of Baghdad

According to a statement from Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) the recently completed 150-day mission took place in Abu Ghafil, near the Al-Suwaira air base, and revealed wooden residential structures as well as 233 artefacts that were sent to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.

“It was a salvage project to dig two mounds at the site of Abu Ghafil,” the archaeologist Mohammed Sabri, the head of the expedition, explains.

“The main discovery was a manufacturing and residential settlement of the Parthian period, which I believe was a kind of a vassal settlement.”

The artefacts that were found during excavation, he says, are mainly household items and include “a typical, simple Parthian jar with a tipped base that was common in that era”.

The Parthian empire was located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han Dynasty of China, and it encompassed Persian, Hellenistic and regional cultures.

Around 233 artefacts have been sent to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, including this well-preserved vase

Sabri says that the site, near the air base that defended Baghdad against Iranian missiles in the 1980s, was officially discovered in 2017 but that it may have been referenced in a mid-20th century survey conducted by the US archaeologist and scholar McGuire Gibson.

“In accordance with the latest surveys conducted by Iraqi staff of the SBAH, we have about 15,000 archaeological sites, registered and non-registered [in Iraq]” he explains.

“Some were registered from the beginning of the last century and even before that. To dig this number of sites we will need millions of years since it is a precise, scientific work that requires patience, trillions of dinars, and tens of thousands of archaeologists to supervise the work.”

The SBAH has long-term plans, he says, “to dig a specific number of sites for scientific and other practical reasons, besides the restoration, rehabilitation and survey projects in our ancient and heritage sites”.

Chaos and instability unleashed after the 2003 invasion, Isis’s reign of terror, as well as the recent pandemic, have slowed some of SBAH’s work. But the archaeologist Tobin Hartnell of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani—who will accompany a tour of ancient sites this fall organised by the Detroit-based tourism company Spiekermann Travel—notes that, even before 2003, “Under Saddam, the Parthian era sites were often overlooked as their restoration could appear to be glorifying the Persian empire at the time of the Iran/Iraq war”.

The exception, Hartnell says, was Hatra (recently restored post-Isis) which was celebrated and maintained by Saddam because of its association with “Arab kings”.

He says: “Lots of major projects were focused more on the ancient Tigris/Euphrates area rather than Wasit that was further east and closer to Iran. Just another reason why this is an underappreciated part of Iraq’s heritage.”

Hartnell says the new discovery is significant. “Wasit was a major industrial region of ancient and medieval Iraq whose history will be illuminated by this project.”

An ancient fortress found by archaeologists may be a lost royal city

An ancient fortress found by archaeologists may be a lost royal city

A 2,000-year-old fortress built on a mountainside in what’s now Iraqi Kurdistan could be part of a lost royal city called Natounia. With the help of drone photography, archaeologists excavated and catalogued the site during a series of digs between 2009 and 2022.

An ancient fortress found by archaeologists may be a lost royal city
Researchers excavate the perimeter wall at the entrance to Rabana Valley in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Situated in the Zagros Mountains, the stone fortress of Rabana-Merquly comprises fortifications nearly 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) long, two smaller settlements, carved rock reliefs and a religious complex.

The fortress was on the border of Adiabene, a minor kingdom governed by the kings of a local dynasty. These rulers would have paid tribute to the neighbouring Parthian Empire, which extended over parts of Iran and Mesopotamia approximately 2,000 years ago, according to research led by Michael Brown, a researcher at the Institute of Prehistory, Protohistory and Near-Eastern Archaeology of Heidelberg University in Germany, with the help of Iraqi colleagues.

Carvings at the entrance to the fortress depict a king of Adiabene, based on the dress of the figure, in particular his hat, Brown said.

The carving resembles other likenesses of Adiabene kings, particularly one found 143 miles (230 kilometres) away at the site of an ancient city called Hatra.

Upper fortifications at the 2,000-year-old site are shown.

While it’s a matter of speculation, Brown believes the fort was the royal city known as Natounia, or alternatively Natounissarokerta, that was part of the kingdom of Adiabene.

“Natounia is only really known from its rare coins, there are (not) any detailed historical references,” Brown said via email.

Details deduced from seven coins describe a city named after a king called Natounissar and a location on the Lower Zab River, known in ancient times as the Kapros River.

“The location near to (but admittedly not on) the Lower Zab/ancient Kapros river, short occupation, and royal imagery all link the archaeological site to the description we can deduce from coinage.

There are also some unusual high-status tombs nearby,” Brown said.
“It’s a circumstantial argument. … Rabana-Merquly is not the only possibility for Natounia, but arguably the best candidate by far (for) the ‘lost’ city, which has to be in the region somewhere.”

The king in the carving could be the founder of Natounia, either Natounissar or a direct descendant.

The carving depicts a figure with an unusual hat and is thought to depict a king of Adiabene, said lead researcher Michael Brown of the University of Heidelberg.

The place name Natounissarokerta is composed of the royal name Natounissar, the founder of the Adiabene royal dynasty, and the Parthian word for moat or fortification, the study also said.

“This description could apply to Rabana-Merquly,” Brown said. As a major settlement positioned at the intersection between highland and lowland zones, it’s likely that Rabana-Merquly may have been used, among other things, to trade with pastoral tribes, maintain diplomatic ties, or exert military pressure.

“The considerable effort that must have gone into planning, building and maintaining a fortress of this size points to governmental activities,” Brown said.

The study said the discovery adds to our knowledge of Parthian archaeology and history, which remains markedly incomplete, despite its evident significance as a significant power in the ancient Near East.

The journal Antiquity published the research on Tuesday.

3,400-year-old ‘lost’ city re-emerges from Tigris River in Iraq

3,400-year-old ‘lost’ city re-emerges from Tigris River in Iraq

The tightening grip of climate change on our planet is revealing secrets buried for millennia. As waters and ice recede under warming conditions, the traces of people and civilizations long gone from the mortal realm emerge.

3,400-year-old ‘lost’ city re-emerges from Tigris River in Iraq
The archaeological site of Kemune in the Mosul Dam.

In recent months, Iraq has been hit particularly hard, battered by extreme drought, with the Mosul reservoir shrinking as water is extracted to keep crops from drying.

Amid this crisis, the ruins of an ancient city, submerged for decades, are once again on dry land. Since the dam was created in the 1980s before the settlement was archaeologically studied and catalogued, its re-emergence represents a rare opportunity for scientists to explore it. The archaeological site has been named Kemune.

The ruins consist of a palace and several other large structures, dating back to the Bronze Age in the region, around 3,400 years ago. Scientists think the ruins might be from the ancient city of Zakhiku, a bustling centre for the Mittani Empire, which thrived on the banks of the Tigris River between 1550 and 1350 BCE.

This isn’t the first time that the city has risen from the waters like a lost Atlantis. In 2018, the dam waters receded enough to give archaeologists a brief window in which to discover and document the ruins, before the water level rose and covered them again.

So, in December of 2021, when the city began to emerge once more, archaeologists were ready to leap in and take advantage of the second brief window.

In January and February of this year, archaeologist Hasan Ahmed Qasim from the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization in Iraq, along with fellow researchers Ivana Puljiz of the University of Freiburg and Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen in Germany, set about mapping the mysterious city.

The walls of a storage building. (Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO)

In addition to the palace that was uncovered in 2018, the researchers found some other interesting structures. These included a large fortification with a wall and towers, an industrial complex, and a huge, multi-story storage building, all dating back to the Mittani Empire.

“The huge magazine (storage) building is of particular importance because enormous quantities of goods must have been stored in it, probably brought from all over the region,” Puljiz says.

The preservation of the mud-brick walls was rather remarkable, considering they had been underwater for over 40 years, but that was a result of the city’s rather abrupt fall in 1350 BCE.

During this, an earthquake devastated the region, toppling buildings, which resulted in a protective coating of rubble falling over the remaining intact walls, covering their painted murals and the buildings’ contents.

One of the ceramic vessels contains cuneiform tablets. (Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO)

Fascinatingly, the city also yielded some ceramic jars containing over 100 unfired clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform, dating to the Middle Assyrian, shortly after the earthquake.

The team hopes that these records might contain some information about who lived in the city, and maybe even about the earthquake itself that led to its demise.

“It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades underwater,” Pfälzner said.

The dam has since been refilled, submerging the city once more, but steps have been taken to make sure that it will be preserved for future excavations when the water recedes once more. The ruins have been sealed under plastic coverings that will prevent future erosion and degradation in the years ahead.

In the meantime, the frenzied work has given the archaeologists material to study that may shed light on the lives of the ancient Mittani who lived in the once-great city.

“The excavation results show that the site was an important centre in the Mittani Empire,” Qasim said.

4,000-yr-old Tablet is the World’s Oldest Customer Service Complaint

4,000-yr-old Tablet is the World’s Oldest Customer Service Complaint

In a cuneiform tablet from ancient Mesopotamia, roughly 1750 BC, what is probably the oldest complaint in history was found.

Complaining is as humane as holding on to outrage, and in the ancient city of Ur, in present-day Iraq, this archaeological piece was discovered by a man named Nanni, according to IFL Science, who complains about a supplier known as Ea-Nasir. 

Nanni complains about his provider Ea-nasir.

Ea-Nasir supposedly (because we only know of Nanni’s version) delivered the wrong grade of copper after his journey across the Persian Gulf to collect the metal.

He was also responsible for misdirection and delays in another delivery. And to top it all, he was rude to the servants Nanni sent to pick up the delivery. What a character that Ea-Nasir … but isn’t he unknown to us? In fact, as we see, there is not one complaint but several.

“Who do you take me for, why do you treat someone like me with such contempt?” Nanni asks, thanks to a translation of the letter from Assyriologist Leo Oppenheim.

“I have sent gentlemen like us as couriers to collect the packaging with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory.”

He continues: “Is there anyone among the merchants who do business with Telmun who has treated me this way? Only you treat my messenger with contempt! “.

The language of the tablet is Akkadian, the first known Semitic language. The tablet is not very big, it measures 11.6 by 5 centimetres.

“How have you treated me for that copper? You have taken my money bag from me in enemy territory; now it’s up to you to restore (my money) to me completely,” he demands.

Although as explained by IFL Science, it seems that Nanni was sold to negotiate with Ea-Nasir.

“Please note that (from now on) I will not accept any copper that is not of good quality here, I will select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I will exercise my right of refusal against you because you have treated me with contempt.”

4,000-yr-old Tablet is the World’s Oldest Customer Service Complaint
Nanni complains about his provider Ea-Nasir. Now in the British Museum

The current concept of time was created by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago!

The current concept of time was created by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago!

Any ancient civilizations had a concept of time, although vague. Obviously, they knew that the day started when the sun rose and the night when the sun disappeared over the horizon.

But the ancient Sumerians, watching the skies, developed a much more complex system.

They realized that it was possible to divide the hours into 60 minutes and the days into 24 hours, developing the time measurement systems used today.

Ancient civilizations looked to the heavens to mark the passage of time.

The Sumer, or “land of the civilized kings”, flourished in Mesopotamia, which today is located in modern Iraq, around 4,500 BCE.

The Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and writing, architecture and arts, astronomy and mathematics.

The Sumerian Empire did not last long. However, for more than 5,000 years, the world remained committed to its definition of time.

The celebrated Babylonian mathematical tablet Plimpton 322.

The Sumerians initially favoured the number 60, as it was very easily divisible. The number 60 can be divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30 into equal parts. In addition, ancient astronomers believed that there were 360 days in a year, a number that 60 fits perfectly six times.

Ancient people and the passage of time

Many of the ancient civilizations had an approximate notion of the passage of time. as the passage of days, weeks, months and years.

A month was the duration of a complete lunar cycle, while a week was the duration of a phase of the lunar cycle.

A year could be estimated based on the changes in the season and the relative position of the sun. The ancients realized that observing the skies could provide many answers to questions considered complex in their day.

Akkadian soldiers slaying enemies, circa 2300 BC, possibly from a Victory Stele of Rimush

When the Sumerian civilization came to decay, being conquered by the Akkadians in 2400 BCE and later by the Babylonians in 1800 BCE. In this way, the notion of dividing time into 60 units persisted and spread all over the world.

A round clock and a 24-hour day

Ancient Mesopotamian sundial at Archaeological Museum, Istanbul

When geometry was unveiled by the Greeks and the Islamists, the ancients realized that the number 360 was not only the time period of the Earth’s ideal orbit but also the perfect measure of a circle, forming 360 degrees.

The ancient Kingdom Discovered Beneath Mound in Iraq

The ancient Kingdom Discovered Beneath Mound in Iraq

In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, archaeologists have discovered an ancient city called Idu, hidden beneath a mound. Cuneiform inscriptions and works of art reveal the palaces that flourished in the city throughout its history thousands of years ago. 

The ancient Kingdom Discovered Beneath Mound in Iraq
A domestic structure, with at least two rooms, that may date to relatively late in the life of the newfound ancient city, perhaps around 2,000 years ago when the Parthian Empire controlled the area in Iraq.

Located in a valley on the northern bank of the lower Zab River, the city’s remains are now part of a mound created by human occupation called a tell, which rises about 32 feet (10 meters) above the surrounding plain.

The earliest remains date back to Neolithic times when farming first appeared in the Middle East, and a modern-day village called Satu Qala now lies on top of the tell.

The city thrived between 3,300 and 2,900 years ago, said Cinzia Pappi, an archaeologist at the Universität Leipzig in Germany. At the start of this period, the city was under the control of the Assyrian Empire and was used to administer the surrounding territory. Later on, as the empire declined, the city gained its independence and became the centre of a kingdom that lasted for about 140 years, until the Assyrians reconquered it.

The researchers were able to determine the site’s ancient name when, during a survey of the area in 2008, a villager brought them an inscription with the city’s ancient name engraved on it.

Excavations were conducted in 2010 and 2011, and the team reported its findings in the most recent edition of the journal Anatolica.

“Very few archaeological excavations had been conducted in Iraqi Kurdistan before 2008,” Pappi wrote in an email to LiveScience. Conflicts in Iraq over the past three decades have made it difficult to work there. Additionally, archaeologists before that time tended to favour excavations in the south of Iraq at places like Uruk and Ur.

The effects of recent history are evident on the mound. In 1987, Saddam Hussein’s forces attacked and partly burnt the modern-day village as part of a larger campaign against the Kurds, and “traces of this attack are still visible,” Pappi said.

Ancient palaces

The art and cuneiform inscriptions the team uncovered provide glimpses of the ancient city’s extravagant palaces.

When Idu was an independent city, one of its rulers, Ba’ilanu, went so far as to boast that his palace was better than any of his predecessors’. “The palace which he built he made greater than that of his fathers,” he claimed in the translated inscription. (His father, Abbi-zeri, made no such boast.)

Two works of art hint at the decorations adorning the palaces at the time Idu was independent. One piece of artwork, a bearded sphinx with the head of a human male and the body of a winged lion, was drawn onto a glazed brick that the researchers found in four fragments. Above and below the sphinx, a surviving inscription reads, “Palace of Ba’auri, king of the land of Idu, son of Edima, also king of the land of Idu.”

This work shows a bearded sphinx with a human male head and the body of a winged lion. Found in four fragments it was also created for King Ba’auri and has almost the exact same inscription as the depiction of the horse.

Another work that was created for the same ruler, and bearing the same inscription as that on the sphinx, shows a “striding horse crowned with a semicircular headstall and led by a halter by a bearded man wearing a fringed short robe,” Pappi and colleague Arne Wossink wrote in the journal article.

Even during the Assyrian rule, when Idu was used to administer the surrounding territory, finely decorated palaces were still built. For instance, the team discovered part of a glazed plaque whose coloured decorations include a palmette, pomegranates and zigzag patterns. Only part of the inscription survives, but it reads, “Palace of Assurnasirpal, (king of the land of Assur).” Assurnasirpal refers to Assurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.), the researchers said, adding that he, or one of his governors, must have built or rebuilt a palace at Idu after the Assyrians reconquered the city. 

A hero facing a griffon

Another intriguing artefact, which may be from a palace, is a cylinder seal dating back about 2,600 years. When it was rolled on a piece of clay, it would have revealed a vivid mythical scene.

The scene would have shown a bow-wielding man crouching down before a griffon, as well as a morning star (a symbol of the goddess Ishtar), a lunar crescent (a symbol of the moon god) and a solar disc symbolizing the sun god. A symbol called a rhomb, which represented fertility, was also shown.

“The image of the crouching hero with the bow is typical for warrior gods,” Pappi wrote in the email. “The most common of these was the god Ninurta, who also played an important role in the [Assyrian] state religion, and it is possible that the figure on the seal is meant to represent him.”

Future work

Before conducting more digs, the researchers will need approval from both the local government and the people of the village. “For wide-scale excavations to continue, at least some of these houses will have to be removed,” Pappi said. “Unfortunately, until a settlement is reached between the villagers and the Kurdistan regional government, further work is currently not possible.”

Although digging is not currently possible, the artefacts already excavated were recently analyzed further and more publications of the team’s work will be appearing in the future. The archaeologists also plan to survey the surrounding area to get a sense of the size of the kingdom of Idu.

Iraq’s Long-Lost Mythical Temple Has Been Found

Iraq’s Long-Lost Mythical Temple Has Been Found

Life-size human statues and column bases from a long-lost temple dedicated to a supreme god have been discovered in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

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 is shown here.

The discoveries date back over 2,500 years to the Iron Age, a time period when several groups — such as the Urartians, Assyrians and Scythians — vied for supremacy over what is now northern Iraq.

“I didn’t do excavation, just archaeological soundings —the villagers uncovered these materials accidentally,” said Dlshad Marf Zamua, a doctoral student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who began the fieldwork in 2005.

The column bases were found in a single village while the other finds, including a bronze statuette of a wild goat, were found in a broad area south of where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey intersect. 

For part of the Iron Age, this area was under the control of the city of Musasir, also called Ardini, Marf Zamua said. Ancient inscriptions have referred to Musasir as a “holy city founded in bedrock” and “the city of the raven.”

A lost ancient temple

“One of the best results of my fieldwork is the uncovered column bases of the long-lost temple of the city of Musasir, which was dedicated to the god Haldi,” Marf Zamuatold Live Science in an email.

Haldi was the supreme god of the kingdom of Urartu. His temple was so important that after the Assyrians looted it in 714 B.C., the Urartu king Rusa I was said to have ripped his crown off his head before killing himself.

A 19th-century drawing of an ancient relief that depicts the sacking of the temple of Haldi by the Assyrians.

He “threw himself on the ground, tore his clothes, and his arms hung limp. He ripped off his headband, pulled out his hair, pounded his chest with both hands, and threw himself flat on his face …” reads one ancient account (translation by Marc Van De Mieroop).

The location of the temple has long been a mystery, but with the discovery of the column bases, Marf Zamua thinks it can be narrowed down. 

Additionally, Marf Zamua analyzed an ancient carving of Musasir, discovered in the 19th century at Khorsabad. The carving, he found, shows hillside houses with three windows on the second floor and a doorway on the ground floor. Such a design can still be seen today in some villages, the bottom floor being used as a stable and storage area, he noted.

Life-size statues

This long-lost temple is just the tip of the archaeological iceberg. During his work in Kurdistan, Marf Zamua also found several life-size human statues that are up to 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) tall. Made of limestone, basalt or sandstone, some of these statues are now partly broken.

They all show bearded males, some of whom “are holding a cup in their right hands, and they put their left hands on their bellies,” said Marf Zamua. “One of them holds a hand axe. Another one put on a dagger.”

Originally erected above burials, the statues have a “sad moment” posture, Marf Zamua said. Similar statues can be found from central Asia to eastern Europe. “It is art and ritual of nomads/pastorals, especially when they [buried] their chieftains,” Marf Zamua said.

Mostof the newfound statues date to the seventh or sixth century B.C., after Musasir fell to the Assyrians, and during a time when the Scythians and Cimmerians were advancing through the Middle East.

Modern-day dangers and ancient treasures

Over the past few weeks, conflict in Iraq has been increasing as a group called the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS) has taken several cities and threatened to march on Baghdad. The Kurdistan area, including this archaeological site, is autonomous, and its militia has been able to prevent ISIS from entering it.

Several life-sized human statues of bearded males, dating back to the seventh or sixth centuries B.C., have also been discovered in Kurdistan.

Marf Zamuasaid there are risks associated with living and working in the border area. Due to the conflicts of the past few decades, there are numerous unexploded land mines, one of which killed a young shepherd a month back, he said. Additionally, the National Iraqi News Agency reports that Iranian artillery recently fired onto the Iraqi side of the border, and there have been past instances where planes from Turkey have launched attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan.

Despite these risks, there are also terrific archaeological finds to be made. In addition to the statues and column bases, Marf Zamuafound is a bronze statuette of a wild goat about 3.3 inches (8.4 centimetres) long and 3.2 inches (8.3 cm) tall. Researchers are now trying to decipher a cuneiform inscription on the statuette.

Marf Zamua presented the discoveries recently in a presentation given at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, held at the University of Basel in Switzerland. In addition to his doctoral studies, Marf Zamua teaches at Salahaddin University in Erbil, which is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.