Reservoir dries up to uncover ancient palace – ‘archaeological sensation’

A drought combined with the release of water through the Mosul Dam in Iraq has revealed the hidden site of the Mittani Empire. The amazing palace has been hidden since the mid-1980s when the dam – Iraq’s largest – was built. Now, archaeologists have finally been able to fully examine it, Sky News reports.

A team from Germany and Iraqi Kurdistan discovered several rooms along with inscribed clay tablets and wall paintings that they believe dates back to the Middle Bronze Age, around 1800 BC.

Kurdish archaeologist Hasan Ahmed Qasim said: “The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades.

“We discovered the site, in 2010 when the dam had low water levels, but we couldn’t excavate here until now.”

The palace site is called Kemune.

Tübingen Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies’ Ivana Puljiz added: “We have also found remains of wall paintings in bright shades of red and blue.

“In the second millennium (BC), murals were probably a typical feature of palaces in the Ancient Near East, but we rarely find them preserved. So discovering wall paintings in Kemune are an archaeological sensation.

“The Mittani Empire is one of the least researched empires of the Ancient Near East.

“Information on palaces of the Mittani Period is so far only available from Tell Brak in Syria and from the cities of Nuzi and Alalakh, both located on the periphery of the empire. Even the capital of the Mittani Empire has not been identified beyond doubt.”

Once of the tablets found suggests that Kemune could be the the ancient city of Zakhiku, which is thought to have existed for at least 400 years.

Archeologists predict future texts on tablets will be able to clarify whether this is true.

Experts say the palace would have consisted of a massive terrace wall of mud bricks with the aim of helping to stabilise the sloping terrain.

It stood on an elevated terrace at he very top of a valley. It is believed to have stood 20 metres (66ft) tall on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.