3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought

3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought 1

Archaeologists are hailing, as very important, the dramatic discovery of a Bronze Age Palace. It was uncovered as the waters of a reservoir in Iraq plummeted due to a severe drought. The ruin is thought to have been erected by the little-known Mittani Empire, and scholars hope that it will give additional information about this significant state and civilization.

3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought 2
Aerial view of the Kemune Palace from the west. The imposing palace would have once stood just 20 meters from the Tigris River

The ruined palace was discovered near Kemune, on the east bank of the Tigris River in Iraqi-Kurdistan, and was called for this locality. It was exposed because the water level of the Mosul Dam dropped dramatically due to a severe lack of rainfall. The dam was erected in the 1980s, and the structure was discovered in 2010, but rising water levels meant that it was submerged once more.

The palace emerges from the waters

3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought 3
Terrace wall on the western side of Kemune Palace. © Image Credit: University of Tübingen eScience Cente/Kurdistan Archaeology

The previous year’s drought caused the remnants to resurface, prompting archaeologists to launch an initiative to conserve and record the ruins. There are concerns that the palace may degrade or be harmed.

The project team is made up of both German and local Kurdish professionals. It is led by “Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim and Dr. Ivana Puljiz as a joint project between the University of Tübingen and the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization,” according to Kurdistan 24. During the height of the conflict against the Islamic State, the two team leaders also assisted in the discovery of a Bronze Age city in northern Iraq.

The palace is thought to be up to 3,400 years old, and archaeologists have been astounded by what has been discovered. A preliminary survey of the site indicates that it formerly stood 65 feet (22 meters) tall. It was built of mud brick, which was commonly employed in all types of constructions throughout the Bronze Age in the Ancient East.

Some of the walls are more than 6 feet (2 meters) thick, and the entire structure was meticulously planned. According to CNN Travel, “a terrace wall of mud bricks was later added to stabilize the building, adding to the imposing architecture.”

Inside the palace’s treasures

3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought 4
Large rooms in Kemune Palace were unearthed during excavations. © Image Credit: University of Tübingen eScience Cente/Kurdistan Archaeology

The palace has a succession of plastered huge wide chambers. Most notably, the crew discovered a sequence of wall paintings or murals painted in red and blue, indicating a high degree of complexity.

These were most likely a component of Bronze Age royal structures, although they were frequently removed. CNN Travel quoting Dr. Ivana Puljiz, “Discovering wall paintings in Kemune is an archaeological sensation.”

Archaeologists also discovered 10 clay tablets with cuneiform writing on them. In ancient Mesopotamia, this was the most popular type of writing. These tablets have now been sent to Germany, where experts will decipher and transcribe them.

The palace of Kemune

3,400-year-old palace from a mysterious civilization revealed by drought 5
Mural fragment discovered in Kemune Palace. © Image Credit: University of Tübingen eScience Cente/Kurdistan Archaeology

The Kemune Palace is believed to be from “the time of the Mittani Empire, which dominated large parts of northern Mesopotamia and Syria from the 15th to the 14th century BC,” according to Kurdistan 24. The Mittani were a Hurrian-speaking people who rose to prominence as a regional power due to their prowess in chariot warfare.

Despite their historical significance, nothing is known about this incredibly important culture. All we actually know comes from archaeological sites in Syria and the chronicles of adjacent cultures like the Egyptians and Assyrians. As a result, because so little is known about the Mittani, no one is certain of their origins or the location of their capital.

The crew is now investigating the palace. The 10 clay tablets will be the subject of future study. If decoded, they will shed further light on the Mittani Empire. It may disclose more about this intriguing ancient Eastern society’s religion, governance, politics, and history.

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