A Drought Has Once Again Revealed an Ancient City In the Tigris River

When three years ago a drought lowered the waters of the Mosul Reservoir of the Tigris river in Iraqi Kurdistan, an ancient city was briefly revealed to archaeologists. Scientists now think that city could be Zakhiku, one of the centers of the Bronze Age Mittani Empire. Now, in 2022, the dry conditions have returned and given archaeologists a second chance to explore the amazing site.

The Mittani Empire Had Much of the Territories Around the Tigris River

A Drought Has Once Again Revealed an Ancient City In the Tigris River
While the drought in southern Iraq has often been overlooked by the media, it has been serious enough to force the local authorities to release large amounts of water that is usually stored upstream in the Mosul Reservoir on the Tigris river. As a result, the water level in the basin has dropped so much that it has revealed the treasures of an ancient city.

The previous time when the reservoir levels were low, a German-Kurdish discovered a large palace with preserved murals still sitting on the walls. It seemed that the palace had at least two periods of use, one from 3,400 years ago and 66 feet from the eastern bank of the Tigris River. It was clear to the scientists that it was a center of Bronze Age power, and historians even suspected it was the city of Zakhiku, which could be found in sources from 3,800 years ago.

The Mittani Empire Was One of the More Prolific on the Tigris River

Cuneiform tablets found at the archaeological site of Kemune.

After wetter weather retook the palace, historians were unable to continue studying it until this year, drought revealed the site again, and archaeologists sprung into action. They put together a team within days and secured private funding with amazing speed. So far, the city has been largely mapped, showing several large buildings next to the palace. These include huge fortifications and something like a storage complex and factories. The findings show that the Mittani empire knew how to go about urban planning and concentrating industrial-like facilities.

According to Professor Ivana Puljiz of the University of Freiburg, the big magazine building was of particular importance because it must have stored enormous quantities of goods from all over the region. Dr. Hasan Qasim of the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization also made a statement, saying that the excavation results had shown that the site was a vital center of the Mittani Empire.

The Mittani Empire Lasted for Nearly 340 Years and Covered a Huge Area

Archeologists using plastic sheeting to cover the site and preserve the recently exposed areas.

Although the complex was submerged for most of the past forty years, the mud-brick walls were remarkably well-preserved. The archaeologists believe an earthquake in 1350 BCE brought down the upper walls, protecting those below. Scientists also found 100 cuneiform tablets in ceramic vessels during this excavation, adding more to the ten found during the previous one. Now, plastic sheeting has been placed to cover the site and preserve recently exposed areas.