Huge find throws new light on ancient Iraq

Apr 04, 2013
This photo taken on March 31, 2013 photo provided by Manchester University professor Stuart Campbell shows excavation in progress at Tell Khaiber, Iraq. A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham. Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department says it goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. Credit: Stuart Campbell

(Phys.org) —University of Manchester archaeologists have started the excavation of an enormous building complex in Iraq, thought to be around 4,000 years old.

The team, directed by Professor Stuart Campbell and Dr Jane Moon, both from Manchester, and independent archaeologist Robert Killick, first spotted the amazing structure – thought to be an administrative complex serving one of the world's earliest cities– on satellite.

It was after carrying out geophysical survey and trial excavations at the site of Tell Khaiber that they were able to confirm the size of the complex at about 80 metres square – roughly the size of a football pitch.

They are the first British archaeologists to excavate in Southern since the 1980s, working close to the ancient city of Ur, where Sir Leonard Woolley discovered the fabulous 'Royal Tombs' in the 1920s.

The arrangement of rooms around a large courtyard are at a site only 20km from Ur, the last capital of the Sumerian royal dynasties, the founders of the earliest cities in the world.

Professor Campbell is head of the University's renowned Department of Archaeology. He said: "This is a breathtaking find and we feel privileged to be the first to work at this important site.

"The surrounding countryside, now arid and desolate, was the birthplace of cities and of civilization about 5,000 years ago and home to the Sumerians and the later ."

One of the most striking finds at the site to date is a clay plaque, 9cm high, showing a worshipper approaching a sacred place. He is wearing a long robe with fringe down the front opening.

This photo taken on April 1, 2013 provided by Manchester University archaeologist Stuart Campbell shows a clay plaque, which shows a worshipper approaching a sacred place. He is wearing a long robe with fringe down the front opening, found during an excavation Tell Khaiber, Iraq. A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham. Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department says it goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. Credit: Stuart Campbell

"It has been off-limits to international archaeologists for many decades so the opportunity of re-engaging with the study of the earliest cities is a truly exciting one," said Professor Campbell.

"The satellite photos suggested the presence of a substantial building, and our survey has indeed confirmed that there is a building about 80m square, probably connected to the administration of Ur.

"We provisionally date the site to around 2,000 BC, the time of the sack of the city and the fall of the last Sumerian royal dynasty. "

The team aim to analyse plant and animal remains found at the site to help reconstruct environmental and economic conditions in the region 4,000 years ago.

Marshy conditions are thought to have prevailed, with the head of the Gulf being much further north, so that maritime trading was possible to obtain vital natural resources from India and the Arabian peninsula.

Professor Campbell, who has now returned from Iraq, added: "As well as offering unparalleled opportunities for redeveloping research in one of the most important areas of archaeology in the world, the project is also building partnerships with local practitioners and institutions.

"The aim is to help rebuild capacity in archaeological expertise and heritage management, working alongside members of Iraq's State Board for Antiquities and Heritage, and to address the 20-year isolation from the international community."

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Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (10) Apr 04, 2013
Marshy conditions are thought to have prevailed, with the head of the Gulf being much further north, so that maritime trading was possible to obtain vital natural resources from India and the Arabian peninsula.


That doesn't make much sense, because other sources claim the Persian Gulf was much lower in the past, as sea level was much lower in the past.
barakn
5 / 5 (7) Apr 04, 2013
Per http://emvc.geol....ood.html , "...debris from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers has built a substantial delta, creating most of the land in Kuwait and establishing the present coastlines."
david_thomas_94801
2.3 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2013
The clay tablet looks to me as an admission token. If it is an administration centre, then I imagine it was not open slather to just drop in. I can see people being given an admission ticket from outer areas to visit.
_traw_at
4 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2013
When Peking/ Beijing was first founded, or at least chosen as an administrative center, it was more or less a sea port at the mouth of it's river. Now it's quite far inland. And it hasn't moved at all.
So Ur and the capital of China share this in common.
Birger
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 05, 2013
"Home of the biblical Abraham" should be "alleged home of the biblical Abraham". The connection with Mesopotamia is now believed to have been retroactively inserted into the corpus of Jewish mythology around the time of the Babylonian captivity.
At the same time, the Mesopotamian flood myth became inspiration for the OT flood myth.
These details may not matter for Mesopotamian archaeology, but they do matter for the understanding of ancient Israel/Palestine.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Apr 05, 2013
Per fox news

"BAGHDAD –  British archaeologists said Thursday they have unearthed a sprawling complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham...around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible."

-No, there were several places named Ur, and as birger points out, any one of them could have served as the basis for the myth.
http://fontes.lst...s/Ur.htm

-Is there anything about religion that is NOT a lie? It's like proclaiming that present-day Bethlehem was the birthplace of the godman when that Bethlehem didn't EXIST at that time. I suppose fox news will still insist that Moses parted the red sea even though the bible says that. Even though archeology confirms that the exodus never happened.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 05, 2013
(fix)--I suppose fox news will still insist that Moses parted the red sea even though the bible says that it was some sea of reeds. Even though archeology confirms that the exodus never happened.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2013
"Abraham" is a myth, there is about 4 000 years between this dating and the first archaeological evidences of abrahamistic religions (Dead Sea scrolls).

@Birger: I believe the idea of early "Jewish mythology" is itself mythology. The Dead Sea scrolls shows that there were no discernible judaist and/or christianist sects at that time. Even the "bible scholars" seems to accept that there was a later diversification. [Cf Wikipedia - 2 layers beneath the surface "history".)

So many has noted that the bulk of these texts is based on the ideas (and myths) of the greek syncretic paganism so common for the area at the time. I suspect the originating sects arose in Alexandria after the Hellenistic conquest. It showed the surviving resistance of the trading canaanite (really phoenician) and palestinian (Gaza) cities into 1/3 of the quarters there, another 1/3 of the quarters were local egyptians (cf the egyptian legends originating "Moses") and the rest greeks.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
3 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2013
[cont] Survivors, merchants, academics, and a new city with many conflicts, it could only end in problems and religious "answers" modeled after the seemingly "superior" victor. Also, Alexandria was an early christianist center (1st "pope" et cetera) out of only 2 or 3 around the Mediterranean.

Unfortunately for religious political reasons every project within the history of religion research that want to look at the roots of any abrahamic religions get shot down, shut down and shut up.

@TGoO: Two tests, remnants in the supposed transport area and evidence of new culture in the supposed target area, fails miserably. The palestinian culture were not subjected to outside influences at the time it should have been.

IIRC it is estimated that at least 99 % of the religious texts are non-historical bogus. I have found one isolated king that _could_ have existed. But seeing hwo the next name match was confused with his own grandfather (reversed history), I don't think it is a confident hit.
Ducklet
1 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2013
How do they know it's an 80x80m building and not just an outer wall of a compound with smaller buildings in it? Clearly they must have done fairly extensive digging and investigation to determine it's a building, and it would be nice to know more about this and what was revealed.

Was this published anywhere?
ACW
3 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
"The surrounding countryside, now arid and desolate, was the birthplace of cities and of civilization about 5,000 years ago and home to the Sumerians and the later Babylonians."

I thought history had to be rewritten pertaining to the earliest civilizations after the discovery and agreements about the dating concerning Göbekli Tepe.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
"The surrounding countryside, now arid and desolate, was the birthplace of cities and of civilization about 5,000 years ago and home to the Sumerians and the later Babylonians."

I thought history had to be rewritten pertaining to the earliest civilizations after the discovery and agreements about the dating concerning Göbekli Tepe.
Instead of guessing you may want to research and provide links as it would only be polite.
ACW
3 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
farang
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
"Abraham"?? Really? You mean the person that later readers of Akkadian read *backwards* don't you? He was obviously Hammurabi, of Ur. Same battime, same batcity.

And first, in bible, he was Abram. Wife Sarai. Handmaiden Haggar. In point of fact, A Brahma. Of the Sarasvati River Valley culture of 1800 BC northern India, who packed up and left a devastating drought, moved to a tributary of the Sarasvati river: The Ghaggar.

C'mon, when I want to read religious gibberish, I'll read the Torah.
farang
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
"....you may want to research and provide links as it would only be polite."

You type in the widdle box on Google: "Gobkli Tepe." Thewe, aw bettew now?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2013
"....you may want to research and provide links as it would only be polite."

You type in the widdle box on Google: "Gobkli Tepe." Thewe, aw bettew now?
Sorry I'm not here to do your research for you. You want to make a point, you should be able to do a little work in order to do so. Including links or at least excerpts. This is what people do here if they intend to contribute meaningfully.