A 3,400-year-old palace has been uncovered in an Iraqi reservoir after drought caused the water levels to drop dramatically.
The new discovery in the Mosul Dam reservoir has led to a team of Kurdish-German archeologists to examine the ruins to better understand the Mittani Empire, which had existed in the region at the time.
In a press release from the team, Kurdish archeologist Hasan Ahmed Qasim described the ruins are “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades.”
The team first learned of the site in 2010 when the reservoir levels had also been low. But this has been the first time they’ve actually been able to excavate.
The ancient Mittani empire is considered one of the least-researched empires in the Ancient Near East. And the palace stands just only 20 metres away from the Tigris River.
Qasim’s team further explains that after the palace was initially built, a wall of mud bricks had been added to stabilize the building. Some of those walls stand taller than two metres high and some of them actually contain plastered walls.
At the time, many palaces are believed to have contained wall paintings. Some of the paintings in this palace still have shades of red and blue -- a sight rarely found this well-preserved.
Ivana Puljiz, an archeologist from the University of Tübingen's Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies, said the palace was known as Kemure.
“Discovering wall paintings in Kemune is an archaeological sensation," she said in a press release.
Ten clay tablets covered in cuneiform script were also found at the site and have been sent to Germany to be translated.
The team hopes it will shed more light on the economy of the region and the relationship between the Mittani capital and neighbouring regions.