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A French-funded archaeology team is working on the first excavations in Iraq's northern Kurdish areas after seven years of conflict, the latest effort to save the country's treasures from ruin.
Iraq, which the ancient Greeks called Mesopotamia or 'land between the rivers' because of the Tigris and Euphrates that flow through it, is regarded by archaeologists as a cradle of civilisation.
The French-led team, also responsible for training local archaeologists, will initially carry out digs for a month in Arbil. Iraq's third-largest city, whose existence can be traced back to the 23rd century BC, is located east of the Tigris.
According to the United Nations cultural organisation, Unesco, the citadel is more than 8,000 years old and successive layers of settlements have formed the mound that comprises an area of about 10 hectares (10,000 metres sq).
Erbil Citadel Town, which is situated dramatically on top of an artificial, 32-meters high earthen mound, and visually dominating the expansive modern city of Erbil, is believed to have been in continuous existence for 7000 years or even more. Thus, it may be regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world. Because of its past fortifications and steeply inclined mound, which is at some locations nearly 45 degrees, it has managed to survive numerous sieges and fierce attacks. The existing fabric, however, goes back to several hundred years but is, nevertheless, of extreme vernacular architectural and urban interest, not only for Iraq but also for humanity at large.
Its longer dimension (east-west axis) is about 430 meters long and its shorter one (north-south axis) is about 340 meters long. It encloses an area slightly more than 10 hectares. The slope, which surrounds the citadel all around, is earthen and steeply inclines between 35 to 60 degrees. The slope is steeper on the North-western side than other sides.
1. Gradual Accumulation:
That the mound represents a gradual accumulation of historical settlement layers, rising slowly to reach its present height of some 30 meters. If one assumes that the age of the citadel is around 6000 years then this means that its height has been rising at the rate of 1 meter every 200 years.
2. Assyrian Settlement:
That it may have been an Assyrian settlement with a ziggurat in the middle surrounded by temples. And that when it was destroyed and abandoned, it turned into a heap of ruin..
3. Man-Made Mound:
That the mound was artificially created by people who desired to live in this fertile land but needed a fortified site.
4. Natural Mound:
That the mound was a natural one, perhaps a few meters high and risen gradually by human habitation. The flat land geography of the area, however, makes this proposition unlikely.
The Czech News Agency has reported that archaeologists have found remains of an about 150,000-year-old prehistoric settlement in Arbil, north Iraq, which has been the so far oldest uncovered in this part of northern Mesopotamia.
The archaeologists revealed a high number of items, mainly prehistoric stone tools, about nine metres under the ground in Arbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region, said archaeologist Karel Novacek, from the University of West Bohemia in Plzen.
Originally posted by mblahnikluver
This is amazing! It it is really sad to see all the beautiful places and history of Iraq destroyed. I have been reading about ancient Iraq the last couple days and back in it's day it was truly a beautiful and amazing place to live. It's sad to see it the way it is now. Great thread!
This is one of my favorite forums, thanks for an interesting thread Kiwifoot!
Originally posted by Grey Magic
Those pictures look amazing indeed, I never heard of that place.
It's fascinating they kept using it and I wonder what they will find.
i will keep watching this and thanks for posting.
edit to say;
it reminds me of a place I have been to in France, Carcassonne
[edit on 10-5-2010 by Grey Magic]