Ancient 3,300 Year Old City ‘Idu’ Discovered Beneath a Mound in Northern Iraq

Benita Matilda
Archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove buried beneath a mound in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. A 3,300-year-old prehistoric city called ‘Idu’ was recently found situated along the northern bank of the lower Zab River in Kurdistan.

Five years ago in the year 2008, a local villager stumbled upon a clay fragment with the word ‘Idu’ carved on it. But excavation at the site didn’t start until 2010 due to political matters. The city called ‘Idu’ is now a part of the mound called Tell Qarqur, which stands 32 feet above the surrounding plains. Tell comprises of debris left behind by ancient people dating back to the Neolithic culture. Currently, ‘Satu Qala’ a modern day village stands on top the Tell, LiveScience reports.

According to Cinzia Pappi, archaeologists at the Universitat Leipzig, Germany, the newly discovered city existed some 3,300-2,900 years ago. During the beginning of this period, the city was ruled by the Assyrian Empire, which was used as a spot to monitor the surrounding regions. Once the empire declined, the city achieved its autonomy and was announced as the center of a kingdom that thrived for 140 years. But they lost their independence after Assyrians reconquered the region.

The researchers gathered more information of the period when Idu was independent by analysing the Cuneiform inscriptions and other forms of art work unearthed from the site. The unearthed inscriptions also throw some light on the palaces that existed in the city during the Assyrian Empire’s period. They also found a decorative plaque on which it was written ‘Palace of Assurnasirpal – King of the land of Assur’.

The archaeologists even found a precious artwork that had a bearded sphinx, with a human head and body of winged lion, carved on a glazing brick that carries an inscription: “Palace of Ba’auri, King of the land of Idu, son of Edima, and the kind of the land of Idu.” They even gathered cultural cues from other artifacts such as a cylinder seal that is some 2,600 years old, which depicts a bow wielding man crouching before a griffon, also a lunar crescent, morning star and a solar disc that symbolizes the sub god and a rhomb (representation of fertility).

“We were lucky to be one of the first teams to begin excavations in Iraq after the 2003 war,” archaeologists Cinzia Pappi told MailOnline. “The discovery of ancient Idu at Satu Qala revealed a multicultural capital and a crossroad between northern and southern Iraq and between Iraq and Western Iran in the second and first millennia BC. Particularly the discovery of a local dynasty of kings fills a gap in what scholars had previously thought of as a dark age in the history ancient Iraq. Together these results have helped to redraw the political and historical map of the development of the Assyrian Empire.”

The archaeologists plan to continue excavations at the site once they seek approval of the local government as well as the local villagers.

“For wide-scale excavations to continue, at least some of these houses will have to be removed,” Pappi said. “Unfortunately, until a settlement is reached between the villagers and the Kurdistan regional government, further work is currently not possible.”


Click Here to view pictures of the excavated site.

The details of the marvelous find are documented in the journal Anatolica.