With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

A drought revealed a palace thousands of years old submerged in an Iraq reservoir

As the waters of the Mosul dam reservoir in northern Iraq receded last fall, they revealed a stunning sight: a Bronze Age palace, many of its mud-brick walls and carefully planned rooms remarkably preserved.

The site, known as Kemune, has been known to researchers since 2010, when the reservoir had previously shrunk. The area had first flooded in the 1980s, when the Mosul Dam was constructed. But not until a drought hit the region last year did the water retreat enough for archaeologists to excavate.

When they did, they found not only the palace’s walls and rooms, but the remains of bright blue and red murals and cuneiform clay tablets, which are being translated. The expedition could shed light on a little-known empire that dominated the region from approximately 1500 to 1350 B.C.

The University of Tübingen in Germany and the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization announced the discovery Thursday, and a lead archaeologist, Hasan Ahmed Qasim, called it “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades."


Further digging revealed numerous rooms, eight of which were excavated. When it was inhabited, the palace would have overlooked the Tigris River, giving residents an impressive view. Archaeologists found large fired bricks, which were used as floor slab. But Puljiz’s favorite discoveries were the paintings and 10 cuneiform tablets that could reveal even more of Kemune’s secrets.

“Wall paintings of this period are rarely found in archaeological excavations,” she said. In the team’s news release, she called them “an archaeological sensation.”

Read entire article at The Washington Post