Archaeological Digs Continue despite Security Chaos

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

At the beginning of February, a British archaeological excavation mission unveiled at the ruins of Ur a large trade center that is the oldest in the world, going back to the Old Babylonian period (2006-1595 BCE).

Ur is a historical site in Sumer city mentioned in the Old Testament and located in Dhi Qar province, 375 kilometers (233 miles) south of Baghdad.

This discovery confirmed the exceptional importance of the ruins of Ur, which are still unexplored. Despite the poor security situation in Iraq, archaeological excavation has been accelerating in recent years, in search of ruins still buried in this area.

In early March 2013, a British excavation mission discovered the remains of a massive ancient temple by using satellite imagery.

Given the historical importance of Ur, Al-Monitor contacted journalist Alaa al-Kouli, who lives near the ruins of Ur and accompanies researchers and foreigners on their visits there. He proposed a field tour to visit the place of the famous Ziggurat (pictured), where the moon god Nanna was worshipped.

The drive from the center of Nasiriyah city is 16 kilometers (10 miles) into the desert part of Nasiriyah. As the features of the archaeological site appeared, Kouli pointed to the dozens of small and large hills that have not been explored yet. He also pointed to holes that he said were dug by thieves who made off with hundreds of artifacts.

He said, “This happened especially in 2003, the year when the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fell and most of Iraq plunged into a massive security chaos.”

As he was talking, the famous Ziggurat of Ur appeared from afar. It was built by King Ur-Nammu in about 2100 BCE to worship the moon god.

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