Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient city in northern Iraq that dates back to the time of the Exodus and that once served as a regional capital.
The city of Idu was found in Kurdistan, along the northern bank of the lower Zab River, according to a new report in LiveScience
. The report says the city thrived between 2,900 and 3,300 years ago (the Exodus is believed to have occurred about 3,300 years ago).
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Cinzia Pappi, an archaeologist at the University of Leipzig in Germany is quoted as saying the city was once controlled by Assyrians and was used to administer the surrounding area. It later gained its independence and became the center of a short-lived kingdom that fell to the Assyrians after about 140 years.
Researchers determined the city’s name through an inscription brought to them by a villager during a 2008 survey. Excavations occurred in 2010 and 2011.
“Very few archaeological excavations had been conducted in Iraqi Kurdistan before 2008,” Pappi told LiveScience in an email. Conflicts in the country made it difficult for archaeologists to work in the area for decades, and they previously concentrated on excavations to the south at Uruk and Ur in ancient Mesopotamia.
Researchers say the ancient city at one time housed extravagant palaces. “When Idu was an independent city, one of its rulers, Ba’ilanu, went so far as to boast that his palace was better than any of his predecessors,” wrote LiveScience. “The palace he built he made greater than that of his fathers,” the ancient ruler boasted.
A piece of artwork, a bearded sphinx with the head of a man and the body of a winged lion, was glazed onto a brick that was found in four fragments. An inscription reads, “Palace of Ba’auri, king of the land of Idu, son of Edima, also king of the land of Idu.”
Idu’s remains are part of a 32-foot mound called a tell, on top of which sits the modern-day village of Satu Qala.
Archaeologists will need permission from villagers and local government officials before they can conduct any further digs.
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