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Iraq drought uncovers 3,400 year old palace

Iraq drought uncovers 3,400 year old palace

Kemune palace found after Iraq drought

Drought in Iraq recently revealed a 3,400 year old palace on the eastern bank of Tigris river. In august 2018, water under the Mosoul Dam retreated to reveal the ruins of Kemune palace dating to the Bronze Age. A team of Kurdish and German archaeologists were responsible for the excavation. The site surveying had to take place within a short period of time before flood happens again. They managed to excavate 8 out of 10 rooms.

“The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades,” said Kurdish archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim in the statement.

Importance of the palace

The site was originally part of the Mittani empire. The empire held much of modern-day Iraq and Syria from the 15th century to the 14th century BC. Archaeologists do not know much about the history of the Mittani empire. Information is only available from Tell Brak in Syria and from the cities of Nuzi and Alalakh. They are both on the periphery of the empire.

This discovery will help archaeologists  know more about the empire. This is through the 10 tablets excavators found in the palace carrying Cuneiform writing. (Sumerian scribes developed Cuneiform system of writing around 5,000-6,000 years ago). Studying these tablets will let archaeologists know more about the empire and the history of the palace. One tablet indicates that the city might have existed 400 years ago, but this information is yet up for confirmation.

Kurdish archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim on Kemune palace site
Kurdish archaeologist Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim on Kemune palace site (Photo courtsey:

Construction of the palace

The construction of the palace and its interior is another impressive finding. The walls were built in mud bricks that are feet thick and stand about 6.5 feet tall. It extended at least 20,000-square-feet. They also found some of the wall’s paintings keeping their colours of red and blue. According Dr. Ivana Puljiz, these murals, that were a feature of ancient palaces in this region, were rarely preserved. Therefore, the preservance of the murals in that state is an exceptional archaeological discovery.

Dr. Ivana Puljiz from the Tübingen Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES)
Dr. Ivana Puljiz from the Tübingen Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) (Photo courtsey:

Msoul Dam and the flood 

Archaeologists believe the flood happened after the construction of the Mosul Dam in the 1980s. Ever since there have been many concerns around the construction of the Dam and its causation of more floods. Qasim stated that they have already discovered the ruins back in 2010 when the waters were low at the dam. However, they could not go on with the excavations until now as the land was dry enough.

Ruins revealed after Iraq drought (Photo courtesy:
Excavation process on Kemune palace site (Photo courtesy:

This also brings us to the most concerning issue now, which is global warming and the issue of sea level rise. A recent report by the Expert Working Group on Climate-related Security Risks – made up of academics including members of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), gives as a close look to the condition. The report states that climate change is currently manifesting itself in prolonged heat waves, erratic precipitation and higher temperatures.

Iraq has been facing severe climate changes exposing the region to more droughts. In this case it has come in favor with the archaeological discoveries.  But generally, this is not usually the case and it is doing more harm than good.

An architect who’s passionate about movies, design, and advertising. Living for the art of storytelling in different ways, and always seeking to write inspiring stories about good things in the world.