Spy satellites and drones have helped scientists find what many are saying is the lost city of Alexander the Great. After 2000 years, archaeologists have discovered the ancient city in northern Iraq using satellite imagery.
Experts at the Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme (which was set up in 2015 to combat the destruction of ancient heritage by the Islamic State) have been working at the Qalatga Darband site, which is 6.2 miles southeast of Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS launched a series of wanton attacks on sites of historic and religious importance across a swathe of Iraq and Syria. Last year, for example, ISIS released a video that showed militants using sledgehammers and drills to destroy artifacts in Iraq’s Mosul Museum. In 2015, ISIS took control of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and subsequently demolished some of its best-known monuments, such as the Temple of Ba’al. The jihadists, who beheaded the city’s former antiquities chief, also used Palmyra’s ancient amphitheater for public executions.
Backed by United Kingdom government funding, the project involves archaeologists from the British Museum and their Iraqi counterparts.
Qalatga Darband was first spotted when archaeologists analyzed U.S. spy satellite imagery from the 1960s that was declassified in the 1990s. Experts at the British Museum used the data to map a large number of carved limestone blocks at the site, indicating substantial remains. A drone survey highlighted other buildings that may be buried at the site. –Fox News
The site is part of a historic route from ancient Mesopotamia to Iran. It overlooks the Lower Zab river at the western edge of the Zagros Mountains. Alexander the Great passed through the area in 331 B.C. when his army was pursuing Persian King Darius III after defeating him at the battle of Gaugamela. The site was also at the eastern edge of the Assyrian Empire in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., according to the British Museum.
Excavations at Qalatga Darband have given archaeologists a fascinating glimpse into the life of the ancient city. Initial analysis suggests that the city was founded by the Seleucids, who inherited the empire of Alexander the Great. Hellenist, or Greek, influences, were still strong in the region during the Seleucid era. The site is thought to have survived the subsequent overthrow of the Seleucid Empire when Qalatga Darband came under Parthian rule.
“A systematic collection of surface ceramics has been carried out, analysis of which has for the first time established that the site can be dated to the first and second centuries BC,” explained the British Museum, in a press release. Excavations revealed a large fortified structure at the north end of the site, stone presses that may have been used for wine production, and Greco-Roman architecture, such as the use of terracotta roof tiles. –Fox News
This new site has the potential of unearthing some fascinating pieces of ancient history.
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