Archaeologists uncover palace of the Mittani Empire
July 9, 2019 8:54 AM   Subscribe

German-Kurdish research team came upon a surprising discovery as ruins emerge from the waters of the Tigris River.

Last autumn, receding waters in the Mosul Dam reservoir unexpectedly brought to light remains of an ancient city. Archaeologists launched a spontaneous rescue excavation of the ruins exposed by the ebbing waters.

posted by poffin boffin (23 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
A silver lining in an internationally manufactured drought as the Tigris and Iraq are being starved of water by upstream countries diverting for irrigation and damming. Welcome to the inland future, the opposite of Waterworld.
posted by srboisvert at 9:30 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


FOOLS WHAT ANCIENT MALICE HAVE YOU AWAKEN
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:00 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


it's just the Mitanni, they're cool
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:03 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


i hope they find more delicious ancient tomb snacks
posted by poffin boffin at 10:03 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


I get so confused, I thought the Mittani were the lizard people from Babylon 5.

Haven't read the article yet, so I suppose that's still possible.
posted by Devonian at 10:06 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


when I was little I had a book of Egyptian myths and legends that included a story about a Mitanni princess that I read about a hundred thousand times so I feel very personally vindicated by this.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:23 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I get so confused, I thought the Mittani were the lizard people from Babylon 5.

Nah it’s an EVE Online thing
posted by nathan_teske at 10:34 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Worse, the modern Mittani are lizards who specialize in the intersection of espionage and spreadsheets for the lulz.
posted by bonehead at 10:37 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


LOOK ON OUR SPREADSHEETS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:39 AM on July 9 [13 favorites]


More seriously, this is exciting as, well, finding a new Bronze Age site.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:40 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I'm fascinated by the Mitanni. It's clear from the surviving literature that the Mitanni elite spoke an early version of Sanskrit, and worshiped Indian deities. This was before the Rigveda was ever written down, and thousands of miles away from where the Indo-Aryans came from. And they suddenly show up in the Middle East and carve out an empire!

A prevailing theory is that the Mitanni were mercenaries who were brought in because they were expert charioteers (the ancestors of the Indo-Aryans probably invented the spoked-wheel chariot, and chariots figure prominently in the Rigveda). These mercenaries then staged a coup and ruled over the (non-Sanskrit speaking) population.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:44 AM on July 9 [23 favorites]


What caused the water draining, climate change or local water demand?
posted by doctornemo at 11:03 AM on July 9


they suddenly show up in the Middle East and carve out an empire!

there's a lot of it about
posted by flabdablet at 11:37 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


It's clear from the surviving literature that the Mitanni elite spoke an early version of Sanskrit, and worshiped Indian deities.

Clarification: Some Mitanni names seem to derive from an early Indo-Iranian language. The Hurrian language that texts from Mitanni are written in is related only to Urartian, spoken in a later kingdom in the Lake Van region, and is pretty fascinating in its own right.

This exciting to hear about! The archeologists have some more Hurrian texts. There aren't very many of those. And hopefully they'll be able learn more about Hurrian history and the Mitanni Empire. I wasn't expecting much more from archeology in this region while the Syrian civil war was going on.
posted by nangar at 12:48 PM on July 9 [10 favorites]


This is great, but I'm a little confused. If lowering waters in a DAM revealed the ruins, wouldn't this mean that prior to the dam, these ruins were there the entire time? One of the buildings is reportedly around 21 feet in height, not just a bump in the ground. Was this place previously known, investigated and forgotten or something?

And apparently, this was discovered nine years ago, but the water got in the way?
posted by Atreides at 1:06 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


A lot of archaeological remains disappear under the lakes created by dams. It's exciting to hear of some emerging from the water, though the reasons why are not so good.

I'm absolutely fascinated by all of the ancient history that I had never even heard of as a kid. We talk about Egyptians, maybe Sumerians - but there were so many complex societies and cities and cultures that existed that were as far away in time from the Romans as we are from the Romans. I especially love the more obscure groups, like the Mitanni and the Hittites. History is so much deeper than I ever realized, and that's just from cultures which had cities made of stone. So much more history (really pre-history) has been lost because it was made of wood and fabric or maybe just language. I am in awe, like when I think about the size of the universe.
posted by jb at 1:48 PM on July 9 [11 favorites]


A lot of archaeological remains disappear under the lakes created by dams. It's exciting to hear of some emerging from the water, though the reasons why are not so good.

Just wait until R’lyeh surfaces!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:56 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


All these jokes and nobody has made the one really obvious joke?

...aw man, ugh, fine...

The Mittani send their regards.
posted by aramaic at 6:00 PM on July 9


Nunc Dimmitanis?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:23 PM on July 9


What caused the water draining, climate change or local water demand?

Neither. It's upstream damming and diversion for energy and agriculture by Turkey, Syria and Iran that has cut off 75% of the flow to the Tigris and Euphrates.
posted by srboisvert at 6:02 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


> I especially love the more obscure groups, like the Mitanni and the Hittites

I highly recommend Scott Chesworth's Ancient World podcast if you like learning about the ancient (pre-ancient Greek) civilizations - there's not just the Mittani and the Hittites, learn about the Elamites, Assyrians, Akkadians, Norte-Chico, and many more.
posted by BigCalm at 8:07 AM on July 10 [6 favorites]


FOOLS WHAT ANCIENT MALICE HAVE YOU AWAKEN

Alien Vs Predator 2: Mittanic Boogaloo
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:04 AM on July 10


I highly recommend Scott Chesworth's Ancient World podcast if you like learning about the ancient (pre-ancient Greek) civilizations - there's not just the Mittani and the Hittites, learn about the Elamites, Assyrians, Akkadians, Norte-Chico, and many more.

I've enjoyed that one - but more recently I've moved on to more academic podcasts/audio lectures. Unfortunately, there is a lot more on Greece and Rome than other civilizations, though Eric Cline's Archeology and the Illiad does address (some) of the Hittite and late Bronze Age context of the Trojan War.
posted by jb at 1:09 PM on July 10


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