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Royal Sumerian palace and temple uncovered in ancient Girsu

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Archaeologists from the Girsu Project have uncovered the remains of a Royal Sumerian palace and temple complex in the ancient city of Girsu, located in the Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq.

Girsu was a city of the Sumer, one of the earliest known civilisations in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia. Occupation at Girsu dates from the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC), emerging as the capital of the Lagash Kingdom, and a major administrative centre during the Ur III period (2112-2004 BC).

Girsu was discovered during the 19th century, with the first excavations being conducted in the 1880s by the French archaeologist, Ernest de Sarzec.

These early excavations uncovered the famous Stele of the Vultures (the earliest known war monument), that dates from the Early Dynastic IIIb period (2600–2350 BC) and commemorates the victory of king Eannatum of Lagash, over Ush, king of Umma.

Image Credit : British Museum

The site consists of two large tells (mounds), one rising 50 feet above the plain, and the other 56 feet. Over the centuries, Girsu has been damaged from poor excavation standards during the 19th and 20th century, and illegal excavations searching for artefacts to sell on the black market.

A study in 2021 by the Girsu Project, a joint initiative between the British Museum and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) of Iraq, have been applying remote sensing within the Girsu zone at an area designated as Tablet hill.

The study revealed a vast complex of undisturbed architectural remains, which have now been excavated to reveal a mudbrick-built palace and more than 200 ancient cuneiform tablets containing administrative records.

Archaeologists also discovered a main sanctuary of the great Sumerian god, Ningirsu (from whom the city has taken its name), located in the sacred precinct called the Urukug. The sanctuary is named Eninnu, the White Thunderbird, and would have been revered as one of the most important temples of Mesopotamia.

Dr Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: “While our knowledge of the Sumerian world remains limited today, the work at Girsu and the discovery of the lost palace and temple hold enormous potential for our understanding of this important civilisation, shedding light on the past and informing the future.”

The Girsu Project

The Girsu Project, led by the British Museum and funded by Getty, builds on the legacy of the Museum’s Iraq Scheme, developed in 2015 and first funded by the British Government in response to the destruction of heritage sites in Iraq and Syria by Daesh (or Islamic State). The Girsu project addresses the damage caused by early excavations and modern looting.

Header Image – Reconstruction of the palace – Image Credit : British Museum

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

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Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

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Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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