|28 May 2004
2600 BCE artifacts found at an airbase in Iraq
Thanks to some amateur archeologists serving with the U.S. 506th Air Expeditionary Group, an ages-old mystery is being unearthed at the Kirkuk Air Base in Iraq. Iraqi archeologists have determined the air base has at least one site with artifacts dating back to between 1200 BCE and 2600 BCE, possibly predating the ancient Assyrians. Other sites have been identified as potentially containing precious antiquities, but have yet to be excavated.
The mystery began unfolding in late March when Col. Marcus Beyerle became curious about an area that was being dug up to fill sandbags. "I noticed the mounds or ‘tels.’ Geologically, those hills weren’t formed by nature," said Colonel Beyerle. "Several days later, I I could see the different strata or layers of dirt." He said he knew those layers were a strong indication that ancient civilizations had used the same spot in succession, covered them up and forgot about them. In April, Colonel Beyerle discovered an ancient clay jar that was nearly intact.
The colonel turned that artifact and another broken piece from what was probably a jar or goblet, over to the base’s judge advocate general for safekeeping until they could be transferred to the proper Iraqi authorities. A few days later, Maj. Mike Larkin, who also has a great interest in history and archeology, was walking through the site, when he came upon animal bones and shards from clay pots and jars. He made arrangements to cordon off the site and working with Army Civil Affairs, he brought an Iraqi archeological team to the site May 12.
Within minutes of examining the site, more clay shards and a set of small vessels, perhaps shaped from alabaster and probably used to hold medicines, were uncovered. The Iraqi archeologists became very excited. "This is the history of our country. The first Kurdish states began here," said Sheida Muhammad Amin, archeological surveyor for the Kirkuk’s department of antiquities. Mr. Amin explained that in 1923 an American University archeological team had done some excavations at other “tels” nearby. Those discoveries gave credence to theories that the first Kurds had settled in the area.
Source: Air Force Link (21 May 2004)
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