A team of archaeologists from Germany’s University of Tubingen has spent many years excavating in northern Iraq and their diligence has paid off as they have made the exciting discovery of the 4,800-year-old lost city of Mardaman, an ancient city that prospered for thousands of years.
During their work last year, archaeologists uncovered 92 cuneiform tablets that had been placed gently inside pottery that was found strewn among the ruins of a once great palace. It has only been through the efforts of the University of Heidelberg’s Betina Faist that the cuneiform tablets were finally able to be read, and these named the lost city as Mardaman, or Mardama, as it sometimes also appeared to have been called, as Live Science reports.
The ruins of the ancient city can be found near Bassetki, and archaeologists believe that Mardaman was first built between the years 2800 BC to 2650 BC. The lost city would have been at its highest point between 1900 BC and 1700 BC, and continued to prosper and thrive even under the Neo-Assyrian regime.
The cuneiform tablets that were discovered have been found to have been written roughly around 1250 BC when this region would have been under the strict control of Assur-nasir.
The University of Tubingen’s Peter Pfalzner, who is in charge of archaeological excavations at the site, has explained that these cuneiform tablets detail “administrative and commercial affairs with the people of Mardama.”
— Live Science (@LiveScience) May 11, 2018
While Mardaman was one of many different cities run by great empires, archaeologists have said that it had been, at certain times during its long history, a completely independent city as well.
Archaeologists discovered that even though the palace where the 92 cuneiform tablets had been found had been completely demolished around the year 1200 BC, the ancient city continued to fare well and thrive. After attacks such as these, where numerous buildings were razed, Mardaman swiftly rebuilt itself.
In the face of such brazen enemy attacks, it should come as no surprise that residents of the city sought to keep these cuneiform tablets safe by wrapping the pottery they were discovered in with clay.
In fact, Pfalzner believes that they “may have been hidden this way shortly after the surrounding building had been destroyed. Perhaps the information the tablets contain was meant to be protected and preserved for posterity.”
— Archeologia Żywa (@ArcheologiaZywa) May 12, 2018
As Peter Pfalzner noted, the lost city was in the perfect position between other major cities and kingdoms to benefit greatly from trade.
“Mardaman certainly rose to be an influential city and a regional kingdom, based on its position on the trade routes between Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria. At times, it was an adversary of the great Mesopotamian powers.”
Now that archaeologists have discovered the name of the ancient city of Mardaman, excavation work will continue on the site in an effort to learn more about the life and culture of this lost city.