By Cailey Rizzo
July 03, 2019
University of Tübingen Science Center/Kurdistan Archaeology Organization

A palace thought to be more than 3,400 years old emerged from a reservoir in the Kurdistan region of Iraq after a drought drained water levels.

"The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades," Kurdish archeologist Hasan Ahmed Qasim said in a statement.

University of Tübingen Science Center/Kurdistan Archaeology Organization

The palace — known now as Kemune — emerged from the banks of the Tigris River last autumn during a drought and prompted a spontaneous archaeological dig. Researchers hope that, through the dig, they will discover more about the Mittani Empire, one of the empires of the Ancient Near East that we know the least about.

The Mittani Empire is thought to have existed from about 1500 to about 1360 BC. It was one of the kingdoms that existed in Mesopotamia and is thought to have fought extensively with Egypt for control of Syria.

Inside the palace, archaeologists have found cuneiform tablets. They hope that by studying the tablets, they will learn more about the politics, economy and history of the empire, according to the University of Tübingen in Germany. 

University of Tübingen Science Center/Kurdistan Archaeology Organization

The palace also contains remains of wall paintings, in bright shades of red and blue.

"In the second millennium BCE, murals were probably a typical feature of palaces in the Ancient Near East, but we rarely find them preserved,” Ivana Puljiz, of the Tübingen Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies, said in a statement. “So discovering wall paintings in Kemune is an archaeological sensation.”

Puljiz told CNN that Kemune is only the second place in the region where archaeologists have found this type of wall painting.

Archaeologists have known about the palace since 2010 but it was only during this drought that they were able to access the area and excavate. However, shortly after the dig, water levels returned and the palace was submerged again. It is unclear when, if ever, the palace will reemerge from the water.

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