Berlin: Archaeologists have uncovered a large Bronze Age city in northern Iraq which was established in about 3000 BC and flourished for more than 1200 years.
The settlement near the town of Dohuk is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan.
The archaeologists from the University of Tubingen in Germany also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.
Scientists led by Professor Peter Pfalzner from the University of Tubingen and Dr Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October this year.
The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work.
The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from about 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders.
Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC.
The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site.
There was a lower town about one kilometre long outside the city centre.
Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archaeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age.
The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city.
The settlement was connected to the neighbouring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.
Bassetki was only known to the general public in the past because of the "Bassetki statue," which was discovered there by chance in 1975.
"The area around Bassetki is proving to be an unexpectedly rich cultural region, which was located at the crossroads of communication ways between the Mesopotamian, Syrian and Anatolian cultures during the Bronze Age," said Pfalzner.
"We're therefore planning to establish a long-term archaeological research project in the region in conjunction with our Kurdish colleagues," he said.