Monday, October 09, 2017

POSSIBLE AILEXANDER THE GREAT SITE 200 MILES NORTHEAST OF BAGHDAD HAS BEEN ABANDONED

The discoveries of two statues may help to prove this was once a thriving hub founded by one of the ancient world's most powerful rulers—Alexander the Great. Until recently the dig, some 330 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad, was buzzing with activity as a team of 15 archaeologists from both Iraq and abroad worked under the stewardship of the British Museum in London to uncover more invaluable treasures.

But now the site is silent as the foreign experts—two Britons and a Hungarian—packed up and left last week to avoid becoming stranded after a spat between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish authorities over a disputed independence referendum that saw Baghdad cut international air links to the region. "This is the first time researchers from abroad have had to leave," said student Rzgar Qader Boskiny, who has been working on a neighboring dig."They even stayed here when the Islamic State group came near," he said referring to the jihadists.

The sudden disappearance of foreign experts has left Nuraddini guarding Qalatga Darband. That is a major job for the self-taught man from the nearby town of Ranya who in 2013 helped to guide foreign researchers to the 60-hectare site perched on the edge of a lake.

Archaeologists who have been working on the site describe the find as "exceptional", but it will take the British Museum project years longer to determine if it genuinely was linked to Alexander the Great.
Some believe it could be a major city from Alexander's empire that was lost from historical records for millennia. But even if those hopes prove unfounded, it is still an important find.

The lakeside site was discovered by a team of Iraqi and British archaeologists led by experts from the British Museum. "It was a strategic town, maybe even a provincial capital, that controlled the routes linking different worlds—Mesopotamia, Persia and Ancient Greece," said Jessica Giraud, the head of French archaeological mission in the region.

While the hunt for more clues about Qalatga Darband has ground to a halt, it was assistance from an unlikely source flying overhead that helped experts hone in on the ruins. Archaeologists used declassified images taken by the CIA's Cold War spy satellite program in the 1960s to help them survey the site and better focus their explorations. An image of the area from 1967, seen by AFP, shows the outlines of ancient walls, roads and what appears to be a large building that researchers think was a fort and a temple.

A joint French-Iraqi mission to map archaeological finds has already found some 354 sites in the region.Experts put the density of finds down to fertility of the land and the fact that the area was at the crossroads of major kingdoms.

The British Museum project began last autumn and is set to run until 2020, but the current disruptions could mean delays in answering questions surrounding Qalatga Darband.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-iraq-flight-halts-lost-ancient.html#jCp

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