Bronze Age “Tomb of the Prince” unearthed in Iraq

A team of Italian archaeologists have found a third millennium BC tomb in southern Iraq, which was the cradle of Sumerian civilization during the Bronze Age. 

Italian archaeologists working at Tal Abu Tbeirah in southern Iraq recently excavated a lavish tomb dating to the middle of the third millennium BCE [Credit: ADNKronos]
The tomb, excavated at a 42-hectare site at Abu Tbeirah, located around 12 miles from the city of Ur, may provide insight into the Sumerian civilization that flourished in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq, from 4000 to 3100 BC until the Akkadian Empire took over around 2270 BC. 

Sumerians are considered as the region’s first civilized people, who were pioneers in agriculture, industries, trade, metalwork, weaving and pottery. 

The grave contained the remains of a young man, who may have been a royal, as his outfit was found embellished with carnelian beads, semi-precious stones that were widely used during the Bronze Age for making jewelry and in decorative arts, according to archaeologists. 

Abu Tbeirah site in southern Iraq [Credit: Italian Archaeological Mission in Iraq - Abu Tbeirah/Facebook Page]
“The richness of the outfit is highlighted by three carnelian beads from the Indus Valley dating back to the same age,” Italian philologist and lead archaeologist Franco d'Agostino, a professor at Rome's Sapienza University, was quoted as saying in local media on Tuesday. 

Dubbed as the “Tomb of the Little Prince,” the grave is similar to the tombs excavated in the Royal Cemetery of Ur and at the religious city of Nippur, located about 200 kilometers north of Abu Tbeirah. 

In addition, four bronze vases, including one shaped like a boat, and a bronze dagger were also found in the tomb. 

“The study of this tomb has allowed us to hypothesize the steps and procedures followed to bury the corpse, until now never described in Mesopotamian excavations and should clarify many aspects of the funerary practices of ancient Mesopotamia,” he said. 

The aerial view of the 42-hectares site of Abu Tbeirah [Credit: Italian Archaeological Mission in Iraq - Abu Tbeirah/Facebook Page]
Security concerns, following the US invasion in Iraq in 2003, kept archaeologists away from the excavation sites of Iraq, which are rich in antiquities and buried cities. 

Before starting digging at Abu Tbeirah last autumn, d'Agostino called it "the first foreign excavation mission in southern Iraq since 2003." 

After the successful excavation of the “Tomb of the Little Prince,” archaeologists are overwhelmed by the positive responses from Iraqi authorities and are hopeful to see more foreign missions in Iraq. 

"After a television interview on the eve of the departure of the Mission, we have been contacted by a viewer who has made a donation for all of us. It was an injection of energy and confidence. The welcome we found is been positive in every sense, from the archaeological authorities and policies to guard the site.” 

Author: Sanskrity Sinha | Source: International Business Times [March 28, 2012]

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