April 24, 2008
Good & bad news
Thanks to Dr. Jack Sasson, I just saw an article in the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman. It dates back to mid March and is indicative of the state of archaeology in Iraq nowadays. On the good side, some excavations are going on by local archaeologists. They discovered a Neo-Babylonian town in Diwaniyya protectorate, with some interesting finds such as a duck weight that weighs in at an unusual ca. 30 kg as well as some burials of what looks like people who were executed. "The head archaeologist Mohammed Yahya said the town is more than 20,000 square meters in area and includes administrative quarters, temples and other buildings of 'magnificent and splendid design.' Yahya, who is the head of the provincial Antiquities Department in the Province of Diwaniya, where the new Babylonian town was discovered, said he still lacks evidence on the town’s ancient name. The locals call it Shamiya after a provincial district nearby, he said." However, on the bad side, he also notes "that his team has come across several cuneiform tablets but 'there is no one to read the ancient writing because Iraqi experts with the knowledge to decipher Mesopotamian script have fled the country.'" Sigh.