British archaeologists have unearthed a substantial building which they believe was an administrative complex in the ancient city of Ur in Southern Iraq.
The city of Ur is located 140 miles southeast of the site of Babylon and about 10 miles west of the Euphrates River. The city is believed to have been founded in 4th millennium BC by farmers from northern Mesopotamia. Ur is considered to be the home of the Biblical character Abraham.
"The surrounding countryside, now arid and desolate, was the birthplace of cities and of civilization about 5,000 years ago and home to the Sumerians and the later Babylonians," said professor Campbell, who is head Department of Archaeology, Manchester University.
Campbell and his colleagues are the first team of British archaeologists to have explored the site since 1980.
"It has been off-limits to international archaeologists for many decades so the opportunity of re-engaging with the study of the earliest cities is a truly exciting one," said Campbell.
One of the key findings of the ancient site is clay plaque about 9 cm or about 3.5 inches. The plaque has a picture of a worshipper as he approaches a sacred place, wearing a long robe.
The photos obtained from satellite-based survey of the city showed the presence of a substantial building which is about 80m square, probably related to administration of the study. "We provisionally date the site to around 2,000 BC, the time of the sack of the city and the fall of the last Sumerian royal dynasty," Campbell said.
The study team now hopes to analyze the plant and animal remains found at the site. The analysis will help archaeologists understand the environmental and economic conditions of the region about 4,000 years ago. Researchers believe that the area had marshy conditions, and that maritime trading was possible in the region due to the head of the Gulf being further to the north.