European archaeologists return to Iraq – report

European archaeologists work on a dig in Larsa, southern Iraq (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — European archaeologists returned to Iraq in search of millennia-old cultural treasures, AFP reported on Wednesday.

“Come and see!” shouted an overjoyed French researcher recently at a desert dig in Larsa in southern Iraq, according to AFP.

The team has uncovered a 4,000-year-old cuneiform inscription.

“When you find inscriptions like that, in situ, it’s moving,” AFP quoted Dominique Charpin, professor of Mesopotamian civilization at the College de France in Paris, as saying.

A dozen other European and Iraqi archaeologists kept working in a cordoned-off area where they were digging, the news agency said.

“Larsa is one of the largest sites in Iraq, it covers more than 200 hectares,” Regis Vallet, researcher at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, told AFP.

He also heads the Franco-Iraqi mission.

Vallet said the team of 20 people had made “major discoveries”, including the residence of a ruler identified by about 60 cuneiform tablets that have been transferred to the national museum in Baghdad.

He further said Larsa is like and archaeological playground and a “paradise” for exploring ancient Mesopotamia, which hosted through the ages the empire of Akkad, the Babylonians, Alexander the Great, the Christians, the Persians and Islamic rulers.

However, the modern history of Iraq – with its succession of conflicts, especially since the 2003 US-led invasion and its bloody aftermath – has kept foreign researchers at bay.

Only since Baghdad declared victory in territorial battles against the Islamic State group in 2017 has Iraq “largely stabilized and it has become possible again” to visit, said Vallet.

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