Nasiriyah, Iraq (AFP) Jan 8, 2010
Iraqi archaeologists said on Friday they have discovered a 2,000-year-old Sumerian settlement in southern Iraq, yielding a bounty of historical artefacts.
The site, in the southern province of Dhi Qar, is in the desert near ancient Ur, the biblical birthplace of Abraham.
"There are walls and cornerstones carrying Sumerian writings, dating back to the era of the third Sumerian dynasty," said Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, head of the provincial government's archaeology department.
Hamdani said the artefacts, which included sickles and knives, largely dated back to around 2000 BC, during the rule of King Amarsin, the third king of the third Sumerian dynasty.
He said the site "changes our perceptions about the Sumerian settlements, because they used to be near water or rivers, and this one is located in the desert."
The newly discovered site lies around 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar, and is close to the ancient city of Ur.
Ur of the Chaldees was one of the great urban centres of the Sumerian civilisation of southern Iraq, and remained an important city until its conquest by Alexander the Great three centuries before Christ.
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