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Ancient site unearthed in Iraqi home of Abraham

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Ancient site unearthed in Iraqi home of Abraham

Apr-05-2013 at 07:44 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

This photo taken on March 31, 2013 provided by Manchester University archaeologist Stuart Campbell shows excavation in progress at Tell Khaiber, Iraq. A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham. Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department says it goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. (AP Photo/Stuart Campbell)

Ancient site unearthed in Iraqi home of Abraham
by Sinan Salaheddin. Associated Press, April 05, 2013.

BAGHDAD (AP) — British archaeologists said Thursday they have unearthed a sprawling complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham.

The structure, thought to be about 4,000 years old, probably served as an administrative center for Ur, around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible.

Associated Press/Stuart Campbell - This photo taken on March 31, 2013 photo provided by Manchester University professor Stuart Campbell shows excavation in progress at Tell Khaiber, Iraq. A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham. Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department says it goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. (AP Photo/Stuart Campbell)

The compound is near the site of the partially reconstructed Ziggurat, or Sumerian temple, said Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department, who led the dig.

"This is a breathtaking find," Campbell said, because of its unusually large size — roughly the size of a football pitch, or about 80 meters (260 feet) on each side. The archaeologist said complexes of this size and age were rare.

"It appears that it is some sort of public building. It might be an administrative building, it might have religious connections or controlling goods to the city of Ur," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the U.K.

The complex of rooms around a large courtyard was found 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Ur, the last capital of the Sumerian royal dynasties whose civilization flourished 5,000 years ago.

Campbell said one of the artifacts they unearthed was a 9-centimeter (3.5-inch) clay plaque showing a worshipper wearing a long, fringed robe, approaching a sacred site.

This photo taken on April 1, 2013 provided by Manchester University archaeologist Stuart Campbell shows a clay plaque, which shows a worshipper approaching a sacred place. He is wearing a long robe with fringe down the front opening, found during an excavation Tell Khaiber, Iraq. A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham. Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department says it goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. (AP Photo/Stuart Campbell)

Beyond artifacts, the site could reveal the environmental and economic conditions of the region through analysis of plant and animal remains, the archaeological team said in a statement.

The dig began last month when the six-member British team worked with four Iraqi archaeologists to dig in the Tell Khaiber in the southern province of Thi Qar, some 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Decades of war and violence have kept international archaeologists away from Iraq, where significant archaeological sites as yet unexplored are located. Still, the dig showed that such collaborative missions could be possible in parts of Iraq that are relatively stable, like its Shiite-dominated south.

Campbell's team was the first British-led archaeological dig in southern Iraq since the 80s. It was also directed by Manchester University's Dr. Jane Moon and independent archaeologist Robert Killick.

"This has been an opportunity to get back to an area very close to our heart for a long time," Campbell said.

Iraq faces a broader problem of protecting its archaeological heritage. Its 12,000 registered archaeological sites are poorly guarded.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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