March 30, 2023

Excavations of an Iraqi city reveal a 5,000-year-old “refrigerator” and ovens | archeology

Archaeologists excavated in Lagash, one of the first cities in Southwest Asia, which is now in Iraq, and found a large tavern with benches, a kind of clay “refrigerator” (called a “zir”), ovens and leftover containers, many of which still had traces of food.

“It’s a public dining space that dates back to around 2700 BC,” says Holly Pittman, professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania and project director at Lagash. in the current situation. “It’s part outdoors and part kitchen area.”

The shards were found in 2022, when Pittman and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pisa in Italy conducted a fourth season of excavations at the site. Using high-tech tools, they locate trenches From that ancient urban quarter that 5,000 years ago was inhabited by the common people – not the elite.

The Lagash archaeological project used an approach endorsed by Sarah Pesementi of the University of Pisa. The technique consists of horizontal drilling through microstratigraphic layers on a large scale. Bateman describes it as “like having a very fine surgical procedure”.

Pennsylvania researchers have studied the area since the 1930s, with the previous season starting in 2019, after it was paused due to COVID-19 pandemic. To excavate more effectively, the researchers used technologies such as drone imaging, thermography, and magnetometers, which capture the magnetic density of the buried environment.

In the first season of excavations, experts revealed the site’s outline, and saw clear evidence of past fires on a hike to the south, including a gray surface with remnants of Pottery making. Experts dug a large square trench, in which they dug six furnaces with oval pits made of fired clay bricks.

Excavations in the local spring and autumn in 2022 revealed five more kilns. For archaeologists, the density of these obscure kilns shows that there was significant pottery production at Lagash, though it remains unknown how this artisanal production actually took place.

It’s likely, Bateman says, that kilns survived for thousands of years, as they were tempered by fire. There is increasing evidence that most of the surrounding streets, alleys, and buildings predate kilns.

“We found two rectangular wells that seem to represent the stages of ceramic production,” says the field manager. “One contained pure red clay, which had perfect plastic qualities and is still used today. The other contained yellowish-green coarse sand, which would act as a hardening agent.”

To the west of these pits was an open space probably also used by the potters themselves, containing benches and a table. In another adjoining yard, there was what appeared to be a dwelling with a kitchen with mud hoods on it.bowls With food and even the toilet.

During the excavations of Lagash, scholars assumed that the city was much closer to the Persian Gulf. Reed Goodman, a doctoral student and former colleague who is now working with Bateman, is trying to understand when and why that distance changed.

“I’ve been looking at the relationship between urbanization in southern Iraq and changes in the water landscape,” Goodman explains. “This is how you dealt with Holly.”

In 2019, Goodman conducted the first geological studies at Lagash under the guidance of Livio Geosan of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Using a portable device called an auger, the researcher collected about 12 meters of sediment from 12 sites.

Recently, the project collaborated with local drilling technicians to reach a depth of approximately 25 metres. Access to these depths provided tens of thousands of years of information covering the end ice Age (from about 2.5 million years ago to 11.7 thousand years ago), and the beginning Holocene.

Bateman says she is pleased with the progress of the investigation. “We are all fully committed to the collective success of this project,” she says. Iraq has suffered greatly for many years. I hope you find stability, enjoy and nurture your great and important seniority. Our role is to help make that happen.”