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On Thursday, April 4th, 2013, British archeologists announced the discovery of what they described as a breathtaking complex in Southern Iraq. Located in what once was the ancient city of UR, the development is believed to be 4,000 years old or around the same time Abraham would have been living in the area, before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible.
Besides the location, what is exciting historians is the complex's unusually large size. Measuring about 260 feet (80 meters) or the size of a football pitch on each side, it comprises of a large courtyard, surrounded by a complex of rooms.
University of Manchester's Stuart Campbell who led the expedition speculates that it may have been a public or administrative building with either religious connections or one dealing in commercial goods for the city of Ur. The former theory seems more plausible given some of the artifacts that have been recovered, including a 9-centimeter clay plaque that depicts a worshipper wearing a long, fringed robe approaching a sacred site.
In addition to providing invaluable artifacts, the archeologists will also be able to determine things like the environmental and economic conditions of the area during that era, by conducting tests on the plant and animal remains found in and around the complex. This may help them prove their suspicion that thousands of years ago, the head of the Gulf was much further north than it currently is today, and there was therefore robust trading being conducted between Iraq, India and the Arabian Peninsula.
The ancient site which was discovered by the archeologists using satellite imagery is the first collaboration between British and Iraqi researchers since the 1980s. They are hoping that the partnership will continue in what many scientists believe is an area filled with important archeological sites.