The Italian Almanac

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ancient city of Ur

Italian News - March 29

Italian archeologists working in Iraq have found a trove of ancient stone tablets from the fabled civilisation of Ur. The tablets bear around 500 engravings of a literary and historical nature, according to team leader Silvia Chiodi. "This is an an exceptional find," she said, noting that the area in question had previously only yielded prehistoric artefacts.

She said the tablets, made of clay and bitumen, were discovered by chance at an archaeological site not far from the location of the ancient city. An expert on Sumerian civilisation, Giovanni Pettinato, said the finds probably dated back to one of Ur's most prosperous periods.

"The most surprising thing is the time span the tablets cover, ranging from 2,700 BCE, the First Dynasty of Ur, to 2,100 BCE, the Third Dynasty," Pettinato said. "The place where the tablets were found, not far from the surface, leads one to suppose they contain information from a library. There could be thousands of them down there".

Chiodi said the tablets would probably occupy a prominent place in a new Virtual Museum of Iraq which Italy is building to show people what Baghdad's celebrated museum of antiquities looked like before it was looted in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion of Irak.