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Skeletons Of At Least 6 People Unearthed In 2,400-Year-Old Tomb In Iraq

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A 2,400-year-old tomb in northern Iraq has been excavated by archaeologists led by Michael Danti of Boston University. The tomb was filled with at least six skeletons, but the exact number of the original remains cannot be calculated because they were found in such a disordered state.

Aside from the skeletons, a number of artifacts, such as a bracelet, pair of bronzed earrings, and multitude of potteries, were also found in the tomb. Five of the potteries remained intact and consisted of a big bridge-spouted jar, three pitchers, and a small jar.

The ancient tomb was believed to have been constructed at the tail end of the Achaemenid Empire (550 to 330 B.C.), a Middle East empire invaded by Alexander the Great. One of the artifacts found was a bracelet that had an image of two snake heads, a motif that was popular during the Achaemenid times.

The excavation findings were presented by Kyra Kaercher of the University of Pennsylvania and Katie Downey of Ohio State University in November last year at the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Ancient Tomb Was Reused

According to the archaeologists, the tomb did not belong to royalty: "Based on the ceramics found and the limited amount of metal and other objects, these people were probably from a more modest background."

The archaeologists who excavated the tomb also said that the tomb had been reused during the Early or Middle Islamic period (8th to 17th century A.D.), and that there were five more bodies buried in there aside from the set of six skeletons.

Preservation Of Heritage Sites In Iraq In Danger

The skeletons found in the tomb were found scattered, leading archaeologists to believe that the place had been robbed in ancient times.

The tomb was discovered in 2013 by a group of construction workers. Notably, the place has not been invaded by members of the Islamic State, an insurgent militant group that has been known to destroy and loot heritage sites.

Danti, the lead archaeologist in the ancient tomb excavation, says that "ISIS is purposely targeting, stealing, and sometimes destroying the cultural heritage and cultural property."

"It's a very important source of revenue for them," Danti adds. "They especially like to loot the cultural heritage and property of religious and ethnic minorities, because they feel — within their vision of Islam, which is very unique — that their religion justifies what they are doing."

Many heritage sites in this part of the world are in need of conservation; in fact, Iraq archaeology has taken a nosedive because most archaeologists have little to no access in the northern part of the country due to political upheaval dating back to Saddam Hussein's regime.

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