"French scientists discover new Sumerian temple in southern Iraq
By Khayoun Saleh
Azzaman, September 24, 2010
The Antiquities Department says French archaeologists have recently unearthed a new Sumerian temple in the southern Province of Dhiqar.
The department’s information officer, Abdulzahra al-Talaqani, said a team of French excavators did a short season of digging at al-Rafaai, the district where the Sumerian temple was found.
The French were expected to resume digging to provide a good picture of the new discovery, he said.
Details are sketchy but Talaqani said the department would provide by December “the engineering details that will elucidate (the temple’s) archaeological significance and its contents.”
Excavations normally start in Iraq in autumn when temperatures start dropping. Excavation teams normally suspend digging in the summer, due to scorching heat.
Dhiqar, of which the city of Nasiriyah is the provincial capital, is Iraq’s richest in archaeology. It is the birthplace of the Sumerian civilization, the first to invent writing and civilized government some 5,000 years ago.
Sumerian ruins such as Eridu, Ur and Lagash top Iraq’s archaeological attractions.
Despite decades of excavations, only a fraction of the province’s ancient marvels has come to light.
There are more than 1,000 archaeologically significant sites awaiting excavation.
The province’s massive richness in archaeology is said to have turned it into a haven for smugglers and illegal diggers – there are only 100 guards for the 1,000 sites."
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