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4000-year-old boat excavated near the ancient city of Uruk

A team of archaeologists from the Iraqi German Mission of the State Board of Antiquities and the Orient Department of the German Archaeological Institute have excavated a 4000-year-old boat near the ancient city of Uruk.

Uruk, also known as Warka was an ancient city of Sumer (and later of Babylonia), situated on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates River.

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Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanisation of Sumer in the mid-4th millennium BC, emerging as a major population centre until it was abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest of AD 633–638.

The boat was first discovered during a study of the Uruk-Warka environs in 2018, where it was photogrammetrically documented, however, the threat of road traffic near the site has led to a rescue excavation to preserve the remains.

Constructed from reed, palm leaves and wood, the boat was covered in bitumen, a substance produced through the distillation of crude oil that is known for its waterproofing and adhesive properties.

Measuring 7 metres in length and 1.4 metres wide, the archaeological context shows that the boat sank on the banks of a river around 4000-years-ago and became buried in layers of sediment.

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In accordance with Iraqi antiquities law, it was taken to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad for further scientific study and conservation.

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut 

Header Image Credit : Julia Nador, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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