A lost city from the time of Alexander the Great was discovered in Iraq

British Museum
British Museum

An ancient city that’s believed to have been founded in the time of Alexander the Great was discovered after being thought to have been lost in the sands of history for more than 2,000 years.

Qalatga Darband, who is on the banks of a river in Sulejmania province in Iraqi Kurdistan, carries the scars of an ancient settlement – a fortress, and now archaeologists can finally explore this remaining long hidden area.

Although there is no exact dating yet, it is believed that the settlement is from the time immediately after the great battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian king Darius III in the lands that were then called Mesopotamia.

Qalatga Darband, roughly translated from Kurdish as a „castle on the mountain pass“, was probably the center of a busy trade in wine and other goods for the soldiers on the road of glory.

„It is too early for such conclusions, but we believe it was an important center on the road from Iraq to Iran,“ said archaeologist John MacGinnis of the British Museum to The Times.

„You can imagine merchants and wine suppliers for soldiers passing the pass.“

MacGinnis and his team are leading a project to prepare Iraqi archaeologists who are trained to recognize and save irreplaceable archaeological treasures from the threat of being destroyed by an Islamic state.

It’s unbelievable, but Qalatga Darband is also the result of a military conflict, although it is something different. Spy satellite images made by the United States during the Cold War (in the 1960s) as part of the Crown program and declassified in the 1990s, helped the researchers outline the ancient remains.

But the wars in the region prevented archeologists from scrutinizing the remains until the 21st century when scientists used drones to explore the landscape and found significant differences in the crops that covered the ancient city.


„The Dron has gathered excellent information,“ MacGinnis told The Times.

„Analysis of the crops is not at all done in Mesopotamian archeology. Where there are ancient walls under the ground, wheat and barley do not grow very well, so there is a difference in crop color. “

So far, the investigation of the remains has revealed the foundations of several large buildings, including a fortress wall and stone presses likely to be used in wine or oil production.

Roof remains have also been discovered, as well as statues believed to be of Persephone and Adonis.

It is not yet clear to date these relics, but scientists suggest that this is the first or second century BC.

A coin discovered in the ruins of the city depicts the parish king Orodez II, who ruled between 57 and 37 years. BC, so it was probably at that time that the city still functioned – long after the times of Alexander the Great.

Excavations are expected to continue after 2020, when we will learn more about the secrets of the ancient city.