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Declassified Drone Pics Reveal Ancient Alexander the Great Fortress City

The defensive wall of the Assyrian fort at Usu Aska

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Declassified Drone Pics Reveal Ancient Alexander the Great Fortress City

Declassified Drone Pics Reveal Ancient Alexander the Great Fortress City

Archaeologists have rediscovered an ancient fortress city that is supposed to have been founded by Alexander the Great from spy cam photographs that were gathered decades ago and later declassified. This city was thought to have been lost to knowledge for over two thousand years.

The Darband-i Rania pass from the northeast: the site of Qalatga Darband is the triangular spit of land beyond the bridge on the right

The Darband-i Rania pass from the northeast: the site of Qalatga Darband is the triangular spit of land beyond the bridge on the right

The team of archaeologists from London’s British Museum was looking at the declassified spy pictures that were taken. They initially thought that city they found in now Iraq was from a military satellite image set from the 1960s.

These images and documents were declassified in 1996 by the United States government. The archaeologists including experts from both Britain and Iraq, then confirmed the location of the city using drones that were fitted with a camera. These drones flew over the site gathering fresh information about the lay of the land. As the images were processed the team was amazed to find that there seemed to be a rectangular building hiding under the fields.

The defensive wall of the Assyrian fort at Usu Aska

The defensive wall of the Assyrian fort at Usu Aska

The information was incubating while actual digging was not possible due to the hostile political situations between Iraq and the US. It is only recently that the archeologists have gained access to excavate the site safely. They found that this was a fortress city in the northern Iraq in Qalatga Darband that was developed as Alexander of Macedon or Alexander the Great moved on his route following the Persian ruler Darius III in the fourth century B.C. across eastern Asia. Qalatga Darband is in an area situated about 10 kilometers south-east of Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan.

John MacGinnis, who is the archeologist in charge, said that this was part of the Emergency Heritage Management Training Programme which is a UK funded program to train the local Iraqis to work on the restoration of the sites that have been destroyed or vandalized by the Islamic State militant group ISIS. This team helped work on this heritage site and is being trained by the British Museum.

MacGinnis explained that this region they uncovered was an area that went back to first and second centuries B.C. They used the drones to the best of their advantage he said explaining, “We got coverage of all the site using the drone in the spring—analyzing crop marks hasn’t been done at all in Mesopotamian archaeology… Where there are walls underground, the wheat and barley don’t grow so well, so there are color differences in the crop growth.” He said that these are still early days of the discovery but they expect to find “bustling city on a road from Iraq to Iran.” The region was mainly wine suppliers he explained. They probably were supplying wine to the soldiers as they were passing through he said.

In the area at Qalatga Darband, they also found statues of Greco-Roman gods and terracotta roof tiles that indicated that there was a Greek influence on the city notably Alexander who passed through there.

Reference: http://www.britishmuseum.org

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