Were ancient people so different?

Ruins of once-thriving Iraqi city uncovered

By The Mercury

Tired of members of Congress fighting? Worried about whether you’ll ever understand Obamacare or whether it will still be law when you figure it out? Had enough of chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear weapons development in Iran?

Idu might be a welcome distraction. If you haven’t heard of Idu, you’re probably not alone. You might, however, have heard of the Assyrian Empire, which once stretched from modern Turkey around the eastern Mediterranean into Egypt.

Idu, in Iraqi Kurdistan, was part of that empire. And from about 3,300 and 2,900 years ago, Idu was a bustling city. Ba’ilanu, one of its rulers, built a palace he was particularly proud of.  A translation of cuneiform writing includes the claim, “The palace which he built he made greater than that of his fathers.”

As LiveScience explains it, Idu was “on the northern bank of the lower Zab River,” which we’ll bet you also haven’t heard of unless you were a finalist in National Geographic’s Geography Bee.

Idu was uncovered several years ago in a mound in what is now the village of Satu Qala. And at its height, it contained a number of comparatively ornate palaces and its share of impressive works of art — sphinxes, griffons and a cylindrical seal that when rolled on a piece of clay would have displayed a scene of a heroic archer crouching before a griffin as a number of gods looked on.

The gods didn’t always smile on Idu. Though it was for a time a city-state apart from the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians reconquered it.

Researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Anatolica, aren’t sure how quickly they can uncover the entire city. Chronic violence in Iraqi Kurdistan and and elsewhere in the Middle East thwarted archeological research for decades. Violence was unleashed as recently as 1987 on Satu Qala, the village built on the site of Idu. That’s when the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was particularly brutal to the Kurds, attacked the town and burned parts of it.

The people of Idu, we’d speculate, worked hard — probably much harder than we do today. They enjoyed good times and bad. Chances are they also prayed to their gods for good health, good crops and protection from their enemies.

Perhaps in some cuneiform writing yet to be uncovered, we’ll learn that they even complained about the ineptitude of the knuckleheads who governed them.

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