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Tell Brak: The World’s Oldest City?

New technology can tell us about the ancient world.

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Technology has come a long way, but sometimes new inventions can tell us even more about the past than the future. Modern satellites have picked up images of one of the world’s oldest cities, called Tell Brak. The snapshots show us how the landscape changed over time and how the town looked.

Tell Brak is located in the Upper Khabur Plain of Syria. In the 1920s, French archaeologist Antoine Poidebard took the first aerial photographs of the region from a plane. In 1937, archaeologist Max Mallowan led a dig of the tell.

A tell is a man-made hill created by people building and re-building on the same location over many years. Tell Brak is one of the largest known tells, and it dates back as early as 6000 BC. The site was home to different civilizations over the centuries. The ancient Akkadians, Babylonians, Mittani, and Sumerians all lived there.

Modern researchers discovered “eye idols” in the ancient city. These statues were unusual because they were smaller but had much larger eyes than those found at other sites. The figurines date to between 3700-3500 BC and were made of stone with large eyes chiseled into them. Thousands of these little treasures were found in a building which is now called the Eye Temple. Archeologists think the objects were given to gods as offerings.

There were already about 4,500 known archaeological sites across the Middle East, but satellite images show another 10,000. As satellite technologies develop, who knows what we will learn about Earth’s ancient past?


Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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