Sailing in Sumer


July/August 2022

JA22 Digs Iraq Sumerian Boat REVISEDAn Iraqi-German team recently excavated the remnants of an ancient boat that was exposed by erosion in 2018 near the Sumerian city of Uruk in southern Iraq. The boat, which measures 23 feet long and up to 4.5 feet wide, was found on the city’s outskirts in an area once covered by fields, canals, and small settlements. The vessel sank around 4,000 years ago near the bank of a river that has long since silted up. Although the organic material used to construct the boat—likely wood, reeds, or palm leaves—has completely decayed, the material left clear impressions in a surviving layer of bitumen that was applied to the boat as waterproofing. Researchers carefully documented the excavation of the fragile find before moving the vessel’s remnants to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad for conservation and study. To see an image of the boat's excavation, click here.