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5,000 Year-Old Tavern Found in Iraq

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It doesn’t get much older than Sumeria, but even the modern concept of going out to eat was already established 1,000 years before the Great Pyramids were built.

In the ancient Near Eastern city-state of Lagash, the foundations of a tavern were recently found by archaeologists that included an open-air sitting area, and a kitchen complete with a clay oven, clay chiller, and ancient crockery.

One of the oldest areas in Ancient Mesopotamia, Lagash was already inhabited in the fifth millennium BCE. Today it’s located on a mound 4,000 yards in length and 2,000 yards in width.

A joint project of the Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum, Cambridge University and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Baghdad has renewed work at this critically important settlement as recently as 2019.

Using new magnetometry techniques and sedimentary analysis, the renewed work is taking a different approach to archaeology compared to past excavations of the city.

“It’s not like old-time archaeology in Iraq,” says Zaid Alrawi, project manager for the Lagash project at the Penn Museum, in the statement. “We’re not going after big mounds expecting to find an old temple. We use our techniques and then, based on scientific priority, go after what we think will yield important information to close knowledge gaps in the field.”

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