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With the help of spy photos, a lost palace was found in the desert

Photos of CIA spy planes taken during the Cold War have helped researchers discover a long-lost palace in the Iranian desert, reports

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Now archaeologists led by specialists from the British Museum are excavating in the ancient city of Girsu, which dates back to the heyday of the Sumerian civilization some 4500 years ago.

A project funded by the Getty Museum has unearthed an ancient temple and hundreds of cuneiform tablets that shed light on a civilization lost for centuries.

According to Dr. Sebastian Rey, Curator of Ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum and project director, this discovery is very important. He says that all the discoveries made in Iraq in the last 7 years have helped deepen our knowledge of what is the “cradle of civilization“.

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“We are returning to the heart of the first cities and the birthplace of writing,” he said.

According to scientists, at the time of its heyday, the population of Girsu was approximately 30 thousand people. The discovered palace in those days was a giant complex and the administrative center of the city.

The team accessed declassified photographs from the CIA’s Corona program, which used surveillance satellites to gather intelligence from 1959 to 1972, to hunt for traces of buildings made of dried mud buried over the centuries beneath even more mud before running their own drone flights.

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Dr Sebastien Rey said: “The palace and the temple and all the new discoveries in Iraq in the past five, six or seven years have shed new insights into what is really the cradle of civilisation.”

He added: “We are going back to the heartland of the first cities and the birthplace of writing”.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.