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Iraq discovers pre-Islamic castle

BBC News, 3 March 2000

Iraqi archaeologists have discovered a 1,400-year-old palace dating back to the pre-Islamic era in southern Iraq.

They came across the palace during an excavation in Babil province on the site of what was the city of Babylon about 100 kilometres from the capital Baghdad.

The head of the excavation team, Abdul-Hameed Aggar, said the palace contains many artefacts including statues, coins, pottery, illustrations and glass objects.

He said the builders had been technically innovative when building the palace, noting that bricks gilded with engraved gypsum had been used.

Aggar said other houses and palaces discovered during the excavation were constructed in Parthians and Sassanids style.

The two were Persian dynasties that reigned between the third century BC and the seventh century AD.

Last December, Iraq said that its achaeologists had found 375 ancient items dating back about 5,000 years in Bassanmawa, 170 kilometres south of Baghdad.