- The 5,000-year-old site features grand houses and an extensive road network
- The dig was completed just days before the Mosul offensive began
(CNN)A Bronze Age city that flourished for more than 1,200 years has been discovered in northern Iraq, just 45 kilometers (28 miles) from ISIS territory.
Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen in Germany unearthed the city, which lies beneath what is now the small village of Bassetki in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Days after they completed the dig, Iraqi security forces began their push to take Mosul back from ISIS.
Measuring a kilometer in length and 500 meters across (about 1,000 yards by roughly 550 yards), the ancient urban area features grand houses, a palace, an extensive road network and a cemetery.
In making the discovery, the archaeologists solved a decades-old mystery relating to why a precious bronze statue of the Akkadian god-king Naram-Sin was discovered at the site by chance in 1975 during the building of a highway.
Until now, researchers were unable to explain the location of the find. The archaeologists have now been able to prove their theory that an important outpost of Akkadian culture was located in the Bassetki area.
The Akkadian empire, regarded as the first world empire in human history, existed in what is now Iraq, Syria and parts of southern Turkey from around 2340 to 2200 B.C.
"People always wondered why the statue came from this remote place. In 2013 we realized there is a large site from the early Bronze Age there," Prof. Peter Pfälzner, director of the Department of Near Eastern Archeology at the University of Tübingen, told CNN.
"It is actually not so rare that we find things like this -- this area is extremely under-explored, so surp