Archaeologists in Iraq say that they have discovered a lost city founded almost 2,000 years ago by Alexander the Great during his conquests in modern day Iraq thanks to drone photography and declassified intelligence images.

Qalatga Darband in Iraqi Kurdistan believed to have been founded in 331 BC, was discovered by a team of archaeologists from Iraq and Britain taking part in the Emergency Heritage Management Training Programme being led by experts from the British Museum, aimed at protecting sites of historical significance in the Middle East that have been impacted by conflict.

Archaeologists first noticed the outline of the ancient ruins in the Iraqi settlement from declassified CIA satellite photos from the 1960s that were made public in 1996. However due to political instability in the area, they were unable to explore the site further.

Recently they have had their suspicions clarified, having had the chance to undertake work on-site and with the added assistance of recent drone footage that revealed the outlines of buildings that have been buried underground for centuries. Also found on the site were Greek coins and statues of Greco-Roman deities.

Some experts believe that after being founded by Alexander the Great, he eventually settled on the site with some 3,000 veterans of his campaigns.

“The drone yielded excellent information,” programme leader, archaeologist Dr John MacGinnis told The Times.

“It’s early days, but we think it would have been a bustling city on a road from Iraq to Iran. You can imagine people supplying wine to soldiers passing through.”

A report by IFL Science however disputes that the city was founded by Alexander the Great, citing a spokesperson for the British Museum who they claim said the city was founded “almost certainly after Alexander the Great marched past in 331 BC while chasing Darius III of Persia”.