Kazem Finjan, Iraq’s Transport Minister, told reporters in Dhi Qar, south Iraq, that the world’s first airport was built there in around 5,000 BC.
He said the ancient civilization of Sumer, one of the oldest known societies, used the airport for space exploration and even discovered Pluto, according to news website The New Arab.
Alongside a video of the news conference posted on Twitter, Hayder al-Khoei, a researcher at the Center for Academic Shi’a Studies, wrote: “Awkward moment and I don’t think anyone was brave enough to contradict him”.
It is believed that the Sumerians settled in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, now south Iraq, in 5500 to 4000 BC, where they developed agriculture, trade and artisan skills such as weaving, metalwork and pottery.
The New Arab reported that Mr Finjan referred to the work of Russian professor and Sumerian expert Samuel Kramer, who studied the civilization’s creation myths and wrote about their understanding of the solar system.
Iraq Transport Minister: Sumerians built world's first airports & flew spaceships from southern Iraq to discover other planets (5000yrs ago) pic.twitter.com/WOhbyS7NGU
— Hayder al-Khoei (@Hayder_alKhoei) September 29, 2016