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The Nimrud Ziggurat before its destruction by Daesh. Image credit ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives
 
Islamic extremists have bulldozed  to the ground a massive 2,900 year-old Assyrian structure in northern Iraq. “One of the tallest surviving structures from the ancient world has been totally destroyed by [Islamic] extremists at Nimrud, the former capital of Assyria, which was captured by Iraqi government forces on 13 November. The ziggurat, which was nearly 2,900 years old, was obliterated. Only the largest Egyptian pyramids are higher than Middle Eastern ziggurats and central American step pyramids.”
 
More here and here.
 
 
 
Daesh vandals destroying part of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud
 
Martin Bailey, writing in the The Art Newspaper, reports that –
 
The British Museum is to set up a training scheme for Iraqi archaeologists to tackle the aftermath of Isil destruction. A museum spokeswoman said the programme, which has been awarded a £3m grant from the UK government, would help Iraq to document the damage and start the process of reconstruction and preservation.
 
Full article here. See also our earlier feature here.
    

Transportation of Lebanese cedar. A relief, circa 713–716bce, from the north wall of the main court of King Sargon II’s palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (present-day Khorsabad in Iraq)
Department of Oriental Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris
Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen. Source Wikimedia Commons

European and US museums that preserve and display Assyrian artefacts from the ancient royal cities under attack by Islamic State (IS) are working to help their Iraqi colleagues prepare for a day when the sites are liberated. A coalition of the willing exists but it remains to be seen whether institutions will co-ordinate their efforts.

Jonathan Tubb, the keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum in London, urges organisations to do more than express outrage. “We need to get over the threshold of despair – we can do something positive and constructive by preparing for the time when effective government control is restored,” he says.

While the sites in northern Iraq are no-go areas, the British Museum plans to work with colleagues from other parts of Iraq to train a “task force” of professionals in rescue archaeology and emergency heritage management in London. They will return, accompanied by British Museum curators, equipped to draw up plans of action for sites including Nimrud and Nineveh.

More from The Art Newspaper here.

 
 
One of the fifteen gateways of ancient Nineveh
 
April Holloway reports in Ancient Origins that –
 
Militants of the Islamic State have destroyed a large portion of the ancient Nineveh wall in Mosul, which dates back some 2,700 years. The tragic loss adds to a series of archaeological, historical, and religious sites of great historical value that have been reduced to ruins.
 
Nineveh was the largest city in the world for some fifty years, until a period of civil war in Assyria, in which a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians and Cimmerians sacked the city in 612 BC, leaving much of it in ruins. The remains of the wall and city have laid there ever since, standing as a lasting reminder of the once great city of Assyria.
 
However, when militants captured Mosul in June last year, they proceeded to destroy shrines and tombs important to Christians and Muslims because they allegedly “distort Islam.” The destruction of part of the Nineveh wall is the culmination of many such attacks on historic monuments in the city.
 
“Bombing the archaeological monuments by ISIS is a flagrant violation of the right of human culture, civilization and heritage,” said Saed Mimousine [Media Official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul], who has called on the international community to “take a stand to curb the destruction of historic monuments.”
 
More here.
   

Inside the Semitic Museum of Harvard University, assistant Director Joseph Greene (right) of the Semitic Museum, and Adam Aja, Assistant Curator of Collections, Semitic Museum, discuss the creation of a digital 3-D model of a lion statue dating to the Nuzi period.
Image credit Kris Snibbe, Harvard Staff Photographer

Ishaan Tharoor, writing for TIME Style, reports that –

…3,300 years ago, when a rampaging army ransacked the town of Nuzi whose ruins now lie southwest of the modern day Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The conquerors—the Assyrians, one of the more bullying empires of Mesopotamian antiquity—overran the town’s defenses, burned down its buildings, slaughtered or enslaved its inhabitants and looted its temples. What was not plundered was left, in many instances, smashed, tossed down wells and discarded in the smoldering wreck of the city. And there it lay for millennia until a team of archaeologists spearheaded by a number of American universities excavated the site in 1930 and unearthed its broken treasures.

Among the finds at Yorghan Tepe (the modern day name for the site where Nuzi once stood) were a set of lions thought to have flanked an installation of a statue of the goddess Ishtar. These and other objects were, under the colonial administration of the time, divided between local authorities and foreign archaeologists. The remains of one lion—fragments of its hindquarters and front paws—were claimed by Harvard’s Semitic Museum, while another more intact one made its way to the University of Pennsylvania. A decade ago, the two lions were reunited when Penn allowed their statue to be sent to the Semitic Museum on loan; it’s believed the lions were once mirror images of each other (their tails move in opposite directions).

But, with UPenn now seeking the return of its lion, Harvard’s curators were left with a quandary. How could they show off the precious fragments they had to visitors without the more intact version also on display? The solution was 3-D printing. Learning Sites, an outside company that does 3-D scans of archaeological artifacts, had already been at Harvard helping the Semitic Museum digitize some of its ancient wares. The company was then drafted in to help scan UPenn’s lion and digitally model a new physical copy to which Harvard can affix its fragments.

Full article here.

 

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