Defacing History with Jackhammers: ISIS ‘Bulldozed’ Ancient Assyrian City of Nimrud

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In the jihadists’ extreme interpretation of Islam, statues, idols, and shrines amount to recognizing other objects of worship than God and must be destroyed

Karim Abou Merhi and Jean Marc MojonAFP: The Islamic State group began bulldozing the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq, the government said, in the jihadists’ latest attack on the country’s historical heritage.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles,” the tourism and antiquities ministry said on an official Facebook page.

“These artifacts behind me are idols for people from ancient times who worshipped them instead of God.”

— Bearded militant appearing in the video

An Iraqi antiquities official confirmed the news, saying the destruction began after noon prayers on Thursday and that trucks that may have been used to haul away artifacts had also been spotted at the site.

“Until now, we do not know to what extent it was destroyed,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Nimrud, one of the jewels of the Assyrian era, was founded in the 13th century B.C. and lies on the Tigris River about 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Mosul, Iraq‘s second-biggest city and the main hub of ISIS in the country.screen shot 2015-03-06 at 10.09.31 am.png

“I’m sorry to say everybody was expecting this. Their plan is to destroy Iraqi heritage, one site at a time.”

— Abdulamir Hamdani, an Iraqi archaeologist from Stony Brook University

Hatra of course will be next,” he said, referring to a beautifully preserved city in Nineveh province that is more than 2,000 years old and is a Unesco world heritage site.

“I’m really devastated. But it was just a matter of time.”

Nimrud is the site of what was described as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century when a team unearthed a collection of jewels and precious stones in 1988.

The jewels were briefly displayed at the Iraqi national museum before disappearing from public view, but they survived the looting that followed the 2003 US invasion and were eventually found in a Central Bank building.

Most of Nimrud’s priceless artifacts have long been moved to museums, in Mosul, Baghdad, Paris, London, and elsewhere, but giant “lamassu” statues — winged bulls with human heads — and reliefs were still on site.

YouTube screenshot General view of the Nimrud archaeological site.

YouTube screenshot General view of the Nimrud archaeological site.

The destruction at Nimrud on Thursday came a week after the jihadist group released a video showing militants armed with sledgehammers and jackhammers smashing priceless ancient artifacts at the Mosul museum.

That attack sparked widespread consternation and alarm, with some archaeologists and heritage experts comparing it with the 2001 demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

In the jihadists’ extreme interpretation of Islam, statues, idols, and shrines amount to recognizing other objects of worship than God and must be destroyed.

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YouTube screenshotUS troops at Nimrud in 2003.

The video released by ISIS last week showed militants knocking statues off their plinths and rampaging through the Mosul museum’s collection.

It also shows jihadists using a jackhammer to deface an imposing granite Assyrian winged bull at the Nergal Gate in Mosul. Read the rest of this entry »


Radical Islamists with Hammers vs. Ancient Syrian Artifacts: Islamists with Hammers Win

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters smash 3,000-year-old Assyrian statue in latest act of cultural genocide

ibz-mediumFor The Times of IsraelIlan Ben Zion reports: Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a radical militia that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, confiscated and destroyed illegally excavated antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site.

In an act of cultural genocide strikingly similar to the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, the ISIL fighters appear – in pictures recently uploaded by a group working to protect Syria’s rich historical heritage — to smash a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue illegally removed from a nearby archaeological site. Another image shows a man placing his foot — an act of disrespect in Arab culture — on the face of the Assyrian statue before its destruction.

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Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stand in front of an Assyrian statue before destroying it (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

Last month, the Syrian antiquities authority said in a statement that it had received notice that artifacts that “appear to be the result of an unauthorized digging” had been plundered from Tell Ajaja, the ruins of the Assyrian provincial capital Shadikanni on the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates.

At least one of the items photographed and published by the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology appeared among those recently confiscated by ISIL.

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant desecrates an Assyrian statue by putting his foot on its face before it’s smashed (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant desecrates an Assyrian statue by putting his foot on its face before it’s smashed (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

The pictures, taken in Syria’s far eastern Hasakeh Province, were also said to be of artifacts removed from Tell Ajaja. The site lies approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the modern provincial capital of Hasakeh and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border.

Read the rest of this entry »