Archaeologists unearth 2,700-year-old rock carvings in Iraq

Archaeologists in northern Iraq last week unearthed 2,700-year-old rock carvings featuring war scenes and trees from the Assyrian Empire.
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he head of the restoration works said the team were surprised to discover eight murals with inscriptions, decorative drawings and writings (Photo: Zaid Al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images)
he head of the restoration works said the team were surprised to discover eight murals with inscriptions, decorative drawings and writings (Photo: Zaid Al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD – Archaeologists in northern Iraq last week unearthed 2,700-year-old rock carvings featuring war scenes and trees from the Assyrian Empire, an archaeologist said Wednesday.

The carvings on marble slabs were discovered in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, where experts have been working to restore the site of the ancient Mashki Gate, which was bulldozed by Islamic State militants in 2016.

 IS overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and carried out a campaign of systematic destruction of museums and invaluable archaeological sites in their fervour to erase history.

Fadhil Mohammed, the head of the restoration works, said the team were surprised to discover eight murals with inscriptions, decorative drawings and writings.

Mashki Gate was one of the largest gates of Nineveh, an ancient Assyrian city in the historic region of Mesopotamia.

The discovered carvings show a fighter preparing to shoot an arrow and palm trees, among other things.

“The writings show that these murals were built or made during the reign of King Sennacherib,” Mohammed added, referring to the Neo-Assyrian empire king who ruled from 705 to 681BC.

The territory of today’s Iraq was home to some of the earliest cities in the world. Thousands of archaeological sites are scattered across the country, where Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians once lived.

Iraqi forces supported by a US-led international coalition liberated Mosul from IS in 2017 and the extremists lost the last sliver of land they once controlled two years later.