Ancient Assyrian monuments damaged by U.S. invasion

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The archaeological sites belonging to the Assyrian empire have suffered a great deal since the 2003-U.S. invasion, according to Antiquities Department‚Äôs spokesperson Abdulzahra al-Talaqani. 

Researchers working for the United Nations cultural agency say the US military in Iraq inflicted considerable damage on one of the world’s most important archaeological sites at Babylon [Credit: AP]

Talaqani said despite the withdrawal of U.S. occupation troops, security conditions in the northern city of Mosul have not improved enough to allow rehabilitation. 

Talaqani said the presence of U.S. troops in the Province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, has done a lot of harm to ancient Assyrian metropolises such as Nineveh, Nimrud, Ashur and Khorsabad or Dar Sharrukin. 

The remains of ancient Nineveh itself are situated within the sprawling city of Mosul, Iraq‚Äôs second largest. 

Building in the premises surrounded by Nineveh‚Äôs walls has been forbidden since the early 1980s, but at least half of the area is currently a low-income residential quarter. 

No building is allowed in other ancient Assyrian capitals. 

‚ÄúThere are no repair or rehabilitation activities taking place in Nineveh because of security conditions,‚ÄĚ Talaqani said. 

He said the department has placed all of Assyria‚Äôs ancient cities and mounds on its rehabilitation list but conditions are not yet convenient to send in teams to the job. 

Talaqani said Nineveh and other Assyrian metropolises should attract a stream of tourists once they are open to the public. 

Nimrud, Assyria‚Äôs military capital, was a museum by itself, with Assyrian reliefs and statues still in situ. 

Similarly the mound where Ashurbanipal had his library and palace, locally known as Qouinchok, had some of the most fascinating masterpieces of Assyrian art. 

It is not known what happened to these great Assyrian capitals but, according to Talaqani, all of them have suffered and the loss could be beyond repair. 

It is not clear why U.S. occupation troops would pitch their military barracks at ancient Iraqi sites, as they did in Nineveh, Babylon and other major Mesopotamian sites. 

Mohammed Subhi, an Iraqi antiquities specialist and a UNESCO expert, says both U.S. troops and smugglers share the blame for the damage inflicted on Assyrian sites. 

He said U.S. troops had camped at the Nergal Gate, where a museum and fabulous statues of Assyria were once laid. 

‚ÄúU.S. troops had turned the Nergal Gate into military barracks. When they left, Iraqi troops replaced them,‚ÄĚ he said. 

Author: Shaymaa Adel | Source: Azzaman [November 23, 2011]

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