Underground door unopened for 2,634 years found in Iraq's Ninawa
Excavations in Iraq discover hidden corridors containing sculpture reliefs dating back to the great siege of the Assyrian Empire.
In April, archeologists made a breathtaking discovery excavating in the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh (Ninawa Governorate), currently located in northern Iraq, which was destroyed by ISIS in recent years.
A locked doorway that had never been found during any prior excavations or surveys of the location was cautiously opened for the first time in 2,634 years. Archeologists peered down a dusty corridor.
Amazing sculptures depicting military camps and warriors that detail the invasions of Mesopotamia by Assyrian king Sennacherib were found as a result of this discovery.
They continue to be breathtaking in their clarity and precision and as findings portrayed a shift in Neo-Assyrian relief sculptures. The Neo-Assyrian relief sculptures, contrary to the earlier stages of the Assyrian Empire, made use of every available square inch to represent the various tribes and ethnic groups that made up the Assyrian Empire, in addition to the ethnic group of Assyrians themselves.
According to Nat Geo, who cited Michael Danti, a professor of archeology at the University of Pennsylvania who is a member of the excavation team, the discovered sculptures are “better than the ones in the British Museum,” adding that "they really show the high-relief carving, the detail of Sennacherib’s sculptures which were revolutionary at the time.”
A few of the Assyrian reliefs of king Sennacherib from the Ninawa SBAH/Penn IHSP excavations at Nineveh Mashki Gate 2022 sponsored by the Penn Museum and ALIPH Foundation. @ALIPHFoundation @UPennNELC @IraqHSP pic.twitter.com/t14eZhhg5V— Michael Danti (@DantiMdanti) October 21, 2022
Here, Danti referenced relief sculptures found during excavations in Ninawa back in the 19th century.
These treasures were uncovered while two organizations, the University of Pennsylvania's Iraq Heritage Stabilization Program and the Ninawa Antiquities and Heritage Inspectorate, started rebuilding the Mashki Gate, one of Ninawa's 18 gates, after ISIS had devastated it.
The architectural layer they discovered beyond the fortified gateway was from the time the city was taken over by the Medes and Babylonians in the late Iron Age Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 600s BCE.
As restorers and archaeologists started their excavations, they discovered human remains dating back to this historical siege. Ironically, the panels that revealed the magnificent artworks had been turned upside down and utilized as construction materials. The panels, which measured around 5 by 6.5 feet, were resting against the gate's mud brick walls.
Ali Al-Jobouri, a member of the excavation team and a retired dean of the University of Mosul’s College of Archaeology, “It’s something none of us expected,” adding that “when you discover such things and you’re able to touch them with your hand, this is something very, very exciting.”
These reliefs, in contrast to a large number of previous discoveries from the Near East, will stay in Iraq.
Read more: 2,700-year-old Assyrian carvings found in Iraq park