Debris and ash in Mosul museum retaken

MOSUL, Iraq – AP

The antiquities museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul is in ruins. A huge fire in the building’s cellar as well as lots of debris fill exhibition halls has reduced hundreds of manuscripts and rare books to ankle deep drifts of ashes. Associated Press reporters were allowed rare access to the museum on March 8 after Iraqi forces retook it from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) the day before. After analyzing the photos of the destruction, two Iraqi archeologists verified that several of the artifacts ruined by ISIL were the first historical stone statues rather than replicas as specialists and some Iraqi officials formerly promised. ISIL released a video the subsequent year showing militants smashing artifacts in the museum with sledgehammers and power tools and gained Mosul in 2014. The voice narrating the ISIL video warranted the acts with verses from the Quran referencing Prophet Mohammed’s destruction of idols in Kaabah. These artifacts, if its removal has been ordered by God, they became useless to us if they’re worth billions of dollars,” the narration said. The sacking of the Mosul museum was only one action in almost three years of organized destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage in the hands of ISIL. Its militants leveled temples, historical palaces and churches throughout Nineveh province and beyond, regularly releasing videos boasting their acts. Some mosques have demolished, saying they were used to venerate saints, which ISIL considers a type of polytheism. In the Mosul museum’s primary exhibition hall, the floor was littered with fragments from cuneiform tablets and the jagged remains of an early Assyrian bull statue. “These are the lions of Nimrud and the remains of a lamassu,” Layla Salih, an Iraqi archaeologist and former curator of the Mosul museum, said as she analyzed the pictures of the remains. Salih said when ISIL took over Mosul, the museum housed two huge statues that were lamassu – winged lions regained from the early Assryrian city of Nimrud. “They were priceless, they were in perfect state,” she said. Hiba Hazim Hamad, a former archaeology professor in Mosul, supported Salih’s evaluation, saying she considered the building held hundreds of historical artifacts at the time ISIL overran “thousands should you count the little bits, the city,” she included. Adjoining rooms on both principal floors were mostly empty saved for a group of doors and carved wooden coffins left unaffected. There were also smaller heaps of debris from what seemed to be added artifacts that are ruined, but the rocks were smashed beyond recognition. Hamad said these could be the remains of ruined replicas, but if replicas were on display, the first bits would have been inside the museum in the cellar safe when the building was overrun by ISIL. “It’s standard procedure for all museums [in Iraq],” she said referring to the custom of keeping the most precious bits locked away from view. Mosul’s antiquities museum, constructed in the 1970s and the next biggest in Iraq, once housed priceless Mesopotamian artifacts dating back tens of thousands of years as well as an assortment of rare Islamic and pre-Islamic texts.“Daesh came to Iraq to ruin our tradition since they don’t have their own,” said Federal Police Cpl. Abbas Muhammad, utilizing the Arabic acronym for the group. Muhammad was clearly one of the first to enter the building after it was retaken on March 7 from ISIL and was holding the site using a couple of other troops on March 8. The museum essentially indicates the front line in the struggle against ISIL for Mosul’s western half after it was retaken by Iraqi forces during a push up along the Tigris River. Troops have turned one of its its particular garden and its halls into a makeshift foundation, setting machine gunners at the building’s corners under olive trees and obstructing nearby roads with piles of soil, old automobiles and debris. The land ISIL overran in Iraq and Syria is home to a few of the area’s most significant monuments and historical sites. The extremist group is, in addition, considered to possess looted historical artifacts to be able to offer them on the black market to fund its operations. Lamia al-Gaylani, an Iraqi archaeologist who has been working since the 1960s in the field of preservation in Iraq, said legitimize their very own state in its area and ISIL ruined Iraq’s tradition in an attempt to erase the nation’s identity. They need their particular history. Particularly in a city like Mosul where the folks are quite pleased with their history, I believe [ISIL] did this as a type of retaliation,” she said. While al Gaylani said like what was wrought at Mosul’s museum destruction triggered outrage across Iraq, she said she stresses the wrath won’t for the tradition Iraq has left always translate to better protection later on. Most Iraqi folks are focused on their particular survival as well as the authorities isn’t concerned with tradition she said. A few of history books stayed beside a bag of placards from old displays in the principal entryway of the museum. They describe flint items uncovered in Nineveh dating back to about 4,000 B.C., copper oil lamps fell upon in Ur dating back to 2,600 B.C. and Sumerian statues dating back to 2,050 B.C. “Mosul is the center of Iraqi culture,” said Federal Police Maj. Muhammad al-Jabouri, a Mosul native from a nearby area. “When I heard Daesh ruined this position said, as his eyes filled with tears. “Death would have been a greater mercy for me.”
March/10/2017
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