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2023-10-26 11:20:07 Views : 404 |

Iraq unveils ancient Assyrian lamassu statue in Nineveh province



Iraqi security forces stand guard at the site of a newly-unearthed Assyrian lamassu (human-headed winged bull) sculpture discovered with its entire wings intact by the French archaeological mission at the archaeological site of Khorsabad (also known as Dur-Sharrukin), the former Assyrian capital in the time of Sargon II (721-705 BCE) in Iraq's northern Nineveh province on Oct. 24, 2023. - ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images


Ishtartv.com - al-monitor.com

October 24, 2023, Adam Lucente

 

Iraqi authorities on Tuesday unveiled an ancient Assyrian statue as the government continues to work on preserving the country’s rich archaeological heritage.

The General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage said the excavation of the lamassu took place in Khorsabad, north of Mosul in the Nineveh province. The structure was first discovered in 1992 by an Iraqi excavation team. Its head was stolen in 1995, but was then recovered and placed in the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, where it remains. The remaining structure was reburied for preservation, the authority said in a Facebook post.

The authorities did not specify when exactly the structure was reburied nor when the head was brought to the museum. A joint Iraqi-French team working on excavations in Khorsabad is assessing the lamassu's condition, according to the post.

What it means: The lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity that dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. It is often depicted with a human head, the body of a lion, bull or related animal, and wings. Assyrian kings placed them in their domains as a form of protection.

The lamassu excavated on Tuesday dates back to the Neo-Assyrian era, specifically the reign of Sargon II from 722-705 BCE, according to the authority. Khorsbad is known for its statues of lamassus.

Why it matters: The Iraqi government has been working on preserving the country’s archaeological heritage in recent years, particularly recovering stolen antiquities. The Iraqi National Museum reopened last year after the successful repatriation of thousands of artifacts that were smuggled out of Iraq.

The lamassu in Khorsabad survived the war with the Islamic State, aka ISIS, as the group razed parts of the city in 2015. ISIS destroyed ancient, non-Islamic heritage sites throughout the region after its rise to power in 2014, perhaps most notably in Palmyra, Syria.

 






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