Islamic State bulldozers 'erasing history' in Nimrud, Iraq

Islamic State bulldozers ‘erasing history’ in Nimrud, Iraq


Archaeologists and officials have expressed outrage about the bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud by Islamic State militants in Iraq.
On Thursday IS – which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria – began demolishing the site, which was founded in the 13th Century BC, Iraqi officials said.
The UN cultural body’s Iraq director, Alex Plathe, called it “another appalling attack on Iraq’s heritage”.
“They are erasing our history,” Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani said.
IS says ancient shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to be smashed.
Nimrud lies about 30km (18 miles) south-east of Mosul.Many of the artefacts found there have been moved to museums in Baghdad and overseas, but larger artefacts remain on site.
As an act of cultural vandalism, the attempt to destroy Nimrud is already being compared with the Taliban’s demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha rock sculptures in Afghanistan in 2001, says the BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut, neighbouring Lebanon.
IS “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles,” the tourism and antiquities ministry said on Thursday.
It said the militants continued to “defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity”, calling for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss how to protect cultural heritage in Iraq.
Nimrud covers a large area, and it is not yet clear whether it has been totally destroyed, our correspondent says.
But a local tribal source told Reuters news agency: “Islamic State members came to the Nimrud archaeological city and looted the valuables in it and then they proceeded to level the site to the ground.
“There used to be statues and walls as well as a castle that Islamic State has destroyed completely.”
Dr Gailani told the BBC that “Nimrud for us in Iraq and for me as an archaeologist is one of the most important [sites]. There are still quite a lot of things that are standing – the reliefs and the statues, the famous winged bulls.
“I don’t know what they are doing, they are erasing our history. I wish it was a nightmare and I could wake up. I can’t understand their reasons.”
“This is really a typical example of what barbarians these people are,” said the governor of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim.
“Their mission is death and destruction and what’s happening in Nimrud it’s basically eradicating any semblance of civilisation, history, particularly what’s related to Assyrians. It’s just barbaric, there’s no other way to describe it.”
Last week, IS released a video apparently showing militants with sledgehammers destroying historic artefacts in a museum in Mosul.
One militant was seen drilling through and pulling apart what appeared to be a stone winged bull.
That attack was condemned by the UN as a war crime.
IS has controlled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and nearby areas since June 2014 – a region with nearly 1,800 of the country’s 12,000 registered archaeological sites. – BBC News


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