One of the fifteen gateways of ancient Nineveh. A reconstruction was begun in the 1960s by Iraqis, but was not completed. The lower portions of the stone retaining wall are original.

Tragedy as militants bomb 2,700-year-old Nineveh Wall in Iraq

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Militants of the Islamic State have destroyed a large portion of the ancient Nineveh wall in Mosul, which dates back some 2,700 years. The tragic loss adds to a series of archaeological, historical, and religious sites of great historical value that have been reduced to ruins.

The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported last week that the militants used explosives to blow apart the wall located in the al-Tahrir region on the left coast of Mosul.

“ISIS militants blew up today large parts and expanses of the archaeological wall of Nineveh,” media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Saed Mimousine, told last Tuesday. “The Wall of Nineveh is one of the most distinctive archaeological monuments in Iraq and the Middle East,” he added.

View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North.

View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Nineveh (modern-day Mosul, Iraq) was one of the oldest cities in antiquity, having been settled as early as 6000 BC. By 3000 BC, it had become an important religious center for worship of the goddess Ishtar. Under the reign of King Sennacherib (704 – 681 BC), the city grew dramatically in size and grandeur, who made Nineveh capital of his Assyrian Empire. Sennacherib ordered the construction of a massive protective wall around the city, measuring around 7.5 mile (25 km). Inside, he built aqueducts, irrigation canals, public gardens, and spectacular monuments.

Simplified plan of ancient Nineveh showing city wall and location of gateways.

Simplified plan of ancient Nineveh showing city wall and location of gateways. Image created by Fredarch. ( Wikimedia Commons )

The wall consisted of a 6 meter (20ft) high stone retaining wall surmounted by a 10 meter (33ft) high and 15 meter (49ft) thick mudbrick wall. The wall had projecting stone towers spaced about every 18 meters (59ft), and fifteen monumental gateways, which served as checkpoints, barracks, and armories. The bases of the walls of the vaulted passages and interior chambers of the gateway were lined with finely cut stone orthostats about 1 meter (3ft) high. To date, only five of the fifteen gateways have been excavated by archaeologists.

Assyrian wall carving of horses and grooms. From Nineveh, South West Palace, 790BC - 592BC.

Assyrian wall carving of horses and grooms. From Nineveh, South West Palace, 790BC - 592BC. In the British Museum. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Nineveh was the largest city in the world for some fifty years, until a period of civil war in Assyria, in which a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians and Cimmerians sacked the city in 612 BC, leaving much of it in ruins. The remains of the wall and city have laid there ever since, standing as a lasting reminder of the once great city of Assyria.

However, when militants captured Mosul in June last year, they proceeded to destroy shrines and tombs important to Christians and Muslims because they allegedly “distort Islam.” The destruction of part of the Nineveh wall is the culmination of many such attacks on historic monuments in the city.

“Bombing the archaeological monuments by ISIS is a flagrant violation of the right of human culture, civilization and heritage,” said Mimousine, who has called on the international community to “take a stand to curb the destruction of historic monuments.”

The king hunting lion from the North Palace, Nineveh seen at the British Museum

The king hunting lion from the North Palace, Nineveh seen at the British Museum ( Wikimedia Commons )

Featured image: One of the fifteen gateways of ancient Nineveh. A reconstruction was begun in the 1960s by Iraqis, but was not completed. The lower portions of the stone retaining wall are original. ( Wikimedia Commons )

By April Holloway


We lost so much of our past in wars. 

Or in disasters.

It is so hard to try and find out where we come from, who we were, and all those destroyed  places make it so much harder.  

Seems however that over thousand of years we haven't learned anything of importance. That much is known.

Sunny Young

Thank goodness the British had the foresight to steal portions of the wall and put them away in a closet so that only a select few will ever get a chance to see them.

It's so frustrating to see people intentionally destroying ancient monuments. It's heartbreaking to think that these wonders from antiquity have survived for so long, yet they are destroyed in seconds due to the ignorance and whims of a few bad people. The intentional destruction of ancient sites should be prosecuted as war crimes. I would rather see all of these sites reburied and covered up than being intentionally destroyed by extremist terrorists! Each time I hear about another ancient monument or site being destroyed, my stomach literally hurts and I become nauseated. This saddens me for humanity to know that future generations are denied the privilege of visiting and learning about these monuments/sites because of the selfish and warped notions of a few extremists. We are our own worst enemy!

Just wait till the sacrosanct "refugees" now invading Europe start blowing up the Sistine Chapel, smashing the statues of Bernini and Michelangelo, and ruining the cathedrals of Italy, France and Germany. Will any of you give a damn, since their monuments to the Christ you hate?

Who knows how many important artifacts are being destroyed there. Sadly for humanity, greed hatred and wars dominate this world, we havent learnt any lesson from the past

Roberto Peron's picture

ISIS a group of TERRORISTS that is nothing short of outright EVIL!  The civilized world MUST put them out of business as in permanently IMO!!  They have no regard for history or their ancestors.  They do not value the sacred and, YES, that means Islam!  This group is NOT Muslim!  They are infidels!!  In addition to their wholesale destruction of monuments today they burned alive the Jordanian pilot and video taped it for all the world to see.  What more proof does the world need to take them out????  And, btw just who is funding them because whoever it is needs to be taken out as well.  Disgusting!  What do they destroy next?  The Giza pyramids?  Their evil knows no bounds!!


riparianfrstlvr's picture

Roberto, i'm glad you asked who is funding terrorists. i saw a frontline report "the untouchables" it was about the US congress wanted the US justice dept. to investigate the big bank meltdown in 08-09. Asst. US Att. Gen. Lanny Bruer uncovered not only the usual white collar crap that goes on, but also that all these banks we bailed out also laundered 100's of millions of dollars of Mexican drug cartel money, and also channelled  millions more through the digital banking network to the terrorist network to keep the war on terror alive and well. good ol' Lanny didn't want to bring criminal charges against these bankers as it may cause a financial crisis if these a-holes were put in jail for treason and violating the control substances act,CSA. Lanny resigned his post shortly after frontine roto-rooted him, and is now working for some prestigious law firm representing these very banks he let walk. you know who i am talking about, "the powers that be". since nothing happened as far as punishing these bankers, do you think they learned a lesson and quit?  yeah i wonder every time i see the news all these isis a-hole driving around in brand new Toyotas and mine is 13 years old and i have worked hard all my life, payed taxes, supporting bank bail-outs, wtf? i remember seeing King Abdullah of Jordan on the news way back when cheney/bush wanted to invade Iraq, the King practically begged those 2 dip shits not to as it would de-stablize the region. look what happened. and in the grand "shock and awe" shit show cheney/bush like any poor marksman completely missed the target, just like cheney, bird hunting in his home state Wyoming, he missed the target hitting his huntin' buddy in the arss. without a bird permit to boot claiming he didn't know he needed one. wtf? if ignorance is bliss why aren't politicians happier people? isis too? i don't know if this answered your question, but it was extremely cathartic for me. whenever i turn on the news, national or local, even people i know personally, it's like we keep stepping on our own dick, while shooting ourself in the foot then wondering why our dick burns when we pee. since my comment has nothing to with our Ancient Origins, let me make it so. it seems history repeats itself, and we have been doing this a long time. what isis is doing to everybody, nazis did to the Jews, catholics did to the Indians.


It is very sad from a historic standpoint. I hate it, I love HISTORY! From a Biblical standpoint, it is ALL Pre-Rubble, so it never was going to remain. Just shows this present historical portion of mankind, how much closer we are to the "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our God and His Christ, and He shall reign forever. Revelation 11:15

The first [protoindogermanic] tongue, the mother tongue, spoken by Adam, Shem, and Noah, was different, and it is now extant only in isolated dialects. Its first pure offshoots are the Zend, the sacred tongue of India, and the language of the Bactrians. In those languages, words may be found exactly similar to the Low German of my native place. The book that I see in modern Ctesiphon, on the Tigris, is written in that language.

Pardon my postmodernromance tongue, but just wtf makes you think that you have any idea what language the Fathers of Humanity spoke? The Flood destroyed all evidence, physical or otherwise, of that era! Anything that anyone claims to have "unearthed"--short of fossils--comprises two elements: speculation and fabrication. In other words, what you've contributed to this thread is pure, unadulterated $#|+!

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