Lost Codes Discovered in Terrorist’s Treasure Tunnel
Hidden deep beneath the ancient Iraq city of Nineveh, archeologists assessing the destruction of Isis treasure hunters have uncovered 2,700-year-old inscriptions describing the rule of an ancient Assyrian king “helping in our understanding of the world’s first empire” reported The Telegraph.
The Nebi Yunus shrine on top of a hill in eastern Mosul is one of two mounds that form part of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. Believed by Muslims to be the tomb of Yunus in the Koran and venerated by Christians as the tomb of the Profit Jonah, a Live Science article reported that sometime during the Isis (or Daesh) occupation of Nineveh, between June 2014 and January 2017 the shrine was blown up by “Isis looters looking for archeological treasures from the Assyrian kings.”
Simplified plan of ancient Nineveh showing city wall and location of gateways. Image created by Fredarch. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Now, archeologists exploring in treasure hunter’s tunnels beneath Jonah’s tomb have discovered “seven inscriptions” detailing highlights in the life of an ancient King called Esarhaddon. These inscriptions would have been of little value to Islamic State treasure hunters and because they do not depict “life” forms, they were left untouched. So much as a carved feather, and the carvings would have been destroyed.
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Assyrian furniture. King Esarhaddon's feast. After a relief from Nineveh. (Public Domain)
Professor Ali Y. Al-Juboori, director of the Assyrian Studies Centre at the University of Mosul, writing in a recent issue of The Journal of Iraq, Al-Juboori said one of the inscriptions translates as ‘The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of lower Egypt, upper Egypt and Kush [an ancient kingdom located south of Egypt in Nubia.” The inscriptions report of King Esarhaddon’s political dominance is supported by other ancient inscriptions which tell of “Kush leaders ruling Egypt,” according to the Live Science report.
Assyrian cuneiform prism inscription of Esarhaddon. (MET CC0)
During an earlier excavation near the Tomb of Jonah in 1987-1992, archaeologists unearthed a curious “prism-shaped clay object recording Esarhaddon's military conquests,” for example, he is described as "the one who treads on the necks of the people of Cilicia” (modern Turkey) and that he "surrounded, conquered, plundered, demolished, destroyed and burned with fire twenty-one of their cities together with small cities in their environs. …”
Goodness knows what archeological treasures Esarhaddon destroyed in his effort to advance his religious and political agenda and what we seem to have here, starting with King Esarhaddon, is a long list of “plunderers and demolishers.” The same is happening today with Isis, who are merely doing the same as King Esarhaddon, in that they seek to strengthen and facilitate their religious ideologies, and purse strings, through the destruction of ancient cultures.
Berlin Museum replica of a steele depicting Esarhaddon. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
In 2016 The Smithsonian published a detailed paper exposing the extent of the archeological terrorism being conducted by ISIS. In Syria, “the souk is within the walls of Aleppo’s historic city center, one of six locations in Syria listed as World Heritage Sites by Unesco.” Some of the most valuable buildings and artifacts in the world have already been destroyed as “collateral damage in the shelling and crossfire between government forces and various rebel factions.”
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Nineveh, Nebi Yunus Excavations, May 1990. Polylithic relief sculpture of a limassu and human figure at the entrance to a late Assyrian building being excavated by Iraqi archaeologists east of the mosque. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Although the troops on the ground believe they are fighting a religious war, the commanders of Isis have little more in mind than gold. They have begun selling off artifacts and buildings, “bit by valuable bit, to buy guns,” as detailed in the Smithsonian article. Last year Unesco director general Irina Bokova told reporters that recent satellite images of “treasured historical sites show the soil so completely pocked by holes, the result of thousands of illicit excavations, that it resembles the surface of the moon - destruction and looting on “an industrial scale.”
Nebi Yunus. Iraqi archaeologists excavate the monumental entrance to a late Assyrian building. Mosque of Nebi Yunus (destroyed in 2014) is behind. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
A recent BBC article reported that at the ancient city of Nimrud, Isis have now “levelled the Ziggurat - a stepped pyramid which was once more than 34m high - with heavy machines, its features now lost or hidden in rubble.” Another example of this “barbaric" destruction was given to BBC reporters by Iraqi archaeologist Faleh Noman who said “Bulldozers and explosives were used to destroy the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria from 883 to 859 BC.” She continued… "The main entrance to the palace leading to the throne room has been completely destroyed…Inside the palace sledgehammers have been used to damage reliefs.”
Nouri Mosque in Mosul after retaking from Isis. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
And the extent of Isis’ archeological terror reaches beyond ancient stones into the lives of some of the most respected figures in the archaeological world. Khaled al-Asaad, father of six sons and five daughters, was one of “the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology in the 20th century,” as was reported in a 2015 article in the Guardian. In 2001 he discovered "700 silver coins, dating back to the seventh century” and in 2003 Asaad was part of a “joint Syrian-Polish archaeological team to unearth an intact third century mosaic depicting a battle between a human being and a mythical winged animal, and surrounded by geometric drawings of grapes, figs, deer and horses.” In 2015 al-Asaad, “refused to lead Isis to hidden Palmyra antiquities,” and was publicly beheaded.
Top image: The now destroyed Nebi Yunus in Nineveh. Iraqi archaeologists excavate the monumental entrance to a late Assyrian building. The large head of a bull-man sculpture lies in a passageway. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
By Ashley Cowie