Iraqi Museum Refuge for Relics of the Past

After the destruction wreaked on archaeological sites by Islamic State group, the collections at the Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad have become even more important. It’s now one of the only places you can find relics from the ancient cities that fell into the extremists’ hands.

As many as 4,000 archaeological sites are still under the domination of IS and around 100 sites have been destroyed, according to Iraqi Culture Minister Firyad Rwandzi. The sites in their grip show the multiple civilizations that rose and fell during Iraq’s history, ranging from mosques, churches and small shrines to large sites of old cities.

Among the most significant ancient sites the militants captured were several capitals of the Assyrian Empire during its height between the 10th and 6th centuries B.C. — sites known as Nimrud and Khorsabad — as well as Hatra, a well-preserved Roman-era city of temples. Videos put out by the Islamic State group showed its militants blowing up or smashing relics and structures at the sites.

But some of the relics from those sites had been moved long ago to the National Museum. In its Assyrian Hall tower two great winged bulls with human heads, protective deities known as Lamassu, framing a statue from the temple of Nabu, the god of wisdom. Along the walls run bas-reliefs from the palace of King Sargon in Khorsabad.

Rwandzi said museums are more important than ever. “A nation without a museum is like a human without eyes,” he said.

Here is a series of photos of the museum’s halls and relics by Associated Press photographers.


Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Iraqi museum refuge for relics of the past. 


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2 thoughts on “Iraqi Museum Refuge for Relics of the Past

  1. These artifacts should be moved to europe for safe keeping before ISIL terrorists destroy them in the Baghdad Museum.

    I am sure that Hormuz Rassam, as well as the european archaeologists who discovered these treasures would want them moved out of the country for the time being while ISIL is still stronger than ever.

    I am sure the Assyrian people want their cultural treasures removed from Iraq for safe keeping.

    This stuff does not belong to the Arabs of Iraq. Enough political correctness. What sense does it make to keep assyrian artifacts in a non-secure museum in baghdad? At least move them while ISIL is a threat. But seriously, this stuff does not belong to the arabs. Iraq has tried to steal babylonian jewish artifacts as well, even though they belong to Israeli Jews of Babylonian origins, Why would they belong to the arabs who carried out the farhud against the jews?

    ISIL already destroyed Nineveh, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin among other beautiful sites.

    Enough with the Zainab Bahranis of the arab world. Thanks to people like her, more assyrian and jewish artifacts will be destroyed. They are apologists for the worst cultural theft and terrorism, and I am tired of their sanctimonious platitudes.

    She acts like being born in a modern invented country of Iraq makes her the heir of the artifacts of non-arab minorities. She hates Israel, thinking of it as a made up state, even though Iraq is just as made up, as are most of the borders in the near east and north africa.


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