Lost Treasures of Iraq
|>||The 2003 historic lootings|
|>||Ancient Mesopotamia to modern Iraq|
Islamic Shrines – Many religions sites are uncovered throughout Iraq, the Tomb of Ali, the Islamic equivalent of Christ, is buried in Najaf, a sacred Shi’ite shrine. Ali’s Son Hussein’s mausoleum is in nearby Kerbala.
Ashur – the first capital of the Assyrian empire, comparable to other great HQ like Babylon, Athens and Rome. Its history covers some 3 millennia through the Hellenistic Period through to the Parthian Period during the birth of Christ.
Nimrud – another great Assyrian city, and the capital of Assyria in the 9th century BC. Temples here are dedicated to Nabu the God of writing and Ninurta, the deity of Nimrud. Examples of whole pieces of furniture carved from ivory were unearthed here.
Samarra – the largest archaeological site in the world. A Great Mosque (one of the largest in the world) and other property constructed of clay and mud brick and bevelled stucco decoration were excavated. Wall paintings and glass mosaics were also though to decorate this grand city.
Nineveh – Often mentioned in the bible, this 6th century BC occupied city was one of the most important in ancient Mesopotamia and the capital of Assyria. Many remains exist from this period including the city wall and the palace of Sennacherib. The Ceniuform tablet of Hammurabi’s Law from here now survive in the Louvre in paris and the British Museum in London.
The Fortress of Al-Ukhaidar – 60 miles Southwest of Baghdad, this amazing palace was influential on the development of Islamic Architecture. An ammunition depot close to the palace was attacked during the first Gulf War.
Ur – city of the fabled moon god Nanna and the home of Abraham. Known in the Bible as Ur of the Chaldees, the Chaldeans inhabited the city in 10th Century BC. Excavated in the 1920’s and 30’s by Leonard Woolley, great treasures were seized including gold, silver and clay tablets telling the poem of Gilgamesh. The tablets were an example of cuneiform writing, symbols chipped in clay using wedge-shaped tools, as well as early example of mathematics including timekeeping calculations.
Academy of Wisdom – In the 9th century, Caliph al-Ma’mun founded the Academy of Wisdom in Baghdad, a major centre of science and learning, with many Arabic translations of Greek works like Aristotle, the Greek Old Testament, Plato, Hippocrates and Pythagoras as well as making numerous mathematical and astrological discoveries. The man who gave his name to the term Alogrithm invented zero here.
Tower of Babel – According to Genesis Book 11, the tower of Babel was created by God to confuse the all powerful man by creating many languages to prevent their unification. But did the mud brick built tower of Babel really exist? Nowadays, a mound of broken bricks and debris signifying the possible remains of Babylon city. In Babylon, the ziggurats (tower temple) was the tallest tower in all of Mesopotamia. The original tower was thought to have been in a brilliant blue brick colours dating back to around 500BC.
Hanging Gardens – The 7th Century BC built gardens built by Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo Babylonian dynasty, when Mesopotamian society reached its peak. He built the gardens to please his mistress who missed the ountains by collating tropical plants on the palace roof, the gardens constructed 70ft above the ground and waters from the Euphrates using an advanced mechanical watering system. The former glory of Babylon was restored here. The gardens lie 30 miles south of Baghdad.
Garden of Eden – This biblical site, the beginning of Man, was thought to lie where Mughair is now. Noah was thought to have lived in Fara nearby and Persian poetry describes a man with an Ark surviving a flood.
Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization by A. Leo Oppenheim, Erica Reiner (Photographer) (Paperback – September 1977)
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Ancient Iraq by George Roux (1992)
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Main image: U.S. Soldiers from Crazy Horse Troop, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment provide security for the Provincial Reconstruction Team and representatives of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization visiting the ancient city of Ashur, the site is now known as Qalat Shergat, Iraq, Nov. 21. Ashur is one of three areas in Iraq that is a World Heritage site. Flickr Creative Commons