A crew of specialists in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, who have been working to rebuild the location of the historic Mashki Gate, which terrorists from the Islamic State group smashed in 2016, stumbled upon the sculptures on marble slabs.
The team was taken aback by the discovery of “eight murals with inscriptions, ornamental paintings and words,” according to Fadhil Mohammed, head of the restoration operation.
One of Nineveh’s largest gates was Mashki Gate, a large ancient Assyrian metropolis in this portion of ancient Mesopotamia.
The discovered carvings show, among other things, a fighter preparing to fire an arrow while others show palm trees.
“The writings show that these murals were built or made during the reign of King Sennacherib,” Mohammed added, referring to the Neo-Assyrian Empire King who ruled from 705 to 681 BC.
The Islamic State group overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and carried out a campaign of systematic destruction of invaluable archaeological sites in both countries. The extremists vandalized museums and destroyed major archaeological sites in their fervor to erase history.
Iraqi forces supported by a U.S.-led international coalition liberated Mosul from IS in 2017 and the extremists lost the last sliver of land they once controlled two years later.
The territory of today’s Iraq was home to some of the earliest cities in the world. Thousands of archaeological sites are scattered across the country, where Sumerians, Babylonian and Assyrian once lived.