Archaeologists in Iraq discovered a group of 2,700-year-old rock carvings while they were working to restore the Mashki Gate in Mosul.
The Mashki Gate was one of the iconic structures associated with Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.
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According to Iraqi officials, the eight marble bas-relief carvings date back to the times of King Sennacherib, who ruled from 705 BCE to 681 BCE. Fadel Mohammed Khodr, an archaeologist who helped find these works, told Al Jazeera that the carvings may have been removed from the king’s palace and used in the construction of the gate by his grandson.
The carvings had not always been fully visible, due to the way they had been used in the creation of the gate. Its constructors seem to have partially submerged the carvings in the earth, and at some point, the part that stuck out above was lost.
“Only the part buried underground has retained its carvings,” Khodr said.
This is the latest effort to restore the Mashki Gate, after one undertaken during the 1970s. In 2016, the gate was destroyed by ISIL.
The Swiss organization International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas is at work alongside Iraqi authorities to rebuild and restore the gate. On its website, the organization, which goes by ALIPH, said that the project is meant to “transform the monument into an educational center on the history of Nineveh.”