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The archaeological treasures IS failed to destroy


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Getty Images

Image caption

A soldier walks past a smashed artefact at Nimrud

The rich archaeological heritage of Iraq suffered grievous damage at the hands of so-called Islamic State. As its fighters are driven back, British Museum teams are among the first to assess the extent of the destruction.

After IS declared a caliphate in the summer of 2014, thousands of archaeological sites in Iraq fell into the hands of its fighters.

Terrible acts of vandalism followed, with videos released by the group showing its members smashing artefacts at Mosul Museum and blowing up parts of the site of the Assyrian capital of Nimrud.

Archaeologists returning to areas recaptured from IS have found other ancient sites turned into parking lots, statues smashed and manuscripts disappeared.

But there is good news too – with IS having failed to destroy many artefacts, previously undiscovered treasures found amid the ruins, and the first modern explorations of sites it never captured revealing exciting new finds.

Bulldozers and sledgehammers

Only recently liberated from IS fighters following a huge military operation, Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul – and the area that surrounds it – is of great historical importance.

The Assyrian city of Nineveh, which dates to the 7th Century BC and once hosted palaces, temples and mansions, is on the outskirts of modern Mosul.

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Alamy

Image caption

The lamassu on the right of the Nergal Gate, photographed in 1977

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