By Carey Lodge, Christian Today.
“Compared to imagery collected 12 January 2016, we observe extensive damage to the main entrance of what is known as Nabu Temple,” UNITAR, the UN Training and Research Agency, said.
It released two satellite images taken on June 3, confirming claims made in an ISIS propaganda video earlier this week that the 2,800-year-old temple had been blown up.
Nimrud was looted and large swathes of it bulldozed in March last year. The city dates back to the Middle Assyrian period and was considered to be one of the most important cities in the Assyrian empire. Located 30km south of Mosul in the Nineveh plain, which was overrun by ISIS militants in June 2014 and is now a stronghold of the Islamist group, it was established as the capital during the Neo Assyrian period under King Ashurnasirpal II. Many of the carvings from his palace in the city are now on display at the British Museum in London.
Nimrud was until last year one of the most preserved sites in the region, though subject to some neglect and looting in the past two decades. It has been nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list, and Director General Irina Bokova condemned the 2015 attack. He said in a statement at the time: “We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.”
Looting and bulldozing ancient sites has become one of the hallmarks of ISIS’s devastating attempt to create its caliphate, but it’s not mindless pillaging. It’s not even simply an attempt to demonstrate military strength or power. In fact, experts believe it’s part of the group’s ongoing attempt to cleanse the Middle East of its religious and cultural heritage; a reality that is far more disturbing.
Dr Nicholas Al-Jeloo, a lecturer in Syriac at the University of Melbourne, told Christian Today he was devastated by the Nabu temple’s destruction. His parents and siblings were born in Iraq, and he grew up looking at photos of Nineveh, hoping one day to visit himself. “And now I can’t; it’s been destroyed forever,” he said. “Once these sites have been lost they can never be rebuilt. You can build replicas from photos, but it will never be the same.”
Related article: Islamic State video ‘shows destruction of Nimrud’