Update to our Terms of Use

Please review our Terms of Use which changed on February 17, 2021

'Extremely rare’ Assyrian carvings discovered in Iraq

Stone reliefs more than 2,700 years old date to the reign of the mighty King Sargon II.

PUBLISHED

Ancient reliefs rarely found outside of palaces depict a procession of Assyrian gods, including the main deity Assur and his consort Mullissu, standing on lions, dragons, and other animals.

In the eighth century B.C., Assyrian King Sargon II ruled over a wealthy and powerful empire that included much of today’s Middle East and inspired fear among its neighbors. Now a team of Italian and Iraqi Kurdish archaeologists working in northern Iraq have uncovered ten stone reliefs that adorned a sophisticated canal system dug into bedrock. The surprising find of such beautifully crafted carvings—typically found only in royal palaces—sheds light on the impressive public works supported by a leader better known for his military prowess.

“Assyrian rock reliefs are extremely rare monuments,” said Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, an archaeologist at Italy’s University of Udine, who co-led the recent expedition. With one exception, no such panels have been found in their original location since 1845. “And it is highly probable that more reliefs, and perhaps also monumental celebratory cuneiform inscriptions, are still buried under the soil debris that filled the canal.”

The site near the town of Faydah, close to the border with Turkey, has been largely closed to researchers for a half century due to modern conflict. In 1973 a British...

Read the rest of this article on NatGeo.com
close

You are leaving nationalgeographic.com. Different terms of use will apply.

CONTINUE

Follow Us

twitter

Subscribe for full access to read stories from National Geographic.