ISIS destroys Temple of Nabu at Nimrud, Nergal Gate at Nineveh
Yesterday, ISIS sources released two videos showcasing the destruction of archaeological sites at Nineveh and Nimrud. There is significant overlap between the videos, but put together they show the destruction of several items not noted in yesterday’s post about the destruction of the gates of Nineveh and the Southwest Palace.
The Nergal Gate
Some of the footage shows a bulldozer destroying the Mashki Gate in Nineveh. This was already depicted in a photo essay released by ISIS and the video footage is nearly identical.
However, a brief scene shows a bulldozer backing down the ramp from the Nergal Gate, turning, and disgorging a section of a lamassu sculpture into a waiting dump truck:
Another shot shows a bulldozer making a hole through the rear of the gate and toppling what remains of the lamassu on the right with its shovel. The lamassu on the left appears to have already been destroyed:
Readers may recall that ISIS fighters chiseled the face off of the right lamassu last February. This suggests that ISIS has gone back to re-destroy artifacts that it already destroyed once, in order to get footage for new videos.
The lamassus at the Nergal Gate were originally installed during Sennacherib’s massive expansion of Nineveh between 704 and 690 BC. They were originally uncovered by Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1849 but reburied. In 1941 heavy rains exposed them again, and the reconstruction of the Nergal Gate was built in part to protect the statues. These were some of the few lamassu which remained in the location where they were originally discovered.
The reconstructed gate itself appears to have sustained some damage to the rear wall but is still standing.
The Temple of Nabu at Nimrud
Additional footage shows several exterior shots of the Fish Gate of the Ezida Temple of Nabu at Nimrud. As with the gates at Nineveh, the gate and the walls are modern reconstructions. The statues at the entrance were once mermen, but their heads were broken off in antiquity, leading to the structure being called the “Fish Gate.”
Video taken from several angles shows explosives being detonated behind and under the arch. The double dust cloud is caused by gasses and debris venting through the arch.
As can be seen in after shots, the arch collapsed but the majority of the structure is still standing. This is confirmed by satellite photographs which show the damage was done sometime prior to June 3, 2016.
The mermen sculptures appear to have suffered heavy damage. Fragments of one can be seen in a shot of the rubble pile:
In a move surely calculated to provoke a media reaction, the video concluded with an ISIS member stating that the group intends to go to Egypt and blow up the pyramids and the sphinx.
The worship of Nabu originated in Borsippa in southern Mesopotamia and later spread north. The Ezida Temple of Nabu at Nimrud was built by Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859 BC) as one of nine temples he founded at Nimrud. Excavations in the 19th century by Hormuzd Rassam and in the 20th century by Max Mallowan discovered several colossal statues (now preserved in the Iraq Museum) and a large number of shrines and dedicatory inscriptions as well as a collection of cuneiform texts related to the operation of the temple.
 J.P.G. Finch, “The Winged Bulls at the Nergal Gate of Nineveh,” Iraq 10, No. 1 (Spring 1948): 9-18.
 Joan Oates and David Oates, Nimrud: An Assyrian Imperial City Revealed (London: British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 2001), 111-112.
 Oates and Oates, Nimrud: An Assyrian Imperial City Revealed, 111-123.
Article © Christopher Jones 2016.