European archaeologists rehabilitate antiquities in Iraq

Archaeological teams from French, Italian and German colleges arrived in Ninawa Governorate (also called Nineveh) to resume rehabilitation and conservation of the antiquities damaged when the so-called Islamic State (Daesh or ISIS) organization overran the area. 

As many as 27 heritage sites, dating from various ages, were partially destroyed by Daesh who took control of Ninawa and its provincial capital of Mosul in 2014, Director of Mosul Cultural Museum Zayd Ghazi noted on Wednesday. 

"Archaeologists from the Museum are working closely with the European team to revive the relics and monuments. Working as per the clear-cut plan for restoration, they have proceeded from the stage of collection and classification of the relics to the rehabilitation stage," Ghazi pointed out. 

A team of excavators from the Italian University of Bologna are rehabilitating the historical wall of Ninawa, to the east of Mosul city. "They have unearthed the Adad Gate of this heritage site (reigned 705-681 BCE) and removed large quantities of debris resulting from the ISIS terrorist attacks. 

"Big sections of the historical wall, including the arch of the main gate, will be ready to welcome visitors and tourists very soon," he affirmed, adding that archaeologists from Heidelberg University, Germany, were conducting excavation and rehabilitation works in western parts of Ninawa city 

Recently, UN and US officials said they returned a stone inscription bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh to their counterparts from Iraq at a ceremony in Washington. UNESCO officials will return a stone inscription bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest known works of literature in the world, to Iraq, the UN agency has said in a statement. 

They handed the tablet to their counterparts from Iraq at a ceremony in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution, the statement said. Some 17,000 other artifacts that were also looted following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 will be returned to Baghdad at the event. 

"By returning these illegally acquired objects, the authorities here in the United States and Iraq are allowing the Iraqi people to reconnect with a page in their history," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said, adding that this restitution was a "major victory over those who mutilate heritage and then traffic it to finance violence and terrorism."

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