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Nimrud was city in Assyrian kingdom, which flourished between 900 B.C. and 612 B.C.

ISIS has destroyed other ancient sites in Iraq, home of some of earliest civilizations

CNN  — 

ISIS has again destroyed cultural treasures, this time bulldozing the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, the nation’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said.

“ISIS continues to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity,” the ministry said in a statement. “They violated the ancient city of Nimrud and bulldozed its ancient ruins.”

The extent of the damage wasn’t immediately clear, according to Iraqi state broadcaster Iraqiya TV.

“Our ministry condemns these criminal acts,” the statement said. “Letting these lost gangs go without punishment will encourage them to destroy humanity’s civilization, the Mesopotamian civilization, inflicting irreversible priceless damages and losses.”

Photos: Precious monuments lost in conflicts

Nimrud was a city in the Assyrian kingdom, which flourished between 900 B.C. and 612 B.C. The archaeological site is south of Mosul in northern Iraq.

The razing of Nimrud comes a week after a video showed ISIS militants using sledgehammers to obliterate stone sculptures and other centuries-old artifacts in the Mosul Museum.

That museum held 173 original pieces of antiquity and was being readied for reopening when ISIS invaded Mosul in June, according to Qais Hussain Rashid, the antiquities ministry’s director general of Iraqi museums, who spoke to Iraqiya TV last week.

Nimrud and nearby Nineveh are the sites where two Assyrian kings, Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.) and Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.), recorded successful military campaigns on the walls of their palaces, according to the World Monuments Fund, a group dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places.

“Depicted in the reliefs are marauding troops in foreign lands, rendered in a style marked by lively action and attention paid to topographic and ethnographic detail,” the fund’s website says.

Relief of a human-headed winged lion in Ashurnasirpal II's palace in Nimrud in northern Iraq.

“The palaces of Sennacherib at Nineveh and Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud are vestiges of the political, cultural and artistic height of the Assyrian Empire,” the group says on its website under the heading “Why it Matters.” The group had helped preserve the treasures at Nimrud following the Iraq War.

King Ashurnasirpal II made Nimrud the royal seat and the military capital of Assyria, Encyclopedia Britannica’s website says.

Buildings at Nimrud “have yielded thousands of carved ivories, mostly made in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., now one of the richest collections of ivory in the world,” the encyclopedia says.

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ISIS militants destroy antiquities with sledgehammer
02:01 - Source: CNN

The destruction last year was not the first time ISIS has targeted cultural and ancient sites in Iraq and Syria. The terror group took over the ancient ruined city of Hatra in 2014, using it to store weapons and ammunitions. It has destroyed libraries, palaces and churches and blown up shrines such as the tomb of Jonah, a holy site said to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah, and a key figure in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Opinion: Destruction of antiquities proves folly, hypocrisy of ISIS