ISIS Destroys Second Largest Museum in Iraq
Policy + Politics

ISIS Destroys Second Largest Museum in Iraq

Al Jazeera

A few days after burning the Mosul Public Library, ISIS posted a video showing the destruction of Mosul museum, the second largest in Iraq and rich artifacts from thousands of years of Iraq history. 

In the video released on Thursday, ISIS militants use sledge hammers to destroy the museum statues one by one. An Arab ISIS leader gives a short speech justifying the destruction of priceless historic statues by saying they were idols for gods that were worshiped in contradiction of worshiping one god: Allah. Some militants carried electric drills. In the end, the pride of Assyrian civilization, a gigantic winged bull that stood for thousands of years as part of the ancient Nineveh wall is destroyed too.

Mosul museum was the second largest in Iraq, a national museum considered one of the largest in the world. The museum was established in 1952 and hosted a large amount of artifacts from the Nineveh province area, famous for its Assyrian, Roman and Islamic archeological sites.

In 1972, the museum was relocated to a bigger building. In 2003, part of the museum was looted during the first few days of the US led invasion of Iraq. The museum reopened its doors to schools in 2012 when a renovation project started that year as well.

Related: ISIS Burns 8,000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul

Iraqi Minister of Culture Adil Shirshab condemned the destruction of the museum saying “the assault of terrorist gangs on Mosul museum that included three halls and multiple storage units housed international artifacts and masterpieces which represented the human heritage memory fits with criminal nature of those gangs.”

 In New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art issued this statement: “Speaking with great sadness on behalf of the metropolitan, a museum whose collection proudly protects and displays the arts of ancient and Islamic Mesopotamia, we strongly condemn this act of catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East. The Mosul museum's collection covers the entire range of civilization in the region.


With outstanding sculptures from royal cities such as Nimrud, Nineveh and Hatra in northern Iraq. This mindless attack on art, history and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding. Such wanton brutality must stop, before all vestiges of the ancient world are obliterated.”

A few days ago, I wrote that Iraq, the cradle of civilization, the birthplace of agriculture and writing, and the home of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Islamic civilizations never witnessed such an assault on its rich culture since the Mongol era in the middle ages. I was wrong. Even the Mongols spared the historic Nineveh wall with its famous winged bull. But ISIS didn't. This terrible loss could be the worst assault on human culture since WW2.    


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