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2,700-year-old wine press carvings discovered by archaeologists in Iraq

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A view of carvings discovered on the walls of an ancient irrigation canal

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Archaeologists in Iraq on Sunday uncovered the discovery of a massive wine factory dating from the rule of the Assyrian kings 2,700 years ago, as well as stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs.

Stone bas-reliefs in the walls of a nearly nine-kilometre-long (5.5-mile) irrigation canal in Faida, northern Iraq, depicting kings praying to gods, were cut in a joint team of archaeologists from the Department of Archaeology . Dohuk and Italian allies said.

The carvings on 12 panels five meters (16 ft) wide and two meters high depict deities, kings and sacred animals. They date from the reign of Sargon II (721–705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.

“There are other places with rock reliefs in Iraq, especially in Kurdistan, but none are so massive and monumental,” said Italian archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacocci.

“The scenes represent the Assyrian king praying before the Assyrian gods,” he said, noting that seven major deities are seen, including Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, who is depicted on the top of a lion. is depicted on.

Ancient ‘Propaganda Scene’

The irrigation canal was cut in limestone to carry water from the hills to the farmers’ fields, and carvings were made to commemorate the king’s men who ordered its construction.

“It was not just a religious scene of prayer, it was also a political one, a kind of propaganda scene,” Morandi Bonacosi said.

“The king, in this way, wanted to show the people living in the area that he was the one who created these huge irrigation systems, so … the people should remember this and remain faithful.”

In Khinis, also near Dohuk, the team unearthed huge stone basins cut into white rock, which were used to make commercial wine during Sennacherib’s reign in the late 8th or 7th century BC.

“It was a kind of industrial wine factory,” said Morandi Bonacocci, a professor of Near Eastern archeology at the University of Udine in Italy, the first such discovery in Iraq.

“We found 14 establishments that were used to press and juice the grapes, which were then processed into wine.”

Some of the most famous carvings that have survived from the Assyrian period are the mythical winged bull, examples of monumental reliefs seen at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, as well as the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London.

Iraq was the birthplace of some of the earliest cities in the world. Along with the Assyrians, it was once home to the Sumerians and Babylonians, and was one of the first examples of human writing.

But now it is also a place for smugglers of ancient artifacts.

Robbers destroyed the country’s ancient past, including after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Then, from 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State group demolished dozens of pre-Islamic treasures with bulldozers, pickaxes and explosives. They also used smuggling to finance their operations.

However, some countries are slowly returning stolen goods.

Earlier this year, the United States returned nearly 17,000 artifacts to Iraq that date back to the Sumerian period, some 4,000 years ago.

Last month, a 3,500-year-old tablet describing the Epic of Gilgamesh was returned to Iraq after being stolen three decades ago and illegally imported into the US.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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