A team from the U.S. Smithsonian Institution, with support from the U.S. State Department, is set to be transferred to Erbil and Iraq in an effort to begin restoration work on cultural and historical sites destroyed by Islamic State (ISIS), the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said on Wednesday (June 28).
The U.S. team is expected to work with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to reconstruct and fix damages that occurred to the 3,000-year-old Assyrian city of Nimrud, south of Mosul.
“They will help Iraqi counterparts forge a long-range plan for salvaging and safely rehousing damaged objects and stabilizing stone reliefs of mythological creatures and other figures carved into the palace walls,” the official website of ShareAmerica reported.
Once the capital of an empire stretching across the ancient Middle East, Nimrud is one of several historic sites that ISIS looted and ransacked when they seized large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014.
The militant group, whose ultra-hardline doctrine deems the country’s pre-Islamic religious heritage idolatrous, released video footage last year showing its fighters bulldozing, drilling and blowing up murals and statues at Nimrud.
Those statues included the famous winged bulls with human faces, known as lamassu, which stood at the entrances to the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria in the 9th century BC, and nearby temples on the site.