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

Iraq was the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest cities. As well as Assyrians, it was home once to Sumerians and Babylonians, and to among humankind’s first examples of writing.

Created On: Oct 25, 2021 18:57 IST
Iraq excavation
Iraq excavation

Archaeologists in Iraq announced on October 24, 2021, that they have discovered a large-scale wine factory from the rule of the Assyrian Kings 2,700 years ago. They also reveal their discovery of stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs.

Iraq was the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest cities. As well as Assyrians, it was home once to Sumerians and Babylonians, and to among humankind’s first examples of writing.

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

Stunning Carvings discovered in Iraq

The joint team of the archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities in Dohuk and colleagues from Italy said that the stone bas-reliefs, showing kings praying to the gods, were cut into the walls of a nearly 9 kilometer long (5.5 mile) irrigation canal at Faida in Northern Iraq.

The carvings, 12-panels measuring five meters (16 feet) wide and two meters tall, show kings, gods, and sacred animals. They date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.

Italian archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacossi said that there are other places with rock reliefs in Iraq, particularly in Kurdistan, but none are so huge and monumental as this one.

He informed that the scenes represent the Assyrian King praying in front of Assyrian gods. Bonacossi also noted that the seven key gods are all seen, including Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, who is depicted on top of a lion.

Propaganda Scene

The irrigation canal was cut into the limestone in order to carry water from the hills to the fields of farmers. The found carvings were made to remind people of the king who ordered its construction.

As per Bonacossi, it was not only a religious scene of prayer, it was also political, a sort of propaganda scene.

The King, in this way, wanted to show people that he was the one who created these massive irrigation systems, so the people will remember this and remain loyal.

Discovery of large-scale wine factory in Iraq

At Khinis, also near Dohuk, the archaeologists unearthed giant stone basins cut into the white rock that was used in commercial wine-making during the reign of Sennacherib, in the late 8th or 7th century BC.

Bonacossi informed that it was a sort of an industrial wine factory. It is also the first such discovery in Iraq.

14 installations were also found, that were used to press the grapes and extract the juice, which was then processed into wine.

Location for smugglers of ancient artifacts

Even though Iraq was the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest cities, it is now a location for smugglers of ancient artifacts.

Looters have decimated its ancient past, including after the 2003 US-led invasion. From 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State group demolished pre-Islamic treasures with pickaxes, bulldozers, and explosives. They also used smuggling to finance their operations.

However, some nations have been returning stolen items. In 2021, the US returned about 17,000 artifacts to Iraq. These were the pieces that mostly dated from the Sumerian Period around 4,000 years ago.

In September 2021, a 3,500-year-old tablet recounting the epic of Gilgamesh was returned to Iraq after being stolen 3 decades ago and illegally imported to the US.

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