Middle East News
Ancient Assyrian capital in danger of falling into Tigris river
Apr 5, 2010, 16:09 GMT
Sharqat, Iraq - A 4,500-year-old fortress city, the first capital of ancient Iraq's Assyrian civilisation, is in danger of falling into Iraq's Tigris River, an antiquities official warned Monday.
The archaeologist, from the antiquities department for central Iraq's Salah al-Din province, said the river has already washed away more than 30 metres of the ancient city of Assur, the religious capital of ancient Iraq's Assyrian civilisation.
'This season, the river washed away dozens of clay tablets and statues because there is no protective flood wall,' Mohammed al- Jabouri told the German Press Agency dpa.
The ruined city, now known as Qalah Sharqat, or 'Castle of Earth,' dates back to 2,500 BC. It was named for its patron god, Assur, who also gave the Assyrian civilisation its name.
German archaeologists partially excavated some parts of it during a 1913-1918 expedition, but left after World War I. Since then, al-Jabouri said, no work has been done to unearth whatever artifacts might remain on the site.
He called on the central Iraqi government, the provincial government, and all those interested in world heritage to speed the release of funds to build a wall to protect the castle from the river.
'The antiquities department in Salah al-Din province has repeatedly asked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to protect the castle from the flood, but the ministry has done nothing so far, as if this is a matter of no concern,' al-Jabouri said.