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‘Beauty gets better with age’, especially with wine dug out from ancient Archeological cellars : Taste the vintage !

On Sunday, Archaeologists in Iraq unearthed a wine cellar and even a wine factory built 2700 years ago under Assyrian rule, along with stunning monumental rock carvings of royal reliefs.

The stone bas-reliefs depict kings praising the gods at Faida in northern Iraq, according to a joint team of archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities in Dohuk and colleagues from Italy. The carvings — 12 panels measuring five meters (16 feet) wide and two meters high and displaying gods, kings, and sacred animals, dating from the times of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.’Iraq has other places with rock reliefs, particularly in Kurdistan, but none of them is as grand and monumental as this,’ said Italian archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacossi.

Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, is depicted on top of a lion, in scenes that depict the Assyrian king praying before the Assyrian gods, he said, noting that the seven key gods were all present. The irrigation canal was carved in limestone to carry water from the hills to the fields of farmers, and the carvings referred to the king who ordered its construction. It was also meant to be a political propaganda scene, said Morandi Bonacussi. In this way, the king wanted to show the people in the region that he was the one who had built these massive irrigation systems, so they should remember this and remain loyal to him.

Khinis, also near Dohuk, revealed giant stone basins cut into white rock that were used for commercial wine-making during the reign of Sennacherib, in the late 8th or early 7th century BC. Morandi Bonacossi, an archaeology professor at the University of Udine who specializes in Near Eastern archaeology, said it was the first industrial wine factory he had found in Iraq. ‘We have found 14 installations, that were used to press the grapes and extract the juice, which was then processed into wine’. In addition to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, as well as the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London, some of the most famous carvings from the Assyrian period are seen which depict the mythical winged bulls.

Iraq was the cradle of some of the oldest cities in the world. It was once home to Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, and to some of humankind’s first writings. But it has also become a haven for smugglers of ancient artifacts. Even after the 2003 US-led invasion, looters decimated the ancient past of the country. From 2014 to 2017, the Islamic State group destroyed dozens of pre-Islamic treasures with bulldozers, pickaxes and explosives, but and also turned to smuggling to fund their operations.


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