Reliefs from the monumental Mashki Gate have been uncovered as part of a an excavation, conservation, and restoration project at the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh in Mosul, northern Iraq.
The Mashki Gate (Gate of the Watering Places) was one of a series built by the Neo-Assyrian king Sennacherib (r. 705-681 BC) in the walls of Nineveh, which he made his capital. This significant gate, offering direct access to the Tigris river, was bulldozed by militants from so-called Islamic State in 2016. Now a team of Iraqi archaeologists and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology have unearthed seven finely carved marble reliefs as they work to reconstruct the gate as part of the Iraq Heritage Stabilization Program, with support from the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH).
The reliefs depict details including mountains, grapevines, pomegranates, figs, palm trees, warriors firing arrows in battle, and a high-ranking captive in an Assyrian fortified military encampment. Although the Mashki Gate had been investigated before, and was previously reconstructed in the 1970s, the area with these reliefs had not yet been excavated.
Excavations will continue at Mashki Gate, targeting other as yet unexplored areas. The reliefs will be conserved and there are plans to build a visitor centre at the archaeological site of Nineveh.