Deserving More Than Just A Glance
A joint team of archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities in Dohuk (Iraq) and their colleagues from Italy discovered a 2,700-year-old wine factory at Faida in northern Iraq on October 25, 2021. Italian Archaeologist Professor Daniele Morandi Bonacossi confirmed the news, saying that it was a large-scale wine factory built by the Assyrian Kings in BCE 721-705. He further said that they also found some stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs in that particular region.
Talking to the media, Professor Bonacossi stressed that the rock-carved reliefs, showing Kings praying to the Gods, were on the walls of a nearly 9km-long irrigation canal. He explained that the carvings were consisted of 12 panels, measuring 5mt wide and 2mt tall, showing gods, kings and sacred animals. Archaeologists are of the opinion that these panels were built during the reigns of Sargon II (BCE 721-705) and his son Sennacherib.
Professor Bonacossi insisted: “There are other places with rock reliefs in Iraq, especially in Kurdistan, but none are so huge and monumental as this one.” He added: “The scenes represent the Assyrian King praying in front of the Assyrian Gods.” According to the Italian archaeologist, one could find seven key gods, including Ishtar, the Goddess of Love and War, depicted on top of a lion. He informed the press that the Assyrian rulers made the irrigation canal with limestone mainly to carry water from the hills to the agricultural fields, while the carvings were made to remind people of the king who ordered its construction. “It was not only a religious scene of prayer, it was also political, a sort of propaganda scene,” stressed Professor Bonacossi. He further said: “The king, in this way, wanted to show to the people living in the area that he was the one who had created these massive irrigation systems, so that the people should remember this and remain loyal.“
As far as the ancient wine factory is concerned, it was built at Khinis near Dohuk. Archaeologists revealed that they unearthed giant stone basins, cut into white rock, which were used in commercial wine-manufacturing during the reign of Sennacherib in the late 8th or early 7th Century BCE. Bonacossi, the Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at Italian University of Udine, stated that it was a sort of industrial wine factory, and the first such discovery in the West Asian country. “We have found 14 installations that were used to press the grapes and extract the juice, which was then processed into wine,” he explained. According to Professor Bonacossi, there are some famous carvings, which survived from the Assyrian period, in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London.
As Iraq had some of the world’s earliest cities, the country was home to Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, in Ancient Times. It may be noted that humankind’s first examples of writing were also found in Iraq. Later, it became a heaven for smugglers of ancient artefacts. They decimated the country’s rich ancient past, especially after the US-led invasion in 2003. In 2014-17, the Islamic State (IS) group destroyed dozens of pre-Islamic treasures with bulldozers, pickaxes and explosives. At the same time, the terror outfit used smuggling to finance their operations. Now, it will be a challenge for the Government of Iraq to safeguard the newly-found artefacts.
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