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NINEVEH AND NIMRUD PALACES
near Mosul, Iraq
More than 2,700 years ago, two Assyrian kings, Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.) and Assurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.), recorded their successful military campaigns on the walls of their palaces at the ancient sites of Nineveh and nearby Nimrud. Depicted in the reliefs are marauding troops in foreign lands, rendered in a style marked by lively action and attention paid to topographic and ethnographic detail.
In the 1960s, a protective corrugated metal roof was erected to protect the stone reliefs in Sennacherib’s palace. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing during the war in the 2000s, widespread looting of archaeological sites in Iraq, including Nineveh and Nimrud, became a significant international concern.
HOW WE HELPED
WMF and the Getty Conservation Institute, in collaboration with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, in coordination with UNESCO, created the Iraq Cultural Heritage Conservation Initiative to address the damages and threats to ancient monuments in Iraq as a result of the 2003 war.
Nineveh and Nimrud Palaces, included in the 2002 and 2004 Watch, received an award from the initiative for the reinstallation of the protective cover over Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh, which had been stolen, leaving the reliefs exposed to the elements and looting. Guards were stationed at both Nineveh and Nimrud palaces to protect them from vandals and allow the palaces to function as site museums.
WHY IT MATTERS
The palaces of Sennacherib at Nineveh and Assurnasirpal II at Nimrud are vestiges of the political, cultural, and artistic height of the Assyrian Empire. The remains of these palaces, the only Assyrian palaces left preserved and decorated with reliefs, are now protected against vandals and function as site museums where visitors can appreciate ancient wall reliefs in their original setting.