Blog Post

Deciphering Khinnis

Khinnis is an archaeological site in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of northern Iraq . The site dates to the Assyrian period and was specifically set up by king Sennacherib of Assyria (704–681 B.C.) to celebrate the construction of a complex system of canals whose aim was to supply the capital of the empire, Nineveh, and its hinterland with water.

Khinnis features a series of rock-cut reliefs that face the River Gomel, whose attribution to Sennacherib is confirmed thanks to an inscription that narrates the accomplishment of the hydraulic system built by the king.

The main panel represents Sennacherib with the two major deities of the Assyrian pantheon, Ashur and his wife Mulissu. Inscriptions, smaller panels with royal figures, lamassus (winged bull colossi), and a fountain characterize the area as well. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire some of the reliefs were re-modelled (such as the famous relief of the horseman at the entrance of the site), while in a later phase (first centuries of the Christian era) the cliff was used as shelter and funerary area by the ascetic communities living in the region.

The Directorate of Antiquities of Dohuk currently manages the site, while the Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project of Udine University is recording the Assyrian rock reliefs with a laser scanner and digital photogrammetry technologies in order to develop a protection and management program for the site.