Last month, Islamic State was in Mosul destroying tangible history on civilization, some items were rare manuscripts dating back 3000 years. Books were loaded into trucks and taken away to be destroyed.
An Iraqi lawmaker, Hakim al-Zamili, said the Islamic State group “considers culture, civilization and science as their fierce enemies.”
Al-Zamili, who leads the parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, compared the Islamic State group to raiding medieval Mongols, who in 1258 ransacked Baghdad. Libraries’ ancient collections of works on history, medicine and astronomy were dumped into the Tigris River, purportedly turning the waters black from running ink.
“The only difference is that the Mongols threw the books in the Tigris River, while now Daesh is burning them,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “Different method, but same mentality.”
If you still doubt the Islamic State mission to destroy all things non-Islamic, which Barack Obama does doubt, then consider Gilgamesh as part of part of the history.
Gilgamesh was a legendary king and hero of the city-state of Uruk. The historical Gilgamesh was a Sumarian king of Uruk around 2700 BC. According to the Sumerian king list, Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk (Early Dynastic II, first dynasty of Uruk), the son of Lugalbanda. Legend has it that his mother was Ninsun, a goddess. Sumarian fragments of the legend that grew up around him have been found dating back to about 2000 BC.
The Gilgamesh Epic is the most notable literary product of Babylonia discovered in the mounds of Mesopotamia. In the epic named after him, Gilgamesh, the Sumerian king of Uruk, seeks to escape death, but ultimately concludes this is futile and turns to lasting works of culture to achieve immortality. The Babylonian king Gilgamesh was said to be one-third human and two-thirds god. He ruled the city of Uruk on the Euphrates River more than four thousand years ago in what is now Iraq. According to legend, the gods sent him a series of ordeals, starting with the wild man Enkidu, who challenged the king and reformed his abuses of power. Once reconciled, the two embarked on a quest to fell all the cedar trees of southern Iran and slay Humbaba, the demon residing there. So begin the tales of Gilgamesh.
The Islamic State released a video Thursday showing sledgehammer-wielding militants destroying artefacts dating back thousands of years in Mosul’s central museum, yet another act of destruction in the radical Islamist group’s rampage through the Middle East.
The five-minute video begins with a verse from the Koran condemning idol worship, followed by an ISIS militant denouncing the polytheism of the ancient Assyrian and Akkadian cultures. The militant cites Muhammad’s destruction of the idols in Mecca as the precedent for their actions.
“These statues and idols, these artifacts, if God has ordered its removal, they became worthless to us even if they are worth billions of dollars,” he declares.
The militants then set on the statues with sledgehammers.
The video also includes footage from an archeological site in Mosul in which a fighter drills through a 7th century BC Assyrian sculpture of a winged bull.
A caption claims that the artefacts did not exist in the time of the prophet, having since been put on display by “devil worshippers,” possibly a reference to the Yazidi minority.
The international community has condemned this latest act of destruction by the extremist group. The Guardian provided some of the reaction from influential voices in the region:
“The birthplace of human civilisation … is being destroyed”, said Kino Gabriel, one of the leaders of the Syriac Military Council – a Christian militia – in a telephone interview with the Guardian from Hassakeh in north-eastern Syria. […] “In front of something like this, we are speechless,” said Gabriel. “Murder of people and destruction is not enough, so even our civilisation and the culture of our people is being destroyed.”
“When you watch the footage, you feel visceral pain and outrage, like you do when you see human beings hurt,” said Mardean Isaac, an Assyrian writer and member of A Demand for Action, an organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of the Assyrians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. […]
“I’m totally shocked,” Amir al-Jumaili [a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul] told the AP. “It’s a catastrophe. With the destruction of these artefacts, we can no longer be proud of Mosul’s civilisation.” […]
Isaac said: “While the Islamic State is ethnically cleansing the contemporary Assyrian populations of Iraq and Syria, they are also conducting a simultaneous war on their ancient history and the right of future generations of all ethnicities and religions to the material memory of their ancestors.”