Mosul museum reopens four years after it was destroyed by ISIS

Victory for civilisation: Museum where ISIS thugs infamously destroyed ancient treasures reopens in Iraq

  • Mosul Museum in Iraq has reopened, six years after it was ransacked by ISIS and its exhibits destroyed 
  • The museum is hosting a sculpture exhibition by Iraqi artist Omer Qais in its refurbished royal reception hall 
  • Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was overrun by ISIS in 2014 as it rapidly caputred territory in the Middle East
  • The Islamists destroyed many of the artefacts, which they believe represent false Gods and sacreligious idols 

An Iraqi museum that was infamously ransacked by ISIS jihadists who destroyed and looted its artefacts has reopened to the public.

Mosul Museum, in Iraq’s second-largest city, is hosting a sculpture exhibition by Iraqi artist Omer Qais in its restored royal reception hall, four years after it was plundered by the Islamic extremists.

ISIS overran Mosul in 2014, scattering the Iraqi army with a lightning-fast assault that announced the terror group as a major force in the Middle East.

The museum was one of the group’s first targets in the newly-occupied city, as hardline fighters destroyed artefacts that they consider to depict false Gods and idols. 

Mosul museum, which was ransacked by ISIS terrorists after they captured Iraq’s second-largest city in 2014 has reopened for a sculpture exhibition after being restored

The museum’s main royal reception room has been opened to guests and filled with sculptures by Iraqi artist Omer Qais after painstaking restoration work by curators

ISIS targeted the museum shortly after capturing Mosul because it contained statues and relics that they believe were made by heretics and constitute ‘devil worship’

Many of the new sculptures, including the one pictured centre, reflect the ancient relics that were destroyed, but few originals remain after they were either smashed to pieces or sold off to fund the terror group

A visitor peers through the centre of one of the new sculptures installed at the museum after it was recaptured from ISIS in 2017 and restored over the course of three years

Many of the relics dated from the Sumerians, one of the first human civilisations whose people lived along the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers some 3,000 years ago.

Sculptures, pottery and cuneiform writing tablets dating from this civilisation were among the works destroyed by ISIS troops, and were considered an invaluable chapter in the history of human development. 

Curators have been working to restore the museum to a semblance of its former glory ever since it was recaptured by Iraqi troops with assistance from the US-led coalition in 2017.

The museum partially reopened in January 2019, when it staged a contemporary art exhibition entitled ‘Return to Mosul’ in its reception hall.

However, much of the building remained closed while restoration work was ongoing while works were displayed on teporary walls.

Now, more of the building is accessible to visitors, while artworks are displayed throughout the main space.

Mosul Eye – a Twitter account run by a Mosuli historian – tweeted out images of the exhibition along with a caption which read: ‘Daesh is gone, our Mosul museum is back. Daesh will never win.’

Daesh is a term for ISIS which the group considers offensive because it sounds similar to their name in Arabic, but means ‘to trample underfoot’.  

Propaganda videos released by ISIS in 2014 showed terrorist fighters toppling statues and smashing them with sledgehammers because they view them as a form of devil worship

Many of the artefacts on display at the museum before it was destroyed were Sumerian, one of the first human civilisations which existed along the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers some 3,000 years ago

ISIS fighters use sledgehammers to destroy the legs of statues in the museum, before toppling the relics to the floor where they smashed into small pieces

A caption shown on the propaganda video said that the artefacts did not exist in the time of the Prophet, and were put on display by ‘devil worshippers’

Some of the sculptures reflect the ancient artwork that was destroyed, but few original pieces remain – those that were not destroyed were smuggled out of Iraq and sold to raise funds for the group.

Video released from inside Mosul Museum at the time the artefacts were destroyed showed fighters denouncing the statues and idols, citing Mohammed’s destruction of idols at Mecca as an example.

A caption shown on the video said that the artefacts did not exist in the time of the Prophet, and were put on display by ‘devil worshippers’.

The men are then shown destroying the artefacts with sledgehammers – toppling some of them from plinths where they shatter into small fragments on the floor. 

Additional footage showed a man with an electric drill destroying a winged bull at a nearby archaeological site – a rendering of an Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 7th century BC.

‘I’m totally shocked,’ Amir al-Jumaili, a professor at the Archaeology College in Mosul, said at the time. ‘It’s a catastrophe. With the destruction of these artefacts, we can no longer be proud of Mosul’s civilisation.’

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