A group of Italian and Iraqi archaeologists have discovered ten stone reliefs in northern Iraq which covered a canal system back in eighth century BC. The carvings also indicated towards the impressive public works supported by Assyrian King Sargon II who is known to have ruled over a wealthy empire included in most of the present day's Middle East.
Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, an archaeologist at Italy's University of Idinewho co-led the expedition reportedly said that 'Assyrian rock reliefs are extremely rare monuments'. Furthermore, no such panels have been found in their original location since 1845. IT is also believed that there are more reliefs lefts buried under the soil debris that filled the canal.
The site of the expedition was near the town of Faida, which lies close to Turkey. Due to modern conflict, this site was prohibited for researchers for nearly half a century. A British team had noted the tops of at least three stones back in 1973, however, the tensions between the Kurds and the Baathist regime in Iraq prevent further work for many years. Morandi Bonacossi-led expedition had again returned in 2012 but ISIS invasion again halted the research. The main battle line between the Islamic State and the Kurdish forces is reportedly 20 miles away from the site.
The expedition by Morandi Bonacossi and Hasan Ahmed Qasim from Iraq Kurdistan’s Dohuk department of antiquities unveiled ten reliefs set along the banks of a four-mile-long canal. As per the research, the carvings display a king (Sargon II) observing a procession of Assyrian gods, including a deity Ashur riding on a dragon and a horned lion, along with his consort Mullissu on a lion-supported throne.
Other figures such as the goddess of love and war, Ishtar, Shamash, the sun god and Nabu, the god of wisdom were also found on the reliefs. According to the archaeologists, such figures were carved in order to lay emphasis on the passerby's that fertility comes from both, divine and earthly power.