Fundamentalist group destroys renowned archaeological site

The Islamic State extremists, who control a third of Iraq and Syria, have attacked several archaeological and religious sites, claiming that they promote apostasy.

Islamic State militants have bulldozed the renowned archaeological site of the ancient city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, Big Story reports.

The destruction is part of the group's campaign to enforce its violent interpretation of Islamic law by destroying ancient archaeological sites it says promoted apostasy.

Nimrud was the second capital of Assyria, an ancient kingdom that began in about 900 B.C., partially in present-day Iraq which became a great regional power. The city, which was destroyed in 612 B.C., is located on the Tigris River close to Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, which was captured by IS in June.

Speaking on this development, Suzanne Bott, the heritage conservation project director for Iraq and Afghanistan in the University of Arizona's College of Architecture, Planning and Archaeology, worked at Nimrud on and off for two years between 2008 and 2010 described the loss as devastating.

She described Nimrud as one of four main Assyrian capital cities that practiced medicine, astrology, agriculture, trade and commerce, and had some of the earliest writings.

According to her:

"It's really called the cradle of Western civilization, that's why this particular loss is so devastating, what was left on site was stunning in the information it was able to convey about ancient life. People have compared it to King Tut's tomb"

Also speaking on the development, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova appealed to people around the world particularly the youth to protect "the heritage of the whole of humanity."

She further denounced "this cultural chaos" and said she had alerted both U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

"The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime, I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity's cultural heritage."

The Islamic State extremists, who control a third of Iraq and Syria, have attacked other archaeological and religious sites, claiming that they promote apostasy.

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