Accessibility links

Iraq's Ancient City Of Nimrud Retaken From Militants, But Little Remains

Iraqi forces won back control of the ancient city of Nimrud from Islamic State militants on November 13. During more than two years in control of the site, the militants destroyed countless artifacts, some dating back as far as 3,000 years to the Assyrian Empire.


A soldier looks at ruins left by Islamic State militants in Nimrud shortly after Iraqi forces retook the ancient city on November 13. Nimrud is some 30 kilometers south of Mosul, which remains partly under militant control. 
1

A soldier looks at ruins left by Islamic State militants in Nimrud shortly after Iraqi forces retook the ancient city on November 13. Nimrud is some 30 kilometers south of Mosul, which remains partly under militant control. 

An engraving from 1853 shows the artist's imagining of the palaces of Nimrud as they would have appeared under the Persian Empire. 
2

An engraving from 1853 shows the artist's imagining of the palaces of Nimrud as they would have appeared under the Persian Empire. 

Photographs from the 1910s show Nimrud as remote and sparsely populated.
3

Photographs from the 1910s show Nimrud as remote and sparsely populated.

An archaeological excavation site in Nimrud in the 1950s 
4

An archaeological excavation site in Nimrud in the 1950s 

An excavation of the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, an Assyrian king of the 9th century BC.
5

An excavation of the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, an Assyrian king of the 9th century BC.

Iraqi workers excavate an archaeological site in 2001. 
6

Iraqi workers excavate an archaeological site in 2001. 

Workers clean a partially preserved statue in 2001.
7

Workers clean a partially preserved statue in 2001.

A member of the U.S. Air Force documents sculptures on the entrance to an ancient palace in November 2008.
8

A member of the U.S. Air Force documents sculptures on the entrance to an ancient palace in November 2008.

One of the historic sites of Nimrud with an Assyrian ziggurat, or temple, in the background
9

One of the historic sites of Nimrud with an Assyrian ziggurat, or temple, in the background

Well-preserved walls of the ancient city
10

Well-preserved walls of the ancient city

A sculpture of a winged bull with a human head is seen in March 2012
11

A sculpture of a winged bull with a human head is seen in March 2012

Guardians at a palace portal
12

Guardians at a palace portal

Islamic State militants took Nimrud in June 2014, shortly after they overran Mosul. This video from April 2015 shows extremists smashing statues and frescoes with sledgehammers.
13

Islamic State militants took Nimrud in June 2014, shortly after they overran Mosul. This video from April 2015 shows extremists smashing statues and frescoes with sledgehammers.

A still from video posted on social media purports to show militants' destruction of parts of Nimrud. 
14

A still from video posted on social media purports to show militants' destruction of parts of Nimrud. 

A screen grab of an explosion, identified as taking place in Nimrud
15

A screen grab of an explosion, identified as taking place in Nimrud

Iraqi soldiers retook the city on November 13 to find widespread destruction. There were reports that the militants used heavy machinery to bulldoze the historic sites. 
16

Iraqi soldiers retook the city on November 13 to find widespread destruction. There were reports that the militants used heavy machinery to bulldoze the historic sites. 

A shattered fresco
17

A shattered fresco

Fragments of a tablet written in cuneiform, the writing system used by the Sumerians, Assyrians, and other ancient civilizations  
18

Fragments of a tablet written in cuneiform, the writing system used by the Sumerians, Assyrians, and other ancient civilizations
 

19
Soldiers walk through the ancient ruins.
20

Soldiers walk through the ancient ruins.

21
An Iraqi soldier stands on the ruins of an archaeological site
22

An Iraqi soldier stands on the ruins of an archaeological site

XS
SM
MD
LG