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Assyrian history destroyed

Many events are taking place every day and many events make me – and many of you – upset. But what made me extremely angry today was this ISIS video:

The video that was embedded here violated YouTube's rules although I don't know what the exact rule is. Ask those who saw it on Thursday...
To skip the babbling by the apparatchik-bigot and to get to the drastic "action", jump to 2:40.

The animals have penetrated into Mosul, Northern Iraq, and they chose the local Nineveh Museum as their target. The museum contains lots of priceless (or at least multi-billion) statues from the neo-Assyrian empire. Well, it did contain it – up to yesterday.

When the neo-Assyrian empire existed between 900 before Christ and 600 before Christ or so, it was the most powerful state in the world. The word "Assyria" is clearly related to "Syria" – in certain languages, they are the same words.

But you shouldn't get confused about the ethnicity. When we talk about "Syrians" today, we mean Arabs. Syrian Arab Republic is one of the 22 countries of the Arab world. On the other hand, the Assyrians who used to control the territory are speaking a dialect of the Aramaic, the same language that was probably preferred by Jesus Christ. It's related to other Northwest Semitic languages, Canaanite (Hebrew+Phoenician) and two extinct ones (Amorite, Ugaritic).

The Assyrians were also the first ones who began to expel the Jews from their homeland – centuries before the Roman Empire got there and a millennium before Prophet Mohammed was born.

At any rate, the statues have existed for something between 3,000 and 2,500 years. Lots of rulers, regimes, empires, bureaucrats, and traders have nurtured them for almost 3 millennia.

Now, on February 26th, 2015 after Christ, a bunch of horny, worthless thugs with sledgehammers and power drills gets to the museum and nothing is left.

The destroyed statues include the Lamassu, too. It's the protective deity of the Assyrians that boasts wings, a bull's body (sometimes replaced by a lion), and a male human head. Assyrians' abilities in genetic engineering were pretty good. (Now, 3,000 years later, Britain is allowing kids created out of DNA of 3 parents again.)

There exist various copies of the Lamassu across the world – in the Louvre, the British Museum, and elsewhere – but the Lamassu of Mosul was the ultimate original one, about 2,900 years old. I hope that someone has at least a good copy or sufficiently accurate pictures that allow the statue to be reconstructed. Someone should definitely do these things – create many copies of all thee destroyed statues.

I feel terrible that we – your humble correspondent, you, and others – just couldn't prevent this event from occurring. In some future textbooks, it may be mentioned that the Assyrian antiquities have existed up to February 2015 when they were simply destroyed by some horny animals.

The thugs' explanation why they "had to" destroy the Assyrian antiquities was that the statues represented "idolatry". Even if this were the case, how could it be a justification for this unlimited barbarism? No previous ruler – and that includes rulers who have considered themselves Muslims – has done anything similar to the sculptures.

And how does this "idolatry" differ from the ISIS thugs' and others' worshipping of the piggy 7th century pedophile who "ordered them" to perform this bestial act in the museum?

The value of the statues exceeds the market value of all the ISIS member combined (which is basically just a pile of pork) by so many orders of magnitude that a single destroyed statue in the museum is a sufficient justification for the execution of every member and sympathizer of the ISIS in the whole world. If we fail to eradicate this scum, our culture may soon follow the Assyrian example.

It's not just the statues. The ISIS focused on the Assyrian people as well. Hundreds of kidnapped Assyrian Christians are probably going to be murdered soon – or it has already taken place.

Death to the radical Islam. Death to the mindless worshiping of Allah, Mohammed, and similar virtual scum.

Off-topic but political: CNN is on a roll. Just weeks after describing the Ukrainian army as pro-U.S. troops and days after placing the Russian flag over Ukraine, they identified the Jihadi John as... Vladimir Putin! ;-) This must be some new strategy of CNN to increase their visibility – it can't be possible that these blunders are due to the low quality of the work by the people responsible for the captions and editing.

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reader Luboš Motl said...

Great but those early Christians who may have behaved like animals have already been removed from the face of the Earth, so the same thing should be done with the Muslims who behave like animals.

reader Coldish said...

Lubos, I share your horror at this wanton destruction. There have been other attempts to destroy a culture which differed from that of the destroyer. I'm thinking in particular of the British bombing campaign aginst German cities in 1945, ordered by Churchill and carried out by Harris, with little or no military or strategic purpose. The war was militarily almost over and the prime aim was to smash German culture so that it would never recover. Churchill and his people really hated Germany and everything about it in much the same way that these ISIS crazies hate the idolatry of other cultures than their own.
The recent 'Germany' exhibition at the British Museum was a step in the direction of tolerance and understanding. But intolerance is sadly never far below the surface. It's in our genes or DNA or whatever the buzzword is.

reader Shannon said...

This is horrible and so sad to see these wonders destroyed. What I still don't understand is that the UK and the US are still arming Daesh... It looks like France has stopped arming them but we can still see Famas guns (French machine guns) among them. Why, why, why does the West keep helping these thugs ?
Will Putin be our only savior ?

reader lukelea said...

Would like to see some documentation on that. thanks

reader lukelea said...

I notice that in Saudi Arabia they even destroy early Islamic sites:

To these fundamentalists it seems nothing is sacred.

reader lukelea said...

It's almost as if Muhammad, a warlord and looter, hijacked God. Unfortunately you cannot ask -- or, rather expect -- people to give up the idea of God, no matter how they came by it. I have a suggestion though, for Muslims who would like to escape this horrible cult. They should revert to the idea of God existed in Arabia even before Mohammad, a monotheistic belief which, if I am not mistaken, not even Mohammad condemned. It was called hanifya and is usually translated as "the original, pure religion of Abraham." As to what that was, historically, I touch on it in passing in an essay I once wrote on the subject of the Torah and the West Bank:

Understanding, not belief, is what is what we need more of today.

reader Werdna said...

"No previous ruler – and that includes rulers who have considered
themselves Muslims – has done anything similar to the sculptures."

Perhaps it's because ISIS are not just Muslims, but radical Communitarians as well.


"Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.

Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments
for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law."

Chilling stuff.

reader scooby said...

reader Ann said...

It sickens me, Lubos. These treasures are lost forever now. Remember when the Taliban blew up the giant Buddha statue some years ago? Whatever stupidity CNN has reported does not surprise me, they are about on par with the National Inquirer at this point in tms of content and analysis.

reader Werdna said...

Yup, the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

reader dave1964b said...

This is definitely a tragedy. But I though they were the "javee team".

reader dave1964b said...

What relevance is that? It is like Obama discussing the crusades and advising getting off the high horse. All that is interesting in an academic discussion but ISIS exists in the real world here and now. So your point is irrelevant.

reader dave1964b said...

There were allied bombings of Germany in 1945.

reader dave1964b said...

Generally I am not a fan of open ended aerial bombardment, but WW2 Germany is not worthy of much defense. They got what they asked for.

reader Ann said...

An archeologist told me that a conscious practice in modern archeology is to leave portions of sites intentionally un-excavated, so that future archeologists with even more refined instruments of handling such artifacts will be able to apply new techniques to the sites, in the hopes of learning new things not possible currently. It's a humble and wise attitude, other end of the spectrum from these evil ISIS/Taliban pigs who prefer total annihilation of everything not dreamt of in their tiny, crippled philosophy.

reader lukelea said...

Thanks, but based on the article it is not at all clear that the bombing was not a legitimate part of the war effort.

reader dave1964b said...

Well I would tend to agree with you.

reader Gene Day said...

The bombings of German cities was politically necessary just as was our destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman really had no choice and neither did Churchill. German culture had little to do with it. Saving as many British lives as possible had a lot to do with it.

reader Gene Day said...

I may be the only respondent here who actually remembers the war and the public attitude at the time. If the British had possessed thermonuclear weapons they would have used them on Germany and vice-versa.

reader Gene Day said...

Legitimate? That’s not a word that would have been used during WWII by either side.

reader lcs1956 said...

The photo of the Lamassu you show is the original at the University of Chicago Oriental Institute, excavated at Khorsabad from the courtyard of the palace of the Assyrian King Sargon II in 1929. ISIS destroyed another similar winged-bull statue, but it was not 'the Lamassu'.

reader Mr_Speck said...

ISIS could have done a better deal if they had asked for ransom and handed over the matrerial rather than destroy it.

At least they could have scored an additional point by the western world being itself indifferent to the historic heritage of ancient civilisations.

reader Gordon said...

Do you really believe that, Gene? Japan was ready to surrender. A demonstration would have served. Have you read Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and "Dark Sun"?
Also, the fire-bombing of Dresden and Hamburg were horrible. All those people did not deserve to die.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Coldish, have you ever read Churchill's 1937 letter "Friendship with Germany"?

It paints a different picture than you suggest, and so does Churchill and the Germans here

I doubt that the bombing was ever unnecessary. But even if it were focusing on destroying the culture, the culture going back 1,000 years... was an integral part of the German expansionism that was torturing almost the whole continent up to "very recently" at that time. It would make sense to undermine this source of excessive self-confidence.

You can't compare it with the destruction of cultures that have been gone for thousands of years.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gordon, the fire Holocaust in Dresden was terrible, like the instant death in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But I tend to think that wars don't end when the battles still look "more or less" balanced. Wars end when some overwhelming strength of one side is shown.

Germany had to be shown its clear military inferiority which could match its superiority from the beginning of the war, and the Japanese - with their more fanatical desire to sacrifice their last life - had to be shown more than that.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Being a Muslim and a radical community organizer at the same moment may be a deadly combo. ;-)

reader br said...

Hmm, video removed as it has apparently 'violated YouTube's terms of service'. I wonder what that is really about.

reader BMWA1 said...

Time to launch Operation Lamusu!

reader Dilaton said...

Such retarded braindead barbarians have no right of existance in today s world.

Their destructive behavior is not acceptable by any standard.

reader Kiril said...

I missed this from the news. Thanks for reporting. They destroyed thousands of years old artifacts for building a new monument to human stupidity.

reader br said...

And here's 'justification' for it:

reader TomVonk said...

I had exactly the same reaction.
Those art pieces have survived 3 000 years and God knows that during the period there were all kinds of crazy, bloodthirsty and otherwise radical leaders, Conquerors, Kings and emperors.
Yet none of them was crazy enough to destroy this art.
After something like 1000 generation, we have now one that did it.
How can one call these things ? Even not animals - animals wouldn't do that.
Perhaps virus is the fitting name.
And I also agree that these things should be totally eradicated from the face of the Earth untill the last one.
Like in the Game of Thrones - set up a cross every 10 meters from Mossul to Alep and hang one of those things on every cross untill the birds, sun and Wind do their work.

reader Mikel Mariñelarena said...


I think that you've been a bit too generous with Islam in this post. As the screaming bearded pig explains at the beginning of the video (in the translation from Arabic that appeared in the media), they're just doing what their god commanded through their Prophet the Pederast. So they've been at it for some 13 centuries now. In fact, some of the figures that they hammer down show clear evidence of previous mutilations.

reader papertiger0 said...


Did you see Monuments Men?

It shows Hitler stealing priceless works of art an historic artifacts and wearhousing them in abandoned mine shafts and the like.
Not clear what would have happened with these treasures if the Germans had won the war, but one thing is certain a good portion of the artifacts were preserved in this way from bombing.
Especially the Royal House of whatever in Dresden. The crowns and jeweled dirks, the ornamental suits of armor. Swords with rubies and golden hilts. I guess it was customary for each King and Queen to have their own jewelry worked up, because they had 25 or 30 different sets of armor spanning hundreds of years.
Alot of that stuff, if not all was saved.
I saw these treasures with my own eyes in a traveling display on loan to a San Francisco museum.