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Palace of Biblical 'King of the World' discovered in Mosul by looters

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
2/26/2018 (6 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Palace of King Esarhaddon found under tomb of the prophet Jonah.

Looters from the Islamic State managed to discover the palace of an ancient Assyrian king under the tomb of Jonah in Mosul, Iraq. Archaeologists surveying the damage have discovered tablets which will help them to better understand the life of King Esarhaddon of the Assyrian empire, once known as the 'King of the World.'

The tomb of the prophet Jonah was partially destroyed by ISIS in 2014.

The tomb of the prophet Jonah was partially destroyed by ISIS in 2014.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
2/26/2018 (6 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Jonah, King Esarhaddon, palace, Assyrian


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - In their bid to stop all forms of idolatry, the Islamic State terrorists attempted to destroy the ancient tomb of the prophet Jonah with high explosives. They were partly successful, and the video they produced from the event sent shockwaves through the world community of archaeologists and ancient scholars. 

After blowing up the tomb, the terrorists began searching for artifacts and treasure which could be used to help finance their new-formed state. The looters dug four tunnels under the site of the tomb and discovered the long-lost palace of King Esarhaddon of the Assyrian Empire. It is likely they looted a large number of artifacts. 

 
Following the recapture of the site by the Iraqi Army in January 2017, archaeologists were brought in to survey the damage to the tomb of the prophet Jonah. At that time, they also discovered the ISIS tunnels and the palace beneath. 

So far, archaeologists have only performed a brief survey of the palace of King Esarhaddon but they have already discovered seven tablets which describe the events of his reign. The tablets are remarkable because little is known about King Esarhaddon, beyond what is mentioned in the Bible and a few other histories. Archaeologists think the palace contains a wealth of discoveries waiting to be uncovered.  King Esarhaddon was dubbed 'King of the World' in his day and his empire spanned all of the Fertile Crescent to Egypt. 

An Iraqi soldier stands next to a sculpture depicting Assyrian goddesses in King Esarhaddon

An Iraqi soldier stands next to a sculpture depicting Assyrian goddesses in King Esarhaddon's palace.


The Assyrian civilization flourished for about two thousand years, between 2500 B.C. and 600 B.C. and has been widely studied. They were known for their exceptional savagery in battle and in rule, often using terror to keep their subjects obedient and to deter rebellion. 

Assyrian kings often inscribed stories on the walls of their palaces and dining halls detailing their cruelty with pride. Inscriptions often boast of mass beheadings, impalements, the flaying of nobles, the draping of human skins over city walls, towers of human heads, and even the burnings of adolescent children. Enslavement and mass deportation of entire cities was also common. 

Such savagery usually kept order, but rebellions occasionally happened, especially on the fringes of the empire. And following Biblical prophecy, the empire was eventually destroyed by an alliance formed by Assyria's neighbors, the Medes, and Chaldeans. Shortly afterward, the former Assyrian empire became part of the Persian empire.

Cuneiform tablets like this one, discovered in the palace may contain new details about King Esarhaddon

Cuneiform tablets like this one, discovered in the palace may contain new details about King Esarhaddon's life.


The Assyrians did several things that historians appreciate. First, they built libraries of clay tablets, collecting every written work they could find. By doing this, they preserved a wealth of ancient knowledge. Second, they developed the sophisticated administrative framework for how to govern an empire. That framework also included urban planning, roads and aqueducts. Third, they were pioneers of military might, organizing their armies by ranks and units. All of these contributions remain in common use in the world today. 

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