On July 24, 2014, ISIS destroyed and looted the Mosque of Nabi Yunus, or the Tomb of Jonah, as part of their campaign to remove all religious sanctuaries associated with false idols or foreign influence. However, their plan kind of backfired.
After the liberation of East Mosul in January 2017, people returning to the reclaimed area found that ISIS-backed looters had forged out four tunnels beneath the temple. An archeological survey of the area showed that the looters' work had actually helped bring to light a bunch of inscriptions about a Neo-Assyrian King, ancient carvings, and many other 2,700-year-old archeological treasures.
Above ground, the ruined temple contained what Muslims and Christians believe to be the tomb of Yunus, also known as Jonah, the prophet from the Old Testament most famous for being swallowed by a whale. Yunus is also an important prophet in the Quran; however, in the ultra-fundamentalist view of ISIS, the worship of Yunus is seen as idolatry.
Deep in the looters’ tunnel, researchers discovered long stretches of decorations and inscriptions built during the reign of Esarhaddon, a king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire who ruled from 681 to 669 BCE. Judging by the inscriptions, he was once a powerful ruler (or at least he liked to think so).
One of the inscriptions in the tunnel reads: “The palace of Esarhaddon, great king, mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria, son of Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, descendant of Sargon (II), king of the world, king of Assyria.”
Another reads: “The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of (lower) Egypt, upper Egypt [and Kush].”
They also discovered a number of jars, limestone slabs, and wall carvings. One set of this wall shows numerous women, while another shows a carving of a giant human-headed winged bull, a mythological figure known as a lamassu.
ISIS are believed to have looted and sold off many of the other artifacts. Nevertheless, much of this incredible piece of history remains relatively unscathed.
[H/T: Live Science]