The ancient Assyrian capital faced waves of invasions and abandonment. Now, a small team of Iraqi archaeologists is all that stands between this cultural treasure and an array of modern threats.


Commissioned by Smithsonian Magazine

info
The Ziggurat of Assur; a pyramid shaped platform that formed an integral part of the temple complex. It lies beside the town of Shirqat in the Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
The Ziggurat of Assur; a pyramid shaped platform that formed an integral part of the temple complex. It lies beside the town of Shirqat in the Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
info
Sunset over the remains of an old mosque that once lay between the site of ancient Assur and the Tigris river. ISIS held Assur for over two years. ×
Sunset over the remains of an old mosque that once lay between the site of ancient Assur and the Tigris river. ISIS held Assur for over two years. ×
info

A local resident in Shirqat prays during the month of ramadan on the banks of the Tigris river in Iraq.

×

A local resident in Shirqat prays during the month of ramadan on the banks of the Tigris river in Iraq.

×
info
Sunset at Tabira Gate, the entrance to Assur, first capital of the Assyrian empire in present day Shirqat, Iraq. ×
Sunset at Tabira Gate, the entrance to Assur, first capital of the Assyrian empire in present day Shirqat, Iraq. ×
info
Children stand on the surrounding wall at Tabira Gate, the entrance to Assur, first capital of the Assyrian empire in present day Shirqat, Iraq. ×
Children stand on the surrounding wall at Tabira Gate, the entrance to Assur, first capital of the Assyrian empire in present day Shirqat, Iraq. ×
info
The site for the new Makhoul dam project, a controversial project that will flood a number of villages and archaelogical sites, including the lower reaches of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
The site for the new Makhoul dam project, a controversial project that will flood a number of villages and archaelogical sites, including the lower reaches of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
info
Archaelogists, Professor Barham Shaker, Professor Majhoud Mohamed, inside what is believed to be an Ziggurat at the Assyrian city of Kar Tukulti-Ninurta. The site is three kilometres away from the ancient site of Assur, on the eastern banks of the Tigris. ×
Archaelogists, Professor Barham Shaker, Professor Majhoud Mohamed, inside what is believed to be an Ziggurat at the Assyrian city of Kar Tukulti-Ninurta. The site is three kilometres away from the ancient site of Assur, on the eastern banks of the Tigris. ×
info
Sunset over the pasture lands between the town of Shirqat and Ancient Assur in Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
Sunset over the pasture lands between the town of Shirqat and Ancient Assur in Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
info
Dr Salem, Director of the archaelogical site of Assur in Shirqat, Iraq, looks over the remains of an old mosque that once lay between the site of ancient Assur and the Tigris river. ISIS held Assur for over two years. ×
Dr Salem, Director of the archaelogical site of Assur in Shirqat, Iraq, looks over the remains of an old mosque that once lay between the site of ancient Assur and the Tigris river. ISIS held Assur for over two years. ×
info
Window and wall of the security forces base on the edge of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
Window and wall of the security forces base on the edge of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
info
Security forces exit an excavation tunnel bored into the side of the Ziggurat of Assur by a team of colonial archaelogists in the 19th Century, which now serves as an informal entrance to the Ziggurat. The Ziggurat is a pyramid shaped platform that formed an integral part of the temple complex. It lies beside the town of Shirqat in the Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
Security forces exit an excavation tunnel bored into the side of the Ziggurat of Assur by a team of colonial archaelogists in the 19th Century, which now serves as an informal entrance to the Ziggurat. The Ziggurat is a pyramid shaped platform that formed an integral part of the temple complex. It lies beside the town of Shirqat in the Salahaddine Governorate, Iraq. ×
info
A glasses seller looks out over the market stalls in Shirqat, Iraq. ×
A glasses seller looks out over the market stalls in Shirqat, Iraq. ×
info
A guard at the ancient Assyrian site of Assur sits on a collection of excavated stones. ×
A guard at the ancient Assyrian site of Assur sits on a collection of excavated stones. ×
info
The cornerstone for the new Makhoul dam project, a controversial project that will flood a number of villages and archaelogical sites, including the lower reaches of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
The cornerstone for the new Makhoul dam project, a controversial project that will flood a number of villages and archaelogical sites, including the lower reaches of the archaelogical site of Assur. ×
Using Format