Ancient limestone statues discovered in Duhok

Excavation operations are planned across Duhok as soon as the winter season ends. [Faleh Kheiber / Reuters]

Excavation operations are planned across Duhok as soon as the winter season ends. [Faleh Kheiber / Reuters]

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The Duhok Antiquities Directorate announced last week the discovery of two statues believed to be from the second or third century B.C.

The two statues were found in the Shaikhan district in an area named Koma during an excavation by specialized technical committees from the antiquities directorate.

Dr. Hassan Qassim, director general of antiquities in Duhok province, said the two items belong to the period during which Alexander the Great passed through modern-day Iraq on his way to fight the Persian army at the Battle of Gaugamela.

"The two statues represent the mixture of Western art with that of the East, which had started to appear with the rise of Alexander the Great and led to a series of outcomes, one of which was the reign of Alexander the Great from the Middle East extending to Afghanistan," Qassim told Mawtani.

One statue portrays a young man wearing a square hat, sculpted realistically from limestone, and is 80 centimeters tall and 30 cm wide. The second statue depicts a lion, 102 cm tall and 32 cm wide.

Qassim said their inscriptions classified the statues as art from the Hellenistic period.

The museum in Duhok province will keep the two pieces.

Mulla Awat, director general of the antiquities office in the Kurdish region, said local governments in the region are continuing to develop the field of excavating antiquities and to raise citizen awareness of the importance of protecting them.

"The region is full of important antiquities that represent the depth of the region's civilization and history. The world must get to know these antiquities and the history of the area," he said.

In February, special excavation teams were formed in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah provinces. The teams include technicians, field experts, laborers and specialists in archeology and geology.

The local government also signed agreements with a number of international and Iraqi universities and institutes, such as the University of Lyon in France and Italian, Dutch and German universities, to help with the excavation work.

According to the Duhok Antiquities Directorate, there are 700 recognized archeological sites in the Kurdish region, in addition to other sites where excavations are taking place.

The regional government is also planning to start excavation operations in the Akri, Gerwana and Simil areas of Duhok province after the winter season ends and the moisture level in the ground decreases.

Abdul Raqeeb Yusuf, former antiquities and heritage adviser to the regional government, told Mawtani that in previous years, "Iraq witnessed negligence and disinterest in the excavation for antiquities despite the presence of many archeological sites."

"It is imperative to show interest in these antiquities because they record the country's history and civilization," he said.

Samira Mawlood, an archeology student at Duhok University, said, "We notice there are many archeological sites where excavation is currently happening. This activity means there is interest in archeology, which is evidence of the cultural opening taking place in Iraq."

"This is a very important step to promote the history of the area, to inform the world about it, and these discoveries will help to attract tourists to the country," she said.