Destruction turned into knowledge: Iraqi Archeologists unveil the remains of the 12th century Al Nouri Prayer Hall

In Mosul, the excavations conducted under the Al-Nouri Prayer Hall have revealed the remains of the 12-century mosque. A total of four rooms built of stone and plaster were exhumed

Within the UAE-funded project “Reviving the Spirit of Mosul by rebuilding its monumental landmarks”, and in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Sunni Waqf, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) discovered the foundations, floor, and basement of the building, dating back to the 12th century.  The discovery includes four rooms where archeologists think the ablutions took place.

Archaeological excavations started on August 2021 by a team of 40 archaeologists and workers from the State Boards of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq.

According to Khaireddine Nasser, director of the Department of Antiquities and Heritage in Nineveh the discovery allows for “better knowledge of the surface of Al-Nuri mosque and this ancient prayer room, but also the ablution basins” found there. “Each ablution room measures three meters (almost 10 feet) in height and 3.5 meters in width”, Nasser said. “They are about six meters underground,” he added. He said the discovery “amplifies the importance of this historical and archaeological site”. “The foundations of the old prayer hall are more extensive than those of the prayer hall built in the 1940s”, he added.

The Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), stated that it will work with UNESCO to protect, restore and integrate into the reconstruction process this very important discovery in order for visitors to learn about all the phases that the Al-Nouri Mosque went through for more than 800 years.

Archaeological excavations in this area of the Al Nouri Complex were possible due to the unfortunate destruction of the Prayer Hall in 2017. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage discovery is a strong example of how violent destruction can be turned into an opportunity for knowledge and development.

UNESCO is fostering reconciliation and social cohesion in Mosul through the restoration and reconstruction of emblematic historical sites as part of UNESCO’s international initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”.

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