Basrah, Iraq – A remarkable act of cultural diplomacy unfolded in Basrah, Iraq, as Italy presented a reconstructed Assyrian statue, the Bull of Nimrud, to the Iraqi people. The 5-meter-tall statue, originally constructed in the ninth century BC, was tragically destroyed by ISIS fighters in 2015. However, through the dedication of Italian artisans and the power of 3D printing technology, a replica of the monument has been meticulously crafted and returned to its rightful place.
The replica, which was previously displayed at prestigious locations such as the Colosseum in Rome and the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, now stands proudly outside the entrance to the Basrah Museum. This gesture signifies Italy’s unwavering commitment to preserving cultural heritage, recognizing it as the soul of a nation and an embodiment of its history.
Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s Minister of Culture, emphasized the importance of international collaboration in safeguarding cultural heritage. He pledged Italy’s continued efforts to advance cooperation and protect humanity’s shared heritage.
The Bull of Nimrud, once a symbol of the ancient Assyrian civilization in Nimrud, near modern-day Mosul, faced destruction at the hands of ISIS in 2015. The archaeological site was stormed, and precious artifacts were ruthlessly destroyed. However, the determination to restore and preserve this significant piece of history prevailed.
A team of dedicated restorers, led by Nicola Salvioli, meticulously studied photos and videos of the monument, enabling them to create a polystyrene model. Advanced 3D printing technology was then employed to produce a fiberglass copy, which was further enhanced with plastic substances and stone dust for an authentic appearance. The project was generously funded by the Associazione Incontro di Civiltà.
The replica’s journey included a prominent exhibition at the Colosseum in 2016, titled “Rinascere dalle distruzioni. Ebla, Nimrud, Palmira,” alongside other reconstructed artifacts. It subsequently graced the entrance of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, symbolizing the organization’s commitment to preserving history and transmitting its values to future generations.
In June, Italy made another significant restitution to Iraq, presenting a tablet engraved with cuneiform text and the insignia of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III to Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid. The circumstances surrounding the tablet’s arrival in Italy remain unclear.
The return of the Bull of Nimrud to Iraq marks a triumphant chapter in the preservation of cultural heritage and a testament to the power of collaboration and diplomacy. It stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the importance of protecting our shared history and cultural treasures.