The foundations of a prayer hall dating from the 12th century were discovered under the al-Nuri mosque, an emblematic building in the Iraqi metropolis of Mosul, in full restoration after being ravaged by the Islamic State (IS) group, a-t -we learned from site managers on Tuesday.
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Still being restored by Unesco, the mosque and its 12th century minaret - nicknamed "
" (Al-Hadba) by locals - were destroyed in June 2017. The Iraqi army accuses IS of planting explosives in these gems of the old city.
The excavations carried out in the basement of the mosque made it possible to discover the foundations of a Muslim prayer room dating from the 12th century, explained to AFP Khaïr Eddine Nasser, director of the department of Antiquities and Heritage of the governorate of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital.
“The foundations of the old prayer hall are more extensive than those of the prayer hall built in the 1940s”
Khaïr Eddine Nasser, director of the Department of Antiquities and Heritage of the governorate of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital
This discovery allows "
to better know the area of the al-Nouri mosque and this former prayer hall, but also the basins of ablutions, which increases the importance of this historical and archaeological site
", he said. .
The excavations, financed by the United Arab Emirates, are carried out by his department with the support of Unesco.
According to Khaïr Eddine Nasser, “
the foundations of the old prayer hall are more extensive than those of the prayer hall built in the 1940s
”, which is on the surface.
Excavations have also unearthed “
four rooms where ablutions took place, under the old prayer room.
They are interconnected and built of stone and plaster.
Each room is 3.5 m wide and three meters high.
They are about six meters underground and contain alabaster basins 60 cm deep
,” he said.
The al-Nuri Mosque takes its name from Noureddine al-Zinki, who ordered its construction in 1172. It was destroyed and rebuilt in 1942 as part of a renovation project.
Al-Hadba, which has retained its structure for nine centuries, was one of the only remnants of the original building.
It was here that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, then self-proclaimed leader of IS, made his only public appearance, announcing in the summer of 2014 the establishment of a “caliphate”.
For its initiative "Revive the spirit of Mosul", UNESCO raised more than one hundred million dollars in 2019, half of which was pledged by the United Arab Emirates.
Restoration work at the mosque is to be completed by the end of 2023.