Originally published in The Gospel Herald.
While ISIS attempted to eliminate any trace of Iraq’s history from the Middle East, one Christian teenage boy from the country is fighting back, replicating ancient artworks and sculptures destroyed by the militants.
According to CNN, Nenous Thabit, 17, an Assyrian Christian from the Kurdish city of Erbil, has been worked tirelessly to recreate the sculptures smashed to pieces by the terrorist group. The teen, who takes great pride in his heritage, considered sculpting nothing more than a hobby a few years ago.
However, after watching propaganda videos showing ISIS militants using sledgehammers and electric drills to obliterate centuries-old archaeological gems, he decided to fight back using his talent.
“They waged a war on art and culture, so I decided to fight them with art,” he told the outlet.
He added, “In Iraq, there are people who are killed because they are sculptors; because they are artists. ISIS views them as apostate. So continuing to sculpt is a message that we will not be intimidated by those devils.”
As earlier reported, in 2015, a year after ISIS began its assault on Mosul and nearby towns, the militants destroyed the ancient city of Nimrud, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to leveling the city, the terrorist group looted priceless items dating back 13 centuries BC, including statues and other historic objects.
While the jihadist group justified the destruction by claiming the religious statues, manuscripts and relics are “idolatrous,” experts believe the militants trafficked the items to fund their military and destroy only those pieces that are too large to be smuggled.
So far, Thabit has sculpted 18 Assyrian statues and one mural, including recreations of the pillars where the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest surviving codes of law in recorded history, was written. He also likes sculpting statues of Lamassu, an Assyrian deity.
“Lamassu is my favourite statue,” Thabit explained. “It is the strongest creature in the Assyrian heritage. It has the head of a human, the body of a lion, the legs of an ox and the wings of a vulture.”
Next year, he is planning to attend an art school in the Kurdish city of Dohuk.
“My dream is to become a prominent artist in Iraq to make my country proud and show the world that we in Iraq love life and cherish our heritage,” he shared.
According to the Independent, Nimrud is one of the most precious ancient Mesopotamian ruins in existence, and the site was finally secured by the Iraqi army after weeks of fighting earlier this week.