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Winged Bull of Nineveh

The huge 2,700 year old sculpture that guarded the gates of one of the most fabled cities in antiquity

The Museum of Lost Objects traces the histories of 10 antiquities or cultural sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria.

With hundreds of thousands of lives lost, millions of people displaced and some of the world’s most significant heritage sites destroyed, the wars in Iraq and Syria have had an enormous cost. While the historical artefacts that have been bombed, defaced and plundered can never be restored, they are very well remembered. Through local histories, legends and personal stories, the Museum of Lost Objects recreates these lost treasures and explores their significance across generations and cultures, from creation to destruction.

The winged bull was a huge 2,700-year-old sculpture that stood guard at the gates of one of the most fabled cities in antiquity – Nineveh, modern-day Mosul, northern Iraq. Militants from the Islamic State group defaced the winged bull in February 2015, almost a year after seizing control of the city. We tell the story of the bull and the role of Nineveh in the origins of Iraqi archaeology.

This episode was first broadcast on 29 February, 2016

Presenter: Kanishk Tharoor
Producer: Maryam Maruf

Picture: Winged Bull of Nineveh, drawn by Eugène Flandin
Credit: The New York Public Library

Contributors: Mazin Safar, son of Iraqi archaeologist Fuad Safar; Mark Altaweel, Institute of Archaeology, UCL; and Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani, SOAS

With thanks to Nigel Tallis and Sarah Collins of the British Museum, and Augusta McMahon of the University of Cambridge.

Available now

13 minutes

Last on

Mon 29 Jun 2020 14:45


  • Mon 29 Feb 2016 12:04
  • Mon 29 Jun 2020 14:45

An act of cultural vandalism...

An act of cultural vandalism...

Kanishk Tharoor and Maryam Maruf tell the first of 10 stories about lost antiquities..

Museum of Lost Objects ‒ The Podcast

Museum of Lost Objects ‒ The Podcast

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About presenter Kanishk Tharoor...

About presenter Kanishk Tharoor...

Revealing the treasures of the Museum of Lost Objects