By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Prized Lion of Babylon joins list of crumbling Iraqi antiquities
The statue of the Lion of Babylon stands in the ancient city of Babylon, south of Baghdad, founded in 1880 B.C.
The statue was uncovered in 1876 by a German archaeological mission. Some initially suggested that the statue, more than 4,000 years old, was built by the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.), though others now believe it was a Hittite creation.
Its features have become misshapen, the black basalt is badly eroded by harsh climate conditions such as moisture, temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius, wind and strong sunlight. The statue, depicting a lion trampling a man, has also been badly damaged by people. There are many photos of tourists climbing on the lion’s back and groups of visitors standing on the statue.
Ahmad Hassan, a high school student, told Al-Monitor, “It is not unusual to see visitors climbing on the statue," adding that many of his schoolmates have taken pictures of themselves on the lion's back.
Hassan said, “They do not mean to harm the Lion of Babylon. They take pride in taking photos on the back of the lion. The way they express this pride is primitive and shows their lack of awareness of proper behavior around archaeological monuments. This is the result of a misguided culture that does not deal appropriately with archaeological treasures.”
On closer look at the two-meter (6.5-feet) statue, one can see holes and cracks in its structure. The damage is obvious, and the lion's ability to withstand its harsh environment is being tested.