The ruins of Nineveh are surrounded by the remains of a massive stone and mudbrick wall dating from about 700 BCE, about 12 km in length. There are about five (out of the total 15) gateways that have been explored to some extent by archaeologists. While the gates of Nineveh were rebuilt in the 20th century, they remain prized symbols of the ancient heritage of the residents of modern Mosul.
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Translated "Gate of the Watering Carriers", Mashki Gate from Persian (ماشکی دروازه), also spelled as Masqi Gate (بوابة مسقى) from Arabic, it was perhaps used to take livestock to water from the Tigris which currently flows about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) to the west. It has been reconstructed in fortified mudbrick to the height of the top of the vaulted passageway. It is one of the two gates, other being Adad Gate, destroyed by ISIL.
Named for the god Nergal, the Nergal Gate may have been used for some ceremonial purpose, as it is the only known gate flanked by stone sculptures of winged bull-men (lamassu). This gateway, facing the open country, was formed by a pair of majestic human-headed bulls (inspect), fourteen feet in length, and still entire, though cracked and injured by fire. The reconstruction is conjectural, as the gate was excavated by Layard in the mid-19th century and reconstructed in the mid-20th century. At the Nergal Gate, an inscription of Sennacherib was also found on two bull colossi and two paving stones, between 1987 and 1992, by Iraqi archaeologists.
Adad Gate was named for the god Adad (عداد). The Adad Gate contained many inscribed tiles, and what may prove to be the Sin Gate contained a corridor that led through an arched doorway into a ramp or stairwell giving access to the battlements. There was some attempt of reconstruction in the 1960s which left some of the original Assyrian construction exposed. Unfortunately around April 13, 2016, ISIL demolished both the gate and the adjacent wall by flattening them with a bulldozer.
Excavated in the 19th century the Shamash Gate was named for the Sun god Shamash, it opens to the road to Erbil. It was one of the most impressive structures, and has been thoroughly excavated by Tariq Madhloum on behalf of the Iraqi Department of Antiquities. It was found to have been approached across two moats and a watercourse by a series of bridges in which the arches were cut out of the natural conglomerate. The wall was faced with limestone and surmounted by a crenellated parapet, behind which ran a defense causeway. Its size and design suggest it was the most important gate in Neo-Assyrian times. The stone retaining wall and part of the mudbrick structure were reconstructed in the 1960s and has significantly deteriorated.
Exploratory excavations of the Halzi Gate were undertaken here by the University of California expedition of 1989–1990. There is an outward projection of the city wall, though not as pronounced as at the Shamash Gate. The entry passage had been narrowed with mudbrick to about 2 metres (7 ft) as at the Adad Gate. Human remains from the final battle of Nineveh were found in the passageway. The Halzi Gate is the southern most gate in the five-kilometer long eastern wall and it proved to be one of the largest of the city's fifteen gates. The walls, fifteen meters thick, are estimated to have risen to at least twenty meters in height on the eastern side, where they are situated inside a series of defensive ditches.
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