Juan Aguilar Kons M.A.
"(Re)Building the Monuments on Tell Nebi Yunus, Mosul, Iraq: Using Digital Photogrammetry and Finite Element Analysis to Create a Virtual Research Environment and to Recover 2,700 years of an Iraqi Cultural Heritage Site in a Post-Conflict Zone"
Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Matthias Untermann
In an attempt to establish its own worldview, the so-called Islamic State (IS) blew up the centuries-old Nebi Yunus Mosque (NYM) in Mosul, Iraq on 24th July 2014. The place of worship was believed to contain the tomb of the Biblical Prophet Jonah/Yunus. After the demolition, the IS dug tunnels under the destroyed early-Christian-convent-turned-mosque to systematically loot the remains of a 7th century BC Assyrian palace which was buried underneath it. Within a few months, 2,700 years of Iraqi cultural heritage were severely damaged, irrevocably destroyed or presumably sold on the black market to finance the IS‘ military campaigns.
After the liberation of Mosul in 2017, digital-photogrammetric acquisition of 350 metres of the tunnel network was done. Georeferenced 3D models of the tunnels allow to draw a partial, yet centimetre-accurate floor plan of the palace. The 3D models also possibly reveal that the builders of the early-Christian convent knew of the palace underneath and may have taken advantage of the Late Assyrian building to serve as a stable foundation for the convent itself. Cracks, leaning walls and sloping floors of the palace were documented in 3D as well which are important indicators to know in what relationship the palace stood with the priorly built artificial foundation mount and the buildings built after the fall of the Assyrian capital in 612 BC: Can these structural failures be explained by differential settlement and/or by excess load caused by later superstructures like the convent or mosque? Is it then possible to 3D reconstruct the buildings of the past 2,700 years in the history of Tell Nebi Yunus and become an example for the succesful recovery of destroyed cultural heritage in a conflict zone?