NIMRUD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Iraqi archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple and two winged lions dating back nearly 3,000 years in the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq, archaeologists said.
Cuneiform writing on the two lions indicated they date back to the reign of the King Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled the Assyrian Empire during the 9th century B.C. The writing also indicated that the building was the temple of Ishtar, ancient Iraqi goddess of love and war.
"Iraqi excavators have discovered in the site between the Ziggurate of Nimrud and Ashurnasirpal II's Palace a building with two winged bulls or lions at its entrance gate," Khalil Ibrahim, head of Iraq's Antiquities Department told Reuters.
The upper parts of the two winged lions have been damaged, but still stand proudly at the building's entrance.
"The nearly 3000-year-old huge sculptures stand at an entrance gate of a building that opens onto a big hall and an inner gate that leads to a big open courtyard," the head of the Nimrud excavation team Muzahim Al-Zawba'iZawba'i said. He said the courtyard floor was covered by bricks, some of which had texts in cuneiform mentioning Ashurnasirpal II.
Nimrud, one of the four great cities of Assyria, is 23 miles to the southeast of Mosul on the east bank of the Tigris. It was from here that Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.), and his son Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.), who constructed the ziggurate and a neighboring temple, ruled a great empire.