A woman works on the excavation at the ancient city of Nineveh in Mosul, Iraq. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

A woman works on the excavation at the ancient city of Nineveh in Mosul, Iraq. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

People once thought this area was mostly gardens and orchards. It turns out that it was packed with roads and buildings. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

People once thought this area was mostly gardens and orchards. It turns out that it was packed with roads and buildings. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

An Iraqi worker uses a pickax during the excavation mission in Nineveh. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

An Iraqi worker uses a pickax during the excavation mission in Nineveh. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

Workers found this panel with cuneiform script when excavating Nineveh. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

Workers found this panel with cuneiform script when excavating Nineveh. (Reuters/Abdullah Rashid)

This sculpture shows Assyrian King Ashurbanipal hunting lions. He ruled the Assyrian Empire from his capital at Nineveh in the seventh century B.C. (AP/Matt Dunham)

This sculpture shows Assyrian King Ashurbanipal hunting lions. He ruled the Assyrian Empire from his capital at Nineveh in the seventh century B.C. (AP/Matt Dunham)

Digging Up Nineveh

Posted: September 1, 2022

Gabriele Giacosa works the ground with a trowel. What’s he digging up? No big deal—it’s just the ancient city of Nineveh.

Yep, that Nineveh. The Nineveh where the prophet Jonah tried so hard not to go. The Nineveh where people repented of their wickedness and turned to God.

Yep. That biblical Nineveh still exists, in a city called Mosul, in the corner of present-day Iraq. You just have to dig to find it.

What once stood in Mr. Giacosa’s digging spot? For years, people thought it was gardens and orchards. But the evidence tells another story.

“This area was very tightly packed with buildings, connected by small roads, large roads, streets,” says Mr. Giacosa. “So this part of Nineveh was very heavily occupied by structures like houses and workshops.”

And the area needs protection. Wars over the last two decades have damaged some of the ancient structures. People want to fix the damage. They also want to make sure no more occurs. In order for that to happen, locals must understand that Nineveh’s ruins can bring in money. People will come from around the world to see them. Residents of Mosul will benefit from their business.

Local authorities plan to build a green area next to the site to attract tourists. They hope visitors will agree that the site should be preserved. A tourist center will go up in the middle. Archaeology professor Nicolò Marchetti says it won’t be made of concrete. “It will be a traditional mud brick building.” That choice is “respectful of the environment, of the archaeological area,” he says. “Tourists can find rest, information.”

Would you travel around the world to get a glimpse of this bygone city?

Why? We don’t need to dig up evidence before we can believe God is telling us the truth. But we can look at archaeology for His fingerprints.