Archaeologists have claimed the discovery of a 2,600 year-old palace beneath a shrine destroyed by Islamic State militants.
The experts say that there is an additional network of chambers beneath the ruins of the Mosque of the Prophet Jonah (AS). The shrine was believed by Muslims and Christians to contain the tomb of Prophet Yunas (AS) in the east of Mosul.
Extremists blew up the shrine in 2014 after digging tunnels all the way down to the palace.
It is reportedly the first evidence of the Islamic State digging tunnels in their efforts to plunder ancient artefacts.
The tunnels seem to be housing a marble cuneiform inscription of King Esarhaddon, which is believed to date back to the Assyrian empire in 627BC.
Only a few of the cuneiforms from the said period have been discovered by archaeologists of the modern age.
“The objects don’t match descriptions of what we thought was down there, so [the destruction of Isis] has actually led us to a fantastic find,” said Professor Eleanor Robson, chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, speaking to The Telegraph.
“There’s a huge amount of history down there, not just ornamental stones. It is an opportunity to finally map the treasure-house of the world’s first great empire, from the period of its greatest success,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Layla Salih, a former museum curator in Mosul who discovered the King Esarhaddon inscription, believes IS plundered hundreds of objects before Iraqi forces recaptured the area.
“I can only imagine how much Daesh discovered down there,” Salih added.
Meanwhile, the tunnels may soon collapse because of the militant group’s haphazard digging techniques.
This article originally appeared on Independent