Damien F. Mackey
Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Medes in c. 612 BC, and not re-discovered until the C19th AD – “Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible, hidden beneath unexplored mounds” – strangely figures in the biography of the Prophet Mohammed of, allegedly, the C7th AD.
The true story of the ancient city of Nineveh goes something like, as according to this article (http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/june-2011/article/saving-ancient-nineveh):
Saving Ancient Nineveh
By Dan McLerran Mon, Aug 22, 2011
For a time, about 2,700 years ago, the ancient city of Nineveh ruled the Middle East. Today, it is among the world’s most endangered archaeological sites, in need of an urgent rescue plan.
After 2,700 years, the walls and gates of ancient Nineveh can still be seen near the banks of the Tigris river just opposite the modern city of Mosul in Iraq. In ancient times, it was the capital of the great Assyrian empire, a city of more than 100,000 people, and it was a subject of a supreme being’s attention throughout the books of the Old and New Testaments in the biblical account. “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Ammittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” The prophet Jonah’s efforts there were rewarded. Nineveh, at least for a time, was saved from destruction. But the city of Nineveh today will require a different kind of saving. There are comparatively few people living there now. It features mostly ruins. Even the ruins, however, will disappear unless, according to the Global Heritage Network’s early warning system, urgent steps are taken to arrest the elements that endanger it and to restore and protect what is left.
Not an easy thing to do these days in a war-torn country. War has distracted and preoccupied the energies of a people who otherwise could be identifying and procuring the necessary resources needed to save and protect the city.
But long before war, it has been plagued by looting and vandalism. Artifacts have appeared on international markets for sale, reliefs have been marred by vandalism, and chamber floors have seen holes dug into them by looters hoping to find anything that will yield cash for their needs. The expanding suburbs of adjacent Mosul, too, threaten it with encroachment, with sewer and water lines having already been dug and new settlements already established within the area once occupied by the ancient city.
Even without looting, vandalism and suburban encroachment, however, Nineveh will crumble and succumb to the natural elements. Reports the Global Heritage Fund (GHF)*, a non-profit organization that specializes in saving and restoring archaeological sites, “without proper roofing for protection, Nineveh’s ancient walls and reliefs are becoming more and more damaged by natural elements every day. Exploration of the city is an important objective at this time, but preservation measures would go a long way as well”.
Historically, the site of ancient Nineveh, which consists of two large mounds, Kouyunjik and Nabī Yūnus (“Prophet Jonah“), has been the subject of numerous excavations and exploratory expeditions since the mid-19th century. Beginning with French Consul General at Mosul, Paul-Émile Botta in 1842, and most notably through the excavations of famous British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard …. and many others thereafter, the remains of Nineveh became one of the sensational archaeological revelations of modern times. Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible, hidden beneath unexplored mounds. Even historical knowledge of the Assyrian Empire and its capital city was sparse in the beginning, changed primarily by the great archaeological discoveries that followed Botta’s initial attempts. One palace after another was discovered, including the lost palace of Sennacherib with its 71 rooms and enormous bas-reliefs, the palace and library of Ashurbanipal, which included 22,000 cuneiform tablets. Fragments of prisms were discovered, recording the annals of Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal, including one almost complete prism of Esarhaddon. Massive gates and mudbrick ramparts and walls were unearthed. The walls encompassed an area within a 12-kilometer circumference. Many unburied skeletons were found, evidencing violent deaths and attesting to the final battle and siege of Nineveh that destroyed the city and soon brought an end to the Assyrian Empire.
[End of quote]
Yet we have found in the course of this series, and in the related “Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh” (Heraclius supposedly having been a contemporary of Mohammed’s), that it is as if Mohammed had lived during the time of the powerful C8th BC neo-Assyrian kings. This would be in favour of my view that much of the life of the Prophet Mohammed was based on Tobias, son of Tobit, which family did actually live in ancient Nineveh:
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage
The prophet Jonah, who had predicted the actual destruction of ancient Nineveh, and who was contemporaneously known to Tobit and Tobias (Tobit 14:4; cf. 14:8): ‘Go to Media, my son, for I fully believe what Jonah the prophet said about Nineveh, that it will be overthrown’, is incongruous as the “brother” of Mohammed, as the latter is supposed to have said of Jonah when speaking to a Christian slave supposedly from the town of Nineveh.
To make matters even worse, the Quran has those converted by Jonah as being Jonah’s own people (http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/jonah.html):
The Quran and the Islamic traditions agree on Jonah being sent to Nineveh:
If only there had been a single township (among those We warned), which believed,- so its faith should have profited it,- except the People of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the Chastisement of Ignominy in the life of the present, and permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. S. 10:98
And remember Zunnün, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, “There is no god but Thou: glory to Thee: I was indeed wrong!” So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith. S. 21:87-88
So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was of the rebutted: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, He would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, And We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed; so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while. S. 37:139-148
Here is Ibn Kathir on S. 10:98:
“… The point is that between Musa and Yunus, there was no nation in its entirety that believed except the people of Yunus, the people of Naynawa (Nineveh). And they only believed because they feared that the torment from which their Messenger warned them, might strike them. They actually witnessed its signs. So they cried to Allah and asked for help. They engaged in humility in invoking Him. They brought their children and cattle and asked Allah to lift the torment from which their Prophet had warned them. As a result, Allah sent down His mercy and removed the scourge from them and gave them respite.
… In interpreting this Ayah, Qatadah said: ‘No town has denied the truth and then believed when they saw the scourge, and then their belief benefited them, with the exception of the people of Yunus. When they lost their prophet and they thought that the scourge was close upon them, Allah sent through their hearts the desire to repent. So they wore woolen fabrics and they separated each animal from its offspring. They then cried out to Allah for forty nights. When Allah saw the truth in their hearts and that they were sincere in their repentance and regrets, He removed the scourge from them.’ Qatadah said: ‘It is mentioned that the people of Yunus were in Naynawa, the land of Mosul.’ This was also reported from Ibn Mas’ud, Mujahid, Sai’d bin Jubayr and others from the Salaf.” ….