By Ammar Imad
The Antiquities Department has included an ancient synagogue where Biblical prophet Nahum is purportedly buried in its 2008 renovation plans.
â€œThe Antiquities Department has added the tomb of Prophet Nahum, peace be on him, to its 2008 preservation plan,â€ said departmentâ€™s chief, Abbas al-Hussaini.
The synagogue and the tomb are situated in the northern Christian Iraqi town of al-Qoush, 40 kilometers north of Mosul.
Al-Qoush, a major Christian center in northern Iraq, had a large Jewish community before the Jewish exodus to Palestine in 1948.
The renovation of the synagogue and the tomb, archaeologists say, is an urgent matter. Some scientists say the synagogue might be irreparably damaged.
The department has put off the renovation of the tomb mainly because it lacked the right expertise and resources to have it refurbished and reconstructed.
Hussaini said his department was seeking foreign assistance to renovate the site.
Prophet Nahum is venerated by all faiths and sects in Iraq, including Muslim Shiites and Sunnis.
â€œThe tomb is not important to Iraqis only. It is of an international character and can turn into a tourist attraction,â€ said Hussaini.
The start of renovation is bound to attract considerable media interest and perhaps reveal more information about the prophet of whom the Bible says very little beyond the fact that a reference to the town of al-Qoush from which he hailed.
Scientists accompanying the renovation team will examine the tomb to determine its age. The earliest traces of the synagogue itself are believed to be more than 400 years old.
There are inscriptions and plagues of varying antiquity whose readings are certain to shed more light on the tomb and the history of Jewish community in al-Qoush.
Al-Qoush is also the site of ancient monasteries; one those â€“ Raban Hormus â€“ dates to the 3rd century. It is perched like an eagleâ€™s nest on the slope of the mountain at the bottom of which al-Qoush lies
Azzaman, July 15, 2007