It's a miracle that this ancient building is still standing.
The tomb of the prophet Nahum is receiving some much needed renovations after decades of disuse and war have taken their toll on the ancient structure. Nahum was one of the 12 minor prophets of the Bible; his book sits between those of Micah and Habakkuk. He prophesied the fall of the Assyrian Empire and their capital city Nineveh in a vivid poetic style.
Located in the city of al-Qosh, just 30 miles north of Mosul, the tomb of Nahum had been an important Jewish pilgrimage site for much of the last thousand years and is also revered by the Christian and Muslim communities. This changed in 1948, however, when government pressure forced the Jews of al-Qosh to flee the city. Over the last 60 years, the tomb has fallen into disrepair.
In the above video, taken in 2014, the building doesn’t look particularly safe to stand inside. Portions of the roof and walls have crumbled to debris all over the ground, the arches have begun to crack, and many of the support pillars have tilted.
In 2017, the non-profit group the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) stepped in and raised enough money to save the site. On their website they explain their mission is to preserve important historic and cultural sites that are in areas unable to devote the necessary resources for proper restorations. They also list their resources:
We have strategists, including actual military strategists; they don’t blink easily. We have engineers who can say, no actually you DON’T have to choose between your irreplaceable heritage site and the income from a copper mine – it might be a little harder and your profits might be a little smaller,but if you do it the right way, you can have both.
We have lawyers who work with us pro bono, because they care about culture and civilization and helping locals protect what is theirs. We have economists who can help develop heritage preservation strategies or assist an archaeology project to pay for its own rescue. We have political scientists, archaeologists, historians, geographers, graphic designers, artists, and more on our team.
For the project, ARCH partnered with the Prague-based GEMA Art Group, who are experts in historic preservation and reconstruction. The initial stabilization of the site was completed in January, 2018, but they expect it will take another three years before the site is fully restored and ready to receive visitors once again.