© Reuters. Officers examine the traditional archeological web site of Ur, historically believed to be the birthplace of Abraham, forward of the deliberate go to of Pope Francis, in Ur close to Nassiriya
By Mohammed Aty
BAGHADAD (Reuters) – Pope Francis is because of maintain an inter-religious prayer service on the historical Mesopotamian web site of Ur when he visits Iraq subsequent week – an occasion native archeologists hope will draw renewed consideration to the place revered because the birthplace of Abraham.
Widespread with Western guests within the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited immediately after many years of warfare and political instability shattered Iraq’s worldwide tourism trade. The coronavirus disaster now additionally retains native vacationers away.
Situated about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the location includes a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjoining residential complicated in addition to temples and palaces.
It was excavated about 100 years in the past by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling these present in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. However little work has since been achieved
on one of many world’s oldest cities, the place city dwelling, writing and central state energy started.
Based on the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage director for Ur, Ali Kadhim Ghanim, the complicated subsequent to the Ziggurat dates again to about 1900 BC.
The daddy of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Abraham is described within the biblical e book of Genesis as dwelling within the metropolis earlier than God referred to as upon him to create a brand new nation in a land he later realized was Canaan.
“That is why it’s believed that this constructing, or home, was the home of the prophet Abraham,” Ghanim stated, pointing on the residential complicated.
Based on Ghanim, the housing settlement was restored in 1999, after Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope John Paul II, introduced a visit to Iraq. However his go to was cancelled when negotiations with the federal government of then-Iraqi chief Saddam Hussein broke down.
This time, Ghanim hopes that Pope Francis’ go to will entice worldwide consideration to the location, which he says is badly wanted to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples.
“Not solely tourism, however we consider that there might be a Christian pilgrimage season,” Ghanim stated.
Un Ponte Per, an Italian-based organisation, is working with the United Nations Growth Programme on infrastructure works akin to paths, relaxation areas and signposts to assist guests.
Roads across the web site are being rennovated and powerlines prolonged forward of the pope’s go to.
However with out ample funding, Ghanim says his administration has been restricted to containing additional injury to the location, akin to digging trenches to divert rainwater from the ruins.
Basra’s Archbishop Habib al-Naufaly confused the symbolic significance of the pope’s March 5-Eight go to as Iraq remains to be recovering from the warfare in opposition to Islamic State that destroyed scores of Christian heritage websites.
The inter-religious prayer service might be attended by Christians, Muslims, Mandaean-Sabaean, Yazidi and different non secular minorities current in Iraq.
The main target might be on concord between non secular teams in a service the Vatican has named “Prayer for the little children of Abraham”.
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