RELIGION

Rubble and ash in Mosul museum retaken from Islamic State

  • An Iraqi federal policeman inspects the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    An Iraqi federal policeman inspects the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi federal police inspect Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    Iraqi federal police inspect Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ancient destroyed artifacts are seen inside Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    Ancient destroyed artifacts are seen inside Mosul's heavily damaged museum. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum's library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

The antiquities museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul is in ruins, with exhibition halls housing piles of rubble and the basement filled with ankle-deep drifts of ash.

Associated Press reporters were granted rare access to the museum on Wednesday after Iraqi forces retook it from the Islamic State group earlier this week.

They found the jagged remains of what appeared to have been an ancient Assyrian bull statue and fragments from cuneiform tablets.

IS captured Mosul in 2014 and released a video the following year showing fighters smashing artifacts in the museum with sledgehammers. The extremists view ancient artifacts as idols.

Iraqi officials at the time said most of what the militants destroyed were copies, as much of the museum's inventory had been moved to Baghdad for safe-keeping.