Erbil, Kurdistan: "Oldest City in the World" Video Tour

My "man" just came home from a business trip in Kurdistan. Because he knows that I am obsessed with ancient history, he took lots of pictures and video of the Erbil citadel, one of the oldest cities in the world. I put together some videos on my youtube channel. Here is my favorite:


Here are some excerpts from some academic journals about Erbil and the region. Some of the articles are old and of historical interest in their own right.





Town Planning in Ancient Mesopotamia: H. Frankfort: The Town Planning Review, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Jul., 1950), pp. 98-115

“The Mesopotamian plain is dotted with hills which cover the ruins of the ancient cities. It is necessary to understand the process by which these hills or tells were formed since it determines the nature and the limitations of our knowledge. This process still continues. Figure $ shows a site inhabited for some four thousand years or more, the modern Kurdish city of Erbil, known to the Assyrians as Arbilu. The narrow streets wind between the mud-brick houses; the dirt is thrown in the street, and rain water and liquid rubbish finds its way through the dirt. The level of the street thus rises continuously, if imperceptibly. Occasionally a house is deserted or collapses, for sun-dried brick weathers quickly and requires continual repairing and replastering. When it is rebuilt, the owner clears the site, but not down to street level. Remaining a metre or so above it, he will not be troubled by the dirt and rain water of the street; using the stumps of the old walls as foundations for his new house, he obtains a solid foundation. Thus the level of the whole town gradually rises. And this process has gone on for thousands of years. Digging down from the surface, we can read the history of our buildings in the succession of stumps of walls resting one upon the other and often continuing an almost identical plan through centuries. Thus the modern city of Erbil stands on top of a hill containing the ruins of its predecessors. The mosque forms its centre, as the temple did in the ancient city. In many details the comparison of the present and past layouts holds good.”





A Note from Iraq: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 26 (Apr., 1927), p. 9

“Dr: Speiser, Professor-in-Charge at Baghdad, wrote on April 5th from Erbil, the ancient Arbela, as follows: I"I have just returned to Erbil from a five days' tour in the region between. the mountain ranges of Awana and Qarachok and the desert between the Lesser Zab and the Tigris. "I am now nearly through with the survey of the Erbil area. Apart from the maps, which will be of use for future work, the only other results are a brick (damaged) from the Palace of Sennacherib in Kakzu and a curious statue at the foot of the mountain of Qarachok, The information concerning Kakzu confirms only the identification of the tell near Saidawa, with the site of the long-sought castle of Sennacherib. It was first made in the British Museum, which received a similar brick two years ago from the political offices in Erbil. The statue, or rather the stone carving, how-ever, is so far entirely unknown. It represents in relief a horned mother goddess. It was found in a field between two villages-in a difficult and isolated country between two mountain ranges-with the nearest tell five miles away. I suspect, therefore, that the goddess of fertility was intended in the rather crude representation. It may possibly go back to the pre- Assyrian inhabitants of the- region and as such would be of great interest and importance. Unfortunately, the fanatical Kurds have done their best to damage the "Kafir." The stone is much too big to be moved, as the country is only accessible on horseback. I hope at least that the picture I took of the carving will come out well.”





A Herpetological Collection from Northeastern Iraq: Charles A. Reed and Hymen Marx: Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (1903-), Vol. 62, No. 1 (Spring, 1959),pp. 91-122

“Northeastern Iraq consists of three liwas (provinces): Sulimaniyah, Kirkuk, and Erbil, with part of the adjacent Mosul Liwa. None of the area in which we collected is desert, but ranges through grass-covered hills into the higher slopes of the Zagros Mountains to the north and east. These anticlinal mountain series, traversed by deep gorges, have synclinal valleys between them. Deciduous forest, particu-larly of oak, originally covered the hills and the mountains to timberline, and possibly extended in part onto the plains, but extensive deforestation, cultivation, and grazing for approximately 7,000 years over most of the area have resulted in major changes in macro-and micro-ecology, too pro-found to be considered here, although obviously such changes have had great influence on the fauna. The climate is generally of the Mediterranean type, with cold rainy winters, springs with frequent thunder-showers, and summers and autumns hot and dry. The annual grasses make a brave showing in early spring, but what is not eaten off by the ubiquitous flocks has seeded and withered by late May, particularly on the plains and foothills. For the area con-sidered, the annual rainfall (de Vaumas, 1955) varies from a minimum of 40.5 cm. (Kirkuk), 42.0 cm. (Mosul), and 43.0 cm. (Erbil) to a recorded maximum of 104.0 cm. at Aqra in the mountains of northern Mosul Liwa, although many of the higher areas undoubtedly receive more than this, and winter snows of three meters deep are reported common for villages near timberline (c. 1630 meters altitude).”





Central Kurdistan: Discussion: Alexander Cobbe, Graaff Hunter, Charles T. Beale, S. Murray: The Geographical Journal, Vol. 54, No. 6 (Dec., 1919), pp. 342-347

“A political officer, Captain Barker, had been posted to Rania in the mean-time. On our arrival there from Koi Sanjak the Hakim-i-Shehr received me with much hospitality. Prominent Kurds of that district all appeared to be very friendly to the British. Two days after leaving Rania I heard at Koi Sanjak of the rising of Sheikh Mahmud, but it appeared that the prompt action taken prevented any disturbance north of the Lesser Zab river. The lecturer has referred to the failure of the Turkish policy directed towards breaking down the combination of villages. Sheikh Mahmud's rising took place at Sulaimaniya on "May 21, and simultaneously three of my survey sections scattered over the country up to 50 miles from Sulaimaniya were made prisoners ; two more were taken in a rather half-hearted way two days later. All these men had been working in their particular districts upwards of a month without any escort, and had been treated with marked friendliness, up to the pre-arranged moment of their seizure. Sulaimaniya was in Sheikh Mahmud's hands for nearly a month, the relieving forces entering it on June 18. On July 11, the last day I was there, everything appeared to be settled once more. With Major Mason's remarks on the use of Turkish names for mountains, streams, etc, I am in entire agreement. The names on the maps should be those in use locally; moreover, they should be spelt in such a way that any educated person should be able to pronounce them as nearly as possible as the native does. There is no chance of any one doing this correctly if the names are spelt wrongly. The most important of these is the name I should spell Sulaimanie, which has been spelt with " ia " or " iyah " on nearly every map published during the last twenty years.* In places of less importance, such a mispronunciation of a name would mean that it would be quite unrecognizable to any Kurd who heard it. In conclusion I would say that Major Mason's paper has given a true picture of the country as it was shortly after the signing of the Armistice with Turkey.”



An Esarhaddon Cylinder from Nimrud: D. J. Wiseman: Iraq, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Spring, 1952), pp. 54-60

(1) Esarhaddon, the great king, the mighty king, the king of the world, the king of Assyria,
(2) the regent of Babylon, the king of Sumer and Akkad,
(3) the faithful shepherd, who has redressed the wrongs done to the peoples and caused the light to shine upon them,
(4) (upon) whom the great gods have bestowed as his gift (the function of) building, making and renewing.
(5) (I am) the builder of the temple of AS?ur and (re-)maker of ?. SAGILA and Babylon,
(6) who has completed every metropolis and renewed the statues of the great gods.
(7) (I am) he who sent back to their places from the land of A??ur the gods of the lands who had been carried off.
(8) ?. CASAN. KALAM.MA the temple of IStar of Erbil, his mistress,
(9) he covered with ^ahalu so that it shone like the day.
(10) Lions, Zu-birds, dolphins, Lahme-colossi, cherub-colossi,
(11) he had made of silver and copper and placed them at the entrance of its gates.
(12) (I am) the king who, with the help of A?sur, Sin, Sama?, Nabu, Marduk, Btar of Nineveh and Ktar of Erbil,
(13) has traversed direct from the Upper Sea (Mediterranean) to the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf),
(14) and has brought into subjection at his feet all foes and princes unsubmissive to him.
(15) The conqueror of Sidon which lies in the midst of the sea, he levelled all its dwellings.
(16) The despoiler of Arza which lies beside " the Wady of Egypt " whose king, Asuhili,
(17) together with his princes he threw into chains and sent to A?Sur.
(18) TeuSpa the Cimmerian, in the land of HubuSnu,
(19) I slew with the sword (weapon) together with the whole of his army,
(20) trampling on the unsubjugated people of the country of Hilakki.
(21) (I am he) who drove out Nab?-zer-kitti-li?ir, the son of Marduk-apil-iddina,
(22) who overwhelmed Bit-Dakkuri which is within Chaldaea, the enemy of Babylon,
(23) (who bound) $ama?-ibni, its king, a rogue and malefactor.
(24) (Ha)ndasu, Magalanu, Alpiana, Dihranu,
(25) Qatabu', Hatte, Udiri, strong cities
(26) in the territory of Bazi(-land), together with the small towns in the neighbourhood
(27) I besieged and captured and, having carried off spoil from them, I destroyed, sacked and burned them.
(28) (I am he) who trampled on the Parnakaeans, a powerful foe, who dwell in the land of Til-A??uri,
(29) whose name in the speech of the people of Mihiranu is called Pitanu.
(30) (I am he) who scattered the barbarous and unreconciled people of Mannai,
(31) the land of Patu?arra, a district beside the salt lands,
(32) which is among the distant Medes, at the border of Mt. Biknij
(33) on the soil of whose land none of the kings, my fathers, had ever trodden.
(34) Sidirparni and Eparni, chiefs of strong cities,
(35) who had not submitted to my yoke, these, together with their people, and heavy
(36) spoil, I carried off to Assyria.
(37) (I am) the son of Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria,
(38) (the grand-)son of Sargon, king of the world, king of Assyria,
(39) regent of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad.
(40) At that time, with the prisoners from the territories
(41) which, with the help of A??ur, my lord, my hands had conquered,
(42) the earlier palace in the middle of Kalhu which Salmaneser, king of Assyria,
(43) son of A??ur-nasir-pal, a prince who preceded me, had built,
(44) had no base-terrace and the site was small.
(45) To me, Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, exalted prince,
(46) the like (capacity) of the sage Adapa, which the prince NIN.IGI.K? bestowed,
(47) was in my understanding as concerns that terrace, and I brought his thought to it.
(48) Undeveloped land I took for an additional site),
(49) with bonding of mountain stone I filled the terrace,
(50) I raised it from a depth of 120 brick-courses.
(51) I built rooms (lit. palaces) for my royal dwelling on it.
(52) From its foundation to its summit I constructed and completed (it).
(53) Beams (made from) lofty cedars grown in the Amanus mountains I stretched over it.
(54) I fitted up its entrances with doors of sweet-smelling cypress-wood.
(55) To the amazement of all the people I filled it with luxuries.
(56) I made records and had inscribed on them the power of ASsur, my lord,
(57) and the deeds which I had done I had written on them and set them up within them (i.e. the palaces).
(58) In after days, in days distant,
(59) may some prince among the kings my successors repair its ruins,
(60) let him behold the written memorial of my name, let him offer a sheep as sacrifice and let him anoint (it) with oil.
(61) Let him write my name with his and restore it to its place.
(62) Ninurta the son of Eni il will hear his prayers. 5 th Ab. Eponym of Nabu-beli-usur, the governor of Dur-Sarrukin.

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Tags: Erbil, Iraq, Kurdistan, archaeology

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Comment by bevis andrew on October 8, 2010 at 4:52am
Very informative Article thanks these news and tips i hope next time you will post better from this. keep it up.
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