Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The destruction of Hatra

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 10, 2015

 

ISIS destroys Iraq s ancient Hatra city: report

Hatra’s history goes back 2,000 years old Seleucid empire which controlled a large part of the ancient world conquered by Alexander the Great. It is famous for its striking pillared temple at the centre of a sprawling archaeological site.

Hatra was probably built in the 3rd or 2nd century BC by the Seleucid Empire. After its capture by the Parthian Empire, it flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD as a religious and trading center. It was the best preserved and most informative example of a Parthian city.

Later on, the city became the capital of possibly the first Arab Kingdom in the chain of Arab cities running from Hatra, in the northeast, via Palmyra, Baalbek and Petra, in the southwest. The region controlled from Hatra was the Kingdom of Araba, a semi-autonomous buffer kingdom on the western limits of the Parthian Empire, governed by Arabian princes.

A large fortified city under the influence of the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab Kingdom, Hatra withstood invasions by the Romans in A.D. 116 and 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers. The remains of the city, especially the temples where Hellenistic and Roman architecture blend with Eastern decorative features, attest to the greatness of its civilization.

The city was famed for its fusion of Greek, Mesopotamian, Canaanite, Aramean and Arabian pantheons, known in Aramaic as Beiṯ Ĕlāhā (“House of God”). The city had temples to Nergal (Assyrian-Babylonian and Akkadian), Hermes (Greek), Atargatis (Syro-Aramaean), Allat and Shamiyyah (Arabian) and Shamash (the Mesopotamian sun god).

Other deities mentioned in the Hatran Aramaic inscriptions is the Aramaean Ba’al Shamayn, and the female deity known as Ashurbel, which latter is perhaps the assimilation of the two deities the Assyrian god Ashur and the Babylonian Bel, despite their being individually masculine.

Hatra lies about 110 km (70 miles) south of Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State control. The city was declared a world heritage site in 1987. Ancient remains of northern Iraq’s Hatra city have been destroyed by Islamic State militants, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said.

The officials said that the report is yet to be confirmed as the ministry had not received any image which can ascertain the extent of damage at Hatra. The ministry received reports about the demolition of the site from its  employees in the northern city of Mosul, which is at present  under the control of the radical Islamist group.

“The delay in international support for Iraq has encouraged terrorists to commit another crime of stealing and demolishing the remains of the city of Hatra,” the antiquity ministry  said in a statement.

“The militants had used explosives to blow up buildings at Hatra and were also bulldozing it,” said Saeed Mamuzini, spokesman for the Mosul branch of the Kurdish Democratic Party.

A resident told Reuters that he heard a powerful explosion early on Saturday and said that other people nearby had reported that Islamic State militants had destroyed some of the larger buildings in Hatra and were bulldozing other parts.

The outfit had also attacked the remains of the Assyrian city of Nimrud, south of Mosul, with bulldozers on Thursday. The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO condemned the actions as “cultural cleansing” and said they amounted to war crimes.

Last week, they released a video which showed the militants smashing statues and carvings in the city’s museum, home to priceless Assyrian and Hellenistic artefacts dating back 3,000 years.

Archaeologists have drawn parallel between the assault on Iraq’s cultural history to the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas in 2001. But the damage wreaked by Islamic State, not just on ancient monuments but also on rival Muslim places of worship, has been swift, relentless and more wide-ranging.

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