Arbil

Arbil

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Arbil / Hewlêr (also written Erbil, or Irbil) (Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

: Arba-ilu; Arbīl; Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

: Hewlêr; Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

: Urbilum; Syriac-Aramaic
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

: Arbaelo; ) is the fourth largest city in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 after Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

  and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

. The city lies eighty kilometres (fifty miles) east of Mosul, and is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

.

Urban life at Arbil can be dated back to at least 6000 BC, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. At the heart of the city is the ancient Citadel of Arbil
Citadel of Arbil
The Citadel of Arbil is a tell or occupied mound, and the historical city centre of Arbil in Iraq. It has been claimed that the site is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world....

. The Hurrians were the first to establish Urbilum and expand their rule to the rest of Northern Mesopotamia. Afterwards, The city has been under the rule of many regional powers since that time, including the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns, Persians, Arabs, and Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The city's archaeological museum houses a large collection of pre-Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic artefacts, and is a center for archaeological projects in the area.

Etymology


The name Arbil was mentioned in Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 holy writings (c. 2000 BC) as Urbilum, Urbelum or Urbillum, and it may be Sumerian in origin. It is thought to originate from Sumerian UR (city) + BELA (high) meaning the city located in the upper area. The initial ar element also appears in a number of Hurrian place names.

Later, Akkadians/Assyrians rendered the name to mean four gods (arba'ū ilū). The city was a centre for the worship of the goddess Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

. In classical times the city was known by its Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 name, Arbela. In Old Persian the city was called Arbairā.

History



Ancient history


It have been suggested that Arbil is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in history. The Neo-Sumerian ruler of Ur
Ur
Ur was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate...

, Amar-Sin
Amar-Sin
Amar-Sin was the third ruler of the Ur III Dynasty. He succeeded his father Shulgi .Year-names are known for all 9 years of his reign...

 sacked Urbilum in his second year. (around 1975 BC)

Arbil was an Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n city from around 2000 BC until 608 BC, and remained part of an Assyria province under Persian, Greeks, Parthian, Roman and Sassanid rule. It was capital of Persian ruled Assyria.

Over a millennium later, under the Median Empire, Cyaxares
Cyaxares
Cyaxares, Cyaxares the Great or Hvakhshathra , the son of King Phraortes, was the first king of Media. According to Herodotus, Cyaxares, grandson of Deioces, had a far greater military reputation than his father or grandfather, therefore he is often being described as the first official Median...

 might have settled a number of people from the Ancient Iranian
Ancient Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BCE. In Classical Antiquity they were found primarily in Scythia and Persia...

 tribe of Sagarthians
Sagarthians
The Sagartians were an ancient Iranian tribe, dwelling in the Iranian plateau. Their exact location is unknown; they were probably neighbors of the Parthians in northeastern Iran...

 in Arbela and Kirkuk, probably as a reward for their help in the capture of Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

.
Persian emperor Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 occupied Assyria in 547 B.C. and established there an Achaemenid satrapy called in Old Persian Aθurā Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 with Arbela as the capital.

The Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

, in which Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia
Darius III of Persia
Darius III , also known by his given name of Codomannus, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC....

 in 331 BC, took place approximately 100 kilometres (62.1 mi) west of Arbil. After the battle, Darius managed to flee to the city, and, somewhat inaccurately, the confrontation is sometimes known as the "Battle of Arbela".

Arbil became part of the region disputed between Rome and Persia under the Sasanids. The ancient Syriac kingdom of Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

 (Greek form for Ḥadyab) had its center at Arbil, and the town and kingdom are known in Jewish Middle Eastern history for the conversion of the royal family to Judaism. Its populace then converted in during the first and second century to Christianty with Pkidha becoming traditionally its first bishop around 104 A.D. The metropolitanate of Ḥadyab
Adiabene (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province)
Adiabene was a metropolitan province of the Church of the East between the 5th and 14th centuries, with more than fifteen known suffragan dioceses at different periods in its history. Although the name Hadyab normally connoted the region around Erbil and Mosul, the boundaries of the East Syrian...

 in Arbela became a centre of eastern Syriac Christianity
Syriac Christianity
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India....

 until late in the Middle Ages.

Medieval history


Arbela was an early center of the Syriac Christianity
Syriac Christianity
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India....

. By 100 AD there was a bishop seated in the city. As many modern Assyrians use Biblical (including Jewish) names, most of the early bishops had Jewish/Biblical names, which does not suggest that many of the early Christians in this city were converts from Judaism. It served as the seat of a Metropolitan of the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

. From the city's Christian period come many church fathers and well-known authors in Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

. The city's Aramaic-speaking Assyrian population remained significant in size until destruction of the city by the forces of Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 in 1397.

In the Middle Ages, Arbil was ruled successively by the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Buwayhids, the Seljuks and then by the Atabegs of Arbil (1131–1232), under whom it was a Turkmen state; they were in turn followed by the Ilkhanids, the Jalayirids
Jalayirids
The Jalayirids were a Mongol Jalayir dynasty which ruled over Iraq and western Persia after the breakup of the Mongol Khanate of Persia in the 1330s....

, the Karakoyun
Karakoyun
Karakoyun may refer to:*Kara Koyunlu, a Turkic tribal federation*Karakoyunlu, a district of Iğdır Province in Turkey*Karakoyun, Armenia, a town in Armenia...

 and the Akkoyun. Arbil was the birthplace of the famous 13th century Muslim historian and writer Ibn Khallikan
Ibn Khallikan
Shams al-Dīn Abū Al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Khallikān was a 13th Century Shafi'i Islamic scholar of Kurdish origin.-Biography:...

.

Modern history



The modern town of Arbil stands on a tell
Tell
A tell or tel, is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides.-Archaeology:A tell is a hill created by different civilizations living and...

 topped by an Ottoman fort. During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, Arbil became a major trading centre on the route between Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, a role which it still plays today with important road links to the outside world.

The parliament of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region was established in Arbil in 1970 after negotiations between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in the modern Kurdish politics. In 1946 he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes...

, but was effectively controlled by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 until the Kurdish uprising at the end of the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. The legislature ceased to function effectively in the mid-1990s when fighting broke out between the two main Kurdish factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was founded on June 1, 1975, by coordinations between Jalal Talabani and Nawshirwan Mustafa...

 (PUK). The city was captured by the KDP in 1996 with the assistance of the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. The PUK then established an alternative Kurdish government in Sulaimaniyah. KDP claimed that on March 1996 PUK asked for Iran's help to fight KDP. Considering this as a foreign attack on Iraq's soil, the KDP asked the Iraqi government for help.

The Kurdish Parliament in Arbil reconvened after a peace agreement was signed between the Kurdish parties in 1997, but had no real power. The Kurdish government in Arbil had control only in the western and northern parts of the autonomous region.
During the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 special forces task force was headquartered just outside of Arbil. The city was the scene of rapturous celebrations on April 10, 2003 after the fall of the Ba'ath regime.

During the US occupation of Iraq, sporadic terrorist attacks have hit Arbil. Parallel bomb attacks against Eid celebrations killed 109 people on February 1, 2004. Responsibility was claimed by the Islamist group Ansar al-Sunnah, and stated to be in solidarity with the Kurdish Islamist faction Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam is a Sunni Islamist group of Iraqis, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam, close to the official Saudi ideology of Wahhabism with strict application of Sharia. The group was formed in the northern provinces of Iraq near the Iranian border, and previously had established...

. Another bombing on May 4, 2005 killed 60 civilians.

The Erbil International Airport
Erbil International Airport
-Cargo airlines:-External links:** A catalog of airlines serving EIA with contact information and firsthand experience....

 opened in the city in 2005.

Citadel of Arbil


The Citadel of Arbil
Citadel of Arbil
The Citadel of Arbil is a tell or occupied mound, and the historical city centre of Arbil in Iraq. It has been claimed that the site is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world....

 is a tell or occupied mound, in the historical heart of Arbil, rising between 25 and 32 m (82 and 105 ) from the surrounding plain. The buildings on top of the tell stretch over a roughly oval area of 430 by 340 m (1,410.8 by 1,115.5 ) occupying 102000 sqm. It has been claimed that the site is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world. The earliest evidence for occupation of the citadel mound dates to the 5th millennium BC, and possibly earlier. It appears for the first time in historical sources during the Ur III
Third Dynasty of Ur
The Third Dynasty of Ur, also known as the Neo-Sumerian Empire or the Ur III Empire refers simultaneously to a 21st to 20th century BC Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state that some historians regard as a nascent empire...

 period, and gained particular importance during the Neo-Assyrian period. West of the citadel at Ary Kon quarter, a chamber tomb dating to the Neo-Assyrian period has been excavated. During the Sassanian
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 period and the Abbasid Caliphate, Arbil was an important centre for Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. After the Mongols
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 captured the citadel in 1258, the importance of Arbil declined.
During the 20th century, the urban structure was significantly modified, as a result of which a number of houses and public buildings were destroyed. In 2007, the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization (HCECR) was established to oversee the restoration
Building restoration
Building restoration describes a particular treatment approach and philosophy within the field of architectural conservation. According the U.S...

 of the citadel. In the same year, all inhabitants, except one family, were evicted from the citadel as part of a large restoration project. Since then, archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 research and restoration works have been carried out at and around the tell by various international teams and in cooperation with local specialists, and many areas remain off-limits to visitors due to the danger of unstable walls and infrastructure. The government plans to have 50 families live in the citadel once it is renovated.

The only religious structure that currently survives in the citadel is the Mulla Afandi
Mulla Effendi
Mulla Abu Bakr Effendi, also Mulla Effendi , also Abu Bakr IIII or Küçük Mulla was a senior Kurdish Muslim cleric, Islamic philosopher, scholar, astronomer, politician, and a prominent Iraqi personality from Arbil, Iraq.Mulla Effendi was born into a respected and intellectual family of Islamic...

 Mosque. When it was fully occupied, the citadel was divided in three districts or mahalla
Mahalla
A mahalla is an urban division in Uzbekistan. Historically, mahallas were autonomous social institutions built around familial ties and Islamic rituals. Before the establishment of the Soviet rule in Uzbekistan, Mahallas fulfilled local self-government functions connecting private sphere with...

s
: from east to west the Serai, the Takya and the Topkhana. The Serai was occupied by notable families; the Takya district was named after the homes of dervish
Dervish
A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.-Etymology:The Persian word darvīsh is of ancient origin and descends from a Proto-Iranian...

es, which are called takyas; and the Topkhana district housed craftsmen and farmers. Other sights to visit in the citadel include the bathing rooms (hamam) built in 1775 located near the mosque and the Textile Museum.

Other sights

  • The covered Arbil Qaysari Bazaars, sometimes known as Kaisary market, lies below the main entrance to the citadel and stocks mainly household goods and tools.
  • The 36 m high Mudhafaria Minaret, situated in Minaret Park several blocks from the citadel, dates back to the late 12th century AD and the reign of Arbil king Muzaffar Al-Din Abu Sa’eed Al-Kawkaboori. It has an octagonal base decorated with two tiers of niches, which is separated from the main shaft by a small balcony, also decorated. Another historical minaret with turquoise glazed tiles is nearby.
  • Sami Rahman Park
    Sami Rahman Park
    Sami Abdulrahman Park is a green area in Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Being the largest park in Iraq, it is several hectares in size and contains a lake, rose garden and the Martyrs Monument as well as a restaurant and market. The site was formerly the location of a detention center....

  • Franso Hariri Stadium
    Franso Hariri Stadium
    Franso Hariri Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Arbil, Iraq. It is currently used mostly for football matches and also has facilities for athletics. The stadium holds 28,000, making it the second largest in Iraq after the Al Shaab Stadium in Baghdad. The stadium was built on an old airfield in...

  • The Mound of Qalich Agha lies within the grounds of the Museum of Civilization, 1 kilometre (0.621372736649807 mi) from the citadel. An excavation in 1996 found tools from the Halaf
    Tell Halaf
    Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

    , Ubaid
    Ubaid period
    The Ubaid period is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The tell of al-`Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern...

     and Uruk period
    Uruk period
    The Uruk period existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, following the Ubaid period and succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period. Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia. It was...

    s.
  • Kurdish Textile Museum
    Kurdish Textile Museum
    The Kurdish Textile Museum is a museum devoted to textiles produced in Iraqi Kurdistan. It was established in 2004 and is located in a renovated mansion in the southeast quarter of the Citadel of Arbil....


Sports


The local major football team is Arbil SC which plays its football matches at Franso Hariri Stadium
Franso Hariri Stadium
Franso Hariri Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Arbil, Iraq. It is currently used mostly for football matches and also has facilities for athletics. The stadium holds 28,000, making it the second largest in Iraq after the Al Shaab Stadium in Baghdad. The stadium was built on an old airfield in...

which is based in the south part of central Arbil. Arbil SC were the first Kurdish team to make it to theAFC Champions league.

External links