Hatra is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate
Ninawa Governorate
Ninawa is a governorate in northern Iraq, and the Arabic name for the biblical city of Nineveh in Assyria. It has an area of and an estimated population of 2,453,000 people in 2003. Its chief city and provincial capital is Mosul, which lies across the Tigris river from the ruins of ancient...

 and al-Jazira region
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

 of 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....

. It is currently known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian province of Khvarvaran
Khvārvarān, also known as Iraq or Mesopotamia, was a province of the Iranian Persian Empire, which ruled the region since the time of Cyrus the Great...

. The city lies 290 km (180.2 mi) northwest of 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 110 km (68.4 mi) southwest of 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...



Hatra was founded by Ancient Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 tribes some time in the 3rd century BCE. A religious and trading centre under the Parthian empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 of Iran, it flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE. Later on, the city became the capital of possibly the first Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Kingdom in the chain of Arab cities running from Hatra, in the northeast, via Palmyra
Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

, Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

 and Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

, in the southwest. The region controlled from Hatra was the Kingdom of Araba
Kingdom of Araba
The Kingdom of Araba was a 2nd century, semi-autonomous buffer kingdom between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire, mostly under Parthian influence, located in modern Iraq. The city of Hatra was probably founded in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE, under the Seleucid kingdom. Arabs were common in...

, a semi-autonomous buffer kingdom on the western limits of the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 of Iran, governed by Arabian princes.

Hatra became an important fortified frontier city and withstood repeated attacks by the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, and played an important role in the Second Parthian War
Roman–Parthian Wars
The Roman–Parthian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Parthian Empire and the Romans. It was the first series of conflicts in what would be 719 years of Roman–Persian Wars....

. It repulsed the sieges of both Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 (116/117) and Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 (198/199). Hatra defeated the Iranians at the battle of Shahrazoor
Sharazor was the name of a Sassanid district , Kurdish kingdom, Ottoman vilayet and finally a Sanjak of Mosul vilayet situated to the southern and eastern part of what is now known as Iraqi Kurdistan....

 in 238
Year 238 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Pius and Pontianus...

, but fell to the Iranian Sassanid Empire
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...

 of Shapur I
Shapur I
Shapur I or also known as Shapur I the Great was the second Sassanid King of the Second Persian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 - 270/72, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242 .-Early years:Shapur was the son of Ardashir I...

 in 241 and was destroyed. The traditional stories of the fall of Hatra tell of an-Nadira, daughter of the King of Araba, who betrayed the city into the hands of Shapur. The story tells of how Shapur killed the king and married an-Nadira, but later had her killed also.

Hatra is the best preserved and most informative example of a Parthian city. It is encircled by inner and outer walls nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) in circumference and supported by more than 160 towers. A temenos
Temenos is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct: The Pythian race-course is called a temenos, the sacred valley of the Nile is the ...

 (τέμενος) surrounds the principal sacred buildings in the city’s centre. The temples cover some 1.2 hectares and are dominated by the Great Temple, an enormous structure with vaults
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

 and columns
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

 that once rose to 30 metres. The city was famed for its fusion of Greek, Mesopotamian
Mesopotamian religion
Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Sumerian and Akkadian peoples living in Mesopotamia that dominated the region for a period of 4200 years from the fourth millennium BC to approximately the 3rd century AD...

, Syrian
Canaanite religion
Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era....

 and Arabian pantheons
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

, known in 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,...

 as ("House of God"). The city had temples to Nergal
The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali refers to a deity in Babylon with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew bible as the deity of the city of Cuth : "And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal"...

 (Babylonian and Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

ian), Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

Ancient Greek religion
Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These different groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared...

), Atargatis
Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, " great goddess of northern Syria" ,"the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her, commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Aphrodite Derceto or Derketo and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria"...

 (Syro-Aramaean), Allat
' or ' was a Pre-Islamic Arabian goddess who was one of the three chief goddesses of Mecca. She is mentioned in the Qur'an , which indicates that pre-Islamic Arabs considered her as one of the daughters of Allah along with Manāt and al-‘Uzzá....

 and Shamiyyah (Arabian
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

) and Shamash
Shamash was a native Mesopotamian deity and the sun god in the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons. Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu...

 (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 Ashur
Ashur (god)
Ashur is the head of the Assyrian pantheon....

 and Bel
Bel (mythology)
Bel , signifying "lord" or "master", is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in Babylonian religion. The feminine form is Belit 'Lady, Mistress'. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus...

, despite their being individually masculine.

List of rulers

In inscriptions found at Hatra, several rulers are mentioned. Other rulers are sporadically mentioned by classical authors. They appear with two titles. The earlier rulers are called mrj´ (translation uncertain), the later ones mlk -king.
Rulers of Hatra
Name|title|years attested|Comments
Worod  mry´
Ma’nu  mry´
Elkud mry´ AD 155/156
Nashrihab was a local governor at Hatra, an ancient town in modern Iraq. Nashrihab is known from many inscriptions of his son Naṣru and ruled from about AD 120 to 125. He was most likely the son of Elkud, who reigned before him.- Literature :...

mrj´ AD 128/29 - 137/38
Naṣru mry´ 128/29 - 176/77
Wolgash I mry´ and mlk - King
Sanatruq I
Sanatruq I
Sanatruq I was a king of Hatra, an ancient city in nowadays Iraq. He is known from more than 20 inscriptions found at Hatra and reigned from about AD 140 to 180. Only one of his inscription is dated . He was the son of Naṣru who reigned from about AD 128 to 140...

mry´ and mlk - King AD 176/177 ruled together with Wolgash I
Wolgash (II?), son of Wolgash (I.)
Abdsamiya was a king of Hatra, an ancient city and kingdom in nowadays Iraq. He reigned from about AD 180 to 205. Abdsamiya was the son of king Sanatruq I and the father of Sanatruq II. Abdsamiya is known from eight inscriptions found at Hatra. One of them reports the building of a porticus for the...

mlk - King AD 192/93 - 201/202 Supported the Roman emperor Pescennius Niger
Pescennius Niger
Pescennius Niger was a Roman usurper from 193 to 194 during the Year of the Five Emperors. He claimed the imperial throne in response to the murder of Pertinax and the elevation of Didius Julianus, but was defeated by a rival claimant, Septimius Severus and killed while attempting to flee from...

Sanatruq II
Sanatruq II
Sanatruq II was the last king of Hatra , ruling from about AD 200 to 240/41. He was the son of king Abdsamiya and is attested by nine inscriptions discovered at Hatra. Only two of these inscription bear year datings, both are hard to read.Sanatruq II appears in Syrian sources as Sanatru and in Arab...

mlk - King AD 207/08 - 229/230

Modern Hatra

Hatra was used as the setting for the opening scene in the 1973 film The Exorcist
The Exorcist (film)
The Exorcist is a 1973 American horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty and based on the exorcism case of Robbie Mannheim, dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her...

, and since 1985 is a UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. The Al Hadr Hotel, located within a kilometer of the Hatra ruins, was the Division HQ for the 101st ABN after 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...


External links

  • http://lexicorient.com/e.o/hathra.htm
  • http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9039509
  • http://shezaf.net/english/Video/Video/Hatra.html
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