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History of Erbil     اربيل, Arbīl; Kurdish: هه‌ولێر, Hewlêr | by Kurdistan Photo كوردستان
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History of Erbil اربيل, Arbīl; Kurdish: هه‌ولێر, Hewlêr

Erbil is most ancient city down the history. Man first settled

in Erbil in the form of an agricultural village (6000) years B.C.

It's common known among historians that Erbil dates back to

(2500) B.C. It is full of underground water. Since enemies

were not capable of ruining these water sources, people were

able to always live in the city of Erbil.


Now the name of this city is ( Hawler) or (Erbil). However,

the root of this name dates back to the most ancient origin

which is the records of Third Ur Kings (2112-2004) B.C.

referred to as ( Erbaillo) meaning (four Gods).

In Brief, Erbil before Islam passed through the periods below:


Sumerian Period

Assyrian Period

Persian Period

Perthian Period

Sassanian Period



Besides, Erbil before Islam embraced the principalities below:


Hazbanians Principality

Baktakenjans Principality

Mazinjani Principality

Kuridsh Dilkendi Principality

Soran Dilkendi Principality



Erbil Historians' Names:

In the Islamic History some Erbil famous historians emerged;

their names are listed below:

1- Ibn Khelekan:

He was renowned in Islamic Jurisprudence, History and Language.

His most famous book is (Waffiyat Al- A'yan).

2- Ibn Al-Mustawfi:

He was well versed in Islamic Jurisprudence, language,

Military Sciences, Poetical Works. His most well- Known

book is (Erbil History ) in four volumes.

3- Ibn Al- Younis-Al- Erbili:

He was renowned in Mathematics, Islamic Jurisprudence,

Logic, Medicine.

4- Ibn Fakhr- Al -Erbili:

He was famous in poetry. His most well- known book is

(Risalet Attayf) and ( Kashf Al- Ghumma Fee Me'rifet Al- Umma).

5- Ibn Selah Al- Shahrazouri:

He was renowned in Tafseer & Hedeeth. His most famous book

is ( Muqaddimet Ibn Selah) in Hedeeth.

6- Prince Husam Al- Din:

He was one of the commanders of ( SalahaddinAl- Ayyoubi)

taking part in the wars against the Crusaders.

7- Hasan Ibn Muhammed Al- Erbili:

He was a poet and philosopher.

8- Ibraheem Heyderi

9- Abu Bekr Fendi



Ancient Archaeological sites in Erbil


Erbil has about (636) ancient archaeological sites.

The most important are as below:

1- Erbil Castle: It lies in the middle of Erbil on which

the city has been established for centuries.

The castle cuniform historical texts date back to

the remains or Assyrian. Erbil Castle was surrounded

by walls in the Atabegian Period (1102-1210) B.C.

Its area is (60000m), (45m) high and its diameter is (364m).

2- Choly Minaret ( Al- Mudhafferiya Minaret):

It locates to the west of Erbil which was originally

a mosque. Its name is after (Mudhaffer Al- Deen Kokberi).

It's (37) m high and dates back to (1123-1163 A.D.).



Erbil Governorate


Erbil became a governorate on 1st April 1923 according to Act

No. 5307 issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. So,

it became the Governorate of Erbil and was sparated from (Kirkuk).

Location: the city of Erbil is (80) km to the east of the city of Mosul,

(90) km to the south of Kirkuk (196) km of Sulaimanyia and (156) km

of Duhok. It lies on Latitude Circles from the north and (2nd, 42nd)

parallels from the east.


The area of Erbil Governorate is approximately (16,484 km).

Agriculture in Erbil:









Erbil lies equally between the two rivers known as (Zab) having

a great agricultural lands in Erbil is as shown Below:


Cultivated Area: 1181650

Rain- irrigation Area: 1547242

Natural Forests Area: 1116500

Superficial Forests Area: 16854

Mountainous Area: 2692366

Tourist Sites of Erbil:


There are several tourist sites in Erbil people resort to over the year:

1- Salahaddin Resort: It's (1090) m above the sea level.

2- Seri Rush: It's (8) km of Salahaddin Resort.

It's a tourist village lying on a mountain top, with (1700) m

above the sea level and very cool in summer.

3- Town of Shaqlawa:

It's to the south of Salahaddin being (996) m above sea level.

It is renowned for its woods.

4- There are several tourist sites on the (Hamilton) Road, (210)

Connecting Kurdistan with Iran, like:

Hareer, Khalifan, Shellal Geli Ali Beg, Jundiyan, Bekhal,

Rawanduz, Choman and Rayat Haji Umaran.

Most of these areas surrounded by Kurdistan high mountains



Importance of Erbil

Erbil is a strategic place having great importance for Iraqi Kurdistan Region for the grounds below:

1- Having many ancient arechaeologies.

2- Being in the middle of Iraqi Kurdistan. It connects the three Governorates (Sulaimanyia, Duhok, Kirkuk)

by means of trade.

3- Having large agricultural area.

4- Having many tourist archaeological sites.

5- Being the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

6- Embracing Iraqi Kurdistan Region National Assembly Office;

Regional Government Head Offices and location of all ministries.

7- Embracing International NGOs & UN Agencies offering services

to the area and having Einkawa as a base.

8- Having most of Iraqi, Kurdish, Turkish, Assyrian and Islamic

Political Parties, headquarters.

9- Having many trade union and popular organizations, like:

(teachers, engineers, farmers, doctors, jurists, workers, women,

civil servants, students, artists and journalists).

10- Having Salahaddin University with all Colleges, Technical

Institutes, Teachers Central Institute and Fine Arts Institute.

11- Having many Educational Institute, like:

Sport, Primary, Intermediate, Preparatory and Vocational studies.

12- Having many cultural buildings, like Shown Hall, Cinema Hall,

Meeting Halls. Public and Private Libraries along with many daily,

weekly, monthly newspapers and magazines in different languages like:

( Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Assyrian as well as English).

13- Having many factories, like:

Poultry, Dairy, Cigarettes, Marble, Animal Feed and Fodder, Carpets and Textile) factories.

14- Having many health offices in the General and Private Hospitals, doctors' clinics,

medicines stores and pharmacies.

15- Having several TV and Radio stations that broadcast

various programmes. These stations belong to the political parties.

16- Having many agricultural, irrigational and research offices.

17- Having many services offices, like Municipality, Traffic, Water, Electric Power, Sewage,

Roads, Housing, Post, Telegraph and Telephone.

18- Having several banks, like: ( Central; Rasheed; Rafidain; Real-estate and Agricultural) Banks.

19- Several markets for various things and services.

20- Several public gardens, Luna Parks and sports and celebrational fields.


Arbil (also written Erbil or Irbil; BGN: Arbīl; Arabic: اربيل, Arbīl; Kurdish: هه‌ولێر, Hewlêr; Syriac: ܐܪܒܝܠ, Arbela, Turkish: Erbil) is believed by many to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world and is one of the larger cities in Iraq [1] [2] [3]. The city lies eighty kilometres (fifty miles) east of Mosul. In 2005, its estimated population was 990,000 inhabitants. The city is the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government.


Ancient history

Urban life at Arbil can be dated back to at least the twenty-third century BC. The city's archaeological museum contains only pre-Islamic objects. The name Arbil was mentioned in the Sumerian holy writings (about 2000 B.C.) as Orbelum or Urbilum. Others believe the name derives from the Akkadian arba'ū ilū, meaning "four gods". The city was a centre for the worship of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar. In classical times, the city was known by its Aramaic name, Arbela.


After revolts of Medes led by Phraortes king of Media (522-521 BC) were put down by Darius I of Persia, the Sagartians of Arbela rebelled against Darius continuing the Median revolts. Darius sent an army led by a Median general named Takhmaspâda, and in the summer of 521 BC defeated Sagartians, led by Tritantaechmes, who claimed to be a descendant of the Great Median King Cyaxares. According to Darius, the rebel of Arbela was the last revolt of Media which he put down. These incidents are carved on the Behistun Inscription around Kermanshah.


The Battle of Gaugamela, in which Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia in 331 BC, took place about one hundred kilometres (sixty miles) 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.


The name Hewlêr, is also used for this historic town of Mesopotamia by Kurdish settlers of the city and derives from Horlêr, meaning "Temple of the Sun" in the Kurdish language. This may have originated from the religions of Mithraism, Yazdanism and Zoroastrianism practiced by Kurds in which the sun and fire play a significant role (see also: Helios).


Arbil became, like Amida (Diyareker), part of the region disputed between Rome and Persia under the Sassanians. Under Emperor Trajan it was named the Roman province of Assyria, and after a century of independence was reoccupied by Rome. The Jewish kingdom of Adiabene (Greek form Hadyab) 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, although the general population may have remained eclectic but with a strong eastern Christian presence. The queen of the Adiabenians apparently adopted Christianity, and it spread throughout this region, so that the area became a Christian stronghold. It served as the seat of a Metropolitan of the Church of the East. It is known from Butler's Lives of the Saints (see Martyrs of Hadiab) as the site of the Sassanian Persian martyrdom of almost 350 Christians in the year 345.


Until 10th century Arbil was populated by Hadhabani (Adiabeni) Kurds who gradually migrated northward. It had also a significant Aramaic speaking Assyrian population until its destruction by the forces of Timurlane in 1397[citation needed]. From its Christian period come many church fathers and well-known authors in Syriac, the classical language off-shoot of Aramaic. The 13th century Syriac writer Gewargis Warda Arbillaya [from Arbil] identifies the Christian population of Arbil and neighboring areas as Assyrians in a prayer dedicated to the Rogation of the Ninevites. In the wake of Timur's raids, when only one Christian village is alleged to have survived, Arbil increasingly became a Muslim-dominated town. As is attested in the region in general, those who converted to Islam became enfolded into the ethnic Muslim culture of the region, whether Turkish, Arab, Persian or Kurdish. Arbil is also the birth place of the famous Muslim historian and writer of 13th century, Ibn Khallikan.


The modern town of Arbil stands on a tell topped by an Ottoman fort. During the Middle Ages, Arbil became a major trading centre on the route between Baghdad and Mosul, a role which it still plays today with important road links to the outside world. A small population of Assyrian Christians (about 15,000) live mostly in suburbs such as Ankawa.


The Kurdish name for the city is Hawler meaning the place where sun is worshipped. The name is thought to derive from the Kurdish name helio(sun)[4].



[edit] Modern history

The parliament of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region was established in Arbil in 1970 after negotiations between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish militants, but was effectively controlled by Saddam Hussein until the Kurdish uprising at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The legislature ceased to function effectively in the mid-1990s when fighting broke out between the two main Kurdish factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (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.


Obtaining assistance from Saddam Hussein to fight fellow Kurds, still hangs over Mesud Barzani, the leader of the PDK. Furthermore, while the forces of Saddam Hussein ransacked Arbil, many NGO's and International Organizations fled Erbil. These same organizations were able, with the assistance of the United States and other countries, to accept many Kurds as refugees. Many bound to the US were first taken to Guam.


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, a United States 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 Baghdad.


Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, only isolated, sporadic violence has hit Arbil, unlike many other areas of Iraq. Parallel bomb attacks against the Eid celebrations arranged by the PUK and KDP killed 109 people on February 1, 2004. Responsibility was claimed by the Islamist group Ansar al-Sunnah, which was said to be in solidarity with the Kurdish Islamist faction Ansar al-Islam. Another bombing on May 4, 2005 killed 60 civilians. Despite these bombings the population generally feels safe.


The new Iraqi constitution of 2005, explicitly recognizes the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the two parallel administrations, in January 2006, signed an agreement to unify the administration of the entire Kurdish region under a new multi-party government in Arbil. In May 2006 the unitary government of the Kurdistan region was formally presented. [5]



[edit] Communications

Arbil has been a center of communications for many centuries. It was a major stop on the Silk road.


Korek Telecom, began operations in 2004.






[edit] Travel

A new international airport Erbil International Airport flying the Kurdish, but not the Iraqi flag, was opened in autumn of 2005, with portraits of Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani, and Masoud Barzani. It has scheduled flights to a number of airports in Europe and the Middle East, with Austrian Airlines being the first IATA airline company to operate scheduled flights from December 11, 2006, to its hub in Vienna, Austria.


Moreover, the KRG is building a new $300 million airport adjacent to the existing terminal, which will have the capacity to accept the largest aircraft in the world, including the Russian Antonov 225 cargo plane and the American C-5 Galaxy. It is scheduled for completion in 2008.



[edit] Visa Information

Visas on arrival are available for Citizens of the United States and the European Union. Other nationalities must obtain a visa before arrival. As of Spring 2007, the enforecement of this policy became more strict






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Taken on July 9, 2007