The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- In
the middle of an Iraqi northern desert, the imposing remains of the 2000 year
old city of
Hatra stand forlornly in the midst of wild grass, faintly attesting to the
remote glory of the third Iranian dynastic Empire, the Parthians (248 BCE-224
CE), reported Xinhua on Monday.
for its high walls full of inscriptions and watchtowers dotted around the
fortified city, Parthian Hatra, about 290 km (180 mi) northwest of Baghdad and
110 km (68 mi) southwest of Mosul. Hatra withstood repeated attacks and played
an important role during the Second Parthian War against the Romans. It repulsed
the sieges of both Trajan (116/117) and Septimius Severus (198/199). After the
fall of the Parthian dynasty, Hatra was included into the new dynastic Empire,
the Sasanians in 224 CE. The ancient city was inscribed on the UNESCO World
Heritage List in 1985, the first such site in nowadays Iraq.
the past decade of unrest following the 2003 US-led invasion, the ancient
Iranian city has been suffering from inadequate excavations and maintenance and
few tourists have ventured into the historic site.
the temples and ruined walls of Hatra where Iranian architecture and decorative
features blended with the Roman art, several Iraqi interior ministry policemen
stood idly with rifles in hand, guarding a sprawling and virtually empty site.
stopped visiting the site years ago because of the insecure situation in the
area, even foreign archaeological teams' safety cannot be ensured," a local
security source who refused to be named told Xinhua.
aren't enough security members available to protect the Hatra archaeological
site, due to fears of regular attacks by armed groups, particularly the Saudi
Arabia sponsored terrorist group al-Qaida, which considers antiquities like the
statues are prohibited in the Islamic Sharia law.
country that sine 1920s known as Iraq is home to one of the earliest
civilizations. In over 5000 years, the country was bestowed with numerous
historic treasures, which, as a result of the unrest in the past decade, have
been afflicted by a cultural catastrophe. The region become part of the Persian
Empire in 539 BCE and remained Iranian over 1100 until 637 CE when it was
invaded by the Arab Muslims.
the chaos following the fall of Baghdad by the United States on April 9, 2003,
the Iraqi national museum was ransacked by looters including some of the US
soldiers. An estimated 15,000 priceless antiquities were lost and only about
haft of them have been recovered so far. Majority have left the country for
museum, which houses some of the world's most precious artefacts of ancient
Mesopotamia, is still not open to the public due to slow renovations amid
persistent violence in the country. Only specially arranged groups are allowed
to visit some renovated halls.
looting also occurred in museums and libraries in other provinces, but more
severe -- and less publicised -- damage was the destruction of Iraq's
and fragile security during the post-invasion years left many historic sites in
the hands of looters who carried out random excavations and stole tens of
thousands of antiquities, usually causing irreversible damage, said Huda
Hussein, an Iraqi female archaeologist.
links of the antiquities to their places are evidences for the civilisations
that once prevailed there, so moving them will cut the links. But of course they
(the looters) don't know or they don't care, and they only care about
money," she said.
least 32,000 items were estimated to have been looted from 12,000 recognised
archaeological sites across Iraq since 2003. Yet for the potentially more than
100,000 sites which are undiscovered, it is impossible to reckon the actual
number of stolen artefacts.
operations and conflicts also took a heavy toll on the cultural heritage,
including the considerable damage inflicted on the historic site of Babylon by
US-led invasion forces as they based their troops on the site in 2003 and 2004.
terrorists backed by Saudi Arabia and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf who
are trying to convert the whole of the Islamic world into the Wahhabism also
known as Salafism, the most radical and extremist sect of Islam (the beliefs of
the Arab terrorists who carried out attacks In the US and Europe including New
York and London) blew up the top section of the Malwiya spiral minaret in the
town of Samarra on April 1, 2005. Before the bombing attack, the 9th-century
tower had been used by US troops as a lookout position.
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