Hatra, Iraqi Sanctuary Of Deities Withstanding Assault Over 2,000 Years

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Facade of Temple (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Hatra, Iraqi Sanctuary Of Deities Withstanding Assault Over 2,000 Years

The ruins of Hatra, located 290 kilometers (180 miles) northwest of modern Baghdad, tell the story of a second century AD Kingdom, whose rulers walked hand-in-hand with the reigning Arsacid Dynasty of the Parthian Empire. The origin of Hatra is shrouded in mystery, although the meaning of its name, ‘enclosure’ may indicate it was a place where nomadic Arab tribes congregated on neutral ground, around a religious centre. Mention is made of inscriptions referring to a powerful clan chieftain called Woron, who carried the title mry (lord) and his grandson Ma’n or Mannos and who were overlords over Singara on the Iraqi Nineveh plains and the deserted region east of Osroene.

Approximate map of the kingdom of Hatra (green) and other Parthian Mesopotamian vassal kingdoms (circa AD 200) (Ichthyovenator / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Approximate map of the kingdom of Hatra (green) and other Parthian Mesopotamian vassal kingdoms (circa AD 200) (Ichthyovenator / CC BY-SA 4.0)

King Vologases III and Lord Nashrihab

During his reign between 78 to 110 AD, Pacorus II, son of the powerful King Vologases I, of the Arsacid Dynasty, ruled the Parthian Empire from their new capital Ctesiphon on the banks of the Tigris, and endeavoured to secure the regions around the caravan trade routes, which would have included Hatra, ruled over by lords.  Vologases III (Greek form of the Parthian Walagasa) succeeded Pacorus II. A civil war ensued between Vologases III and Osroes I, who had seized the western part of the Parthian Empire, including Mesopotamia.


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