(ORDO NEWS) — On the one hand, there are not so many real antiquities left on Earth – so as not to be the reason, but most of the ancient settlements have disappeared. On the other hand, scientists are making new discoveries by unearthing something important and dating it beyond the limits of time. There is also the oldest city on Earth, which at the same time remains inhabited without interruption.
In 2019, NASA scientists issued a statement that such a place is the citadel in the city of Erbil in Iraq, along with the Qalaa fortress. It is believed that at first it was built as a defensive structure, and only later permanent residents appeared here.
The age of this settlement is estimated at 6 thousand years, all this time people have been living here. There are not so many people, however – according to the 1995 census, their number was 1,631. This is not enough – even in the 20s of the 20th century there were more people here – 500 houses against 247 according to the 1995 census.
Now the city of Erbil itself is very large, and, one might say, important, because it is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Here, for example, is the Kurdistan Parliament and diplomatic missions of the United States, Russia, Great Britain and many other countries.
The growth of the city became, among other things, the reason for the decrease in the inhabitants of the citadel – they simply moved to the foot of the fortress and beyond. In the history of the fortress itself, there was a moment when only one family lived here.
It was in 2007 – all residents were evicted from the territory of the citadel in order to carry out large-scale archaeological work. But in one house, residents were specially left – so as not to interrupt the symbolic continuous habitation of people here due to such an absurd reason.
The citadel itself is a mound with a height of a little less than 30 meters and an area of 102 thousand square meters. It is believed that during all this time the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Mongols managed to live here, the city was Christian, and then came under the rule of the Ottomans.
In general, this is a cross-section of civilizations and cultures, and in a literal sense – after all, during excavations archaeologists study layers belonging to different periods. It was those excavations that eventually became the reason to declare the antiquity of the city. In 2014, the Erbil citadel was included in the UNESCO heritage list.
It is interesting how the fortress was built – in fact, its walls are the houses of the inhabitants. They are built tightly to each other and face the side of the “big city”; there is an embankment under their windows, respectively. Moreover, this embankment rises at an angle of exactly 45 degrees.
Local attractions belong to different times. Let’s start with the fact that the actual permanent settlements here arose a millennium later than the fortress itself was built (according to scientists, of course, which they consider relevant today).
Initially, the city could only be accessed from one side – from the south. Here is now the main local bazaar – Qaysari, which is believed to have been founded in the 14th century. It is to this period that the beginning of the growth of the population of this city is attributed.
The structure of the territory is also interesting from the point of view of division into three different quarters, where people lived separately, Let’s just say, of different social levels. Rich and famous families lived in Serai quarter, dervishes lived in Takya quarter, and artisans and peasants lived in Tophana quarter.
In the “historical events” familiar to us, the city of Erbil also managed to “light up”, only under a different name. It is believed that the city was originally called Urbilum, which translates as “City of four sanctuaries” or “Four gods”.
During Assyrian times, the city was the center of worship for the goddess Ishtar. In the days of the Persians, the “Royal Road” passed here, leading to the Aegean Sea. And in 331 BC. not far from the city, a battle took place between Alexander the Great and Darius III, also known as the Battle of Gaugamela.
Now, excavations are still underway in the citadel, apparently, one family lives and tourists go, who, however, are also not allowed everywhere. It is obvious that now the issue of tourism is temporarily closed – in the summer, local authorities generally closed the entire Erbil province for a week as part of the fight against coronavirus.
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