Arrapha and other cities of Mesopotamia in the second millennium BC

Arrapha or Arrapkha (Akkadian: Arrapḫa, Syriac: ܐܪܦܗܐ, Arabic: أررابخا ,عرفة) was an ancient city in what today is northeastern Iraq, on the site of the modern city of Kirkuk.[1] It began as a city of the Gutian people, became Hurrian, and was an Assyrian city[2] during most of its occupation.

In 1948, Arrapha became the name of the residential area in Kirkuk which was built by the North Oil Company as a settlement for its workers.


The city was founded around 2000 B.C by the Assyrians who were known by lowland-dwellers of Southern Mesopotamia as Ashurians, Arapha is also mentioned in Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform records about 2400 BC, Arapha was part of the Assyrian Empire at its peak.[3]

Subsequent to this it fell to the Neo-Sumerian Empire, the Old Assyrian Empire and Babylonian Empire, and was an important trading center in the 18th century BCE under Assyrian and Babylonian rule.[1] However, during the 15th and early 14th century BC it was again a largely Hurrian city, the capital of the small Hurrian kingdom of Arrapkha, situated along the southeastern edge of the area under Mittani domination, until it was fully incorporated into Assyria during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1050 BC) after the Assyrians overthrew the Hurri-Mitanni empire.[1][4][5]

The city reached great prominence in the 11th and 10th centuries BC as a part of Assyria. In 615 BC, seeing the Assyrians occupied with the Babylonians and violent rebellions among themselves, the Median king Cyaxares successfully invaded Arrapha, which was one of the last strongholds of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[6][7] The region later became part of the Persian ruled province of Athura (Achaemenid Assyria).

Arrapha then fell to the Macedonian Empire and its succeeding Seleucid Empire, where it became a part of Seleucid Syria. Syria originally being a Greek corruption of Assyria Arrapha is mentioned as such until Hellenistic times, at which point the settlement was refounded under the Syriac name Karka.[1]

Between the mid 2nd century BC and mid 3rd century AD, during the Parthian Empire and early Sassanid Empire the site was the capital of a small Neo-Assyrian kingdom called "ܒܝܬܓܪܡܝ", that is Beth Garmai, in Assyrian-Aramaic, apart from a brief interregnum in the early 2nd century AD when it became a part of the Roman Province of Assyria.[8] The Sassanids conquered the patchwork of independent Assyrian states in the mid to late 3rd century AD, and Arrapha was incorporated into Sassanid ruled Assuristan (Assyria), until the Arab Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD, when Assuristan was dissolved and Arrapha-Karka eventually became Kirkuk.

Arrapha has not been excavated yet, due to its location beneath modern Kirkuk.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Trevor Bryce. The Routledge Handbook of The People and Places of Ancient Western Asia. Routledge. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-1-134-15908-6. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  2. The Cambridge Ancient History, page 17, by John Boardman
  3. William Gordon East, Oskar Hermann Khristian Spate (1961). The Changing Map of Asia: A Political Geography, 436 pages, p: 105
  4. Kimmons, Sergeant Sean. "Soldiers Help Preserve Archeological Sites".
  5. M. Chahin. Before the Greeks, p. 77.
  6. Martin Sicker. The Pre-Islamic Middle East, Page 68.
  7. I. E. S. Edwards, John Boardman, John B. Bury, S. A. Cook. The Cambridge Ancient History. p. 178-179.
  8. Mohsen, Zakeri (1995). Sasanid soldiers in early Muslim society: the origins of 'Ayyārān and Futuwwa. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 135. ISBN 978-3-447-03652-8.

External links

Coordinates: 35°27′00″N 44°23′00″E / 35.4500°N 44.3833°E / 35.4500; 44.3833

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