The site of the Christian city of Hira in Iraq is in danger

The site of the Christian city of Hira in Iraq is in danger

Hira, considered the ancient capital of the lakhmids, is very close to the Najaf airport (Iraq) and five years ago three areas were discovered that have not yet been explored and that are currently neglected, to the point that the authorities fear that they will end up disappearing. The deposits they are not fenced in and lack security. Experts claim that contain mud walls and jugs that are exposed to adversity and they are less than 100 meters from an active airport runway.

The Lakhmids were a pre-Islamic Arab tribe what is believed emigrated to Iraq from Yemen in the 2nd century. The founder of the dynasty was Amr, whose son, al-Qais Imru, converted to Christianity. In the year 266, the lakhmids transformed the former military camp of Hira into their capital and they established their empire throughout northeastern Iraq and Arabia, while influencing the lands that lay between the Persians and the Romans. Arab poets described Hira as a paradise on Earth due to the pleasant climate of the city and the beauty of its people. According to them, one day in Hira it was «better than a year of treatment«.

The director of excavations in the area in 2007, 2009 and 2010, Shakir Abdulzahra Jabari, explains the area has great historical importanceas it is rich in antiques and includes remains of churches, abbeys and palaces. But the researcher criticizes that the remains have been ignored for a year and that they do not receive any attention, despite the fact that many Western countries are interested in their history, being the main gateway of Christianity in Iraq.

Hira's remains They are important thanks to the palaces and monasteries it contains, especially the Aoun al-Abadi palace, which was used as a residence for dignitaries who visited the city, and the Al-Lij monastery. The area includes historical treasures from the Lakhmid era, like the foundations of the massive abbeys with dozens of rooms, ranging from study rooms to storage areas.

Kufa University professor Yahya Kadhim al-Sultani states that Christians who made up about a third of the population of the city of Hira, which was characterized by having a number "nothing despicable of churches”, Which were used to live, research and transmit Christian culture.

The first to explore the area were researchers at the University of Oxford (UK) in the 1930s, followed by Iraqi antiquities experts in 1938, 1956 and 1957. However, it was not until the last series of explorations that they found Al-Khawarnaq Palace, which was built during the reign of Numan I in the 4th century.

Since 2003, the Iraqi government has had other priorities to invest in, so funds for excavations have been cut drastically. Remember that Iraq is a country that has more than 12,000 documented archaeological sites. Furthermore, foreign exploration teams have completely avoided work in Iraq for security reasons and they have preferred to focus on the Kurdistan region, which is relatively safe.

Jabari says that excavation work was resumed in the area in 2007, when the expansion works of the Najaf airport uncovered the first three deposits. Since then, according to the researcher, “have worked to save them from the airport expansion”.

In 2009, Najaf's Department of Antiquities said archaeologists had discovered around 2,100 objects, such as coins, pottery, and a number of buildings, dating from the Lakhmida dynasty. «However, exploration work was stopped a year ago, due to project limits, which ran out of money and without the possibility of carrying out maintenance work on the fields”Explains Jabari, who now fears that neglect will lead to the destruction of antiquities.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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