January 14, 2007 at 2:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My interest in Iraq is purely from a historical perspective.  I culled this brief history of Iraq from the Internet:

A brief history of Iraq
Compiled by Jacqueline Maley
April 9 2003
* Mesopotamia was the name for the ancient region where modern Iraq now stands. A Greek word meaning “between two rivers”, Mesopotamia was a “fertile crescent” wedged between the Tigris and Euphrates, which gave birth to some of the most early and advanced of ancient civilisations.* The Sumerians, one of the most ancient civilisations in the world, came from ancient Iraq. The Sumerians are credited with creating the first identifiable written language, sometime around 4000BC. They also were among the first pioneers of agriculture.

* The ancient city of Babylon, capital of the region of Babylonia, lies in modern-day Iraq, its ruins found about 80 km south of Baghdad.

* The most sophisticated legal code of the ancient world came from Iraq. Introduced by King Hammurabi, whose dynasty ruled Babylonia from about 1793 – 1590BC, it is the first known legal code that takes into account whether a crime was committed intentionally or not. This makes it the precursor of the mens rea principle upon which our modern criminal legal system is based.

* The biblical Tower of Babel is believed to have been in ancient Iraq. During the 6th century BC, Babylon was the site of an imposing “Ziggurat”, a graded temple-tower which many believe was the site of the infamous tower.

* During the reign of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar the Second (604-562 BC), Babylon became the biggest city in the world.

* In 586BC Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judea and sacked Jerusalem, destroying King Solomon’s temple and carrying off thousands of Jews to Babylonia. This period is known to Jews as the “Babylonian Captivity”.

* BBC Online reports that Saddam Hussein sees himself as a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar, “fit to assume the mantle of leader of the Arabs and of the strongest power in the region”.

* There are many bible stories set in Babylonia, for example in the Old Testament we are told that Daniel once worked as a soothsayer interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.

* The great biblical patriarch Abraham came from the city of Ur in ancient Iraq.

* Nebuchadnezzar II is also said to have built the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

* In the Old Testament, God sends Jonah to the ancient metropolis of Nineveh, near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, to warn the people to change their wicked ways.

* In the New Testament’s Book of Revelations, the destruction of Babylon is foretold.

* In ancient times, Baghdad was built on western bank of the Tigris and was also known as Madinatu s-Salam or “City of Peace”.

* Many stories in the legendary Arabian Nights tales are set in and around 8th century Baghdad, where the Abassid caliphate of the Ottoman empire established its capital.

* The Baghdad of Haroun al-Raschid, who features in many Arabian Nights tales, was a very cosmopolitan city, where foreigners from Cathay (China), Hindustan (India) and Nubia (sub-Saharan Africa) mingled in the souks (market-places).

* In its prime, Baghdad was famed as the wealthiest and most dazzling city in the world. Before the sea route between India and Europe was discovered in 1497, it was a great centre of trade, full of caravanserais (caravan inns).

* The legendary warrior Saladin, who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century, was born in Tikrit, near Saddam Hussein’s native village. Saddam has made comparisons between himself and Saladin.

* In 1258, Genghis Khan’s grandson, Hulagu, led an invasion which utterly destroyed the Islamic capital of Baghdad. The Mongol army made a pyramid of the skulls of Baghdad’s scholars, religious leaders and poets. Saddam Hussein recently called President George W Bush “the Hulagu of this age,” and warned the US that “the people of Baghdad have resolved to compel the Mongols of this age to commit suicide on its walls.” (from BBC Online)

* Iraq is an Arabic word for an Arabic settlement in the area in the 7th century. The British formed the modern state of Iraq when they amalgamated the three disparate provinces of Basra (in the south), Baghdad and Mosul (in the north) in the aftermath of WWI, when the ruling Ottoman empire collapsed.

* The modern state of Iraq became independent in 1932.

This story was found at:

I will linger on the subject of Iraq in some more future posts also.  As a student of History, I had a few brushes with the History of the Middle East, and we were prescribed to consult a big tome of work by Prof. K. Hitti.  I have not done full justice to my studies, yet I remained fascinated by History all the time.   Ancient civilizations held my attention because we have been hearing about Mesopotamia, Mohenjodaro, Harrappa during our school days.  I was always thinking about the time in History before the advent of the three world religions, viz., Judaism, Christianity and Islam which all sprant from the same region.  I  liked to know more about the ancient Sumerian, Arcadian, Egyptian, and American Indian Civilizations, and the Chinese and Japanese as well.  It goes without saying that I was interested in ancient Indian History, being an Indian by birth, culture and  attitude.

Education and culture  and higher thoughts existed before the advent of  the great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  Some religions state that  the world has gone through birth, growth and death repeatedly.  This is distinct from the theory of Arnold J. Toynbee which is restricted to  a continuous evolution,, peaking and petrification of civilizations.  The concept of The Great Flood according to Christians and  Jews, and Pralaya according to the Hindus, is  a momentous discovery of the human mind. 

I will continue my loud thinking in my next post.

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