As I put together my list of things to research for blogs (and my own edification), I put several of them in line to be done ‘soon’. I thought I had a fairly random method of choosing what to slap on that ‘soon’ list, yet here we are, looking (yet again) at what little is known about an ancient city.
Hatra was founded in the 2nd or 3rd century BC by the Seleucid Empire, which was established by a group of Greeks. But Hatra wasn’t in Greece, it was located in the northern part of modern Iraq. It was captured by the Parthian Empire (based in ancient Iran) probably in the 1st century AD, and it then thrived as a religious and trading center. As an important fortified frontier city, Hatra resisted repeated attacks by the Roman Empire and others, but fell in 241 AD to invading Iranians.
Hatra had more than 160 towers and two walls - inner and outer - that circled an area 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) in diameter. It was a religious center, but it didn’t seem to care what god people wanted to worship; it adopted them all. The major temples were gathered together over 1.2 hectares in the middle of the city, dominated by The Great Temple, which at one time rose 30 meters (100 feet) into the air.
For many centuries, the Hatra ruins were the best preserved example of a Parthian city. Unfortunately, in2015 it was reported that ISIL was destroying the ruins. I did not find any report about how much – if any – of it might remain.
I did see some lovely pictures of the ruins, and they were impressive. I also found a list of rulers for this city, but I didn’t care about that. Archeologists studied the site at various times during the 20th century, and there was some effort to preserve the site. But I have no clue about the topography of the city’s location, no idea where the people got their water and food, what they ate or wore. The only way I could possibly ‘use’ this information in a story would be as the ruins that Hatra has been for so long. And that seems like a crying shame.