View of the site of Qasr Shemamok, ancient Kilizu

At the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, the king Shamshi-Addu I of Assyria conducted a series of military campaigns in the region and, together with the army of Eshnunna, conquered the city of Qabra, possibly identifiable with the site of Kurd Qaburstan. In the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, the regions to the east of the river Tigris were controlled by Mitanni and, later, by the Middle Assyrian kingdom. During the Neo-Assyrian period (c. 1000-612 BC), the Erbil Plain was part of the empire’s core as it is located just to the south-east of the grand capital cities of Nimrud, Ninive and Khorsabad. During this period, the area became densely occupied and its water resources were intensely exploited through the construction of large artificial canals and monumental aqueducts. The regional capitals were Kilizu, identified with the site of Qasr Shemamok, and the religious center of Arbela/Arba’il, which lies hidden beneath the Medieval citadel of Erbil.

In classical times (3rd century BC – 6th century A.D), the region was part of the territory initially controlled by the Seleucids, then by the Parthians and later by the Sasanian kingdom. The region was eventually conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century BC and was integrated into the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates.

View of the Erbil citadel from the Central Square