As readers of my books know, I devote many pages in them to restoring an awareness of the once-mighty Parthian Empire, which dominated South Central Asia for almost 500 years, from the third century BC until its collapse in the 3rd century AD. This link discusses the now “alarming state” of deterioration of the ruins of the famous Parthian city of Hatra. The link also depicts the appearance some of Hatra’s buildings.
Have you ever heard of the famous ancient city of Hatra? Indeed, how many new readers have even heard of the powerful ancient empire of Parthia? Hatra’s ruins used to be a popular archaeological tourist site, but it has now all but dropped off everyone’s tourist itineraries as it is in a very dangerous region of the world. It is located in Northwest Iraq, not far from the Syrian border. Modern readers should know about this ancient city and its once-important role in the global geopolitics between the two great ancient superpowers: the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire. These empires often fought very large-scale wars, but they enjoyed a time of peace during the entire life of Jesus Christ–making it possible for a delegation of Parthian nobility or “senators” to visit a young child in ancient Judea. That young child is named Jesus Christ in English-language Bibles. The Parthian senators were called the Wise Men or Magi, as my books reveal, and these Parthian senators traveled with many thousands of armed “knights” as escorts. That is why even a madman like Herod the Great treated them with such deference in the account of Matthew 2. However, that is a story for another time. This posting is about Hatra, a Parthian city that the Wise Men/Magi almost certainly passed through on their way to visit the young Christ-child.
Even as Edward Gibbon wrote the famous book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the famous British historian, George Rawlinson, wrote the definitive and exhaustive history book about the Parthian Empire. It was entitled, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, substantially the same book as his book called “Parthia,” in the Story of the Nations series. In his book (my copy is dated 1872), Rawlinson laments the fact that even in his time, the massive and powerful Parthian Empire, the equal rival of Rome in Rome’s own estimation, had largely been forgotten. Allow me to make a theoretical comparison.
If for some reason, all textbook makers and historians throughout the world agreed to refuse to mention the Roman Empire in any more books, movies, etc. and agreed to destroy the Roman Coliseum, the Pantheon, Trajan’s arch, and all Roman ruins, how accurate a picture of ancient history would people living several centuries into the future have of ancient history? It would be totally warped and incomplete without any mention of the Roman Empire, right? Well, that is exactly how warped and incomplete the modern view of ancient history is without any mention of the Parthian Empire in virtually all history texts and history books, lists of famous battles, etc. Remember Crassus, the famous Roman general who put down the revolt of Spartacus? He invaded Parthia with an army of 40,000 and was killed and his entire army either destroyed, scattered or taken captive by the Parthians. Marc Antony, the famous Roman leader know for his dalliance with Cleopatra, invaded Parthia with about 110,000 Roman soldiers and barely made it out of Parthia alive with the defeated remnant of his army. You read lots of information about these defeated Roman invaders of Parthia, but how much were you taught about the generals and emperors of the vastly-superior Parthian armies who defeated those famous Roman military leaders? Nothing, I’ll bet. That ignorance exists, in my judgment, because the Parthians are easily proven to be the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel who went into captivity first to Assyria, then Babylon and later to Persia. When the Israelite Parthians finally revolted and ruled over the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians for centuries, they were specifically fulfilling a prophecy in Isaiah 14:2 that the ten tribes of Israel would eventually rule over all the empires that had taken them or held them as captives.
Now let’s describe the ancient Parthian city of Hatra. Rawlinson’s book states that this prominent, regional Parthian city was almost impregnable to attack. Its walls were ten feet thick and surrounded by a deep ditch and an earthen berm. Its city walls “considerably exceeded three miles” in circumference (The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, p. 373). Parthian engineers were very skilled and built in Hatra a variety of vaulted halls, the largest of which was sixty feet high. Hatra was a Parthian city on the western edge of the Parthian Empire, so it was often involved in Roman-Parthian wars. Rome never had the power to penetrate the central or eastern portions of Parthia’s empire. Hatra’s population is attributed to have had a large Arabian population and it enjoyed considerable local autonomy in the Parthian Empire, as did a number of Parthian cities. However, the faces inscribed in Hatra’s ruins or in other Parthian cities or on Parthian coins and relics depict Caucasian faces.
Hatra successfully withstood powerful Roman sieges led personally by the Roman Emperors Trajan and Septimus Severus in the 2nd century AD. Hatra was so large that it could attack besieging Roman armies with its own cavalry forces and it was known for a terrific body of archers. When the Roman Emperor Severus tried to conquer the city in 198-199 AD, he was defeated and Hatra’s defenders destroyed almost all of Severus’ siege engines, utilized war engines of their own in defending the city and even terrified the Romans with an unusual defensive fire, which Rawlinson describes as a naphtha-based fire “which was thought to be almost inextinguishable” (Ibid, p. 343, Footnote 5). This siege warfare between the Romans and Hatra’s defenders would have been fought much like that depicted in the movie, Kingdom of Heaven. The fire used by the Parthian defenders must have seemed like an ancient form of napalm to the Romans, whose technology was not sufficiently advanced to have developed the same kind of weapon. Rome’s technology was very impressive, but Parthia excelled Roman technology in some areas. Not only did the Parthians have a napalm-like fire for warfare, but they built ships so large they sailed with seven masts and they invented electric batteries with DC current. A cutaway illustration of a Parthian DC battery appears on the cover of my book, Parthia–The Forgotten Ancient Superpower.
I lament the fact that modern mankind is so abysmally-ignorant of the cities and empires founded by the migrating ten tribes of Israel as well as their locations among the modern nations. For a thorough history of the forgotten but massive Israelite empire of Parthia, you can order my aforementioned book on Parthia or order my E-book, The “Lost” Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! This same E-book can also be ordered at Amazon.com as a Kindle book.