Kingdom of Hatra

Kingdom of Hatra
2nd century CE–241
Hatra area of influence[citation needed]
Hatra area of influence[citation needed]
StatusAutonomous state, frequently a vassal of the Parthian Empire
Common languagesHatran Aramaic
• Established
2nd century CE
• Fall of Hatra
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Seleucid Empire
Sasanian Empire
Today part ofIraq

The Kingdom of Hatra (Hatran Aramaic: 𐣠𐣣𐣡𐣩𐣠 'RBY') was a 2nd-century Arab kingdom located between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire, mostly under Parthian suzerainty,[1][2] located in modern-day northern Iraq.


The name of "Hatra" appears various times in the Aramaic Hatrene inscriptions as ḥṭrʾ (Ḥaṭrā), probably meaning "enclosure, hedge, fence".[2]


The history of Hatra before the Parthian era is obscure. It has been suggested that a settlement was founded there under the Assyrians or the Achaemenids, but that remains speculative.[2] The earliest known records that mention Hatra are from the late 1st-century.[3] The early rulers of Hatra used the title of marya (lord), but starting from the 170s, they started using the title of malka (king), often in the form of "King of the Arabs".[4][5] This elevation of titulature is considered to be related to the Roman incorporation of Edessa in 165, which resulted in Hatra being the westernmost part of the Parthian Empire, and thus of higher strategic importance.[6]

In the 1st and 2nd century, Hatra was ruled by a dynasty of Arab princes. It rose to prominence as the capital of Hatra and became an important religious center as a result of its strategic position along caravan trade routes. Hatra is one of the first Arab states to be established outside of Arabia, preceded by the Kingdom of Osroene (132 BC–216 AD) and the Kingdom of Emesa (64 BCE–300s CE), and followed by the Ghassanids (220–638) and the Lakhmids (300–602), buffer states of the Roman and Sassanid Empires, respectively.

Hatra had withstood sieges by Roman emperors Trajan and Septimius Severus and the Sasanian king Ardashir I. The kingdom finally fell after the capture of Hatra by the Sasanians under Shapur I, who destroyed the city.[7]

Ruins of the capital Hatra


Hatra was part of the Parthian commonwealth, a term used by historians to refer to cultures that were under Parthian control, but mainly populated by non-Iranians.[8] Although the Hatran language and its cults were very similar to that of the rest of Aramaic-speaking world in Mesopotamia and Syria, the Parthian Empire had heavily influenced the culture and political system of Hatra, as attested by epigraphic and archaeological findings.[9]

Many Parthian titles are known to have been used, many which were also used in slightly different variants in Armenia as well as some in Parthia. This includes titles such as naxwadār (also attested in Armenian as naxarar), which was seemingly used as a personal name in Hatra. Other titles include pasāgrīw (heir-apparent), bitaxs (possibly viceroy), asppat (head of cavalry), ašpazkan (chamberlain), hadarpat (possibly chiliarch), naxširpat (chief of the hunt), and dahicpat, a word used as an epithet of the god Nergol. Not all the titles are solely Parthian, as some of the seem to have been derived from Old Persian. Regardless, these titles are attested in all the western parts of the Parthian Empire, which indicates that the Hatran court was shaped to imitiate that of the Parthian royal court.[10]

Like the rest of the Parthian commonwealth, Iranian personal names are also well attested in Hatra. The ruling family adopted the same names used by the Arsacid kings, such as Worod, Walagash and Sanatruq. The local populace also dressed in Parthian clothing, used Parthian jewellery and bore Parthian weapons.[11]

List of rulers[]

Name Title Date Portrait Note
1 Worod mry´
2 Ma’nu mry´
3 Elkud mry´ 155/156
4 Nashrihab mry´ 128/29 - 137/38 AD
5 Naṣru mry´ 128/29 - 176/77
6 Wolgash I mry´ and mlk
7 Sanatruq I mry´ and mlk 176/177 Ruled together with Wolgash I
8 Wolgash II
9 Abdsamiya mlk 192/93 - 201/202 Supported the Roman emperor Pescennius Niger
10 Sanatruq II mlk 207/08 - 229/230 Became a vassal of the Romans under Gordian III during Roman-Persian Wars

See also[]


  1. ^ Gregoratti 2017, pp. 126, 138.
  2. ^ a b c Schmitt 2003, pp. 58–61.
  3. ^ Ellerbrock 2021, p. 112.
  4. ^ de Jong 2013, p. 149.
  5. ^ Ellerbrock 2021, p. 113.
  6. ^ de Jong 2013, pp. 149–150.
  7. ^ Whitworth, Patrick (2018). Suffering and Glory: The Church from the Apostles to Constantine. Sacristy Press. p. 212. ISBN 9781910519929.
  8. ^ de Jong 2013, pp. 153–154.
  9. ^ Canepa 2018, p. 322.
  10. ^ de Jong 2013, p. 156.
  11. ^ de Jong 2013, p. 157.