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Kirkuk (governorate) • כרכוכ / כירכוכ • كه ركوك • كركوك • Kerkuk

Kirkuk is a place of some note, it contains a good many Jewish, Christian, and Moslem inhabitants. It properly speaking, belongs to the Kurdish territory; the Turkish language is the prevalent tongue of that place, though the Arabic and Kurdish is also spoken there. The natives are notorious for their quarrelsome and revengeful disposition; hence fights between the citizens have been, even of late years, very common events; this however has been in some measure changed for the better, by the comparatively good government of Turkey. Sternschuss, 1848

[Kirkuk] is partly built on a mound upwards of 100 feet high, and is surrounded by a wall. It has a population of 16,000 souls, and the peasants of the adjacent villages resort to toil bazaars to supply their wants. ... This place (1836), is partly in ruins; its bazaars were deserted, and most of the houses were uninhabited. It has a castle, but the dwellings within its walls, like those in the town, were mostly unoccupied. Not far from Kerkuk there are some naphtha wells, and a little beyond, sulphureous hot springs. Wood, 1872, p 68

Like collections from Telegraph Pole 26/22 and Serandur by Braidwood and Howe, coarse Mousterian findings were discovered in gravels near Kirkuk by Garrod (1928) in 1927.



Qara Chiwar

The village Qara Chiwar (meaning continental feeling) was destroyed in 1987 by Saddam Hussein's forces and later information on this site's history could not be located. Not yet tested beyond the collection of surface material in Braidwood's 1960 study of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kharaba Qara Chiwar (kharaba meaning nearly or waste) is about 2km below the village Qara Chiwar and 42km southwest of Jarmo. This is a mound on a gravel hill on the left bank of the upper Tauq Chai river, where it has turned westward as it breaks through the Jabal Tasa ridge onto the piedmont. Sayid Sabri Shukri discovered this site during his own earlier surveys and led Braidwood, Howe and team to it. It was unclear whether its surface assemblage was more comparable with that of the general horizon of M'lefaat, Karim Shahir and Gird Chai, though Braidwood was inclined toward the latter.

Tell Matarrah

Tell Matarrah is some 20 miles south of Kirkuk, about 250 meters above sea level. It is on the piedmont plain and is not large relative to other mounds in this zone, only about 200 m in diameters and about 8 m high. Only the upper half consists of occupation debris, indicating that the original village was built on a small natural hill, a curious anomaly in that it rises above the general level of the piedont plain at this point. About 5 km est is the low Kani Domlan-Jabal Tasak ridge, first of the series which builds up to the Kurdish mountains. This ridge is the source of water, and a small wadi (now dry except during the rainy season) flows from it to pass by the foot of the mound, even eroding some of the mound. "Turning away from the ridge on the east, one sees in all other directions the vast stretch of the piedmont plain, here becoming flat, its horizon broken occasionally by mounds which were occupied predominantly in periods later than that of Matarrah." About 15 to 25 km to the west of Matarrah, these mounds begin to thin out and disappear. The catalogue from Matarrah closely resembles that of the Hassunan type site, indicating Matarrah was a somewhat impoverished southern variant of the Hassunan culture. This reflects the situation today, where villages of the piedmont south of Kirkuk are too near the danger line of meager rainfall (falling outside the isohyet of rainfall for dry farming) to flourish like the villages of the Assyrian plane proper to the north.

The lowest levels of Matarrah (which were occupied before the appearance of the Samarran style) can be seen as having been temporarily equivalent to the Hassuna levels during the dominance of he standard wares and prior to the appearance of the Samarran style. The upper levels of Matarrah, with Samarran pottery, were, then, equivalent to those levels at Hassuna in which the Samarran style was dominant. Caldwell 1983

Jews of Kirkuk

According to Sternschuss (1848) there were about 250 Jewish families living in Kirkuk.

April 24. -- Being the first day of the Jewish Easter, Mr. Vicars and myself went into the synagogue, thus having an opportunity to see the Jews to the best advantage, as they generally try to make a show on such festivals of their best dresses. It had a striking effect upon me when I contrasted their appearance to the miserable condition of the Jews in Persia, who are not allowed to put on a new garment without putting a patch upon it.

The Easter festival proved a very serious impediment to the prosecution of our work. The Jews here consider that the celebration of this feast, as well as of many others, consists in an unusually great indulgence at the table. They especially drink wine, more than they ought, and much more than they can bear.Sternschuss, 1848


"Braidwood, Robert; Howe, Bruce. 1960. Prehistoric Investigations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilzation No 31. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago, Illinois.

Sternschuss, 1848. Jewish Missionary Intelligence, Volume 14. Sternschuss was a Christian missionary who had converted from Judaism.

Wood, 1872

Richard Wood. Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons.