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Kurdish Jews in Rawanduz, northern Iraq, 1905

The town Rawanduz (Kurdish: Rwandiz, also known as Rawandows, Rewanduz, Rawandouz and Ruwandiz) is located in the sub-district of Soran, in the Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the Iranian border.

The name of the city derives from Rawend diz which means castle of Rawends. The name Rawend was spelled as Orontes in hellenic sources. The population in 2003 was 95,089. The striking scenery has been noted by a number of visitors to the region. Hamilton relates that the Rowanduz gorge was said to the be finest in Asia. [1]

Rowanduz is mentioned in ancient sources. In the time of the Mannaeans, the city was a major trading post on the road to Nineveh. [2]

Rowanduz was the capital of the Soran Emirate, which is said to have lasted from 1399 to 1835.

The Chaldeans relate that, in the 1830s, the governor of Rowanduz, nicknamed "Merkor", was known for his hatred of Christians and Chaldeans. In 1833, he attacked Tel Keppe and Elqosh and killed thousands of their inhabitants, kidnapping the women and children, and setting fire to the town. This "Merkor" is almost certainly Mir Muhammad, then ruler of the Soran Emirate [3]

In 1915, during the First World War, the town was destroyed by the Russians. [4] In 1922 the town was occupied by the Turks, until they were driven out at the end of the year. [5] The British army occupied the town on 22 April 1923. The British decided to say in place to await the arrival of a special commission to fix the border between Turkey and Iraq, believing that if they left the Turkish troups would return. [6]

Rowanduz was known for its blood-feuds. In 1930, the traveller Hamilton noted: "it has always been a place of grim deeds and bloody retributions.Its greater and its lesser rulers alike have nearly all met with violent deaths and even today this reputation is being well earned" [7]

The anthropologist Edmund Leach went to Rowanduz in 1938, to study the Rowanduz Kurds, intending to make this the subject of his thesis. His field trip had to be aborted because of the Munich crisis, but he nevertheless published his monograph "Social and Economic Organization of the Rowanduz Kurds " two years later. [8] [9]

As of July 2007, Rawanduz was undergoing major reconstruction. The bazaar was being relocated to make room for a new road.

The Pank tourist Resort, which was opened in 2007 by Hazem Kurda, a former refugee of Saddam Hussein's regime, is the first such resort in Iraq. It includes a ferris wheel and other rides, including a toboggan. When complete it will include a five-star hotel, restaurants, swimming pools, saunas, tennis courts, helipads and mini golf. [10]

In the past Rawanduz was known as a centre of Kurdish resistance against the Iraqi Government.


  1. ^ Hamilton, Archibald Milne (1930). "Road through Kurdistan: travels in Northern Iraq". Retrieved 2009-09-08.  
  2. ^ Chahin, M. (1987). "The kingdom of Armenia: a history". Croom Helm. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  3. ^ "Welcome to Tel Keppe". Chaldeans Online. Retrieved 2009-09-11.  
  4. ^ "ASSYRIANS & THE ASSYRIAN IDENTITY IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE". Zinda magazine. 1999-11-16. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  5. ^ "THE DEVELOPMENT OF AIR CONTROL IN IRAQ.". National Archives (UK). October 1922. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  6. ^ Sluglett, Peter (1976). "The Kurdish Problem and the Mosul Boundary: 1918-1925". Ithaca. Retrieved 2009-09-08.  
  7. ^ Hamilton, Archibald Milne (1930). "Road through Kurdistan: travels in Northern Iraq". Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  8. ^ Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja (2002). "Edmund Leach: An Anthropological Life". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  9. ^ Leach, Edmund (1940). "Social and Economic Organization of the Rowanduz Kurds". London School of Economics. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  
  10. ^ Howard, Michael (2007-06-16). "All the fun of the fair - it must be Iraq". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-06.  


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