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Sharazor (also: Sharassur, Shahrassor, Shahrassur, ShahreAssur, ShehriAssur, Land of Assur, and City of Assur, Turkish: Şehrizor) was name of a Medes and Sassanid district (assurestan), Kurdish kingdom, Ottoman vilayet and finally a Sanjak of Mosul vilayet situated to the southern and eastern part of what is now known as Iraqi Kurdistan.

The plain of Sharazor has an important status among adherents of native religion of Yarsan as a holy and sacred region where God descends for the Last Judgement.[1]



The name of Sharazor is formed of two words: Shar or shahr meaning "land, region, city" and zor with several meanings but probably one of these: "power, difficulty, generosity, plentitude," and probably is an arabized form of jor meaning height. However, according to the 12th century geographer, Yaqut al-Hamawi, it originates from the name of the son of Zahhak, whom he mentions as founder of the famous city of Sharazor.[2]



Sassanid era

Sharazor and its king Yazdan Kard are mentioned in the Karnamag, a book of Persian mythology, of Ardashir I[3] and also in the inscription of Narseh alongside Garmian. During the Sassanids era the region of Sharazor was one of the 5 provinces of the satrapy of Medes, an ancient Iranian people.

In the 4th century, some of inabitants of Sharazor who had converted to Christianity were persecuted by Sassanids. Among the prominent examples of this persecution is the killing of Bishop Shahdost Shahrazori and 128 of his followers.

In 627 AD. Sharazor was invaded by Heraclius and remained under Byzantine Empire till 639.

Arab conquest

In the year 642 AD, Sharazor witnessed a big battle between Kurds and invading Arab Muslims aiming to conquer the Sassanid empire. After suffering massive casualties, the Arabs assumed control of it in 643 AD.

According to the classical concept, during the Sassanids era, the region of Sharazor corresponded to the modern provinces of Suleimania, Kirkuk, and parts of the Diyala province. It was centered upon the city of Sharazor in the vicinity of Suleimania.


A Kurdish kingdom is reported to have ruled the region from the 11th century until the 16th.[4] The historic site of the ruins of the Yassin tepe indicate the location of its capital city.[5]

Yaqoot Hamawi describes the region of Sharazor as areas between Irbil to the west and Hamadan to the east including many cities, towns and villages. He mentions the inhabitants of the region as having been entirely Kurds, who were rebellious against the Sultan and ruled their own area.[6]

Sharazor was the first capital of the Ardalan state. The region was later under Baban dominion, another important medieval principality.

Ottoman era

In the later medieval era, approximately the 16th century, the vilayet of Sharazor surrounding the city of Kirkuk, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. This vilayet was inclusive of the three present-day gavornorates of Suleimania, Kirkuk and Irbil.

In 1879, the region of Suleimania was separtaed from the vilayet of Sharazor and the remaining regions were incorporated as a sanjak, or administrative region, along with the vilayet of Mosul. Around the year 1894, the sanjak of Sharazor was renamed to 'Kirkuk, after its capital city, in order to avoid confusion with the sanjak of Zor in the neighbouring vilayet of Sham.

Iraqi rule

In the 20th century, the government of Iraq formed a Kirkuk Governorate which included the region of Kirkuk and excluding previously Suleimania and Irbil districts. Under the Baath regime's rule the Kirkuk governorate underwent a process of arabization and Saddam Hussein separated Kurdish-inhabited towns of the governorate. He renamed the governorate to Al-Tamim meaning 'state-owned'.

Modern Sharazor

Modern Assyrians continue to revere the site. According to modern usage, the name Sharazor is primarily used to refer to the plain between Suleimania and Derbendixan.

See also


  1. ^ Islamic Desk Reference, by Emeri van Donzel, page: 408, ISBN 9004097384
  2. ^ Kitab Mu'jam Al Buldan by Yaqoot Hamawi, Book 3, p: 425-427
  3. ^ The Kârnâmag î Ardashîr î Babagân, Book of the Deeds of Ardashir son of Babag, Chapter VI
  4. ^ Kurdistan: Divided Nation of the Middle East - Page 10, by S. S. Gavan. Lawrence & Wishart, 1958
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: A New Survey of Universal Knowledge, pg. 521, by Walter Yust, 1951; and The Pageant of Persia: A Record of Travel by Motor in Persia, by James Rives Childs, pg. 253, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1936.
  6. ^ Kitab Mu'jam Al Buldan, by Yaqoot Hamawi, vol. 3, pgs. 425-427

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