Ancient Hatra, Iraq, at risk

Ancient city of Hatra, in Iraq. (This and photos below courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Ancient city of Hatra, in Iraq. (This and photos below courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Iraqi FreedomIt is hardly to be believed that the ancient Parthian city of Hatra, more than 2,000 years old, in Iraq, is being demolished by ISIS. Nimrud, older still, was just bulldozed. Recently I wrote of the curious forces destroying ancient holy sites, and all else that is beautiful, in Mecca – destruction caused not by the invasion of Araby by the neo-imperialist troops of Western architecture (though they may be found committing cultural genocide all over the place), but by the ruling families of Saudi Arabia, who apparently hate history and consider modernism an attack on idolatry, or something like that. It is hard for a sane mind to figure out. Whatever the explanation, it does not excuse this travesty.

Read this BBC story, “Islamic State ‘demolish’ ancient Hatra site in Iraq,” and weep.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Books and Culture, Preservation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ancient Hatra, Iraq, at risk

  1. Michael Tyrrell says:

    ISIS avenging the Yale syndicate?… That’s rich.


  2. The American ISIS philistines are demolishing the work of Paul Rudolph.
    Very wrong.


    • Big diff, Patrick. It is a democratic process, and the work of Paul Rudolph is not to be compared to the work of, say, MM&W. The latter is suffused with humane characteristics, the latter is not. People intuitively understand its demerits, and it requires an academic purging of the instinct to love beauty – accomplished purposely by architecture school – to misunderstand the difference. If that denotes a philistine (and I do not believe it does), then I will happily call myself a philistine! Even if philistinism is a proper term for disliking Rudolph’s work and applauding its demolition, it remains a far cry from what ISIS is doing to Hatra and other places (when it is not slicing people’s heads off or burning them alive). It is intellectually sloppy, at best, to compare the two.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.