A 2007 expansion of an airport in Najaf, Iraq exposed the remains of the earliest known Christian church in Iraq. Originally built some 1,700 years ago, the remains require proper excavation, but the wartime discovery coupled with a lack of funding has hindered scientific study. The ruins point to a thriving Christian community in early first millennium Iraq. Some scholars believe the site to be the Arab Christian center Hira, an important center of Nestorian Christianity for centuries. Christianity was spread by the Arab Christian Lakhmid dynasty, who made Hira their capital in 266 C.E. The discovery of the oldest known Christian site in Iraq is a reflection of Iraq’s rich and diverse cultural heritage in Iraq, and Iraqi archaeologists hope to conduct a proper excavation in the future.
From Babylon to Baghdad: Ancient Iraq and the Modern West examines the relationship between ancient Iraq and the origins of modern Western society. This free eBook, a collection of articles written by authoritative scholars, details some of the ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations have impressed themselves on Western culture. It examines the evolving relationship that modern scholarship has with this part of the world, and chronicles the present-day fight to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage.