Iraqi Kurdistan - Land of the Kurds
£3,305 excl. flight
- Little visited with a fascinating history and culture
- Ancient Erbil, founded in the Assyrian period
- Spectacular mountain scenery
Travelling through the beautiful mountain scenery of this ancient land, you will trace the golden ages of the Assyrians, the Medes and their occupation of the region. Off limits for so long, this promises to be a unique and fascinating journey into a now stable and welcoming country, eager to share its rich history and traditions.
Day 1 London/ Erbil – Fly to Erbil.
Day 2 Erbil – ‘Arba Ilu’, the ‘City of the Four Gods’, was the religious capital of the Assyrian kingdom. Its dramatic 30 metre high citadel dating from the 6th millennium BC lays claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth. Visit the Civilisation Museum and Choli Minaret, built by the Sultan of Erbil, before taking in Dwin Castle.
Day 3 Dohuk – Tour St Matthew’s Monastery and visit the site of the Battle of Gaugamela where Alexander the Great defeated Darius III. On to Jirwana to see the world’s oldest aqueduct built by Sennacherib, King of Assyria, and the site of Khanis with Assyrian sculptures. Proceed to Lalish, revered pilgrimage site for Kurdish Yezidis, descendants of the Zoroastrians. Continue via Chwar Stoon Cave where Zoroastrian fire worshippers performed rituals, to Dohuk.
Day 4 Dohuk – In picturesque Dohuk visit Al Kush, home and burial place of the prophet Nahum. Explore the impressive Rabban Hormizd Monastery, once home to 600 cave-dwelling monks, as well as Mar Hormizd Church, and St Mary’s Convent, church and orphanage. In the afternoon travel to the scenic Gara Mountain to visit to the ruins of one of Saddam's palaces.
Day 5 Amadiya, Rawanduz – Travel via Sulav Waterfall to the mountain town of Amadiya and an Assyrian hilltop fortress. See the surviving Bab Zebar gate and the 3rd-century AD synagogue. Continue to the Mullah Mustapha Memorial to the father of modern Kurdistan, passing Shanidar Cave, the find site of a remarkable array of Neanderthal remains and tool technologies. Arrive in Rawanduz.
Day 6 Suleimaniyah - Drive via the Hamilton Road, commissioned in 1928 to stretch through the mountains and gorges of Kurdistan to the Iranian border. Stop at Bekhal Waterfall and Galy Ali Beg Canyon en route to Lake Dukan, the region’s largest man-made lake. Arrive in cosmopolitan Suleimaniyah and visit the impressive archaeological museum, home to many Kurdish and ancient Persian artefacts.
Day 7 Suleimaniyah, Halabja – In the morning visit Suleimaniyah’s bustling bazaar. After lunch you will drive to memorial site at Halabja. The town’s monument was constructed in 2003 to commemorate the atrocities against the Kurdish people in the area in 1988.
Day 8 Qizqapan, Koisinjak, Erbil – Travel to the sculpted caves at Qizqapan for their ancient engravings and funerary chambers. Visit the old Jewish caravanserai city of Koisinjak on the way back to Erbil.
Day 9 Erbil/ London – Morning to explore the capital. Afternoon return flight to London.
Rebecca read BA Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Warwick, writing her first-class thesis on the relationship between the Greek city-states and Achaemenid Persia in the sixth century B.C. She then went on to complete her MPhil in Egyptology at the University of Cambridge, specialising in the commission, design and production of religious art in Egyptian Nubia (modern Sudan).
From 2010-12 Rebecca lived and worked as an archaeologist in the Sudan, Egypt, Bulgaria and the UK for institutions such as the British Museum, the University of Cambridge, the University of Durham and the Austrian Archaeological Institute.
She also undertook work for the National Trust, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the British Museum. In early 2012 Rebecca began working with the University of Cambridge in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and has been back several times subsequently to explore the region and conduct independent research in Sulimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan’s liberal second city.
As an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) doctoral scholar, Rebecca is now conducting her PhD research into the multi-faceted social role of archaeology in shaping Middle Eastern communities and conflicts.
"The photos brought it all back and brought back many memories of a wonderful trip. Rebecca was superb and so knowledgeable, the sights interesting, the lecture on the battles between Darius and Alexander (why did Darius not learn from his errors the first time round?), and above all the friendliness and warmth of the Kurds. We did not feel threatened or in danger at any time during our trip - the only danger was being swamped by Kurds who all wanted to have their photographs taken with us!"
Caroline and Douglas Gordon
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