Tagrit Tikrit, Takrit

Tagrit is a modern city located on the west bank of the Tigris, almost mid-way between Mosul and Baghdad. While the early history of Christianity in this city and its region is shrouded in mystery, by the late 5th cent., there is evidence of a local E.-Syr. community. By the mid-6th  cent., Tagrit had become a W.-Syr. stronghold headed by ‘metropolitans’ representing the Syr. Orth. patriarchs of Antioch in Sasanian and Islamic Iraq and further east. Three such leaders left monumental churches on the citadel of Tagrit or outside of it: Aḥudemmeh, the first Metropolitan (559–75), Marutha the ‘Great Metropolitan’ (629–49), who not only built the Great Church of the citadel but is also said to have opened the city to the Arab invaders, and Metropolitan Bar Ishoʿ, who, between 669 and 683, built the Church of Sergius and Bacchus recently excavated by Iraqi archaeologists. Fortress-like monasteries were also known to Tagrit. The monumental one recently uncovered in the nearby site of al-Kanīsa ‘The Church’, contained coins dated as late as 1225, and offered wall paintings, graves of abbots buried along with their crosses and staffs, and Syriac inscriptions and records of such metropolitans as Yuḥanon bar Kipho (d. 688), Yawsep I (d.  778), and Athanasios I (d. 903). The 9th–11th cent. period, the Golden Age of Christian Tagrit, witnessed the rise of such great authors as the theologian and apologist Ḥabīb b. Khidmā Abū Rāʾita (fl. 828), Anṭun of Tagrit (9th cent.), and the brilliant translator and ‘dialectician’ Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī (d. 974). Trade was a major occupation of Tagritans, some of whom (it was later claimed) purchased in the early 9th cent. a Coptic monastery in the Scetis desert (Egypt), filling it with rare mss. and embellishing it with beautiful wall paintings. The monastery named after the Mother of God became known as the ‘The Monastery of the Syrians’ (Dayr al-Suryān). Pressure by the Muslim majority resulted in the shift of the metropolitan seat from Tagrit to Mosul in 1156, by which time its metropolitans were called maphrians. After the fall of Baghdad at the hands of the Mongols in 1258, Tagrit little by little lost its Christian population, and the latter deserted the city altogether by the 15th cent.

See Fig. 13 and 115.


  • J.-M.  Fiey, ‘Tagrît: Esquisse d’histoire chrétienne’, OS 8 (1963), 289–342. (repr. in J.-M. Fiey, Communautés syriaques en Iran et Irak des origines à 1552 [1979], ch. X).
  • A.  Harrak, ‘Recent archaeological excavations in Takrit and the discovery of Syriac inscriptions’, JCSSS 1 (2001), 11–40.
  • L. Van Rompay and A. B. Schmidt, ‘Takritans in the Egyptian Desert: The Monastery of the Syrians in the Ninth Century’, JCSSS 1 (2001), 41–60.

How to Cite This Entry

Amir Harrak , “Tagrit,” in Tagrit, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Tagrit.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Amir Harrak , “Tagrit,” in Tagrit, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Tagrit.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Harrak, Amir. “Tagrit.” In Tagrit. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Tagrit.

A TEI-XML record with complete metadata is available at https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Tagrit/tei.

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