Translated by: Aziz Emmanuel Zebari
Bartella lies in on a plateau overlooking a vast plain which
extends as far as sight can reach where lie fascinating scenes in the beautiful
plain, the civilizational plain of Nineveh. It is a big town that is
administrated by the province of Nineveh 20 km away.
The village has been an inhabited site since antiquity. It was an
important town in ancient times which expanded on a large area. This is proved
by the many Tells surrounding the town. In his Dictionary of Countires,
Vol 2, Yaqut al Hamawi said, “ Bartalla is town-like
village to the east of Mosul in Nineveh. It has an abundant welfare, many
markets and a trading activity with an annual income of 20 thousand Red Dinars.
The majority of its inhabitants are Christians with a Mosque and temples for
worshiping and renouncement. They grow legumes, good quality lattus whose
repuration has gone into public sayings. They use drinking water from water
wells”. In his Muniyat al Udaba’a Fi Tareekh al Mousel al Hadaba’a, Ameen al
Umari says , “ They grow wheat and barley, and is six hours away from Mosul. It
is also called Batella which is the the centre of the sub-district of Hamdaniya
( the town became the centre of Hamdaniya sub-district in the forties of the
last century after the centre of the sub-district was moved from Qaraqush in
1941). The town lies on the righ side of the highway from Mosul to Erbil. The
number of buildings has increased and so has the number of its inhabitants who
are all Christians”.
The name of the village has been subject to various explanations.
The majority of philologists explain it as “ the place of shadow”, i.e. place
of trees, by replacing the consonant sound (ض ) by ( ط) like the
Nabatians, an indication that the meaning of the word is Nabatian.
Others including Yaqut al-Hamawi maintain that the name is derived from the
Aramaic word - Bet Rtoolé- i.e., a factory where weighing measures(Retl)
(pound) are made. Still others maintain that the name comes from “ Bar Telyo
i.e. the son of the child. Others think it is the place of dew…along with other
It is possible, however, to find another site bearing the same
name that dates back to the sixth and seventh centuries under the name Beth
Bartelle or Beth Bartllaye, the name of a village at the foot of the nearby
mountain. Besides, Marootha of Miyaferqini, describing the schools that were
established in Bartilla for the study of liturgy after the Nestorian schools which
he said pleased people through their “ melodies and beautiful tones”, calls
the village Beth Terlaye, or Beth Tellalé.
Tragedies of Bartelle
Bartella was destroyed three times:
In 1738, when the Persian king sent his army under the leadership
of his minister Nergez Khan, who destroyed the villages surrounding Mosul.
In 1743, when Tehmasab (Nadir Shah) attacked the villags of Mosul
and destroyed the village following his conquer of Kirkuk and Erbil
There were similar tragedies in the years 1756, 1757, 1758 when a
great famine befell the village due to sworms of locust, draught, and hale that
was as big as chicken eggs, so much so that people began to feed on herbs like
carob, corms, donkey and mule meat. The inhabitants had to go to Kirkuk and the
cities of Iran to bring cereals and on their way back were many were attacked
and robbed. Many people died in Bartella due to severe famine.
In the thirteen century it is believed that Syriacs from Tikrit,
Baskharya (lies at the foot of the St. Daniel’s Mountain some 10 km to the
north east of Bartella), Semele (on the hight way from Duhok to Zakho), Qob (
ihabited by Syriacs until the end of the nineteenth century where bishop Elias
2nd ordained a priest for the village named Sulayman 1889, to
be its last priest), Bashbeta ( 4 km from Bartella), and Jbara ( destroyed by
Yezidis in 1220 who killed all the men and abducted the homeless women and
The Churches of Baretle
The inhabitiants of Bartella embraced Christianity durig the
middle of the 4thcentury. This is attested by its 40 martyrs of the
last quarter of the 4th century. It has many old and new
Grand Church of Mar Ahodema
The church is mentioned in the History of the Church of the East.
A great temple was built in the village by Mafryan Ignatius 2nd La’azar
who also built other important buildings in approximately 1153. He also stayed
at the church for some time. In about 1312, a great Mafryanic abode
was built by Mafryan Gregorius Ya’aqub while Mafryan Gregorius Barsum al-Suffy
the brother of Bar Hebraeus died in it. Then Mafryan Matta Hanno al-Bartilli
stayed in it for two years and returned to it later after 1317. This remarkable
church was later on destroyed following the hard troubles that swept the
country in the 14th century. It was still there by the end of
that century based on the evidence of a memorial stone found it its ruins in
1933, which bore the Syriac inscription,” Deacon Michael passed away
from this miserable life to the world of bliss in February 1697 Greek
corresponding to 1396.AD.”
It is an old church that was built following the destruction of
the Church of Mar Ahodema in an unknown time as it is not mentioned in the
Ecclesiastic History by Bar Hebraeus. All that is known of the church is that
it was renovated for the first time along with the church of Mar Gewargis in
1807. It was all leveled and rebuilt in 1869 during the time of Patriarch Mar
Ignatius Ya’aqub 2nd, and later during the time of Mar Qurles Denkha
bishop of Mar Matta Monastery,following 62 years.
Beside the royal gate of its big temple is found the date of its
last renovation. This is a summary of the renovation: “ This church was built
in 1869 by the earnest endeavour of its generous people living in the village
of Bartella who in one faith gathered for consultation. They reached an
agreement to rebuild it. They brought carved stones and construction materials
on carts, horses, and mules and piled them on the site of building amid
canticles and cries of joy. May God save them from all hardships and hard times
. This was during the days of the primacy of our highly esteemed father
Patriarch Ya’aqub the 2nd , of the Castle of al Mara’a that is
near to the Monastery of al- Zafaran, the apostolic see in the Sub-distric of
Mardin and during the days of the primacy of Mar Qurlus Bishop Denkha the
superior of Mar Matta Monastery in Mnt. Alfaf in the east. Thousands and
countless praises to you God, for your support in building this church.”
We have to mention also Father Khorepiscopus Elias Sha’aya who
took care of this church and enriched it with agricultural land, architectural
projects, and built a school and health care centre beside it.
Old Church of Mar Gewargis
This church is deserted now. On dividing the churches amongst the
churches of the two denominations, the church has come now to belong to the
Syriac Catholic church in Bartilla. It has three temples. It opens on one side
to a northern yard. Along the sanctuary on the northern angle of the yard is “
Martyrs House” where the date of 1850 is mentioned. The present building
represents the church of the 18th and 19th centuries.
And according to the researcher, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Afram 1st Barsum,
it may have been possible to find in Bartille the Monastery of St. Jarjis,
which used to be there in 1701 and it may be possible to find the church in
New Chruch of Mar Gewargis
The foundation stone of this church was laid down on 7 October
1934 by the name of Mar Gewargis the Martyr amid a big celebration. Work to
build the church started in May 1935 by transporting limestone from Mnt.
Ba’adhra. Construction work started in 26 May 1935, and in 1938 bishop Jarjis
Dalal made serious efforts to complete the work. In May and August in 1939 all
the work was completed and the church was consecrated in a big celebration on
Sunday 24 Sept 1939.
Work in the construction of this church ended in 1890 during the
time of Bishop Qurles Elias Qedsu Bishop of Mar Matta Monastery. The church is
mentioned by manuscripts since the 15th century attesting to
the existence of the church.
Church of al-Sayida
This church was demolished and all that has remained is its ruins.
The demolishing was completed in 1934 to use its stones in the construction of
the new Mar Gewargis Church, and therefore its plan is no more clear. It is
also clear and an established fact that all kinds of inscription has
disappeared with its other characteristics.
Achievements of Mr. Sarkis Aghajan in Bartella
1.Cnstruction of the Syriac Orthodox
2.Consturcion of the tow residential
complexes ( Mahabba and Hayat) that comprise 216 appartments. They were
supplied with water and power supply.
3.Reparation and supply of three
churches with all the requirements needed:
a.The church of Mart Shmoony,
b.The church of Mar Gewargis,
c.The church of Mary.
4.Reparation of the Nuns Convernt,
5.Completing the construction of the
cultural centre of the Syriac Othodox church,
6.Development and furnishing of the
cultural centre of the Syriac Catholic Church,
7.Consturcion of an apartment in
8.Cemetry Construction project,
9.Construction of hall for ciber
café and supplying it with an internet system and the required equipment,
of three houses for the sports club,
of a house for Syriacs Notables Council with complete furniture,
of a a bus for the transportation of university students,
and furnishing of the cultural centre for the Armenian Sect,
of the kindergarten and supplying it with furniture and other required
equipment along with a vehicle for the transportation of the kids.
of plots of land ( 9.5, 4.5, 1.5 donums respectively) and using them for
agricultural purposes and residential complexes,
of a room for an internet station at the cultural centre,
of a project for dumping trenches in agricultural lands in Bartella,
of (6) water wells in schools and health centres,
the two scout teams of Mar Matta and Mar Gewargis with the required equipment,
Bartilla with (7) units of power supply generators for churches and other
of (15) vehicles for varios centres and institutions to be used for various
Shlomo and Asaf troupes with the required equipment,
about (300) copies of text books for the first, fifth and sixth grades each,
schools with some required equipment,
the al-Haqiqa (Truth) quarterly journal,
(800) copies the two books of Kunooz (Treasures), in two volumes,
a number of special school teachers,
of tents for funerary purposes and other required equipment,
of the water supply system in al-Adhra’a and Salam quarters in the