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Iraq Etymology

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The Arabic name has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk and is thus ultimately of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Unug, containing the Sumerian word for "city", URU.another maintains according to Professor Wilhelm Eilers, "The name al-‘Irāq, for all its Arabic appearance, is derived from Middle Persian erāq lowlands".

Mesopotamia has always been called "the land of Iraq" in Arabic, meaning "the fertile" or "deep-rooted land". During the medieval period, there was a region called "Arabian Iraq" for lower Mesopotamia and "Persian Iraq"or "Foreign Iraq", for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran. The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.

As an Arabic word, عراق means hem, shore, bank, or edge, so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as "the escarpment", viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area.


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