Erbil is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. Its name was mentioned in the historic writings around the year 3000 B.C., as the name of a town full of life, which is a Sumerian property. According to the Sumerian writings, the name of the town at that time was “Urbiliom” in one of the writings of the Sumerian king (Shulgi) around 200 B.C.
The Sumerians are the first people to appear in Mesopotamia and until now, the scientists still do not definitely agree on their origin.It is known so far that the Sumerians are not Semitic, but it is not established whether they are of Caucasian or Mongol origin. Most historians confirm their exodus from Kurdistan (Northern Mesopotamia: current Iraq) towards the sedimentary plain in South Iraq, where they erected cities and built the first civilisations ever in human history. In the second half of the third millennium B.C., the Acadians mentioned the name of Erbil as “Urbil”, whereas the Assyrians have used the name “Arba Ilo” meaning “the four gods”, from the midst third millennium until midst first millennium B.C.; In the epoch of Iranian Empires, the name of Erbil remained as it was “Arba Ilo”, while the Greeks wrote it in different forms: Arbella, Arbelas, Arbilis.
Erbil area has witnessed one of the historic battles (The Battle of Arbella or Gaugamela) between Alexander the Great and Achaemenid King Darius in the forth century B.C it means 331 B.C. In the books written by Arab and other historians, the name is mentioned in the form of “Erbl” or “Erbil”. The Kurds name their capital “Hewler”, and there are many interpretations of the difference between the terms “Erbil” and “Hewler”.
The city of Erbil and the plain next to it have always been an important part of the states that were erected by the peoples of Zagros, that is, the battle of Arbela (Gaugamela) which fell in Erbil between Alexander and Darius, in 331 B.C.