More than a dot on the map

Abu Maria a village where history, culture and agriculture meet

ABU MARIA, NINEVEH, January 26 — Nestled in the heart of the western Nineveh province, the village of Abu Maria stands as a testament to Iraq’s rich historical and cultural tapestry.

This small yet vibrant village, located 13 kilometers east of Tal Afar’s center and 50 kilometers from Mosul, is more than just a dot on the map. It is a living museum of ancient civilizations, a hub of agricultural prosperity, and a cradle of tribal heritage.

Abu Maria, renowned for its bountiful agriculture, particularly wheat, barley, and olives, doubles as a historical landmark. The village’s soil, nourished by the centuries-old ‘Ain Al-Ma’a spring, is not just fertile for crops but also for stories. As the site of ancient Assyrian palaces, Abu Maria has been a silent witness to the passage of Assyrian, Roman, and Islamic civilizations.

The origin of Abu Maria’s name is a topic of gentle contention among its residents, most of whom belong to the Juhaysh tribe. Some attribute it to a church named after the Virgin Mary, while others believe it harks back to a tribal elder who named it after his daughter Maria. This blend of religious and tribal influences reflects the village’s diverse heritage.

Sheikh Bashar Al-Mubarak, the general leader of the Al-Bo Asaf Al-Juhayshi tribe, highlights the village’s population of 18,000 to 20,000 residents. The majority of these residents maintain strong kinship and trade relations with the Turkmen of Tal Afar, illustrating a harmonious ethnic coexistence.

The village, situated along the main road connecting Mosul to Tal Afar, Sinjar, and Baaj, serves as a recreational haven for locals from neighboring areas. The fresh spring near Abu Maria is a popular spot, drawing families for swimming and leisure activities.

Sheikh Abu Al-Najashi, a leader of the Bani Sakhr tribe, underscores Abu Maria’s commitment to preserving tribal traditions and customs. The village once housed religious schools and continues to celebrate its tribal customs. The ancient spring, ‘Ain Al-Ma’a, is not just an irrigation source but a symbol of the village’s resilience and continuity.