31.10.16

Edessa, Turkey


Edessa (Greek Ἔδεσσα) and Ορρα, Orrha in Greek (also Ορροα, Orrhoa) was a city in Upper Mesopotamia, founded on an earlier site by Seleucus I Nicator ca. 302 BC.

It was also known as Antiochia on the Callirhoe from the 2nd century BC. It was the capital of the semi-independent kingdom of Osroene from c. 132 BC and fell under direct Roman rule in ca. 242. It became an important early centre of Syriac Christianity. It fell to the Muslim conquest in 639, was briefly re-taken by Byzantium in 1031, and became the center of the Crusader state of the County of Edessa during 1098–1144. It fell to the Turkic Zengid dynasty in 1144 and was eventually absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1517.


Map of Upper Mesopotamia and Syria in the early Christian period, with Edessa in the middle.

The modern name of the city is Şanlıurfa (Syriac: ܐܘܪܗܝ‎ Urhāy, Armenian: Եդեսիա Yedesia or Armenian: Ուռհա Uṙha), in Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Region.

Although the site of Urfa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the modern city was founded in 304 B.C by Seleucus I Nicator and named after the ancient capital of Macedonia.

In the late 2nd century, as the Seleucid dynasty disintegrated, it became the capital of the Nabataean Abgar dynasty, which was successively a Parthian, Armenian, and Roman client state and eventually a Roman province. Its location on the eastern frontier of the Empire meant it was frequently conquered during periods when the Byzantine central government was weak, and for centuries, it was alternately conquered by Arab, Byzantine, Armenian, Turkish rulers. In 1098, the Crusader Baldwin of Boulogne induced the final Armenian ruler to adopt him and then seized power, establishing the first Crusader State known as the County of Edessa and imposing Latin Christianity on the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic majority of the population.

Early history
In the second half of the 2nd century BC, as the Seleucid monarchy disintegrated in the wars with Parthia (145–129), Edessa became the capital of the Abgar dynasty, who founded the Kingdom of Osroene (also known in history as Kingdom of Edessa). This kingdom was established by Nabataean or Arab tribes from North Arabia, and lasted nearly four centuries (c. 132 BC to 214), under twenty-eight rulers, who sometimes called themselves "king" on their coinage. Edessa was at first more or less under the protectorate of the Parthians, then of Tigranes of Armenia, Edessa was Armenian Mesopotamia's capital city, then from the time of Pompey under the Romans. Following its capture and sack by Trajan, the Romans even occupied Edessa from 116 to 118, although its sympathies towards the Parthians led to Lucius Verus pillaging the city later in the 2nd century. From 212 to 214 the kingdom was a Roman province.



The emperor Caracalla was assassinated on the road from Edessa to Carrhae by one of his guards in 217. Edessa became one of the frontier cities of the province of Osroene and lay close to the border of Sassanid Persia. The Battle of Edessa took place between the armies of the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Valerianus and Sassanid forces under Shahanshah Shapur I in 260. The Roman army was defeated and captured in its entirety by the Persian forces, including Valerian himself, an event which had never previously happened.
Archaeological excavations around the historic Balıklı Lake in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa have unearthed floor mosaics dating back to the Kingdom of Osroene, known by the name of its capital city, Edessa (today’s Şanlıurfa). Works have been continuing in an area of 4.5 hectares for six years. Nearly 80 rock graves from the Roman era have been restored so far and five more floor mosaics were recently discovered in the same area. After the restoration works, the mosaics will be displayed at the museum.

The literary language of the tribes that had founded this kingdom was Aramaic, from which Syriac developed. Traces of Hellenistic culture were soon overwhelmed in Edessa, which employed Syriac legends on coinage, with the exception of the Syriac client king Abgar IX (179–214), and there is a corresponding lack of Greek public inscriptions.


Early Christian centre
The precise date of the introduction of Christianity into Edessa is not known. However, there is no doubt that even before AD 190 Christianity had spread vigorously within Edessa and its surroundings and that shortly after the royal house joined the church. According to a legend first reported by Eusebius in the 4th century, Syriac King Abgar V Ukāmā was converted by Addai, who was one of the seventy-two disciples, sent to him by "Judas, who is also called Thomas". Yet various sources confirm that the Abgar who embraced the Christian faith was Abgar IX. Under him Christianity became the official religion of the kingdom. As for Addai, he was neither one of the seventy-two disciples as the legend asserts, nor was sent by Apostle Thomas, as Eusebius says.[He was succeeded by Aggai, then by Palout (Palut) who was ordained about 200 by Serapion of Antioch. Thence came to us in the 2nd century the famous Peshitta, or Syriac translation of the Old Testament; also Tatian's Diatessaron, which was compiled about 172 and in common use until St. Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa (412–435), forbade its use. Among the illustrious disciples of the School of Edessa Bardesanes (154–222), a schoolfellow of Abgar IX, deserves special mention for his role in creating Christian religious poetry, and whose teaching was continued by his son Harmonius and his disciples.
King Abgar holding the Image of Edessa.

A Christian council was held at Edessa as early as 197. In 201 the city was devastated by a great flood, and the Christian church was destroyed. In 232 the relics of the apostle Thomas were brought from Mylapore, India, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. Under Roman domination many martyrs suffered at Edessa: Sts. Scharbîl and Barsamya, under Decius; Sts. Gûrja, Schâmôna, Habib, and others under Diocletian. In the meanwhile Christian priests from Edessa had evangelized Eastern Mesopotamia and Persia, and established the first Churches in the kingdom of the Sassanids. Atillâtiâ, Bishop of Edessa, assisted at the First Council of Nicaea (325). The Peregrinatio Silviae (or Etheriae) gives an account of the many sanctuaries at Edessa about 388.



Age of Islam
Islam had first arrived in Urfa around 638 AD, when the region surrendered to the Rashidun army without resisting, and had become a significant presence under the Ayyubids (see: Saladin Ayubbi), Seljuks. In 1144, the Crusader state fell to the Turkish Abassid general Zengui, who had most of the Christian inhabitants slaughtered together with the Latin archbishop (see Siege of Edessa) and the subsequent Second Crusade failed to recapture the city. Subsequently, Urfa was ruled by Zengids, Ayyubids, Sultanate of Rum, Ilkhanids, Memluks, Akkoyunlu and Safavids before Ottoman conquest in 1516.

Under the Ottomans Urfa was part (Sanjak) of the Aleppo Vilayet. The area became a centre of trade in cotton, leather, and jewellery. There was a small but ancient Jewish community in Urfa, with a population of about 1,000 by the 19th century. Most of the Jews emigrated in 1896, fleeing the Hamidian massacres, and settling mainly in Aleppo, Tiberias and Jerusalem. There were three Christian communities: Syriac, Armenian, and Latin. According to Lord Kinross, 8,000 Armenians were massacred in Urfa in 1895. The last Neo-Aramaic Christians left in 1924 and went to Aleppo (where they settled in a place that was later called Hay al-Suryan "The Syriac Quarter").

First World War and after
In 1914 Urfa was estimated to have 75,000 inhabitants: 45,000 Muslims, 25,000 Armenians and 5,000 Syriac/Assyrian Christians. There was also a Jewish presence in the town.[citation needed] During the First World War, Urfa was a site of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides, beginning in August 1915. By the end of the war, the entire Christian population had been killed, had fled, or was in hiding.

The British occupation of the city of Urfa started de facto on 7 March 1919 and officially de jure as of 24 March 1919, and lasted until 30 October 1919. French forces took over the next day and lasted until 11 April 1920, when they were defeated by local resistance forces before the formal declaration of the Republic of Turkey on 23 April 1920).

The French retreat from the city of Urfa was conducted under an agreement reached between the occupying forces and the representatives of the local forces, commanded by Captain Ali Saip Bey assigned from Ankara. The withdrawal was meant to take place peacefully, but was disrupted by an ambush on the French units by irregular Turkish and Kurdish Muslim forces at the Şebeke Pass on the way to Syria, leading to 296 casualties among the French, and even more among the ambushers.

Byzantine period

Under Byzantine rule, as metropolis of Osroene, Edessa had eleven suffragan sees. Lequien mentions thirty-five Bishops of Edessa; yet his list is incomplete. The Eastern Orthodox episcopate seems to have disappeared after the 11th century. Of its Jacobite bishops twenty-nine are mentioned by Lequien (II, 1429 sqq.), many others in the Revue de l'Orient chrétien (VI, 195), some in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1899), 261 sqq. Moreover, Nestorian bishops are said to have resided at Edessa as early as the 6th century.

When Nisibis was ceded to the Persians in 363, Ephrem the Syrian left his native town for Edessa, where he founded the celebrated School of the Persians. This school, largely attended by the Christian youth of Persia, and closely watched by Rabbula, the friend of Cyril of Alexandria, on account of its Nestorian tendencies, reached its highest development under Bishop Ibas, famous through the controversy of the Three Chapters, was temporarily closed in 457, and finally in 489, by command of Emperor Zeno and Bishop Cyrus, when the teachers and students of the School of Edessa repaired to Nisibis and became the founders and chief writers of the Nestorian Church in Persia. Miaphysitism prospered at Edessa, even after the Arab conquest.

Edessa was rebuilt by Emperor Justin (r. 518–527), and called after him Justinopolis. The city was taken in 609 by Sassanid Persia, and soon retaken by Heraclius, but lost to the Muslim army under the Rashidun Caliphate during the Islamic conquest of Levant in 638.

Arab rule
The Armenian chronicler Sebeos, Bishop of the Bagratunis (writing in the 660s), gives the earliest narrative accounts of Islam in any language today.[citation needed] Sebeos writes of a Jewish delegation going to an Arab city (possibly Medina) after the Byzantines conquered Eddesa:

Twelve peoples [representing] all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. When they saw that the Iranian troops had departed ... Thus Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. ... So they departed, taking the road through the desert to Tachkastan to the sons of Ishmael. [The Jews] called [the Arabs] to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the [Old] Testament. Although [the Arabs] were convinced of their close relationship, they were unable to get a consensus from their multitude, for they were divided from each other by religion. In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmet, a merchant, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God's command, was revealed to them... he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith... He said: "God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when [God] loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father, Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you."

Islamic tradition tells of a similar account, known as the Second pledge at al-Aqabah. Sebeos' account suggests that Muhammad was actually leading a joint venture toward Palestine, instead of a Jewish-Arab alliance against the Meccan pagans toward the south.

The Byzantines often tried to retake Edessa, especially under Romanus Lacapenus, who obtained from the inhabitants the "Holy Mandylion", an ancient portrait of Christ, and solemnly transferred it to Constantinople, August 16, 944. This was the final great achievement of Romanus's reign. This venerable and famous image, which was certainly at Edessa in 544, and of which there is an ancient copy in the Vatican Library, was brought to the West by the Venetians in 1207 following the Fourth Crusade. The city was ruled shortly thereafter by Marwanids.

Later medieval history
In 1031 Edessa was given up to the Byzantines under George Maniakes by its Arab governor. It was retaken by the Arabs, and then successively held by the Greeks, the Armenians, the Seljuk Turks (1087), the Crusaders (1099), who established there the County of Edessa and kept the city until 1144, when it was again captured by the Turk Zengi, and most of its inhabitants were allegedly slaughtered together with the Latin archbishop (see Siege of Edessa). These events are known to us chiefly through the Armenian historian Matthew, who had been born at Edessa. In 1144 the city had an Armenian population of 47,000.

Since the 12th century, the city has successively been ruled by the Sultans of Aleppo (Ayyubids), Sultanate of Rum, the Mongols, the Mameluks, the Akkoyunlu, the Safavids, and from 1517 to 1918 by the Ottoman Empire.

In 1890, the population of Edessa consisted of 55,000, of which the Muslim population made up 40,835.

Source/Photography/Bibliography

A Survey of Ancient Coins του Guberman στο λήμμα Greece/Seleucid; Antiochus I Soter BCE
Harlan J. Berk LTD The art and science of numismatics
Walter Bauer 1971. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 1934, (in English 1971): Chapter 1 "Edessa" (On-line text)
http://www.ancienthellas.ga/
A. von Gutschmid, Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Königliches Osroëne, in series Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, series 7, vol. 35.1 (St. Petersburg, 1887)
J. B. Segal, Edessa: The Blessed City (Oxford and New York: University Press, 1970)
"Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
"Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
"Turkey: Major cities and provinces". citypopulation.de. Retrieved 2015-02-08.
Segal, J. B. (2001) [1970]. "I. The Beginnings". Edessa:'The Blessed City' (2 ed.). Piscataway, New Jersey, United States: Gorgias Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-9713097-1-X. It is certainly surprising that no obvious reference to Orhay has been found so far in the early historical texts dealing with the region, and that, unlike Harran, its name does not occur in cuneiform itineraries. This may be accidental, or Orhay may be alluded to under a different name which has not been identified. Perhaps it was not fortified, and therefore at this time a place of no great military significance. With the Seleucid period, however, we are on firm historical ground. Seleucus I founded—or rather re-founded—a number of cities in the region. Among them, probably in 303 or 302 BC, was Orhay.
Öktem, Kerem (2003). Creating the Turk's Homeland: Modernization, Nationalism and Geography in Southeast Turkey in the late 19th and 20th Centuries (PDF). Harvard: University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB, UK. For Armenians, the city has a great symbolic value, as the Armenian alphabet was invented there, thanks to a group of scholars and clergy headed by Mesrop Mashtots in the 5th century
Roberts, J. M. (1996). "II/4. Frontiers and neighbours". The Penguin History of Europe. London: Penguin Books. pp. 162–163. ISBN 978-0-14-026561-3.
"Interview with Harun Bozo". The Library of Rescued Memories. Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation.
Kinross, Lord (1977). The Ottoman Centuries, The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. United States: Harper Perennial. p. 560. ISBN 0-688-08093-6.
Joseph, John (1983). Muslim-Christian Relations and Inter-Christian Rivalries in the Middle East: The Case of the Jacobites in an Age of Transition. United States: State University of New York Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-87395-612-5.
"Kurds in Southeast Anatolia celebrate DTP's boost in votes". Today's Zaman. 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
From Kâtib el Bağdadî in p.196Urfa'da Pişer Bize de Düşer, Halil & Munise Yetkin Soran, Alfa Yayın, 2009, Istanbul ISBN 978-605-106-065-1
https://en.wikipedia.org
Schulz, Mathias, "Wegweiser ins Paradies," Der Spiegel 2372006, Pp. 158–170.
This entry uses text from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909.

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