Upper Mesopotamia

Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East.[1] After the early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century, the region has been known by the traditional Arabic name of al-Jazira (Arabic: الجزيرة‎ "the island", also transliterated Djazirah, Djezirah, Jazirah) and the Syriac (Aramaic) variant Gāzartā or Gozarto (ܓܙܪܬܐ). The Euphrates and Tigris rivers transform Mesopotamia into almost an island, as they are joined together at the Shatt al-Arab in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity.

The region extends south from the mountains of Anatolia, east from the hills on the left bank of the Euphrates river, west from the mountains on the right bank of the Tigris river and includes the Sinjar plain. It extends down the Tigris to Samarra and down the Euphrates to Hīt. The Khabur runs for over 400 km (250 mi) across the plain, from Turkey in the north, feeding into the Euphrates.

The major settlements are Mosul, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, al-Hasakah, Diyarbakır and Qamishli. The western, Syrian part, is essentially contiguous with the Syrian al-Hasakah Governorate and is described as "Syria's breadbasket".[2] The eastern, Iraqi part, includes and extends slightly beyond the Iraqi Nineveh Governorate. In the north it includes the Turkish provinces of Şanlıurfa, Mardin, and parts of Diyarbakır Province. This area now has large swaths controlled by Rojava.

Jazira
Al-Jazira—Upper Mesopotamia Region, within the Middle East.

Geography

Jezirah 0001
Typical view of farmland in the area north of Al-Hasakah, with an ancient tell visible on the horizon
Tigr-euph
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers transform Mesopotamia into almost an island (hence the Arabic name al Jazira, meaning island), as they are joined together at the Shatt al-Arab in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity.

The name al-Jazira has been used since the 7th century AD by Islamic sources to refer to the northern section of Mesopotamia, which together with the Sawād, made up al-‘arāq (Iraq). The name means "island", and at one time referred to the land between the two rivers, which in Aramaic is Bit Nahren. Historically, the name could be restricted to the Sinjar plain coming down from the Sinjar Mountains, or expanded to embrace the entire plateau east of the coastal ranges. In pre-Abbasid times the western and eastern boundaries seem to have fluctuated, sometimes including what is now northern Syria to the west and Adiabene in the east.

Al-Jazira is characterised as an outwash or alluvial plain, quite distinct from the Syrian Desert and lower-lying central Mesopotamia; however the area includes eroded hills and incised streams. The region has several parts to it. In the northwest is one of the largest salt flats in the world, Sabkhat al-Jabbul. Further south, extending from Mosul to near Basra is a sandy desert not unlike the Empty Quarter. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the region has been plagued by drought.

History

Prehistory

Al-Jazirah is extremely important archeologically. This is the area where the earliest signs of agriculture and domestication of animals have been found, and thus the starting point leading to civilization and the modern world. Al-Jazirah includes the mountain Karaca Dağ in southern Turkey, where the closest relative to modern wheat still grows wild. At several sites (e.g. Hallan Çemi, Abu Hureyra, Mureybet) we can see a continuous occupation from a hunter-gathering lifestyle (based on hunting, and gathering and grinding of wild grains) to an economy based mainly on growing (still wild varieties of) wheat, barley and legumes from around 9000 BC (see PPNA). Domestication of goats and sheep followed within a few generations, but didn't become widespread for more than a millennium (see PPNB). Weaving and pottery followed about two thousand years later.

From Al-Jazirah the idea of farming along with the domesticated seeds spread first to the rest of the Levant and then to North-Africa, Europe and eastwards through Mesopotamia all the way to present-day Pakistan (see Mehrgarh).

Göbekli2012-19
Monumental stone buildings at Göbekli Tepe, c. 9000 BC

Earlier archeologists worked on the assumption that agriculture was a prerequisite to a sedentary lifestyle, but excavations in Israel and Lebanon surprised science by showing that a sedentary lifestyle actually came before agriculture (see the Natufian culture). Further surprises followed in the 1990s with the spectacular finds of the megalithic structures at Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey. The earliest of these apparently ritual buildings are from before 9000 BC—over five thousand years older than Stonehenge—and thus the absolute oldest known megalithic structures anywhere. As far as we know today no well-established farming societies existed at the time. Farming seemed to be still experimental and only a smallish supplement to continued hunting and gathering. So either were (semi)sedentary hunter-gatherers rich enough and many enough to organize and execute such large communal building projects, or well-established agricultural societies existed much further back than hitherto known. After all, Göbekli Tepe lies just 32 km from Karaca Dağ.

The questions raised by Göbekli Tepe have led to intense and creative discussions among archeologists of the Middle East.[3][4] Excavations at Göbekli Tepe continues, only about 5 percent has been revealed so far. Sumerians are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia.[5][6]

Early history

Uruk period north
Uruk period (c. 4000 to 3100 BC).

Upper Mesopotamia is the heartland of ancient Assyria, founded circa the 25th century BC. From the late 24th Century BC it was part of the Akkadian Empire, which is separated into three eras: Old Assyrian Empire (circa 2050–1750 BC), Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1020 BC), and Neo Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC).

The Uruk period (c. 4000 to 3100 BC) existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in Mesopotamia, including a section of the upper region.

The region fell to the Assyrians' southern brethren, the Babylonians in 605 BC, and from 539 BC it became part of the Achaemenid Empire; Achaemenid Assyria was known as Athura. From 323 BC, it was ruled by the Greek Seleucid Empire, the Greeks corrupting the name to Syria, which they also applied to Aram.

It then fell to the Parthians and Romans and was renamed Assyria by both. The area was still known as Asōristān under the Sasanian Empire until the Muslim conquest of Persia, when it was renamed al-Jazira.

Since pre-Arab and pre-Islamic times, al-Jazira has been an economically prosperous region with various agricultural (fruit and cereal) products, as well as a prolific manufacturing (food processing and cloth weaving) system. The region’s position at the border of the Sasanian and Byzantine territories also made it an important commercial center, and advantage that the region continued to enjoy, even after the Muslim conquest of Persia and Byzantine possessions in the Levant.

Al-Jazira included the Roman/Byzantine provinces of Osroene and Mesopotamia, as well as the Parthian/Persian provinces of Asōristān, Arbayestan, Nisibis, and Mosul.

Islamic empires

Al-Jazira
Al-Jazira region and its subdivisions (Diyar Bakr, Diyar Mudar, and Diyar Rabi'a), during the Umayyad and Abbasid calipahtes.

The conquest of the region took place under the early Caliphate that left the general administration of the region intact, with the exception of levying the jizya tax on the population. At the time of Mu‘awiyah, governor of Syria and the later of the Umayyad Caliphate), the administration of al-Jazira was included in the administration of Syria. During the early Umayyad Caliphate, the administration of al-Jazira was often shared with that of Arminiya, a vast province encompassing most of Transcaucasia) and Iranian Azerbaijan.

The prosperity of the region and its high agricultural and manufacturing output made it an object of contest between the leaders of the early conquering Arab armies. Various conquerors tried, in vain, to bind various cities of the former Sassanian provinces, as well as the newly conquered Byzantine provinces of Mesopotamia, into a coherent unit under their own rule.

The control of the region, however, was essential to any power centered in Baghdad. Consequently, the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate brought al-Jazira under the direct rule of the government in Baghdad. At this time, al-Jazira was one of the highest tax-yielding provinces of the Abbasid Empire.

During the early history of Islam, al-Jazira became a center for the Kharijite movement and had to be constantly subdued by various caliphs. In the 920s, the local Hamdanid dynasty established an autonomous state with two branches in al-Jazira (under Nasir al-Dawla) and Northern Syria (under Sayf al-Dawla). The demise of the Hamdanid power put the region back under the nominal rule of the Caliphs of Baghdad, while actual control was in the hands of the Buyid brothers who had conquered Baghdad itself. At the turn of the 11th century, the area came under the rule of a number of local dynasties, the Numayrids, the Mirdasids, and the Uqaylids, who persisted until the conquest by the Seljuq Empire.

With the arrival of the First Crusade, the western part came into Crusader hands as the County of Edessa, while the rest was ruled by a succession of semi-independent Turkish rulers until taken over by the Zengids, and eventually the Ayyubids. Thereafter the northern and eastern portion were ruled by the Artuqids, while the western parts came under the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt until the Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17), when it was taken by the Ottoman Empire.

Modern history

The region is the traditional homeland of the indigenous Assyrian, Aramaic-speaking Christian descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians. Thousands of Assyrian refugees entered into Syrian Al-Jazira, from Turkey following the Assyrian Genocide of World War I. Additionally, in 1933 a further 24,000 Assyrian Christians fled into the area, following the Simele Massacre in the Mosul region of northern Iraq.[7]

However, violence against Christians changed the demographics of this area. Some Kurdish and Persian tribes cooperated with Ottoman authorities in the Armenian and Assyrian genocides in Upper Mesopotamia. [8]

Assyrian Christians began to emigrate from Syria after the Amuda massacre of August 9, 1937. This massacre, carried out by the Kurd Saeed Agha, emptied the city of its Assyrian population. In 1941, the Assyrian community of al-Malikiyah were subjected to a vicious assault. Even though the assault failed, the Assyrians were terrorized and left in large numbers, and the immigration of Kurds from Turkey to the area have converted al-Malikiya, al-Darbasiyah and Amuda to completely Kurdish cities. The historically-important Christian city of Nusaybin had a similar fate after its Christian population left when it was annexed to Turkey. The Christian population of the city crossed the border into Syria and settled in Qamishli, which was separated by the railway (new border) from Nusaybin. Nusaybin became Kurdish and Qamishli became an Assyrian city. Things soon changed, however, with the immigration of Kurds beginning in 1926 following the failure of the rebellion of Saeed Ali Naqshbandi against the Turkish authorities.[9]

Current situation

Djezirah is one of the four dioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The others are in Aleppo, HomsHama and Damascus.[7]

The area has experienced a high rate of emigration in the past 40 years. Prime factors have been drought and the emigration of Assyrian Christians due to economic hardship and conflict with Kurds.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Georges Roux – Ancient Iraq
  2. ^ "The next battlefield". Archived from the original on 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  3. ^ See discussion at "So Fair a House: Göbekli Tepe and the Identification of Temples in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Near East". JSTOR 10.1086/661207. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ "Göbekli Tepe: Series Introduction". Genealogy of Religion. 12 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  5. ^ Kleniewski, Nancy; Thomas, Alexander R (2010-03-26). Cities, Change, and Conflict: A Political Economy of Urban Life. ISBN 978-0495812227.
  6. ^ Maisels, Charles Keith (1993). The Near East: Archaeology in the "Cradle of Civilization". ISBN 978-0415047425.
  7. ^ a b Mouawad, Ray J. (2001) "Syria and Iraq – Repression: Disappearing Christians of the Middle East" Archived 2007-08-05 at the Wayback Machine Middle East Quarterly 8(1):
  8. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (2011). The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies. Transaction Publishers. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-4128-3592-3.
  9. ^ Abu Fakhr, Saqr, 2013. As-Safir. Beirut. [assafir.com/Article/331189#.UrbZIuK_guh التراجع المسيحي في الشرق: مشهد تاريخي] (Arabic version). As-Safir on the History of the Persecution of Middle Eastern Christians – Christian Decline in the Middle East: A Historical View Archived 2014-11-13 at the Wayback Machine (English version).

Bibliography

  • Moore, Andrew M. T.; Hillman, Gordon C.; Legge, Anthony J. (2000). Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510806-X.
  • Peter M. M. G. Akkermans; Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). The archaeology of Syria: from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (c. 16,000–300 BC). Cambridge University Press. pp. 72–. ISBN 978-0-521-79666-8. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  • Istakhri, Ibrahim. Al-Masālik wa-al-mamālik, Dār al-Qalam, Cairo, 1961
  • Brauer, Ralph W., Boundaries and Frontiers in Medieval Muslim Geography, Philadelphia, 1995
  • Ibn Khurradādhbih. Almasalik wal Mamalik, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1967
  • Lestrange, G. The lands of the eastern caliphate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930
  • Mohammadi Malayeri, Mohammad. Tārikh o Farhang-i Irān dar Asr-e Enteghaal, Tus, Tehran, 1996
  • Morony, Michael G. Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, Princeton, 1984
Arabic Belt

Arabic Belt (Arabic: الحزام العربي al-hizām al-'arabi, Kurdish: Kembera Erebî که‌مبه‌را عه‌ره‌بی) was a claimed attempt by the Syrian Baath government's project of Arabization of the north of the Al-Hasakah Governorate to change the ethnic population composition in the Kurdish regions of Syria in favor of the Arabs.

Aram (region)

Aram is a region mentioned in the Bible located in present-day Syria, including where the city of Aleppo now stands. At its height, Aram stretched from the Lebanon mountains eastward across the Euphrates, including parts of the Khabur River valley in northwestern Mesopotamia on the border of Iraq. The region was known as The Land of the Amurru during the Akkadian Empire (2335-2154 BC), Neo-Sumerian Empire (2112-2004 BC) and Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1750 BC) in reference to its largely Amorite inhabitants. During the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC), Neo-Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) and Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC) Aram was known as Eber-Nari.

Deir ez-Zor Governorate

Deir ez-Zor Governorate (Arabic: مُحافظة دير الزور‎ / ALA-LC: Muḥāfaẓat Dayr az-Zawr) is one of the fourteen governorates (provinces) of Syria. It is situated in eastern Syria, bordering Iraq. It has an area of 33,060 km² (12,760 sq mi) and a population of 1,239,000 (2011 estimate). The capital is Deir ez-Zor.

Diyala Governorate

Diyala Governorate (Arabic: محافظة ديالى‎ Muḥāfaẓah Diyālā) or Diyala Province is a governorate in eastern Iraq.

Diyarbakır Province

Diyarbakır Province (Turkish: Diyarbakır ili, Kurdish: Parêzgeha Amed‎) is a province in southeastern Turkey. The province covers an area of 15,355 km2 and its population is 1,528,958. The provincial capital is the city of Diyarbakır.

It has been home to many civilisations and the surrounding area including itself is home to many Mesolithic era stone carvings and artifacts. The province has been ruled by the Akkadians, Hurrians, Mittani, Medes, Hittites, Armenians, Neo-Babylonians, Achaemenids, Greeks, Romans, Parthia, Byzantium, Sassanids, Arabs, Seljuk Empire, Mongol Empire, Safavid dynasty, Marwanids, and Ayyubids.

The majority of the province's population today is Kurdish.

Dohuk Governorate

Dohuk Governorate (Kurdish: پارێزگای دھۆک‎, Syriac: ܗܘܦܲܪܟܝܵܐ ܕܕܸܗܘܟ‎ , Arabic: محافظة دهوك‎ Muḥāfaẓat Dahūk) is a governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. Its capital is the city of Dohuk. It includes Zakho, the city that meets Ibrahim Khalil border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. It borders the Al-Hasakah Governorate of Syria.Prior to 1976 it was part of Nineveh Governorate, which was called Mosul Governorate. Dohuk Governorate is mainly inhabited by Kurds and Assyrians, with a small number of Yazidis and Armenians. The estimated population in 2017 was 1,011,585.

Edessa

Edessa (Ancient Greek: Ἔδεσσα; Arabic: الرها‎ ar-Ruhā; Turkish: Şanlıurfa; Kurdish: Riha‎) 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 638, was briefly retaken by Byzantium in 1031 and became the center of the Crusader state of the County of Edessa from 1098–1144. It fell to the Turkic Zengid dynasty in 1144 and was eventually absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The modern name of the city is Urfa and it is located in Şanlıurfa Province in the Southeast Anatolia Region of Turkey.

Erbil Governorate

Erbil Governorate (Kurdish: Parêzgeha Hewlêr - پارێزگای ھەولێر‎, Syriac: ܗܘܦܲܪܟܝܵܐ ܕܐܲܪܒܝܠ‎, Arabic: محافظة أربيل‎ Muḥāfaẓat Arbīl), sometimes referred to by the alternative spelling Arbil Governorate, is a governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan.

. It derives its name from the city of Erbil (Kurdish: Hewler), which is its capital.

Erbil Governorate covers an area of 15,074 km2 in the north of Iraq, with a population of 2,113,391 (2017) people. It is largely populated by Kurds but has minority populations of Turkmens, Arabs and Assyrians.

George Maniakes

George Maniakes (Greek: Γεώργιος Μανιάκης, transliterated as Georgios Maniaces, Maniakis, or Maniaches, Italian: Giorgio Maniace; died 1043) was a prominent Eastern Roman general during the 11th century, he was the catepan of Italy in 1042. He is known as Gyrgir in Scandinavian sagas. He is popularly said to have been extremely tall and well built, almost a giant.

Hamdanid dynasty

The Hamdanid dynasty (Arabic: حمدانيون‎ Ḥamdānyūn) was a Shi'a Muslim Arab dynasty of northern Iraq (al-Jazirah) and Syria (890-1004). They descended from the ancient Banu Taghlib Christian tribe of Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia.

Mardin Province

Mardin Province (Classical Syriac: ܡܪܕܐ‎, Turkish: Mardin ili, Kurdish: Parêzgeha Mêrdînê‎, Arabic: ماردين,), is a province of Turkey with a population of 809,719 in 2017. The population was 835,173 in 2000. The capital of the Mardin Province is Mardin (Classical Syriac: ܡܶܪܕܺܝܢ‎ "Mardin" in related Semitic language Arabic: ماردين, Mardīn). Located near the traditional boundary of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, it has a diverse population, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people, with Kurds forming the majority of the province's population.

Mosul Vilayet

The Mosul Vilayet (Ottoman Turkish: ولايت موصل, Vilâyet-i Musul‎) was a first-level administrative division (vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire. It was created from the northern sanjaks of the Baghdad Vilayet in 1878.At the beginning of the 20th century it reportedly had an area of 29,220 square miles (75,700 km2), while the preliminary results of the first Ottoman census of 1885 (published in 1908) gave the population as 300,280. The accuracy of the population figures ranges from "approximate" to "merely conjectural" depending on the region from which they were gathered.The region was allocated to France in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement of the First World War, and subsequently transferred to British mandate following the 1918 Clemenceau–Lloyd George Agreement.

Numayrid dynasty

The Numayrids were an Arab dynasty based in Diyar Mudar (western Upper Mesopotamia). They were emirs (princes) of their namesake tribe, the Banu Numayr. The senior branch of the dynasty, founded by Waththab ibn Sabiq in 990, ruled the Euphrates cities of Harran, Saruj and Raqqa more or less continuously until the late 11th century. In the early part of Waththab's reign (r. 990–1019), the Numayrids also controlled Edessa until the Byzantines conquered it in the early 1030s. In 1062, the Numayrids lost Raqqa to their distant kinsmen and erstwhile allies, the Mirdasids, while by 1081, their capital Harran and nearby Saruj were conquered by the Turkish Seljuks and their Arab Uqaylid allies. Numayrid emirs continued to hold isolated fortresses in Upper Mesopotamia, such as Qal'at an-Najm and Sinn Ibn Utayr near Samosata until the early 12th century, but nothing is heard of them after 1120.

As Bedouin (nomadic Arabs), most Numayrid emirs avoided settled life in the cities they controlled; rather, they ruled their emirates (principalities) from their tribal encampments in the countryside, while entrusting administration of the cities to their ghilmān (military slaves). An exception to this situation was Emir Mani' ibn Shabib (r. ca. 1044–1063), under whose reign the Numayrids reached their territorial peak. Mani' resided in Harran itself, transforming its Sabian temple into an ornate, fortified palace. The Numayrids were Shia Muslims and initially recognized the religious sovereignty of the Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate, at least nominally, but later switched allegiance to the Shia Fatimid Caliphate after the latter extended its influence into northern Syria in 1037. By 1060, they likely reverted to Abbasid suzerainty.

Paddan Aram

Paddan Aram or Padan-aram (Aramaic: פדן ארם) was an early Aramean kingdom in Mesopotamia. Paddan Aram in Aramaic means the field of Aram. The name may correspond to the Hebrew “sedeh Aram,” or “field of Aram.” (Rashi to Gen. 25:20; e.g., Hos. 12:13.)

Taurus Mountains

The Taurus Mountains (Turkish: Toros Dağları), are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, separating the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east. It is a part of the Alpide belt in Eurasia.

The Taurus mountains are divided into three chains from west to east as follows;

Western Taurus (Batı Toroslar)

Akdağlar, the Bey Mountains, Katrancık Mountain, Geyik Mountain

Central Taurus (Orta Toroslar)

Akçalı Mountains, Bolkar Mountains, Anti-Taurus Mountains, Tahtalı Mountains, Aladaglar Mountain

Southeastern Taurus (Güneydoğu Toroslar)

Nurhak Mountains, Malatya Mountains, Maden Mountains, Genç Mountains, Bitlis Mountains

Tell (archaeology)

In archaeology, a tell, or tel (derived from Arabic: تَل‎, tall, 'hill' or 'mound'), is an artificial mound formed from the accumulated refuse of generations of people living on the same site for hundreds or thousands of years. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with sloping sides and can be up to 30 metres high.Tells are most commonly associated with the archaeology of the ancient Near East, but they are also found elsewhere, such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa and Greece. Within the Near East, they are concentrated in less arid regions, including Upper Mesopotamia, the Southern Levant, Anatolia and Iran, which had more continuous settlement.

Tell Leilan

Tell Leilan is an archaeological site situated near the Wadi Jarrah in the Khabur River basin in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria, a region formerly a part of ancient Assyria. The site has been occupied since the 5th millennium BC. During the late third millennium, the site was known as Shekhna.

During that time it was under control of the Akkadian Empire.

Around 1800 BC, the site was renamed "Shubat-Enlil" by the Assyrian king, Shamshi-Adad I and it became the capital of Assyria in northern Mesopotamia. Shubat-Enlil was abandoned around 1700 BC.

Tigris

The Tigris (; Sumerian: 𒁇𒄘𒃼 Idigna or Idigina; Akkadian: 𒁇𒄘𒃼 Idiqlat; Arabic: دجلة‎ Dijlah [didʒlah]; Syriac: ܕܹܩܠܵܬ‎ Deqlaṯ; Armenian: Տիգրիս Tigris; Դգլաթ Dglatʿ; Hebrew: חידקל Ḥîddeqel, biblical Hiddekel; Turkish: Dicle; Kurdish: Dîcle, Dîjla دیجلە‎) is the eastern of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf.

Şanlıurfa Province

Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili) or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014).

The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water, and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque where Abraham was born in the cave next to the mosque. Also lying within the district, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

Population in 1990 was 1,001,455; 551,124 in the district centers, 450,331 in rural villages. By 2000, the population of Şanlıurfa province had grown to 1,436,956 and that of Urfa city, 829,000. Its provincial capital is the city of Urfa, the traffic code is 63.

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