Urfa Castle

Şanlıurfa, located in the Middle Euphrates part of the Southeast Anatolian Region, is surrounded by Mardin to the east, Diyarbakır to the northeast, Adıyaman to the northwest, Gaziantep to the west, and Syria to the south. As A. Ardel has stated, Şanlıurfa was located at the foothill of a mountain mass made of white limestone, where the Harran Plain meets the mountainous mass in the form of a bay. The average height of the land is in the form of undulating plains varying between 500-800 meters. In the transportation network of the region (from southeast to the northwest), there was a main road that followed the foothills of the Zagros Mountains and stretched across the Tigris and was named "Harran Sarri" (King's Road) in the Neo-Assyrian Period. This road follows the Tigris from Southern Mesopotamia, passes near Mosul (Nineve), and from there to Sincar, Nusaybin (Nisibis) and over Ras-el-Ayn to the Harran Plain, and then the Euphrates to Karkamış. The road was divided into northwest and southwest directions (Alexandria, Antiochos, Aleppo). In addition to the Harran Sarri road, another important road passing through the Şanlıurfa region is the main road that reaches Babylon by following the Euphrates Valley from the north. This road used to go to the north of Mesopotamia, starting from Babylon, reaching Hit, Ana, and Raqqa, and following Belih to reach the Harran Plain. The Euphrates River, which gives life to the dry climate of Şanlıurfa, is referred to as "Purattu" or "Mala" in cuneiform scripts, "Euphrates" in the Classical Period, and "Al-Furat" in Arabic sources. The river that merged with Cullap and is now called "Karakoyun Stream" met the city's water demands. This river, which was named "Daisan" (jumping, bouncing river) in Syriac language and "Scirtos" in Greek, was poured into the Belichas (Belih) river, the source of which is in Tel Abyaz. How and when Şanlıurfa, one of the most significant settlements in the history of humanity, was founded is not known for certain. However, it is estimated that one of the cities established (or re-established) in the region by Seleukos I was Orhay (Urfa) (303 BC-302 BC). As stated by linguists such as Es-Semani, Golius, Rosenmuller and Michaelis, it is considered a corrupted derivative of the name "Kallirrhoe" (beautiful river city), or a name derived from the Sami "Wrh" (water), Arabic "Wariha" (plenty of waters). Another long-term name of the city is Edessa. The city was named Edessa during the Seleucid Nikator period, and this name is also the name of the capital of the Seleucid conquerors in Macedonia. The name of Edhessaisos in Macedonia, which now bears the name "Vodena", derives from the word "Voda" (water). Perhaps the abundance of its waters and location among the hills may have reminded a nostalgic general of the city where he was born.

I.K Kökten defined Şanlıurfa as "the first Paleolithic station of the Turkish Prehistory" as a result of his studies in and around Şanlıurfa regarding the Paleolithic Age, which was dated between 2 million and 9,800 BC. "Acheulan" type hand axes and "Calactonienn" type flake tools found by M.J.E. Guatier in the Birecik/Euphrates Basin date back to the Lower Paleolithic Age. The stone tools of "Calactoninn" and "Levalloisi- Mousterian" were discovered in Surtepe and Tilvez Mounds around Birecik. Among other important finds are flake tools from the Lower-Middle Paleolithic Age and Micoqienn (Upper Acheulean) type axes in the Bozova district, discovered by Kökten in 1946. In 1977, during the archaeological survey conducted for the construction of the Atatürk Dam under Prof. Dr Mehmet Özdoğan, many sites on the Euphrates coastline, which were inhabited from the Paleolithic Age to the Middle Ages, were unearthed.

Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum


In the Mesolithic (Epipalaeolithic) Age, dated between 11,500 BC and 9,800 BC, the "tool industry" gained a technical dimension; new, smaller, lighter tools replaced cumbersome weapons. Small stone tools made of obsidian, flint-like stones called "microliths", as well as the increase in the use of bone tools, are characteristic of this period. The Biris Cemetery and Söğüt Field in Gölbaşı Capacity of Bozova district are two significant Epipalaeolithic Age settlements of the region. The core region on the Fertile Crescent map of the Neolithic Period, in which the foundations of the social and economic structure of our age were laid, dated to 9,600-8,200 BC, was designated as the Eastern Mediterranean/Levant; Şanlıurfa, on the other hand, has been defined as the "country" of this region. However, at Gürcütepe, Nevali Çori, Mezraa-Teleilat, Akarçay Tepe, Karahan Tepe, and Göbeklitepe which was discovered in 1995 by Prof. Dr Klaus Schmidt and is famous for overturning all known/considered models/theories, "Southeast Anatolian Neolithic Culture" gained a different dimension. It is known that Göbeklitepe, which was the gathering centre of the hunter and collector tribes and has been defined as the earliest known temple site in the world, was a unique cult centre in the Non-Pottery / Aceramic Neolithic Period and made serious contributions to scholarly understanding of human history. Excavations held by Prof. Dr Harald Hauptmann at Nevali Çori, with its richness of structures and finds, which are a continuation of the tradition and spiritual heritage of Göbeklitepe, have proven that the Anatolian peninsula was not only a bridge but also an important living space of the Neolithic lifestyle. In addition to using stone tools, the production of painted decorated pottery (from the Chalcolithic period, in which Halaf and Obeyd ceramics became widespread) dates to between 6,000 BC and 3,100 BC. In this period, In the Urfa region, the settlement concentrated, the social division of the labour force became clear, the transformation of the social structure accelerated with the emergence of the amount of surplus product/surplus value, and the foundations of developed villages and towns were laid. The pottery wheel taken from Syria and Mesopotamia came into use. Mining was also one of the main development variables in the production economy. Copper/arsenic and copper/tin (bronze) alloys were needed to make durable weapons and more elegant ornaments. With the supply of such mines from distant places and the invention of writing in the 4th millennium BC, isolated villages and societies met with different cultural views. As a result of this interaction, human societies became better organized and started using bronze mines; thus, the first Bronze Age began.


In the 3rd millennium BC, there were city-state settlements in Asia Minor. The archive uncovered in Ebla, an important trade centre near Aleppo in Northern Syria, stated that Harran was ruled by a queen named "Zugalum". After the Semitic Akkads, the first community in history to gain strength quickly, Urfa/Harran, was taken under the rule of Sargon of Akkad. After the destruction of the 3rd Ur Dynasty at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, which is defined as the "Assyrian Trade Colonies Period", Anatolia came into contact with writing, and concentrated trade activities were conducted along many rivers, especially the Euphrates. In the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, the names of Harran and its king Astidakim are mentioned in the archive of the Assyrian king Samsi-Adad located in Mari (Tell Hariri), a commercial centre in Northern Syria. Twenty minor kingdoms and 250 place names dated back to the second half of the 2nd millennium BC were identified on the tablets unearthed in Alalah on the Mari and Amik Plain. During this period, the Hurrian and Amurlu populations dominated the region. In contrast, Mitanni, an Indian/Aryan tribe who came to the region from the east of the Euphrates, became the dominant factor. However, for most of the 2nd millennium BC, there were generally three main powers in the region: the Hittite State in the north, the Mitanni-Hanigalbat State of Northern Mesopotamia, and the Kingdom of Egypt in the south. Towards the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the region turned into an arena of power between the Early Hittite, Assyrian and Mitanni and with the I. and II. Syrian war, the political power of Mitanni in the region decreased. During the reign of Sattura I, king of Mitanni, the influence of Hittite domination shrank. The discovery of the iron mine caused radical changes in military technology, and this transformation ended the "Bronze Age Culture" in Anatolia and the whole region. In this period, which is called the Iron Age, the weakening of the power of the Great Hittite Kingdom in 1200 BC and the invasion of the Arameans caused the Assyrian-Aramaic struggle in the region. The Arameans experienced a 'golden age' in a large part of the Euphrates in the 10th century BC and established the Bit Adini Kingdom in this century. However, due to the Assyrian Empire's resurgence, wars of revenge against the Arameans began during the reign of the emperor Ashur-II Dan (932 BC - 913 BC). In the Period of Adad Nirari (911 BC - 891 BC), conflict was especially concentrated in the Hanibalgat (Urfa) region. In 614 BC, the Medes, who gained strength within the region of modern-day Iran, allied with the Babylonians, who dominated Northern Mesopotamia and captured Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who fled to the northwest, declared Harran their new capital. However, the life of this new Assyrian state that was established did not last long; in 609 BC, the mighty Assyrian Empire breathed its last in Harran. Thus, the Babylonian Kingdom became the new ruler of Mesopotamia. In this period, due to the assassination of Labasi-Marduk (559 BC - 556 BC), Nabonidus sat on the throne of the Kingdom. Nabonidus, a religious king, paid special attention to Harran due to his belief in the Moon God Sin, and following a dream of his, the Temple of Sin, whose Sumerian name was E-Hul Hul, was restored for the third time (the first restoration was by Salmanassar, the king of Assyria; the second restoration was by Ashurbanibal). The Urfa/Harran Region was left to Ugbaru (Gobryas) after the Persian king Kyros destroyed the Babylonian Kingdom from the stage of history in 539 BC. During the reign of the mighty Persian king Darius I (522-486 BC), the region was included within the boundaries of the Babylonian Satrap. Aramaic, the common language of the region during the Period of Persian domination, was accepted as the "official language" of Anatolia. In this period, the political power of the Persian Empire, which revitalized the region between the Euphrates and Tigris in terms of agriculture, weakened over time. When the Macedonian King Alexander the Great defeated the Persian armies in 334 BC, and 332 BC in the Hatay/Isos region, the Urfa region (all of Southeastern Anatolia) came under the rule of the Macedonians, which accelerated the end of the Iron Age. After the death of Alexander, the Great 323 BC, who is known for spreading the Hellenic culture all over the world, the lands of the Macedonian empire were distributed among his generals, and the Mesopotamian lands, including Southeast Anatolia, came under the rule of Seleukos Nicator (Seleukos I). The settlements of Edessa (Urfa), Karrai (Harran), Anthemusia (Suruç), Macedonian (Birecik), and Nikepforion (Rakka) were re-established and renamed during this period. This Hellenic-origin kingdom ruled for 200 years in and around Urfa, which is the keystone of the trade between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Information about Urfa during this period is limited. However, the city's name is "Antiochia Kallirhoe" on the coins dated to the IV period. In the reign of Antiochos IV Epiphanes (175 BC - 164 BC), the name Edessa came into use. As a result of the pressure of the Persians from the east and the Romans from the west, the sovereignty areas of the Seleucids in Upper Mesopotamia and Syria were narrowed, and the region turned into a kind of "buffer zone". This situation caused Edessa to be ruled by many small principalities. The Arameans of Edessa, who took advantage of the defeat of the army of Antiochos Sitedes against the Persians between 130- 129 BC, established an independent kingdom (Osroene) in 132 BC. Inscriptions dating back to 165 AD in the Sumatar (Soğmatar) Ruins, located 73 kilometres from Şanlıurfa, provide clues about the borders of the Kingdom. During the reign of Abgar X, the Persian king Sapur I threatened Antakya, an important city for Rome, and the Roman Emperor III. Gordianus defeated the Iranian forces west of the Euphrates and ended the Abgar Kingdom, which lasted for 375 years, and turned Osroene into a Roman province with two administrators appointed from the centre. During this period, Edessa experienced major floods in AD 201, 303, April 413 and 667, and many places were flooded, including the location and structure of the current Mosaic Museum. During the Osroene Kingdom, Christianity spread to Urfa. It would go down in history as the first "Christian City and Kingdom" of Mesopotamia, the "Fiancee" of Jesus/Christ and a city "blessed" by him. According to the rumour, Abgar Ukomo caught the plague and heard that Jesus healed the sick, and he wrote a letter to bring Jesus to Urfa and sent his envoy named "Hannah" to deliver the letter. Being a good painter, "Hannah" could not draw the portrait of Jesus Christ, whose face was bright. Seeing this, Jesus washes his face, wipes his face with a handkerchief and gives the handkerchief to Hannah. According to St. Addai's narration, King Abgar wiped his face with this handkerchief and regained his health, and after that, the handkerchief was placed in a niche at the city's entrance. With the cultural influences of the Hellenistic Period, Şanlıurfa on the one hand, turned into a Roman city with its hippodrome, architecture, theatre, necropolis areas, inscriptions and Greek inscriptions on the coins and, on the other hand, the oriental clothing style in the mosaics and statues with the Persian influence, with the city defined as "The Daughter of the Persians, The City of the Persians". In the 4th century AD, the attitude of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and Julianus towards Christianity changed; this situation also affected Edessa, and many monasteries and pagan temples were destroyed during this period. Before the arrival of the Islamic armies, which headed towards Syria and Iraq with firm steps from the south, in 639 AD, Şanlıurfa experienced a period of unrest characterized by Persian attacks, Christian sectarian wars (Melkits, Monophysites, etc.) and heretic faith struggles. In the 7th century AD, Islam spread to the Fertile Crescent. A new era would begin in the region where a great civilization, literature and architecture had begun to sprout. In this period, Hz. Omar was the caliph, and Iyad B. Ghanem was brought to the command of Damascus's armies and sent to the Al Jazeera region to oversee the conquest in 639 AD. In response to the request of Iyad B. Ganem, who came to the Harran region via Raqqa in August to conquer the city, the people of Harran stipulated that the Islamic armies should agree with the people of Şanlıurfa by saying, "We will accept the same conditions under whatever conditions the people of Edessa (Şanlıurfa) to make peace". Following this precondition, Iyad B. Ganem turned his army towards Edessa and demanded that the city be handed over to him. Although a small group tried to resist, they were unsuccessful and eventually handed over the city to Iyad B. Ganem. Arab politicians divided Upper Mesopotamia into three parts, Diyar-ı Mudar, Diyar-i Rabia and Diyar-i Bekr, according to the tribes. The centre of Diyar-ı Mudar (Al Jazeera) is Harran; the other major cities include Urfa, Suruç and Raqqa. Later, Caliph Osman Al Jazeera handed over the administration of Homs and Kinnesrin to Hz. Muawiya and appointed him as a governor. With the assassination of Hz. Ali, in 661 AD, under the leadership of Muaviye, an Umayyad state was established (661 AD - 750 AD) and the dominance of Diyar-ı Mudar (Al Jazeera) was passed to the Umayyads. The most significant event of this period was that the Umayyad Caliph Marwan II moved the centre of the caliphate from Damascus to Harran during his reign (AD 744 - AD 750).

Sumatar (Soğmatar)

The Ancient Suayip City

During the reign of Marwan II, Harran Ulu Mosque (Cami’ül Firdevs) was restored, water channels were opened in the region, and agriculture and trade were developed. Al Jazeera Region, which experienced a 'golden age' in the Marwan II period, would go down in history as the region that paid the most taxes. Shaken as a result of the Abbasid uprising in the east, the Umayyads defeated the Abbasid and Umayyad armies in the war on the shores of the Great Zap River (750 AD) with the armies led by Marwan II and captured most of Iran and Mesopotamia. During the Abbasid authority (AD 750 - AD990), great pressures were applied to the Umayyad people in Şanlıurfa, which only ended when Caliph Harun Reşidassumed leadership. During this period, outstanding buildings were built in civil architecture, and Şanlıurfa became a cultural city. Şanlıurfa, which lived through a quiet period under the administration of Caliph Harun Reşid, witnessed power struggles between the sons of Caliph Harun Reşid beginning in 809 AD. Benefiting from this internal disturbance, the Byzantines took Urfa under their rule in 1037 AD, repaired the city walls and castles and made the city more sheltered. With the "Great Seljuk Period", the expeditions to Anatolia increased. With the Manzikert Victory of Alparslan in 1071 AD, it became easier for Anatolia and Urfa to fall into the hands of the Seljuks. Upon the death of Sultan Alparslan in 1072 AD, Melikşah ascended the throne. Sultan Suleyman Shah and his brother Mansur, who rebelled against Sultan Alparslan, stayed in the Urfa region. Moving to take the city of Aleppo, Melikşah assigned one of his commanders, Bozan, to conquer Urfa. The ongoing war between the two Muslim forces turned in his favour when Melikşah came to Urfa during the war. Suleyman Shah, who defended Urfa and its surrounding area, died in the war and is buried in the "Turkish Grave" on the Syrian border today. Melikşah gave the governorship of Urfa and Harran to Bozan, and inns, mosques and madrasas were opened during the Bozan Period (1087 AD), and the "Harran University", where the famous Turkish scholar Farabi took lessons, was developed during this period. In the face of increasing Muslim-Turkish expeditions in the region, Count Baudouin took the city of Urfa under his protection during the Crusades organized at the request of Byzantium. He established the Crusader County of Urfa in 1098 AD. After 46 years of crusader rule, this county, destabilized by power struggles for the throne, was captured by Mosul Atabeyi İmameddin Zengi in 1144 AD. After Imameddin Zengi died in 1182 AD, Şanlıurfa remained within the borders of the Ayyubid State founded by Commander Selahattin Eyyubi. Although Şanlıurfa joined the Seljuk lands to ensure political unity during the reign of the Anatolian Seljuk Ruler, Süleyman Shah II, the city was taken back during the Ayyubid Period. Urfa was frequently subjected to heavy taxes and was taken by the Mongols in 1251 AD. In the following years, after the collapse of the Anatolian Seljuks in AD 1318, Turkmen Bey and his sons, Salim Bey, began to gain influence in Urfa. In January 1334 AD, Urfa from Ceylanpınar to the Urfa Region was dominated by Timur Mardin. Karayülük Osman Bey, who had fought in the Ankara War by Timur, established the Akkoyunlu State in the Diyarbakir Region, which was given to him in return for the war in 1403 AD, and included Şanlıurfa within its borders. Subsequently, the Safavid Empire gained power in Iran, Akkoyunlus lost power in the region, and the collapse accelerated. In 1514 AD, during the reign of Sultan Murad, who succeeded Sultan Elvend after his death, Şanlıurfa came under Safavid rule, and the city's administration was left to the Kaçars. With the defeat of the armies of Shah Ismail by the Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1517 AD, the long-lasting political instability in Şanlıurfa came to an end, and the Ottoman domination, which would last for four centuries, began in 1517 AD. Şanlıurfa, which came under the rule of the Ottomans, was primarily connected to the Diyarbakır Province, and the cultural and economic life gained serious momentum. In the city, where the traces of Ottoman architecture can still be seen, there was a significant increase in places used for social purposes, such as mosques, lodges, tombs, churches, madrasas, libraries, inns, baths, shops, covered bazaars, pavilions, and soup kitchens.

On October 30, 1918, when the Armistice of Mudros was signed, Urfa, which had an independent sanjak title, was occupied first by the British on March 7, 1919, and then by the French. In the face of this occupation, the citizens of Urfa armed themselves in February 1920 and organized the local people on behalf of the Kuva-yı Milliye under the leadership of Gendarme Commander Ali Saip (Ursavaş). The success achieved against the French occupation ended with the occupation forces evacuating the city on April 11, 1920. Urfa, which received the title of "Şanlı" in 1984 due to its outstanding efforts in the War of Independence, is now named "Şanlıurfa" and received the medal of independence on April 11, 2016.

Source: Şanlıurfa Museum Directorate