Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Janissaries …

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on May 17, 2014

File:Battle of Vienna.SultanMurads with janissaries.jpg

In ancient Roman religion and myth Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The gates of a building in Rome named after him, not a temple as it is often called, but an open enclosure with gates at each end, were opened in time of war, and closed to mark the arrival of peace (which did not happen very often).

January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year’s Day. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua), since January is the door to the year and an opening to new beginnings. From Ianus derived ianua (“door”), and hence the English word “janitor” (Latin, ianitor).

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She was said to also watch over the women of Rome. A daughter of Saturn, she is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars, Vulcan, Bellona and Juventas.

As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and was a member of the Capitoline Triad (Juno Capitolina), centered on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; it consisted of her, Jupiter, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom.

She is the Roman equivalent of Hera, queen of the gods in Greek mythology; like Hera, her sacred animal was the peacock. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She is often shown armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Athena, who bore a goatskin, or a goatskin shield, called the ‘aegis’.

The name Juno was also once thought to be connected to Iove (Jove), originally as Diuno and Diove from *Diovona. At the beginning of the 20th century, a derivation was proposed from iuven- (as in Latin iuvenis, “youth”), through a syncopated form iūn- (as in iūnix, “heifer”, and iūnior, “younger”).

Young comes from Old English geong meaning youthful, young; recent, new, fresh. It comes from Proto-Germanic *juwunga- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian jung, Old Norse ungr, Middle Dutch jonc, Dutch jong, Old High German and German jung, Gothic juggs), from PIE *yuwn-ko-, suffixed form of root *yeu- “vital force, youthful vigor” (source also of Sanskrit yuvan- “young; young man;” Avestan yuuanem, yunam “youth,” yoista- “youngest;” Latin juvenis “young,” iunior “younger, more young;” Lithuanian jaunas, Old Church Slavonic junu, Russian junyj “young,” Old Irish oac, Welsh ieuanc “young”).

Iuuen- is related to Latin aevum and Greek aion through a common Indo-European root referring to a concept of vital energy or “fertile time”. The iuvenis is he who has the fullness of vital force. Junior is a late 1300 century word meaning younger, not as old as another, from Latin iunior younger, more young. It is comparative of iuvenis “young; a young man, etymologically one who possesses vital force, from PIE root *yeu – vital force, youthful vigor.

The term Janissary (Ottoman Turkish: yeñiçeri, meaning “new soldier”) comes from French janissaire, from Italian giannizzero, from Turkish yeniçeri, from yeni new + çeri soldiery.

The Janissaries were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops, bodyguards and the first modern standing army in Europe. The corps was most likely established during the reign of Murad I (1362–89).

They began as an elite corps of slaves made up of kidnapped young Christian boys who were forcefully converted to Islam, and became famed for internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order. Unlike typical slaves, they were paid regular salaries.

From the 1380s to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system, which was abolished in 1638. This was the taking (enslaving) of non-Muslim boys, notably Anatolian and Balkan Christians; Jews were never subject to devşirme, nor were children from Turkic families.

The Janissaries were kapıkulları (sing. kapıkulu), “door servants” or “slaves of the Porte”, neither freemen nor ordinary slaves (köle). They were subjected to strict discipline, but were paid salaries and pensions upon retirement and formed their own distinctive social class. As such, they became one of the ruling classes of the Ottoman Empire, rivalling the Turkish aristocracy.

The Janissaries (from Ottoman Turkish meaning “new soldier”), were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops and bodyguards. Sultan Murad I created the force in 1383. It was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident. They were an elite corps whose internal cohesion was cemented by strict discipline and prevalent order.

Modern historians such as Patrick Kinross date the formation of the Janissaries to around 1365, during the rule of Orhan’s son Murad I, the first sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Janissaries became the first Ottoman standing army replacing forces that mostly consisted of tribal warriors (ghazis) whose loyalty and morale were not always guaranteed.

From the 1380s to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system which was abolished in 1638. This was the taking (enslaving) of non-Muslim boys, notably Anatolian and Balkan Christians; Jews were never subject to devşirme, nor were children from Turkic families. In early days, all Christians were enrolled indiscriminately. Later, those from Northern Greece and Serbia were preferred.

The Janissaries were kapıkulları (sing. kapıkulu), “door servants” or “slaves of the Porte”, neither freemen nor ordinary slaves (Turkish: köle). They were subjected to strict discipline and were the first army to wear a uniform, but were paid salaries and pensions upon retirement and formed their own distinctive social class.

As such, they became one of the ruling classes of the Ottoman Empire, rivaling the Turkish aristocracy. The brightest of the Janissaries were sent to the palace institution, Enderun. Through a system of meritocracy, the Janissaries held enormous power, stopping all efforts at reform of the military.

XXX

According to military historian Michael Antonucci and economic historians Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane, the Turkish administrators would scour their regions (but especially the Balkans) every five years for the strongest sons of the sultan’s Christian subjects. These boys (usually between the ages of 6 and 14) were then taken from their parents and given to Turkish families in the provinces to learn Turkish language and customs, and the rules of Islam.

The recruits were indoctrinated into Islam, forced into circumcision and supervised 24 hours a day by eunuchs. They were subjected to severe discipline, being prohibited from growing a beard, taking up a skill other than soldiering, and marrying. As a result, the Janissaries were extremely well-disciplined troops, and became members of the Askeri class, the first-class citizens or military class. Most were non-Muslims because it was not permissible to enslave a Muslim. This elite corps was second only to the sultan in the Ottoman Empire.

Askeri is an Ottoman Turkish term that refers to a class of imperial administrators in the Ottoman Empire. This elite class consisted of three main groups: the military, the court officials, and the religious clergy. It was contrasted with the reaya, the tax-paying lower class, and the kul, or slave class, which included the Janissaries.

A rayah or reaya (from Arabic ra`aya, a plural of ra`iya “flock, subject”, also spelled raya, raja, raiah, re’aya,literally ‘members of the flock’) was a member of the tax-paying lower class of Ottoman society, in contrast to the askeri and kul. The Rayah made up over 90% of the general islamic population and the millet communities. In Muslim world, Rayyah literally subject of a government or sovereign. The word is sometimes mistranslated as ‘cattle’ rather than ‘flock’ or ‘subjects’ to emphasize the inferior status of the rayah.

The rayah included Christians, Muslims, and Jews who were shorn (i.e. taxed) to support the state and the associated ‘professional Ottoman’ class. But both in contemporaneous and in modern usage, it refers to non-Muslim subjects in particular, also called dhimmi, a historical term referring to non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state. They were in the early Ottoman Empire not eligible for military service, but starting in the late 16th century, Muslim rayah became eligible, to the distress of some of the ruling class.

Dhimma allows rights of residence in return for jizyah – tax collected from non-Muslims. According to scholars, dhimmis had their rights fully protected in their communities, but as citizens in the Islamic state, had certain restrictions. They were excused or excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, did not enjoy certain political rights reserved for Muslims, and were subject to payment of a special tax (jizyah), but were otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract and obligation.

Giaour or Gawur or Ghiaour, written gâvur in modern Turkish is an offensive religious and sometimes ethnic slur used by Muslims in Turkey and the Balkans to describe all who are non-Muslim, with particular reference to nearby Christian populations like Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Serbs, ethnic Macedonians, Romanians, and Assyrians. The term is considered highly offensive by Christians in the Balkans.

Gabr (also geuber, geubre, gabrak, gawr, gaur, gyaur, gabre) is a New Persian term originally used to denote a Zoroastrian. It was historically a technical term synonymous with mōg, “magus”, denoting a follower of Zoroastrianism, and it is with this meaning that the term is attested in very early New Persian texts such as the Shahnameh. In time, gabr came to have a pejorative implication and was superseded in literature by the respectable Zardoshti, “Zoroastrian”.

Zoroaster taught that good and evil were opposite forces and that it was a person’s duty to make a choice between the two. The two paths are asha, the path of righteousness, and druj the path of the lie. Good is represented by Ahura Mazda and evil by Angra Mainyu. The Zoroastrian holy book, called the Avesta, was written in the Avestan language, which is closely related to Vedic Sanskrit.

The Irani are an ethno-religious community in South Asia; they belong to the Zoroastrians who emigrated from Iran to South Asia 16th to 18th century. They are culturally, linguistically and socially distinct from the Parsis, who – although also Zoroastrians – arrived on the subcontinent over 1,200 years ago from the Pars region of Persia. They are ethnically distinct from the Iranis even though both groups descend from Persian Zoroastrians.

Magi (Latin plural of magus; Ancient Greek: magos; Old Persian: maguš, Persian: mogh; English singular magian, mage, magus, magusian, magusaean; Kurdish: manji) is a term, used since at least the 6th century BC, to denote followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster. The earliest known usage of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription.

Starting later, presumably during the Hellenistic period, the word Magi also denotes followers of what the Hellenistic chroniclers incorrectly associated Zoroaster with, which was – in the main – the ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. However, Old Persian texts, pre-dating the Hellenistic period, refer to a Magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest.

Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, mágos, “Magian” or “magician,” was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs (γόης), the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge.

This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the “Chaldean” “founder” of the Magi and “inventor” of both astrology and magic. Among the skeptical thinkers of the period, the term ‘magian’ acquired a negative connotation and was associated with tricksters and conjurers. This pejorative meaning survives in the words “magic” and “magician”.

In English, the term “magi” is most commonly used in reference to the magi from the east who visit Jesus in Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew Matthew 2:1, and are now often translated as “wise men” in English versions. The plural “magi” entered the English language from Latin around 1200, in reference to these. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic.

By the 13th century the word Gabr had come to be applied to a follower of any religion other than Islam, and it has “also been used by the Muslim Kurds, Turks, and some other ethnic groups in modified forms to denote various religious communities other than Zoroastians, sometimes even in the sense of unbeliever.” As a consequence of the curtailment of social rights, non-Muslims were compelled to live in restricted areas, which the Muslim populace referred to as Gabristans.

Dari, a Northwestern Iranian ethnolect spoken as a first language by an estimated 8,000 to 15,000 Zoroastrians in and around the cities of Yazd and Kerman in central Iran, is also known as Gabri (sometimes Gavrŭni or Gabrōni), or Behdināni. Dari has numerous dialects. It is incomprehensible to speakers of standard Persian.

Though term Askeri itself literally means “of the military”, it more broadly encompasses all higher levels of imperial administration.To be a member of this ruling elite, one thus had to hold a political office in the service of the Ottoman Empire, meaning that both Muslims and non-Muslims in those positions could be considered askeri.

After Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 there was a reform movement in Sultan Selim III’s regime, to reduce the numbers of the Askeri class, who were the first class citizens or military class (also called Janissary).

Sultan Salim III was taken prisoner and murdered by the Janissary revolt. The successor to the sultan, Mahmud II was patient, but remembered the results of the uprising in 1807. In 1827 he created a revolt among the Janissaries, kept them all in their barracks and slaughtered thousands of them.

The janissary system was introduced in the 14th century. It was a similar system to the Iranian Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar era “ghulams”, who were converted Circassians, Georgians and Armenians, and in the same way as with the Ottoman’s Janissaries they were initially created as a counterbalance to the tribal, ethnic and favoured interests the Qizilbash gave, which make a system imbalanced.

Ghilman (singular Arabic: ghulām, plural ghilmān ) describes either young servants in paradise or slave-soldiers in the Abbasid, Ottoman, Safavid and to a lesser extent, Mughal empires. The ghilman were introduced to the Abbasid Caliphate during the reign of al-Mu’tasim (r. 833–842), who showed them great favor and relied upon them for his personal guard.

The ghilman were slave-soldiers taken as prisoners of war from conquered regions or frontier zones, especially from among the Turkic people of Central Asia and the Caucasian peoples. They were opposed by the native Arab population, and riots against the ghilman in Baghdad in 836 forced Mu’tasim to relocate his capital to Samarra.

The ghilman rose rapidly in power and influence, and under the weak rulers that followed Mu’tasim, they became king-makers: they revolted several times during the 860s and killed four caliphs. Since the break-up of the Abbasid Caliphate, the ghilman were grouped into whole armies. They were usually Turkic in origin and fought as cavalrymen.

A Ghulam was trained and educated at his master’s expense and could earn his freedom through his dedicated service. Ghilman were required to marry Turkic slave-women, who were chosen for them by their masters.

Some ghilman seem to have lived celibate lives. The absence of family life and offspring was possibly one of the reasons why ghilman, even when attaining power, generally failed to start dynasties or proclaim their independence. The only exception to this was the Ghaznavid dynasty of Afghanistan.

The Janissary Corps was a trained and loyal group of slaves to the sultan. In the late 16th century, a sultan gave in to the pressures of the Corps and permitted Janissary children to become members of the Corps, a practice strictly forbidden for the previous 300 years. They also became rent-seeking and sought protection of their special rights and advantages.

According to paintings of the era, they were also permitted to grow beards. Consequently, the formerly strict rules of succession became open to interpretation. While they advanced their own power, the Janissaries also helped to keep the system from changing in other progressive ways, and were the most responsible for the political stagnation of Istanbul.

Greek Historian Dimitri Kitsikis in his book Türk Yunan İmparatorluğu (“Turco-Greek Empire”) states that many Christian families were willing to comply with the devşirme because it offered a possibility of social advancement. Conscripts could one day become Janissary colonels, statesmen who might one day return to their home region as governors, or even Grand Viziers or Beylerbeys (governor generals).

Some of the most famous Janissaries include George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, an Albanian who defected and led a 20‑year Albanian revolt against the Ottomans. Another was Sokollu Mehmed Paşa, a Bosnian Serb who became a grand vizier, served three sultans, and was the de facto ruler of the Ottoman Empire for more than 14 years.

Culture of the Ottoman Empire

Devşirme system

Millet system

Military of the Ottoman Empire

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