Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • 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

    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.

  • Archives

Archive for the ‘Anatolia’ Category

The city of Diyarbakır

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 12, 2013

File:Ethnic map of Asia Minor and Caucasus in 1914.jpg

Map of the Armenian Genocide, 1915

Genocide – Map

Diyarbakır (Ottoman Turkish: Diyâr-ı Bekr; Kurdish: Amed; Ancient Greek: Amida; Syriac: Amid; Armenian: Tigranakert) is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey. Situated on the banks of the River Tigris, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province and with a population of about 843,460 it is the second largest city in Turkey’s South-eastern Anatolia region, after Gaziantep.

The area around Diyarbakır has been inhabited by humans from the stone age with tools from that period having been discovered in the nearby Hilar cave complex. The pre-pottery neolothic B settlement of Çayönü dates to over 10,000 years ago and its excavated remains are on display at the Diyarbakır Museum. Another important site is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Egil.

The first major civilization to establish themselves in what is now Diyarbakır were the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni who made it their military and trade capital. The city was then ruled by a succession of nearly every polity that controlled Upper Mesopotamia such as the Assyrians, Urartu, Medes, Seleucids and Parthians.

The name of the city is inscribed as Amid on the sheath of a sword from the Assyrian period, and the same name was used in other contemporary Syriac and Arabic works. The Romans and Byzantines called the city Amida.

Amida was an ancient city located where modern Diyarbakır, Turkey now stands. The Roman writers Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius consider it a city of Mesopotamia, but it may be more properly viewed as belonging to Armenia Major.

The city was located on the right bank of the Tigris. The walls are lofty and substantial, and constructed of the ruins of ancient edifices. As the place is well adapted for a commercial city, it is probable that Amida was a town of considerable antiquity.

Amid(a) was the capital of the Aramean kingdom Bet-Zamani from the 13th century BC onwards. The city was called Amida when the region was under the rule of the Roman Empire (from 66 BC).

It was enlarged and strengthened by Constantius II, in whose reign it was besieged and taken after seventy-three days by the Sassanid king Shapur II (359). The Roman soldiers and a large part of the population of the town were massacred by the Persians. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who took part in the defence of the town, has given a minute account of the siege. In 363 Amida was re-taken by Roman Emperor Julian.

Amida was besieged by the Sassanid king Kavadh I during the Anastasian War through the autumn and winter (502-503). The siege of the city proved to be a far more difficult enterprise than Kavadh expected; the defenders, although unsupported by troops, repelled the Sassanid assaults for three months before they were finally beaten. During that same war, the Romans attempted an ultimately unsuccessful siege of the Persian-held Amida, led by generals Patricius and Hypatius. In 504, however, the Romans reconquered the city, and Justinian I repaired its walls and fortifications.

Tigranocerta (Tigranakert) was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom. It bore the name of Tigranes the Great, who founded the city in the first century BC. The city possibly located near present-day Silvan or nearby Arzan (Arzn, in the Armenian province of Arzanene or Aghdznik), east of Diyarbakır, Turkey. It was one of four cities in historic Armenia named Tigranakert. The others were located in Nakhichevan, Artsakh and Utik.

To create this city, Tigranes forced many people out of their homes to make up the population. Armenia at this time had expanded east to the Caspian Sea, west to central Cappadocia, and south towards Judea, advancing as far as the regions surrounding what is now the Krak des Chevaliers. A Roman force under Lucius Lucullus defeated Tigranes at the Battle of Tigranocerta nearby in 69 BC, and afterwards sacked the city, sending many of the people back to their original homes.

During Pompey the Great’s ‘conquests of the east’, Tigranocerta was retaken briefly by Rome, but was lost when Tigranes the Great was given parts of his kingdom back after his initial surrender to Pompey for the cost of 6,000 talents (an indemnity paid to Rome over an uncertain period). It was again taken by the Romans when Corbulo, a Roman legate (head of a legion), defeated Tiridates during the Armenian rebellion of 64 AD.

The city’s markets were filled with traders and merchants doing business from all over the ancient world. Tigranocerta quickly became a very important commercial, as well as cultural center of the Near East.

The magnificent theater that was established by the Emperor, of which he was an avid devotee, conducted dramas and comedies mostly played by Greek as well as Armenian actors. Plutarch wrote that Tigranocerta was «a rich and beautiful city where every common man and every man of rank studied to adorn it.»

The Hellenistic culture during the Artaxiad Dynasty had a strong influence and the Greek language was in fact the official language of the court. Tigranes had divided Greater Armenia – the nucleus of the Empire – into four major strategic regions or viceroyalties.

The Battle of Tigranocerta was fought on October 6, 69 BC between the forces of the Roman Republic and the army of the Kingdom of Armenia led by King Tigranes the Great. The Roman force was led by Consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, and Tigranes was defeated. His capital city of Tigranocerta was lost to Rome as a result. The Roman Republic gained control of the city in 66 BC by when it was renamed «Amida».

After the plunder, which included the destruction of statues and temples, the city was set ablaze. An abundant quantity of gold and silver was carried off to Rome as war booty. Lucullus took most of the gold and silver from the melted-down statues, pots, cups and other valuable metals and precious stones. During the pillage most of the city’s inhabitants simply fled to the countryside. The newly established theater building was also destroyed in the fire. The great city would never recover from this devastating destruction.

During the Ottoman period, Armenians referred to the city of Diyarbekir as Dikranagerd (Western Armenian pronunciation of Tigranakert).

In 359, Shapur II of Sassanid Persia captured Amida after a siege of 73 days, which is vividly described by the Roman army officer Ammianus Marcellinus, an historian of Greek origin from Antioch, in his work (Res Gestae).

The Sassanids captured the city for a third time in 602 and held it for more than twenty years. In 628 the Roman emperor Heraclius recovered Amida.

Finally, in 639 the city was captured by the Arabic Ummayad armies, which introduced the religion of Islam. The Arab Bakr tribe occupied this region, which became known as the Diyar Bakr («landholdings of the Bakr tribe», in Persian: Diyar-ı Bekir).

The city remained in Arab hands until the Kurdish dynasty of Marwanid ruled the area during the 10th and 11th centuries.

After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the city came under the rule of the Mardin branch of Oghuz Turks and then the Anatolian beylik of Artuqids . The whole area was then disputed between the Ilkhanate and Ayyubid dynasties for a century, after which it was taken over by the competing Turkic federations of the Kara Koyunlu (the Black Sheep) first and then the Ak Koyunlu (the White Sheep). It was also ruled by Sultanate of Rûm between 1241 and 1259.

In 1085, Seljuq Turks captured the region from Marwanids, and they settled many Turcomans in the region. However, Ayyubids received the city from Seljuqs in 1201, and the city ruled by them until Mogolian dynasty of Ilkhanate captured the city in 1259. Later the Turkmen dynasty of Artukids received the city from Ayyubids and ruled the region till 1409.

Among the Artukid, a Turkmen dynasty that ruled in Eastern Anatolia, Northern Syria and Northern Iraq in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Akkoyunlu, a Sunni Oghuz Turkic tribal federation that ruled parts of present-day Eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, northern Iraq, and Iran from 1378 to 1501, it was known as «Black Amid» (Kara Amid) for the dark color of its walls, while in the Zafername, or eulogies in praise of military victories, it is called «Black Fortress» (Kara Kale). In the Book of Dede Korkut and some other Turkish works it appears as Kara Hamid.

The city was conquered from the Safavids and brought under the Ottoman Empire by the campaigns of Bıyıklı Mehmet Paşa under the rule of the Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Selim I, in 1515.

The Ottoman eyalet of Diyarbakır corresponded to Turkey’s southeastern provinces today, a rectangular area between the Lake Urmia to Palu and from the southern shores of Lake Van to Cizre and the beginnings of the Syrian desert, although its borders saw some changes over time.

The city was an important military base for controlling this region and at the same time a thriving city noted for its craftsmen, producing glass and metalwork. For example the doors of Mevlana’s tomb in Konya were made in Diyarbakır, as were the gold and silver decorated doors of the tomb of Imam-i Azam in Baghdad.

In 1895, Armenians and Assyrians were subject to massacres in Diyarbakır. The city had been also a site for ethnic cleansing of Armenians, nearly 150,000 were deported from the city.

In 1937, Atatürk visited Diyarbekir and, after expressing uncertainty on the true etymology of the city, ordered that it be renamed «Diyarbakır,» which means land of copper in Turkish.

In the reorganization of the provinces, Diyarbakır was made administrative capital of Diyarbakır Province. During the 1980s and 1990s at the peak of the PKK insurgency, the population of the city grew dramatically as villagers from remote areas where fighting was serious left or were forced to leave for the relative security of the city.

After the cessation of hostilities between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish army, a large degree of normality returned to the city, with the Turkish government declaring an end to the 15-year period of emergency rule on 30 November 2002. Diyarbakır grew from 30,000 in the 1930s to 65,000 by 1956, to 140,000 by 1970, to 400,000 by 1990, and eventually swelled to about 1.5 million by 1997.

The 41-year-old American-Turkish Pirinçlik Air Force Base near Diyarbakır, known as NATO’s frontier post for monitoring the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, closed on 30 September 1997. This closure was the result of the general drawdown of US bases in Europe and the improvement in space surveillance technology. The base housed sensitive electronic intelligence-gathering systems that monitored the Middle East, the Caucasus and Russia.

According to a November 2006 survey by the Sur Municipality, one of Diyarbakır’s metropolitan municipalities, 72% of the inhabitants of the municipality use Kurdish most often in their daily speech, followed by Turkish, and 69% are illiterate in their most widely used vernacular.

In March 2013, over a million Kurds gathered in the city to hear the words of Abdullah Öcalan being read that signaled a new, peaceful direction in PKK-Turkish relations.

Massacres of Diyarbakir

The Hamidian massacres in Diyarbekir

The Hamidian massacres, also referred to as the Armenian Massacres of 1894–1896 and Great Massacres, refer to massacres of Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1890s, with estimates of the dead ranging between 80,000 to 300,000, and at least 50,000 children made orphans as a result.

The massacres are named after Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who, in his efforts to reinforce the territorial integrity of the embattled Ottoman Empire, reasserted Pan-Islamism as a state ideology. Although the massacres were aimed mainly at the Armenians, they turned into indiscriminate anti-Christian pogroms in some cases, such as in Diyarbekir where some 25,000 Assyrians were killed (see also Assyrian Genocide).

The massacres began with incidents in the Ottoman interior in 1894, gained full force in the years 1894–96, and tapered off in 1897, as international condemnation brought pressure to bear on Abdul Hamid.

Despite the fact that Ottomans had previously suppressed other revolts, the harshest measures were directed against the Armenian community. They observed no distinction between age or gender, and massacred them with brutal force. This occurred at a time when the telegraph could spread news around the world and the massacres were extensively covered in the media in Western Europe and the United States.

Massacres of Diyarbakir were massacres that took place in the Diyarbekir Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire between the years of 1894-1896. The events were part of the Hamidian massacres which targeted the region’s Christian population: Armenians and Assyrians.

The massacres initially targeted the Armenians instigated by Ottoman politicians and clerics under the pretext of their desire to dismantle the state, but they soon changed to a general anti-Christians pogroms as they moved to the Diyarbekir Vilayet and surrounding areas of Tur Abdin, which was inhabited by Assyrian/Syriac Christians. Contemporary accounts put the total number of Assyrians killed between 1894-1896 at around 25,000.

Kurdish raids on villages in the Diyarbekir Vilayet intensified in the years following a famine that ravaged the region. This was followed by fierce battles between Kurds and Shammar Arabs. In August 1888, Kurdish Aghas led attacks on Assyrian villages in Tur Abdin killing 18. Requests for an investigation by Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV went unanswered by the Porte.

Another Kurdish raid in October 1889 targeted several Assyrian/Syriac villages during which 40 villagers including women and children were killed. These events were the first signs of the massacres that would characterise the Diyarbekir Vilayet for the following decade.

The Hamidian massacres came when some 4,000 Armenians in the Sasun district of Bitlis Vilayet in 1894 rebelled against Kurdish nomadic tribes, who demanded traditional taxes from them. Local authorities reported this to the Sultan as a major revolt. The Sultan responded by sending the Ottoman army supported by the Hamidiye cavalry and local Kurdish tribes.

After clashing with the Armenian rebels, the Kurds descended upon Armenian villages in the regions of Sasun (Sassoun) and Talori, between Muş and Silvan, massacring its inhabitants and burning several Christian villages. More than 7,500 Armenians died as a result, and an intervention by European powers lead to the dismissal of the Governor of Bitlis, Bahri Paşa, in January 1895.

Three European Powers – Britain, France and Russia – thinking that reform of the Ottoman local government would help to prevent violence as occurred in Sasun, proposed to Sultan Abdul Hamid II a reform plan, planning control of the Kurds and the employment of Christian assistant-governors. The Sultan was unwilling to yield to the desires of the Powers. During the Spring and Summer of 1895 months of unfruitful negotiations passed.

After a demonstration in Constantinople on September 30, 1895, organised by the Armenian Hunchakian Party to ask for speedy enactment of the reforms, Christian neighbourhoods in the city were attacked by angry Muslim mobs and the city descended into chaos.

The massacre in Constantinople was followed by more Muslim-Armenian conflict in other areas, usually costing the lives of much more Christians than Muslims. Western pressure on the Sultan increased, and he eventually gave up to their demands a Firman of the reforms was issued in October 1895.

In retrospect, the announcement of the reforms only further exited the already heated atmosphere in the Ottoman Empire. As news of clashes and massacres spread throughout the empire Diyarbekir as well took its share, with Muslim-Christian distrust reaching unprecedented levels. Generally Muslims had a distorted view of what the European inspired reforms would mean. Muslims, also in Diyarbekir, thought that an Armenian Kingdom was about to be created under protection of European Powers and the end of Islamic rule was imminent.

Muslim civilians bought large amounts of weapons and ammunition. The influential Kurdish Sheikh of Zilan, who played an important role in the massacres of Armenians in Sasun and Mush in the previous year, was present in the city inciting the Muslims against Christians. It was rumoured that Kurdish tribal leaders outside the town had promised to send 10,000 Kurdish fighters to avenge themselves. Muslim notables in Diyarbekir, who had lost their trust in the Sultan, telegraphed him that: Armenia was conquered with blood, it will only be yielded with blood.

The massacres began in the city of Diyarbekir itself after unidentified individuals fired shots outside the Grand Mosque («Ulu Cami») in the city centre during the midday Muslim Prayer of Nov., 1, 1895. Muslims attacked Armenians in the surroundings, soon the violence turned against Christians without exception and spread over whole of the city.

They then started the looting, which was joined by common civilians and government officials alike. The entire market was set on fire. The financial losses of this day were estimated at about two million Turkish Pounds.

Attack on Christian neighbourhoods began the next morning in a systematic manner: houses were looted and burned, men, women and children killed and girls were kidnapped and converted to Islam.

The French vice-consul writes that the authorities had to close the gates of the city «fearing the coming of Kurdish tribes on the outskirts of the city, which do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians in their raids».

Some Christians were able to protect themselves with the few weapons that they had owned in narrow street which were defendable. More than 3,000 Christian of all denominations gathered at the monastery of the Capuchin Fathers in the city, and about 1,500 were protected by the French Consulate.

Diyarbakir massacres ended after three days, likely at order from the governor. The number of deaths within the city exceeded 1,000, most of whom Armenians, in addition to 1,000 missing. A similar number of deaths occurred in the surrounding villages.

Many Christians survived the killings by converting to Islam at gunpoint, according to some accounts, some 25,000 Armenians only turned to Islam during the massacres. Many of them returned to Christianity after the end of the period of persecution and returned to their villages once again.

William Ainger Wigram visited the region a few years later and witnessed the scenes of destruction. According to him, the Assyrians of the city of Diyarbekir suffered less than their Armenian co-religionists whom quarter was still completely demolished. He also observed high anti-Christian sentiments among the city’s Muslims.

There are few indications that Armenians had a role in «provoking» the conflict, as is claimed by some Ottoman sources, by attacking mosques. Clearly however, protests of Christians against the new Governor, Eniş Paşa in September 1895, were an important factor in further souring Muslim opinion. The massacre in Diyarbekir city was one of the most violent and bloody massacres in the period, extensively reported on by the French Consul in the city, Gustave Meyrier.

Massacres in the country side lasted for 46 days after the initial massacre of Diyarbakir. In the village of Sa’diye inhabited by 3000 Armenians and Assyrians, the Kurds first killed men, women and finally children. A group of them found shelter in a church but the Kurds managed to burn it and kill the refugees. Only three made it alive by hiding between the corpses.

In Mayafaraqin (Silvan, Farkin), a town of 3,000 of mixed Armenian, Jacobite and Protestants, only 15 survived the killings, the rest were killed in a manner similar to what happened Sa’diye.

The Assyrian village of Qarabash was destroyed and Qatarball only 4 survived of 300 families, most of the villagers died after burning the church in which they gathered. Isaac Armalet, a contemporary Syriac Catholic priest counts 10 more villages which were entirely erased from the map, accounting to a total of 4,000 victims.

Mardin, the largest city and the capital of the subprovince (sancak) of Mardin was spared of the massacres inflicted on other sancak’s in Diyarbakir. Many of its Muslim notables were anxious in protecting their own interests and wanted to maintain the tolerant image of the city. The city was also characterized by the fact that the neighbourhoods of Muslims and Christians were intermingled, making it difficult to distinguish between them, the Muslims knew that the entry of outside forces would lead to an indiscriminate massacre of its inhabitants.

The first Kurds entered the city on 9 November coming from the village of Ain Sinja which they destroyed. A local Muslim force confronted them and drove them back. The Governor then arranged the city’s defenses and distributed weapons among its Christian population as well. Two subsequent attempts from the Kurds to break into the city failed as well. It was only at the end of November that the governor of Diyarbakir issued order to protect the churches, although the atmosphere remained tense until spring 1896.

Despite the protection of the Christians of Mardin, the neighboring villages in Tur Abdin faced a different fate. The village Tell Armen was completely sacked and burned and its church partially destroyed. al-Kulye, made up of about 2,000 Jacobite individuals was also destroyed and burned down killing about 50 of its inhabitants. Banabil was also attacked and destroyed. While al-Mansurye survived after receiving support nearby villages.

The village of Qalaat Mara, The Jacobite Patriarchal seat, was abandoned after the Kurds attacked it. Its residents sought refuge at the Saffron Monastery, were they arranged their defenses and were able to hold the attacks of the Kurds for five days.

Father Armalet cites two different versions about the role of the Ottoman army: In the first one, the army aided the Kurds in attacking the monastery killing 70 Assyrians. The governor then sent 30 soldiers which accompanied the besieged to their villages and provide them with protection. In the second version, which agrees with the official story, the Kurds attacked the monastery by their own, the Mutasarrif sent a force which ordered the Kurds to withdraw, upon their rejection, the Ottomans attacked them and killed 80 men.

Historians agree that the town of Jezireh east of Tur Abdin, stayed calm and secure during the massacres, however, villages around Midyat were not spared from destruction and murder. and tells the monk Dominican monk father Gallant witnessed scenes of destruction as he passed in these areas in 1896.

The Assyrian population of the Sanjak of Mardin declined sharply after the massacres. In an estimate prior to the First World War, Christians formed roughly two-fifths of its population of 200,000. Tur Abdin ceased to be a «Christian island» as counted about 50% of the population its population of 45,000.

Massacres of Diyarbakır (1895)

Hamidian massacres

The Adana massacre


A street in the Christian quarter of Adana, photographed in June 1909

The Adana massacre occurred in Adana Province, in the Ottoman Empire, in April 1909. A massacre of Armenian Christians in the city of Adana amidst governmental upheaval resulted in a series of anti-Armenian pogroms throughout the district. Reportedly nearly 1,300 Assyrians were massacred during this event. Reports estimated that the massacres in Adana Province resulted in up to 30,000 deaths.

In 1908, the Young Turk government came to power in a bloodless revolution. Within a year, Turkey’s Armenian population, empowered by the dismissal of Abdul Hamid II, began organizing politically in support of the new government, which promised to place them on equal legal footing with their Muslim counterparts.

Having long endured so-called dhimmi status, and having suffered the brutality and oppression of Hamidian leadership since 1876, the Armenian minority in Cilicia perceived the nascent Young Turk government as a godsend. Christians now being granted the rights to arm themselves and form politically significant groups, it was not long before Abdul Hamid loyalists, themselves acculturated into the system that had perpetrated the Hamidian massacres of the 1890s, came to view the empowerment of the Christian minority as coming at their expense.

The Countercoup of March 1909 wrested control of the government out of the hands of the secularist Young Turks, and Abdul Hamid II briefly recovered his dictatorial powers. Appealing to the reactionary Muslim population with populist rhetoric calling for the re-institution of Islamic law under the banner of a pan-Islamic caliphate, the Sultan mobilized popular support against the Young Turks by identifying himself with the historically Islamic character of the state.

According to one source, when news of a mutiny in Istanbul arrived in Adana, speculation circulated among the Muslim population of an imminent Armenian insurrection. By April 14 the Armenian quarter was attacked by a mob, and many thousands of Armenians were killed in the ensuing weeks.

Other reports emphasize that a «skirmish between Armenians and Turks on April 13 set off a riot that resulted in the pillaging of the bazaars and attacks upon the Armenian quarters.» Two days later, more than 2,000 Armenians had been killed as a result. The outbreaks spread throughout the district and by the end of the month as many as 30,000 Armenians were reported killed.

Turkish and Armenian revolutionary groups had worked together to secure the restoration of constitutional rule, in 1908. On 31 March (or 13 April, by the Western calendar) a military revolt directed against the Committee of Union and Progress seized Istanbul. While the revolt lasted only ten days, it precipitated a massacre of Armenians in the province of Adana that lasted over a month.

The massacres were rooted in political, economic, and religious differences. The Armenian segment of the population of Adana was the «richest and most prosperous», and the violence included the destruction of «tractors and other kinds of mechanized equipment.»

The Christian-minority Armenians had also openly supported the coup against Sultan Abdul Hamid II, which had deprived the Islamic head of state of power. The awakening of Turkish nationalism, and the perception of the Armenians as a separatist, European-controlled entity, also contributed to the violence.

Adana massacre

Countercoup (1909)

The Armenian Genocide and Diyarbekir

By 1914 the Armenians numbered around 2 million people. Most Armenians were members of the Armenian Apostolic or Gregorian church, but many were members of the Armenian Catholic, and Protestant Communities. They shared a common language and had their own communal institutions, schools, churches, and press.

The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Massacres and by Armenians as the Great Crime, was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey.

The Genocide took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert.

The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians, the Greeks and other minority groups were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy.

It is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust. The word genocide was coined in order to describe these events.

The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.

Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events. In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, 22 countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view.

Around 80,000 Armenians lived in Diyarbekir vilayet, which was predominantly Kurdish. There were also sizeable Assyrian and Chaldean communities in the province. Armenians lived mainly in the north of the vilayet, with a major concentration in the city of Diyarbekir. They were successful merchants, artisans and industrialists.

In 1915, practically all Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire were targeted for destruction. The ideological context for this genocide was to Islamicise and Turkify the Empire. Armenian communities were destroyed according to a common pattern, which was particularly violent in the eastern provinces, including Diyarbekir.

The key elements of this process were to disarm and murder Armenian conscripts in the Ottoman army by working them to death in labour battalions (amele taburlari) or massacring them outright, vilify Armenian communities to isolate them in the eyes of their mainly Muslim neighbours and to justify the so-called «deportations”, even killings, arrest and murder Armenian community leaders, remove the remaining population in a so-called deportation and resettlement programme calculated to kill deportees through privations and outright massacres, and to assimilate women and children in Muslim households.

The chief architect of the Armenian Genocide in the Diarbekir provınce was the governor Dr. Mehmed Reshid, a member of the CUP, who was appointed to his office in March 1915. Reshid had local allies on his side as well as a militia under the control of his henchmen. This militia was called kassab taburlari by Armenians of the city. One of his main supports was Mektubji Bedreddin Bey, who was later appointed the mutesarrif of Mardin, and organised similar killings there.

Most Armenian community leaders in Diyarbekir were arrested in April, including the clergy. The main killings started with the despatch of a group of 635 men, who were put on keleks, supposedly to go to Mosul at the end of May 1915. These men were sent off under guard. When they reached Shefka on the Tigris, they were taken off and killed. The Armenian Prelate of Diyarbekir, Mugrdich Chlghadian, was tortured and killed in Diyarbekir prison.

The remaining Armenian population, as well as a large number of Assyrians, were sent away in convoys starting in July 1915. Some were killed in the outskirts of the city, others further away, at such locations as Ras-ul-Ain and Der Zor.

The Armenian Catholic Prelate, Bishop Andreas Chelebian , and the head of the Protestants, Rev. Hagop Andonian, were both killed in separate caravans that left the city.

Only around 1,200 Armenians remained in the city. These were mostly artisans whose skills were still needed. Some Armenians also survived by being allowed to convert to Islam, while others, mainly women and children, survived by assimilating into Muslim households.

Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

1 1024x768 Kurdish Leaders Apologize for 1915 During Monument Inauguration in Diyarbakir (Correction)

A scene from the inauguration of the monument


Reconstruction of the Diyarbakir Surp Giragos Armenian Church

Ergün Ayık, head of the Sourp Giragos Church Foundation, has told Hürriyet Daily News that a building within the church’s complex would be transformed into a museum highlighting the history of Armenians in the Diyarbekir region. He said that until four years ago, the only remaining trace of Diyarbekir’s Armenians was two ruined churches in the city, adding that Armenians had lived in the region for “thousands of years” and had built a “big kingdom.”

Commemoration in Diyarbakir

Diyarbakir is the only city in Turkey that officially and publicly recognizes the Armenian Genocide. “Both the conference hosted by the Diyarbakir Bar Association and the commemoration organized by the municipality under the leadership of Mayor Osman Baydemir were very impressive and fruitful,” said Sarafian.

The commemoration took place on the bridge over the Tigris River where the Diyarbakir Armenians were massacred. Participants threw flowers into the river in the memory of the victims. Sarafian was deeply moved not only by the sincere willingness of the municipality, first and foremost Mayor Baydemir, but also by the readiness local Kurds to accept the truth.

“We should not take for granted Osman Baydemir’s promise of wide open doors to Armenians, and should develop new ways of strengthening these ties with Diyarbakir and turn this potential into reality,” he said.

Turkey’s Kurds are taking responsibility

The Sur Municipality of Diyarbakir held the official inauguration of the Monument of Common Conscience on Sept. 12, 2013, with mayor Abdullah Demirbaş apologizing in the name of Kurds for the Armenian and Assyrian “massacre and deportations.”

“We Kurds, in the name of our ancestors, apologize for the massacres and deportations of the Armenians and Assyrians in 1915,” Demirbaş declared in his opening speech. “We will continue our struggle to secure atonement and compensation for them.”

The mayor called upon the Turkish authorities to issue an apology and do whatever needed to atone for the genocide. “We invite them to take steps in this direction,” he said.

The inscription on the monument at the Anzele Park, near a recently restored historic fountain, reads, in six languages including Armenian: We share the pain so that it is not repeated.

“This memorial is dedicated to all peoples and religious groups who were subjected to massacres in these lands,” Demirbaş said. “The Monument of Common Conscience was erected to remember and demand accountability for all the massacres that took place since 1915.”

Demirbaş noted that the monument remembers all the Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Yezidis, Alevis who were subjected to massacres, as well as all the Sunni who “stood against the system.”

Representatives of the Armenian, Assyrian, Alevi, and Sunni communities also spoke at the opening event. Diyarbakir Armenian writer Mgrditch Margosyan welcomed the opening of the memorial, noting that he awaits the steps that would follow.

Zahit Çiftkuran, head of the Diyarbakir association of the clergy, recounted the story of a man who, while walking by a restaurant, notices the following sign: “You eat, your grandchildren pay the bill.” Enthused by the promise of free lunch, the man goes in and orders food. Soon, they bring him an expensive bill. “But I was not supposed to pay! Where did this bill come from?” the man asks. The owner of the restaurant responds: “This is not your bill. It is your grandfather’s!”

Çiftkuran concluded, “Today, we have to pay for what our grandparents have done.”

The consecration the largest Armenian church in the Middle East

Armenians from around the world flocked to Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir on Oct. 22, 2013, to attend both the consecration of the largest Armenian church in the Middle East and the Badarak held the following day. They were greeted with welcome signs written in Armenian, and with Armenian music playing on the streets, cafes, and hotels in the city.

Renovated by the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation, with the support of the local Kurdish-controlled municipality, the church, which had witnessed a century of destruction, neglect, and denial, now stood as defiant as ever to the forces suppressing freedom in Turkey. And as the faithful of different religions prayed in unison, the political message wasn’t lost on anyone.

Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir underlined the importance of confronting the past and seeking justice as part of the process of reconciliation and democratization. In an interview with the Weekly, the Kurdish politician said many view the renovation as an act asking for forgiveness. “You are not our guests. We are your guests,” stressed Baydemir, who heads the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality.

“It’s a bittersweet return for the Armenian nation,” Raffi Hovannisian, the chairman of Armenia’s Heritage Party, told the Weekly. “Here, in this courtyard, you see the great potential and the depth of the loss we as a nation have registered.”

Scott Avedisian, the mayor of Warwick, R.I., who was invited by the Diyarbakir Municipality to attend the opening, concurred. “The faces of people who once worshipped here, were forced out, survived, and have now returned to their church, attest to the fact that they never lost hope and never lost faith,” he said. The renovation constitutes a “powerful message,” he added, as the church is finally “being used for the very purpose it was originally intended.”

Turkey’s Kurds Seek Forgiveness for 1915 Armenian Tragedy

Kurdish Leaders Apologize for 1915 During Monument Inauguration in Diyarbakir

Diyarbakir Bar Association, Mayor’s Office and Gomidas Institute Commemorate Armenian and Assyrian Genocide (23 April 2013)

Armenian Genocide commemorated in Diyarbakir for first time

New Cemetery Of Massacred Armenians Found In Turkish Diyarbakir

Bell tolls for Armenians once again in Diyarbakir

New bell to be installed in St. Giragos Armenian Church of Diyarbakir

Armenian Culture and History Museum to Open in Diyarbakir

Diyarbakır’s Surp Giragos Church set to have Armenian museum

Mouradian: Armenians, Locals in Diyarbakir Send Powerful Message

Armenians claim roots in Diyarbakır

Come back, Diyarbakır mayor tells Armenians

Kurds in Diyarbakir

Diyarbakir, a dusty frontier post encircled by powerful Roman ramparts on the banks of the Tigris River, has changed unbelievably over the past few years. Ungainly, hastily built cement apartment blocks and administrative buildings have sprawled out of control beyond the city walls. Along every street and vacant lot, children and men are trying to eke out a livelihood selling anything from pencils and chewing gum to shoe soles. Turkey’s government admits that Diyarbakir’s population has swollen since 1990 from 200,000 to about a million today. (Human rights sources put this unnatural population explosion at 1.7 million).

As Generals Seek Military Solution, Kurdish Problem Poisons Turkish Life

Posted in Anatolia, Armenia, Armenian Genocide | Leave a Comment »

The Goddess from Anatolia

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 9, 2013

When The Goddess from Anatolia by Mellaart, Hirsch and Balpinar was published in late 1989, the simmering, five-year-long Çatal Hüyük controversy came to a boil. The character of the debate over James Mellaart’s Neolithic Anatolian kilim hypothesis shifted abruptly. It suddenly focused on the credibility of 44 startling new drawings of “reconstructed” wall paintings. Complex issues, such as design diffusion and historical continuity, became irrelevant.

The Çatal Hüyük ruckus that erupted in the rug community in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was impossible to ignore, and I published two related articles in Oriental Rug Review. The Update posted below was the second, written for the December 1992/January 1993 issue (Vol. XIII, No. 2) at the request of the editor. The earlier article, with a detailed examination of questionable “reconstructions,” is posted separately. A few illustrations have been added to each. I want to provide a little background on this dispute and summarize the factors that prompted my involvement in it.

The Goddess from Anatolia



Posted in Anatolia, Religion | Leave a Comment »

Domal uplift and volcanism in a collision zone without a mantle plume: Evidence from Eastern Anatolia

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 9, 2013

Domal uplift and volcanism in a collision zone without a mantle plume:
Evidence from Eastern Anatolia

Posted in Anatolia | Leave a Comment »

The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 2, 2013


This paper provides up to date information on the culturaland historical stages of development observed at Ulucak IV,V and VI with regards to the settlement’s organization, ar-chitectural components and material culture. The resultspresented here should be considered as preliminary. Inter-pretations are based on the detailed examination of theexcavation data since 1995 and on available publications byprevious excavators. It is possible that future research willnecessitate revisions of our current views on the settlementhistory. That said, we consider it important to share the mostrecent insights and data obtained from the excavations atUlucak with the archaeological community. Hopefully, withthe addition of future research we will be able to obtain ahigh-resolution picture of the life during the 7 – 6th millenniaBC in the area.

The Current State of Neolithic Research at Ulucak, İzmir

Posted in Anatolia, Neolithic | Leave a Comment »

Kussara and the Hittites

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 24, 2013

Kussara was a kingdom of the Bronze Age in Anatolia. Kussara is often mentioned in the clay tablets of the Assyrian Trade Period of Anatolia (Ku-ša-ra) and in the early Hittite Kingdom (KUR URU Ku-uš-ša-ra). The borders of Kussara are unknown and the old city of Kussara is not found yet.

Kussara was probably situated southeast of Kanesh presumably north of Luhuzzadia/ Lahu(wa)zzandiya, between Hurama and [Tegarama] (modern day Gürün). Perhaps on a road, which was crossing another road to the north in the direction of Samuha. From the Old Assyrian trade tablets we know that a palace and an Assyrian trade station existed in the city.

The language or dialect of Kussara is not found or described in the old texts. Probably the language of Kussara was Indo-European. Otherwise much more non Indo-European elements had to be found in the Nesili language by the linguists. Craigh Melchert concludes in the chapter Prehistory of his book The Luwians (2003–17): “Hittite core vocabulary remains Indo-European”.

Because there is a great geographic difference between the basin of the upper stream of the Kızılırmak River, the centrum of the Upperland of Hittite Anatolia and the Anti-Taurus Mountains area of Kussara we can expect a great number of differences in culture, languages and dialects between these regions.

The Kings of Kusshara became the Kings of Kanesh in the Karum IB period of Kanesh. The Kussarian king Pithana with his son Anitta conquered Kanesh (Nesa) and her important trade centrum in ca.1780 BC. King Anitta became a Great King, when he defeated Zalpuwa and Hattum. Because the Kings of Kussara and their clan formed the base of the Old Kingdom of the Hittites, Nesili (Hittite) was anyhow the language of the ruling officials.

Hattusili I and Hattusili III mentioned the origins of the Kings of the land of Hatti: Hattusili (I), Great King, King of Hattusa, Man of Kussar, in the Land of Hattusa [reign]. No other town or land was ever mentioned by a King of Hattusa as the origin of the Kings of Hattusa.



Posted in Anatolia | Leave a Comment »

Ancient Felines and the Great-Goddess in Anatolia: Kubaba and Cybele

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 22, 2013

This paper discusses forms of a female figure accompanied by felines, as sheevolved in prehistoric and early historic Anatolia; her movements throughoutAsia Minor; her transmission to Greece and Rome; and her worship thencethroughout the ancient world. It also addresses the controversy of how andwhether the Phrygian and later Greco-Roman goddess Cybele is connected to theAnatolian Kubaba mentioned in Hittite texts and later worshipped in Carchemish.Many of the Neolithic Anatolian female figures were also associated with bo-vines, as was Cybele millennia later.

Probably the earliest Anatolian female figure connected with felines, dating to theaceramic, pre-agricultural Neolithic, no later than 8000 BCE, has been found inlevel II of the southeast Anatolian site of Göbekli Tepe, north of the Harran plain,in southeastern Turkey. The figure is carved in an area between pillars contain-ing depictions of felines (Schmidt 2006:238, figure 104). Thus in Göbekli Tepeone finds very early forms of both felines and females. The structures, roundmegalithic buildings, contain pillars on which are carved reliefs of many animals,including the felines, snakes, boars, and a bucranium.

Ancient Felines and the Great-Goddess in Anatolia:Kubaba and Cybele

Ancient Grain Goddesses of the Eastern Mediterranean


Posted in Anatolia, Religion, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The Beginning of the Worship of the Woman and the Bull

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 18, 2013

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam) is a poorly understood and sometimes disputed sub-phase of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, straddling the transition from the Natufian (13,000 to 9,800 BC. ) to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 8500 BCE – 7600 BC.). Some sources date it from about 10,000 to 9,500 BC., but it currently dates between 10,200 and 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology.

The PPNA in the southern Levant begins at around 10,300-10,200BP (10,000-9900 cal BC) but at Mureybet in the northern Levant it appears earlier at c.10,600-10,500bp (c.10,500 cal BC): “Hence there is no evidence for synchroneity for the onset of the Neolithic between the northern and southern Levant”.

According to Tchernov, this correlates with increased collection and cultivation of wild barley and emmer wheat and vegetal sources including legumes, seeds an fruits and specialized hunting of diverse vertebrates.

The Khiamian owes its name to the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notchs, the so-called “El Khiam points”. They have served to identify sites of this period, which are found in Israel, as well as in Jordan (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet).

Aside from the appearance of El Khiam arrow heads, the Khiamian is placed in the continuity of the Natufian, without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level itself, and not half below ground as was previously done. Otherwise, the bearers of the El Khiam culture were still hunter-gatherers, and agriculture at that time was then still rather primitive, based on what has been reported on sites of this period.

Newer discoveries show that in the Middle East and Anatolia some experiments with agriculture were being made by 10,900 BC., and that there may already have been experimenting with wild grain processing by around 19,000 BC at Ohalo II.

The Khiamien also sees a change occur in the symbolic aspects of culture, as evidenced by the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls. According to Jacques Cauvin, it is the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, as evidenced in the following periods of the Near-Eastern Neolithic.

The antecedents of the PPNB clay figurines may be sought in the early Levantine stone statuary. Female sculpture in the Levant also coincided with the beginning of agriculture in the Khiamian culture, ca. 8500-8000 BC.

When individual figures started being carved most were sexually ambiguous or even dual-gendered representations. Examples at Salibiya, Nahal Oren and Gilgal, on the one hand, depict the body of a woman with a head barely disengaged from the shoulders, facial features reduced to the brows and a long nose, and with the trunk ending in two stumpy thighs.

On the other hand, the figures can also be viewed as male genitalia: the nose and brows become the foreskin, the body is the phallus and the thighs represent the testicles. The bisexual style was not confined to the PPNA culture but was still alive as late as in the 6th Millennium BC. at Shaar Golan, where pebble figurines still fused the male sex with the female body.

In fact, bisexuality, far from being restricted to the Mediterranean coast, was celebrated in a statuette as late as ca. 4500 BC. and as far as Tepe Yahya in southern Iran.

The PPNA stone figurines from El Khiam, and Mureybet II depict women that are singular in having no breasts, navel or genitalia. The buttocks are often emphasized, producing a characteristic arching posture. The stylization becomes even more extreme in the following millennia, as shown by figures of Mureybet III in the 8th Millennium, Tell Ramad II as well as Ras Shamra V in the 7th Millennium. The figures are then reduced to a torso with stumpy legs, omitting head, arms, breasts, navel and usually sex. A single specimen from Mureybet features a vulva. These statuettes also preserve the triangular profile noted in the PPNA prototypes.

Intercourse and bisexual representations were not restricted to the ancient province of Palestine, but were attested as far north as Turkey and as far east as Iran, respectively. The same is true for the flat-chested female stone statuettes. For example, level VI A at Catal Hüyük, ca. 6000 BC., produced a figurine that is far more naturalistic but still retains the same characteristic triangular profile and has no breasts, navel or vulva. It is noteworthy, therefore, that at Catal Hüyük, as well as at Hacilar, pregnancy is translated in the informal clay figurines, not in the more complex stone statuettes.

The fact that the Levant shares themes and style with other regions demonstrates that the Mediterranean coast was not isolated. The stone images belonged to a Pan-Near Eastern Neolithic phenomenon.

File:Lovers 9000BC british museum.jpg

The first anthropomorphic representations consisted mostly of pebbles carved in the form of a phallus that appeared in Natufian assemblages ca. 10, 000 BC. The same culture is also traditionally credited for a small calcite statuette depicting a couple in coitus, with the two bodies tightly clutched together.

It is noteworthy that the theme of the embraced couple was not unique to the Natufians or to the Levant. The motif of the copulating couple reoccurs, for example, in Anatolian sculptures of the seventh millennium BC. at Catal Hüyük and as a seal of Protohistoric Susa.

The Ain Sakhri lovers, a carved stone object held at the British Museum, is the oldest known depiction of a couple having sex. It was found in the Ain Sakhri cave in the Judean desert. The sculpture is considered to be 11,000 years old and to be the oldest known representation of two people engaged in sexual intercourse. The figure looks differently depending on the viewer’s perspective. It may resemble a couple, a penis, breasts, or a vagina depending on this perspective; also, two testicles when viewed upside-down, from the bottom.

Ain Sakhri lovers

The first figure in glorifying pregnancy was A stone statuette from ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan. The stone figure originated from the PPNC period, dated from 6000 to 5500 BC. It shows a nude figure whose gender is not immediately apparent. The genitals are not indicated and the breasts are flat. However, the absence of musculature, the abdominal fat rolls, the voluminous upper arms and thighs are clues that the subject is female. Mostly, the attention given to the womb, its enormous size, its central place in the composition, the way it projects in profile, and the gesture cradling it, makes it unequivocal that the figure is pregnant.

Who is the female exalting her pregnant state ? Who is the child? What did the figure mean to the Neolithic villagers? These are questions that the artifact alone or the shreds of evidence left at the site cannot answer. In this paper I seek to address these questions by analyzing the context, technology and style of the statuette. I place the piece in the iconography by comparing it with ‘Ain Ghazal clay figurines and with early Levantine stone sculptures. Then I glean information in the mythology, considering the role of pregnancy in ancient Near Eastern creation myths. Based on the collected data, I will propose that the statuette is part of a long tradition of women procreators of cosmos and vegetation.

A Stone Metaphor of Creation

 Venus of

Posted in Anatolia, Religion, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

History of the Mother goddess

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on September 13, 2013

Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation, or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.

Several small, voluptuous figures have been found during archaeological excavations of the Upper Paleolithic, the Venus of Willendorf, perhaps, being the most famous. This sculpture is estimated to have been carved 24,000–22,000 BC. Some archaeologists believe they were intended to represent goddesses, while others believe that they could have served some other purpose.

These figurines predate, by many thousands of years, the available records of the well known goddesses, so although they seem to conform to the same generic type, it is not clear whether they, indeed, were representations of a goddess or whether, if they are, there was any continuity of religion that connects them with Middle Eastern and Classical deities.

Diverse images of what are believed to be Mother Goddesses have been discovered that also date from the Neolithic period, the New Stone Age, which ranges from approximately 10,000 BCE, when the use of wild cereals led to the beginning of farming and, eventually, to agriculture.

The end of this Neolithic period is characterized by the introduction of metal tools as the skill appeared to spread from one culture to another, or arise independently as a new phase in an existing tool culture, and eventually, became widespread among humans.

Regional differences in the development of this stage of tool development are quite varied. In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own patterns of development, while distinctive Neolithic cultures arose independently in Europe and Southwest Asia.

During this time, native cultures appear in the Western Hemisphere, arising out of older Paleolithic traditions that were carried during migration. Regular seasonal occupation or permanent settlements begin to be seen in excavations. Herding and keeping of cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs is evidenced along with the presence of dogs. Almost without exception, images of what Marija Gimbutas interpreted as Mother Goddesses have been discovered in all of these cultures.

James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) and others (such as Jane Ellen Harrison, Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas) advance the idea that goddess worship in ancient Europe and the Aegean was descended from Pre-Indo-European neolithic matriarchies.

Gimbutas argued that the thousands of female images from Old Europe (archaeology) represented a number of different groups of goddess symbolism, notably a “bird and snake” group associated with water, an “earth mother” group associated with birth, and a “stiff nude” group associated with death, as well as other groups.[3] Gimbutas maintained that the “earth mother” group continues the paleolithic figural tradition discussed above, and that traces of these figural traditions may be found in goddesses of the historical period.

Numerous female figurines from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Anatolia have been interpreted as evidence of a mother-goddess cult, c.7500 BC. James Mellaart, who led excavation at the site in the 1960s, suggests that the figures represent a Great goddess, who headed the pantheon of an essentially matriarchal culture. A seated female figure, flanked by what Mellart describes as lionesses, was found in a grain-bin; she may have intended to protect the harvest and grain.

Reports of more recent excavations at Çatalhöyük conclude that overall, the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess; the balance of male and female power appears to have been equal. The seated or enthroned goddess-like figure flanked by lionesses, has been suggested as a prototype Cybele, a leading deity and Mother Goddess of later Anatolian states.

From 5500 to 2750 BC the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and southwestern Ukraine, leaving behind ruins of settlements of as many as 15,000 residents who practiced agriculture and domesticated livestock. They also left behind many ceramic remains of pottery and clay figurines. Some of these figurines appear to represent the mother goddess (see images in this article).

In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, Cybele, the primordial deity Gaia, and Rhea were worshiped as Mother goddesses. In Mycenae the great goddess often was represented by a column. Olympian goddesses of classical Greece with mother goddess attributes include Hera and Demeter.

The goddesses of Greek polytheism, so different and complementary, are nonetheless, consistently similar at an earlier stage, with one or the other simply becoming dominant in a sanctuary or city. Each is the Great Goddess presiding over a male society; each is depicted in her attire as Mistress of the Beasts, and Mistress of the Sacrifice, even Hera and Demeter.

The Minoan goddess represented in seals and other remains many of whose attributes were absorbed into Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some representations she suckles the animals that she holds. The archaic local goddess worshiped at Ephesus, whose cult statue was adorned with necklaces and stomachers hung with rounded protuberances who was later also identified by Hellenes with Artemis, was probably also a mother goddess.

Ninsun is the Mother Goddess in general Mesopotamian mythology. She is Asherah in Canaan and `Ashtart in Syria. The Sumerians wrote erotic poetry about their mother goddess Ninhursag. Nanaya is the canonical name for a goddess worshipped by the Sumerians and Akkadians, a deity who personified “voluptuousness and sensuality”. Her cult was large and was spread as far as Syria and Iran. She later became syncretised with the Babylonian Tashmetum.

Nane was an Armenian pagan mother goddess. She was the goddess of war, wisdom, and motherhood, and the daughter of the supreme god Aramazd. Nane looked like a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period. In Armenia and other countries, the name Nane continues to be used as a personal name.

Mother goddesses are present in the earliest images discovered among the archaeological finds in Ancient Egypt. An association is drawn to the early goddesses of Egypt with animals seen as good mothers—the lioness, cow, hippopotamus, white vulture, cobra, scorpion, and cat—as well as, to the life-giving primordial waters, the sun, the night sky, and the earth herself.

Even through the transition to a paired pantheon of male deities matched or “married” to each goddess and during the male-deity-dominated pantheon that arose much later, the mother goddesses persisted into historical times (such as Hathor and Isis). Advice from the oracles associated with these goddesses guided the rulers of Egypt. The Two Ladies, Wadjet and Nekhbet, remained patron deities of the rulers of Ancient Egypt throughout every dynasty, including that of Akhenaten (who often is described as having abandoned all but one solar deity), and they all bore their images on their crowns and included special names associated with these goddesses among their titles.

Earth Mother

The Earth Mother is a motif that appears in many mythologies. The Earth Mother is a fertile goddess embodying the fertile earth and typically, the mother of other deities, and so, also are seen as patronesses of motherhood. This is generally thought of as being because the earth was seen as being the mother from whom all life sprang. The Rigveda calls the deity, Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Great Mother.

The idea that the fertile earth is female and nurtures humans, was not limited to the Greco-Roman world. These traditions were greatly influenced by earlier cultures in the ancient Middle East. In Sumerian mythology Ki is the earth goddess. In Akkadian orthography she has the syllabic values gi,ge,qi,qe (for toponyms). Some scholars identify her with Ninhursag (lady of the mountains), the earth and fertility Mother Goddess, who had the surnames Nintu (lady of birth), Mamma, and Aruru.

The title “The mother of life” later was given to the Akkadian Goddess Kubau, and hence to Hurrian Hepa, emerging in Hebrew as Eve (Heva) and Phygian Kubala (Cybele). In Norse mythology the earth is personified as Jörð, Hlöðyn, and Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn. In Germanic paganism, the Earth Goddess is referred to as Nertha. The Irish Celts worshipped Danu, whilst the Welsh Celts worshipped Dôn.

Hints of their names occur throughout Europe, such as the Don river, the Danube River, the Dnestr, and the Dnepr, suggest that they stemmed from an ancient Proto-Indo-European goddess. In Lithuanian mythology Gaia – Žemė (Lithuanian for “Earth”) is daughter of Sun and Moon. Also she is wife of Dangus (Lithuanian for “Sky”) (Varuna).

An Egyptian earth and fertility deity, Geb, was male and he was considered father of all snakes, however, the mound from which all life was created by parthenogenesis, represents Mut, the primal “mother of all who was not born of any”. She is the more appropriate figure to discuss as the mother goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion.

The number of Egyptian goddesses who are depicted as important mother deities is numerous because of regional cults of many very early cultures and a major unification of two ancient countries into one, whose written history only begins at approximately 3150 B.C. It is estimated that the some early cultures that eventually became parts of Ancient Egypt date back to 8000 B.C. and that human occupation of the Nile Valley by modern hunter gatherer societies dates back 120 thousand years.

Only in late Egyptian Mythology does the reverse seem true – Geb is the Earth Father while Nut is the Sky Mother, but the primordial and great goddess of Egypt was Mut, the source of all life and the mother of all. The mound of earth from which life sprang was Mut.

In Hinduism, the Mother of all creation is called “Gayatri”. Gayatri is the name of one of the most important Vedic hymns consisting of twenty-four syllables. One of the sacred texts says, “The Gayatri is Brahma, Gayatri is Vishnu, Gayatri is Shiva, the Gayatri is Vedas” and Gayatri later came to be personified as a goddess. She is shown as having five heads and is usually seated within a lotus. The four heads of Gayatri represent the four Vedas and the fifth one represents the almighty deity. In her ten hands, she holds all the symbols of Lord Vishnu. She is another consort of Lord Brahma.

In Hinduism and Buddhism the specific local indwelling mother deity of Earth (as opposed to the mother deity of all creation) is called Bhūmi. Gautama Buddha called upon Bhumi as his witness when he achieved Enlightenment.


The Normans had a major influence on English Romanesque architecture when they built a large numbers of Christian monasteries, abbeys, churches, and cathedrals. These Romanesque styles originated in Normandy and became widespread in north western Europe, particularly in England, which has the largest number of surviving examples.

Sheela na Gig is a common stone carving found in Romanesque Christian churches scattered throughout Europe. These female figures are found in Ireland, Great Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, and in the Czech Republic. Their meaning is not clearly identifiable as Christian, and may be a concept that survived from ancient forms of yoni worship and sacred prostitution practiced in the goddess temples. Some of the figures seem to be elements of earlier structures, perhaps devoted to goddess worship.

Other common motifs on Christian churches of the same time period are spirals and ouroboros or dragons swallowing their tails, which is a reference to rebirth and regeneration, a concept well known in pantheism. Other creatures including the succubus make an appearance in the sculptural reliefs of the church that have a long history in the oral tradition of previous civilizations that preceded Christianity that may relate to earlier goddess worship.

Virgin Mary

Most Christians regard the Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the Theotokos (or Mother of God). For many believers as a “spiritual mother,” since she not only fulfills a maternal role, but is often viewed as a protective and intercessory force, a divinely established mediator for humanity, but stress that she is not worshipped as a divine “mother goddess”.

The Roman Catholic, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox churches identify “the woman” described in Revelation 12 as Mary because in verse 5, this woman is said to have given “birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod”, whom they identify as Jesus Christ.

Then, in verse 17 of Revelation 12, the Bible describes “the rest of her offspring” as “those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” These Christians believe themselves to be the other “offspring” because they try to “keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus,” and thus, they embrace Mary as their “mother”.

They also cite John 19:26–27 where Jesus entrusts his mother to the Apostle John as evidence that Mary is the mother of all Christians, taking the command “behold thy mother” to apply generally. The Roman Catholics refer to her as, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 300 A.D., the Blessed Virgin Mary was worshipped as a Mother Goddess in the Christian sect Collyridianism, which was found throughout Saudi Arabia. Collyridianism was made up mostly of women followers and female priests.

Followers of Collyridianism were known to make bread and wheat offerings to the Virgin Mary, along with other sacrificial practices. The cult was heavily condemned as heretical and schismatic by the Roman Catholic Church and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis, who exposed the group in his recollective writings entitled, Panarion.

As motherhood is a recurring concept in many religions, The Blessed Virgin Mary received many titles in the Roman Catholic Church, such as Queen of Heaven and Our Lady, Star of the Sea, that are familiar from earlier Near Eastern traditions. Due to this correlation, some Protestants often accuse Catholics of viewing Mary as a goddess, but the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches always have condemned “worship as adoration” of Mary.

Part of this accusation is due to the Catholic practice of prayer as a means of communication rather than as a means of worship. Catholics believe that the faithful dead have achieved eternal life and can intercede for people here on earth. Concepts of Mother Goddess worshipped is heavily condemned by the Holy See as it had been suppressed and condemned among the Collyridianism sect in 300 AD.

Mother goddess

Posted in Anatolia, Religion, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Min dag i Istanbul

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on August 4, 2013

BILDER: Min dag i Istanbul

BILDER: Istanbul arkeologiske museum

BILDER: Istanbul arkeologiske museumKeramikk

Sitter her på flyet fra Istanbul, og legger ut de siste bildene jeg har tatt – fra Istanbul. En spennende og interessant by med både historie og nåtid, gode restauranter og bra hoteller. Istanbul skiller seg i stor grad ut fra de andre byene og stedene i Tyrkia, som jeg på denne turen har vært på,  slik som Antalya, Konya, Cappadocia, Ankara og Chanikkale.

Det arkeologiske museet i Istanbul var gigantisk, og fortjener en hel dags besøk i seg selv. Her var det gjenstander fra hele Anatolia og Mesopotamia.

Skal man først si Tyrkia, så kan man like så godt si Libanon, Syria og Irak også. Tyrkia er en ny stat og paragraf 301 (samme året som Armenia ble kristnet) gjør det ulovelig å kritisere den tyrkiske stat og den tyrkiske kultur. Andre kulturer, for det er mange andre kulturer i Tyrkia, er det tydeligvis fritt å kritisere.

Det ottomanske riket, som eksisterte fra 1452 med Istanbul som hovedstad, var et multietnisk samfunn, mens de tyrkisktalende slo seg sammen, gjennomførte ungtyrkernes revolusjon og tok over området som i dag utgjør Tyrkia via den tyrkiske nasjonalbevegelse ledet at Kemal Attaturk.

Gjennom folkemord og erobringer dannet man altså dagens tyrkiske stat. Dette mens historiske folk som armenere, assyrere og grekere ble desimert og mistet sine områder. Samtidig har det pågått en hardhendt og kynisk tyrkifisering med utrydding av minoritetskulturene, og da ikke minst den armenske, og navneendringer. Man kan derfor i dag si at tyrkerne i dag utgjør de som bor i Tyrkia uansett etnisk herkomst, noe man også ser på folkene som bor der. Det sies at kun 5 % kommer fra Sentral Asia eller Mongolia, hvor det tyrkiske språket opprinnelig stammer fra, mens hele 95 % har lokal opprinnelse.

Det arkeologiske museet kunne vise frem store mengder gjenstander fra tidlig neolittisk periode og frem til i dag. Og det er ikke snaut, for det var her, i det som tidligere var kjent som Vest Armenia, at man utviklet jordbruket, temmet de første husdyrene og oppfant de ulike metallene, slik som bronse og jern.

Sammen skapte de sør -og nord-kaukasiske, hattiere og hurrier e, en enorm kulturhorisont som kom til å strekke seg utover hele Eurasia, ikke minst i Europa, Sørvest og Sør Asia, og Nord Afrika, ikke minst i Egypt.

Men nok om det. Det var mye annet å se og oppleve i Istanbul, som i seg selv er en mektig by med en rik kulturhistorie. Ulike broer krysser Bospuros, som skiller Europa fra Asia. Det er ulike ferger som kan ta en fra Euopa til Asia og visa versa. Langs med sundet er det forskjellige gaterestauranter og ulike båter hvor det selges ulike typer fiskehamburgere. Deilig!

I tillegg kommer jo steder som Aya Sofia og Den blå moske, samt den store basaren med flere 100 små butikker hvor man selger alt en turist kan være interessert i å kjøpe, slik som tepper og bordduker, ringer og andre smykker.

Jeg var i Istanbul i kun to dager; kom om kvelden, fant meg et rimelig hotel, gikk ut på byen før jeg la meg, sto opp dagen etter og fylte dagen med innhold før natten på nytt senket seg over meg og jeg la meg til å sove før jeg neste morgen tok meg frem til Istanbul Bahia flyplassen og fløy tilbake til Norge.  En vellykket tur, men jeg vil allerede tilbake for det er så mange interessante steder å reise til i denne regionen!

Posted in Anatolia, Norsk, På reise | Leave a Comment »

I Istanbul, Tyrkia

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on July 31, 2013


BILDER: Istanbul, Tyrkia

Her er er jeg – i Istanbul, også kjent som Konstantinopel. Byen min familie, min fars far far osv. osv. kom fra. Dette etter en kjøretur på 6 timer fra Çanakkale og langs med Marmarahavet.

Marmarahavet forbinder Svartehavet og Egeerhavet og separerer den asiatiske delen av Tyrkia fra den europeiske. Marmaraøya har rike forekomster av marmor og gir havet sitt navn (marmaros er det greske ordet for marmor).

Bysants var en gresk by ved det sydlige innløpet til Bosporosstredet, etter tradisjonen grunnlagt ca. 600 f.vt. av greske nybyggere fra Megara. Den fikk sitt navn etter kong Byzas (eller Byzantas).

I 330 gjorde keiser Konstantin I byen til Romerrikets hovedstad og ga den navnet Nova Roma (Nye Roma). Etter hans død fikk den navnet Konstantinopel. Byen forble hovedstaden i Østromerriket, også kalt det bysantinske riket eller bare Bysants, til den ble erobret av osmanerne 29. mai 1453.

For grekerne var den bare «i Poli» eller «Byen», sentrum i grekernes verden og lenge den største byen i Europa. Blant nordboere var byen kjent som Miklagard.

Som osmanernes hovedstad ble byen kalt både Kostantinopel og Istanbul. I 1923 ble Ankara gjort til hovedstad i den nye tyrkiske republikken, og i 1930 fikk Istanbul sitt nåværende navn. Navnet Istanbul kommer fra gresk «εις την Πόλιν» eller «στην Πόλη» [(i)stimboli(n)], som betyr «til/i byen».

Istanbul (norsk)

Istanbul (engelsk)

Posted in Anatolia, Norsk, På reise | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: