The History of Tigranakert? (Diyarbakir)

Diyarbakir is a city in southeastern Turkey. It’s located on the shores of the Tigris River. The population of Diyarbakir is about 843,460 and it serves as the administrative capital of Diyarbakir Province.

Diyarbakir is a city located in southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The second biggest city in Turkey, the first being Gaziantep.

Other names of Tigranakert

  • Syriac: Amid
  • Ancient Greek: Amida
  • Armenian: Tigranakert
  • Ottoman Turkish: Diyâr-ı Bekr
  • Kurdish: Amed

How Ancient is Diyarbakir

People have lived in the area around Diyarbakır since the Stone Age. Evidence of this can be found in tools that were discovered near the Hilar cave complex.

Çayönü is a pre-pottery, Neolithic B Settlement, over 10,000 years old remains that are excavated from the sites are on display at the Diyarbakır Museum.

Another important location is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Turkey.

What Civilizations have lived in Diyarbakir

The Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni established itself in what is now Diyarbakir as the military and commercial capital, making it their first major settlement. The city was ruled by a list of nearly every political organization that dominated Upper Mesopotamia, including the Assyrians, Urartu, Medes, Seleucids, and Parthians.

The ancient city’s name, “Amid,” is inscribed on a sword sheath from the Assyrian period. This same name was used in other Syriac and Arabic works contemporary to the period.

The city was originally known as Amida. It was an ancient city that stood where Diyarbakir, Turkey is now located.

Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius, two Roman writers, place it in Mesopotamia. Though, it might be more accurate to see it as part of Armenia Major.

Where is Diyarbakir Located

Amida was an ancient city located on the right bank of the Tigris. Its walls were tall and made from old, repurposed buildings. The location was perfect for trade, so Amida likely began being built around the same time as other commercial cities.

Aramean, Roman and Sassanid Rule of Diarbekir-Tigranakert

The city of Amid was the capital of the kingdom of Bet-Zamani from the 13th century BC onwards. The name changed to Amida when it came under Roman rule in 66 BC.

It was further improved and developed by Constantius II, who besieged and captured it after 73 days from the Sassanid king Shapur II (359).

The Roman soldiers and civilians were killed by the Persians. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who was present during the defense of the town, gave a detailed account of the siege.

In 363, Amida was again regained by Roman Emperor Julian. King Kavadh I of Sassanid Persia laid siege to the city during the Anastasian War from fall 502 to winter 503.

Kavadh’s assault on the city was way harder than he thought it would be; even though they didn’t have any soldiers helping them, the people protecting the city were able to fight back against the Sassanid attacks for three months before finally losing.

During the same war, Roman commanders Patricius and Hypatius unsuccessfully tried to siege the Persian-held Amida.

In 504, the Romans recaptured the city. Justinian I ordered the repair of its walls and fortifications.

Armenian Rule

Tigranocerta was formerly known as Tigranakert and was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom. It was named after Tigranes the Great, who built it in the first century BC.

The city is located near present-day Silvan or nearby Arzan (Arzn, in the Armenian province of Arzanene or Aghdznik), east of Diyarbakır, Turkey.  

Three other cities in historic Armenia were also called Tigranakert:

Diyarbekir
Nakhichevan
Artsakh 
Utik

By forcibly removing many people from their homes, “Tigranes” was able to create this city. At the time, Armenia had expanded its territory east to the Caspian Sea, west to central Cappadocia, and south towards Judea. It had even advanced into regions surrounding present-day Krak des Chevaliers.

The Theater of Tigranocerta

The magnificent theatre built by the Emperor, of which he was a huge fan, featured Greek and Armenian actors in dramas and comedies. According to Plutarch, Tigranocerta was “a prosperous and lovely city where everyone could learn to adorn it. “

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

The defeat of Armenian Rule

Lucius Lucullus and his Roman men won against Tigranes at the Battle of Tigranocerta in 69 BC. They then looted the city before sending some of its people back to their homes.

Originally, Tigranocerta was captured by Rome during “Pompey the Great’s” eastern campaigns. However, it was reclaimed by Tigranes the Great after he surrendered to Pompey and paid him an indemnity of 6,000 talents.

The Battle of Tigranocerta, also known as the Battle of Arbela, was a battle fought on October 6, 69 BC between the Roman Republic and the army of King Tigranes the Great of Armenia.

The Roman army was led by Consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, and “Tigranes” was defeated. His capital city of Tigranocerta was surrendered to Rome as a result. In 66 BC, the city was renamed Amida by the Romans.

The city was left severely damaged after the war, with many statues and temples being destroyed. A large amount of gold and silver was taken by the victors as a trophy.

Lucullus carried away the majority of the gold and silver from the melted-down statues, pots, cups, and other valuables. Most of the city’s inhabitants fled to the countryside during the pillage. The new theater building was also burned in the fire.

This tremendous devastation would prevent the great metropolis from ever recovering.

When Corbulo, a Roman legate leading a legion, defeated Tiridates during the Armenian rebellion of 64 AD, Rome regained control.

The city’s markets were teeming with traders and merchants from all over the ancient world. Tigranocerta quickly became a thriving commercial, as well as a cultural center in the Near East.

Persian and Arab Rule

In 359, Shapur II of Sassanid Persia took Amida after a siege that lasted 73 days. The event is described in detail by the Roman army officer Ammianus Marcellinus, who was born in Antioch but wrote his history in Greek.

The Sassanids recaptured Amida in 602 and occupied it for over two decades until the Roman emperor Heraclius liberated the city in 628.

The city was captured by the Arabic Ummayad armies in 639, which introduced Islam to the region. The Arab Bakr tribe occupied this area and renamed it Diyar Bakr, meaning “landholdings of the Bakr tribe.”

The city was taken by the Arabs until the Marwanid dynasty ruled during the 10th and 11th centuries.

Ottoman Period

The city of Diyarbekir was referred to as Dikranagerd by Armenians during the Ottoman period (Western Armenian pronunciation of Tigranakert). After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, it came under the rule of the Mardin branch of Oghuz Turks and then the Anatolian beylik of Artuqids.

The Ilkhanate dynasty and the Ayyubid dynasty competed for control over Iran, with various Turkic federations occasionally invading during this century-long power struggle. Finally, the Sultanate of Rûm took control in 1241 and held sway until 1259.

In 1085, the Seljuq Turks captured the region from the Marwanids. They settled many Turcomans in the region. However, Ayyubids received the city from the Seljuqs in 1201. The city was ruled by them until the Mongolian dynasty of Ilkhanate captured it in 1259.

Later, the Turkmen dynasty of Artukids received the city from the Ayyubids. They ruled the region until 1409.

The Artukid dynasty was a Turkmen dynasty that ruled in Eastern Anatolia, Northern Syria, and Northern Iraq in the eleventh and twelfth centuries․

The Black Amid (1378–1501) was a Turkic Sunni Oghuz tribal federation that ruled parts of present-day Eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, northern Iraq, and Iran from 1378 to 1501. For the dark color of its walls, it was known as “Akkoyunlu,” or “Black Amid.”

Eulogies in praise of military victories, call it «Black Fortress» (Kara Kale). In the Book of Dede Korkut, in addition to some other Turkish works appear as Kara Hamid.

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

The Ottoman province of Diyarbakir coincided with Turkey’s southeastern provinces today, including a rectangular area between Lake Urmia and Palu and from the southern shores of Lake Van to Cizre and the Syrian Desert, although its limits varied over time.

The city was a significant military base in this region, as well as a prominent center for craftsmen and metalworkers. The Mevlana’s mausoleum in Konya, for example, included doors made in Diyarbakir, as did the Imam-i Azam tomb’s gilded and silvered ornate doors in Baghdad.

In Diyarbakir in 1895, Armenians and Assyrians were subjected to massacres. The city had also been a scene of ethnic cleansing against Armenians, with nearly 150,000 people being deported from the area.

Massacres of Diyarbakir

Modern Day Turkey And Kurdish War

In 1937, Atatürk paid a visit to Diyarbekir and, after expressing doubt over the city’s actual name, ordered it be renamed “Diyarbakır,” which means “land of copper” in Turkish. The province’s capital was moved from Elazig to Diyarbakır.

During the 1980s and 1990s, as the PKK insurgency was at its height, the population of the city increased rapidly as people fled areas where fighting was heavy or were compelled to vacate for safety in town.

On 30 November 2002, the Turkish government ended the emergency rule that had been in effect for 15 years. This change happened after the PKK stopped using violence against the Turkish military. The population of Diyarbakır increased from 30,000 in the 1930s to 400,000 by 1990. But by 1997, it had reached 1.5 million people because of migration into the city.

The Pirinçlik Air Force Base near Diyarbakır, which is used by NATO to monitor the former USSR and the Middle East, closed on 30 September 1997.

This closure was the result of the improvement in space surveillance technology and the drawdown of US bases in Europe. The base was home to sensitive electronic intelligence-gathering systems that monitored the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Russia.

According to a survey done in 2006, 72% of the people in the area use Kurdish most often in their daily lives. Turkish is second, and 69% of people are illiterate in their most common language.

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

Garo Kotchounian

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