Principal town of Ṭur ʿAbdin, situated at the geographical center of the region where the main east-west road from Mardin to Gozarto (Cizre) and the north-south road from Ḥesno d-Kifo (Hasankeyf) to Nisibis meet. The name of the town can be traced back to that of ‘Matiāte’, which Ashurnasirpal II passed on a campaign in 879 BC. Under the Ottomans, Midyat became the administrative center of a subdistrict (nahiye, later kaza) covering the central part of Ṭur ʿAbdin and it is today the administrative center of a district (ilçe) within the province of Mardin. The municipality of Midyat today includes the traditionally Christian township of Midyat proper and Muslim Estel ca. 3 km. to the west.
An early ascetic associated with Midyat is the stylite Abel (Hobil, end of 5th cent.), who, according to the ‘Life of Samuel of Qarṭmin’, received a visit while on his pillar from young Philoxenos of Mabbug. The monastery built on the site of Abel’s pillar and originally known by his name came to be better known under the name of Mor Abrohom after the relics of Abraham of the High Mountain (Ṭuro d-Rom), the teacher of Barṣawmo, were brought there and housed in a larger church built next to that of Abel. According to the ‘Life of Philoxenos of Mabbug’, Philoxenos’s head was brought to Midyat after Mabbug had been taken by the Arabs and housed in a church built for the purpose, but was transferred to the Monastery of Mor Abrohom after its desecration in a raid on the town in 1145.
A bishopric specifically for Midyat is first mentioned as one of the six sees that separated to form the patriarchate of Ṭur ʿAbdin in the schism of 1364. Of the five patriarchs of Ṭur ʿAbdin between 1584 and 1791, four were from Midyat. Since 1923, Midyat has been the seat of the bishops of Ṭur ʿAbdin along with the Monastery of Mor Gabriel.
Tfinkdji reported in 1914 that in a total population of 8,000, there were 6,000 Syr. Orth., 450 Protestants, and about 100 each of Syr. Catholics and Chaldeans. Midyat lost a large part of its population in the Sayfo, but until the 1960s Christians continued to constitute the majority of the population. In 2005, there were reported to be ca. 100 Christian families in a total population of over 50,000.
The churches within the township are: 1. Mort Shmuni (Syr. Orth. cathedral); 2. Mor Barṣawmo (near center of town, rebuilt in 1943); 3. Mor Aksnoyo (i.e., Philoxenos of Mabbug, at eastern edge of town, rebuilt in 1960s); 4. Yoldat Aloho (‘little church’, to the south of town); 5. Mor Sharbel (in northern part of town, 1950s); and 6. Yoldat Aloho (north of Mor Sharbel, Protestant, 1900). In the immediate vicinity of the town are the former Monastery of Mor Sharbel to the north of the town (now military base) and the Monastery of Mor Abrohom (w-Hobil), ca. 1 km. east of the town, with churches dedicated to Mor Abel, Mor Abrohom, and Yoldat Aloho. Among the ms. treasures of Midyat is the illuminated Gospel lectionary of 1227.
- H. Anschütz, Die syrischen Christen vom Tur ʿAbdin (1984), 61–71.
- G. Bell (and M. M. Mango), The churches and monasteries of the Ṭur ʿAbdin (1982), 130–1.
- A. Desreumaux, Répertoire des bibliothèques et des catalogues de manuscrits syriaques (1991), 187.
- J.-M. Fiey, ‘Diocèses et évêques syriaques orientaux du Ṭūr ʿAbdīn après le XIIIe siècle’, ParOr 10 (1981/2), 257–84, esp. 274–7.
- J.-M. Fiey, Pour un Oriens christianus novus, 243–4.
- J.-M. Fiey, Saints syriaques (2004), 21, 24–5. (s.v. ‘Abel’, ‘Abraham, maître de Barsauma’)
- D. Gaunt, Massacres, resistance, protectors: Muslim-Christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I (2006), 181–96.
- H. Hollerweger, Lebendiges Kulturerbe. Turabdin (1999), 93–111.
- E. Keser, Tur Abdin. Süryani Ortodoks dini mimarisi (Istanbul, 2002), 55–7, 74–80.
- T. A. Sinclair, Eastern Turkey. An architectural and archaeological survey, vol. 3 (1989), 315–7, 331.
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
Hidemi Takahashi, “Midyat,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Midyat.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Takahashi, Hidemi. “Midyat.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Midyat.
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