Diyarbakir (Kurdish: Amed), the largest city in the Turkish Kurdistan region, is home to a wealth of history and cultural exchange. It is located in the southeast portion of the bo
Diyarbakir (Kurdish: Amed), the largest city in the Turkish Kurdistan region, is home to a wealth of history and cultural exchange. It is located in the southeast portion of the boundaries of Turkey's Anatolia region -- a geographical area with a large percentage of Kurdish natives.[i]
Humans have inhabited the areas of Diyarbakir since the Stone Age and continue to populate now.[ii] Many civilizations have resided in or controlled land around Diyarbakir, including the Assyrians, Medes[iii], Romans[iv], Turks, and the Ottoman Empire.[v] It is believed that the Kurdish name “Amed” is derived from its connotation to the Medes, “A-med” meaning “from the Med” or “belonging to Med”. In fact, it was the capital of the shortlived Median Empire. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, between 616 BCE and 605 BCE, a unified Median state was formed, which, together with Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt, became one of the four major powers of the ancient Near East[vi].
It is argued, that although it is difficult to ascertain the exact timing of settlement of Diyarbakir by modern Kurdish people, we do have historical records of a certain dynasty of Kurdish descent called the Marwanids dated at 984 AD.[vii] This argument is not supported by findings of Kurdish inhabitance in the region dating back to Sumerians, 3rd millennium BC.[vii] The term “Kurtî” is a Sumerian term meaning “those of the mountains” (“Kur” meaning “mountain”). In modern history, the Kingdom of Commagene (see link to Adiyaman on KURDMAPS) dating back to 2nd century BC had its capital in Adiyaman, some 300 km from Diyarbakir, was indeed an ancient kingdom of Kurdish Median empire. From 189 BCE to 384 CE, the region to the east and south of present Diyarbakır remained under the rule of the Kurdish kingdom of Corduene (Kurdish: Gordiya, Kurdiye). Later, the Romans colonized the city and named it Amida.
During the Roman rule, the first city walls were constructed (297 AD) and later, the greater walls were built as per the command of the Roman emperor Caonstantanius-2. After the Romans, the Persians came to power and were succeeded by the Muslim Arabs. It was the leader of the Arab Bekr tribe, Bekr Bin Vail, who named the city Diyar Bakr, meaning "the country of Bakr". Later the Ottoman/Turks conquered the town in the 16th century and adopted this name. Under Ottoman Empire, Diyarbakir earned the status of the capital of a large province. The city became the base of army troops who guarded the region against Persian invasion.
Diyarbakır faced turbulence in the 20th century, particularly with the onset of World War I. The city was deprived from Syriacs and Armenians, who were in majority till then, following deportations and genocides. In 1925, the Kurdish population rose in a rebellion against the newly established government of the Republic of Turkey under the leadership of Seyh Said. Thousands of Kurds were killed in this attempt including Seyh Said, who together with other leading officials were executed by hanging on June 29, 1925.[viii]
Since and throughout the 20th century multiple uprisings have emerged from Diyarbakir and the region against the assimilation and genocidal policies of Turkish Republic. Today, Diyarbakir has turned into the symbol of Kurdish freedom struggle.
[i] Dr. Osman Alacahan. "Differing Perceptions Of Kurdish Ethnicity According To Their Ideological Identities In Diyarbakir." The Journal of Academic Social Science Studies. July 2013. Volume 6, Issue 7. p. 64
[ii] Charles Gates, Ancient Cities, 2011, p. 19.
[iii] Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, 1999 P. 137
[iv] Theodor Mommsen History of Rome, The Establishment of the Military Monarchy. Italian.classic-literature.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
[v] Canard, Marius; Cahen, Claude (1991). "Diyār Bakr". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume II: C–G. Leiden and New York: Brill. pp. 343–345.
[vi] Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
[vii] McDowall, David (2004). 3E, ed. A Modern History of the Kurds. IB Tauris. p. 23.
[viii] Amedi, Botan. Kürtler ve Kürdistan Tarihi I. 1 ed. Aydinlar Matbaasi (1991)