Welcome to the renewed version of the Midyat City website!
The ancient city of Midyat is the epicenter of a centuries-old Christian Syriac/Aramean enclave in Southeast-Turkey, widely familiar under its Aramaic name Tur-'Abdin. A cognate of the name Midyat is first encountered in an inscription of the Neo-Assyrian king Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.). This royal text depicts how Assyrian forces conquered the Aramean city and its surrounding villages. In its long history, the city of Midyat has remained politically subjected by various rulers - from the Assyrians of old to the modern Turks.
Due to repeated maraudings from invading Mongol, Turkic and Kurdish tribes into the Tur-'Abdinian plateau - culminating in the end of the 14th, 19th and beginning of the 20th century in deliberate assaults and mass killings - the Aramean population of Tur-'Abdin was severely decimated. Shortly before, during and after the Genocide of 1915, a number of Aramean families from Midyat sought refuge in the neighboring Arab countries, such as Syria and Lebanon.
Notwithstanding the many foreign invasions, Midyat from its very existence had continuously been populated by Arameans. After the so-called 'Gastarbeiter' ('guest worker') era, though, commencing in the early 1960s, the city was soon to be nearly completely emptied from its native inhabitants, who now left a vacuum to be filled by penetrating Kurdish clans. However, the main reasons why Arameans left the traditional birthplace of their forefathers, should be understood from a broader historical context of push and pull factors.
It is generally estimated that until the early 1960s, Midyat was inhabited by more than 500 families, of which the Christian Arameans constituted over 90% of the total populace. To date, there are no more than approximately 100 Aramean families residing in Midyat; compare this sad number with the minimum of 60-85,000 Kurdish citizens of whom the vast majority stems from other places in the region. It should be noted that many widows/widowers and aged couples are included and that some families are Aramean immigrants from the neighboring towns and villages. A basically Arameanless Midyat is perhaps a unique, but at the same time a sad occurence in the long history of this city, which is still distinctive through its architectonic patrimony. To our regret, the last Syriac-Orthodox priest (actually Khori-Episkopos) of Midyat, Ado Onar, passed away on August 9, 2005, in Midyat. The congregation of the city is still awaiting the consecration of a new priest.
The Midyat City website is destined to be a virtual home place for all Midyoye (i.e., Aramaic for people from Midyat) that are scattered throughout the world like precious pearls. Naturally all Arameans, regardless of their birthplace, are more than welcome in Midyat City!
Our team members are currently working on a(n informal) project about Midyat. We try to collect as much information as possible about this ancient town. About her history, her Aramaic dialect, etc. We also intend to gather and outline all sorts of pertinent data about families who immigrated from Midyat. Put differently, we would like to chart both the former demographic structure of Midyat and the present Diaspora of the Midyoye.
Some information is already available on Midyat City and more will follow in due time. Among other things, you can read articles (in different languages) about Midyat, Tur-‘Abdin and the Arameans; view many photos of Midyat and some of her immigrated children; make use of the forums (Aramaic, English, Dutch, Swedish, German); listen to Aramaic songs about Midyat; and there is more to come.
A few friends have already offered their kind help in constructing this site in every possible way, and we owe them lots of gratitude in advance. Needless to say, any kind of feedback, assistance and support would be appreciated. For questions, comments, suggestions, etc. you can easily reach us per e-mail. So if you wish to contribute to this site (e.g., by sharing your collection of Midyat photos), we would greatly appreciate your input as well and gladly welcome you aboard.
Finally, we wish you a nice tour in Midyat City and look forward to read your impressions and remarks in our guestbook.
The Midyat Team
16 November, 2005