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Upper Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria
Syria
and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East.[1] After the Arab
Arab
Islamic conquest of the mid-7th century AD the region has been known by the traditional Arabic
Arabic
name of al-Jazira (Arabic: الجزيرة‎ "the island"), also transliterated Djazirah, Djezirah, Jazirah & the Syriac (Aramaic) variant Gazerṯo or Gozarto (ܓܙܪܬܐ). The Euphrates
Euphrates
and Tigris
Tigris
rivers transform Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
into almost an island, as they are joined together at the Shatt al- Arab
Arab
in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey
Turkey
are in close proximity. The region extends south from the mountains of Anatolia, east from the hills on the left bank of the Euphrates
Euphrates
river, west from the mountains on the right bank of the Tigris
Tigris
river and includes the Sinjar
Sinjar
plain. It extends down the Tigris
Tigris
to Samarra
Samarra
and down the Euphrates
Euphrates
to Hit. The Khabur River runs for over 400 km (250 mi) across the plain, from Turkey
Turkey
in the north, feeding into the Euphrates. The major settlements are Mosul, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Al Hasakah, Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
and Qamishli. The western, Syrian part, is essentially contiguous with the Syrian Al-Hasakah Governorate
Al-Hasakah Governorate
and is described as "Syria's breadbasket".[2] The eastern, Iraqi part, includes and extends slightly beyond the Iraqi Ninewa Governorate. In the north it includes the Turkish provinces of Şanlıurfa, Mardin, and parts of Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
Province.

Contents

1 Geography 2 History

2.1 Prehistory 2.2 Early history 2.3 Islamic
Islamic
empires 2.4 Modern history

3 Current situation 4 See also 5 Notes 6 Bibliography

Geography[edit] Further information: Levant, Greater Syria, and Iraqi Kurdistan

Typical view of farmland in the area north of Al-Hasakah, with an ancient tell visible on the horizon

The Euphrates
Euphrates
and Tigris
Tigris
rivers transform Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
into almost an island (hence the Arabic
Arabic
name al Jazira, meaning island), as they are joined together at the Shatt al- Arab
Arab
in the Basra Governorate
Basra Governorate
of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey
Turkey
are in close proximity.

The name al-Jazira has been used since the 7th century AD by Islamic sources to refer to the northern section of Mesopotamia, which together with the Sawād, made up al-‘arāq (Iraq). The name means "island", and at one time referred to the land between the two rivers, which in Aramaic
Aramaic
is Bit Nahren. Historically, the name could be restricted to the Sinjar
Sinjar
plain coming down from the Sinjar
Sinjar
Mountains, or expanded to embrace the entire plateau east of the coastal ranges. In pre- Abbasid
Abbasid
times the western and eastern boundaries seem to have fluctuated, sometimes including what is now northern Syria
Syria
to the west and Adiabene
Adiabene
in the east. Al-Jazira is characterised as an outwash or alluvial plain, quite distinct from the Syrian Desert
Syrian Desert
and lower-lying central Mesopotamia; however the area includes eroded hills and incised streams. The region has several parts to it. In the northwest is one of the largest salt flats in the world, Sabkhat al-Jabbul. Further south, extending from Mosul
Mosul
to near Basra
Basra
is a sandy desert not unlike the Empty Quarter. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the region has been plagued by drought. History[edit] Prehistory[edit] Further information: Neolithic Revolution
Neolithic Revolution
and Fertile crescent Al-Jazirah is extremely important archeologically. This is the area where the earliest signs of agriculture and domestication of animals have been found, and thus the starting point leading to civilization and the modern world. Al-Jazirah includes the mountain Karaca Dağ
Karaca Dağ
in southern Turkey, where the closest relative to modern wheat still grows wild. At several sites (e.g. Hallan Çemi, Abu Hureyra, Mureybet) we can see a continuous occupation from a hunter-gathering lifestyle (based on hunting, and gathering and grinding of wild grains) to an economy based mainly on growing (still wild varieties of) wheat, barley and legumes from around 9000 BC (see PPNA). Domestication of goats and sheep followed within a few generations, but didn't become widespread for more than a millennium (see PPNB). Weaving and pottery followed about two thousand years later. From Al-Jazirah the idea of farming along with the domesticated seeds spread first to the rest of the Levant
Levant
and then to North-Africa, Europe and eastwards through Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
all the way to present-day Pakistan (see Mehrgarh).

Monumental stone buildings at Göbekli Tepe, ca. 9000 BC

Earlier archeologists worked on the assumption that agriculture was a prerequisite to a sedentary lifestyle, but excavations in Israel and Lebanon surprised science by showing that a sedentary lifestyle actually came before agriculture (see the Natufian culture). Further surprises followed in the 1990s with the spectacular finds of the megalithic structures at Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
in south-eastern Turkey. The earliest of these apparently ritual buildings are from before 9000 BC—over five thousand years older than Stonehenge—and thus the absolute oldest known megalithic structures anywhere. As far as we know today no well-established farming societies existed at the time. Farming seemed to be still experimental and only a smallish supplement to continued hunting and gathering. So either were (semi)sedentary hunter-gatherers rich enough and many enough to organize and execute such large communal building projects, or well-established agricultural societies existed much further back than hitherto known. After all, Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
lies just 32 km from Karaca Dağ. The questions raised by Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
have led to intense and creative discussions among archeologists of the Middle East.[3][4] Excavations at Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
continues, only about 5 percent has been revealed so far. Early history[edit] Further information: Assyria

Uruk period
Uruk period
(ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE).

Upper Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
is the heartland of ancient Assyria, founded circa the 25th century BC. From the late 24th Century BC it was part of the Akkadian
Akkadian
Empire. When the empire broke up, the northern Akkadians reformed Assyria, and from 2050 BC until 605 BC it was an integral part of the Assyrian nation, and the Old Assyrian Empire
Old Assyrian Empire
(circa 2050-1750 BC), Middle Assyrian Empire
Middle Assyrian Empire
(1365-1020 BC) and Neo Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC). The Uruk period
Uruk period
(ca. 4000 to 3100 BC) existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic
Chalcolithic
to Early Bronze Age
Early Bronze Age
period in Mesopotamia, including a section of the upper region. The region fell to the Assyrians' southern brethren, the Babylonians in 605 BC, and from 539 BC it became part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire where it was known as Athura
Athura
(Persian for Assyria). From 323 BC it was ruled by the Greek Seleucid Empire, the Greeks corrupting the name to Syria, a 9th-century BC Indo-European version of Assurayu (Assyria), which they also applied to Aramea. It then fell to the Parthians
Parthians
and Romans and was renamed Assyria
Assyria
by both. The area was still known as Assuristan
Assuristan
(Assyria) under the Persian Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
until the Arab
Arab
Islamic conquest
Islamic conquest
of the mid 7th Century AD when it was renamed al-Jazira. Since pre- Arab
Arab
and pre- Islamic
Islamic
times, al-Jazira has been an economically prosperous region with various agricultural (fruit and cereal) products, as well as a prolific manufacturing (food processing and cloth weaving) system. The region’s position at the border of the Sasanian
Sasanian
and Byzantine territories also made it an important commercial center, and advantage that the region continued to enjoy, even after the Muslim conquest of Persia
Persia
and Byzantine possessions in the Levant. Al-Jazira included the Roman/Byzantine provinces of Osroene
Osroene
and Mesopotamia, as well as the Parthian/Persian provinces of Assuristan, Arbayestan, Nisibis, and Mosul. Islamic
Islamic
empires[edit]

Al-Jazira region and its subdivisions (Diyar Bakr, Diyar Mudar, and Diyar Rabi'a), during the Umayyad
Umayyad
and Abbasid
Abbasid
periods.

The conquest of the region took place under the early Caliphate that left the general administration of the region intact, with the exception of levying the jizya tax on the population. At the time of Mu‘awiyah
Mu‘awiyah
(governor of Syria
Syria
and the later founder of the Umayyad Caliphate), the administration of al-Jazira was included in the administration of Syria. During the early Islamic
Islamic
Empire (i.e., the Umayyads), the administration of Jazira was often shared with that of Arminiya
Arminiya
(a vast province encompassing most of Transcaucasia) and Adharbayjan (Iranian Azerbaijan). The prosperity of the region and its high agricultural and manufacturing output made it an object of contest between the leaders of the early conquering Arab
Arab
armies. Various conquerors tried, in vain, to bind various cities of the former Sassanian provinces, as well as the newly conquered Byzantine provinces of Mesopotamia, into a coherent unit under their own rule. The control of the region, however, was essential to any power centered in Baghdad. Consequently, the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate brought al-Jazira under the direct rule of the government in Baghdad. At this time, al-Jazira was one of the highest tax-yielding provinces of the Abbasid
Abbasid
Empire. During the early history of Islam, al-Jazira became a center for the Kharijite
Kharijite
movement and had to be constantly subdued by various caliphs. In the 920s, a local dynasty called the Hamdanids
Hamdanids
established an autonomous state with two branches in al-Jazira (under Nasir al-Dawla) and Northern Syria
Syria
(under Sayf al-Dawla). The demise of the Hamdanid power put the region back under the nominal rule of the Caliphs of Baghdad, while actual control was in the hands of the Buyid brothers who had conquered Baghdad
Baghdad
itself. At the turn of the 11th century, the area came under the rule of a number of local dynasties, the Numayrids, the Mirdasids, and the Uqaylids, who persisted until the Seljuq conquest. With the arrival of the First Crusade, the western part came into Crusader hands as the County of Edessa, while the rest was ruled by a succession of semi-independent Turkish rulers until taken over by the Zengids, and eventually the Ayyubids. Thereafter the northern and eastern portion were ruled by the Artuqids, while the western parts came under the Mamluks of Egypt
Mamluks of Egypt
until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt
Ottoman conquest of Egypt
in 1516–17. Modern history[edit] Main articles: Cizre, Decline of the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate of Mesopotamia, History of Iraq, and Iraqi Kurdistan The region is the traditional homeland of the indigenous Assyrian, Aramaic
Aramaic
speaking Christian
Christian
descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians. Thousands of Assyrian refugees entered into Syrian Al-Jazira, from Turkey
Turkey
following the Assyrian Genocide
Assyrian Genocide
of World War I. Additionally, in 1933 a further 24,000 Assyrian Christians
Christians
fled into the area, following the Simele Massacre
Simele Massacre
in the Mosul
Mosul
region of northern Iraq.[5] However, violence against Christians
Christians
changed the demographics of this area. Kurds
Kurds
had cooperated with Ottoman authorities in the massacres against Armenian and Assyrian Christians
Christians
in Upper Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
and were in return granted their land as a reward.[6] Assyrian Christians
Christians
began to emigrate from Syria
Syria
after the Amuda massacre of August 9, 1937. This massacre, carried out by the Kurd Saeed Agha, emptied the city of its Assyrian population. In 1941, the Assyrian community of al-Malikiyah were subjected to a vicious assault. Even though the assault failed, the Assyrians were terrorized and left in large numbers, and the immigration of Kurds
Kurds
from Turkey
Turkey
to the area have converted al-Malikiya, al-Darbasiyah and Amuda
Amuda
to completely Kurdish cities. The historically-important Christian
Christian
city of Nusaybin
Nusaybin
had a similar fate after its Christian
Christian
population left when it was annexed to Turkey. The Christian
Christian
population of the city crossed the border into Syria
Syria
and settled in Qamishli, which was separated by the railway (new border) from Nusaybin. Nusaybin
Nusaybin
became Kurdish and Qamishli
Qamishli
became an Assyrian city. Things soon changed, however, with the immigration of Kurds
Kurds
beginning in 1926 following the failure of the rebellion of Saeed Ali Naqshbandi against the Turkish authorities.[7] Current situation[edit] Djezirah is one of the four dioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The others are in Aleppo, Homs– Hama
Hama
and Damascus.[5] The area has experienced a high rate of emigration in the past 40 years. Prime factors have been drought and the emigration of Assyrian Christians
Christians
due to economic hardship and conflict with Kurds. See also[edit]

Syria
Syria
portal Iraq
Iraq
portal Turkey
Turkey
portal Kurdistan portal Assyrians portal

Geography of Iraq Fertile Crescent Beth Nahrain Assyrian homeland

Notes[edit]

^ Georges Roux - Ancient Iraq ^ The next battlefield ^ See discussion at "So Fair a House: Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe
and the Identification of Temples in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Near East". JSTOR 10.1086/661207.  Missing or empty url= (help) ^ "Göbekli Tepe: Series Introduction". Genealogy of Religion. 12 October 2011. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011.  ^ a b Mouawad, Ray J. (2001) " Syria
Syria
and Iraq
Iraq
– Repression: Disappearing Christians
Christians
of the Middle East" Middle East
Middle East
Quarterly 8(1): ^ Hovannisian, Richard G., 2007. The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies. Accessed on 11 November 2014. ^ Abu Fakhr, Saqr, 2013. As-Safir. Beirut. [assafir.com/Article/331189#.UrbZIuK_guh التراجع المسيحي في الشرق: مشهد تاريخي] ( Arabic
Arabic
version). As-Safir
As-Safir
on the History of the Persecution of Middle Eastern Christians
Christians
Christian
Christian
Decline in the Middle East: A Historical View (English version).

Bibliography[edit]

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Al Jazira.

Moore, Andrew M. T.; Hillman, Gordon C.; Legge, Anthony J. (2000). Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510806-X. Peter M. M. G. Akkermans; Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). The archaeology of Syria: from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (c. 16,000–300 BC). Cambridge University Press. pp. 72–. ISBN 978-0-521-79666-8. Retrieved 27 June 2011. Istakhri, Ibrahim. Al-Masālik wa-al-mamālik, Dār al-Qalam, Cairo, 1961 Brauer, Ralph W., Boundaries and Frontiers in Medieval Muslim Geography, Philadelphia, 1995 Ibn Khurradādhbih. Almasalik wal Mamalik, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1967 Lestrange, G. The lands of the eastern caliphate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930 Mohammadi Malayeri, Mohammad. Tārikh o Farhang-i Irān dar Asr-e Enteghaal, Tus, Tehran, 1996 Morony, Michael G. Iraq
Iraq
after the Muslim Conquest, Princeton, 1984

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