By Denho Bar Mourad-Özmen journalist and TV moderator Suroyo TV
Most of the older towns and villages in the Mhalmayto region originally had Syriac names. Some villages still retain the names of their Christian saints today: Dayrozbino (Mor Zbino ܙܒܝܢܐ ܡܪܝ Acirli), kfarhewar, Mor Aday (ܡܪܝ ܐܕܝ , Baskavak), Kfarzota (Mor Zuto ܡܪܝ ܙܘܛܐ ), Deyreldib (ܕܝܪܐ ܕ ܕܶܒܐ Yolagzi), and others.
The renaming of place names in Turkey has been an uninterrupted state policy of Turkish governments since 1913 for non-Turkish place names. Thousands of place names in the Ottoman Empire and then in its successor the Republic of Turkey were removed from the official register on the basis of this ethnocentric state mentality. As a result of this Turkification policy, established and historical names were rejected and replaced by Turkish names without any historical or cultural relationship to the area, city, or village. Almost all successive Turkish governments have been pursuing this rebranding policy on the grounds that such names were “foreign” or “divisive”.
Under the Kemalist governments, special state commissions were established for this campaign to change place names. 12,211 names of towns and cities and about 28,000 names of localities were changed to Turkish names. The changed names were of Assyrian/Syriac, Bulgarian, Armenian, Akkadian, Greek and Georgian origin.
This assimilation policy was expanded with the mandatory change of all people’s surnames to Turkish surnames, and it continues to this day and is mainly aimed at the non-Muslim minorities living in Turkey. The Kurds, in turn, have and are trying to push through Kurdish names for the Assyrian/Syriac/Mhalmoye towns in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. This same process is also applied today in northern Syria.
According to sources in the Mor Gabriel Monastery, there were about 500 small and medium-sized villages in the Mhalmayto region. It is however very difficult to compile a complete and accurate list of all the Mhalmoye places and names of churches that were changed as very little research has been done on the Mhalmayto region. Many places have been abandoned and in ruins. Others underwent a name change and have been given Kurdish and Turkish names [I].
In the lists below, I note the names of places, churches and monasteries as they are known to me. Some I was able to find from various sources, others I, of Mhalmoyo origin, have visited myself.
Churches in the Mhalmayto region ܥܕܬܘ̈ܬܐ ܒܐܘܚܕܢܐ ܕܡܚܠܡܝܬܐ
|1||Mort Maryam and Mor Malke||Beth Ave (Kayadere)|
|2||Mor Yakoub||Bnai Bil (Binebil)|
|3||Mor Gewargis (Circis)||Qalo d-Attho (Qalitmara)|
|4||Mor Eliyo (Elias)||Goliye|
|5||Mor Sobo||Tchiftlik (Ciftlik)|
|6||Mor Zokhe||Hisno d-kifo (Hasankeyf)|
|7||Mor Sharbil||Kfar Shomac|
|9||Mor Yuhanon and Mor Daniel||Qeleth|
|10||Mor Theodoros||Qusre (Al-Qusur)|
|12||Yoldath Aloho (Moské)||Macsarto (Ömerli)|
|13||Mor Gewargi||Macsarto (Ömerli)|
|14||Mor Shamoun Zaite||Habses (Mercimekli)|
|15||Yoldath Aloho||Habses (Mercimekli)|
|16||Mor Zbino||Dairo Zbino (Acirli)|
|17||Mor Shamoun da-Stune||Estel|
|18||Mor Heworo and Mor Malke||Kfar heworo (Gelinkaya)|
|20||Gauze (Tokluca)||Mor Teodotos|
|21||Beth Zgure (Bizgur)||Mor Doniel [II]|
|22||Dayro d-Debo (Yolagzi)||Mor Nodeb [II]|
|23||Mor Sharbel||Kenderib (Sögutlu)|
Monasteries in the Mhalmayto region
|1||Mor Loozor||Habses (Mercimekli)|
|2||Mor Zbino||Dairo Zbino (Acirli)|
|4||Mor Sharbel||Kenderib (Sögutlu)|
|5||Dairo d-Quro||Harbeduriel Der Musk|
|7||Mor Theodotos||Gawze (Cawze)|
|8||Mor Abbai||Keleth (Dereici)|
|9||Dairo d-Amudo||Rishmol (Rishmil)|
|10||Mor Dimet||Rashidiye (Rasidi)|
|11||Dairo d-Shmitoye||Meshtin (Sawro/Savur)|
|13||Mor Yacoub||Kfar Shomac|
|14||Dairo d-Rumoye||Aday (Ahmadi)|
|15||Dairo d-Debo||Dereldib (Yolagzi)|
|16||Dairo d-Mor Aho||Defne (Difnith)|
|17||Dairo d-Aino||Sawro (Savur)|
|18||Mor Yakub Mfasqo/Dair Alqamar||Midyat [III]|
|19||Dair Tajjar||Dair Tajjar (Ucerli)|
|20||Dairo du-Slibo||Atifiye (Yenice)|
Large and medium-sized city names in the Mhalmoyto region
|1||Estil [IV]||Estel||Midyat hukumet|
|5||Hisno d-Kifo [VII]||Hasankef||Hasankeyf|
Village names in the Mhalmoyto region
|Khirbe du-Haci||Khirbit Hajji||Gölbasi [XI]|
|I Khirbe da-Garginose||Khirbit l-Gargines||Alicli|
|I Khirbe du-Tawqo||Khirbit l-tawq||Yaylatepe|
|Dairo Zbino||Dair Zbina||Acirli|
|I Khirbe da-Qarmide||Khirbit Qarmid||Akyokus|
|Mazracat Abdallah||Mazraat Abdallah|
|Harbtho d-Skaikh||Hirbit S. Muhammad|
|Harbtho d-Hanne||Khirbet Hanne|
|Shaikh Yousef||Shaikh Yusuf|
Denho Bar Mourad-Özmen is a former special educator and advisor at Sweden’s National Agency for Special Education. He is a lecturer, published educational films on Swedish TV, and has written articles in Swedish educational magazines. He was born in the village of Habses, Tur Abdin, and has written on the Syriac people for Hujada Magazine and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Magazine. He is a long-time journalist and TV moderator at Suroyo TV.
Notes[I] Maktahbzabno d-Turabdin (History of Turabdin) [II] Mihallami köylerinin etimolojik manalari hakkinda bir kisa arastirma, Abraham Garis. [III] According to the elders of Habses and the residents of Estel, the ruins of this church are north of the city and west of the road to Mardin. [IV] In the 1970s in Estel, there were several business owners and tailors who were Christian Mhalmoye. [V] In Macsarto only one Christian Mhalmayto family remains. [VI] There live some 150 Christian Mhalmoye in the city of Mardin today. [VII] The last Christian Mhalmoye families moved from Hisno d-Kifo to Midyat and Europe in the late 1970s. [VIII] The last Christian families moved from Kfar-Gawze (Gercus) in the late 1970s. [VIIII] Until the 1970s, 320 families lived in Qeleth. At the end of the 1980s, only 3 families remained. Most villagers moved to Sweden and other EU countries. [X] According to www.Mardinlife.com, Rashidiye is the name of the capital of the area. The area consists of several villages which are also mentioned as Kösa villages. The inhabitants of all the villages are Mhalmoye. [XI] According to www.Mardinlife.com, I Khirbe du Haci was founded by Haci Abdurrahman Ali, originally (1850) a Christian Assyrian/Syriac/Mhalmoyo from Dayro Zbino (Acirli). All the villagers are descendants of this Haci Abdurrahman. [XII] According to Nisanyan Haldah, it was inhabited by Christian Mhalmoye in the early 20th century. [XIII] According to a statement he wrote about himself ( found in a manuscript of the Gospel in the Church of Omid (Diyarbakir)), Kfar Heworo gave the Syriac Church a very famous calligrapher, namely Archbishop Joseph (1513). [XIV] According to Nisanyan Haldah, Kfarzote was conquered by Mardin’s ruler named Temurtas in 1150 and became his property. Previously, it belonged to the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I. [XV] According to Nisanyan Haldah, Qendarbe ܩܢ ܕܪ̈ܒܐ was inhabited by Christian Assyrian/Syriac Mhalmoye in the early 1920s. [XVI] According to Nisanyan Haldah, Rish was inhabited by Christians in the early 20th century. Rish is also the place where alle the male members of the Be Hermez family were thrown into a well after they were tortured. None of them survived. The Be Hermez family was Midyat’s richest family and was Protestant. According to testimonies about the Sayfo Genocide of 1915, the number of murdered Be Hermez members in Rish was 75. This event is considered as the beginning of the Sayfo Genocide in Midyat (Sayfo ܣܝܦܐ is the Syriac name for the genocide on Christians in the Ottoman Empire). [XVII] Hlula means feast, wedding, gala. [XVIII] Present-day Sawro includes the former Avine ܨܘܪܐ / ܐܦܝܢܐ (Surgücü) and the original Savur districts such as Mishtiye. The Christian Mhalmye/Assyrians were the majority in Avine, until the beginning of the 19th century. After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, the Christian population completely disappeared in the 1970s. The last Christian family who left were blacksmiths. The family moved to Sweden. [XIX] Qaluq is one of the villages of the Sawro (Savur). The village was populated by Christian Mhalmoye in the 18th century. (The scattered pearls, Ignatius Aphrem Barsoum, Alfaprint. Sundbyberg. 2006. p. 436) [XX] Romaniye was inhabited by Christian Mhalmoye until the end of the 16th century. (See The Scattered Pearls p. 436). [XXI] According to Nisanyan in his book Yeradlari, Haldah had a Christian Mhalmoye population until the early 20th century. Today, the population is called Habesbeniye and are Muslim Mhalmoye.
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ܗܒܒܐ ܕܡܦܨܚ.ܥܠ ܡܟܬܒܢܘܬܐ ܕ ܕܝܪܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܝܥܩܘܒ ܕ ܨܠܚ. ܦܝܠܟܣܝܢܣ ܝܘܚܢܢ. 1973. ܨܗܝܬ. ܠܒܢܢ.
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From the holy mountain, William Dalrymple, Flemingo, 1997.
Arbil Vakayinamesi ( I-VI yusyil), Beth Sefro d Beth-Nahrin, 1998.
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