20 Facts About Edessa


Edessa was an ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia, founded during the Hellenistic period by King Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Empire.

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Ancient Edessa is the predecessor of modern Urfa, in the Sanliurfa Province, Turkey.

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In Late Antiquity, Edessa was an important city on the Roman–Persian frontier with the Sasanian Empire.

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The 260 Battle of Edessa saw Shapur defeat the Roman emperor Valerian and capture him alive, an unprecedented disaster for the Roman state.

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Edessa was situated on a ridge in the middle of a ring of hills surrounded by a fertile plain, and was therefore considered to be favourably situated.

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Edessa was at first more or less under the protectorate of the Parthians, then of Tigranes of Armenia, Edessa was Armenian Mesopotamia's capital city, then from the time of Pompey under the Roman Empire.

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Christianity is attested in Edessa in the 2nd century; the gnostic Bardaisan was a native of the city and a philosopher at its court.

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Edessa became one of the frontier cities of the province of Osroene and lay close to the border of the Sasanian Empire.

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The Battle of Edessa took place between the Roman armies under the command of the emperor Valerian and the Sasanian forces under emperor Shapur I in 260.

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Traces of Hellenistic culture were soon overwhelmed in Edessa, which employed Syriac legends on coinage, with the exception of the client king Abgar IX, and there is a corresponding lack of Greek public inscriptions.

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Edessa saw a longer version of the Letters than she was previously familiar with, and was assured that the holy words had repelled a Persian assault on the city.

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Under the Sasanian emperor Kavad I, the Persians attacked Edessa, and according to Joshua the Stylite the shrine outside the walls set up in the 340s was burnt.

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Edessa was rebuilt by Justin I, and renamed Justinopolis after him.

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Edessa was succeeded by Aggai, then by Saint Mari, who was ordained about 200 by Serapion of Antioch.

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In 1031 Edessa was given up to the Byzantines under George Maniakes by its Arab governor.

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The populace of Edessa were thus saved from being massacred by the Mongols.

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Edessa was held by the Mamluk Sultanate, and the Aq Qoyunlu.

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Edessa was controlled by the Safavid dynasty, and from 1517 to 1918 the Ottoman Empire.

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Under the Ottomans in 1518, the population of Edessa was estimated at a mere 5,500; likely due to the Ottoman–Persian Wars.

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In 1890, the population of Edessa consisted of 55,000, of which the Muslim population made up 40,835.

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