city time arabs abgar
EDESSA, or, as it is now called, Urfa or Orfa, a city of Northern Mesopotamia, on the Daisun, a left-hand tributary of the Euphrates, 75 miles W. of Diarbekir and 59 E. of Biredjik, in 37° 21' N. lat. and 39° 6' E. long. it is sur-rounded with walls and towers, well preserved on the northern side, has narrow but comfortable and cleanly streets, and displays in its bazaar not only the native woollen stuffs, pottery, and silver work, but also a consider-able variety of European goods. In the principal. square there is a large mosque dedicated to Abraham, who, accord-ing to Malionietan legend, was slain in the city; and in its immediate vicinity is a pond shaded by fine pomegranate, plain, and cypress trees, and tenanted from time immemorial by sacred fish. The only ancient remains are those of a tower ascribed by tradition to Nimrod; but in the neigh-bourhood there exist extensive catacombs with numerous inscriptions of an early date. The prevailing language is gardens, vineyards, and rnulberry plantations.
Nothing is known of the origin of Edessa. It has been suggested that probably the early inhabitants were Sabwans, and that the sacred fish originally belonged to the worship of Atergatis. Accord-ing to the Targum of the pseudo-Jonathan, Jerome, and Ephraern Syrus, the city is to be identified with the Erech of Genesis x. 10, and. the local tradition of the Arabs and Jews makes it the same as Ur of the Chaldees ; but there is no historical basis for either identification, though the former has received the siipport of Michaelis, Buttinann, and Yon Bohlen. The first authentic mention of the city connects it with Seleucus, Ivho appears to have greatly' increased its prosperity, and was probably the bestower the name by which it is best known in history. This, according to Stephanus, was taken from the Macedonian Edessa, from the abundance of the water in both cities, but a modern etymologist recognizes the Syrian Haditha or New Town. Another designation, Callirlioe, found in the ancient writers, undoubtedly alludes to its fountain ; and it is at least possible that this may be the derivation of its modern name - Urhoi among the Syrians, Er Rolla among the Arabs, and Orfa ainong the Turks and Christians. In the time of Antiochus VII., about 135 mo., the city became the seat or centre of the Osrhoenie kingdom, founded by Orhoi-Bar-Khevy-o, and governed for centuries by series of elective monarchs. Of these the eighth in succession, Abgar Bar--Abgar, fought against Lucullus, but afterwards sided with the Romans ; the fifteenth Abgar Uchomo is famous for the legendary correspondence with Christ reported by Eusebius. The city was plundered by Trajan's general Lusius Quietus, and the kingdom beeamo tributary in 116. Restored by Hadrian it was filially abolished by Caracalla in 217, and a Roman military colony was established with the title of Colonia Marcia Edessormu. Meanwhile Christianity had been taking fast root in the city-, the first church having been built as early at least as 202. By the time of Julian, the wealth of the Christians WaS sufficient to attract his revengeful cupidity ; and in the course of the following oentury, the nmnber of monasteries alone ,is said to have exceeded 300. Great theological schools were established, and the city, in fact, became one of the chief seats of Oriental learning. Most famous of all was the Schola Persica or Persian School ; bnt its professors having adopted the Nestorian heresy were expelled by Martyrus the bishop, and the building was destroyed in 489, and replaced by St Mary's Church. The pros-perity of the city gradually disappeared during the next five centuries, as it passed successively into the hands of the Arabs and the Seljuks. From the latter it was captured in 1097 by Baldwin de Bouillon, and for the next fifty years it continued an independent Christian countship. Baldwin's successors were his cousin Baldwin II. (1100-1118), Joeelin de Courtenay, surnamed the Great (1118 - '131), and Joeeliu (1131-1144). The negligence of this last count permitted the city to fall into the hands of Zengi of Mosul, and iu 1466, the attempt of the inhabitants to recover their inde-pendence brought down the vengeance of Zengi's successor Nur-ed-din. The sultans of Egypt and Syria obtained possession in 1181, the Byzantines in 1234, the Mongolians under Tamurlane about 1393, the Turkomans and the Persians at a later date, and finally the Turks in 1637.
See Assemani Biblioth. Orient., vol. I., where the "Chron. Edessenntr." is re-printed ; Th. L. Bayer, Historia Osrhoena et Edessena ex nun-antis illustrata, St Petersburg, 1734.