Nusaybin (pronounced [nuˈsajbin]; Akkadian: Naṣibina;
Classical Greek: Νίσιβις, Nisibis; Arabic: نصيبين,
Kurdish: Nisêbîn; Syriac: ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, Nṣībīn; Armenian:
Մծբին, Mtsbin) is a city and multiple titular see in Mardin
Province, Turkey. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.
The population is predominantly Kurdish, Sunni as well as Yezidi, but
a small Aramean (Turkish: Süryani) community can also be found.
With a history going back nearly 3,000 years,
Nusaybin was ruled and
settled by various groups. First mentioned as an Aramean settlement
Naşibīna in 901 BCE, it was captured by
Assyria in 896 BCE. In the
4th and 5th centuries CE it was one of the great centers of Syriac
scholarship, along with nearby Edessa.
1.1 Ancient period
1.2 Classical period
1.3 Islamic period
1.4 Modern history
6 See also
8 Sources and external links
First mentioned in 901 BCE, Naşibīna was an
captured by the Assyrian king
Adad-Nirari II in 896. By 852 BCE,
Naṣibina had been fully annexed to the
Neo-Assyrian Empire and
appeared in the Assyrian Eponym List as the seat of an Assyrian
provincial governor named Shamash-Abua. It remained part of the
Assyrian Empire until its collapse in 608 BCE.
It was under Babylonian control until 536 BCE, when it fell to the
Achaemenid Persians, and remained so until taken by Alexander the
Great in 332 BCE. The Seleucids refounded the city as Antiochia
Mygdonia (Greek: Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Μυγδονίας),
mentioned for the first time in Polybius' description of the march of
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great against
Molon (Polybius, V, 51). Greek
Plutarch suggested that the city was populated by Spartan
descendants. Around the 1st century CE, Nisibis (נציבין,
Netzivin) was the home of Judah ben Bethera, who founded a famous
The newly excavated Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis.
Like many other cities in the marches where Roman and Parthian powers
confronted one another, Nisibis was often taken and retaken: it was
Lucullus after a long siege from the brother of Tigranes
(Dio Cassius, XXXVI, 6-7); and captured again by
Trajan in 115 CE, for
which he gained the name of Parthicus (ibid., LXVIII, 23), then lost
and regained against the Jews during the Kitos War. Lost in 194, it
was again conquered by Septimius Severus, who made it his headquarters
and re-established a colony there (ibid., LXXV, 23). The last battle
between Rome and
Parthia was fought in the vicinity of the city in
217. With the fresh energy of the new Sassanid dynasty, Shapur I
conquered Nisibis, was driven out, and returned in the 260s. In 298,
by a treaty with Narseh, the province of Nisibis was acquired by the
Nisibis (Syriac: ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, Nṣibin, later Syriac ܨܘܒܐ,
Ṣōbā) had an Assyrian
Christian bishop from 300, founded by Babu
(died 309). War was begun again by
Shapur II in 337, who besieged the
city in 338, 346, and 350, when St Jacob or James of Nisibis, Babu's
successor, was its bishop. Nisibis was the home of Ephrem the Syrian,
who remained until its surrender to the Sassanid Persians by Roman
Emperor Jovian in 363.
The interior of the Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis.
The Roman historian of the 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus, gained
his first practical experience of warfare as a young man at Nisibis
under the master of the cavalry, Ursicinus. From 360 to 363, Nisibis
was the camp of Legio I Parthica. Because of its strategic importance
on the Persian border Nisibis was heavily fortified. Ammianus lovingly
calls Nisibis the "impregnable city" (urbs inexpugnabilis) and
"bulwark of the provinces" (murus provinciarum).
In 363 Nisibis was ceded back to the Persians after the defeat of
Emperor Julian. Before that time the population of the town was forced
by the Roman authorities to leave Nisibis and move to Amida. Emperor
Jovian allowed them only three days for the evacuation. Historian
Ammianus Marcellinus was again an eyewitness and condemns Emperor
Jovian for giving up the fortified town without a fight. Marcellinus'
point-of-view is certainly in line with contemporary Roman public
Later, the bishop of Nisibis was the Metropolitan Archbishop of the
Ecclesiastical province of Bit-Arbaye. In 410 it had six suffragan
sees and as early as the middle of the 5th century was the most
important episcopal see of the
Church of the East
Church of the East after
Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and many of its Nestorian, Assyrian Church of the
East or Jacobite bishops were renowned for their writings: Barsumas,
Osee, Narses, Jesusyab and Ebed-Jesus.
Al-Tabari some 12,000 Persians of good lineage from
Istakhr, Isfahan, and other regions settled at Nisibis in the 4th
century, and their descendants were still there at the beginning of
the 7th century.
The first theological, philosophical and medical School of Nisibis,
founded at the introduction of Christianity into the city by ethnic
Assyrians of the Assyrian Church of the East, was closed when the
province was ceded to the Persians. Ephrem the Syrian, an Assyrian
poet, commentator, preacher and defender of orthodoxy, joined the
general exodus of Christians and reestablished the school on more
securely Roman soil at Edessa. In the 5th century the school became a
center of Nestorian Christianity, and was closed down by Archbishop
Cyrus in 489; the expelled masters and pupils withdrew once more, back
to Nisibis, under the care of Barsauma, who had been trained at
Edessa, under the patronage of Narses, who established the statutes of
the new school. Those that have been discovered and published belong
to Osee, the successor of
Barsauma in the See of Nisibis, and bear the
date 496; they must be substantially the same as those of 489. In 590
they were again modified. The monastery school was under a superior
called Rabban ("master"), a title also given to the instructors. The
administration was confided to a majordomo, who was steward, prefect
of discipline and librarian, but under the supervision of a council.
Unlike the Jacobite schools, devoted chiefly to profane studies, the
school of Nisibis was above all a school of theology. The two chief
masters were the instructors in reading and in the interpretation of
Holy Scripture, explained chiefly with the aid of Theodore of
Mopsuestia. The free course of studies lasted three years, the
students providing for their own support. During their sojourn at the
university, masters and students led a monastic life under somewhat
special conditions. The school had a tribunal and enjoyed the right of
acquiring all sorts of property. Its rich library possessed a most
beautiful collection of Nestorian works; from its remains Ebed-Jesus,
Bishop of Nisibis in the 14th century, composed his celebrated
catalogue of ecclesiastical writers. The disorders and dissensions,
which arose in the sixth century in the school of Nisibis, favoured
the development of its rivals, especially that of Seleucia; however,
it did not really begin to decline until after the foundation of the
Baghdad (832). Among its literary celebrities mention should
be made of its founder Narses; Abraham, his nephew and successor;
Abraham of Kashgar, the restorer of monastic life; and
Archbishop Elijah of Nisibis.
The city was taken without resistance by the forces of the Rashidun
Umar in 639 or 640. Under early Islamic rule, the city
served as a local administrative centre. In 717, it was struck and
affected by an earthquake and in 927 it was raided by the Qarmatians.
Nisibis was captured in 942 by the Byzantine Empire but was
subsequently recaptured by the Hamdanid dynasty. It was attacked by
the Byzantines once again in 972. Following the Hamdanids, the city
was administered by
Marwanids and Uqaylids. From the middle of the
11th century onwards, it was subjected to Turkish raids and the threat
of County of Edessa, being attacked and damaged by Seljuq forces under
Tughril in 1043. The city nevertheless remained an important centre of
commerce and transport.
In 1120, it was captured by the
Artuqids under Necmeddin Ilgazi,
followed by the Zengids and Ayyubids. The city is described as a very
prosperous one by the period's Arab geographers and historians, with
imposing baths, walls, lavish houses, a bridge and a hospital. In
1230, the city was invaded by the Mongol Empire. Mongol sovereignty
was followed by that of the Ag Qoyunlu,
Kara Koyunlu and Safavids. In
1515, it was taken by the
Ottoman Empire under
Selim I thanks to the
efforts of Idris Bitlisi.
On the eve of World War I,
Nusaybin had a small Armenian community of
some 90 people, along with a large Jewish population numbering
As agreed upon by French and Turkish authorities after World War I,
the border between
Syria would follow the line of the
Baghdad Railway until Nusaybin, after which the border would follow
the path of a contested Roman road leading to Cizre.
Nusaybin was a place on the transit routes of
Syrian Jews leaving the
country after 1948. Upon reaching Turkey, after a route that took them
Aleppo and the Jazira sometimes with the help of Bedouin
smugglers, most headed for Israel. There was a big Jewish
community in Nisbis since antiquity, many of them moved to
the 20th century because of economic reason, there is a synagogue in
Jerusalem that practices the rite of Nisbis and Qamishli.
Nusaybin made headlines in 2006 when villagers near Kuru uncovered a
mass grave, suspected of belonging to
Ottoman Armenians and
Arameans. Swedish historian David Gaunt visited the site to
investigate its origins, but left after finding evidence of
tampering. Gaunt, who has studied 150 massacres carried out in
the summer of 1915 in Mardin, said that the Committee of Union and
Progress's governor for Mardin, Halil Edip, had likely ordered the
massacre on 14 June 1915, leaving 150 ethnic Armenians and 120 ethnic
Assyrians dead. The settlement was then known as Dara (now Oğuz).
Gaunt added that the death squad, named El-Hamşin (meaning "fifty
men"), was headed by officer Refik Nizamettin Kaddur. The president of
the Turkish Historical Society, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, said that the
remains dated back to Roman times, although many people in the Turkish
government openly deny the genocide even happened. Özgür Gündem
says that the military and police have pressed the media not to report
The Turkish Interior Ministry looked into dissolving Nusaybin's city
council in 2012 because the body sought to use Arabic, Armenian,
Aramaic, and Kurdish on signposts in the town, in addition to
In November 2013, Nusaybin's mayor, Ayşe Gökkan, commenced a hunger
strike to protest against the construction of a wall between Nusaybin
and its neighboring city of
Qamishli in Syria. Construction of the
wall stopped as a result of this and other protests.
On 13 November 2015, the town was placed under a curfew by the Turkish
Ali Atalan and Gülser Yıldırım, two elected
members of the Grand National Assembly from the pro-Kurdish Peoples'
Democratic Party (HDP), began a hunger strike in protest. Two
civilians and ten PKK fighters were killed by security forces. As
of March 2016, PKK forces controlled about half of
to Al-Masdar News and the YPS controlled "much" of it, according
to The Independent. Following eight successive curfews over
several months and clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish
militants, much of the city was destroyed and 61 security forces were
killed as of 1 May 2016. As of 9 April, 60,000 residents of the
city had been displaced, yet 30,000 civilians remained in the city,
including in the 6 neighborhoods where the operations continued.
YPS reportedly had 700-800 militants in the city, of which the
Turkish army claimed that 325 were "neutralised" by 4 May. A
curfew was in place between 14 March and 25 July in the majority of
As a result of the Syrian civil war, the city's border with
more specifically the large Syrian city of Qamishli) has been closed,
with claims that the cessation in smuggling has led to a 90% rise in
unemployment in the city.
Nusaybin is immediately north of the border with Syria, opposite the
Syrian city of Qamishli. The
Jaghjagh River flows through both cities.
The border between
Turkey is filled with land mines, with
a total of some 600,000 having been placed between the countries in
the 1950s as part of Turkey's efforts to protect NATO's southeastern
Nusaybin has a semi-arid climate with extremely hot summers and cool
winters. Rainfall is generally sparse.
Climate data for Nusaybin
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average rainy days
Nusaybin is predominantly Kurdish. The city's population has close
ties with the neighboring town of
Qamishli and cross-border marriages
are a common practice. The city has also a minority Arab
population. A very small Assyrian population remains in the city;
what remained of the Assyrian population emigrated during the
Kurdish-Turkish conflict of 1990s and as a result of the conflict in
2016, only one Assyrian family reportedly remained in the
Catholic Church has established no less than four successor
titular archbishoprics, for various rites - one Latin and four Eastern
Catholic for particular churches sui iuris. They are included in the
Catholic Church's list of titular see of archiepiscopal rank notably
for the Chaldean
Catholic Church and the Maronite Catholic Church.
Furthermore, when the
Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Hassaké was promoted
to archiepiscopal rank, at added Nisibi(s) to its name, becoming the
Syriac Catholic Archeparchy of Hassaké-Nisibi (not Metropolitan,
directly dependent on the Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch).
Latin titular see: Established in the 18th century as Titular
Archiepiscopal see of Nisibis (informally Nisibis of the Romans).
It has been vacant for several decades, having previously had the
following incumbents, all of the (intermediary) archiepiscopal
Giambattista Braschi (1724.12.20 – 1736.11.24)
José Calzado López (Bolaños de Calatrava, 17/04/1680 - Madrid,
7/04/1761) Discalced Franciscans (O.F.M. Disc.) (1738.11.24 –
Cesare Brancadoro (1789.10.20 – 1800.08.11) (later Cardinal)*
Lorenzo Caleppi (1801.02.23 – 1816.03.08) (later Cardinal)*
Vincenzo Macchi (1818.10.02 – 1826.10.02)(later Cardinal)*
Carlo Luigi Morichini
Carlo Luigi Morichini (1845.04.21 – 1852.03.15) (later Cardinal)*
Vincenzo Tizzani, C.R.L. (1855.03.26 – 1886.01.15) (later
Johann Gabriel Léon Louis Meurin,
Jesuits (S.J.) (1887.09.15 –
Giuseppe Giusti (1891.12.14 – 1897.03.31)
Federico Pizza (1897.04.19 – 1909.03.28)
Francis McCormack (1909.06.21 – 1909.11.14)
Joseph Petrelli (1915.03.30 – 1962.04.29)
José de la Cruz Turcios y Barahona,
Salesians (S.D.B.) (1962.05.18
Armenian Catholic titular see: Established as Titular Archiepiscopal
see of Nisibis (informally Nisibis of the Armenians) in 1910?.
It was suppressed in 1933, having had a single incumbent, of the
(intermediary) archiepiscopal rank :
Mechitarists (C.A.M.) (1910.05.07 – 1931.01.26)
Chaldean Catholic titular see: Established as Titular Archiepiscopal
see of Nisibis (informally Nisibis of the Chaldeans) in the late 19th
century, suppressed in 1927, restored in 1970.
It has had the following incumbents, all of the (intermediary)
archiepiscopal rank :
Giuseppe Elis Khayatt (1895.04.22 – 1900.07.13)
Hormisdas Etienne Djibri (1902.11.30 – 1917.08.31)
Thomas Michel Bidawid (1970.08.24 – 1971.03.29)
Gabriel Koda (1977.12.14 – 1992.03)
Jacques Ishaq (2005.12.21 – ...),
Bishop of Curia emeritus of the
Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon
Maronite titular see: Established as Titular Archiepiscopal see of
Nisibis (informally Nisibis of the Maronites) in 1960. It is vacant,
having had a single incumbent of the (intermediary) archiepiscopal
Pietro Sfair (1960.03.11 – 1974.05.18)
Nusaybin is served by the E90 roadway and other roads to surrounding
Nusaybin Railway Station is served by 2 trains per day. The
closest airport is the
Kamishly Airport 5 kilometers south from
Nusaybin, located in
Qamishli in Syria. The closest Turkish airport is
the Mardin Airport, 55 kilometers northwest of Nusaybin.
Febronia of Nisibis
Nisibis (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province)
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Sources and external links
Lieu, Samuel (2006). "NISIBIS". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
Nisibis, Catholic Encyclopedia
GCatholic, Armenian Catholic titular see
GCatholic, Chaldean Catholic titular see
GCatholic, Latin Catholic titular see
GCatholic, Maronite titular see
, Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review
The Battle of Nisibis, AD 217
Mardin Province of Turkey
List of Provinces by Region
West Black Sea
East Black Sea
Central East Anatolia
Metropolitan municipalities are bolded.