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History of the village

By: Melfono Zekay Demir

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A Brief History of the Tur abdin Region Where Hapses Village Is Located

Tur Abdin, which is a part of upper Mesopotamia, is a region in the south of Turkiyes Southeastern Anatolia Region, where syriacs live intensely. According to Syriac historians, this region; It is located within the borders of Mardin in the west, Hasankeyf in the north, Cizre in the east and Nusaybin in the south. Its area is about 10 thousand square kilometers. It is a high mountain plateau consisting of limestone and basalt mountain ranges and valleys. Tur Abdin region has a cultural and historical background dating back to centuries before Jesus Christ.

Although the word Tur Abdin is interpreted with different meanings in different sources, it is formed by the fusion of the Syriac words “tur” (mountain) and “abdin” (servants) and means “Mountain of the Servants of God”. As a matter of fact, hundreds of historical monasteries, churches and rock-cut retreat rooms scattered to the most remote corners of the region explain and prove the mystical meaning of its name.

Tur Abdin Region and The syriacs

Syriacism in the Tur Abdin region is a way of life that has been going on for thousands of years. For this, the culture and traditions of the syriac constitute an important and large part of the historical accumulation in the region. Syriacs established dozens of monasteries and churches here and created a very rich christian tradition.

Before accepting the gospel of life of the Lord Jesus Christ, the people of Tur Abdin, like other peoples, worshiped various idols, especially the sun and fire. Many churches and monasteries in the region were built on the foundations of these temples. When the gospel of the true sun, the Lord Jesus Christ, reached the region, the people of Tur Abdin replaced that created sun with the true sun, the Lord Jesus Christ, and accepted Christianity.

Christianity reached the Tur Abdin region very early. Christianity was first heralded to Azech (Idil) at the end of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd century in the Tur Abdin region and from here, it spread to the entire Tur Abdin region. Those who gave the good news of Christianity to İdil were Aday and Agay, two of the 72 heralds of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. These two publishers come to Urfa from Jerusalem. After giving the good news of Christianity in Urfa, they come to İdil, which is in the Tur Abdin Region. At the beginning of the 2nd century, a man named Mirza was appointed here as a Metropolitan by Aday and Agay, and this person was probably the first metropolitan of the Turabdin Region. Again, one of the people who played a very important role in the heralding of Christianity in Tur Abdin is Mor Evgin, who lived in the 4th century and also had a monastery dedicated to his name on Mount Izlo. We know that Mor Evgin's students spread the good news of Christianity by spreading all over the Tur Abdin region. It is clear from all this that Christianity began to spread in the region from the 1st century onwards, and by the 4th century, most of the people of Tur Abdin accepted Christianity. Thus, a religious empire was established in the region consisting of monasteries, churches and the world's first Christian universities. Despite numerous attempts, wars, massacres and many troubles that forced them to leave their homeland, they tried to protect their beliefs, works, customs and traditions at great cost.

For this reason, it is possible to come across many churches and monasteries with aesthetic structures from the first periods of Christianity in the region. Most of these historical and religious artifacts were made of stones shaped by the Syriac civilization. These works are a concrete extension of the original cultural mosaic and syriac architecture developed by the syriacs in the region. Once upon a time, there were hundreds of syriac villages as well as churches and monasteries in this region. Although these are not standing today for various reasons, there are still many monasteries and churches that are still standing.

Today, the Tur Abdin Region and the Tur Abdin Metropolitanate are one of the most important of the Syriac church metropolitans. There are six active monasteries in the region. Fourteen priest monks serve religious duties in these monasteries. Again, there are 23 nuns working in different monasteries. The number of monasteries that are standing and open to visitors reaches 16. The number of standing churches reaches 151. With the decline of the congregation, only six priests remained in the region. There are 15 teachers (melfono) who give religious and language education to children in monasteries and village churches. The number of students (klirikoye) receiving religious and language education in monasteries is around 50. The number of children attending the madrasas (schools) of village churches is close to 300. There are also 14 students who continue to university after their religious education in monasteries and churches in Tur Abdin and their education in public schools. While syriacs live in 16 villages in the Tur Abdin region, they live together with muslims and kurds in eight villages. 11 syriacs serve as headmen in the region. Today, a total of 407 syriac families and 1697 syriacs live in the Tur Abdin region. In addition, there are about 100 people living in the Tur Abdin region who have returned from European countries in recent years. Again, the number of syriacs who live in Europe, repair their houses in the region and usually come to the region during the summer and spend their holidays in the region reaches 140.

Tur abdin Region and Mihallemis
(Mhalmoye -Beth Mahlam)

According to syriac sources, the Mihallemis are a community of people of syriac origin, which has been living in the south of the Tur Abdin region for thousands of years and consists of hundreds of villages. A large part of this community adopted Christianity in the first centuries, especially through Mor Zbino, a disciple of St. Mor Evgin. Mor Zbino, who lived in the 4th century, died in the Mor Zbino Monastery, which he founded in his name in the west of the village of Habsus, and was buried in this monastery. The name of the town of Deyrizbin, one of the most important settlements of the Mihallemi region, comes from the monastery that this saint founded in his name.

This docile and respectable community made a significant contribution to Christianity and Syriac culture. However, due to the cruel and sad events that took place in the region in various periods and especially in 1609, almost all of the people of this region became muslims. This great break that took place in the 17th century caused great damage to the Syriac Church. In addition to tens of thousands of church members, hundreds of churches and monasteries and tens of metropolitan centers were lost.

Recently, many studies on Mihallemi and the name Mihallemi have been carried out by Mihallemi Associations, researcher writers and academicians, and various symposiums have been organized on this subject. In these symposiums, the issue of whether the name Mihallemi refers to a geographical region or a society is one of the frequently discussed topics in research and discussions on the history of the society in question.
In recent studies on this subject, the thesis that the name Mihallemi is of the same origin with the Ahlamu Aramaeans who lived in the same region in the pre-Christian period, is increasingly accepted due to the connotation of the name and the sameness of the region. After the spread of Islam in the region and the Islamization of this society, they abandoned the Syriac language, adopted the Arabic language, and began to speak mainly Arabic to show that they were distanced from their Syriac Christian brothers. In fact, it is a fact that most of the crosses, religious books, Syriac stone writings and similar historical artifacts were destroyed in order to get rid of this heritage completely because of their shyness and shyness about their old religion, Christianity. However, despite this, the names of the villages in the Mihallemi region are in Syriac, the traditions and customs of the people and the remains of some churches in these villages leave no doubt that they were once a Christian community affiliated to the Syriac Church.

The language used by the Mihallemis is also proof that they were a congregation affiliated to the Syriac Church in the historical process. The language called "Kultu Arabic" used by the Mihallemis in their daily lives consists of a mixture of Syriac and Arabic languages. Today, this community is mostly from the sunni Islam and Shafi'i sect in terms of belief.

Syriac writers and poets were also closely interested in the Mihallemis. We would like to present here two poems written on this subject, as well as those written with the history of the Mihallemis. From these poems one is a section of the poem written by Father John of Basibrin in 1714. The poem is about the troubles of the Mihallemi region and therefore the Tur Abdin region. The second poem is the poem written by Horiepiskopos Numan Aydın, who served in Midyat during the period 1949-1987. The poem is also about the troubles of the Mihallemi and the Mor Zbino Monastery in Deyrizbin, a village of Mihallemi.

History of Hapses Village

Hapses village is a village of Mihallemi located to the Midyat district of Mardin province in the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkiye, 66 km from Mardin. It is 6 km from Midyat district. Its near Estel and Midyat in the south of the village, Salih (Barıştepe) in the east, Deyrizbin (Acirlı) town in the west, Deyrindeb (Yolağzı) and Tafo (Erişti) villages in the north.

Hapses, one of the most important villages of Tur Abdin, built on a hillside, is surrounded by historical caves, fertile fields and vineyards. Like other villages in the region, it has a continental climate. The summers are hot and dry, and the winters are cold and rainy.

Another feature of the village of Hapses, located six kilometers north of Midyat, is that it is located in the Mihallemi region. The village of Hapses is known by different names, which are close to each other, today as in the historical process. The village is more commonly called Hapses among syriacs. However, it is also known as Habsus, Hapisnas, Habisnus, Habsunnes and Habsıs. After the village names were translated into Turkish in 1965, the village of Hapses took the name Mercimekli in official records. The origin of the other names used for the village is Syriac and means the place where people are imprisoned.

The village of Hapses is one of the oldest settlements in the region, as understood from historical sources. According to the village elders, the first inhabitants of the village are Şerri, Murad, Sefer and Nore. According to some written documents about the village and what the village elders tell, the village of Hapses was ruled by the Isa Efrims, who were members of the Sherri family for a long time. Later, other tribes came to the village. However, there is no definite information about when and where these tribes came from. There is not the slightest doubt among the villagers that these tribes came to the village centuries ago.

The village of Hapses also has a special place in our Syriac history. It is the only Syriac Christian village among the syriac speaking villages in the Mihallemi region, and it is the head and border village of the Mihallemi region. Likewise, when descending from Mardin towards Tur Abdin, it is the border village of Syriac speaking Syriac villages. Also, on the way to Cizre, there is the village of Midin, which is a border village that speaks the western dialect of Syriac. As it is known, about 80 percent of syriacs in Midin village are syriacs who migrated from Hapses village.

Hapses village, which is generally composed of people who love to read, have a beautiful voice, are artisans, are stylishly dressed, and have good qualities, brought many respected personalities such as spiritualists, deacons, writers and teachers to the Syriac Church. It is the only village in the Mihallemi region that remained Christian and had a non-muslim population until the 18th century. There was once a metropolitan and six priests in the village. In addition, the villagers never came under the command of the beg and aghas in the vicinity. For this reason, they were repeatedly attacked by the surrounding villages and especially by the Ramma tribes.

According to the sources we have, the exact date of establishment of this settlement, which has an important place in the history of the region and the history of the Syriac Church, is not known. However, the fact that there are burial places carved into the rocks, many regular and wide caves on top of each other, and the fact that religious temples were built on the foundations of the pagan Shamsi temple remains, as well as the mention of the Hapses village mound in the mounds section in the history of Mardin, it is understood that the village of Hapses was a very large and ancient settlement. .

The population of our village, Hapses, located on a slope, was one of the most crowded and non-muslim villages according to old documents and records in the Ottoman archives. According to these records, while 59 families were registered in the village in 1526, 102 families were registered in 1567. In addition, as far as he could determine in 1870, the Hapses syriac families in the registry of Priest Abdallah are given as 41. Before 1915, many sources indicate that there were more than 100 syriac families and about 10 muslim families in Hapses. There are different figures in other sources we can find and in interviews with village elders. According to these, between 1920 and 1940 70 syriac families and 8 muslim families; It is mentioned that there were 56 Syriac families in 1945 and around 70 in 1960. In the family determination made on the occasion of Priest Efrim Demir, who was portrayed as the priest in the village in 1976, it is seen that there are 65 syriac families and around 30 muslim families. In addition, 47 syriac families in 1980, 21 in 1983, and 3 syriac families in 1995 continued to live in the village.

Today, however, the population situation of Hapses village, which is the only settlement in our bi-religious -Christian, muslim- and four-lingual -Turkish, Syriac, Arabic and Kurdish-region, has completely changed. Currently, there are about 40 muslims and only one syriac family.

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