Sanliurfa is located next to the
Euphrates river, in the center of one of the longest inhabited areas in the
world. Many rich archaeological sites from all periods have been found and
excavated in the area. The visitors to Sanliurfa may enjoy the finds of this
archaeological projects in the Sanliurfa Museum.
Sanliurfa, known as the City of
Prophets, has a very rich and far reaching background, due to its location in
the great fertile plain of upper Mesopotamia. The archaeological and
ethnographical museums exhibit finds of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras from
the lower Euphrates region. You will notice a cave here, with several mosques
around it here. This cave is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham. The
Meviid Halil Mosque is also of another interest. Sanliurfa was praised as the
city of the prophets Hiob, Jethro and St. George, besides Abraham, who were said
to have lived here.
It is a holy city with "Balikli Göl" at the foot of a crusader castle and
surrounded by mosques. The Halil Rahman Mosque is next to a pool which is full
of sacred carp. The story about this pool that a holy person of Islam was about
to be burned by non-believers and had stafied a big fire to burn him, but the
logs turned into carp and the fire into water, and so the "Balikli Göl" was
formed. On the other side of this pool, is the Ottoman Rizvaniye Mosque. The
Firfirli Mosque, which was once the church of the Apostles, is worth a visit. A
walk by the typical eastern bazaar and the old inns (hans), especially Gumruk
Hani and Barutcu Hani, will take you back to the days of 1001 nights. Sanli Urfa
Citadel and Ayn-i Zeliha Lake are other historical sites in the city.
Harran, 48 kms. south of Urfa, lets you visit a place directly connected with
the Bible. It is said that Abraham spent several years of his life in Harran.
Harran is a fascinating little town. The beehive-houses are built here and which
are still occupied by families who may invite you for a look inside and to drink
something cool. You should also visit the ruins of the biggest, ancient Harran
Islamic University at which many great Islamic scientists were educated. In
addition the ancient city walls are still standing. Sogmatar and Suayb are other
old historical cities. You may find good accommodation with a picturesque view
in Birecik where the Kelaynak Bird Festival is held every year.
Cigkofte is the famous local delicacy.
The idea of opening up a museum in
Sanliurfa emerged back in 1948 and the first step to this end was taken with the
transfer of the existing pieces to a storage area in Ataturk primary school.
Then, in 1956, a space was allocated for this purpose in Sehit Nurset Bey
primary school. However, this space was not large enough, and there was clearly
a need to exhibit the rich cultural assets of the area, documenting its
thousands years of history, in an appropriate context.
Construction of a separate museum
was started in 1965 on a small parcel of land (1,500 square meters) in the
Sehitlik quarter of the town. The Museum was opened to visitors in 1969.
A testament to the rich past of
the region of Sanliurfa is the large number of tumuli and old settlements.
Harran, located 44 kilometers south of Sanliurfa, is one of the most notable of
these settlements and was continuously inhabited from 3000 BC to the 13th
century. It was especially noted for its peculiar civilian architecture.
Salvage excavations are being
conducted in the settlements threatened by the dams of Ataturk, Birecik and
Kargamis. Starting from 1978, foreign teams conducted excavations in the Lidar
and Hassek tumuli which were to be submerged under Ataturk Dam Lake, while the
museum directorate was involved in the excavation of Cavi Field and Nevala Cori.
Salvage excavations have been taking place since 1996 in Tilbes Tumulus which
will disappear under the waters of Birecik Dam; Apamea, a Hellenistic city
threatened by the same dam, has been excavated since 1998.
Apart from salvage excavations
there are also regular archaeological excavations in sites such as Orencik,
Gobektilepe, Konuklu Tumulus, Gurcutepe, Bozova, Bahceli Titrik Tumulus, Birecik
and Hacinebi Tumulus.
Because of the increasing number
of artifacts coming to the museum, the storage and exhibition facilities soon
became inadequate. Annex storage and exhibition facilities were thus constructed
and opened after increasing the museum's property.
In the new building, opened to the
public in 1987, there are three archaeological and one ethnographic exhibition
halls, administrative offices, a multipurpose room for activities such as
conferences, and a library. Laboratories, storage facilities and photography
sections are in the basement.
In Sanliurfa museum, pieces
obtained from Harran and other cultural assets recovered from other tumuli and
ancient settlements are exhibited in different cases in alphabetical order.
Pieces from the time of the Assyrians, Babylonians and the Hittites are
exhibited in the entrance hall.
The second and third halls of the
archaeology section have cutting and piercing devices made of Flintstone
(8000-5000 BC), stone idols and vessels, plain and painted ceramics with
geometric designs made of baked soil belonging to the period 5000-3000 BC,
seals, pithoi, necklaces, pieces of imprinted cubes made of baked soil dating
back to the Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC), animal figures, metal artifacts,
The ethnographic sections exhibit
clothing from the region, silver and bronze ornaments, pieces of handmade
instruments, carved wooden doors and window cases peculiar to the region,
specimens of calligraphy, and an old hand-written Koran.
In the museum yard, archaeological
pieces are exhibited in chronological order. In the front, there is a mosaic
pool with depictions of animals.
As of the end of 1997, the
Sanliurfa Museum hosts 17,961 archaeological and 2,430 ethnographic pieces,
44,576 coins, 1,061 seal pressings, 7 tablets, 9 manuscripts, 1 archive
document, totalling 66,045 pieces.
Time Line of Osroene
In southern Anatolia, astride the modern
Turkish/Syrian frontier. Based on the city of Edessa (modern Urfa), The Kingdom
was a significant power-broker in southern Anatolia and northwest Mesopotamia,
due to its strategic location. It is notable as being perhaps the earliest state
to become Christianized, apparently in the 2nd century.