1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mardin

MARDIN, the chief town of a sanjak of the Diarbekr vilayet of Asiatic Turkey. It is a military station on the Diarbekr-Mosul road. It occupies a remarkable site on the south side of a conical hill of soft limestone, and the houses rise tier above tier. The streets are narrow and paved in steps, while often the roadway runs along the roof of the house in the tier below. The hill is almost surrounded by old walls, while on the summit are the remains of the famous castle of the Kaleh Shubha (Lat. Maride or Marde,) which from Roman times has played an important part in history. The Arab geographers considered it impregnable, and from its steep approaches and well-arranged defences it was able to offer a protracted resistance to the Mongolian conqueror Hulagu and to the armies of Timur. It was also for several centuries the residence of more or less independent princes of the Ortokid Turkoman dynasty. The climate is healthy and dry, and fruit grows well, but water is sometimes scanty in the summer. Mardin is the centre of a good corn-growing district, and is important chiefly as a border town for the Kurds on the north and the Arab tribes to the south. It is the chief centre of the Jacobite Christians, who have many villages in the Tor Abdin hills to the north-east, and whose patriarch lives at Deir Zaferan, a Syrian monastery of the 9th century not far off in the same direction. The population is estimated at 27,000, of whom about one-half are Christians of the Armenian, Chaldean, Jacobite, Protestant and Roman Catholic communities. Besides many mosques and churches there are three monasteries (Syrian, Franciscan and Capuchin), and an important American Mission station, with church, schools and a medical officer.