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SIVAS, one of the largest and most important vilayets of Asia Minor, lying between 38° 30′ and 41° N. and 35° 30′ and 39° E. It is rich in mineral wealth—silver, lead, copper, iron, manganese, arsenic, alum, salt and coal; and has several hot and cold mineral springs, and large forests of fir, pine, beech and oak. The climate is good, the average elevation of the province being over 3500 ft., and the soil fertile. Wheat and barley are largely grown on the plateau, and in the lower districts there are extensive fruit orchards and vineyards. The port of the vilayet is Samsun (q.v.), whence a chaussée runs through Amasia, Tokat, and Sivas to Kharput; but Sivas is also connected by road with the minor Black Sea ports, Unieh, Ordu and Kerasund. The rates for transport are, however, prohibitive. Angora is the nearest railway point.

Sivas (anc. Megalopolis-Sebasteia), altitude 4420 ft., is also the name of the chief town of the vilayet (and of a sanjak of the same name). It is situated in the broad valley of the Kizil Irmak, on one of its right bank tributaries, the Murdan Su. Pop. over 43,000, fully two-thirds Mussulman. The climate is healthy but severe in winter. Coarse cotton cloth and woollen socks are manufactured. The medresses (colleges), built in the 13th century by the Seljuk sultans of Rum, are amongst the finest remains of Moslem art in Asia Minor. In one of them is the tomb of its founder, Izz ud-din Kai Kāus I. (1210–1219). Near the town is the Armenian monastery of the Holy Cross, in which are kept the throne of Senekherim and other relics. There are several Armenian churches of interest, a flourishing American mission with church and schools, and a Jesuit mission. Under Diocletian Sebasteia became the capital of Armenia Minor, and in the 7th century that of the Sebasteia Theme. Justinian rebuilt the walls and, under the Byzantine emperors, it was second only to Caesarea in size and wealth. In 1021 Senekherim, king of the Armenian province of Vaspuragan (Van), ceded his dominions to Basil II., and became the Byzantine viceroy of Sebasteia and the surrounding country. This position was held by his successors until the town fell into the hands of the Turkomans after the defeat of Romanus II. by the Seljuks (1071). After having been ruled for nearly a century by the Danishmand amirs, it was taken (1172) by the Seljuk sultan of Rum, and in 1224 was rebuilt by Sultan Ala-ed-din Kaikobad I. In 1400, when captured by Timur, the city is said to have had 100,000 inhabitants, and to have been famous for its woollen stuffs. On this occasion the bravest defenders were massacred, and 4000 Armenians were buried alive. Mahommed the “Conqueror” restored the citadel, and the place has ever since been an important Ottoman provincial capital. Early in the 19th century, like all other Ottoman towns, it was terrorized by janissaries, with whom Mahmud II. commissioned the great Dere Bey of Yuzgat, Chapan Oglu, to deal in 1818. The news of his drastic success provoked a dangerous riot in Stambul, which postponed by some years the final tragedy of the janissaries. From 1880 to 1882 Sivas was the residence of the British military consul-general for Asia Minor; but it has now only an American vice-consulate. Mechithar, the founder of the Mechitharists (q.v.) and of the famous monastery at Venice, was born (1676) at Sivas.  (C. W. W.; D. G. H.)