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Amida (Mesopotamia)

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Subject: Sayf al-Dawla, 506, 502, 638, History of Iraq
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Amida (Mesopotamia)

The walls of Amida, built by Constantius II before the Siege of Amida of 359, when the city was conquered by the Sassanid king Shapur II.
The walls of Amida, built by Constantius II before the Siege of Amida of 359

Amida (Greek: Ἄμιδα) was an ancient city located where modern Diyarbakır, Turkey now stands. The Roman writers Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius consider it a city of Mesopotamia, but it may be more properly viewed as belonging to Armenia Major.

The city was located on the right bank of the Tigris. The walls are lofty and substantial, and constructed of the ruins of ancient edifices (see Spolia). As the place is well adapted for a commercial city, it is probable that Amida was a town of considerable antiquity.


Amid(a) also known by various names throughout its long history, was established as an Assyrian settlement, circa the Third Millennia BC. The oldest artifact from Amida is the famous stele of king Naram-Sin also believed to be from third millennia BC. The name Amida first appears in the writings of Assyrian King Adad Nirari (C. 1310 -1281 BC) who ruled the city as a part of the Assyrian homeland. Amida remained an important region of the Assyrian homeland throughout the reign of king Tiglath-Pileser-I (1114–1076 BC) and the name Amida appeared in the annals of Assyrian rulers until 705 BC, and also appears in the archives of Armenian king Tridat-II In 305 AD, and the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (325–391 AD).

It was enlarged and strengthened by Constantius II, in whose reign it was besieged and taken after seventy-three days by the Sassanid king Shapur II (359). The Roman soldiers and a large part of the population of the town were massacred by the Persians. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who took part in the defence of the town, has given a minute account of the siege.[1] In 363 Amida was re-taken by Roman Emperor Julian.

Amida was besieged by the Sassanid king Kavadh I during the Anastasian War through the autumn and winter (502-503). The siege of the city proved to be a far more difficult enterprise than Kavadh expected; the defenders, although unsupported by troops, repelled the Sassanid assaults for three months before they were finally beaten.[2][3] During that same war, the Romans attempted an ultimately unsuccessful siege of the Persian-held Amida, led by generals Patricius and Hypatius.[4] In 504, however, the Romans reconquered the city, and Justinian I repaired its walls and fortifications.[5]

The Sassanids captured the city for a third time in 602 and held it for more than twenty years. In 628 the Roman emperor Heraclius recovered Amida.

Finally, in 639 the city was captured by the Arab armies of Islam and it remained in Arab hands until the Kurdish dynasty of Marwanid ruled the area during the 10th and 11th centuries.

In 1085, Seljuq Turks captured the region from Marwanids, and they settled many Turcomans in the region. However, Ayyubids received the city from Seljuqs in 1201, and the city ruled by them until Mogolian dynasty of Ilkhanate captured the city in 1259. Later the Turkmen dynasty of Artuqids received the city from Ayyubids and ruled the region till 1409. Yavuz Sultan Selim, the Ottoman Emperor received the city from the Safavids in 1515.

See also


  1. ^ Ammianus Marcellinus, xix. 1, seq.
  2. ^ Greatrex-Lieu (2002), 63
  3. ^ Procopius, Bellum Persicum i. 7, seq.
  4. ^ Greatrex-Lieu (2002), 69-71
  5. ^ Procopius, De aedificcis, ii. 3. 27.


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