Pervenimus Edessam: The Origins of a Great Christian Centre Outside the Familiar Mediaeval World
Florilegium, Vol. 3 (1981)
Unde denuo proficiscens, pervenimus in nomine Christi Dei nostri Edessam: a paper such as this commits its reader to a journey like that made by the fourth-century abbess from Aquitaine, Egeria. It is to leave the familiar “frog pond” world of the Mediterranean and to arrive, in the name of Christ our God, at that Mesopotamian Christian city which once was second only to Antioch. Christian Antioch has gone; Christian Edessa has also gone. It remains only as a small place with a Turkish mayor, and is known under the name of Urfa. By Syriac speakers it was known as Orhay, lying on the banks of the Daisan, a small and troublesome tributary of the Balikh, which in turn flows from the North into the Euphrates. Hence its site is in the more easily defended high ground some way to the North of Harran, in an area which dominates the crossing of routes where the road from Armenia and the North leaves the high ground for the plain to follow the Balikh southwards, and where the road from China through Iran crosses the Euphrates to lead either South through Syria or West through the Gates of Cilicia.