Memory of the Stone: Mardin
Özdem, Filiz (et al.) (ed.). Taşın Belleği: Mardin. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2005, 503pp.


Memory of The Stone: Mardin

Taşın Belleği: Mardin

Taşın Belleği: Mardin is an encyclopedic source comprising twenty two articles and hundreds of photographs that trace Mardin’s historical, sociological, and cultural past from Antiquity to the present time. Yet, its scope exceeds an ordinary referential source by virtue of the rich analyses of almost all aspects of the city. Scholars studying the history and sociology of urbanisation, as well as art and architecture can find valuable details in the articles edited by Filiz Özdem. 

According to Metin Sözen, the author of the first article, the motivation behind the preparation of this 503 page-long collective study was “to highlight the long history and the unique identity of Mardin, which is situated in a special cultural geography”. Indeed, the book aims to understand the roots, consequences, and dynamics of the life that is sustained collectively through the centuries by people of different ethnic origins, languages, and religions. 

Although any reader –academic or non-academic- interested in Muslim civilisation and Islam’s interaction with other religions and cultures can find all the articles useful, in this context four articles appear to be especially important: Abdüsselam Uluçam’s “Mardin in the Islamic Era”, Gabriyel Akyüz’s “Syriac [Süryani] Orthodox Churches in the Center of Mardin”, İ. Gürşen Kafkas’s “Folkloric Structuring in Mardin” and Melih Duygulu’s “Music in Mardin”. Uluçam examines the city from its annexation to the Muslim lands in 640 to its history under the Republic of Turkey. Akyüz not only provides information on the important monasteries, churches, schools, and patriarchates of the Syrian history, but also underlines the juxtaposition of the churches, mosques, and madrasas as an illustration of the multicultural life maintained by sympathy and tolerance in the city.

Kafkas summarises the folkloric elements of both the Muslim and the Syrian Christian cultures from the customs of marriage to wedding ceremonies, polygamy to honour killings and blood feuds and circumcision feasts to holidays. In the same vein, Duygulu also concentrates on the multicultural structure of Mardin, discussing the musical culture of different ethnic communities such as Arabs, Kurds, and Chechens, in addition to the mystical and traditional music produced in various sects of Islam and in Armenian and Syriac churches. 

Taşın Belleği: Mardin is an invaluable source both in terms of the quality of the articles and the visual material it includes. Those who are interested in Islamic history, architecture, folklore, music, and traditions can find not only scholarly articles but also literary essays in this book. 

Hivren Demir-Atay
Demir-Atay, Hivren. “English abstract of 'Memory of The Stone: Mardin'". Translated by Hivren Demir-Atay. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 144. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
Related Documents