Historic Syriac monastery in need of attention


A 1,300-year-old historic rock monastery near the Barıştepe village in the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin is waiting to be discovered.

Historic Syriac monastery in need of attention
DHA Photo

Also known as the Mor Barsavmo Monastery, where Syriac priests lived as hermits, some of its outer walls collapsed because of negligence and some of the historic inscriptions were destroyed.

Rahibi Edip Daniel Savcı, the priest of the Mor Yakup Monastery, said: “We are few in number here, unfortunately we cannot protect structures like this.”

In Barıştepe, located nearly 10 kilometers away from Midyat’s center, Syriacs had lived since antiquity until the 1980s, when they started migrating to Europe. Only religious officials, who lived in the Mor Yakup Monastery, and a few families continued living in the village.

The 1,300 year-old Mor Barsavmo Monastery, which was built on a carved rock in a mountainous field and once was the center for Syriac priests, is waiting to be taken under protection. 

The rock monastery, which is a rare structure in the region and different from the other sanctuaries with its historic value, is now abandoned. People burned fire inside the monastery and drew graffiti on its walls.

Speaking about the monastery, Savcı complained they don’t have the capacity to protect the monastery.

“Especially in the recent years, the Council of Monuments seized some historic structures like this. This monastery needs to be restored. We cannot restore it because of some reasons; it is banned,” he added.

He believes there are many other structures underground, adding that they should be unearthed.

“If excavations start, we can reach these historic artifacts underground. Unfortunately, people who live here do not appreciate structures like this. This is why they are being destroyed and are disappearing every other day. I am afraid hundreds of similar structures went down in history here. I wish we could protect the ones we have,” he said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [September 23, 2017]