KURDISTAN

Kurdistan (“homeland of the Kurds”)or Greater Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-cultural historical region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population and Kurdish culture, languages and national identity have historically been based. Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges. The territory corresponds to Kurdish irredentist claims.

Contemporary use of the term refers to the following areas: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan). Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.

Ancient history

 

Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrians, Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians, lived in this region in antiquity. The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad. The region came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius I. The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.

 

 

Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:

 

Corduene or Gordyene (Siirt, Bitlis and Şırnak)

Sophene (Diyarbakır)

Zabdicene or Bezabde (Gozarto d’Qardu or Jazirat Ibn or Cizre)

Basenia (Bayazid)

Moxoene (Muş)

Nephercerta (Miyafarkin)

Artemita (Van)

 

One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the Sasanian Marzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds. According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre. Other geographical references to the Kurds in Syriac sources appear in Zuqnin chronicle, writings of Michael the Syrian and Bar hebraeus. They mention the mountains of Qardu, city of Qardu and country of Qardawaye.

Ancient Kurdistan as Kard-uchi, during Alexander the Great‘s Empire, 4th century BCE