1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Marash

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MARASH (anc. Germanicia-Marasion), the chief town of a sanjak of the same name in the Aleppo vilayet, altitude 2600 ft. situated E. of the Jihan river, at the foot of Mt Taurus. The sanjak lies almost wholly in Mt Taurus, and includes the Armenian town of Zeitun. Marash is prosperous, and has a large trade in Kurd carpets and embroideries. The climate is good, except in summer. Of the population (50,000) about half are Turkish-speaking Armenians. There are a college, church and schools belonging to the American mission, a native Protestant church and a Jesuit establishment. The site, which lies near the mouths of the three main passes over the eastern Taurus—viz. those descending from Geuksun (Cocysus), Albistan-Yarpuz (Arabissus), and Malatia (Melitene)—is shown to have had early importance, not only by the occurrence of Marasi in Assyrian inscriptions, but by the discovery of several “Hittite” monuments on the spot. These, said to have been unearthed, for the most part, near the Kirk Geuz spring above the modern town, are now in Constantinople and America, and include an inscribed lion, once built into the wall of the citadel known in the middle ages as al-Marwani, and several stelae. No more is known of the place until it appears as Germanicia-Caesarea, striking imperial coins with the head of L. Verus (middle of 2nd cent. A.D.). The identification of Marash with Germanicia has been disputed, but successfully defended by Sir W. M. Ramsay; and it is borne out by the Armenian name Kermanig, which has been given to the place since at least the 12th century. Before the Roman period Marash doubtless shared the fortunes of the Seleucid kingdom of Commagene. Germanicia-Marasion played a great part in Byzantine border warfare: Heraclius was there in A.D. 640; but before 700 it had passed into Saracen hands and been rebuilt by the caliph Moawiya. During the 8th and 9th centuries, when the direct pass from Cocysus came into military use, Marasion (the older name had returned into general use) was often the Byzantine objective and was more than once retaken; but after 770, when Mansur incorporated it in “Palestine” it remained definitely in Moslem power and was refortified by Harun-al-Rashid. It was seized by the crusaders after their march across Mt Taurus, A.D. 1097, became an important town of Lesser Armenia and was taken by the Seljuks in 1147. In the 16th century it was added to the Osmanli Empire by Selim I. Marash passed with the rest of Syria into Egyptian hands in 1832, and in 1839 received fugitives from the defeat of Nizib, among whom was Moltke. Ibrahim Pasha was encamped near it when directed by his father, at the bidding of the powers, to stay his further advance. Since its reversion to Ottoman power (1840) the history of Marash has been varied only by Armenian troubles, largely connected with the fortunes of Zeitun, for the reduction of which place it has more than once been used as a base. There was less disturbance there in 1895–1896 than in other north Syrian towns.  (D. G. H.)