Edessa (modern Urfa), located today in south-east Turkey but once part of upper Mesopotamia on the frontier of the Syrian desert, was an important city throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages. A city within the Seleucid Empire, then capital of the kingdom of Osroene, then a Roman provincial city, Edessa found itself perennially caught between empires, especially between Rome and Parthia. Conquered by the Muslim Arabs c. 638 CE, it would be incorporated into the Byzantine Empire from 944 CE. Still a major Christian and cultural centre and capital of the County of Edessa, the city's capture by the Muslim leader Zangi in 1144 CE, was the original motivation for the launch of the unsuccessful Second Crusade (1147-1149 CE) in order to reclaim it for Christendom. Following its destruction by the Muslim leader Nur ad-Din (sometimes also given as Nur al-Din) in 1146 CE, Edessa largely disappears from history, but today many fine mosaics from the city survive and attest to the wealth of some of Edessa's citizens in Late Antiquity and the early medieval period.

More about: Edessa


  • 304 BCE
    Seleucos I refounds and renames the ancient city thereafter known as Edessa.
  • 132 BCE
    Osreoene, with its capital at Edessa, declares itself an independent kingdom.
  • 68 BCE - 53 BCE
    Reign of Abgar II, king of Osroene.
  • 109 CE - 116 CE
    Reign of Abgar VII, king of Osroene.
  • 179 CE - 216 CE
    Reign of Abgar IX, king of Osroene.
  • 202 CE
    The earliest record of a Christian church at Edessa.
  • 242 CE
    Osroene, with its capital at Edessa, is made into a Roman province.
  • 260 CE
    Shapur I captures the Roman emperor Valerian at Edessa.
  • 503 CE
    Kavad, king of the Sasanian Empire, unsuccessfully besieges Edessa.
  • 544 CE
    Chosroes I, king of the Sasanian Empire, unsuccessfully besieges Edessa. n
  • c. 640 CE
    Edessa is ruled by Muslim Arabs.
  • c. 654 CE
    According to Theophanes, a Jewish merchant transports the pieces of the fallen Colossus of Rhodes to Edessa for melting down.
  • 944 CE
    A Byzantine army led by John Kourkouas besieges Edessa. The Mandylion icon is taken to Constantinople
  • 1036 CE
    The Emirs of Mayyafariqin and Harran attack the Byzantine city of Edessa.
  • Mar 1098 CE
    Baldwin of Boulogne takes control of Edessa and the County of Edessa is formed, one of four Crusader-created states in the Levant.
  • 24 Dec 1144 CE
    The Muslim Seljuk Turks, led by Imad ad-Din Zangi, capture Edessa.
  • Sep 1146 CE
    Joscelin II's attempt to retake Edessa fails and the city is sacked by Nur ad-Din.
  • 1147 CE - 1149 CE
    The Second Crusade is launched to recapture Edessa for Christendom. It is not successful.
  • 1150 CE
    End of the County of Edessa.