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ERGANİ

                                                    Population: 123,000

Old name: Arghaneh

Midway between Elazığ and Diyarbakır, the modern town of Ergani offers little to detain the passing traveller. The oldest mosque in town only dates back to the 1920s although there is one quite attractive stone-built house dating back to 1891 behind the inevitable large statue of Atatürk. Today it serves as a cultural centre of sorts (more of a cafe really) although it started life as the local government centre. 

Looming up behind the town is Makam Dağı (Mt Makam, 1526m), which was once home to a large Armenian monastery dedicated to St Mary. Very slight remains still perch on the side of the slope just below the summit which is now accessible via a paved road and then a boardwalk. When I visited the summit area was being prepared for tourism with all the associated man-made intrusions of toilets, lampposts etc. 

On the way up you may spot signs of a cave-like opening which leads into a tunnel (local claims that it once ran as far as Bingöl should probably be taken with a grain of salt). Even further up on the left slight remains of stone buildings turn out to conceal a deep underground cistern with a vaulted roof of the same sort as can be seen at Dara (as there, this one is described as a zindan (dungeon) by the locals).

A worthwhile side trip seven km to the south of Ergani will bring you to the village of Sesverenpınar and the recently uncovered remains of the large rock-cut necropolis of Hilar, again rather like the one at Dara and the one at Perre, near Adiyaman. Most of the funerary chambers appear to have been designed for family burials and some were closed with rolling stones rather like those used to close the passages inside the underground cities of Cappadocia. Others have fine carvings of figures above them. 

The rocky scenery around the necropolis is impressive and presumably covers remains of the city associated with the necropolis. The Çayönü mound has been excavated; the finds can be seen in Diyarbakır's fine Archaeological Museum. 

Transport info

Although there are direct minibuses from Diyarbakır to Ergani they don't leave from the İlçe Otogar; I was unable to find out where they did leave from although they can be picked up at Seyrantepe, reachable by minibus from Dağ Kapısi, the main Diyarbakır hotel strip. For non-Turkish-speakers it will probaby be easier to take a minibus to Çermik from the İlçe Otogar and ask to be dropped off at Dortyol, the crossroads just in front of Ergani - it's only a two-minute walk into town. Then you can pick up the direct and frequent Diyarbakır dolmuş back and get out at Seyrantepe to pick up the Dağ Kapısı bus, a much easier procedure. 

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