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As with Diyarbakır, Mardin’s history is one of disputes between rival armies over millennia, though in recent years the only dispute that anyone really cared about was the one between the PKK and the government. A castle has stood on this hill from time immemorial, and the Turkish army still finds the site useful.

Assyrian Christians settled here during the 5th century, and the Arabs occupied Mardin between 640 and 1104. After that, it had a succession of Seljuk Turkish, Kurdish, Mongol and Persian overlords, until the Ottomans under Sultan Selim the Grim took it in 1517. In the early 20th century many of the Assyrian Christians were pushed out or perished during the troubles, and in the last few decades many have emigrated. An estimated 600 Christians remain, with 11 churches still in use on a rotational basis.