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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:4, Winter 2021

Strata: Site-Seeing: The Wine of Izal

By Mark Wilson

The wine of Izal is flowing in southeastern Turkey. The small Syriac-speaking Christian minority in the region of Izal is again pressing grapes from local vineyards. Multiple wine shops sell their wares in the old city of Mardin, and several wineries now operate outside the city of Midyat.

Izal is not the most familiar place name in the Bible. In fact, several English translations fail to use the name at all. However, some translations of Ezekiel 27:19 identify Izal (see NIV) or Uzal (see ESV) as the source for the casks of wine that Damascus traded with the Phoenician city of Tyre in exchange for its wares.

The plateau of Izal, sometimes spelled Izla, stretches 48 miles from east to west. It is located northeast of Carchemish, one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Turkey, and Haran, the traditional home of Abraham.

Today, Izal is better known by its Syriac name, Tur Abdin (mountain of hermits). Numerous Syriac monasteries were built here in the Byzantine period, but only three remain active: Mor Hananyo, Mor Abraham, and Mor Gabriel. Their names begin with “Mor,” a Syriac title of respect given to revered bishops and saints.1

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