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ZEITUN ( = " olive"), the name of several places in Turkey and Egypt, but principally an Armenian town in the Aleppo vilayet, altitude about 4000 ft., situated in the heart of Mt. Taurus, about 20 m. N.N.W. of Marash. The inhabitants, about 10,000, all Christians, are of a singularly fine physical type, though too much inbred, and are interesting from their character and historical position as a remnant of the kingdom of Lesser Armenia. The importance of Zeitun dates from the capture of Leo VI. by the Egyptians in 1375, and it probably became then a refuge for the more active and irreconcilable Armenians; but nothing certain is known of the place till 300 years later. It long maintained practical independence as a nest of freebooters, and it was only in 1878 that the Turks, after a long conflict, were enabled to station troops in a fort above the town. In 1890 there was a serious revolt, from the worst consequences of which the town was saved by the intercession of the British consul at Aleppo warned in time by the devoted energy ot T. Christie, American missionary at Marash; and in 1895, after the Armenian massacres had commenced elsewhere, the people again rose, seized the fort, and, after holding out for more than three months against a large Turkish force, secured honourable terms of peace on the mediation of the consuls of the Powers at Aleppo. The inhabitants seem to be abandoning their robber customs and devoting themselves to oil and silk culture. In consequence transit trade through the passes of eastern Taurus (see MARASH), long almost annihilated by fear of the Zeitunli marauders, revived considerably. The governor must be a Christian, and certain other privileges are secured to the Zeitunlis during their good behaviour.


Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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