Kerkuk Records under Suleiman the Magnificent

 TURKMENELI: Region indicated in blue


The Records of Census of Population and Land in Kerkuk subdivision at the time of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (*) clearly demonstrate that the region was mainly inhabited by Turkmens.

The Turkmens are being dispossessed of their Properties and Agricultural Lands in the north of Iraq

A personal example

by Merry Fitzgerald

January 2004


The lands of my husband’s family (mother’s side) in LEYLEN (number 32 in the table below) are occupied by Kurds since 2003 and the properties and lands of his family (father’s side) in BESHIR (BEŞIR) (number 22 in the table below), for which they hold the deeds dating from Ottoman time, have been confiscated and are occupied by Arabs since 1986.

 Photo taken in July 2009 –

My husband, Dr Hassan Aydinli, standing on the spot where his family home once stood in the Turkmen village of Beşir (Kerkuk Province). 

 His house was destroyed under the arabisation programme of the former regime and his agricultural lands were confiscated and given to Arabs.

The Records of Census of Population and Land in Kerkuk subdivision at the time of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (*) clearly demonstrate that the region was mainly inhabited by Turkmens.

Below are notes by Prof. Dr M. Akif ERDOGRU who made some research in the Ottoman Archives:

Prof. Dr. M. Akif Erdogru of
Aegean University, History Section of Faculty of Letters,
Historical Studies Periodical
Volume xıx, Number 2
December 2004, pp 186-189


Since the U.S.occupation of Iraq in 2003, a lot of theses and publications were made regarding Kerkuk being a ‘Kurdish city’ both in domestic and foreign press. It is clear however that these claims are conflicting with the reality.

A census of population and of land in the Kerkuk subdivision, which concerned the cities of Dakuk and Kerkuk, was published by the General Directorate of State Archives under the name of “Detailed Writing Book of Kirkuk Subdivision numbered as 111 (Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent time), the General Directorate of State Archives, Ankara 2003”.

This precious source was preserved in the archives of the General Directorate of Title-deeds at the Cadastre of Turkey, it was the only detailed census of population and land made for Kerkuk and Dakuk. The General Directorate of State Archives did a very appropriate and useful study by submitting this census to the scientific world. At least interested parties at that time were reminded of the Turkish and Muslim cities of Kerkuk and Dakuk together with their environments.

As it was known, these regions have a special importance for Turks and Muslim people, because places of worship, dervish lodges and tombs of numerous Turkish and Muslim leaders are found in this area. There were small dervish lodges in the area such as Imam Ismael, Imam Mohammad Seydhi Hattali, Imam Zeynelabidin, Salbartu, and Sheikh Mekkhi who was the standard bearer of Prophet Mohammad, Nure, Father Zhunun, Sheikh Majidee Kurevi, and many descendants from Prophet Mohammad’s family.

Not only were these regions sacred for Anatolian Muslims but also for Muslims and Turks living in Iran. There were many historical associations to Shah Ismael in the region. It should also be noted that this region continuously changed owners during the skirmishes between Ottomans and Iranians but that no radical changes occurred in the ethnic and religious components.

The population of Kerkuk and Dakuk and their surrounding villages were mainly constituted from Muslim Turks, the names recorded in the census indicate that these were the Shiite Turcoman people who had relationship with Iran and Eastern Anatolia.

Arabs and Kurds were rarely mentioned in this census and their numerical proportion was under 1%. Non-Muslim people (Christians and Jews) also lived in some places in this region. In those years, in Kerkuk city centre there were 183 houses of Muslim-Turks, 104 houses of Jews and 53 houses of Christians. There was no mention of Kurds and Arabs.

In Tercil village 43 Jewish houses were mentioned.

There were 35 Christian families in Dakuk’s Kilise village, while in the centre of Dakuk their number was only 18.

In those days both Kirkuk and Dakuk, with the said figures, appeared as proper Muslim Turkish cities and the presence of some Christians, Jews, Arabs and Kurds had no effect on the two cities and on their surrounding villages.

The overwhelming majority of the people using the hamlets and high plateaus around the cities were Shiite Turcoman people.

The said census, likewise, gives information about these semi-nomads: Turkish tribe Lek, Mongol-Turkish tribe Sulduz, Turkish tribe Doger, Turkish tribe Karaca Bayad, Azerbaijan-Turkish tribe Gilevan, Turkish tribe Black Mansur, Azerbaijan-Turkish tribe Zengene and many subdivisions of it which were settled in the area, and Central Asian Turkish tribe Nilkaz were among these big groups. Especially the Kalender Beg, Kulu Kethuda and Kethuda Shah Ali congregations connected to Zengene heavily used Kirkuk and Dakuk regions in the 1560s.

Besides these, there were also semi-nomadic Turkish tribes with their cattle grazing in Iran and Anatolia but registered in this region. There was no mention of Kurdish tribes among them.

I should point out that a few Kurdish families were registered in the Kirkuk-Jewish congregation. The religious structure of the region is shown in the table below.

The entire Muslim population was constituted from Turcoman people.

TABLE: Population of Kerkuk Subdivision in 1560

(Source: Detailed Writing Book of Kerkuk Subdivision, Ankara 2003)

Dakuk Region

Muslim houses – Christian houses – Jew houses

1. Dakuk center 259 18 –

2. Mutık village 34 – –

3. Dumanli village 158 – –

4. Bozdepe village 11 – –

5. Kushtan village 100 – –

6. Iftihar village 51 – –

7. Sheik Kendi village 38 – –

8. Lasun village 1 – –

9. Ashagi Arab Kendi village 34 – –

10.Yukari Arab Kendi village 39 – –

11. Ali Sarayi village 82 – –

12. Cedie-i Babilan village 54 – –

13. Tuz Hurmati village 229 – –

14.Babilan village 119 – –

15. Bassaa village 5 – –

16. Chisghan village 32 – –

17. Cedide village 16 – –

Kirkuk Region

Muslim houses – Christian houses – Jew houses

18. Kirkuk center 183 53 104

19. Cherbeklu village 30 – –

20. Meraga village 57 – –

21. Ramadanniye village 33 – –

22. Beshir village 89 – –

23. Cemaliyye village 52 – –

24. Hurmati-yi Tezek village 104 – –

25. Shemsiyye village 56 – –

26. Tis’in village 93 – –

27. Uch Kubbe village 24 – –

28. Pulava village 71 – –

29. Hajji Pusek village 30 – –

30. Tercil village 242 – 43

31. Karalar village 18 – –

32. Leylen village 218 – –

33. Yahya Abad village 67 – –

34. Dephelu village 127 – –

35. Furkan village 60 – –

36.Bari Abad village 45 – –

37. Yarimca village 26 – –

38. Gokdan village 101 – –

39. Telkeshkhan village 77 – –

40. Duhala village 23 – –

41. Kara Hasan village 34 – –

42. Helmin village 100 – –

43. Kuriyye village 1 70 –

44. Kushchu village 11 – –

Nilkhaz Region

Muslim houses –  Christian houses –  Jew houses

45. Agcalar village 73 – –

46. Chur-I Dizek village 64 – –

47. Metfak village 56 – –

48. Suslu village 25 – –

49. Keritan village 12 – –

50. Mahmad village 59 – –

51. Gokdepe village 65 – –

52. Chuchurd-I Kuchuk village 59 – –

53. Tulekdan village 46 – –

54. Shud Komu village 122 – –

55. Babik village 68 – –

56. Gulluce village 59 – –

57. Kazan Otagi village 34 – –

58. Kadi Kendi village 60 – –

59. Gurculer village 11 – –

60. Melik Kendi village 62 – –

61. Kurd Deligi village 26 – –

62. Kellebash village 23 – –

63. Abdal village 53 – –

64. Kalender village 38 – –

65. Omar Kamu village 8 – –

66. Sivritash village 9 – –

67. Gechine village 28 – –

68. Kapchikay village 61 – –

69. Evcush village 329 – –

70. Baura village 60 – –

Taxes of a few villages were assigned to Mecca foundation. On the economical side, Kirkuk and Dakuk were the income resources for Ottoman treasure. Water mills, people dealing with the water works, onion fields, cattle, grain, vineyards, vegetables, houses and some crafts in Dakuk were under tax. Ispenche tax was applied to Jews and Christians. Military importance of Kirkuk citadel was low. Houses, cloth weavers, tailors, cattle, grain, vineyards, mills, transit commercial trade were subject to taxes under various names. Tax rates were extremely heavy i.e. in the proportions of 1/7 and 1/8 according to some places of Anatolia. The two most important tax sources among them were onion fields and cotton seeds (cevzeka-i penbe).

The Directorate of Archives as well as the publishing of this study remind us that Kerkuk and Dakuk have been Turkish and Muslim regions for many centuries.


(*) Suleiman Kanuni (The Lawgiver) known as “Suleiman The Magnificent” in the West was born in 1494 and died in 1566.


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