east-central Turkey. It lies in a fertile plain watered by the Tohma
River (a tributary of the Euphrates) and is surrounded by high
ranges of the eastern Taurus Mountains. The modern town was founded in
1838 near the sites of two earlier settlements: the ancient Hittite city
of Milid, on the site of the present-day Arslantepe, 4 miles (6 km) north,
and its successor, the Roman and medieval city of Melitene, now called
Eski (Old) Malatya (6 miles [10 km] northeast).
An important garrison town and road junction of the eastern frontier of
the Roman Empire, Melitene was granted city status by Emperor Trajan (reigned
AD 98-117) and later served as the capital of Armenia Minor. It was occupied
successively by the Persian Sasanids, the Arabs, and the Armenians, and
it came under the Seljuq Turks in the 12th century. The Seljuq Ulu Cami
("Great Mosque"), built on an earlier Arab foundation, and the
han (caravansary) both date from the 13th century. In 1515 the city was
incorporated into the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim I.
Now a busy industrial centre producing chiefly
textiles, sugar, and cement, Malatya is also the regional market for agricultural
goods including fruits, vegetables, cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar beets.
The locality also has deposits of chrome, lead, and copper. Malatya is
a rail and road junction in which the line between Aleppo (in Syria) and
Samsun (on the Black Sea) meets the line east to Elâzig and Diyarbakir.
Inönü University was founded at Malatya in 1975.