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Turmus Ayya

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Title: Turmus Ayya  
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Turmus Ayya

Turmus 'Ayyā
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic ترمسعيّا
 • Also spelled Turmus'ayyeh (official)
Tourmous Ayyeh (unofficial)
Turmus 'Ayyā is located in the Palestinian territories
Turmus 'Ayyā
Turmus 'Ayyā
Location of Turmus 'Ayyā within the Palestinian territories
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
 • Type Village Council
 • Head of Municipality Mohammed Ibrahim
 • Jurisdiction 17,606 dunams (17.6 km2 or 6.8 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 3,736
Name meaning Thormasia[1]

Turmus Ayya (Arabic: ترمسعيّا‎) is a Palestinian town located in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in the West Bank. Its surrounding villages are Sinjil (سنجل), Khirbet Abu Falah (خربة ابو فلاح) and the Israeli settlement of Shilo. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), it had a population of 3,736 in 2007.[2]


Turmus Ayya in 2007.

Turmus Ayya is located 22 kilometres (14 mi) northeast of the city of Ramallah. Its jurisdiction is about 18,000 acres (73 km2). Turmus Ayya is 720 m above sea level. It is also the northernmost town in the Ramallah District. Turmus Ayya's climate is similar to that of the central West Bank, which is rainy in the winter, and hot and humid in the summer.


Turmus Ayya appears in older maps and reference books, such as Mustafa Murad al-Dabbagh's encyclopedia "Palestine, Our Land,” as Thorinasia. The name is broken down into three parts - Tur-Massh-Ayya: Tur means mountain, Massh is the pulp left after squeezing grapes, and Ayya means humid. Alternately, the name might come from the Latin: Terra (land) and Mesia (Messiah), hence "Land of the Messiah."[1]


Roman sarcophagus, 3rd century, discovered at Turmus Ayya, now at Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem

Potsherds from the late Iron Age (8 -7th century B.C.E.) period and later have been found, and it is estimated that the village has existed continuously since then.[3]

Turmus Ayya is generally accepted as being the Turbasaim in Crusader sources.[4]

Ottoman era

In 1517, Turmus Ayya was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire with the rest of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 43 households, all Muslim, and paid taxes on wheat, barley, olive trees, vineyards, fruit trees, goats and/or beehives.[5]

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1870, and found here ancient cisterns, cut stones built up in the houses, a broken lintel with a garland carved upon and the fragments of a column.[6] He further noted that the village had about seven hundred inhabitants, and was administered by two sheikhs and divided into two different areas. Some ancient cisterns were almost completely dry, and women were forced to fetch water either from Ain Siloun, or Ain Sindjel.[7] An official Ottoman village list from about 1870 showed that "Turmus Aja" had a total of 88 houses and a population of 301, though the population count included only men.[8]

In the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine in 1882, Turmus 'Aya was described as "a village on a low knoll, in a fertile plain, with a spring to the south. The village is of moderate size, and surrounded by fruit trees. On the south at the foot of the mound is the conspicuous white dome of the sacred place."[9]

British Mandate era

In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Turmus Ayya had a population of 707, all Muslim,[10] while in the 1931 census, the village had 185 occupied houses and a population of 717, all Muslims except one Christian woman.[11]

In 1945 the population was 960, all Arabs, while the total land area was 17,611 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[12] Of this, 3,665 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 7,357 for cereals,[13] while 54 dunams were classified as built-up areas.[14]


In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Turmus Ayya came under Jordanian rule. The Jordanian census of 1961 found 1,620 inhabitants, including seven Christians.


After the Six-Day War in 1967, Turmus Ayya has been under Israeli occupation. According to an Israeli census in 1967, there were 1,562 people. By 1989, the population rose to 5,140. The original residents of Turmus Ayya come from the following clans: Abu-Awad (أبوعواد), Ijbara (اجبرا), Kük(كوك), Hazama/araj(حزمة) or Shalabi (شلبي).


There are three schools in Turmus Ayya: a girls school (grades 1–12), a boys school (grades 1–12) and a co-ed school (grades 1–4). There is also a community center housing a pre-school and kindergarten.


The economy is based primarily on olive orchards and fruit trees. It is also the home of the Turmus Aya Equestrian Club.

Local services

Turmus Ayya is governed by a local council. Water is supplied by Ramallah Water Systems; electricity by Jerusalem Energy; and phone service by the Palestinian Communications Company. Turmus Ayya has a new hospital on the northern side of town (al-Muntazah). There are two mosques in the town: Masjid Abu Bakir Asadeek and the newer Masjid al Farook. An older, non-functioning mosque is Al-Masjid Alqadeem ("the old mosque)."


  1. ^ a b Palmer, 1881, p. 246
  2. ^ 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.112.
  3. ^ Finkelstein, 1997, pp. 651-652
  4. ^ Röhricht, 1887, p. 206; cited in Finkelstein, 1997, p. 651. See also Röhricht, 1893, RHH, pp. 59, No. 234, 141, No. 529
  5. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 113.
  6. ^ Guérin, 1875, p. 28, as translated in Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 378
  7. ^ Guérin, 1875, p. 28
  8. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 162
  9. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 292
  10. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Ramallah, p. 17
  11. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 51.
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 65
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 113
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 163


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