(المعضلة الآشورية -The Assyrian Dilemma)

بقلم آشور بيث شليمون
المعضلة الآشورية ( باللغة الإنكليزية )!
By Ashur Beth-Shlimon
The Assyrian Dilemma

01/ 11 / 2014

Since the fall of the Assyrian empire in 612 B.C. , the Assyrian situation changed gradually from that of Empire building state through many phases in the course of history which could be summarized in the following trends which affected us so much to be transformed to a weaker nation that never been before in our long history

Phase I

The era of small states, starting from the client state of Adeabine/ ܚܕܝܒ – حدياب to small states in the Hakkari region i.e., the Assyrian mountains (Taurus), for example the Joulamark and Tall ܛܠ states

Phase II

Using a new writing script which is known as the Canaanite (Sinai of 1800-1500 B.C.) which replaced the Sumerian cuneiform. Furthermore, nowadays is more appropriate to be called as an Assyrian script for a simple reason that it is used and improved with vowel signs حركات ܙܘܥܐ by our Assyrian people and not by others in the Fertile Crescent Region ܩܫܬܢܝܐ ܟܗܝܢܐ

Phase III

The Christian faith was sweeping the Middle Eastern region in the second and third century A.D. Since then, the new religion- Christianity – became an official one that affected, and transformed our daily life a great deal, and lastly

Phase IV

The Arab Islamic invasion, which occurred in the early of the seventh century A.D. with its devastated consequences like a swirl wind and the biggest blow to our ethnic identity and Christianity as well.
The Christian faith which was almost a dominate figure in the area, unfortunately, became a religion of minorities as we see it today

The Revival of the Assyrian Nationalism

In the late of the eighteen and early nineteen century, the national awareness was a new phenomenon that originated firstly in France and spread to the other countries worldwide including the Middle Eastern region where our people live

The Assyrians, the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Eblaites and the Arameans were mostly becoming very devoted Christians and Christianity was very deep rooted in them, to a degree that it was almost replacing their nationalism

A case in point, according to the Bible our Savior Jesus Christ it happened to use some Aramaic vocabulary words in his conversation. But, when we adopted a new writing system – the Canaanite Script- through these Arameans who were in a buffer zone between the land of Canaan in one hand and the land of Ashur/Mesopotamia on the other, mistakenly we considered our language Aramaic which is based on our misconception

Today, some of our people argue and insist that we spoke Aramaic language- as if our Assyrian people have no language of its own- which is based on the following versions from the Holly Bible, 2 Kings 18: 27 and Isaiah 36:11
But, in fact such versions don’t support that we spoke Aramaic language period, because the Assyrian commander spoke in Hebrew instead and not Aramaic language: “… NO, the commander said
‘My master did not send to tell these things only to you and your king. He send me to speak also to those people sitting on the wall who will have to eat their own dung and drink their own urine like you.” which it means he would like to make public aware of the situation. Furthermore, what kind of logic is that Assyrians who are hundreds miles away to speak Aramaic, while the Hebrew people are not that far from Damascus who don’t know or speak Aramaic

By applying a very simple method in such wrong theory, you will have a very hard time to convince our Assyrian people that in reality the language we speak is an Assyrian language, and the writing script which we use is a Canaanite one which later on was modified by us to many versions with vocalization system الحركات/ܙܘܥܐ (600-1000 A.D.) that never existed before

Unfortunately, it is wide spread among our people, the notion that we adopted the Aramaic language too since the Assyrian imperial era, where actually there are no bases for such allegation. Furthermore, linguistically speaking, all the northern Semitic dialects were very close to each other and especially when we apply a uniform writing system, which is the best solid proof to what I am stating, is what two distinguish Syrian professors in the Lebanese University of Beirut, Lebanon – Favlos Gabriel a Jacobite and Camille E. Bostani a Maronite stated in their book, “ The Syriac Language 1965 page 17

“The Syriac language is one of the Aramaic dialects that belongs to the ancient Babylonian and Akkadean language” In the other words, as the Assyriologists put it today more appropriate to be called the Akkadean or the AssyrioBabylonian language

A brief History of our language

It is essential to understand that any language go under many changes and development stages in the course of time, and such stages usually are not measured by months or years, but by centuries, a case in point if you go back to the fourteen-century English of Chaucer is intelligible to us only if we use a glossary writes “Leonard Bloomfield in his book, Language, University of Chicago Press 1984” And in the same token we can’t understand our Assyrian language of over two thousand years ago a hundred percent which is normal
The Semitic dialects in the Fertile Crescent through years devolved by using one Script system of writing which made such dialects to amalgamate in one language which we call it today SYRIAC- ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ/ اللغة السريانية, and such language could be considered Assyrian as it is Aramaic, Canaanite and Eblaite and so forth
The introduction of the new writing system the (Sinai- Canaanite- inscription, which it dates from somewhere around 800-1500 B.C.) and such system of writing with our conversion to Christianity enhanced our people in the Fertile Crescent/ܩܫܬܐ ܟܗܝܢܬܐ to be very close to each other and see themselves as SYRIACS/ السريان ; because such name is derived from Assyria that dominate the whole Fertile Crescent and according to the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee , who is considered the first person used such terminology, but keep in mind that such entity( Syriac- no matter where it belongs) never been political period, but a religious one only and it was applied to the peoples of the Fertile Crescent in general i.e., the AssyrioBabylonians, the Aramaeans, the Canaanites, the Eblaites, , the Amorites and the Chadaeans

If someone try to challenges such idea and say, why the Hebrew as the same stock of people and language were excluded? the answer is very easy and simple that their language yes is a Semitic one which belongs to the northern group as our Assyrian language, but keep in mind that the main idea in the Jewish identity is that they felt a national consciousness based on the concept of common descent from one man, with separation from breeds excluded from their traditions … But the Assyrians were free of this kind of racialism writes H.W.F. Saggs in his latest book (The Might that was Assyria, page 124)

It is ironic that like the Arabs who are proud of their Arabic language where the none-Arab Moslems are proud of that language also to a point that they try to learn it, thinking by doing so, they will be in Paradise where according to the Arab thinkers( the Introduction to the Arabic language by Mohammed Bader El deen Abu Salih, the Orient press , Aleppo ,Syria 1963 according to al-Tabbary/ الطبري and others who quoted the Prophet, You must love the Arabs for three reasons: because I ( the prophet) am an Arab, and the holy book of Qur’an is written in the Arabic language and the language of paradise is Arabic too

In the same token, our Assyrian people after they became Christians preferred themselves to be considered Aramaic speaking people instead of their true Assyrian language; thinking in doing so, we will go to paradise because our savior at some point spoke it. Ignoring that in the BIBLE, the message was very clear that a person can’t enter paradise without his own salvation through his deeds only and by proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only savior, and no language interference here period, because GOD Almighty who created the whole universe which we see or don’t see it, could easily speak any language as long as he is the only creator

It is ironic, that even our intellectuals supported such idea by stating how our people spoke Aramaic language by giving an example, and according to our Assyrian Professor Constantine Bar Matiev from Russia who said: before the fall of Nineveh about one hundred years, the Assyrian king distributed about ten servants for every single Assyrian household, since then the Assyrians became Aramaic Speaking people.
(Al. Nour Newspaper, Iraq, No. 385, 21-01-1970)
Actually such a theory with all due respect is a bizarre and absurd statement in the same time; because the Americans also, employed the Black Africans that they forgot their own language to speak English, and not the other way around in one hand, and on the other our Professor never mention his source or any kind of confirmation to such theory

In conclusion, there are many who praise these Aramaeans for their the so-called achievements, but there are others who disagree and they have all the right to do so, and one of them is Georges Roux in his book Ancient Iraq ( New Edition 1992 , pp 275 stated the following

,Whether merchants, peasants, shepherds, soldiers or bandits, the Aramaeans were originally uncouth Bedouins and contributed nothing to the civilizations of the Near East

The Syriac and Chaldaean Phenomenon

We are unfortunate, to what extend impacted on us through centuries that we are paying a big price for it today
As we said above, our people after converting to Christianity and using one single script in writing and we amalgamated in one entity which took a religious shape under the SYRIAN/SYRIAC name, but as Assyrians we were considered, the ONLY nation among them ( in Fertile Crescent ) who were preserving our ASSYRIAN nationalism as it was passed to us from our intellectuals starting from Tatian and Lucian of the second century to Mar Narsai of the fifth Century to Malpana Gewarges Warda (1225-? ) of Erbil/Arbil and Mar Abdisho Bishop of Nsibin in the thirteen and fourteen century who were always proud Assyrians as we see in their writings

Our Assyrian Christian forefathers when used such term ‘SYRIACS/SYRIANS ,it was only to denote as a Christian identity and not a political national identity in one hand and keep in mind also that SYRIAN or SYRIAC is derived from the Assyrian name, such theory is confirmed by many intellectuals of ours, to name ( Abrohom Gabriel Sawma a Jacobite,in his book , the Syriac Culture, Boines Aires, Argentina 1967), Eugene Manna a Chaldaean rite bishop in his( Syriac Arabic Dictionary, Mosul 1900), and the Assyrian Journalist, the Editor-in-Chief of ASIRIA/ASSYRIA ‘ Farid Elia Nozha ‘ from Argentine and many Europeans to name for example, Ernest Renan

No doubt, there are on the other hand those who challenged such theory by claiming that such name is derived from the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre ,or from Soros, the one who killed his brother and to the Persian king ‘Cyrus’, but if you try to see how credible are their claims , you will find that doesn’t have any credibility period, because the city of TYRE can’t become ‘ SYRIA ‘ , because in the Greek language starts by the letter ‘ T ‘ and even if you say in our language ‘ Sour’ such letter is not ‘ S/ simkat ‘ but the letter ‘ thick S/ Saddi/ ܨ ‘which is harder than regular Semkath/ ܣ And from ‘Cyrus ‘the Persian and others in the Middle East pronounce him ‘KORUSH or QUROSH ‘which doesn’t make any sense too, and more ironic is to those who claim it is derived from ‘Soros ‘who killed his brother, I don’t understand how a country will be named by such obscure person who killed his brother

In a Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman world by Princeton, Volume II 2000: “The names Mesopotamia and (As) Syria were sometimes used to include the alluvial plains of the Euphrates and Tigris. This statement is a solid proof that SYRIA is derived from ASSYRIA, and it appears four times on the following pages 1211, 1271, 1279, 1325 of that Barrington Atlas

It is crystal clear that most of the Christians in the Fertile Crescent about the end of the tenth century or before eleventh century A.D. were Islamized and Arabized to a degree that left only a few small Christian pockets here and there only, except the Assyrians who preserved not our Christianity only but our Assyrian nationalism to a point, “ Thus the history of Karkha de-Bet Selokh / Kirkuk begins with the Assyrian kings and ends with the Assyrian martyrs: Sargon founded it and the martyrs made it ‘ a blessed field for Christianity. Likewise in the seventh century before Christ all the world stood in awe of Sardana, and in the seventh after Christ the saints took his place as the sun of Athor and ‘ glory of Nineveh ‘. Hagarism , Patricia Crone & Michael Cook, Cambridge University Press pp 57-58

In regard of the ‘ Chaldaeans ‘ It is essential to clarify a very important point and that, the word ‘Chaldaean ‘ in our language it meant a group of people who dealt with astrology and such name could be applied to any people who practice such thing, and because the “ astrological cycles of the Chaldaeans could generate neither ethnic unity , social solidarity; socially they were intelligible only to the elite …… the Chaldaeans lost their ethnicity in that of the Arabs as they had lost their truths in Islam writes Patricia Crone and Michael Cook in their book “ Hagarism “ page 88 “ and in regard of ASSYRIA again these two writers said the following

“There were thus two distinct versions of Christianity within the Nestorian (the Church of the East): on one hand or the local Church of Assyria, a chauvinist assertion of a provincial identity…” page 57

For the Assyrian identification, the kingdom of “ Adiabene / ܚܕܝܒ“ see the ‘ Doctrine of Addai’ in W. Cureton ( ed. And tr), ancient Syriac Documents, London and Edinburg 1864, pp 15 where the disciples of Addai return to their own country of Assyria in the time of Narsai, the king of the Assyrians
It is ironic that nowadays the ‘ Chaldaean Rite ‘ who were originally Assyrians converted to the Roman Catholic by the fifteen century and renamed Chaldaeans by the POPE of Rome EugenIV in the year 1443 – 1444 when at outset applied to the Nestorians of Cyprus – then to the rest in Assyria claiming that they are the Chaldaeans of the ancient, such theory is wrong and absurd in the same time, because the Chaldaeans of the ancient were the inhabitants of the remote south of Mesopotamia and never been inhabitants of Assyria in one hand, and then as we said above they were all Arabized and Islamized before eleventh century that they left no trace in their original homeland. Furthermore, The Nestorian Mission in Cyprus were people from ARZON, a province near lake Van in north of Assyria and our Church historical records from the eleventh century up to fifteen century, a person will find no mention of these Chaldaeans period, to confirm that, our Assyrian intellectual Malpana Gewargis Warda of Erbil/ Arbelܡܠܦܢܐ ܓܝܘܪܓܝܣ ܘܪܕܐ in his over 100 lines poem about our Christian fathers never mention one single time about the Chaldaeans of the south or any place else, while there were Arabs, Persians , and Chinese and more solid that he mentioned the ASSYRIAN name with pride five times, keep in mind that these verses goes back to the thirteen century A.D

Furthermore, the Assyrian identity was strongly confirmed in our Nestorian Church that two Patriarchs bear the name Aturaya/Assyrian titles

In regard of the Syrians/Syriacs or Suryaye/Suryoye , it is clear as we elaborated always that no matter where the name comes from as Assyrians are included as long as such name was denoted to those who became Christians in the Fertile Crescent, But as some of them claimed that SYRIAC is a synonym of ARAM , and that they are Arameans, in such case we say, YES there are Aramean Christians, but these are generally speaking the inhabitants of Syria proper, and not of ASSYRIA

The Bible which is the only source of history of the area until new discovery and especially the discovery of the Library of the Assyrian Emperor Ashur Banipal, never mention any Aramean kingdom in Mesopotamia , but the only ones were that of Damascus and Hamah in Central Syria, and if the Bible mentioned these Arameans in Mesopotamia it was only as the semi nomadic people who were roaming the area with their pasture pitching their tents here and there no more or less, and further if these people claim that they are Arameans for that reason, but what about the Assyrians who controlled most of the Middle East and even having centers as that one in Cappadocia in Anatolia or as that one just newly discovered in Palestine of an Assyrian Viceroy palace to assume that all these people are Assyrians
It is worth mentioning that researchers found fragments of writing( 1843 ) of a person which is called ‘ Abd al-Ahad from the city of Mosul/Nineveh , a Jacobite Christian by denomination ,who came with some poem in our language mixed with the Arabic and here a line of that poem

Aslaho Athuraya, w’laken madhaboho suryanaya yaqubaya

أصله آثورايا/ آشوري ولكن مذهبه سريانايا يعقوبايا “

To be translating it into English language as follow

,His ethnicity is Assyrian, but his denomination is a Syrian Jacobite

It is a mockery that like the Chaldaean Rites who are considered the inhabitants of Assyria to see themselves as the Chaldaeans of the ancient , which is wrong and such thing is confirmed by many of these two Christian denominations themselves that many intellectuals in their ranks are proud Assyrians, and let be clear that we are not against those who try to revive Chaldeanizm or those to revive Arameanism , just to move to their original homeland, i.e., the Chaldaeans to move to the south by the Kuwaiti border and the Aramaeans to Damascus, Syria where they belong, and we will join them in celebration, but to do that in ASSYRIA after they are out of hibernation, because before that they were calling themselves Arabs. Furthermore, what we see today is as a result of the Assyrian national struggle in the last hundred years or so, where we fought for our rights and these people- Here specifically I mean a few of them only – who didn’t do anything, but they were faithful and obedient to the Arab regimes
It is worth noting that the U.S. Department of the Army in its book, ‘Syria A Country Study ‘when speaking about Christians in Syria for example, it said the following, With the exception of the Armenians and Assyrians, most Christians are Arabs, sharing the pride of Muslims in the Islamic –Arabic tradition and in Syria’s special role in that tradition

The Compound Name Issue

Two Assyrian nationalists and ideal organizations, the Assyrian Democratic Movement /ADMܙܘܥܐ and the Assyrian Democratic Organization / ADO ‘ܡܛܟܣܬܐ that choose the compound name Chaldo Assyrian ‘ and later on was modified as ‘ Chaldo Assyrian Suryani ‘ they were known for years as Assyrian Organizations in one hand and on the other, the same organizations the most devoted members and could be considered pillars of our Assyrian nation were either Jacobites or Chaldaeans along with other Nestorian or Presbyterian elements who were shoulder to shoulder promoting Assyrianism

Unfortunately, that these two historical organizations acted alone with those who were only their RUBBER STAMP tried to distort our Assyrian name by replacing it with a name that NEVER BEEN before in one hand and is a contradiction to their own goal which they built their organization upon in the first place

Mr. Younadam Kanna, Secretary General of the ADM and member of the Iraqi Parliament, stated to support such name that we are one people and one nation and gave an example for that and said, ‘ like the Jews, they are Israeli, their language is Hebrew and their religion is Jewish ‘ so we also are Assyrians as a nation, Syriac is our language and Chaldaean is our religion’ sorry Mr. Kanna it is a good try , but it is not correct in our case for a simple reason that in the case of the Israeli, it is working because any citizen of Israel will accept to be a JEWISH, a Hebrew , and an Israeli, while in our case the majority of these people don’t accept to be called all Chaldaean, Assyrian or Syriac, there is one exception that a good portion of the Jacobite and Chaldaean recognize Assyrianism along with the Nestorians/ CEO as their nationalism, and they were active in upper Mesopotamia, i.e., Assyria proper

It is worth asking, if we accept such compound name in Iraq as our NATIONAL name, could the other Christians in the Fertile Crescent, i.e., Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine accept such compound name
That should be directed to these two Assyrian organizations who invented such phenomenon, but knowing for sure and in advance that those Christians of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine will not accept such name period, and according to the U.S. Department of Army which stated clearly above how these Christians see themselves Arabs only

The So-called Chaldaean and Syriac/Aramaean claims

It is important to know after we explained our side of the story to put down what these people claim about Assyrianism. Before doing that we would like to state that even though these people propaganda is against our Assyrian nation, that there is nothing to unite them but their hatred against our nation. Because the Assyrian struggle is over a hundred years old, while these people were always Arabic speaking people living in hibernation without any political activities to revive their the so-called invented nationality in Assyria

It is crystal clear that the presence of the ancient Chaldaeans is in the remote south of Mesopotamia and the Aramaeans presence historically is in central of Syria between Damascus and Hama. It is ironic that today there are no Chaldaean in the remote south of Iraq EXCEPT those who Assyrian wrongly called Chaldaean by the Pope of Rome migrated lately under the British presence in Iraq from the north, and the same thing in spite of some Aramaean villages around Damascus and Homs , even though some of them , a case in point those inhabitants of Ma’lolla speak a sort of Aramaic, NONE of them declared their true nationalism, but were proud Arabs as we stated above
The so-called Chaldaeans and the Syriacs/Aramaeans try to erase the presence of the Assyrians to be replaced either by the Chaldaeans or the Aramaeans which is a mockery that for any well known historian will be a matter of joke

And hereunder some of these claimes

Q-The Assyrians after the fall of Nineveh disappeared from the scene without any trace
All the historians don’t support such idea, could the Assyrians never continue to be a power broker, but they were in their homeland to a point they did have some client kingdoms as I said above as that of Adeabina/Khadyab/ ܚܕܝܒ. Furthermore one of the best British historians who is author of many books of our ancient history ‘ H.W.F. SAGGS ‘ in his latest book , ‘ the Mighty that was Assyria ‘, page 290 said the following
,Had Xenophon been in the area of Calah and Nineveh in more favorable circumstances, he might have learnt the identity of these ruins from local inhabitants. The destruction of the Assyrian empire DID NOT WIPE OUT its population
Further, the Roman emperor Trajan in 116 A.D. divided his eastern provinces of empire as follow: Mesopotamia, Assyria and Armenia which is a solid confirmation about the existence of the Assyrian people

Q-The British are who revived the Assyrian name in the late of the eighteen century
If the British called the Nestorians Christians to be Assyrians, such a name was not coming from a void, but it was in reality belongs to them in the first place, historically, ethnically and geographically
In contrary, the Christian community in the Fertile Crescent were called by the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee SYRIACS and those Assyrians in the north ( Mat Ashur/ܡܬܐ ܕܐܫܘܪ ) who converted to the Roman Catholics were renamed Chaldaeans in 1443 by the Pope of Rome Eugene IV
The Syrians/ Syriac of Arnold J. Toynbee were not a political nation, but to denote to a Christian community who spoke one unified language which was known Syriac; a language that combined all the Semite languages of the Fertile Crescent in one with some kind of modification

Q-Assyria was a very small area of 500 square mile only


We are proud that 500 square miles achieved a vast empire which stretched from Persia in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and from Armenia in the far north to Arabia and Egypt in the south
Furthermore, the Greeks applied our name to the whole region of the Fertile Crescent to be called Assyria Syria

Q- Those who claim that the Assyrians are Aramaic speaking people who assimilated in the Aramaeans and left no trace


The Assyrian and the Babylonians( as one people ) never spoke Aramaic, if that happened, it means that the Arameans spoke the Akkadean/Assyrian language too, because it is self evident that all the dialects in the Fertile Crescent at one point were very similar to each other and by the course of time may each dialect took its own evolving shape but still they were very close to each other due to the two great events that these dialects were in a process of amalgamation to form one language which is known ‘ Syriac/Assyriac ‘and these two events were firstly, the invention of the Alphabet by the Canaanite and the other the Christian religion which united all these people to form one single entity, united by one written language and Christian religion, but keep in mind that such entity never been political period.
In any event, if the so-called Arameans claim that these people spoke Aramaic, then they are considered Arameans, let us agree for the sake of the argument for a moment, then today all the so-called ARAMEANS must be considered Arabs, because vast majority of them if not all of them speak Arabic language and the same should be applied to the Chaldaean rite too

Q-The Nestorian Church or the Church of the East was established first in Babylon and the Chaldaeans are the first inhabitants according to the Bible. Furthermore they claim that Abraham the father of the Jews to have come out of Ur of the Chaldees


Yes, Babylon was the see of the Church of the East, but keep in mind if Babylon was for a short period of time the Capital of the Chaldaean Empire that doesn’t mean the Church is Chadaean in nationality, and never been known a Chaldaean church period. because the Church of the East in the early days included all kind of nationalities, A case in point , the Arabs, the Arameans, the Canaanites , the Persians and the Assyriobabylonians , and the Chaldaeans
The Assyrian Metroplitan Mar Abdisho of Nsibin and Armenia ( ? – 1318 A.D.) said in his writings about the Christian faith seats in the whole world, as follow: the first seat in Babylon which was described by him as the Capital of Assyria
In conclusion, when the Bible mentioned that Abraham came from the city of Ur of the Chaldees, George Smith who wrote a book about the Chaldaean Account put it this way , by which title I have no doubt the Babylonian city of Ur is meant. On the other words that it was not a Chaldaean period
In conclusion, the Italian scholar by name Sabatino Moscati in his book , The Face of the Ancient Orient– A Doubleday Anchor Book 1962 ,page 68 put it this way
“The crises of Assyria are followed by the renascence of Babylonia under the Chaldaean dynasty, a brief meteoric episode

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