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The Chaldeans of antiquity and the Chaldean term of today

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The Chaldeans of antiquity and the Chaldean term of today

Jun-16-2000 at 00:55 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

This is a very important issue, which needed to be addressed. Few members of the Chaldean Catholic Church lately have been claiming that they are not Assyrians, rather descendents of the Chaldeans of antiquity who inhabited southern Babylonia (around the city of Basrah/south Iraq). They base their theory on the foundation that the Chaldeans of antiquity migrated to Nineveh! Reality is that the members of the Chaldean Catholic Church who have lived around Nineveh all their lives cannot be but Assyrians. They became known as Chaldeans by the Pope around Diyar Bakir in 1681, to distinguish them from the Nestorians who refused to follow Rome and the Latin missionaries who flooded the region during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Pope gave the title "Patriarch of Babil over the Chaldeans" to the Nestorian Patriarch in Mosul who converted to Catholicism in 1830. (At this time, i.e. 1830, there were two Nestorian patriarchs, one in Rabban Hurmiz, Mosul, and the other in Kochanes/Hakkari)

The issue of mass migration from south Iraq to Nineveh cannot be verified at all. Not a single serious historian, theologist, or scholar has ever mentioned about such migration. In the Christian era, we know of the move of the Nestorian Patriarchal See from Seleucia-Ctesiphon (al-mada-in) to the new capital Baghdad in 762 (only 15 miles to the north). It is an established fact that a very large percentage of the inhabitants of the southern parts of Babylonia at this time (a mix of original Babyloninas, Assyrians, Persians, Arabs, Kessites, Chaldeans, Arameans, Greeks, and others) had become Muslims. (Read for example 'Hagarism' by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook) To insinuate that this mixture of Muslims migrated to Nineveh, and later accepted Christianity and became known as Chaldeans, that is another question we need to discuss!!

We know that the Nestorian See moved to Mosul, among other places, after the Mongol's invasions that marked the end of the Caliphate era in Baghdad, and settling finally in Kochanes/Hakkari. During these moves only the Patriarch, his immediate family living with him, and a bishop or two moved along with whatever valuable books they could carry with them.
To imply that every time the Patriarchal See moved, the entire Christian population moved along too, is a wild and silly argument.

The Chaldeans of antiquity NEVER lived in Assyria, accordingly, they cannot have any link to the members of the Chaldean Catholic Church ... Here are few quotes attesting to such fact:
1. It is also interesting to note that the name Kaldu or Chaldeans has not been mentioned in any of the tablets left during the neo Babylonian periode. For example throughout the tablets concerning the fall of Assyria Nebupolassar and Nebuchadnezzar are called " the King of Akkad" (shar Akkad) rather than the "Chaldean King" however the English translator has labled these records as the "Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings". Read D.J. Wisemans "Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings"
2. In The Conquest of Civilization , by James Henry Breasted, we read;
"When the Medes, in 614 BC marched down the Tigris and captured Assur, Nebuchadnezzar II arrived too late to share in the assault. He did establish an alliance with Cyaxares, the Median king, and together they attacked Nineveh but the Medes were left in possession of the northern mountains of Assyria."
(Breasted is telling us that Chaldean kings of Babylon did not settle in Nineveh)
3. Arab historians too support this fact, here is what Dr. Zubair Bilal Ismael in his study Arbil and its Historical Periods wrote in regards to the Medes march to Nineveh in 614 BC ;
Arbil fell to the Medes. Asia Minor and the Assyrian Empire was split between the Medes and the Babylonians, the Medes took the upper parts of Mesopotamia, including the Land of Ashur and the Babylonians controlled the southern parts of Bet Nahrain, Syria and Palestine......
(Translated from Arabic by the author of this article)
4. Georges Roux in his book Ancient Iraq wrote about the events of the fall of the city of Assur in 614 BC, he stated ; The Babylonians arrived too late to take part in the action
Then he attest to the fact that the Babylonians did not live in Assyria, by what he wrote next;
The Babylonians remained in full possession of Assyria, but did not occupy it and made no attempt to repair the damage they had caused. All their efforts were devoted to the religious and cultural revival of southern Mesopotamia, and in the field of foreign policy to the protection of the Taurus frontier and the subjection of Syria-Palestine.
He continues to refer to southern Mesopotamia as Babylonia even after the Chaldean dynasty took control over it and he calls its kings; The Chaldean kings of Babylon, since Chaldean control on that part was one of the shortest of any other dynasty, meaning that they did not establish an empire to the true sense meaning of the word, although they flourished for 40 years during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.
After the death of Nebuchadnezzar II in 562 BC, Babylonia started to lose its power. And in 539 BC, the Persians under Cyrus defeated the Chaldean king army under the young crown prince Belshazzar with no trouble and entered Babylon. Hence, the Chaldean kings ruled for a total of (87) years in Babylonia.

The Chaldeans of antiquity with time assimilated into the Babylonian society, they mixed with the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Arameans, and Arabs. The inhabitants of southern Babylonia were the first to accept Islam in the middle of the 7th century when the Arab Muslims moved across Mesopotamia. Christianity in the Babylonian region lost very quickly to the Arab Muslims because of the high taxes applied on the non-Muslims (ahil al-dimma or al-nasarah) living there. Christians were converting in mass numbers to get rid of those heavy taxes. Church records and many references indicate clearly that Bishoprics in southern Bet Nahren were lost at a fast rate, contrary to those in the Assyrian region, where centers of Christianity resisted and continued to exist to this present day, one example of such center is Arbil.

So, we know that the Chaldeans of antiquity never settled in Nineveh and we know that there has been no documented Christian mass migration from southern Babylonia, where the ancient Chaldeans lived, to Nineveh. We know in addition that in 1445 the Pope applied the same term Chaldean to the Nestorian Christians of Cyprus who converted to Catholicism. It was only out of convenience that the Vatican applied the same term to the Nestorians of Mosul region and their patriarch in 1830 when he converted to Catholicism, in other words, to be in parallel with the same term applied earlier in Cyprus.
The above clearly proves that the Roman Catholics inhabitanting Nineveh region (called Chaldeans for convenience) were in fact Nestorian Assyrians.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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