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Geography of Assyria and Babylonia

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Geography of Assyria and Babylonia

Jun-07-2001 at 01:54 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

The land lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates is one vast plain, which extends from the mountains of Hakkari to the Persian Gulf and covers hundreds of thousands of square miles. The geological formation of the northern part of this plain is entirely different from that of the southern part. The northern part is higher than the southern. The latter consists of alluvium being deposited by the Tigris and Euphrates and their branches during countless centuries. The land is extremely fertile and its inhabitants from time immemorial have raised crops of grain and been able to cultivate the palm with great success, and grow many other kinds of fruit trees. Parts of the northern portion of the plain are covered with a layer of desiccated and decayed stones, and after the heavy spring rains a considerable amount of vegetation springs up which affords pasture for sheep and other animals. The vast plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates runs roughly in a southeasterly direction, and classical writers called its northern part Mesopotamia, and its lower part Babylonia.

Where the northern part ended in the south, or the southern part began in the north, is not known, but it is tolerably certain that the northern boundary of the southern part must have been near the place where the alluvial soil either came to an end or was not deep enough to grow crops upon. The classical geographer Ptolemy seems to have placed the northern border of Babylonia at the Median Wall (mentioned by Xenophon), which was 100 feet high, 20 feet broad, and 20 parasangs long. Strabo refers to the massive wall of Samiramis, which reached from the Tigris a little above Sittace to some point near the Euphrates; it is almost certain that he means the Median Wall. Arab geographers are not agreed as to where Mesopotamia and Assyria (which they call al-Jazirah) ended and Babylonia (which they call al-Irak) began; some say that the boundary line ran from Tikrit on the Tigris southwards to Hit on the Euphrates, and others from Tikrit to Anbar.

The Euphrates

The earliest dwellers in Babylonia known to us, the Sumerians, called the Euphrates BURANUN, i.e. River; in Genesis xv.18 we have the great river, the river Perath; the Babylonians and Assyrians knew it as Pu-rat-tu. The Euphrates is formed by the junction of the two rivers at Diadin, called Frat Su, or Qara Su, and Murad Su, which rise in the Armenian plateau at the height of over 11,000 ft. above the sea; the former is about 275 miles long, and the latter about 415 miles. The length of the Euphrates from its source to the sea is about 1,800 miles, and it falls nearly one foot per mile during the last 1,200 miles.

The Tigris

The Tigris rises near Lake Geuljik (or Colchis) at a place, which is only a few miles from the Murad Su, and is over 5,000 ft. above sea level. It is formed by the junction of two small rivers at Til, and from this point to Qurnah, where it joins the Euphrates, its length is about 1,150 miles. In ancient times it had two tributaries on the west bank, the Tharthar and the Asas Amir; its tributaries on the east bank today are the Khabur, Great Zab, Little Zab and the Diyala. The Sumerians called the Tigris IDIGNA, and sometimes ID-DAGAL-LA, the broad river, and its name among the Babylonians and Assyrians was I-di-ik-lat, while the Genesis ii.14 called it Hiddekel.
Three ancient Assyrian capitals were built on its banks, Nineveh and Calah (Nimrud) on the east bank and Kalah Sharkat (city of Asshur) on the west bank.

Babylonian Life and History
By E. A. Wallis Budge

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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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