Assyrian Government Network

The Name “Assyria” is Primal, Not an Epithet

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2004 at 10:13 PM CT


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We Are Not “One People”, But “Assyrians

The name Ashur had existed on its own from the time of recorded history. Assyria emerged as an independent state. It subsequently grew and expanded its rule and became a major power in the Middle East, under its own primal name.

Assyria expanded, and in the course of time, unified the ancient Middle East. The Aramaeans, Babylonians, and Chaldeans fell under the Assyrian imperial rule. Member states of the Assyrian Kingdom became largely indistinguishable in language, custom and culture. They lived as citizens of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian empire fell, but its name has survived until the present day. Those who want to associate themselves with Assyria need not push the name aside, to advance their own. Name alone does not take them very far. They need tangible evidence of language, land and legacy, as a prerequisite, to be worthy of heralding their own name. Assyrians have these three attributes.

Assyrians proper are too fragmented to have any meaningful weight in the world of politics unless they unite as one people under the primal name of “Assyria”. The current unacceptable trend of name change to “Chaldeanassyrian” is anachronic. It is unacceptable. The inability of some groups to decide as to whether they are genuine Assyrian or part of Assyria proper by racial origin, or otherwise by adoption through epithet, raises doubt in their minds, in the genuineness of their racial type. It continues to haunt them. As a result, the recent name change has led the Syro-Aramaean and the so-called Syriac speaking groups to think that they have been marginalized. Notwithstanding, they prefer to live under their own primal name or alternatively unite with the Assyrians and live under the primal name of Assyria rather than other.

The ancient dynasts such as Syro-Phoenician, Syro-Hittite, Syro-Palestinian and Syro-Aramaean were mere epithets. They were unoriginal to the primal name of Assyria. The (Syro) Epithet was added to them due to its rise to imperial power. Assyria had encompassed various nations within its vast realm. The purpose of the term was to verify the racial origin of a citizen from Assyria/n Proper. Such a process also allowed a citizen to identify himself with his racial type and geographical location of his origin. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the new conquerors used the extended term to their own advantage to assert and maintain their hold on the land.

Such ancillary groups are free to decide as to whether they still wish to relate to their past, use their primal and go it alone, or to live under the primal name of “Assyrian” proper. They are free to go ahead and try to revive their own legacy, if they so wish, detaching themselves from the primal name of Assyria, basing their claim on the primal name of their own lost nation. They may go ahead and launch their own campaign, independently, define the geography of their ancestral land and lost kingdom. Let them highlight the name/s of their ancient Aramaean capital city/cities, for instance, Arpad, Damascus and Hamath etc., as the primal name of their kingdom of Aram, and see how far they will go.

Regrettably, the Chaldeans do not seem to have a capital city after their name. Babylon did not belong to the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were known only as brief rulers of Babylon, not its builder or owner. The present confusion applies to the Aramaeans, Babylonians, and Syrian (Syriani, Suroyo/Suraya). Such racial groups, that in the past had used the epithet as state members and vassalages, of Assyria Proper, no longer exist. In this case, they should not give their epithets prominence over the Assyrian primal. The current extended name “Chalduassyria” should be dropped and replaced with the primal name “Assyria”. As a nation, Assyria had always stood on its own.

After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the term “Syro” was suppressed and fell into misuse. The primal name “Syria” was hijacked and manipulated by the Romans, Arabs, and Turks. They derogated the primal to an epithet and used it as a religious denominational name. In the case of Syria, the Arabs categorized the Syriani natives as Arab citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic. In the region that falls beyond the Western riverbank of Khawoora (Khabur), the Arabs, with the consent of the defunct League of Nations, created the Arab State of The Syrian-Arab Republic - derived from the primal name “Assyria” (Kraeling, (1972), pp 264-265). While Iraq, denies the right of the Assyrians proper, to their traditional name and homeland in northern Mesopotamia, terming them by the denominational name “Chaldean”, “Nestorian” or “Jacobites”.

Following is an excerpt quoted from the Book Our Living Bible – New Testament text, by the Author, Emil G. Kraeling (1), explaining the importance of the use of the epithet at the time of the Assyrian rule of the Middle East:

“While sojourning in Phoenicia, Jesus was appealed to for help by a gentile woman who is described in the Gospels as a Greek, but a Syro-Phoenician by race. Obviously the author intended to indicate that, although not of Greek origin, she was Hellenized. It was a cardinal principle that adoption of Greek culture (including, of course, Greek religion made a person a Hellene, whatever his racial origin, and it was owing to this liberal attitude that Hellenism managed to spread in the Orient so successfully. Of course, Hellenization was only possible in polytheistic nations whose gods could be amalgamated with the Greek deities; it was only partially successful with the monotheistic Jews.”

“The description of the woman here as a “Syro-Phoenician” is to be explained as follows. From the time of Herodotus, the Greeks, following Persian usage, had extended the term “Syria” (originally “Assyria”, Persian Athura) from Assyria proper to the whole of the eastern Mediterranean coastland. In order to distinguish between the various nations inhabiting this area they added a qualifying epithet to the general name “Syrian”. Thus Herodotus calls the Philistines “Palestinian Syrians”. In a similar way this woman is called a Phoenician Syrian; and, indeed, the Phoenicians were among the most Hellenized of the Oriental nations…”

Assyria has an undeniable history with Persia. Most of the epithets have lost their true meaning and usefulness. Other terms became too ancient. They were also dropped, like Syro-Phoenician, now claiming themselves Canaanites, by relating themselves to the remnants of Canaan. Since establishment of the state of Lebanon in 1946, the trend towards calling themselves “Arab Lebanese” is growing. The Syro-Palestinian is, now, also claiming Canaanite ancestry, to dispel Arab fears for being identified with the foreign Plishtayi (2) of the Aegean shores, alien to Arabised Israel.

With the passage of time, native inhabitants of the Syriac-speaking region of the Middle East that had lost their kingdoms, to the Arab and Turkish invaders, held on to the “Syro” term as an affirmation of their ethnicity. They continued to use the epithet unofficially, among themselves, and without the mention of the primal name of Assyria Proper. They termed themselves Suroyo/Suraya/Syriani – all meaning “Assyrian”, in order to preserve their identity and racial type, and to distinguish themselves from the Arab and Turk, and from Kurd sequesters.

Such epithet groups identified themselves with the nations of the succeeding conquerors in order to survive. Regrettably, having lost sovereignty over their land, the “Syro” native inhabitants could no longer identify themselves openly with their land, language and legacy. For example, no Syro-Aramaean, living in Syria, or Turkey, would dare claim Damascus (Syria), or Arpad (Tall Rifa’at, Turkey), as the ancestral capital of his demised kingdom. Yet, as a Syrian or Turkish citizen, subject of the succeeding Islamic states, all he could do now, is no more than, just boast of his past glory.

Having lost their land, language and legacy, such racial groups, of the Middle Eastern Region, that feel ethnically affiliated to Assyria, in language, culture and religion, are welcome to join the Assyrians in their struggle for the restitution of their human rights. They are encouraged to join the Assyrian movement in their quest for independence from the heavy yoke of foreign Oriental rule. However, they should unite with the Assyrian proper and work in unison. They should not use the name of their racial origin as being the primal, or give prominence to the epithet of their vanquished (Aramaean or Chaldean-Babylonian) name over that of Assyria. It is inappropriate and divisive.

All the participants in the campaign for restoration of Assyria should accept the primal name. They are full partners and equal, in every respect. The primal name “Assyria” should be cherished as a compensation for the lost name/s of all the Syriac-speaking past kingdom/s.

Why? Because Assyria, as the future home for all the Syriac-speaking people, is the traditional land of Ashur, situated in the northern highland of Mesopotamia (Iraq). It is not in Kaldu-Babylonia, Aram, or an Aramaean territory beyond the Western Riverbank of Khawoora. Assyria is situated in the heart of the Middle East, in close proximity to all the (Suraya/Suroryo/Syriani), Assyrian-speaking groups.

Too many epithets have led to the misuse of the primal name of “Assyria”. Lack of unity emanates from not accepting or not willing to relate themselves to “Assyria or Assyrian Proper”. In this case, epithets are only adding confusion and uncertainty. “Assyria” is primal. Its adherents (Aramaean, Chaldean, Syrian) should accept “Assyria” as the primal name. They had amalgamated in language, custom and culture, and lived as one nation, under the shadow and domination of the Assyrian Empire until its demise.

The Nation’s name represents all the Syriac-speaking citizens of the region of northern Mesopotamia. Though they may have been scattered and live under different specious names, those that have contributed in promoting the Assyrian cause, throughout the ages, are deservedly Assyrian. Their aspiration is to return to their homeland of northern Mesopotamia and live as one nation, one people, and one language.

“Assyria” is primal. Its adherents (Aramaean and Chaldean) should accept “Assyria” as the primal name. It is their nation as much as it is to the Assyrians. Why, because they have lost theirs, while the Assyrians have not – at least not altogether. Yet, they all share the same destiny.

The name of the Province of Mosul had recently been changed to its original name “Ninveh” in honour of the Assyrians still living up in Assyria (northern Iraq). Assyrians still speak their mother tongue. They speak, read and write it with fluency. Despite the ban and restrictions imposed on them, the Assyrians continue to live in northern Iraq. They continue to practise their language and culture, with an avid desire for full recognition and restoration of their traditional rights as the indigenous and rightful owners of the region of Northern Mesopotamia, extending from Arrapkha (Kirkuk) to the Eastern riverbank of Khawoora (Khabur) of the Syriac-speaking region.

It is important that ASSYRIA be officially recognized as the PRIMAL name. The name “Assyria” had remained prominent over the rest of other antecedents since it’s inception. Assyrians have, until this day, preserved their Assyrian name, language, religion and culture. And most importantly, they have held on to the last fraction of their ancestral land, (Mosul-Khabur) which stretches between present day Vilayet Mosul, Iraq and Khabur, Syria. It is their last bastion.

Historically, the whole of the Near East had fallen under the unification and influence of the rule of the Assyrian Empire. It is incorrect and unacceptable to add to the Nation of Assyria Proper, an epithet. Assyria is primeval. Being primeval, calling “Assyria” Chaldean-Assyrian” (Chaldeanassyrian) is erroneous. Dropping the uppercase “A” in “Assyria” to the lowercase “a” becomes the more insulting. It is anachronic. As an aggrieved nation, it is fitting and legally valid for a conceiver of royal title of empire to regain recognition, and retain its primal name ASSYRIA.

All entrants to the arena of politics, on the issue of Assyria, need to agree and accept “Assyria” as the primal name. The coalition make-up, for restoration of the Assyrian nation, may be formed from as many racial types of the old epithets as there may be – be it Aramaean, or Chaldean, or whatever. What matters is a qualified leadership that believes in Assyria, fosters its cause and raises high the Assyrian flag under the primal name “Assyria”- not Aramaean, Syriani, or for that matter, Chaldean or Jacobite. It is fraudulent to assert an expired epithet as primal or a Christian denomination as a racial type on a land that does not relate to such calls.

The main objective for the formation of such a coalition is to form a united front and work in unison, under the primal name of Assyria, towards re-establishment of Assyria for all the Syriac-speaking communities. All adherents of the Syriac-speaking language, that believe in sharing a common destiny, need to project the Assyrian Nation as a homeland for all the Syriac speaking communities, who have been dispossessed, and have been treated as aliens on their own soil, or live in diaspora. The Assyrians welcome such a move wholeheartedly. For with unity comes strength. The cardinal principle here is affirmation of Assyria on Assyrian soil of the fatherland for all who believe in the revival of their legacy. Assyria is for all Syriac-speaking adherents that cherish its name that they may live as one nation.


Notes:

  1. KRAELING, Emil G. (1972) OUR LIVING BIBLE – New Testament text. Creative World Publications, Inc., Chicago, Ill., USA.
  2. (Plishtayi), Peleset, or Philistines, currently known as Palestinians, are ancient people of Aegean origin, pertaining to the Aegean Basin – a land lying along an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, that stretches between Greece and Turkey – known as the Aegean Sea. The Philistines occupied what is known today as the Gaza Strip, a relatively narrow piece of land situated along the Mediterranean seashore and settled there, after being driven off by the Egyptians for invading and pillaging the Egyptian shores in the 12th century BC. The Philistines are not indigenous to the Middle East. They are not Canaanites. They are aliens to the Mediterranean Eastern shores, now calling themselves Palestinian Arabs.




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