Assyrian Government Network

Assyrian Identity in Ancient Times and Today

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004 at 07:05 AM CT


 

Editors' Note
On March 27, 2004, the Assyrian Youth Federation in Sweden (AUF) organized a historical academic seminar as part of Assyrians´ cultural and educational program.  The following lecture (article) by Dr. Simo Parpola was presented at the seminar.

Dr. Simo Parpola

 

Disunited, dispersed in exile, and as dwindling minorities without full civil rights in their homelands, the Assyrians of today are in grave danger of total assimilation and extinction (Aprim 2003).  In order to survive as a nation, they must now unite under the Assyrian identity of their ancestors.  It is the only identity that can help them to transcend the differences between them, speak with one voice again, catch the attention of the world, and regain their place among the nations.
Dr. Simo Parpola
Director, Department of Assyriology
Helsinki University, Finland.

Assyrian Identity in Ancient Times and Today
(original PDF version)

Introduction

Assyria

The Neo-Assyrian Empire was a multi-ethnic state composed of many peoples and tribes of different origins (cf. Postgate 1989). Its ethnic diversity notwithstanding, it was a uniformly structured political entity with well-defined and well-guarded borders,2 and the Assyrian kings certainly regarded it as a unified whole, "the land of Aššur", whose territory they constantly strove to expand (Tadmor 1999; see also below). To the outside world, it likewise was a unified, monolithic whole, whose inhabitants were unhesitatingly identified as Assyrians regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.3

However, just how far did the masses of the Empire's population actually share the Assyrian identity? Did they consider themselves as members of the Assyrian nation, identifying with the ideals and ways of life of the Assyrian ruling class, or did they rather identify themselves in terms of their diverse ethnic origins, loathing and resenting the Assyrian rule and way of life? I shall try to answer these questions by first considering the matter briefly from a theoretical perspective and then reviewing the available evidence, both Assyrian and post-Assyrian, in detail.

CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE IN PDF FORMAT
Assyrian Identity in Ancient Times and Today, by Dr. Simo Parpola

CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE VIDEO SUMMARY OF THE SEMINAR



The Assyrian Statehood: Yesterday’s Denial and Today’s Moral Obligation
1935: League of Nations — The Settlement of the Assyrians, a Work of Humanity and Appeasement
ANNEMASSE: The Assyrian Tragedy, February 1934.
The Assyrians: A Debt of Honour, 1937

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