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AssyriansAssyrians — a historical summary

The Assyrians of today are the indigenous Aramaic-speaking descendants of the ancient Assyrian people, one of the earliest civilizations emerging in the Middle East, and have a history spanning over 6760 years.  Assyrians are not Arabian or Arabs, we are not Kurdish, our religion is not Islam.  The Assyrians are Christian, with our own unique language, culture and heritage.  Although the Assyrian empire ended in 612 B.C., history is replete with recorded details of the continuous presence of the Assyrian people till the present time.  

The Assyrian kingdom, being one of the base roots of Mesopotamia, encouraged urbanization, building of permanent dwellings, and cities. They also developed agriculture and improved methods of irrigation using systems of canals and aqueducts.  They enhanced their language that served as a unifying force in writing, trade and business transaction.  They encouraged trade, established and developed safe routes, protecting citizens and property by written law.  They excelled in administration, documented their performance and royal achievements, depicting their culture in different art forms.  They built libraries and archived their recorded deeds for prosperity.  They accumulated wealth and knowledge; raised armies in disciplined formation of infantry, cavalry and war-chariot troops with logistics; and built a strong kingdom, an unique civilization and the first world empire.

The heartland of Assyria lays in present day northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran.  The remains of the ancient capital of Assyria, Nineveh, is next to Mosul in northern Iraq.

Prior to the Assyrian Holocaust which occurred before, during and after World War I, the major Assyrian communities still inhabited the areas of Harran, Edessa, Tur Abdin, and Hakkari in southeastern Turkey, Jazira in northeastern Syria, Urmia in northwestern Iran, and Mosul in northern Iraq as they had for thousands of years.

Middle East: Assyria

The world’s 4 million Assyrians are currently dispersed with members of the Diaspora comprising nearly one-third of the population.  Most of the Assyrians in the Diaspora live in North America, Europe and Australia with nearly 460,000 residing in the United States of America.  The remaining Assyrians reside primarily in Iraq and Syria, with smaller populations in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan.

The Assyrians are not to be confused with Syrians even though some Syrian citizens are Assyrian.  Although the name of Syria is directly derived from Assyria and Syria was an integral part of Assyrian civilization, most of the people of Syria currently maintain a separate Arab identity.  Moreover, the Assyrians are not Arabs but rather have maintained a continuous and distinct ethnic identity, language, culture, and religion that predates the Arabization of the Near East.  In addition, unlike the Arabs who did not enter the region until the seventh century A.D., the Assyrians are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia.  Until today, the Assyrians speak a distinct language (called Aramaic [Syriac]), the actual language spoken by Jesus Christ.  As a Semitic language, the Aramaic language is related to Hebrew and Arabic but predates both.  In addition, whereas most Arabs are Muslim, Assyrians are essentially Christian.

YawThe Assyrians were among the first to accept Christianity in the first century A.D. through the Apostle St. Thomas.  Despite the subsequent Islamic conquest of the region in the seventh century A.D., the Church of the East flourished and its adherents at one time numbered in the tens of millions.  Assyrian missionary zeal was unmatched and led to the first Christian missions to China, Japan, and the Philippines.  The Church of the East stele in Xian, China bears testament to a thriving Assyrian Christian Church as early as in the seventh century A.D. Early on, the Assyrian Church divided into two ancient branches, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East.  Over time, divisions within these Assyrian Churches led to the establishment of the Chaldean Church (Uniate Catholic), Syrian Catholic Church, and Maronite Church.  Persistent persecution under Islamic occupation led to the migration of still greater numbers of Assyrian Christians into the Christian autonomous areas of Mount Lebanon as well.  With the arrival of Western Protestant and Catholic missionaries into Mesopotamia, especially since the nineteenth century, several smaller congregations of Assyrian Protestants arose as well.  A direct consequence of Assyrian adherence to the Christian faith and their missionary enterprise has been persecution, massacres, and ethnic cleansing by various waves of non-Christian neighbors which ultimately led to a decimation of the Assyrian Christian population. Most recently and tragically, Great Britain invited the Assyrians as an ally in World War I.  The autonomous Assyrians were drawn into the conflict following successive massacres against the civilian population by forces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Kurds, Arabs and Persians.  Although many geopolitical and economic factors were involved in provoking the attacks against the Assyrians, a jihad or holy war was declared and served as the rallying cry and vehicle for marauding Turks, Kurds, and Persians.  Although the Muslim holy war against the Armenians is perhaps better known, over three-fourths, or 750,000 Assyrian Christians were also killed between 1843-1945 during the Assyrian Holocaust.

The conflict and subsequent Assyrian Holocaust led to the decimation and dispersal of the Assyrians.  Those Assyrians who survived the Holocaust were driven out of their ancestral homeland in Turkish Mesopotamia primarily toward the area of Mosul Vilayet in Iraq, Jazira in Syria, and the Urmi plains of Iran where large Assyrian populations already lived.  The massacres of 1915 followed the Assyrians to these areas as well, prompting an exodus of many more Assyrians to other countries and continents.  The Assyrian Holocaust of 1915 is the turning point in the modern history of the Assyrian Christians precisely because it is the single event that led to the dispersal of the surviving community into small, weak, and destitute communities.

Most Assyrians in the Diaspora today can trace their emigration from the Middle East to the Assyrian Holocaust of 1915.  Many, who fled from their original homes into other Middle Eastern countries subsequently, just one generation later, once more emigrated to the West.  Thus, many Assyrian families in the West today have experienced transfer to a new country for three successive generations beginning, for instance, from Turkey to Iraq and then to the United States.Assyrians

Assyrian HolocaustDuring World War I, after the Assyrians sided with the victorious Allies, Great Britain had promised the Assyrians autonomy, independence, and a homeland.  The Assyrian question was addressed during postwar deliberations at the League of Nations.  However, with the termination of the British Mandate in Iraq, the unresolved status of the Assyrians was relinquished to the newly formed Iraqi government with promises of certain minority guarantees specifically concerning freedom of religious, cultural, and linguistic expression.  The Assyrians ["Our Smallest Ally"] lost two-thirds of their population during the World Wars.

The Simele Genocide (Syriac: ܦܪܡܬܐ ܕܣܡܠܐ: Premta d-Simele) was the first of many massacres committed by the Iraqi government during the systematic genocide of Assyrians of Northern Iraq in August 1933. The term is used to describe not only the massacre of Simele, but also the killing spree that continued among 63 Assyrian villages in the Dohuk and Mosul districts that led to the deaths of an estimated 3,000 innocent Assyrians.  Today, most of these villages continue to be illegally occupied by Arabs and Kurds.

Currently, the Assyrians are religiously and ethnically persecuted in the Middle East due to Islamic fundamentalism, Arabization and Kurdification policies, leading to land expropriations and forced emigration to the West.

Education

Assyrian Identity in Ancient Times and Today
Assyrians after Assyria
Aramaic Dictionary (online)
Assyrians Beyond the Fall of Nineveh
The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence
The Might that was Assyria
Assyrian Dictionary | The Helsinki Neo-Assyrian Dictionary
The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary | Oriental Institute
Oraham's Dictionary
(Aramaic Dictionary)

Modern Aramaic
A Compendious Syriac Dictionary
Modern Assyrian Language between Speech and Writing: Linguistic Examination
Xëzne d xabre Ordlista: Şurayt-Swedi [mëḏyoyo]
Svensk-nyvästsyrisk Lärobok: Swedi-Şurayt [Ţuroyo]
Gramatik Nacimo: Şurayt-Swedi [Medyoyo]
Boona, the Little Assyrian Boy
Assyrian Illustrated Children's Book: "ܣܲܗܪܵܐ / Sahra / Moon"
Scholarships, Grants and Prizes 2011

Science

Modelling and Simulation of Robot Manipulators: A Parallel Processing Approach

Government


Facing Extinction: Assyrian Christians In Iraq
Defying Deletion: The Fight Over Iraq's Nineveh Plains (film)
Mourning in the Garden of Eden (film)
Liberating Iraq: The Untold Story of the Assyrian Christians
Assyrians post-Nineveh
identity, fragmentation, conflict, and survival (672 BC - 1920)
A study of Assyrogenous communities

The Hakkâri Massacres:
Ethnic Cleansing by Turkey 1924-25

Massacres and Deportation of Assyrians in Northern Mesopotamia
Ethnic Cleansing by Turkey 1924-1925

Biography of RaphaelKhan:
Great Assyrian Leader

From Baghdad with tears to California with Hopes
Ciwardo: Me aṯmël l adyawma, mën hawi? Damografi, Dabara, Sayfo w Goluto (Aramaic [Surayt])
Death of a Nation
The Assyrian Homeland Before World War I
Assyrians: From Bedr Khan to Saddam Hussein (Second Edition)
Assyrians: The Continuous Saga
The Assyrian Question
"Native Christians Massacred": The Ottoman Genocide of the Assyrians during World War I
Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq, and Sudan
Indigenous Peoples Under the Rule of Islam
Our Smallest Ally
A Brief Account of the Assyrian Nation during the Great War

The Tragedy of the Assyrian Minority in Iraq
The Crimson Field
Not Even my Name
Mount Semele
Dragons & Violins: A Memoir of War and Music
Assyrians in Contemporary Iraqi Thought by Aprim Shapera
Mechelen aan de Tigris (Assyrian village of Hassana)

Religion

The Peshitta: The Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text
The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913
Liturgy, Hymns & Songs of the Assyrian Church of the East
A History of Christianity in Asia : Beginnings to 1500 (2nd Edition)(Vol 1)
From the Holy Mountain (paperback)
From the Holy Mountain (hardcover)
The Church of the East and the Church of England

Financial

Scholarships, Grants and Prizes 2011

Fine Arts

Antiquities under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War
Music Pearls of Beth-Nahrin: An Assyrian / Syriac Discography
Mesopotamain Night: Melodies from the East

Health

Assyrian Cookbook
Mom's Authentic Assyrian Recipes Cookbook

Related Resources

The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden by Viscount Bryce [Uncensored Edition]
The Young Turks' Crime against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire
Forgotten Fire: Novel on Armenian Genocide Belongs on Jewish Book Shelves
"The German, the Turk and the Devil Made a Triple Alliance": Harpoot Diaries, 1908-1917
Marsovan 1915: The Diaries of Bertha Morley, Second Edition
"Turkish Atrocities": Statements of American Missionaries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915-1917
Days of Tragedy in Armenia: Personal Experiences in Harpoot, 1915-1917
Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
Great Need over the Water: The Letters of Theresa Huntington Ziegler, Missionary to Turkey, 1898-1905
We Are Witnesses: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust
The Banality of Indifference

Related booksAssyrian Library
 


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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