Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001 at 11:40 AM UTC
The Assyrian Calendar begins with the first recorded year of the "beginning of civilization" (shooraya d'mdeetanayoota) as seen through the eyes of the ancient Bet-Nahranaye (Mesopotamians). These ancient inhabitants of Assyria, Babylon, and Sumer believed that civilization was a "gift from the gods" and it was marked from the time "kingship was lowered from heaven."
The earliest sign of municipal administration (kingship in pre-historic sense) appears during the Halaf Period in Mesopotamia (over 7000 years ago). The most notable characteristics of this period are the "sitting goddess figurines" indicating a goddess-worshipping culture and the distinctive colored potteries with geometric designs pointing to the existence of a high-culture civilization in Mesopotamia.
The Sumerian term akiti meant "building life on earth" symbolizing the handing of life from gods to man. The Babylonians adopted this term and called their New Year festival Akitu (modern-day Kha b'Nesan).
According to the latest archeological findings in Anatolia, the transformation of localized settlements to the first cities took place between 4300 to 3450 B.C.. Religion was the main focus of socialization during this period and each city possessed a religious complex (i.e. ziggurats). Each city was administered by a "local king" or lugal. Archeologists refer to this period as the Early to Middle Uruk Periods.
In the 1950's Assyrians believed that based on the research findings of their contemporary archaeologists the first construction of the city of Ashur's temple during the Uruk Period took place around 4750 B.C. This date was then recorded as the beginning of "civilization" in Mesopotamia. In fact, the impetus behind this decision was the publication of a series of articles in the Assyrian magazine Gilgamesh, edited by the famous brothers Addi and Jean Alkhas and Nimrod Simono.
It is possible that the exact date of the beginning of civilization in Mesopotamia may vary as more accurate research reveals the existence of a more ancient and "civilized" culture in Bet-Nahrain. This fascinating topic remains as enigmatic as the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ whose year of birth has been the fulcrum of historicity for the past two thousand years.
Incidentally, the Jewish Calendar has very questionable origins also. It begins with the year 3760 B.C. (as opposed to Assyrian 4750 B.C.). Indeed the year 3760 B.C. coincides with the time "kingship was lowered to mankind" in the city of Kish, southern Bet-Nahrain.
Until the Vatican can provide solid proof that Jesus of Nazareth was born precisely 2001 years ago on December 25 and the Israeli Knesset can furnish evidence of Jewish Heritage in the year 3760 B.C., Zinda Magazine will continue to post the year 4750 B.C. as the beginning of "civilization" in Mesopotamia and the birth of "Assyrian Conscience" in Bet-Nahrain.