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Kanisat al-Mashriq fi Sahil Naynawa (The Church of the East in the Plain of Nineveh)

Posted: Saturday, August 09, 2003 at 06:54 AM CT

The author, Habib Hannona, a member of the Chaldean Church, in this Arabic written book starts by giving a summary of the history of the Assyrian Empire in north Mesopotamia until 612 BC. He mentions that the Assyrian Empire fell and became under the Babylonian control from 612 - 539 BC (73 years), until the Persian king Cyrus invaded Babylon and hence most of the land of Ashur became under the control of the Persians for over two centuries.

A hand drawn map is provided titled Sennacherib Irrigation system in Nineveh plain, where it shows Assyrian sites at all the following villages; Alqosh, Tel-Esqof, Baqoofa, Batnaya, Tel-Kaif, Bartilla, Karamles, Tarbisu, and Khorsubad (Dur Sharokin). Mr. Hannona talks then about the Church and its struggle and mentions that the 5th century was devastating to the Christians who split into three main groups, one followed the teachings of Nestoris and were called Nestorians, the second group were called later the Jacobite, and the third school of thought was adapted by the Roman Popes and its followers were called later the Catholics.'

The author mentions that the title 'Chaldean' was given by the Pope, to those so called Nestorians of Cyprus who united with the Roman Church, in August 7th, 1445. He says that in April 21st, 1553, Sulaqa went to Rome and was elected 'Patriarch of Babil over the Chaldeans' and settled in Diar Bakir. The beginning of the Catholic missionaries, says the author, started in 1725 in Nineveh Plain where almost all were Nestorians before this date.

The author starts then to talk about all the villages, which were mentioned earlier, and their history, starting with the city of Mosul.


The name Mosul, as stated, was not known until late 8th century, which is about one century after the Arab occupation and the rise of Islam. The historians, meanwhile, called it when referring to the area as "hosna 'abraya" meaning 'the fortified place from which one crosses to another place'. The new Arab Muslim settlers derived the name 'Mosul' from the Aramaic "hosna 'abraya".

Mosul, in Arabic, on the other hand means 'that which connects one place or thing to another', which is the exact meaning of the ancient Aramaic name.


Aramaic Tel - Kepa means the mount of rocks. There is an important reference to this town which states that when Xenophon and the Greek army in 401 BC crossed the Zab north-east of Nimrod, passed by Karamles as Flethcher notes, and by a fortress near Mespella (Nineveh) which is believed to be that of the Assyrians at Tel-Kaif as Ainsworth stated; "Tel Kaif was occupied by the remnants of those Assyrians".

The author then states that in AD 1886 while the Qeenaya family members were digging a grave for their recently dead father on the mount of Tel Keif, they encountered a well, and they dug deeper and saw four water canals attached to a big water basin. It is thought that this is part of King Sannecherib Irrigation system (KAHRIZ) which the Assyrian King built while in power (705 - 681 BC) since the system is of the same design. Four other canals were discovered there. It is believed that under the mount of Tel Kaif lay an Assyrian site, but having the mount as the main cemetery there is preventing the excavation efforts at that Tel.


Archaeologist J. Oppert says that the old name of Karamles was (Eir-Eil-Banu) or 'the city of god Banu', while the Akkadians called it (Kar - Mullissi) and the Sumerians named it (Kar-Denkis-Nin-Lil) meaning 'the city of god Ninlil' and Ninlil as known was Enlil's wife and Ninorta's mother.

The city of Nineveh as it is known is shaped as a trapezoid. Layard's theory is that the four points of this trapezoid are the sites of Nimrod, Kuyunjik, Khursobad [Dur Sharokin] and Karamles with a circumference distance of 60 miles. This is testified to by the prophet Jonah when he said that traveling around Nineveh on foot takes three days. Large quantities of Assyrian artifacts were found at the Tell of Karamles like Assyrian remains of buildings despite the low key excavations there.

Tablet # 372, discovered at Sultan Tape, describes Nineveh's wall and its gates which are numbered at 15. The 4th gate was designated for Karamles which was also known as Ninlil's gate.

Here is a list of the gates of Nineveh; Ashur's gate / Halzi's gate / Shamshi's gate / Ninlil's gate / Mushlal's gate / Shibaniba's gate / Khalakhi's gate / Adad's gate / Nergal's gate / Sin's gate / Mashki's gate / Kari's gate / Madbari's gate / Ekal Masharti's gate / Khandoori's gate.


The Assyrian gods were classified as follows; Ashur; the divine god of all gods
followed by three very important gods;
Anu; sky (heaven) god
Enlil; hemisphere god
Ea; earth (deep) god
next in status come seven gods;
Shamsh; sun god
Sin; moon god
Addad; weather god
Marduk; lower world god
Nirgal; death god
Ishtar; mother god
Nabu; knowledge god.

There were specialized people who looked after the temples and those had their own rankings and were classified as follows;

Abarakku; was centered in the capital / equivalent to the patriarch / appointed by the king. Shanku; served in the major cities / equivalent to the bishop / appointed by the king.
Erib-Biti; served as assistants to the shanku / equivalent to the priest.
Kalu; served as the candles lightening people.
Naru; served as musicians.
Ashipu; served as astrologers.
Baru; served as spiritual healers.
Sha'ilu; served as fortune tellers.
Mahhu; served as Bird watchers and future predictors
Shamasha; served in temples without the classification of priesthood.

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