Assyrian people

Assyrian people

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The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. They are Eastern Aramaic speaking Semites who trace their ancestry back to the Sumero-Akkadian civilisation that emerged in Mesopotamia circa 3500 BC, and in particular to the northern region of the Akkadian lands, which would become known as Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 by the 23rd Century BC. The Assyrian nation existed as an independent state, and often a powerful empire, from the 23rd century BC until the end of the 7th century BC. Today that ancient territory is part of several nations; Assyria was ruled as an occupied province under the rule of various empires from the late 7th century BC until the mid 7th century AD when it was dissolved, and the Assyrian people have gradually become a minority in their homelands since that time. They are indigenous to, and have traditionally lived all over Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, north east Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, north west Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Many have migrated to the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 during the past century or so. Diaspora and refugee communities are based in Europe (particularly Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

), North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, southern Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

.

Emigration
Emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

 was triggered by such events as the Assyrian Genocide
Assyrian genocide
The Assyrian Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the 1890s, the First World War, and the period of 1922-1925...

 in the wake of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the Simele massacre
Simele massacre
The Simele Massacre was a massacre committed by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Iraq during the systematic targeting of Assyrians in northern Iraq in August 1933...

 in Iraq (1933), the Islamic revolution in Iran
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 (1979), Arab Nationalist Baathist policies in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, the Al-Anfal Campaign
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 of Saddam Hussein. and to some degree Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 nationalist policies in northern Iraq.

The major sub-ethnic division is between an Eastern
East Syrian Rite
The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

 group ("Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

" Assyrian "Chaldean Christians
Chaldean Christians
Chaldean Christians are ethnic Assyrian adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, most of whom entered communion with the Catholic Church from the Church of the East, which was already Catholic, but most wanted to stray away from the Catholic Church, causing the split in the 17th and 18th...

", "Syriac Orthodox", and "Ancient Church of the East
Ancient Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

") indigenous to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, northwest Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, northeast Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and southeast Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, and a Western
West Syrian Rite
The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

 one ("Syrian Jacobites").

Most recently the Iraq War has displaced the regional Assyrian community, as its people have faced ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremists and Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 and Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 nationalists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 to have fled, nearly forty percent (40%) are Assyrian, although Assyrians comprised only 3% - 5% of the Iraqi population.

History


The Assyrian people can trace their ethnic and cultural origins to the indigenous population of pre-Islamic and pre-Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

  Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 (in particular Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Mari
Mari, Syria
Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometers north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria...

, Eshnunna
Eshnunna
Eshnunna was an ancient Sumerian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia. Although situated in the Diyala Valley north-east of Sumer proper, the city nonetheless belonged securely within the Sumerian cultural milieu.The tutelary deity of the city was Tishpak .- History :Occupied from the Jemdet...

, Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

, Osroene
Osroene
Osroene, also spelled Osrohene and Osrhoene and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa , was a historic Syriac kingdom located in Mesopotamia, which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244.It was a Syriac-speaking kingdom.Osroene, or...

, Hatra
Hatra
Hatra is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. It is currently known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Iranian province of Khvarvaran. The city lies northwest of Baghdad and southwest of Mosul.-History:Hatra...

 and the province of Assyria under Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Sassanid rule, since before the time of the Akkadian Empire.

Mesopotamia was originally dominated by the Sumerians (from 3500 BC) and the native Semites, later to be collectively known as Akkadians lived alongside them. Akkadian ruled city states first appear circa 2800 BC. In the 24th century BC the Akkadians gained domination over the Sumerians under Sargon the Great who founded the worlds first empire. By the 21st century BC the Akkadian Empire had collapsed, and the Akkadians split into essentially two nations; Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 and some time later, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, although Babylonia was ruled by non native dynasties for most of its history. According to the Assyrian King List the earliest Assyrian king was a 23rd century BC ruler named Tudiya
Tudiya
Tudiya is the earliest recorded Assyrian king. According to Georges Roux and the Assyrian King List he would have lived in the 23rd century BC. Tudiya concluded a treaty with king Ibrium of Ebla for the use of a trading post officially controlled by Ebla. He was suceeded by Adamu....

. Assyria became a strong nation in the 21st and 20th century BC, founding colonies in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

. In the 19th century BC a new wave of Semites, the Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

s entered Mesopotamia from the west, usurping the thrones of the Akkadian states of Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Isin
Isin
Isin was an ancient city-state of lower Mesopotamia about 20 miles south of Nippur at the site of modern Ishan al-Bahriyat in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate.-History:...

 and Larsa
Larsa
Larsa was an important city of ancient Sumer, the center of the cult of the sun god Utu. It lies some 25 km southeast of Uruk in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate, near the east bank of the Shatt-en-Nil canal at the site of the modern settlement Tell as-Senkereh or Sankarah.-History:According to...

, and founded Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 as an independent City State The Amorite rulers turned Assyria into a short lived imperial power from the late 19th century BC until the mid 18th century BC, However, after its fall to Babylon they were driven from Assyria by a king named Adasi in the late 18th Century BC, but eventually blended into the population of Babylonia in the south. By approximately 1800 BC, the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian race appears to have been wholly absorbed by the Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 Akkadian population. According to the story told in the Book of Genesis, it is around this time that the tribal leader Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 travelled out of Mesopotamia and became the father of his people, the Hebrews
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

.

Assyria and later Babylon, became major powers. There were further influxes of peoples such as Hurrians, Kassite
Kassite
Kassite is a rare mineral with formula CaTi2O42. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system and forms radiating rosettes and pseudo-hexagonal tabular crystals which are commonly twinned. Crystals are brownish pink to pale yellow and are translucent with an adamantine luster...

s and Mitanni
Mitanni
Mitanni or Hanigalbat was a loosely organized Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC...

, the Kassites ruled Babylon for over 500 years, and the Mitanni dominated Assyria for a brief period. The Kassites, like the Amorites before them, seem to have disappeared into the general population in Babylonia, while the Mitanni and Hurrians were overthrown and driven out of Assyria. Assyria then once again became a major imperial power from 1365 BC until 1076 BC, rivalling Egypt.

In the 12th century BC a new influx of Semites from the west took place, with the arrival of the Arameans. The Arameans originally set up small kingdoms within Mesopotamia, but were eventually brought under control and incorporated into Assyria and Babylonia where they were culturally and politically Akkadianized, and they ethnically intermixed and blended in with the native Akkadian population.

It was not until the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-608 BC) and the influx and interbreeding with Aramean
Aramaeans
The Aramaeans, also Arameans , were a Northwest Semitic semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated in what is now modern Syria during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age...

 tribes that the Assyrians and Babylonians began to speak Aramaic, the language of the Aramaean
Aramaeans
The Aramaeans, also Arameans , were a Northwest Semitic semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated in what is now modern Syria during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age...

 tribes who had been assimilated into the Assyrian empire and Mesopotamia in the 9th century BC.
Mass relocations were enforced by Assyrian kings of the Neo-Assyrian period. During the period of the Neo-Assyrian Empire many Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 were deported to Assyria and a fair proportion of these were absorbed into the general population.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911 BC - 608 BC) saw a massive expansion of Assyrian power, Assyria became the center of the greatest empire the world had yet seen, with Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Chaldea
Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

, Persia, Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

, Media
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Gutium
Gutium
The Gutians were a tribe that overran southern Mesopotamia when the Akkadian empire collapsed in approximately 2154 BC....

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, Aramea (modern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

), Phonecia/Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Mannea, much of Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 (modern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

), the Neo-Hittite
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

 states, Corduene
Corduene
Corduene was an ancient region located in northern Mesopotamia and modern day Kurdish inhabited south east Turkey. It was a province of the Greater Armenia. It was referred to by the Greeks as Karduchia and by both the Greeks and Romans as Corduene...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, parts of the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

, Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

, Nabatea and Arabia brought under Assyrian control, the empire of Urartu
Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

 defeated and conquered in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, the Nubians
Nubians
The Nubians are an ethnic group originally from northern Sudan, and southern Egypt now inhabiting North Africa and some parts of East Africa....

, Ethiopians and Kushites defeated and driven from Egypt and the Phrygians paying tribute to Assyria.

After the fall of Nineveh


Following the distruction of the Neo-Assyrian Empire by 608 BC, the population of the Assyria came under the control of their Babylonian relatives until 539 BC. Ironically Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

, the last king of Babylonia was himself from Assyria. From that time, Assyria as a political and named entity was under Persian Achaemenid, Macedonian, Seleucid, Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 Arascid
Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia
The Arsacid dynasty or Arshakuni dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 54 AD to 428 AD. Formerly a branch of the Iranian Parthian Arsacids, they became a distinctly Armenian dynasty. Arsacid Kings reigned intermittently throughout the chaotic years following the fall of the Artaxiad Dynasty...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Sassanid rule for seven centuries undergoing Christianization during this time. Assyria flourished during the Achaemenid period (from 539-323 BC), becoming a major source of manpower for the Achaemenid armies and a breadbasket for the empire, belieing the Biblical assertion that Assyria was both depopulated and devastated. Assyrians are also attested as having important administrative posts within the empire.

The Seleucid empire succeeded that of the Achaemenids in 323 BC, from this point Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 became the official language of the empire at the expense of Mesopotamian Aramaic. The general populace of Assyria were not Hellenised however, as is attested by the survival of native language and religion. The province flourished much as it had under the Achaemenids for the next century, however by the late 3rd century BC Assyria became a battleground between the Seleucid Greeks and the Parthians but remained largely in Greek hands until the reign of Mithridates I
Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates or Mithradates I was the "Great King" of Parthia from ca. 171 BC - 138 BC, succeeding his brother Phraates I. His father was King Phriapatius of Parthia, who died ca. 176 BC). Mithridates I made Parthia into a major political power by expanding the empire to the east, south, and west...

 when it fell to the Parthians. During the Seleucid period the term Assyria was altered to read Syria, a Mediterranean form of the original name that had been in use since the 8th or 9th century BC among some western Assyrian colonies. The Seleucid Greeks also named Aramea to the west Syria (read Assyria) as it had been an Assyrian colony for centuries. When they lost control of Assyria proper (which is northern Mesopotamia, north east Syria and part of south east Anatolia), they retained the name but applied it only to Aramea (i.e. The Levant). This created a situation where both Assyrians and Arameans to the west were referred to as Syrians by the Greco-Roman civilisations, causing the later Syrian Vs Assyrian naming controversy. It was renamed Assuristan during the Parthian era. The Parthians appeared to have exercised only loose control at times, leading to the virtual resurrection of Assyria with the native kingdom of Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

 15 BC to 117AD. Its rulers were converts from Mesopotamian religion
Mesopotamian religion
Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Sumerian and Akkadian peoples living in Mesopotamia that dominated the region for a period of 4200 years from the fourth millennium BC to approximately the 3rd century AD...

 to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and later Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and it retained Mesopotamian Aramaic as its spoken tongue.

Adiabene, like the rest of northern Mesopotamia was conquered by Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 in 117 AD, and the region was named Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 by the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Christianity, as well as Gnostic sects such as the Sabians and Manicheanism took hold between the 1st and 3rd Centuries AD. The Parthians regained control of the region a few years later, and retained the name Assyria (Assuristan). Other small kingdoms had also sprung up in the region, namely Osrhoene and Hatra
Hatra
Hatra is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. It is currently known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Iranian province of Khvarvaran. The city lies northwest of Baghdad and southwest of Mosul.-History:Hatra...

, which were Aramaic/Syriac speaking and at least partly Assyrian. Assyrian identity appears to have remained strong, with the 2nd century writer and theologian Tatian
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

 stating clearly that he is an Assyrian, as does the satirist Lucian
Lucian
Lucian of Samosata was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.His ethnicity is disputed and is attributed as Assyrian according to Frye and Parpola, and Syrian according to Joseph....

 in the same period. Assur
Assur
Assur , was one of the capitals of ancient Assyria. The remains of the city are situated on the western bank of river Tigris, north of the confluence with the tributary Little Zab river, in modern day Iraq, more precisely in the Al-Shirqat District .Assur is also...

 itself also appears to have been independent or largely autonomous, with temples being dedicated to the national god of the Assyrians (Ashur
Ashur
Ashur |Shin]]) in the Masoretic text, which doubles the 'ש'), was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram....

) into the second half of the 3rd Century AD, before it was once again destroyed by the invading Sassanids in 256 AD. The Sassanids recognised the land as Assyria, retaining the name Assuristan. Assyrians still seem to have retained a distinct identity and a degree of local autonomy in the Sassanid period, during the 4th century the region around Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

 was governed by a certain local Assyrian king, who was pointedly named Sennacherib
Sennacherib
Sennacherib |Sîn]] has replaced brothers for me"; Aramaic: ) was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria .-Rise to power:...

, who established the Mar Behnam monastery
Mar Behnam Monastery
Monastery of the Martyrs Saint Behnam and his Sister Sarah , is a Syriac Catholic monastery in northern Iraq close to the town of Bakhdida.The monastery was built in the 4rd century A.D...

 in memory of his son.
In 341 AD, the Zoroastrian Shapur II
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

 ordered the massacre of all Christians in the Persian Empire, most of whom were Assyrians. During the persecution, about 1,150 Christians were martyred under Shapur II.
Assyria remained recognised as such by its inhabitants, Sassanid rulers and neighbouring peoples until after the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Islamic conquest of the second half of the 7th century AD.

These Assyrians became Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 in the first to third centuries. They were divided by the Nestorian Schism
Nestorian Schism
The Nestorian Schism was the split between the Orthodox Church and churches affiliated with Nestorian doctrine in the 5th century. The schism rose out of a Christological dispute, the key figures in which were Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius...

 in the fifth century, and from the eighth century, they became both an ethnic minority and a religious minority following the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia.

Arab conquest


After the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Islamic invasion and conquest of the 7th century AD, Assyria as a province was dissolved, but they continued to be referred to as Ashuriyun
Ashuriyun
Ashuriyun is an Arab term used to describe the ethnic Assyrians of northern Mesopotamia first coined in Medieval times by the Arab scholar Ibn al-Nadim....

 by the Arabs. Assyrians initially experienced some periods of religious and cultural freedom interspersed with periods of severe religious and ethnic persecution. As heirs to ancient Mesopotamian civilisation, they also contributed hugely to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayads and the Abbasids by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

 and afterwards to Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. They also excelled in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 ( such as Tatian
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

, Bar Daisan
Bar Daisan
Bardaisan was an Assyrian gnostic, founder of the Bardaisanites, and an scientist, scholar, astrologer, philosopher and poet, also renowned for his knowledge of India, on which he wrote a book, now lost.-Biography:...

, Babai the Great
Babai the Great
Babai the Great was an early church father of the Church of the East. He set several of the foundational pillars of the Church, revived the monastic movement, and formulated its Christology in a systematic way. He served as an unofficial head of the Nestorian Church from 611 to 628 AD, leaving a...

, Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

, Toma bar Yacoub etc.) and the personal physicians of the Abbasid Caliphs were often Assyrian Christians such as the long serving Bukhtishu
Bukhtishu
Bakhtshooa Gondishapoori were Persian Nestorian Christian physicians from the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, spanning 6 generations and 250 years. Some of them served as the personal physicians of Caliphs. Jurjis son of Bukht-Yishu was awarded 10,000 dinars by al-Mansur after attending to his malady...

 dynasty.
However, non-Islamic proselyting was punishable by death under Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 law, which led the Assyrians into preaching in Transoxania, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 where they established numerous churches. The Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

 was considered to be one of the major Christian powerhouses in the world, alongside Latin Christianity in Europe and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

From the 7th century AD onwards Mesopotamia saw a steady influx of Arabs, Kurds and other Iranic people, and later Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 peoples, and those retaining native Mesopotamian culture, identity, language, religion and customs were steadily marginalised and gradually became a minority in their own homeland. This process of marginalisation was largely completed by the massacres of indigenous Assyrian Christians and other non-Muslims in Mesopotamia and its surrounds by Tamerlane the Mongol in the 14th century AD. However, many Assyrian Christians survived the various massacres and pogroms, and resisted the process of Arabization
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

 and Islamification, retaining a distinct Mesopotamian identity, Mesopotamian Aramaic language and written script. The modern Assyrians or Chaldo-Assyrians of today are descendants of the indigenous inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and in particular Assyria, who refused to be converted to Islam or be Arabized.


Culturally, ethnically and linguistically distinct from, although both quite influencing on, and quite influenced by, their neighbours in the Middle East—the Arabs, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

, Jews and Armenians — the Assyrians have endured much hardship throughout their recent history as a result of religious and ethnic persecution
Persecution
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation,...

.

Mongol and Turkic rule


The region came under the control of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 after the fall of Baghdad in 1258. The Mongol khans were sympathetic with Christians and didn't harm them. The most prominent among them was probably Isa Kelemechi
Isa Kelemechi
Isa Tarsah Kelemechi was a Syrian Nestorian Christian scientist, and official at the Yuan court of Kublai Khan's Mongol Empire in the 13th century.-Astrologer in China:...

, a diplomat, astrologer, and head of the Christian affairs in the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 in China. He spent some time in Persia under the Ilkhans. The 14th century AD massacres of Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 in particular, devastated the Assyrian people. Timur’s massacres and pillages of all that was Christian drastically reduced their existence. At the end of the reign of Timur, the Assyrian population had almost been eradicated in many places. Toward the end of the thirteenth century, Bar Hebraeus (or Bar-Abraya), the noted Assyrian scholar and hierarch, found “much quietness” in his diocese in Mesopotamia. Syria’s diocese, he wrote, was “wasted.”

The region was later controlled by Turkic tribes such as the Aq Qoyunlu and Qara Qoyunlu. Seljuq and Arab emirate sought to extend their rule over the region as well.

Ottoman rule


The Ottomans secured their control over Mesopotamia and Syria in the 16th century. Non-Muslims were organised into millets
Millet (Ottoman Empire)
Millet is a term for the confessional communities in the Ottoman Empire. It refers to the separate legal courts pertaining to "personal law" under which communities were allowed to rule themselves under their own system...

. Syriac Christians, however, were often considered one millet alongside Armenians until the 19th century, when Nestorian, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldeans gained that right as well.

Hakkari massacre


In 1842 Assyrians living in the mountains of Hakkari
Hakkari
Hakkâri , is a city and the capital of the Hakkâri Province of Turkey. The name Hakkâri is derived from the Syriac word, Akkare, meaning farmers...

 in south east Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 faced a massive unprovoked attack from Ottoman forces and Kurdish irregulars, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of unarmed Christian Assyrians.

Hamidian massacres



A major massacre of Assyrians (and Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

) in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 occurred between 1894 and 1897 AD by Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 troops and their Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 henchmen during the rule of Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Abdul Hamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

. The motives for these massacres were an attempt to reassert Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

 in the Ottoman Empire, resentment at the comparative wealth of the ancient indigenous Christian communities, and a fear that they would attempt to secede from the tottering Ottoman Empire. Assyrians were massacred in Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, Hasankeyef, Sivas and other parts of Anatolia, by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. These attacks caused the death of over thousands of Assyrians and the forced "Ottomanisation" of the inhabitants of 245 villages. The Turkish troops looted the remains of the Assyrian settlements and these were later stolen and occupied by Kurds. Unarmed Assyrian women and children were raped, tortured and murdered.

Assyrian genocide



The most significant recent persecution against the Assyrian population was the Assyrian genocide
Assyrian genocide
The Assyrian Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the 1890s, the First World War, and the period of 1922-1925...

, which occurred at the onset of the First World War (1914-1918 AD). Between 500,000 and 750,000 Assyrians were estimated to have been slaughtered by the armies of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and their Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 allies, totalling up to two-thirds of the entire population. This led to a large-scale resettlement of Turkish based Assyrian people in countries such as Syria, Iran and Iraq (where they suffered further violent assaults at the hands of the Arabs), as well as other neighbouring countries in and around the Middle East such as Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Republic of Georgia and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

Simele massacre



The Simele Massacre
Simele massacre
The Simele Massacre was a massacre committed by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Iraq during the systematic targeting of Assyrians in northern Iraq in August 1933...

 was the first of many massacres committed by the Iraqi Government during the systematic targeting 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
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 districts that led to the deaths of an estimated 3,000 or more civilian Assyrians.

Arab Ba'athist persecution


The Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq
February 1963 Iraqi coup d'état
The February 1963 Iraqi coup d'état was a February 8, 1963 armed military coup by the Ba'ath Party's Iraqi wing which overthrew the regime of the Prime Minister of Iraq, Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim. General Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became the new Prime Minister and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif...

 and Syria in 1963, which introduced laws that aimed at suppressing the Assyrian national identity, the Arab Nationalist policies of the Ba'athists included renewed attempts to "Arabize" the Assyrians. The giving of traditional Assyrian/Akkadian names and Aramaic/Syriac versions of Biblical names was banned, Assyrian schools, political parties, churches and literature were repressed and Assyrians were heavily pressured into identifying as Arab Christians. The Ba'athist regime refused to recognise Assyrians as an ethnic group.

The al-Anfal Campaign
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 of 1986-1989 in Iraq was predominantly aimed at Kurds, however it saw many Assyrian towns and villages razed to the ground, a number of Assyrians were murdered, others were deported to large cities, their land and homes then being appropriated by Arabs and Kurds.

Kurdish persecution


After the established of the Kurdish Regional Government after 1991, the Kurdish Parliament passed a few laws permitting Kurdish settlers to seize lands owned by Assyrians. Assyrians, together with other ethnic minorities in northern Iraq, have since suffered a great degree of discrimination and pressure from Kurdish Nationalists, this includes the officially sanctioned theft of Assyrian land, political intimidation against Assyrian political parties, ethnic and religious discrimination and a number of kidnappings and murders.

Iraq War & Islamist attacks



Since the Iraq War started in 2003, social unrest and anarchy have resulted in unprovoked persecution of Assyrians in Iraq, mostly by Islamic extremists
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

,(both Shia and Sunni), and to some degree by Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 Nationalists. In places such as Dora
Dora, Baghdad
Dora is a neighborhood in Al Rashid administrative district, southern Baghdad, Iraq. Although this was a majority Christian neighborhood, it became controlled by Sunni Muslim Extremists during the Iraq War...

, a neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, the majority of its Assyrian population has either fled abroad, to northern Iraq or been murdered.

Islamic resentment over the United States occupation of Iraq, and incidents such as the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons and the Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy
Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy
The Regensburg lecture was delivered on 12 September 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he had once served as a professor of theology. It was entitled "Glaube, Vernunft und Universität — Erinnerungen und Reflexionen"...

, have resulted in their attacking the Assyrian Christian communities. Since the start of the Iraq war, at least 46 churches and monasteries have been bombed.

However, the new Iraqi government now officially recognises Assyrians ethnic and cultural identity, listing them as Chaldo-Assyrians (Ironically something the "Western Media" often refuses to do). The idea of an Assyrian homeland has not been rejected, and the ban on the giving of Assyrian names, teaching the Assyrian language and on Assyrian schools has been lifted. Assyrians have formed armed militias in an around Assyrian towns, villages and districts.

Many of the Assyrians who have suffered violent attacks in predominantly Arab Muslim cities such as Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, Nasiriyah
Nasiriyah
Nasiriyah is a city in Iraq. It is on the Euphrates about 225 miles southeast of Baghdad, near the ruins of the ancient city of Ur. It is the capital of the province of Dhi Qar...

 and Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 have moved north to their traditional homeland and are now congregating there, boosting numbers (A number of the ethnically and linguistically related Mandeans are doing the same). There has also been some small scale resettlement over the border in south east Turkey.

Demographics



Homeland


The Assyrians are considered to be one of the indigenous people in the Middle East. Their homeland was thought to be located in the area around the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

. Assyrians are traditionally from Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, south eastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, north western Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and north eastern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. There is a significant Assyrian population in Syria, where an estimated 877,000 Assyrians live. Though it must be pointed out that Syriac Christians from western, central and southern Syria are not generally regarded as Assyrians but rather as Arameans. The true Assyrians of Syria reside mainly in northeastern and eastern Syria, particularly in the Al-Hasakah
Al-Hasakah
Al-Hasakah...

 region.
In Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin is a hilly region of south east Turkey incorporating the eastern half of Mardin Province, and Şırnak Province west of the Tigris, on the border with Syria. The name 'Tur Abdin' is from the Syriac language meaning 'mountain of the servants '. Tur Abdin is of great importance to Syriac...

, known as a homeland for Assyrians, there are only 3,000 left, and an estimated 25,000 in all of Turkey. After the 1915 Assyrian genocide
Assyrian genocide
The Assyrian Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the 1890s, the First World War, and the period of 1922-1925...

 many Assyrians/Syriacs also fled into Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and into the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

.

The Assyrian/Syriac people can be divided along geographic, linguistic, and denominational lines, the three main groups being:
  • the "Western
    West Syrian Rite
    The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

    " or "Jacobite" group of Syria, and central eastern Anatolia
    Anatolia
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

     (Syriac Orthodox Church
    Syriac Orthodox Church
    The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

     & Syriac Catholic Church
    Syriac Catholic Church
    The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

    );
  • the "Eastern
    East Syrian Rite
    The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

    " group of Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    , northeast Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

     south eastern Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    , northwest Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     and Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

     (Assyrian Church of the East
    Assyrian Church of the East
    The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

      & Ancient Church of the East
    Ancient Church of the East
    The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

    );
  • the "Chaldean Christian" or "Chaldean Catholic"
    Chaldean Christians
    Chaldean Christians are ethnic Assyrian adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, most of whom entered communion with the Catholic Church from the Church of the East, which was already Catholic, but most wanted to stray away from the Catholic Church, causing the split in the 17th and 18th...

    /Chaldo-Assyrian group of northern and central Iraq, northern Iran, and eastern Anatolia
    Anatolia
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

     (Chaldean Catholic Church
    Chaldean Catholic Church
    The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

    ); Assyrian followers of the Chaldean Catholic church make up the majority of Iraqi Christian population since the conversion to Catholicism from the Assyrian Church of the East
    Church of the East
    The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

     in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Diaspora


Since the Assyrian Genocide
Assyrian genocide
The Assyrian Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the 1890s, the First World War, and the period of 1922-1925...

, many Assyrians have fled their homelands for a more safe and comfortable life in the West. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Assyrian population in the Middle East has decreased dramatically. As of today there are more Assyrians in Europe, North America, and Australia than in their former homeland.

A total of 550,000 Assyrians live in Europe. Large Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac diaspora communities can be found in Germany, Sweden, the USA, and Australia. The largest Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac diaspora communities are those of Södertälje
Södertälje
Södertälje is a city and the seat of Södertälje Municipality, Stockholm County, Sweden with 86,069 inhabitants in 2010.The industrial city, about south of Stockholm, is the home to truck maker Scania AB and a top 10 pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca....

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, and Detroit.

Identity




Assyrians are divided among several churches (see below). They speak, and many can read and write, dialects of Neo-Aramaic.

In certain areas of the Assyrian homeland
Assyrian homeland
Assyrian homeland refers to a geographic and cultural region inhabited traditionally by the Assyrian people; who call it Assyria . It is largely coterminous with the Kurdish homeland, including parts of what is now northeast Syria, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey.The area...

, identity within a community depends on a person's village of origin (see List of Assyrian villages) or Christian denomination rather than their ethnic commonality, for instance Chaldean Catholic.

Today, Assyrians and other minority ethnic groups in the Middle East, feel pressure to identify as "Arabs", "Turks" and "Kurds". Assyrians in Syria who live outside of the traditionally and historically Assyrian northeastern region of the country are disappearing as an ethnic group, due to assimilation.

Neo-Aramaic exhibits remarkably conservative features compared with Imperial Aramaic, and the earliest European visitors to northern Mesopotamia in modern times encountered a people called "Assyrians" and men with ancient Assyrian names such as Sargon and Sennacherib. The Assyrians manifested a remarkable degree of linguistic, religious, and cultural continuity from the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire through to the time of the ancient Greeks, Persians, and Parthians through periods of medieval Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman rule.

Assyrian nationalism emphatically connects Modern Assyrians to the population of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
A historical basis of this sentiment has been disputed by a few early historians, but receives support from modern Assyriologists like H.W.F. Saggs, Robert D. Biggs
Robert D. Biggs
Robert D. Biggs is an Assyriology professor. He received his PhD at Johns Hopkins University. He is an editor of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.-External links:*...

, Giorgi Tsereteli
Giorgi Tsereteli
Giorgi V. Tsereteli was a distinguished Georgian scientist and public benefactor, founder of the well-known Georgian scientific school of Oriental Studies and Arabist of world renown, founder of the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the Tbilisi State University , founder and first Director of the...

 and Simo Parpola
Simo Parpola
Simo Parpola is a Finnish archaeologist, currently professor of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki. He specialized in epigraphy of the Akkadian language, and has been working on the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project since 1987...

, and Iranologists like Richard Nelson Frye
Richard Nelson Frye
Richard Nelson Frye is an American scholar of Iranic and Central Asian Studies, and Aga Khan Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Harvard University...

.
Nineteenth century orientalists such as Austen Henry Layard
Austen Henry Layard
Sir Austen Henry Layard GCB, PC was a British traveller, archaeologist, cuneiformist, art historian, draughtsman, collector, author, politician and diplomat, best known as the excavator of Nimrud.-Family:...

 and Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam
Hormuzd Rassam , was a native Assyrian Assyriologist, British diplomat and traveller who made a number of important discoveries, including the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest literature...

 also support this view.
This controversy does not appear to exist in parts of the region however, as Armenian, Georgian, Russian, Persian and some Arab records have always referred to Assyrians as Assyrians.

Self-designation



The various communities of indigenous Pre Arab Neo-Aramaic
Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic, or Modern Aramaic, languages are varieties of Aramaic that are spoken vernaculars in the medieval to modern era, evolving out of Middle Aramaic dialects around AD 1200 ....

-speaking people of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and the surrounding areas advocate different terms for ethnic self-designation. It may be the case that the "Assyrian/Chaldo-Assyrian/Eastern Syriac" group and the "Aramean"/"Western Syriac" and "Phoenician" groups are merely closely related and not in fact exactly the same people.
  • "Assyrians", after the ancient Assyria
    Assyria
    Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

    , advocated by followers of the Assyrian Church of the East
    Assyrian Church of the East
    The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

    , the Ancient Church of the East
    Ancient Church of the East
    The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

    , most followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church
    Chaldean Catholic Church
    The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

     and Assyrian Protestants. ("Eastern Assyrians"), and some communities of the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic ("Western Assyrians"). Those identifying with Assyria
    Assyria
    Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

    , and with Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

     in general, tend to be from Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    , north eastern Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

    , south eastern Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    , Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    , Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

    , Georgia
    Georgia (country)
    Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

    , southern Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     and Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

    . It is likely that those from this region are indeed of Assyrian/Mesopotamian heritage as they are clearly of Pre Arab and pre Islamic stock and furthermore, there is no historical evidence, let alone proof to suggest the indigenous Mesopotamians were wiped out, and of course Assyria did exist as a specifically named region until the second half of the 7th century AD. Most speak various Mesopotamian dialects of neo Aramaic.

  • "Chaldo-Assyrians", is a term used by the Iraqi government to designate the indigenous Aramaic speaking Christians of Iraq. It intrinsically acknowledges that both the term Assyrian and Chaldean refer to the same ethnic group. Some Assyrians also use this term in order to defuse arguments over naming along denominational lines.

  • "Chaldeans
    Chaldean Christians
    Chaldean Christians are ethnic Assyrian adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, most of whom entered communion with the Catholic Church from the Church of the East, which was already Catholic, but most wanted to stray away from the Catholic Church, causing the split in the 17th and 18th...

    ", after ancient Chaldea
    Chaldea
    Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

    , advocated by a minority of followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church
    Chaldean Catholic Church
    The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

     who are mainly based in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    . This is mainly a denominational rather than ethnic term, though a few Chaldean Catholics espouse a distinct Chaldean ethnic identity. However it is likely that these are exactly the same people as the Assyrians, both having the same culture and originating from the same lands.

  • "Syriacs
    Syriacs
    Syriac may refer to:* Syriac alphabet* Syriac language* Syriac Christians* Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syriac as their liturgical language* Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people, adherents of Syriac Christianity-See also:...

    ", advocated by some followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church
    Syriac Orthodox Church
    The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

    , Syriac Catholic Church
    Syriac Catholic Church
    The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

     and to a much lesser degree Maronite Church
    Maronite Church
    The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome . It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th...

    . Those self identifying as Syriacs tend to be from western, northwestern,southern and central Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

     as well as south central Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    . The term Syriac is the subject of some controversy, as it is generally accepted by most scholars that it is a Luwian and Greek
    Greeks
    The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

     corruption of Assyrian. The discovery of the Çineköy inscription
    Çineköy inscription
    The Çineköy inscription is a Hieroglyphic Luwian-Phoenician bilingual, uncovered from Çineköy, Adana Province, Turkey , dating to the 8th century BC...

     seems to settle conclusively in favour of Assyria being the origin of the terms Syria and Syriac. For this reason, some Assyrians also accept the term Syriac as well as Assyrian as it is taken to mean the same thing. It is likely that Syriacs from these regions are in fact Arameans rather than Assyrians, as geographically they are not from Mesopotamia or the immediate areas surrounding it. Only a minority of those identifying as Syriacs now speak Aramaic, and most are now Arabic speaking.


Other groups of "Syriac Christians" are geographically, linguistically and ethnically separate from the "Assyrian/Chaldo-Assyrian/Syriac" people.
There include;
  • "Arameans" advocated by a number of indigenous Christians in western, northwestern,southern and central Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

     as well as south central Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    . They reject the term Syriac because of its probable Assyrian origin, and because they are not in fact geographically from Assyria or Mesopotamia in general, but rather are pre Arab inhabitants of lands that encompass the traditional Aramean homeland, which is in effect most of modern Syria. Few of those identifying as Aramean now speak Aramaic, and most are now Arabic speaking.

  • "Phoenicians" Many Maronite
    Maronites
    Maronites , is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church....

     identify with a Phoenicia
    Phoenicia
    Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

    n origin however and do not see themselves as Syriac or Aramean. These tend to be from Lebanon
    Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     and the Mediterranean coast of Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

    , an area roughly corresponding to ancient Phoenicia. They are of pre Arab and pre Islamic origin, and thus identify with the ancient pre Arab and pre Islamic population of that region.


In addition Western Media often makes no mention whatsoever of any ethnic identity of the Christian people of the region, and simply call them Christians or Iraqi Christians, Iranian Christians, Syrian Christians, Turkish Christians etc. This label is rejected by all Assyrian/Syriac Christians as well as Aramean, Phoenician and Coptic Christians, as it wrongly implies no difference other than theological with the Muslim Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Iranians and Azeris of the region.

Assyrian vs Syrian naming controversy


As early as the 8th century BC Luwian and Cilician subject rulers referred to their Assyrian overlords as Syrian, a western Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 bastardisation of the true term Assyrian.
This corruption of the name took hold in the Hellenic lands to the west of the old Assyrian Empire, thus during Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 Seleucid rule from 323 BC the name Assyria was altered to Syria, and this term was also applied to Aramea to the west which had been an Assyrian colony. When the Seleucids lost control of Assyria to the Parthians they retained the corrupted term (Syria), applying it to ancient Aramea, while the Parthians called Assyria Assuristan, a Parthian form of the original name. It is from this period that the Syrian vs Assyrian controversy arises. Today it is accepted by the majority of scholars that the Medieval, Renaissance and Victorian term Syriac when used to describe the indigenous Christians of Mesopotamia and its immediate surrounds in effect means Assyrian.

The modern terminological problem goes back to colonial times, but it became more acute in 1946, when with the independence of Syria, the adjective Syrian referred to an independent state. The controversy isn't restricted to exonyms like English "Assyrian" vs. "Aramaean", but also applies to self-designation in Neo-Aramaic, the minority "Aramaean" faction endorses both Sūryāyē and Ārāmayē , while the majority "Assyrian" faction insists on Āṯūrāyē but also accepts Sūryāyē .


The question of ethnic identity and self-designation is sometimes connected to the scholarly debate on the etymology of "Syria"
Syria (etymology)
The name Syria is Latinized from the Greek .Herodotus used it loosely to refer to Cappadocia .In Greek usage, Syria and Assyria were used almost interchangeably, but in the Roman Empire, Syria and Assyria came to be used as distinct geographical terms. "Syria" in the Roman Empire period referred...

. The question has a long history of academic controversy, but majority mainstream opinion currently strongly favours that Syria is indeed ultimately derived from the Assyrian term 𒀸𒋗𒁺 𐎹 Aššūrāyu. Meanwhile, some scholars has disclaimed the theory of Syrian being derived from Assyrian as "simply naive", and detracted its importance to the naming conflict.

Rudolf Macuch points out that the Eastern Neo-Aramaic press initially used the term "Syrian" (suryêta) and only much later, with the rise of nationalism, switched to "Assyrian" (atorêta). According to Tsereteli, however, a Georgian
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 equivalent of "Assyrians" appears in ancient Georgian, Armenian and Russian documents. This correlates with the theory of the nations to the East of Mesopotamia knew the group as Assyrians, while to the West, beginning with Greek influence, the group was known as Syrians. Syria being a Greek corruption of Assyria.

The debate appears to have been settled by the discovery of the Çineköy inscription
Çineköy inscription
The Çineköy inscription is a Hieroglyphic Luwian-Phoenician bilingual, uncovered from Çineköy, Adana Province, Turkey , dating to the 8th century BC...

 in favour of Syria being derived from Assyria.

The Çineköy inscription is a Hieroglyphic Luwian
Hieroglyphic Luwian
Hieroglyphic Luwian is a variant of the Luwian language, recorded in official and royal seals and a small number of monumental inscriptions. It is written in a hieroglyphic script known as Anatolian hieroglyphs...

-Phoenician bilingual
Bilingual inscription
In epigraphy, a bilingual is an inscription that is extant in two languages . Bilinguals are important for the decipherment of ancient writing systems.Important bilinguals include:...

, uncovered from Çineköy, Adana Province
Adana Province
Adana Province is a province of Turkey located in south-central Anatolia. With a population of 2,085,225, it is the fifth most populous province in Turkey. The administrative seat of the province is the city of Adana, home to 78% of the residents of the province...

, Turkey (ancient Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

), dating to the 8th century BC
8th century BC
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC.-Overview:The 8th century BC was a period of great changes in civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties led to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty...

. Originally published by Tekoglu and Lemaire (2000), it was more recently the subject of a 2006 paper published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
The Journal of Near Eastern Studies is an academic journal published by the University of Chicago Press, devoted to examination of the ancient and medieval civilisations of the Near East. Appearing in its pages are contributions from scholars of international reputation on archaeology, art,...

, in which the author, Robert Rollinger, lends support to the age-old debate of the name "Syria" being derived from "Assyria" (see Etymology of Syria).

The object on which the inscription is found is a monument belonging to Urikki, vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 king of Hiyawa
Quwê
Quwê – also spelled Que, Kue, Qeve, Coa, Kuê and Keveh – was a "Neo-Hittite" Assyrian vassal state or province at various times from the 9th century BCE to shortly after the death of Ashurbanipal around 627 BCE in the lowlands of eastern Cilicia, and the name of its capital city,...

 (i.e. Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

), dating to the eighth century BC. In this monumental inscription, Urikki made reference to the relationship between his kingdom and his Assyrian overlords. The Luwian inscription reads "Sura/i" whereas the Phoenician translation reads ’ŠR or "Ashur" which, according to Rollinger (2006), "settles the problem once and for all".

Culture




Assyrian culture is largely influenced by religion. The language is tied to the church as well for it uses the Syriac language in liturgy. Festivals occur during religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas. There are also secular holidays such as Kha b-Nisan
Kha b-Nisan
Kha b' Nisan or Ha b' Nisin, also Ha b' Nison; "First of April", Resha d'Sheta; "Head of the year" in Syriac, also known as Akitu, or Assyrian New Year is the spring festival among the Assyrians, celebrated on 1 April....

 (vernal equinox).

People often greet and bid relatives farewell with a kiss on each cheek and by saying "Peace be upon you." Others are greeted with a handshake with the right hand only; according to Middle Eastern customs, the left hand is associated with evil. Similarly, shoes may not be left facing up, one may not have their feet facing anyone directly, whistling at night is thought to waken evil spirits, etc.

There are many Assyrian customs that are common in other Middle Eastern cultures. A parent will often place an eye pendant on their baby to prevent "an evil eye being cast upon it". Spitting on anyone or their belongings is seen as a grave insult.

Language


The Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic, or Modern Aramaic, languages are varieties of Aramaic that are spoken vernaculars in the medieval to modern era, evolving out of Middle Aramaic dialects around AD 1200 ....

 are ultimately descended from Old Aramaic, the lingua franca in the later phase of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, displacing the East Semitic Assyrian dialect of Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

. Aramaic was the language of commerce, trade and communication and became the vernacular language of Assyria in classical antiquity.

By the 1st century AD, Akkadian was extinct, although some loaned vocabulary still survives in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic to this day.

Most Assyrians speak an Eastern Aramaic language whose dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s include Chaldean
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is a Northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialect. Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is spoken on the plain of Mosul in northern Iraq, as well as by the Chaldean communities worldwide. Most speakers are Chaldean Catholics....

 and Turoyo
Turoyo language
Turoyo/Surayt is a variety of Aramaic traditionally spoken in eastern Turkey and north-eastern Syria by the Assyrian/Syriac people. Turoyo is to a lesser extent mutually intelligible with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.-Etymology:...

 as well as Assyrian
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is a Neo-Aramaic dialect, spoken by an estimated 220,000 people , formerly in the area between Lake Urmia, north-western Iran, and Siirt, south-eastern Turkey, but now more widely throughout the...

.
All are classified as Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic, or Modern Aramaic, languages are varieties of Aramaic that are spoken vernaculars in the medieval to modern era, evolving out of Middle Aramaic dialects around AD 1200 ....

 and are written using Syriac script
Syriac alphabet
The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language from around the 2nd century BC . It is one of the Semitic abjads directly descending from the Aramaic alphabet and shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, and the traditional Mongolian alphabets.-...

, a derivative of the ancient Aramaic script
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Assyrians also may speak one or more languages of their country of residence.

To the native speaker, "Syriac" is usually called Soureth or Suret. A wide variety of dialects exist, including Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is a Neo-Aramaic dialect, spoken by an estimated 220,000 people , formerly in the area between Lake Urmia, north-western Iran, and Siirt, south-eastern Turkey, but now more widely throughout the...

, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is a Northeastern Neo-Aramaic dialect. Chaldean Neo-Aramaic is spoken on the plain of Mosul in northern Iraq, as well as by the Chaldean communities worldwide. Most speakers are Chaldean Catholics....

, and Turoyo
Turoyo language
Turoyo/Surayt is a variety of Aramaic traditionally spoken in eastern Turkey and north-eastern Syria by the Assyrian/Syriac people. Turoyo is to a lesser extent mutually intelligible with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.-Etymology:...

. Being stateless
Stateless nation
A stateless nation is a group, usually a minority ethnic group, considered as a nation entitled to its own state for that nation. Since there are few objective criteria for whether a particular group is a nation, or which particular group "has" any given multinational state, usage of the term is...

, Assyrians also learn the language or languages of their adopted country, usually Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 or Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

. In northern Iraq and western Iran, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 and Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 is widely spoken.

Recent archaeological evidence includes a statue from Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 with Assyrian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 and Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 inscriptions. It is the oldest known Aramaic text.

Religion


Assyrians were originally Pagans
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, who where followers of Ashurism, an Assyro-Babylonian religion, which is the Ancient Mesopotamian religion
Mesopotamian religion
Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Sumerian and Akkadian peoples living in Mesopotamia that dominated the region for a period of 4200 years from the fourth millennium BC to approximately the 3rd century AD...

, and some adopted Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 and Manicheanism; however most now belong to various Christian denominations such as the Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, with an estimated 300,000–400,000 members, the Chaldean Catholic Church, with about 900,000 members, and the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 , which has between 1,000,000 and 4,000,000 members around the world (only some of whom are Assyrians), and various Protestant churches. While Assyrians are predominantly Christians, a number are generally irreligious.

Mar Dinkha IV, resident in Chicago Illinois, was Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, Mar Addai II
Mar Addai II
Mar Addai II , born Shimun Giwargis, is the incumbent Catholicos Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East and resides in the Apostolic See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Baghdad, Iraq.,He was elected to the position of Catholicos-Patriarch in February 1970, several months after the death of...

, with headquarters in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, was Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East
Ancient Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

, and Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is the 122nd reigning Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and as such, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. Also known by his traditional episcopal name, Severios, he was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September 1980 in St. George's...

 was Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

, with headquarters in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. Mar Emmanuel III Delly
Emmanuel III Delly
Mar Emmanuel III Delly is the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and Primate of the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic sui juris Particular church of the Catholic Church and a Cardinal. He was born on October 6, 1927 in Tel Keppe and was ordained a priest on December 21, 1952. He was...

, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

, was the first Patriarch to be elevated to Cardinal, joining the college of cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

 in November 2007.

Many members of the following churches consider themselves Assyrian. Ethnic identities are often deeply intertwined with religion, a legacy of the Ottoman Millet system
Millet (Ottoman Empire)
Millet is a term for the confessional communities in the Ottoman Empire. It refers to the separate legal courts pertaining to "personal law" under which communities were allowed to rule themselves under their own system...

.
The group is traditionally characterized as adhering to various churches of Syriac Christianity
Syriac Christianity
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India....

 and speaking neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic languages
Neo-Aramaic, or Modern Aramaic, languages are varieties of Aramaic that are spoken vernaculars in the medieval to modern era, evolving out of Middle Aramaic dialects around AD 1200 ....

. It is subdivided into:
  • adherents of the East Syrian Rite
    East Syrian Rite
    The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

    , always called Assyrians but in the past sometimes erroneously called Nestorians
    • adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East
      Assyrian Church of the East
      The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

       & Ancient Church of the East
      Ancient Church of the East
      The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

      , always called Assyrians.
    • adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church
      Chaldean Catholic Church
      The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

      , usually called Assyrians or more rarely Chaldeans or Chaldo-Assyrians.
  • adherents of the West Syrian Rite
    West Syrian Rite
    The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

    , called Syriacs, and formerly also Jacobites.
    • adherents of the Syriac Orthodox Church
      Syriac Orthodox Church
      The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

      , also called West Syrians or Assyrians-Syriacs
    • adherents of the Syriac Catholic Church
      Syriac Catholic Church
      The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

      , also called West Syrians or Syriacs
    • adherents of the Syriac Maronite Church, also called Maronites, Phoenicians or Syriac-Maronites


A small minority of Assyrians of the above denominations accepted the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 in the 20th century, possibly due to British influences, and is now organized in the Assyrian Evangelical Church
Assyrian Evangelical Church
The Assyrian Evangelical Church is a Presbyterian church in the Middle East that attained a status of ecclesiastical independence from the Presbyterian mission in Iran in 1870.There are several Assyrian Evangelical churches in the diaspora, e.g...

, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church
Assyrian Pentecostal Church
The Assyrian Pentecostal Church , in , began in villages across the Urmia region in Iran, and spread to the Assyrians living in the adjacent cities. The current church's doctrine and tradition is a continuation of the spiritual revival movements that took place in Western Iran during the 1930s...

 and other Protestant Assyrian groups. These are always called Assyrians

Baptism and First Communion are celebrated extensively, similar to a Bris or Bar Mitzvah in Jewish communities. After a death, a gathering is held three days after burial to celebrate the ascension to heaven of the dead person, as of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

; after seven days another gathering commemorates their passing. A close family member wears only black clothes for forty days and nights, or sometimes a year, as a sign of mourning.

Music




The abooba
Zurna
The zurna , is a multinational outdoor wind instrument, usually accompanied by a davul in Anatolian folk music. The name is from Turkish zurna, itself derived from Persian سرنای surnāy, composed of sūr “banquet, feast” and nāy “reed, pipe”...

  (basic flute) and ṭavla
Davul
The davul or tupan is a large double-headed drum that is played with sticks. It has many names depending on the country and region.-Names:Some names of davuls include:*tupan *davul...

  (large two-sided drum) became the most common musical instruments for tribal music. Some well known Assyrian/Syriac singers in modern times are Ashur Bet Sargis
Ashur Bet Sargis
Ashur Bet Sargis , , is an Assyrian Composer and Singer. He became famous in the Assyrian communities worldwide for his nationalistic songs in the seventies.-Early career in Iraq:...

, Sargon Gabriel
Sargon Gabriel
Sargon Gabriel is a famous Assyrian musician born in Baghdad, Iraq.Sargon Gabriel began singing as a teenager and made his first appearance on live television at the age of 17 in Baghdad, Iraq...

, Michael Dayan, Habib Mousa
Habib Mousa
Habib Mousa is an Assyrian/Syriac singer. He was born in 1952. In 1971 he made his debut in singing in Syriac.Habib Mousa was born in Malikiyeh-Syria on October 9, 1952 and raised in Al-Qamishli, Syria where he studied at the Syriac school. Since his early childhood he liked the church melodies...

, Josef Özer
Josef Özer
Josef Özer is a Syriac musician. He was born 18 July 1983 in Västerås, Sweden. In 2005 he made his debut in Melodifestivalen with the song Rain, written by Bobby Ljunggren...

, Janan Sawa
Janan Sawa
Janan Sawa is a famous Assyrian musician.A Catholic by faith, Janan started singing in 1972, at the age of 17. In 1975, Janan's father forced him to marry. He spent 4 years in the Iraqi army, from 1974 to 1978....

, Klodia Hanna, Juliana Jendo
Juliana Jendo
Juliana Jendo is an Assyrian–American singer. She was born and raised in Tel Tamer, Syria. Along with her family, she emigrated to the USA in 1980 and settled in Chicago, Illinois...

, and Linda George
Linda George
Linda George is an ethnic Assyrian singer who resides in the United States Of America. The vast majority of her songs are sung in her native Assyrian language...

.

The first International Aramaic Music Festival
Aramaic Music Festival
Aramaic Music Festival is the First International Aramaic Music Festival, which was held in Aramaic Tannourine village in Mount Lebanon, Lebanon, year 2008 1-4 August for the Aramean/Syriac people....

 was held in Lebanon from 1 August until 4 August 2008 for Assyrian people internationally. Assyrians are also involved in western contemporary music, such as Rock/Metal (Melechesh
Melechesh
Melechesh is a Assyrian-Armenian black metal band that originated in Jerusalem. Ashmedi started the band as a solo project in 1993. In the following year, guitarist Moloch and drummer Lord Curse were added to the line-up...

), Rap (Timz
Timz
Tommy Hanna, known by his stage name Timz, is an Iraqi American rapper best known for his song "Iraq". His debut album is entitled Open for Business....

) and Techno/Dance (Aril Brikha
Aril Brikha
Aril Brikha is one of the world leading Assyrian Techno musicians, he is nominated for the Best Dance album in the Swedish National radio Gold Gala award in his adopted country of Sweden.-History:...

).

Dance


Assyrians have numerous traditional dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

s which are performed mostly for special occasions such as weddings. Assyrian dance is a blend of both ancient indigenous and general near eastern elements.

Festivals


Assyrian/Syriac festivals tend to be closely associated with their Christian faith, of which Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 is the most prominent of the celebrations. Assyrian/Syriac members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Catholic Church follow the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 and as a result celebrate Easter on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 inclusively. While Assyrian/Syriac members of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Ancient Church of the East celebrate Easter on a Sunday between April 4 and May 8 inclusively on the Gregorian calendar (March 22 and April 25 on the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

). During Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

 Assyrian/Syriacs are encouraged to fast for 50 days from meat and any other foods which are animal based.

Assyrians celebrate a number of festivals unique to their culture and traditions as well as religious ones:
  • Kha b-Nisan
    Kha b-Nisan
    Kha b' Nisan or Ha b' Nisin, also Ha b' Nison; "First of April", Resha d'Sheta; "Head of the year" in Syriac, also known as Akitu, or Assyrian New Year is the spring festival among the Assyrians, celebrated on 1 April....

    , the Assyrian new year, traditionally on April 1, though usually celebrated on Jaunuary 1. Assyrians usually wear traditional costumes and hold social events including parades and parties, dancing, and listening to poets telling the story of creation.

  • Som Baoutha, the Nineveh fest. It is a three-day period of fasting and prayer.

  • Somikka, the Assyrian version of Halloween
    Halloween
    Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

    , traditionally meant to scare children into fasting during Lent.

  • Kalu d'Sulaqa, celebration of the legend of Malik Shalita.


Assyrians also practice unique marriage ceremonies. The rituals performed during weddings are derived from many different elements from the past 3,000 years. An Assyrian wedding traditionally lasted a week. Today, weddings in the Assyrian homeland usually last 2–3 days; in the Assyrian diaspora
Assyrian diaspora
The Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac diaspora refers to the estimated population of Assyrian/Syriac Christians in the world that migrated outside of the Middle East or their original homeland. The worldwide diaspora of Syriac Christian communities begins during World War I, with the mass-killings of...

 they last 1–2 days.

Traditional clothing


Assyrian clothing varies from village to village. Clothing is usually blue, red, green, yellow, and purple; these colors are also used as embroidery on a white piece of clothing. Decoration is lavish in Assyrian costumes, and sometimes involves jewellery. The conical hats of traditional Assyrian dress have changed little over millennia from those worn in ancient Mesopotamia, and until the 19th and early 20th centuries the ancient Mesopotamian tradition of braiding or platting of hair, beards and moustaches was still commonplace.

Cuisine


Assyrian cuisine is similar to other Middle Eastern cuisines. It is rich in grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

, meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

, potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

, cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

, bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

 and tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

. Typically rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 is served with every meal, with a stew poured over it. Tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

 is a popular drink, and there are several dishes of desserts, snacks, and beverages. Alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

ic drinks such as wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

 and wheat beer
Wheat beer
Wheat beer is a beer that is brewed with a large proportion of wheat. Wheat beers often also contain a significant proportion of malted barley. Wheat beers are usually top-fermented...

 are organically produced and drunk.

Names


Distinctively Akkadian language
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 names are attested into the Sassanid period (224 AD to 651 AD), before they were generally but not wholly replaced by Christian names.
Biblical names in English/Arabic/Syriac variants are a Syriac tradition. Names such as Daniyyel
Daniel (name)
Daniel is a Hebrew masculine given name and a surname. It means, "God is my judge", and derives from two early Biblical figures, primary among them the Prophet Daniel.- Background :...

/Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

, Dawid
David (name)
David is a common male given name and surname. The name "David" is derived from the ancient times of Mesopotamia and used as the Biblical Hebrew name דָּוִד , meaning "Beloved". "Dudi" is a common nickname for David in Hebrew, in the same way Dave and Davy are in English.The Arabic and Assyrian...

, Gabriel
Gabriel (name)
Gabriel is a given name or surname derived from the Hebrew name "Gabriel" meaning "able-bodied one of God". It was popularized by the association with the Biblical archangel Gabriel....

, Michael
Michael
Michael is a given name that comes from the , derived from the Hebrew question מי כמו אלוהים? meaning "Who is like God?" In English, it is sometimes shortened to Mike, Mikey, or, especially in Ireland, Mick...

/Mikhail, Gorges/Gewargis
George (given name)
George, from the Greek word γεωργός , "farmer" or "earth-worker", which became a name in Greek: Γεώργιος , and Latin: Georgius. The word γεωργός is a compound word, formed by the words ge , "earth", "soil" and ergon , "work"...

 (George), Yaqo/Yako
Jacob (name)
Jacob is a common male first name and a less well-known surname. Since 1999 and through 2010, Jacob has been the most popular baby name for newborn boys in United States. It is a cognate of James....

 (Jacob), Yausep/Yosef
Joseph (name)
Joseph is a name originating from Hebrew, recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as יוֹסֵף, Standard Hebrew Yosef, Tiberian Hebrew and Aramaic Yôsēp̄. In Arabic, including in the Qur'an, the name is spelled يوسف or Yūsuf. The name can be translated from Hebrew יהוה להוסיף Yihoh Lhosif as signifying "YHWH...

 (Joseph), Toma
Thomas (name)
Thomas is a masculine given name. It is based on the Biblical Greek , which is itself a transcription of the Aramaic "twin", the Hebrew cognate being...

 (Thomas), Peṭros (Peter), Yoḥannan/Ewan/Yonan/Younan, Yaunan
Jonah
Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

 (John/Jonathan), Iliya, Eshu
Eshu
Èṣù is both an orisha and one of the most well-known deities of the Yoruba mythology and its related New World traditions.He has a wide range of responsibilities: the protector of travelers, deity of roads, particularly...

/Esho (Jesus), Ishai (Jesse) and Meriam
Mary (given name)
Mary is a feminine given name, the English form of the name Maria, which was in turn a Latin form of the Greek names Μαριαμ, or Mariam, and Μαρια, or Maria, found in the New Testament. Both New Testament names were forms of the Hebrew name מִרְיָם or Miryam.The usual meaning given by various...

 (Mary) are of clear religious origin, although many are of Aramaic origin.

Children are often given Biblical names, and, by Assyrian/Syriac patriots and traditionalists, Assyrian, Aramean and Akkadian names are given such as Ashur, Aram
Aram (given name)
Aram is a popular masculine name in Armenian. It also appears in Hebrew and Aramaic.-Famous bearers:* Aram Khachaturian , Armenian composer...

, Sinharib/Senacherib, Sargon, Shammiram, Ninus, Nimrod, Abgar, Aram, Afrem, and Aryu, etc... Akkadian last names are still common, such as; Ashur, Shamash, Akkad, Hadad, Dayan, Obelit etc.

French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 names are also given: Jean
Jean (male given name)
On the European continent and in all French-speaking countries, Jean, pronounced , is a male name derived from the Old French Jehan. The name ultimately drives from Hebrew. See John for more details. The female equivalent is Jeanne, pronounced , and derives from the Old French Jehanne...

, Pierre, James. Names of Turkish and Arab origin are also prominent, for instance, Assyrians in south-eastern Turkey (Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin is a hilly region of south east Turkey incorporating the eastern half of Mardin Province, and Şırnak Province west of the Tigris, on the border with Syria. The name 'Tur Abdin' is from the Syriac language meaning 'mountain of the servants '. Tur Abdin is of great importance to Syriac...

, Midyat
Midyat
Midyat is an originally Assyrian/Syriac town in Mardin Province of Turkey. The ancient city is the epicenter of a centuries-old Assyrian/Syriac enclave in Southeast-Turkey, widely familiar under its Syriac name Tur Abdin. A cognate of the name Midyat is first encountered in an inscription of the...

) have predominantly Turkish surnames as a result of the Turkish law that forbids Assyrians to give their children Assyrian names.

Tribal and Clan names are often still used, normally with the Akkadian prefix Bit or neo-Aramaic prefix Bet (meaning house of, or people of), such as Bit Kasri, Bit Tiyari, Bit Eshtazin, Bit Bazi, Bit Shamasha etc.

Physical Appearance


Assyrians are of Caucasoid appearance, more specifically of a Near Eastern/Mediterranean type. In general, they tend to be olive skinned, with black or dark brown hair and dark eyes. Aquiline noses are common among many Assyrians. However, a number of Assyrians also have fair hair, fairer or browner skin and lighter eyes.

Genetics



Late 20th century DNA analysis conducted by Cavalli-Sforza
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza is an Italian population geneticist born in Genoa, who has been a professor at Stanford University since 1970 .-Books:...

, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza, "shows that Assyrians have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population from any other population." Genetic analysis of the Assyrians of Persia demonstrated that they were "closed" with little "intermixture" with the Muslim Persian population and that an individual Assyrian's genetic makeup is relatively close to that of the Assyrian population as a whole. Cavalli-Sforza et al. state in addition, "[T]he Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq", and "they are Christians and are possibly bona fide
Bona Fide
Bona Fide is a studio album from rock band Wishbone Ash. It is the first studio album in six years and is the only studio album to feature guitarist Ben Granfelt...

 descendants of their namesakes." "The genetic data are compatible with historical data that religion played a major role in maintaining the Assyrian population's separate identity during the Christian era". A 2008 study on the genetics of "old ethnic groups in Mesopotamia," including 340 subjects from seven ethnic communities ("Assyrian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Turkmen,
and Arab peoples of Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait") found that Assyrians were homogeneous with respect to all other ethnic groups sampled in the study, regardless of religious affiliation. In a 2006 study of the Y chromosome DNA of six regional Armenian populations, including, for comparison, Assyrians and Syrians, researchers found that, ‎"the Semitic populations (Assyrians and Syrians) are very distinct from each other according to both [comparative] axes. This difference supported also by other methods of comparison points out the weak genetic affinity between the two populations with different historical destinies."
It must be pointed out that genetic studies purporting to either prove or disprove any modern population's ancient ancestry are the subject of a degree of controversy, and it is notoriously difficult to conclusively prove either way with DNA studies. In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of Marsh Arabs of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Iraqis, and Assyrians, "supporting a common local background."

See also


External links