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Names of Syriac Christians

Names of Syriac Christians

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The various communities of indigenous
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 pre-Arab Neo-Aramaic-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...

, 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...

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

, the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 and the surrounding areas advocate different terms for ethnic self-designation. It may be the case that these groups are merely closely related and not in fact exactly the same people.

The 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. "Aramean", but also applies to self-designation in Neo-Aramaic, the minority "Aramean" faction endorses both Sūryāyē and Ārāmayē , while the majority "Assyrian" faction insists on Āṯūrāyē but also accepts Sūryāyē as Sūryāyē is generally accepted to be a derivative of Āṯūrāyē.

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 favors that Syria is indeed ultimately derived from the Assyrian term 𒀸𒋗𒁺 𐎹 Aššūrāyu. Meanwhile, other scholars have rejected the theory of 'Syrian' being derived from 'Assyrian' as "naive".

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 Luwian, Hurrian and later 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....

 influence, the group was known as Syrians. "Syria" being an 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...

 corruption of "Assyria". In addition, 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...

 writers of the Medieval period referred the indigenous Christians of Mesopotamia 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....

.

Syriac Christians from the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 shouldn't be confused with Syriac Christian Dravidians from 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...

, who are an entirely different ethnic group but follow the same version of 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...

 that was spread by Syriac Christians from Mesopotamia and the Middle East in general, centuries earlier. There are around 7,000,000+ Syriacs in the world, the majority living in the diaspora with the largest centres being in Brazil, India, the United States, Canada, Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, Sweden and Iraq.

History



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....

 was established among the 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...

 (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,...

) speaking population of Upper Mesopotamia
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...

 ( in other words Persian ruled 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...

/Assuristan) during the 1st to 5th centuries. Until the 7th century 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 conquests, the group was divided between two empires, Sassanid Persia in the east and Rome/Byzantium
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...

 in the west. The western group in Syria (ancient Aramea), the eastern in Assyria and Persian
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...

 Athura/Assuristan (Assyria) and 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...

. Syriac Christianity was divided from an early date over questions of Christological dogma
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

, viz. Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 in the east and Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 and Dyophysitism in the west.

The historical English term for the group is "Syrians" (as in, e.g., Ephraim the Syrian). It is not now in use, since after the 1936 declaration of the Syrian Arab Republic, the term "Syrian" has come to designate citizens of that state regardless of ethnicity. The designation "Assyrians" has also become current in English besides the traditional "Syrians" since at least 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...

 of the 1910s, although the term was used by European travellers as far back as the late 18th and early 19th Centuries and was always in use in the near east in various forms, including 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....

, Assouri, Atorayeh etc.

The adjective "Syriac" properly refers to the Syriac language
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...

 exclusively and is not a demonym
Demonym
A demonym , also referred to as a gentilic, is a name for a resident of a locality. A demonym is usually – though not always – derived from the name of the locality; thus, the demonym for the people of England is English, and the demonym for the people of Italy is Italian, yet, in english, the one...

. The OED explicitly still recognizes this usage alone:
A. adj. Of or pertaining to Syria: only of or in reference to the language; written in Syriac; writing, or versed, in Syriac.
B. n. The ancient Semitic language of Mesopotamia and Syria; formerly in wide use (="Aramaic"; now, the form of Aramaic used by Syrian Christians, in which the Peshito version of the Bible is written.


The noun "Syriac" (plural "Syriacs") has nevertheless come into common use as a demonym following the declaration of the Syrian Arab Republic to avoid the ambiguity of "Syrians". Limited de facto use of "Syriacs" in the sense of "authors writing in the Syriac language" in the context of patristics
Patristics
Patristics or Patrology is the study of Early Christian writers, known as the Church Fathers. The names derive from the Latin pater . The period is generally considered to run from the end of New Testament times or end of the Apostolic Age Patristics or Patrology is the study of Early Christian...

 can be found even before World War I.

Since the 1980s, a dispute between Assyrianists, who are mainly indigenous Christians 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....

, 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...

, southeastern 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 northeastern 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 derive their national identity from the Iron Age Assyria, 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...

 and Assyria/Athura/Assuristan/Adiabene under Babylonian, Achamaenid Persian, Seleucid Greek, Parthian, Roman and Sassanid Persian rule, and Arameanists who are mainly from central, south, west and northwestern 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 southcentral 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...

, (emphasizing their descent from the Levantine Arameans instead) has become ever more pronounced. In the light of this dispute, the traditional English designation "Assyrians" has come to appear taking an Assyrianist position, for which reason some official sources in the 2000s have come to use emphatically neutral terminology, such as "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac" in the US census, and "Assyrier/Syrianer" in the Swedish census.


In the Aramaic language, the dispute boils down to the question of whether Sūrāyē/Sūryāyē "Syrian" or Āṯūrāyē "Assyrian" is in preferred use, or whether they are used synonymously. A 2007 Modern Aramaic Dictionary & Phrasebook does treat the terms as synonyms:
Assyrians call themselves: S: Suraye, Suryaye, Athuraye / T: Suroye, Soryoye, Othuroye


The question of the history of each of these terms is less clear. The points to be distinguished are
  • was the term Āṯūrāyē introduced into Neo-Aramaic in the 19th century, during the Early Modern period, or has it been in use even in the Middle Aramaic vernacular of the Early Christian period?
  • what was the relation of the Greek terms Suria vs. Assuria in pre-Christian classical Antiquity
  • what is the ultimate etymological connection of the terms Syria and Assyria.

It is undisputed that reference to both the "Syrian" and "Assyrian" self-designations were in use by the mid 19th century.

Medieval Syriac authors show awareness of the descent of their language from the ancient Arameans, without however using "Aramean" as an ethnic self-designation. Thus, Michael the Great (13th century) wrote

Michael the Great also mentions an earlier, 9th century dispute of a dispute of Jacobite Syrians
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...

 with Greek scholars, in which the Jacobites endorsed an "Assyrian" identity.
John Joseph
John Joseph
John Joseph may refer to:* John Joseph , United States educator and Middle East historian; taught at Franklin & Marshall College * John Joseph , Catholic bishop of Faisalabad, Pakistan...

 in the Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors (1961) stated that the term Assyrians had for various political reasons been reintroduced to Syriac Christians by British missionaries during the 19th century, and strengthened by archaeological discoveries of ancient Assyria. In the 1990s, the question was revived by Richard 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...

 among others, who disagreed with Joseph, establishing that the term "Assyrians" had existed amongst the Jacobites and the Nestorians already during the 17th century, Frye further adduces 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, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, 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 Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

 sources to establish the pre-modern usage of Assyrian for the Christian group. The two scholars agreed on the fact that "confusion has existed between the two similar words ‘Syria’ and ‘Assyria’ throughout history down to our own day", but each accused the other of contributing further to this confusion.

The question of the synonymity of Suria vs. Assuria was already discussed by classical authors:
Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 has “This people, whom the Greeks call Syrians, are called Assyrians by the barbarians”. while strictly distinguishing the toponyms Syria vs. Assyria, the former referring to the Levant, the latter to Mesopotamia.
Posidonius
Posidonius
Posidonius "of Apameia" or "of Rhodes" , was a Greek Stoic philosopher, politician, astronomer, geographer, historian and teacher native to Apamea, Syria. He was acclaimed as the greatest polymath of his age...

 has “The people we [Greeks] call Syrians were called by the Syrians themselves Arameans”.
Quite apart from the question of de facto usage, the question of the etymological relation of the two terms had been open until recently. The point of uncertainty was whether the toponym Syria was ultimately derived from the name Aššur (as opposed to alternative suggestions deriving Syria from the name of the non Semitic Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

). With 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...

 the question does now appear to have been decisively settled to the effect that Syria does indeed derive from Aššur.

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. 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 examined section of the Luwian inscription reads:
§VI And then, the/an Assyrian king (su+ra/i-wa/i-ni-sa(URBS)) and the whole Assyrian "House" (su+ra/i-wa/i-za-ha(URBS)) were made a fa[ther and a mo]ther for me,
§VII and Hiyawa and Assyria (su+ra/i-wa/i-ia-sa-ha(URBS)) were made a single “House.”

The corresponding Phoenician inscription reads:
And the king [of Aššur and (?)]
the whole “House” of Aššur (’ŠR) were for me a father [and a]
mother, and the DNNYM and the Assyrians (’ŠRYM)


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 8th 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".

USA


During the 2000 United States census, Syriac Orthodox Archbishops Cyril Aphrem Karim
Cyril Aphrem Karim
His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim is the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch for the Eastern United States of America.-Early life:...

 and Clemis Eugene Kaplan issued a declaration that their preferred English designation is "Syriacs". The official census avoids the question by listing the group as "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac". Some Maronite Christians also joined this US census (as opposed to Lebanese American).

Sweden


In 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....

, this name dispute has its beginning when immigrants from 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...

, belonging to 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....

 emigrated to Sweden during the 1960s and were applied with the ethnic designation Assyrians by the Swedish authorities. This caused many who preferred the indigenous designation Suryoyo (who today go by the name Syrianer) to protest, which led to the Swedish authorities began using the double term assyrier/syrianer.

Assyrian identity




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...

, Assyrian
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...

 Protestants , some communities 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....

 (particularly in eastern Syria) and to a much lesser degree 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...

 . Those identifying with Assyria, 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...

. Assyrians point out that they are indeed of Assyrian/Mesopotamian heritage as they are indesputably the pre-Arab and pre-Islamic population of Assyria in particular and Mesopotamia in general. Furthermore, they point out that there is no historical evidence, let alone proof to suggest the indigenous Assyrians and Mesopotamians were wiped out or removed and that Assyria did exist as a specifically named region until the second half of the 7th century as Assuristan. Most speak various Mesopotamian dialects of 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 ....

 which still retain a number 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...

 loan words.
Assyrian continuity 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...

.
Further support is added by historians such as J.G. Browne, George Percy Badger
George Percy Badger
George Percy Badger was an English Anglican missionary, and a scholar of oriental studies. He is mainly known for his doctrinal and historical studies about the Church of the East.-Life:...

 and J.A. Brinkman. 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 supported this view.

During the Medieval period, Arab histographers labelled the Assyrians of Mesopotamia 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....

. Early European travellers to 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...

 found eastern Aramaic speaking Christian people in upper Mesopotamia with distinct Assyrian names who referred to themselves and were referred to by neighbouring peoples as Assouri ( in other words Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

).
Assyria continued to exist as a named province and entity under Achamenid, Seleucid, Parthian
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

, Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and Sassanid rule, and Syriac (Assyrian) Christianity began to take hold from the 1st to 3rd Centuries AD.
The Assyrianist movement originated in the 19th to early 20th century, in direct opposition to Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

 and in the context of Assyrian irredentism. It was exacerbated by 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...

 and Assyrian War of Independence
Assyrian war of independence
The Assyrian struggle for Independence was waged by the Assyrian Patriarch and the chiefs of the Assyrians between 1843 and 1933, with later assistance from the British Empire, against the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union, the Persian Empire, the Kingdom of Iraq, the French Mandate of Syria, and...

 of World War I. The emphasis of Assyrian antiquity grew ever more pronounced in the decades following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with an official Assyrian calendar
Assyrian calendar
The Assyrian calendar is a lunar-based calendar that begins in the year 4750 BC, inspired by an estimate of the date of the first temple at Ashur, notably based on a series of articles published in the Assyrian magazine Gilgamesh, edited by the brothers Addi and Jean Alkhas and Nimrod Simono. The...

 introduced in the 1950s, taking as its era
Calendar era
A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era . The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era...

 the year 4750 BC, the purported date of foundation of the city of 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...

 and the introduction of a new Assyrian flag
Assyrian flag
The Assyrian flag is the flag chosen by the Assyrian people to represent the Assyrian nation in the homeland and in the diaspora.George Bit Atanus first designed the flag in 1968...

 in 1968. Assyrians 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....

, 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...

, 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...

, 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....

, 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...

, as well as in diaspora communities in the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Sweden, Holland etc. The Assyrians point out that they are the indigenous Pre Arab and Pre Islamic population of Assyria and Mesopotamia, and thus are indeed of ancient Mesopotamian heritage. 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 2000 AD clearly supports the already prevailing argument that the terms Syrian and Syriac are indeed Luwian and 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;...

 corruptions of the term Assyrian.

The Assyrian movement today, is still very strong going amongst the Jacobites. In Sweden, the majority of those who identify themselves as Assyrians, are Jacobites from the Syriac Orthodox Church, but there are also Assyrians and Syriacs in Sweden representing the other Syriac churches.

Syriac identity



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....

, 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...

 and to a much lesser degree, the 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 southcentral 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 the vast majority of scholars that it is a 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;...

 corruption of "Assyrian". For this reason, some Assyrians also accept the term "Syriac" as well as "Assyrian", as it is taken to mean one and the same thing. 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 2000 appears to have confirmed this. Likewise, some Syriacs identify equally with the term Assyrian. It is likely that Syriacs from the aforementioned regions are in fact Arameans rather than Assyrians, as geographically they are not from Mesopotamia or the immediate areas surrounding it, but are in fact from an area corresponding to the ancient Aramean homeland.

Chaldean identity



Advocated by some 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 highly likely that these are exactly the same people as the Assyrians, both having the same culture and originating from the same lands. The term "Chaldean" came into being when some Mesopotamian/Assyrian followers of 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...

 entered communion with Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Rome named the new church the "Chaldean Catholic Church", after initially calling it the "Church of Assyria and Mosul". It is noteworthy that Chaldean Catholics originate from and live mostly in Northern Iraq, the traditional Assyrian Homeland, and not in the extreme south of Iraq where "Ancient Chaldea" was situated. The origins of the ancient Chaldeans is unclear, they first appeared in the 8th Century BC. It is most likely that they were either native Akkadians like the Assyrians and Babylonians, or were a powerful Akkadianized Aramean tribe. What is certain is that the Chaldean Dynasty did not even survive until the end of the aforementioned dynasty, Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

, the last king of the Chaldean Dynasty and his son, prince Belshazzar
Belshazzar
Belshazzar, or Balthazar , was a 6th century BC prince of Babylon, the son of Nabonidus and the last king of Babylon according to the Book of Daniel . Like his father, it is believed by many scholars that he was an Assyrian. In Daniel Belshazzar, or Balthazar , was a 6th century BC prince of...

 were from Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

, and thus Assyrian born. Despite this, Babylon was often referred to as Chaldea in later Classical writings. There has been no serious historical evidence produced thus far to support a specific link between the Chaldean Catholics (who were originally members of the "Assyrian" Church) and the ancient long disappeared Chaldean tribe.

The Chaldean Catholic Church was established as a split off the Assyrian 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...

, its first patriarch was proclaimed patriarch of "Mosul and Athur" (Persian for "Assyria") on February 20, 1553 by Pope Julius III
Pope Julius III
Pope Julius III , born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, was Pope from 7 February 1550 to 1555....

. The term "Chaldean" was chosen at the time to distinguish from the 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...

 after originally being called The Church of Athora(Assyria) and Mosul .

A small minority Chaldean Catholics (mainly American-based) no longer subscribe to an "Assyrian" identity, due mainly to the esposing of a purely Catholic identity, rather than any interest in an ethnic one, promoted by the Chaldean Catholic Church. However most Chaldean Catholics acknowledge that ethnically they are one and the same people as the Assyrians, and many priests in the Chaldean Church, such as Mar Raphael I Bedawid, advocate the Assyrian ethnicity regardless of doctrinal differences.

Others prefer to call themselves Chaldo-Assyrian to avoid division on theological grounds. The Iraqi government uses this term in recognition that Assyrians and Chaldeans are ethnically the same people but with different religious traditions.
They are indigenous to 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 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...

, for the most part speaking 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 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...

 dialects.

Also sometimes erroneously known as "Chaldean Christians" or "Assyrian Christians" are the Saint Thomas Christians
Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians are an ancient body of Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are also known as "Nasranis" because they are followers of "Jesus of Nazareth". The term "Nasrani" is still used by St...

 of India (also called the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India is an East Syrian Rite, Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is the largest of the Saint Thomas Christian denominations with more than 3.6...

), ethnically Nasrani
Syrian Malabar Nasrani
The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people, also known as Saint Thomas Christians, "'Nasrani Mappila'" and Nasranis, are an ethnoreligious group from Kerala, India, adhering to the various churches of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition...

 (speakers of Malayalam). However, these people are not ethnically related to the Chaldo-Assyrian people.

Aramean identity



Advocated by a number of indigenous Christians in western, north-western, 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
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....

. Few of those identifying as Aramean now speak Aramaic, and most are now Arabic speaking.
The Arameans are a people who emerged in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 (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....

) during the Late Bronze Age, who following the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 formed a number of small kingdoms
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...

 before they were conquered into the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the course of the 10th to late 7th centuries BC. During Horatio Southgate
Horatio Southgate
Horatio Southgate was born in Portland, Maine and studied for the ordained ministry at Andover Theological Seminary as a Congregationalist. In 1834 he became a member of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and was subsequently ordained to the diaconate in 1835...

's travels through 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...

, he encountered indigenous Christians, 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...

 and Chaldean Catholic Church who claimed an Assyrian ancestry and had distinct Assyrian names, but stated that the 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....

) 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....

 where descendants of the Arameans, "whose chief city was Damascus" (Arameans).

Such an Aramean identity is mainly held by a number of Syriac Christians in southcentral 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...

, western, central, northern and southern 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 in the diaspora especially in Germany and Sweden.
In English, they self-identify as "Syriac", sometimes expanded to "Syriac-Aramean" or "Aramean-Syriac". In Swedish, they call themselves Syrianer, and in German, Aramäer is a common self-designation. In recent days the term Aramean rather than Syriac is gaining popularity among some Christians in Syria and the diaspora.

Phoenician identity



Many Maronites 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 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 naturally identify with the ancient population of that region.
Middle East expert Walid Phares
Walid Phares
Walid Phares an American scholar of Lebanese origins, he is a professor and commentator on global terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs.Phares has testified before committees of the U.S. State, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security Departments, the United States Congress, the European Parliament,...

 speaking at the 70th Assyrian Convention, on the topic of Assyrians in post-Saddam Iraq, began his talk by asking why he as a Lebanese Maronite ought to be speaking on the political future of Assyrians in Iraq, answering his own question with "because we are one people. We believe we are the Western Assyrians and you are the Eastern Assyrians."

However, other Maronite factions in 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...

, such as Guardians of the Cedars
Guardians of the Cedars
The Guardians of the Cedars – GoC , also designated Gardiens du Cedre or Gardiens des Cèdres in French, are a far-right ultranationalist Lebanese party and former militia in Lebanon...

, in their opposition to Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

, advocate the idea of a Phoenician racial heritage (see Phoenicianism
Phoenicianism
Phoenicianism is a form of Lebanese nationalism, especially popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. It promotes the theory that Lebanese people are not Arabs and that the Lebanese speak a distinct language and have their own culture, separate from that of the surrounding Middle Eastern countries...

). They point out that they are of pre Arab and pre Islamic origin, and as such are at least in part of Phoenician stock, and certainly not Arab.

Other names

  • "Nestorians", was a catch all term used to describe all Near-Eastern and Asian Christians by Europeans from Medieval times through to the Victorian age, regardless of denomination or ethnicity. In the 19th Century AD it was more specifically used to describe those Assyrians who were members 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...

     and 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...

    . The term is rejected by Assyrians who point out they are a multi denominational ethnic group rather than a religious sect, and by the Assyrian Church of the East, which points out that it is both older and theologically distinct from the church founded by Nestorius in the 5th Century AD. The term Nestorian has now largely been discarded.

  • "Jacobites" was a term used to describe the members 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....

    . It was in use since the 5th century.

  • "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...

    s
    ", Western
    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...

     media
    Mass media
    Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

     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" etc. This label is rejected by all Assyrian/Aramean/Syriac/Phoenician Christians (as well as by Copts 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....

    ) as it wrongly implies no difference other than theological with the Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Iranians and Azeris of the region.

  • "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....

    ", A term used by Medieval 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...

    s to describe the eastern Aramaic speaking Christians of Mesopotamia. The term has now fallen out of use, however it is noteworthy in that it illustrates the Arab Islamic rulers acknowledged Assyrian identity.

  • "Arab Christians", a term not accepted by any Syriac Christian populations 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....

    , 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 northeastern 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....

     at all, nor is it accepted by Copts in 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...

    . In the remainder of Syria, some Christians do identify as Arabs, to some degree at least. In Syria this is usually because of Baathist political pressure to do so rather than an acceptance of Arab ethnicity. Generally, those self identifying as "Arabs" tend to be indigenous to 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...

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

     & the Palestinian Territories
    Palestinian territories
    The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

    , the Arabian Peninsula
    Arabian Peninsula
    The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

     and Yemen
    Yemen
    The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

    , although even in these areas an Arab identity is not universally accepted.

See also



  • Aram Nahrin
  • Arameans
    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...

  • 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...

  • Assyrianism
    Assyrianism
    The term Assyrianism refers to Assyrian nationalism which increased in popularity in the late 19th century in a climate of increasing ethnic and religious persecution of the indigenous Assyrians of the Middle East....

  • Beth Nahrin
  • 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...

  • Syria (etymology)
    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 Hidden Pearl
    The Hidden Pearl
    The Hidden Pearl: The Syrian Orthodox Church And Its Ancient Aramaic Heritage is a 2001 documentary published by TransWorld Film Italia commissioned by the Syriac Orthodox community. The documentary was published in the form of three videos together with three printed volumes.Volume 1, The Ancient...



External links