In 1991, the world witnessed the sudden and shocking collapse of one of the 20th centuries greatest powers, the Soviet Union.
Though the collapse dissolved the Soviet Union into several smaller independent states and with it the Soviet identity, it didn’t mean the loss of the Russian identity. It simply meant that those Soviet citizens would now identify themselves as Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians etc. But essentially, their identity remained and didn’t cease to exist with the collapse of their former Soviet empire. In 1000 years from now, we will be looking at books from the late 20th century and early 21st century and see that people in the former Soviet Union were no longer referring to themselves as being ‘Soviets.’ Would we conclude from this that those ‘Soviets’ has disappeared from the face of the earth? Not really, they still existed and their main heir, the Russians, simply came to be called by this name now. The name may have evolved by the lineage is direct and traceable.
When he’s teaching or just speaking, he has a way of walking one through the labyrinth of his eighty year old mind. His Assyrian, it isn’t everyday talk—rather it’s vivid, colorful and figurative with cherry picked words. He has a lot to say, so much to talk about, yet never, not once does this man stumble. Never do his stories tangle up into a ball of words and confusion. It doesn’t matter how many different topics are covered in one conversation, he gets back to his main points. On top of that he listens. He answers questions. Indeed this man is the epitome of a teacher. He is eloquent. He is concise.
Throughout most of his life, Tobia Giwargis (ܛܘܒܝܐ ܓܝܘܪܓܝܣ) has been a teacher; primarily of Assyrian grammar. He can teach it fluently in four languages: Assyrian, Arabic, Farsi, and English. He teaches in person, on satellite television, and even over the phone.
Dienekes is now allowing people to “out” themselves in terms of their ancestry on a comment thread over at the Dodecad Ancestry Project. One of the major purposes of the project has been to survey variation in under-sampled groups which could give us insights into human genetic history. Yesterday I pointed to an analysis of Europeans from the British Isles to Russia. Basically Northern Europeans. There wasn’t anything too revolutionary about the nature of the results; rather, it confirmed some patterns we’d seen. Additionally it obviously didn’t resolve issues of timing, though it clarified hypotheses on the margin.
Hammurabi is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history. These laws were inscribed on stone tablets (stelae) standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters), of unknown provenance, found in Persia in 1901. Owing to his reputation in modern times as an ancient law-giver, Hammurabi’s portrait is in many government buildings throughout the world.
The authors of the book "The History and Geography of Human Genes"1, published in 1994, and the abridged version in 19962, took on the monumental task of analyzing the vast number of research articles written about genetic properties of different human populations. The senior author, Prof. L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, Professor of Genetics at Stanford University, is considered one of the preeminent human population geneticists in the world, a field that he has been working in for over forty years. After eight years of collecting this massive information, the authors spent several more years doing the genetic and statistical analyses using sophisticated computer methods. The objective was nothing less than to define the genetic variations in the entire human population of the world and, from that information, to trace the origin and migration of modern humans to their present locations on the planet (hence the "History and Geography" in the title). As the American Journal of Human Genetics stated, "This book represents a landmark in biology. There is nothing of its kind... where the evolutionary history of a single species possessing a cosmopolitan distribution is distilled from genetic, morphological, and cultural data. It represents an essential historical source for all human biologists ... " And as the New York Times said, "Perhaps more than anyone else in his field, Dr. Cavalli-Sforza ... has been able to make sense of the whisperings of human ancestors that are recorded in the genes of present-day people."
The city of Rustavi, where I live, came into existence about 51 years ago. Recently, a beautiful new church was built here. I visited the church during the week, when there weren’t many parishioners around, and as I stepped forward I saw an extraordinary icon on the wall featuring thirteen saints - thirteen Assyrian Church Fathers. All the men in the picture are ascetic and comely. The head of a deer is drawn near one of them. Not far from the first icon there is another serene one, that of Saint Father David Garedja, holding in his right hand a cross, his left hand open in reverence; to his right some deer, while above him stands an angel.
Akhiqar was a wise and virtuous man, Chancellor or Secretary at the court of the Assyrian Kings Sennacherib (704-681 BC) and Esarhaddon (680-669 BC). The history and wisdom proverbs of Akhiqar, those that are found, were written in Aramaic, an alphabetical form of writing and a much simpler system than cuneiform. This story may have had an Assyrian prototype which, so far, has not been found. Aramaic was already an official language in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pilesar III (745-727).
We take pride in knowing our Assyrian (Akkadian) language is among the languages that constantly cast into the Solar System by the two voyagers.
The Voyager program is an American scientific program that launched two unmanned space missions, the probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. These were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable alignment of the planets during the late 1970s. Although they were designated officially to study just the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, the space probes were able to continue their mission into the outer solar system, and they are expected to push through the heliosheath in deep space.
Assyrians of today have often been mistaken for Syrians. Reason for this confusion seems to be- the average American has heard the name Syria. He knows there is a land by that name, but there is no country today to be named Assyria. What is even more odd is that many writers, until recently, were under the impression that no remnants of Assyrians existed today. Whenever an Assyrian presented himself as a living sample of descendants of Assyrians of pre-Christian era, he was met with wrinkled noses, shaking heads and forbidding eyes saying: there is no such thing as a living Assyrian. They have vanished from the face of the earth completely. But other researchers whose experience has been founded not on rumor but on their own quest, have acknowledged the claim to be justified.
This article is an excerpt from a book titled The Assyrian Flag. It is in the form of an extensive interview that Mr. Homer Abramian, the chief editor of Kirkha (an Assyrian periodical published in Iran), had with the designer of the Assyrian flag, Mr. George Bet Atanous (1919-2000).
The interview touches on many different topics including the history, mythology, and the art of ancient Assyrians as well as contemporary issues regarding the legal status of the Assyrian minority in the constitution of Iran in the post Islamic revolution era.