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Assyrian people

Assyrian people
Sūrāyē / Sūryāyē / Āṯūrāyē / Āramayē
Margaret George Shello
Donny George Youkhanna
Total population
3.3 million,[1]
Regions with significant populations
Traditional areas of Assyrian settlement: 735,000-745,100
  Syria 400,000[2]
  Iraq 300,000[3]
  Iran 20,000[4][5]
  Turkey 15,000–25,100[4][6][7]
Diaspora: 496,467-970,605
  United States 110,807–400,000[8][9]
  Jordan 100,000–150,000[10][11]
  Sweden 100,000[12]
  Germany 100,000[13]
  Australia 24,505–60,000[14][15][16] More than two thirds of Iraqis in Australia (80,000) are Christians
  Lebanon 39,000[17]
  Netherlands 20,000[18]
  France 16,000[19]
  Belgium 15,000[18]
  Russia 10,911[20]
  Canada 10,810[21]
  Denmark 10,000[18]
   Switzerland 10,000[18]
  United Kingdom 6,390[22]
  Greece 6,000[23]
  Georgia 3,299[24]
  Ukraine 3,143[25]
  Italy 3,000[18]
  Armenia 2,769[26]
  New Zealand 1,683[27]
  Azerbaijan 1,500[28]
  Israel 1,000[29]
  Kazakhstan 350–800[30][31]
  Finland 300[32]
(Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Turoyo)
Syriac Christianity
(Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Catholic Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, others)
Some secular or irreligious
Related ethnic groups
Other Semitic people (Mandaeans  • Jews  • Syrians  • Lebanese)

Assyrian people (Syriac: ܐܫܘܪܝܐ), also known as Chaldeans,[33] Syriacs,[34] and Arameans,[35] (see names of Syriac Christians) are a Semitic ethnoreligious group indigenous to the Middle East.[36][37] Most Assyrians speak a Neo-Aramaic language,[38] whose subdivisions include Northeastern, Central, and Western Neo-Aramaic, as well as another language, dependent on the country of residence.[39]

The Assyrians are a Christian people who follow various Eastern Churches that use East Syrian and West Syrian liturgical rites.[40] Churches that use the East Syrian rite include the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Evangelical Church and Chaldean Catholic Church, whose followers commonly speak Northeastern Neo-Aramaic whereas Churches that use the West Syrian rite include the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriac Catholic Church and followers speak Central Neo-Aramaic.

Today that ancient territory is part of several nations: part of Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Syria and Iran. They are indigenous to, and have traditionally lived all over what is now Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey.[41][42]

Many have migrated to the Linda George.

The first International Aramaic Music Festival 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), Rap (Timz) and Techno/Dance (Aril Brikha).


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


Assyrian festivals tend to be closely associated with their Christian faith, of which Easter is the most prominent of the celebrations. Members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Catholic Church follow the Gregorian calendar and as a result celebrate Easter on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 inclusively.[119] However, 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). During Lent, Assyrians 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 ܚܕ ܒܢܝܣܢ, the Assyrian New Year, traditionally on April 1, though usually celebrated on January 1. Assyrians usually wear traditional costumes and hold social events including parades and parties, dancing, and listening to poets telling the story of creation.[120]
  • Sauma d-Ba'utha ܒܥܘܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܝܐ, the Nineveh fast, is a three-day period of fasting and prayer.[121]
  • Somikka, All Saints Day, is celebrated to motivate children to fast during Lent through use of frightening costumes
  • Kalu d'Sulaqa, feast of the Bride of the Ascension, celebrates Assyrian resistance to the invasion of Assyria by Tamerlane
  • Nusardyl, commemorating the baptism of the Assyrians of Urmia by St. Thomas.[122]
  • Sharra d'Mart Maryam, usually on August 15, a festival and feast celebrating St. Mary with games, food, and celebration.[122]
  • Other Sharras (special festivals) include: Sharra d'Mart Shmuni, Sharra d'Mar Shimon Bar-Sabbaye, Sharra d'Mar Mari, and Shara d'Mar Zaia, Mar Bishu, Mar Sawa, Mar Sliwa, and Mar Odisho
  • Yoma d'Sah'deh (Day of Martyrs), commemorating the thousands massacred in the Simele Massacre and the hundreds of thousands massacred in the Assyrian Genocide.

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 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.


Assyrian cuisine is similar to other Middle Eastern cuisines. It is rich in grain, meat, potato, cheese, bread and tomato. Typically rice is served with every meal, with a stew poured over it. Tea is a popular drink, and there are several dishes of desserts, snacks, and beverages. Alcoholic drinks such as wine and wheat beer are organically produced and drunk.


Late 20th century DNA analysis conducted by [123]

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." [126]

A 2008 study on the genetics of "old ethnic groups in Mesopotamia," including 340 subjects from seven ethnic communities ("Assyrian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Turkmen, the Arab peoples in Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait") found that Assyrians were homogeneous with respect to all other ethnic groups sampled in the study, regardless of religious affiliation.[127]

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." [128]

See also



  1. ^ UNPO: Assyria
  2. ^ "Syria’s Assyrians threatened by extremists – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "مسؤول مسيحي : عدد المسيحيين في العراق تراجع الى ثلاثمائة الف". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Ishtar: Documenting The Crisis In The Assyrian Iranian Community". 
  5. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2010-10-13). "Iran: Last of the Assyrians". Refworld. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  6. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld - World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Turkey : Assyrians". Refworld. 
  7. ^ Joshua Project. "Assyrian in Turkey". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder – Results". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Brief History of Assyrians". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Thrown to the Lions, Doug Bandow, The America Spectator
  11. ^ Jordan Should Legally Recognize Displaced Iraqis As Refugees, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians Flee Iraq to Neighboring Jordan, ASSIST News Service
  12. ^ Demographics of Sweden, Swedish Language Council "Sweden has also one of the largest exile communities of Assyrian and Syriac Christians (also known as Chaldeans) with a population of around 100,000."
  13. ^ "Erzdiözese". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Redirect to Census data page". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Fear checks turnout for Iraq poll". 
  16. ^ "Origins: History of immigration from Iraq - Immigration Museum, Melbourne Australia". 
  17. ^ Tore Kjeilen. "Lebanon / Religions – LookLex Encyclopaedia". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "CNN Under-Estimates Iraqi Assyrian Population". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  19. ^ Wieviorka & Bataille 2007, pp. 166
  20. ^ "Google Translate". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  21. ^  
  22. ^ Joshua Project. "Assyrian of United Kingdom Ethnic People Profile". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  23. ^ Tzilivakis, Kathy (10 May 2003). "Iraq's Forgotten Christians Face Exclusion in Greece". Athens News. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  24. ^ "Georgia – – European Country of Origin Information Network". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  25. ^ State statistics committee of Ukraine – National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
  26. ^ 2011 Armenian Census
  27. ^ New Zealand 2006 census
  28. ^ Joshua Project. "Assyrian in Azerbaijan". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  29. ^ [10]
  30. ^ "Assyrian Community in Kazakhstan Survived Dark Times, Now Focuses on Education". The Astana Times. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  31. ^ Kazakhstan Live
  32. ^ "Assyrian Association Founded in Finland". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  33. ^ For use of the term Chaldean, see:
    • John A. Shoup, Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia, p. 30 [11]
    • Nicholas Aljeloo, Who Are The Assyrians? [12]
    • Mordechai Nisan, Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression, p. 180 [13]
    • UNPO Assyria [14]
    • Steven L. Danver, Native Peoples of the World: An Encylopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues, p. 517 [15]
  34. ^ For use of the term Syriac, see:
    • John A. Shoup, Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia, p. 30
    • Nicholas Aljeloo, Who Are The Assyrians?
    • UNPO Assyria
    • Steven L. Danver, Native Peoples of the World: An Encylopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues, p. 517
    • James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C, pp. 205-206
  35. ^ For use of the term Aramean, see
    • Donabed & Mako, Identity of Syrian Orthodox Christians, p. 72
    • Nicholas Aljeloo, Who Are The Assyrians?
    • John A. Shoup, Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia, p. 30
  36. ^ For Assyrians as indigenous to the Middle East, see
    • Mordechai Nisan, Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression, p. 180
    • James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C, p. 206
    • Carl Skutsch, Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities, p. 149
    • Steven L. Danver, Native Peoples of the World: An Encylopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues, p. 517
    • UNPO Assyria
    • Richard T. Schaefer, Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, p. 107
  37. ^ James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C, pp. 205-209
  38. ^ For Assyrians speaking a Neo-Aramaic language, see
    • The British Survey, By British Society for International Understanding, 1968, p. 3
    • Carl Skutsch, Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities, p. 149
    • Farzad Sharifian, René Dirven, Ning Yu, Susanne Niemeier, Culture, Body, and Language: Conceptualizations of Internal Body Organs across Cultures and Languages, p. 268
    • UNPO Assyria
  39. ^ Carl Skutsch, Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities, p. 149
  40. ^ For Assyrians as a Christian people, see
    • Joel J. Elias, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East [16]
    • Steven L. Danver, Native Peoples of the World: An Encylopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues, p. 517
    • UNPO Assyria
    • James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C, p. 209
  41. ^ Carl Skutsch (2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Routledge. p. 149.  
  42. ^ Karen Radner; Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History Karen Radner (2015). Introduction ;Introducing Assyria ;Assyrian places ;Assyrians at home ;Assyrians abroad ;Foreigners in Assyria ;Assyrian world domination ;Chronology ;Glossary ;References ;Further reading ;Index. Oxford University Press. p. 2.  
  43. ^ Joshua Project. "Assyrian in Georgia". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  44. ^ Dr. Eden Naby. "Documenting The Crisis In The Assyrian Iranian Community". 
  45. ^ "Assyrian Christians 'Most Vulnerable Population' in Iraq". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  46. ^ "Iraq's Christian community, fights for its survival". Christian World News. 
  47. ^ "U.S. Gov't Watchdog Urges Protection for Iraq's Assyrian Christians". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  48. ^ Rémi Brague, Assyrians Contributions To The Islamic Civilization. (Archived: 27 September 2013)
  49. ^ Clinton Bennett (2005). Muslims and Modernity: An Introduction to the Issues and Debates. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 163. ISBN 0-8264-5481-X. Retrieved 2012-07-07
  50. ^ H. Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World. Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 219.
  51. ^ Winkler, Dietmar (2009). Hidden Treasures And Intercultural Encounters: Studies On East Syriac Christianity In China And Central Asia. LIT Verlag Münster. 
  52. ^ Aboona, Hirmis (2008). Assyrians, Kurds, and Ottomans: intercommunal relations on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire. 
  53. ^ Khanbaghi, Aptin (2006). The fire, the star and the cross: minority religions in medieval and early modern Iran. I.B.Tauris. 
  54. ^ Khanbaghi, Aptin (2006). The fire, the star and the cross: minority religions in medieval and early modern Iran. I.B.Tauris. 
  55. ^ The Blackwell companion to Eastern Christianity, Kenneth Parry
  56. ^ George V. Yana (Bebla), "Myth vs. Reality," JAA Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 2000 p. 80
  57. ^ Frazee, Charles A. (2006). Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453–1923. Cambridge University Press. p. 56.  
  58. ^  
  59. ^ de Courtois, S (2004). The forgotten genocide: eastern Christians, the last Arameans. Gorgias Press LLC. pp. 105–107.  
  60. ^ The Plight of Religious Minorities: Can Religious Pluralism Survive? - Page 51 by United States Congress
  61. ^ The Armenian Genocide: Wartime Radicalization Or Premeditated Continuum – Page 272 edited by Richard Hovannisian
  62. ^ Not Even My Name: A True Story – Page 131 by Thea Halo
  63. ^ The Political Dictionary of Modern Middle East by Agnes G. Korbani
  64. ^ Len Dieghton, Blood Sweat and Tears
  65. ^ Zubaida, S (July 2000), "Contested nations: Iraq and the Assyrians" (PDF), Nations and Nationalism 6 (3): 363–382,  
  66. ^ "Biography of His Holiness, The Assyrian Martyr, The Late Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII". Committee of the 50th Anniversary of the Patriarchate of Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  67. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld – Iraq: Information on treatment of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians". Refworld. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  68. ^ "زوعا". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  69. ^ The Anfal Offensives,
  70. ^ Certrez, Donabed, and Makko (2012). The Assyrian Heritage: Threads of Continuity and Influence. Uppsala University. pp. 288–289.  
  71. ^ "Exodus of Christians hits Baghdad district". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  72. ^ "Church Bombings in Iraq Since 2004". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  73. ^ Syriacs establish military council in Syria, Hürriyet Daily News, 2 February 2013
  74. ^
  75. ^ *SOC News report, He was documenting life in the Tur Abdin, where about 3,000 members of the Aramean minority still live.
  76. ^ Statement on Assyrians/Syriacs in Turkey/Iraq
  77. ^ This History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer, pg. 85-87
  78. ^ A Short World History of Christianity by Robert Bruce Mullin, pp. 82-85
  79. ^ "Nestorian (Christian sect)". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  80. ^
  81. ^ "Assyria". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  82. ^ "Syriac-Aramaic People (Syria)". Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  83. ^ a b Classical Syriac and the Syriac Churches: A Twentieth-Century History, Heleen Murre-van den Berg, p. 127
  84. ^ "Note on the Modern Assyrians, & Other Nationalistic Issues". 
  85. ^ Jonathan Eric Lewis. "Iraqi Assyrians: Barometer of Pluralism". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  86. ^ "Arab American Institute Still Deliberately Claiming Assyrians Are Arabs". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  87. ^ "In Court, Saddam Criticizes Kurdish Treatment of Assyrians". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  88. ^ a b c Al-Monitor: Ethnic dimension of Iraqi Assyrians often ignored
  89. ^ "Eastern Churches", Catholic Encyclopedia, see "Eastern Syrians" and "Western Syrians" respectively. Modern terminology within the group is Western Assyrians and Eastern Assyrians respectively, while those who reject the Assyrian identity opt for Syriac or Aramean rather than Assyrian.
  90. ^ Ethno-Cultural and Religious Identity of Syrian Orthodox Christians, Sargon Donabed and Shamiran Mako, p. 75 [17]
  91. ^ Joshua Castellino, Kathleen A. Cavanaugh, Minority Rights in the Middle East, p. 109 [18]
  92. ^ "אנחנו לא ערבים - אנחנו ארמים" (in Hebrew).  
  93. ^ "'"Inscription From 800 BC Shows the Origin of the Name 'Syria. 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  94. ^   pp. 281–285
  95. ^  
  96. ^ Festschrift Philologica Constantino Tsereteli Dicta, ed. Silvio Zaorani (Turin, 1993), pp. 106–107
  97. ^ Rudolf Macuch, Geschichte der spät- und neusyrischen Literatur, New York: de Gruyter, 1976.
  98. ^ Tsereteli, Sovremennyj assirijskij jazyk, Moscow: Nauka, 1964.
  99. ^ Tekoglu, R. & Lemaire, A. (2000). La bilingue royale louvito-phénicienne de Çineköy. Comptes rendus de l’Académie des inscriptions, et belleslettres, année 2000, 960–1006.
  100. ^ Rollinger, Robert (2006). "The terms "Assyria" and "Syria" again" (PDF).  
  101. ^
  102. ^ The Assyrian New Year
  103. ^ Chamberlain, AF. "Notes on Some Aspects of the Folk-Psychology of Night". American Journal of Psychology, 1908 – JSTOR.
  105. ^ "Microsoft Word – PeshittaNewTestament.doc" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  106. ^ Bae, C. Aramaic as a Lingua Franca During the Persian Empire (538–333 BCE). Journal of Universal Language. March 2004, 1–20.
  107. ^ Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B. C. by G. R. Driver
  108. ^ Akkadian Words in Modern Assyrian
  109. ^ Kaufman, Stephen A. (1974),The Akkadian influences on Aramaic. University of Chicago Press
  110. ^ a b Avenery, Iddo, The Aramaic Dialect of the Jews of Zakho. The Israel academy of Science and Humanities 1988.
  111. ^ Khan, Geoffrey (1999). A Grammar of Neo-Aramaic: the dialect of the Jews of Arbel. Leiden: EJ Brill.
  112. ^ Maclean, Arthur John (1895). Grammar of the dialects of vernacular Syriac: as spoken by the Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, north-west Persia, and the Plain of Mosul: with notices of the vernacular of the Jews of Azerbaijan and of Zakhu near Mosul. Cambridge University Press, London.
  113. ^ Heinrichs, Wolfhart (ed.) (1990). Studies in Neo-Aramaic. Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-55540-430-8.
  114. ^ Tezel, Aziz (2003). Comparative Etymological Studies in the Western Neo-Syriac (Ṭūrōyo) Lexicon: with special reference to homonyms, related words and borrowings with cultural signification. Uppsala Universitet. ISBN 91-554-5555-7.
  115. ^ A Statue from Syria with Assyrian and Aramaic Inscriptions
  116. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  117. ^ J. Martin Bailey, Betty Jane Bailey, Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? p. 163: "more than two thirds" out of "nearly a million" Christians in Iraq.
  118. ^ "". 
  119. ^ The Date of Easter. Article from United States Naval Observatory (March 27, 2007).
  120. ^ AUA Release March 26, 2006.
  121. ^ "Three Day Fast of Nineveh". Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  122. ^ a b "Assyrian Festivals and Events in Iran", Encyclopædia Iranica
  123. ^ a b Dr. Joel J. Elias, Emeritus, University of California, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East
  124. ^ M.T. Akbari, Sunder S. Papiha, D.F. Roberts, and Daryoush D. Farhud, "Genetic Differentiation among Iranian Christian Communities," American Journal of Human Genetics 38 (1986): 84–98
  125. ^  
  126. ^ Yepiskoposian et al., Iran and the Caucasus, Volume 10, Number 2, 2006, pp. 191-208(18), "Genetic Testing of Language Replacement Hypothesis in Southwest Asia"
  127. ^ Banoei et al., Human Biology. February 2008, v. 80, no, I, pp. 73-81., "Variation of DAT1 VNTR alleles and genotypes among old ethnic groups in Mesopotamia to the Oxus region""The relationship probability was lowest between Assyrians and other communities. Endogamy was found to be high for this population through determination of the heterogeneity coefficient (+0,6867), Our study supports earlier findings indicating the relatively closed nature of the Assyrian community as a whole, which as a result of their religious and cultural traditions, have had little intermixture with other populations."
  128. ^ Al-Zahery et al., BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:288, "In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq""In the less frequent J1-M267* clade, only marginally affected by events of expansion, Marsh Arabs shared haplotypes with other Iraqi and Assyrian samples, supporting a common local background."

Further reading

  • Aphram I Barsoum, Patriarch (1943). The Scattered Pearls. 
  • Benjamin, Yoab. "Assyrians in Middle America: A Historical and Demographic Study of the Chicago Assyrian Community" (PDF) 10 (2).  
  • BetGivargis-McDaniel, Maegan (2007). Assyrians of New Britain.  
  • Brock, Sebastian (9 September 2002). The Hidden Pearl: The Aramaic Heritage. Trans World Film.  
  • De Courtis, Sėbastien (2004). The Forgotten Genocide: Eastern Christians, the Last Arameans (1st Gorgias Press ed.). Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press.  
  • Donabed, Sargon; Donabed, Ninos (2006). Assyrians of Eastern Massachusetts.  
  • Ephrem I Barsaum, Ignatius (2006). De spridda pärlorna – En historia om syriansk litteratur och vetenskap (in Swedish). Sweden: Anastasis Media AB.  
  • Gaunt, David; Jan Bet̲-Şawoce; Racho Donef (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: Muslim-Christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I. Gorgias Press LLC.  
  • Henrich, Joseph; Henrich, Natalie (May 2007). Why Humans Cooperate: A Cultural and Evolutionary Explanation. Oxford University Press.  
  • Hollerweger, Hans (1999). Tur Abdin: A Homeland of Ancient Syro-Aramaean Culture (in English, German, and Turkish). Österreich.  
  • Taylor, David; Brock, Sebastian (9 September 2002). Vol. I: The Ancient Aramaic Heritage. Trans World Film. 
  • Taylor, David; Brock, Sebastian (9 September 2002). Vol. II: The Heirs of the Ancient Aramaic Heritage. Trans World Film. 
  • Taylor, David; Brock, Sebastian (9 September 2002). Vol. III: At the Turn of the Third Millennium; The Syrian Orthodox Witness. Trans World Film. 

External links

  • Assyrian people, Britannica Online
  • A virtual Assyria: Cyberland
  • A virtual Assyria: Christians from the Middle East
  • Traditional Assyrian Costumes
  • Assyrian Iraqi Document Projects
  • Who Are Assyrians?
  • Assyrian History
  • Aramean History

Assyrian/Syriacs playing zurna and Davul


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

A small minority of Assyrians of the above denominations accepted the Assyrian Evangelical Church, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church and other Protestant Assyrian groups.

For obvious reasons the Chaldean Catholics who follow the East Syrian Rite and were originally members of the historical Church of the East are not Nestorian in theology, a designation which the Church of the East itself denied.

Many members of the following churches consider themselves Assyrian. Ethnic identities are often deeply intertwined with religion, a legacy of the Ottoman Millet system. The group is traditionally characterized as adhering to various churches of Syriac Christianity and speaking Neo-Aramaic languages. It is subdivided into:

As of 2011 Mar Dinkha IV, resident in Chicago Illinois, was Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Addai II, with headquarters in Baghdad, was Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, and Ignatius Zakka I Iwas was Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, with headquarters in Damascus. Mar Emmanuel III Delly, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, was the first Patriarch to be elevated to Cardinal, joining the college of cardinals in November 2007.

Assyrians belong to various Christian denominations such as the Assyrian Church of the East, with an estimated 400,000 members,[116] the Chaldean Catholic Church, with about 900,000 members,[117] and the Syriac Orthodox Church (ʿIdto Suryoyto Triṣaṯ Šuḇḥo), which has between 1,000,000 and 4,000,000 members around the world (only some of whom are Assyrians),[118] the Ancient Church of the East with some 100,000 members, and various Protestant churches, such as the Assyrian Pentecostal Church with 25,000 adherents, and the Assyrian Evangelical Church. While Assyrians are predominantly Christians, a number are irreligious.

Historical divisions within Syriac Christian Churches in the Middle East.


Recent archaeological evidence includes a statue from Syria with Akkadian and Aramaic inscriptions.[115] It is the oldest known Aramaic text.

Assyrians also may speak one or more languages of their country of residence. Being stateless, Assyrians also learn the language or languages of their adopted country, usually Arabic, Armenian, Persian or Turkish. In northern Iraq and western Iran, Turkish and Kurdish are widely spoken.

There is a considerable amount of mutual intelligibility between Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Senaya, Lishana Deni and Bohtan Neo-Aramaic. Therefore, these "languages" would generally be considered to be dialects of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic rather than separate languages. The Jewish Aramaic languages of Lishan Didan and Lishanid Noshan share a partial intelligibility with these varieties. The mutual intelligibility between the aforementioned languages and Turoyo is, depending on the dialect, limited to partial, and may be asymmetrical.[110][113][114]

To the native speaker, "Syriac" is usually called Soureth or Suret. A wide variety of languages and dialects exist, including Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, and Turoyo. Minority dialects include Senaya and Bohtan Neo-Aramaic, which are both near extinction. All are classified as Neo-Aramaic languages and are written using Syriac script, a derivative of the ancient Aramaic script. Jewish varieties such as Lishanid Noshan, Lishán Didán and Lishana Deni, written in the Hebrew script, are spoken by Assyrian Jews.[110][111][112]

The Neo-Aramaic languages 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. Aramaic was the language of commerce, trade and communication and became the vernacular language of Assyria in classical antiquity.[105][106][107] By the 1st century AD, Akkadian was extinct, although some loaned vocabulary still survives in Assyrian Neo-Aramaic to this day.[108][109]

ܐ    ܒ    ܓ    ܕ    ܗ    ܘ
ܙ    ܚ    ܛ    ܝ    ܟܟ    ܠ
ܡܡ    ܢܢ    ܣ    ܥ    ܦ
ܨ    ܩ    ܪ    ܫ    ܬ


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".[104] Spitting on anyone or their belongings is seen as a grave insult.

People often greet and bid relatives farewell with a kiss on each cheek and by saying "ܫܠܡܐ ܥܠܝܟ" Shlama/Shlomo lokh, which means: "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.[103]

Assyrian culture is largely influenced by Christianity.[101] Main festivals occur during religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas. There are also secular holidays such as Kha b-Nisan (vernal equinox).[102]

Assyrian child dressed in traditional clothes.


The object on which the inscription is found is a monument belonging to Urikki, vassal king of Hiyawa (i.e., Cilicia), 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".[100]

The Çineköy inscription is a Hieroglyphic Luwian-Phoenician bilingual, uncovered from Çineköy, Adana Province, Turkey (ancient Cilicia), dating to the 8th century BC. Originally published by Tekoglu and Lemaire (2000),[99] it was more recently the subject of a 2006 paper published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 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 debate appears to have been settled by the discovery of the Çineköy inscription in favour of Syria being derived from Assyria.

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. [98] According to Tsereteli, however, a [97]).atorêta) and only much later, with the rise of nationalism, switched to "Assyrian" (suryêta Rudolf Macuch points out that the Eastern Neo-Aramaic press initially used the term "Syrian" (

The question of ethnic identity and self-designation is sometimes connected to the scholarly debate on the etymology of "Syria". 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.[94] [95] Meanwhile, some scholars has disclaimed the theory of Syrian being derived from Assyrian as "simply naive", and detracted its importance to the naming conflict.[96]

Alqosh, located in the midst of Assyrian contemporary civilization.

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 ܣܘܪܝܝܐ and Ārāmayē ܐܪܡܝܐ, while the majority "Assyrian" faction insists on Āṯūrāyē ܐܬܘܪܝܐ but also accepts Sūryāyē. However, an increasing number of scholars as well as "Syriacs" have begun to use Aramean to refer to this distinct ethnicity (as opposed to ethic Assyrians) since this is historically, culturally and linguistically a more accurate term.

As early as the 8th century BC Luwian and Cilician subject rulers referred to their Assyrian overlords as Syrian, a western Indo-European 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 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 Aramean.[93]

Assyrian vs. Syrian naming controversy

  • Assyrian, named after the ancient Assyrian people, is advocated by followers from within all East and West Syrian Churches (see Syriac Christianity)[83][89]
  • Chaldean, named after the ancient Chaldean people, is advocated by some followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church[88]
  • Syriac, named after the Syriac language, can be found advocated by followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriac Catholic Church[88]
  • Aramean, named after the ancient Aramean people, is advocated by followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church from the Tur Abdin region of Southeast Turkey,[90][91] and some followers of Syriac Catholic Church in Israel.[92]

Below are terms commonly used by Assyrians to self-identify:


Today, Assyrians and other minority ethnic groups in the Middle East, feel pressure to identify as "Arabs",[85][86] "Turks" and "Kurds".[87] In addition, Western Media often makes no mention of any ethnic identity of the Christian people of the region and simply call them Christians,[88] Iraqi Christians, Iranian Christians, Syrian Christians, and Turkish Christians, a label rejected by Assyrians.

Assyrians of the Middle East and diaspora employ different terms for self-identification based on conflicting beliefs in the origin and identity of their respective communities.[83] In certain areas of the Assyrian homeland, 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.[84]

Assyrian flag (since 1968)[81]


A total of 550,000 Assyrians live in Europe.[80] 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, Chicago, and Detroit.

Since the Assyrian Genocide, 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.


More recent persecutions since the 19th century include the Massacres of Badr Khan, the Massacres of Diyarbakır (1895), the Adana massacre, the Assyrian Genocide, the Simele Massacre, and the al-Anfal Campaign.

During the eras of Mongol rule under Genghis Khan and Timur, there was indiscriminate slaughter of tens of thousands of Assyrians and destruction of the Assyrian population of northwestern Iran and central and northern Iran.[79]

Due to their Christian faith and ethnicity, the Assyrians have been persecuted since their adoption of Christianity. During the reign of Yazdegerd I, Christians in Persia were viewed with suspicion as potential Roman subversives, resulting in persecutions while at the same time promoting Nestorian Christianity as a buffer between the Churches of Rome and Persia. Persecutions and attempts to impose Zoroastrianism continued during the reign of Yazdegerd II.[77][78]


Note: Assyrian followers of the Chaldean Catholic church make up the majority of the Iraqi Christian population since their conversion to Catholicism from the Assyrian Church of the East in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Assyrian/Syriac people can be divided along geographic, linguistic, and denominational lines, the three main groups being:

In Tur Abdin, one of the two traditional homelands for Assyrians in Turkey, there are only 3,000 left,[75] and an estimated 25,000 in all of Turkey.[76] The other Homeland, which was largely in what is the modern day Hakkari Province of Turkey, was completely purged in the 1915 Assyrian genocide, which also caused many of the Assyrians/Syriacs in Turkey to flee to other areas of the middle east and unaffected traditional homelands in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Others left the Middle east entirely and went to the Western world.

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 and Euphrates. The historical Assyrian homelands spanned across northern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey, and north western Iran. There were also long time and significant communities outside the bounds of their homelands in the major cities of the countries they were in such as Aleppo, Baghdad, Antep, Urfa, Amida, and Istanbul. Modern day, There is a significant Assyrian population in Syria, where an estimated 877,000 Assyrians live.[74]


Assyrian world population.
  more than 500,000
  less than 10,000


The Syriac Military Council is an Assyrian/Syriac military organisation in Syria. The establishment of the organisation was announced on 8 January 2013. According to the Syriac Military Council the goal of the organisation is to stand up for the national rights of Syriacs and to protect the Syriac people in Syria. It intends to work together with the other communities in Syria to change the current government of Aleppo, Damascus, Al-Hasakah, Latakia and Homs.[73]

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, have resulted in Muslims attacking Assyrian Christian communities. Since the start of the Iraq war, at least 46 churches and monasteries have been bombed.[72]

Since the 2003 Iraq War social unrest and anarchy have resulted in the unprovoked persecution of Assyrians in Iraq, mostly by Islamic extremists, (both Shia and Sunni), and to some degree by Kurdish nationalists. In places such as Dora, a neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad, the majority of its Assyrian population has either fled abroad or to northern Iraq, or has been murdered.[71]

21st century

The al-Anfal Campaign of 1986–1989 in Iraq was predominantly aimed at Kurds. However, 2,000 Assyrians were murdered through its gas campaigns; over 31 towns and villages and 25 Assyrian monasteries and churches were razed to the ground; a number of Assyrians were murdered; others were deported to large cities, and their land and homes then being appropriated by Arabs and Kurds.[69][70]

In response to Baathist persecution, the Assyrians of the Zowaa movement within the Assyrian Democratic Movement took up armed struggle against the Iraqi government in 1982 under the leadership of Yonadam Kanna,[68] and then joined up with the IKF in early 1990s. Yonadam Kanna in particular was a target of the Saddam Hussein Ba'ath government for many years.

The Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq 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 forcibly "Arabize" the indigenous Assyrians. The giving of traditional Assyrian/Akkadian names and East 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 government refused to recognise Assyrians as an ethnic group, and fostered divisions among the ethnic Assyrians along religious lines (e.g. Assyrian Church of the East vs Chaldean Catholic Church vs Syriac Orthodox Church vs Assyrian Protestant).[67]

However, this cooperation with the British was viewed with suspicion by some leaders of the newly formed Kingdom of Iraq. The tension reached its peak shortly after the formal declaration of independence when hundreds of Assyrian civilians were massacred during the Simele Massacre by the Iraqi Army in August 1933. The events lead to the expulsion of Shimun XXIII Eshai the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East to the United States where resided until his death in 1975.[65][66]

The Assyrian Levies were founded by the British in 1928, with ancient Assyrian military rankings such as Rab-shakeh, Rab-talia and Tartan, being revived for the first time in millennia for this force. The Assyrians were prized by the British rulers for their fighting qualities, loyalty, bravery and discipline,[64] and were used to help the British put down insurrections among the Arabs and Kurds. During World War II, eleven Assyrian companies saw action in Palestine and another four served in Cyprus. The Parachute Company was attached to the Royal Marine Commando and were involved in fighting in Albania, Italy and Greece. The Assyrian Levies played a major role in subduing the pro-Nazi Iraqi forces at the battle of Habbaniya in 1941.

The majority of Assyrian living in what is today modern Turkey were forced to flee to either Syria or Iraq after the Turkish victory during the Turkish War of Independence.

Modern history

In reaction to the Assyrian Genocide and lured by British and Russian promises of an independent nation, the Assyrians led by Agha Petros and Malik Khoshaba of the Bit-Tyari tribe, fought alongside the allies against Ottoman forces in an Assyrian war of independence. Despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned the Assyrians fought successfully, scoring a number of victories over the Turks and Kurds. This situation continued until their Russian allies left the war, and Armenian resistance broke, leaving the Assyrians surrounded, isolated and cut off from lines of supply.

The most significant recent persecution against the Assyrian population was the Russia.[60][61][62][63]

World War I and aftermath

Another major massacre of Assyrians (and Armenians) in the Ottoman Empire occurred between 1894 and 1897 AD by Turkish troops and their Kurdish allies during the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The motives for these massacres were an attempt to reassert Pan-Islamism 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, 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.[59]

In the 1840s many of the Assyrians living in the mountains of Hakkari in the south eastern corner of the Ottoman Empire were massacred by the Kurdish emirs of Hakkari and Bohtan.[58]

Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to northern Mesopotamia in the same year and fixed his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by the partisans of the Assyrian Church of the East patriarch of Alqosh,[57]:57 he ordained five metropolitan bishops thus beginning a new ecclesiastical hierarchy: the patriarchal line known as the Shimun line. The area of influence of this patriarchate soon moved from Amid east, fixing the See, after many places, in the isolated Assyrian village of Qochanis. Although this new church eventually drifted away from Rome by 1600 AD and reentered communion with the Assyrian Church, the archbishop of Amid reinstated relations with Rome in 1672 AD, giving birth to the modern Chaldean Catholic Church.

A religious schism amongs the Assyrians took place in the mid to late 16th century. Dissent over the hereditary succession within the Assyrian Church of the East grew until 1552, when a group of Assyrian bishops, from the northern regions of Amid and Salmas, elected a priest, Mar Yohannan Sulaqa, as a rival patriarch. To look for a bishop of metropolitan rank to consecrate him patriarch, Sulaqa traveled to the pope in Rome and entered into communion with the Catholic Church. In 1553 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the rank of patriarch taking the name of Mar Shimun VIII. He was granted the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans," and his church was named the Church of Athura and Mosul.[56]

The Ottomans secured their control over Mesopotamia and Syria in the first half of the 17th century following the millets. 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.[55]

Assyrian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia

From Iranian Safavid to confirmed Ottoman rule

The region was later controlled by the in Iran-based Turkic confederations of the Aq Qoyunlu and Qara Qoyunlu. Subsequently all Assyrians, like with the rest of the ethnicities living in the former Ak Koyunlu territories, fell in Iranian Safavid hands from 1501 and on.

After initially coming under Seljuk and Buyid rule, the region eventually came under the control of the Mongol Empire after the fall of Baghdad in 1258. The Mongol khans were sympathetic with Christians and did not harm them. The most prominent among them was probably Isa, a diplomat, astrologer, and head of the Christian affairs in the Yuan Dynasty in East Asia. He spent some time in Persia under the Ilkhans. The 14th century AD massacres of Timur 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."

Mongolian and Turkic rule

Culturally, ethnically and linguistically distinct from, although both quite influencing on, and quite influenced by, their neighbours in the Middle East — the Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Turks, Jews and Armenians — the Assyrians have endured much hardship throughout their recent history as a result of religious and ethnic persecution.

Celebration at a Syriac Orthodox monastery in Mosul, Ottoman Syria, early 20th century.

However, many Assyrian Christians survived the various massacres and pogroms, and resisted the process of Arabization and Islamification, retaining a distinct Mesopotamian identity, Mesopotamian Aramaic language and written script. The modern Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs or Arameans of today are descendants of the indigenous inhabitants of Mesopotamia, who refused to be converted to Islam or be culturally, linguistically, and ethnically Arabized.

The 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, and it was from this point that the ancient Assyrian capital of Assur was finally abandoned by Assyrians.[54]

From the 7th century AD onwards Mesopotamia saw a steady influx of Arabs, Kurds and other Iranian peoples,[52] and later Turkic peoples, and the indigenous population retaining native Mesopotamian culture, identity, language, religion and customs were steadily marginalised and gradually became a minority in their own homeland.[53]

As non-Islamic proselytising was punishable by death under Sharia law, the Assyrians were forced into preaching in Transoxania, Central Asia, India, Mongolia and China where they established numerous churches. The Church of the East was considered to be one of the major Christian powerhouses in the world, alongside Latin Christianity in Europe and the Byzantine Empire.[51]

However, despite this, indigenous Assyrians became second class citizens in a greater Arab Islamic state, and those who resisted Arabisation and conversion to Islam were subject to severe religious, ethnic and cultural discrimination, and had certain restrictions imposed upon them.[49] Assyrians were excluded from specific duties and occupations reserved for Muslims, they did not enjoy the same political rights as Muslims, their word was not equal to that of a Muslim in legal and civil matters, as Christians they were subject to payment of a special tax (jizyah), they were banned from spreading their religion further or building new churches in Muslim ruled lands, but were also expected to adhere to the same laws of property, contract and obligation as the Muslim Arabs.[50]

The Assyrians initially experienced some periods of religious and cultural freedom interspersed with periods of severe religious and ethnic persecution after the Arab Islamic invasion and conquest of the 7th century AD. As heirs to ancient Mesopotamian civilization and culture, they also contributed hugely to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Umayyads and the Abbasids by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards to Arabic. They also excelled in philosophy, science and theology (such as Tatian, Bar Daisan, Babai the Great, Nestorius, Toma bar Yacoub etc.) and the personal physicians of the Abbasid Caliphs were often Assyrian Christians such as the long serving Bukhtishu dynasty.[48]

Arab conquest

Pre-Christian history

This article is part of the series on the

History of the
Assyrian people

medieval icon depicting Ephrem the Syrian.

Early history

Old Assyrian period (20th–15th c. BC)
Aramaeans (14th–9th c. BC)
Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BC)
Achaemenid Assyria (539–330 BC)

Classical Antiquity

Seleucid Empire (312–63 BC)
Osroene (132 BC – 244 AD)
Syrian Wars (66 BC – 217 AD)
Roman Syria (64 BC – 637 AD)
Adiabene (15–116 AD)
Roman Assyria (116–118)
Christianization (1st to 3rd c.)
Nestorian Schism (5th c.)
Asuristan (226–651)
Byzantine–Sasanian wars (502–628)

Middle Ages

Muslim conquest of Syria (630s)
Abbasid rule (750–1258)
Emirs of Mosul (905–1383)
Buyid amirate of Iraq (945–1055)
Principality of Antioch (1098–1268)
Ilkhanate Empire (1258–1335)
Jalayirid Sultanate (1335–1432)
Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468)
Aq Qoyunlu (1453–1501)

Modern History

Safavid Empire (1508-1555)
Ottoman Empire (1555–1917)
Schism of 1552 (16th c.)
Massacres of Badr Khan (1840s)
Massacres of Diyarbakir (1895)
Rise of nationalism (19th c.)
Adana massacre (1909)
Assyrian genocide (1914–1920)
Independence movement (since 1919)
Simele massacre (1933)
Post-Saddam Iraq (since 2003)

See also

Assyrian continuity
Assyrian diaspora



  • History 1
    • Pre-Christian history 1.1
    • Arab conquest 1.2
    • Mongolian and Turkic rule 1.3
    • From Iranian Safavid to confirmed Ottoman rule 1.4
      • World War I and aftermath 1.4.1
    • Modern history 1.5
      • 21st century 1.5.1
  • Demographics 2
    • Homeland 2.1
    • Persecution 2.2
    • Diaspora 2.3
  • Identity 3
    • Self-designation 3.1
    • Assyrian vs. Syrian naming controversy 3.2
  • Culture 4
    • Language 4.1
    • Religion 4.2
    • Music 4.3
    • Dance 4.4
    • Festivals 4.5
    • Traditional clothing 4.6
    • Cuisine 4.7
  • Genetics 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Most recently, the Iraq War has displaced the regional Assyrian community, as its people have faced ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists and Arab and Kurdish nationalists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to have fled Iraq since the occupation, nearly 40% are Assyrian, although Assyrians comprised around 3% of the pre-war Iraqi population.[45][46][47] According to a 2013 report by a Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council official, it is estimated that only 300,000 Assyrians remain in Iraq.[3]

Emigration was triggered by such events as the Assyrian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, the Simele massacre in Iraq (1933), the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979), Arab Nationalist Baathist policies in Iraq and Syria, the Al-Anfal Campaign of Saddam Hussein,[44] and Kurdish nationalist policies in northern Iraq.

. Jordan and Azerbaijan southern Russia, Israel, [43]

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