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Posted by Jeff on September 19, 2001 at 21:09:53:

In Reply to: Original Ross Nazi Article posted by Jeff on September 19, 2001 at 21:09:05:

Note on the modern




Teaching in Los Angeles, with a large
immigrant community, I get students from all over the world, with especially
large contingents from Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the
Far East. Among the Middle Eastern students from Iraq and Iran are those who
call themselves "Assyrians." This is an extremely interesting and
important group of people. They are the remnant of
src="..\history\alpha-se.gif" align=right v:shapes="_x0000_s1029">style='mso-bookmark:syrian'>(Syriac) and
their alphabet (Syriac) have undergone considerable changes since that period.
If what they mean to claim is that they originally invented the alphabet
as such, then they go too far, since the Aramaic alphabet itself is a version
of the older alphabet used originally by Hebrews, Phoenicians, and others. :

other self-flattering Assyrian stories from my students is one that the Persian
Empire was conquered, not by the Persians, but by Assyrians hired by
href="..\greek.htm#text-3">style='mso-bookmark:assyrian'>Cyrus the Greatstyle='mso-bookmark:syrian'>style='mso-bookmark:syrian'>. Why Iranian
peoples who were largely responsible for the destruction of Assyria itself, to
an extent that an Assyrian state really never existed again, would then need
the help of their crushed former enemies to extend their own conquests,
assimilating them into the new tactics and equipment used by the Persian army,
is unclear. Some of the documentary evidence cited for this is the list given
by Herodotus of the ethnic units conscripted into the Persian army, which
included people identified by Herodotus as, alternatively, "Syrians"
or "Assyrians." As above, this confusion of people from northern Iraq
with those of the Levant can be seized upon to mean that the people were all
true ethnic Assyrians. The actual text gives no hint of how many ethnic
Assyrians would be involved. They have really disappeared into the growing sea
of Aramaic speakers. Furthermore, the ethnic units in the Persia army were not
the core of the army. Conscipted subject peoples could never be entirely
trusted. The core of the army would have to be Iranian, like the 10,000
"Immortals" -- called that because casualties were immediately replaced,
an uncommon practice even in modern armies. :

to be the actual people who founded the first civilization, invented writing
and then the alphabet, and then were the secret power behind later empires may
well enhance the "self-esteem" of the people who make them, but they
are tragic and disgraceful when they replace with fiction the real history that
is unique and significant enough. The translation of Greek philosophy into
href="..\hist-1.htm#islam">style='mso-bookmark:assyrian'>Arabicstyle='mso-bookmark:syrian'>, when it came,
was often based on the precedent of translations into Syriac that were
made first in Late Antiquity. Christian missionaries who turned up the court of
style='mso-bookmark:assyrian'>T'ang Dynastystyle='mso-bookmark:syrian'>style='mso-bookmark:syrian'> China in 635
were Nestorians all the way from Iraq. This has to have been some of the
most ambitious and dangerous missionary work ever undertaken by Christians.
Their own Syriac alphabet then became the basis for the alphabets used
in Central Asia by the Uigers, Mongols, and Manchurians. That alphabet is still
used to write Mongolian. With all this fascinating and important history, it is
seems shameful to ignore or belittle it in favor of inventions that magnify an
earlier and very different culture and religion, with the implication of
insulting the roots of Christianity itself in ancient Israel. The ancient
Assyrians, in short, are not worthy of the mediaeval and modern
Assyrians. :

originally wrote these remarks in order to have something to which I could
refer Assyrian students, who might make some of these claims in class, so that
I wouldn't have to argue with them and waste time in class about it. :

this material has been posted with my other
style='mso-bookmark:syrian'>class materialsstyle='mso-bookmark:syrian'>style='mso-bookmark:syrian'> on the
Internet, however, I have been contacted by some Assyrians who have wanted to
straighten out the "mistakes" in the account. Since I am not the
specialist in ancient history, Assyriology, or linguistics, I am really not the
person to whom people should complain about any of this. What I have presented
simply seems to me the standard and well established scholarly understanding of
these matters, as I have gathered from many sources over the years, all the way
back to my class in ancient Middle Eastern history at the American University
of Beirut in 1970. Anyone who has complaints about my treatment should first
consult some standard sources. :

best general ancient history of Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria that I am aware
of is Ancient Iraq by Georges Roux (Penguin Books, 1966, 1980,
1992). Roux's admiration for the Assyrians leads him to tone down his
characterization of their ferocity, but his description of events speaks for
itself. His description of the ethnic communties of the ancient Middle East is
thorough and excellent. No one is going to confuse the Aramaeans with the
Assyrians from his account. More varied and recent information can be found in The

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