|Re: THE TRAGEDY OF THE ASSYRIANS-1933|
- Sunday, September 26 2004, 18:09:04 (CEST)|
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The essential elements of the ancient stock unquestionably survived. It is true that by A.D. 1400 the population was not one-tenth of what it had been for hundred years earlier. This applied with greater truth to the more southerly portion of the country, which was laid waste by Hulagu Khan, who sacked Baghdad in 1256 and put the whole population to the sword. One hundred years later, however, the arch destroyer, Timur the Lame, swept his tide of destruction across the Mosul plain, which was the scene of one of the greatest massacres of his bloody record. With his death in A.D. 1404 the Mongol tide receded.
By this time the majority of the Assyrian survivors had fled from the plains to the high mountains of Hakkiari and thought in due course many of them did return, it was this district, which then became the real homeland of the Assyrian people. (1)
When the next conquerors, the Ottoman Turks, came in, they found among the survivors in the Mosul plain an extraordinary admixture of races. In few parts of the world were there more different types. The pure Arab, the pure Kurd, the Yezidi, the Jew, the Persian, the Parthian, the Mongol, as well as the ancient Assyrian type, were to be found, with admixtures of all. They exist to the present day, with the complication of numerous Christian sects. In Mosul there are Nestorians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Roman Catholics, with a few Protestants. To them must be added the Moslems, the great majority, a few Sabaeans, the Devil-wowrshipping Yezidis of obscure origin, and the still more obscure Shebeks.
It has been pointed out that the ancient Assyrian type are depicted in the tablets found at Nineveh and elsewhere is clearly retained in the modern Assyrian.
(1) There is no historical foundation for the Assyrian tradition that after the fall of Nineveh many of the Assyrian princes and leaders escaped to the mountains and that it is from them that the Assyrian of today are directly descended.
Dr. Wigram in his book, The Assyrians and their Neighbours, give a photographic example. This argument, however, is rather weak. The modern and the ancient Assyrians were borth of Semitic blood. Many a Jew or Arab, who are also of Semitic descent, or even a Yezidi who probably is not, if he did his hair in the same way as the priest in the modern photograph would as closely resemble the Assyrian of the ancient tablets. Again, many Assyrians, and particularly those of the Tokhuma tribe, have distinct Mongolian features. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the Assyrians retain something of the old Assyrian strain. It is, naturally, much diluted, but it is there. What is still more certain is that what remained of this strain has changed but little during the last five hundred years. For during this last period there has bee little or no intermarriage between the Assyrians and their neighbours.
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