San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Living History: Modern Assyrian communities in Upper Mesopotamia and their significance
Currently a stateless and transnational ethnic group, the Assyrians still inhabit areas of Upper Mesopotamia in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Despite the fact that they are largely Christian, their literary traditions are rife with allusions to ancient Mesopotamian culture and especially to Assyria. Moreover, whilst most of them speak dialects of Aramaic, their language is infused with Akkadian words – among them, the name they use to identify themselves with. Many of their settlements are also millennia old, are built beside archaeological mounds, and some even bear ancient Akkadian names. Many of these facts have been confirmed by research undertaken in recent years. And yet their right to their identity is contested by many scholars who scoff at the faintest notion of continuity. The lecture will focus on certain geographical, cultural and linguistic features of the modern Assyrians, drawing parallels with what we know from ancient Mesopotamia, and providing evidence that the Assyrian identity does live on today. It will also highlight their significance as a part of living history that must be maintained, despite having recently become a casualty of war and instability.
This lecture is sponsored by GISHRU.