A Weekly Assyrian Online Magazine
Vol III, Issue 33
I Tishreen 20, 6747
October 20, 1997
THIS WEEK IN ZENDA
Good Morning Bet-NahraiN Clinton's Report to Congress, on Iraq
Fighting Erupts Between Kurdish Groups
Iraq Conducts Population Census
Surfs Up "above our church and tribal affiliations."
Surfers Corner Ancient Assyrain Artifacts in Iraq
Assyrian Cornerstone Ceremony
Israeli Journal's Interview with Waled Phares
News Digest News Bits from Mid-East
Calendar of Events Library Tour of the Near Eastern Collection
Khudra October-December 1997
Entracte Athletic Organization Dance Party in San Jose
Intelligentsia Meetings & Classes
Abzu Assyrian Radio & TV Programs
Assyrian Surfing Posts Liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East
Pump up the Volume Blanket and Pillow
Back to the Future Revolts of 770's & the Akkadian Language
Literatus The Sensual Experience of Assyrian Sculptures
This Week in History Justin Perkins
Bravo Assyrian National Foundation of America
The Directory ZENDA News Sources
Bshena Glenview and Manchester
Salute Lena, Nadia, and Ron
Five thousand years ago a remarkable scientific and engineering revolution took place in Mesopotamia. Bet-Nahrainian invention of wheel and writing, the use of metals, and potteries with geometric figures brought forth a rapid move towards urbanization in Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria.
Around 6000 years ago in southern Bet-Nahrain the Sumerians still had not recognized the concept of a number. Two apples from differentiated from two oranges, but they resisted the additions of two unlike things. However, by 3100 B.C., they had developed the concept of numbers independent of the objects they represented. In about 2500 BC, by Royal Edict, weights and measures were standardized in Babylon. A practical business decision it eliminated much tension in the marketplace. The smallest unit of length was the finger, about 2/3 of an inch. The cubit was 30 fingers. The cord (surveyor's rope) was 120 cubits, that is, 3600 fingers. The league was 180 cords, about seven miles. The smallest unit of weight was the grain (about 45 milligrams), the shekel was 180 grains (about ¼ ounce) and the talent was 3600 shekels (about 67 pounds).
By 2000 BC, there was a calendar with a year of 360 days, 12 months of 30 days each, with an extra month thrown in every six years or so to keep synchronized with astronomical observations. By this time a day was divided into hours, minutes and seconds; and the circle was divided into 360 degrees. Notice that all these standards of measurement include multiples of 60- obviously, 60 was the Babylonians' favorite number.
To appreciate what constitutes a good counting system, it is worthwhile reviewing briefly our own system. In our system 1 can mean 1 or 10 or 100 depending on where it appears in the expression -- the 1 in 41 means a
different quantity from the 1 in 145, for example. We say the value of a symbol has "positional dependence" -- its actual value depends on where in the expression it appears. Our convention, as you well know, is that the number to the far right in our system is the number of 1's, the number to its immediate left is the number of 10's, to the left of that comes the number of 10x10's, then of 10x10x10's and so on. We use the same set of symbols, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 in each of these positions, so the value of such a symbol in a number depends on its position in that number.
To express quantities less than 1, we use the decimal notation. We put a dot (in some countries a comma) and it is understood that the number to the immediate left of the dot is the number of 1's, that to the immediate right the number of tenths (10-1's in mathematical notation), the next number is the number of hundredths (10-2's) and so on. With this convention, ½ is written .5 or 0.5 and 1/5 is .2. Unfortunately, 1/3 becomes .33333..., rather inconveniently, and 1/6 and 1/7 similarly go on for ever. (Actually, this decimal system with the dot is, historically speaking, rather a recent invention---it was created by a Scotsman called Napier about 400 years ago.)
Babylonian number system has only two basic elements, the first of which is clear on examining the first nine numbers. Evidently, these nine numbers are all constructed of a single element, a mark easily gouged with one twist of a stick in the soft clay, and the number of times this element is repeated is the number represented. The numbers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, are represented by the symbols.
It is clear that again we have simple repetition of a basic element, which we will conveniently represent by <, and again it's a mark not difficult to make in the soft clay. Thus, any number between 1 and 59 is represented by a symbol from the second diagram followed in the usual case by one from the first diagram, so 32 would be written <<<11, approximately. When they get to 60, the Babylonians start again in a similar way to our starting again at 10. Thus, 82 is written as 1<<11,
where the first 1 represents 60. So the Babylonian system is based on the number 60 the same way ours is based on 10. Ours is called a "decimal"
system, theirs a "sexagesimal" system.
There are some real problems with the Babylonian number system, the main one being that nobody thought of having a zero, so both sixty and one look exactly the same, that is both are represented by 1! Actually, since there is no decimal point, the way to write 1/2, which we write 0.5, for five tenths, they would write <<<, for thirty sixtieths---but with no
zero, of course, and no dot either. So if we see <<< on a clay tablet, we don't know if it means 1/2, 30 or for that matter 30x60, that is, 1800.
This is in fact not as bad as it sounds---sixty is a very big factor, and it will usually be clear from the context if <<< should be
interpreted as 1/2 or 30. Also, in columns of figures, a <<< representing 30 was often put to the left of <<< representing 1/2.
The Babylonian system is really wonderful for fractions! The most common fractions, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6 all are represented by a single number (1/2= <<< , 1/3= << , 1/5= <11, etc.). That is, these fractions are exact
numbers of sixtieths---sixty is the lowest number which exactly divides by 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This is a vast improvement on the
decimal system, which has infinite recurrences for 1/3 and 1/6, and even ¼ needs two figures: .25.
Of course, even in Babylonian, eventually we are forced to go to the second "sexagesimal" number, which would be the number of sixtieths of sixtieths, that is, of three-thousand-six-hundredths. For example, 1/8 is seven-and-a-half sixtieths, so would be written as seven followed by thirty---for seven sixtieths plus thirty sixtieths of a sixtieth. And, 1/7 is as much of a headache as it is in our own system.
In order to make their bookkeeping as painless as possible, The Babylonians had math tables - clay tablets with whole lists of
reciprocals. The reciprocal of a number is what you have to multiply it by to get 1, so the reciprocal of 2 is 1/2 written 0.5 in our system, the reciprocal of 5 is 1/5 written 0.2 and so on. The point of having reciprocal tables is that dividing by something is the same as multiplying by the reciprocal, so using the tables you can replace division by multiplication, which is a lot easier.
Surviving clay tablet examples of Babylonian reciprocal tablets look like this:
11111111 1111111 <<<
We have cheated a bit here to avoid creating a graphics file---the numbers 4, 5, 6, etc. in both columns should really have their 1's stacked as in the first figure above.
Let's take as an example how much food a family needs. If they consume 120 shekels of grain each day, for example, that's 12 talents of grain per year. (One talent = 3600 shekels). Just imagine the parallel calculation now - if the family consumes 30 ounces of grain a day, what is that in tons per year? If you were transported to the Babylon of four thousand years ago, you would hardly miss your calculator! Admittedly, the Babylonian calculation is a bit more difficult every six years when they throw in an extra month.
Some of the clay tablets discovered contain lists of triplets of numbers, starting with (3, 4, 5) and (5, 12, 13) which are the lengths of sides of right angled triangles, obeying Pythagoras' "sums of squares" formula. In particular, one tablet, now in a collection at Yale, shows a picture of a square with the diagonals marked, and the lengths of the lines are marked on the figure: the side is marked <<< meaning thirty (fingers?) long, the diagonal is marked:
<<<<11 <<11111 <<<11111. This translates to 42, 25, 35, meaning 42 + 25/60 + 35/3600. Using these figures, the ratio of the length of the diagonal to the length of the side of the square works out to be 1.414213…
Now, if we use Pythagoras' theorem, the diagonal of a square forms with two of the sides a right angled triangle, and if we take the sides to have length one, the length of the diagonal squared equals 1 + 1, so the length of the diagonal is the square root of 2. The figure on the clay tablet is incredibly accurate-the true value is 1.414214… Of course, this Babylonian value is far too accurate to have been found by measurement from an accurate drawing - it was clearly checked by arithmetic multiplication by itself, giving a number very close to two.
An Old Babylonian tablet from Yale University Collection (No. 7289) includes the calculation of the square root of two to three sexagesimal places. The Babylonian value for the square root of 2 is equal to approximately 1.414222, differing by about .00008 from the true value. Such accuracy was only surpassed by the mathematicians around 500 years ago. Babylonian tablets also show successive powers of a given number, calculations analogous to logarithms and antilogarithm, solutions to the complete three-term quadratic equations, cubic equations, and the geometric properties of the "length", "area", and "volume."
Around 600 B.C. the intellectual activity of Bet-Nahrain lost its vigor and the Greek islands became the new centers of learning. By this time Greeks had become familiar with the works of the "practical" Mesopotamian mathematicians and in the next two hundred years applied much of this knowledge to the development of their "rational" mathematics. Consumed by "logical inferences" and the rational nature of numbers Greek mathematicians wrote "proofs" for every conceivable geometric and algebraic problem. Mathematics in Bet-Nahrain was a practical activity, whereas that practiced by the Greeks had an intellectual and spiritual meaning- to liberate the soul from its material bonds.
Centuries later, the Assyrian communities of Bet-Nahrain continued to possess a remarkable knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. In the third century A.D., the university-hospital of Gantha-Shapirta (Beautiful Garden) was founded near the present day city of Ahwaz in Iran. Assyrian scholars taught medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and logic. They also translated Greek texts into Syriac. In Nisibin (Nisibis) and Urhai (Edessa) these Syriac texts were translated to Arabic and during the Crusades were transported to the centers of learning in Europe. Henceforth was the mathematics of Sumer and Babylon, admired and refined by the Green mathematicians, introduced to the Latin, French, German, and English scholars of the Renaissance era.
The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, & Mathematics, Timothy Ferris
A History of Mathematics, Carl Boyer
Michael Fowler's Physics Lectures
[In 1948 Israel adopted the Babylonian Shekel as its currency unit. Pythagoras lived in the Greek island of Samos from 581 to 497 B.C.]
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
EXCERPS FROM PRESIDENT CLINTON'S REPORT ON IRAQ TO U.S. CONGRESS
(September 23)...Regarding northern Iraq, the United States continues to lead efforts to increase security and stability in the north and minimize opportunities for Baghdad or Tehran to threaten Iraqi citizens there. An important part of this effort has been to work toward resolving the differences between the two main Iraqi Kurd groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Jalal Talabani. Talabani visited the United States in late July to meet with National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson. At these sessions, he reaffirmed his interest in the "Ankara process" of ongoing reconciliation talks jointly sponsored by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. Recently, the KDP's Barzani has also accepted our invitation to Washington.
As part of the Ankara process, the United States provides political, financial, and logistical support to the neutral, indigenous Peace Monitoring Force (PMF), comprised of Iraqi Turkomans and Assyrians. The PMF has demarcated and monitors the cease-fire line established between the two Kurdish groups in October 1996. United States support takes the form of services and commodities provided in accordance with a drawdown that I directed on December 11, 1996, and funds for other nonlethal assistance provided in accordance with a separate determination made by former Secretary of State Christopher on November 10, 1996.
The PMF also helps the Iraqi Kurds move forward on other confidence-building measures, including joint committee meetings to address a range of civilian services and humanitarian issues affecting all residents of the north. Local representatives of the two Kurdish groups, the three co-sponsors of the Ankara process and the PMF continue to meet at least biweekly in Ankara to discuss, inter alia, other confidence-building measures.
The PMF began full deployment in mid-April 1997 and its size is expected to double later this year to more than 400. The PMF continues to investigate and resolve reported cease-fire violations. Its work has become more difficult as elements of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have moved from the Turkish border toward the PUK-KDP cease-fire line. The KDP alleges that PKK elements have been operating across the cease-fire line to attack the KDP. The KDP also alleges that the PUK has joined in some of these attacks, a charge that the PUK denies. The United States, together with the United Kingdom and Turkey, continues to stress the importance of strict observance of the cease-fire.
Another important aspect of our commitment
to the people of northern Iraq is in providing humanitarian relief for
those in need. As part of this
commitment, AID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance will direct an
additional $4 million for relief projects to the region. These supplemental programs, announced July 31, will provide emergency health and nutritional support to 80,000 displaced women and children and improve water supplies and sanitation, particularly in the PUK-controlled province of Suleymaniyah.
The oil-for-food arrangement under UNSCR 986 was reauthorized by UNSCR 1111 on June 4, 1997, and went into effect on June 8, 1997. Under UNSCR 1111, Iraq is authorized to sell up to $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days, for a total of $2 billion during a 180-day period (with the possibility of UNSC renewal for subsequent 180-day periods). Resolution 1111, like its predecessor, requires that the proceeds of this limited oil sale, all of which must be deposited in a U.N. escrow account, will be used to purchase food, medicine, and other material and supplies for essential civilian needs for all Iraqi citizens and to fund vital U.N. activities regarding Iraq. Critical to the success of UNSCR 1111 is Iraq's willingness to follow through on its commitments under the resolution to allow the U.N. to monitor the distribution of humanitarian goods to the Iraqi people. Although UNSCR 1111 went into effect on June 8, Iraq unilaterally suspended oil sales until a new distribution plan was submitted and approved. The U.N. Secretary General approved a distribution plan on August 13 and oil sales have resumed.
...The U.N., in its most recent reports on implementation of UNSCR 986, recognized that the Government of Iraq continues forcibly to deport Iraqi citizens from Kirkuk and other areas of northern Iraq still under the Iraqi government's control. The Government of Iraq shows no signs
of complying with UNSCR 688, which demands
that Iraq cease the repression of its own people. The effort by various
Iraqi opposition groups and
non-governmental organizations to document Iraqi war crimes and other
violations of international humanitarian law, known as INDICT, continues.
...Iraq remains a serious threat to regional peace and stability. I remain determined to see Iraq comply fully with all of its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions. My Administration will continue to oppose any relaxation of sanctions until Iraq demonstrates its peaceful intentions through such compliance.
I appreciate the support of the Congress for our efforts and shall continue to keep the Congress informed about this important issue.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
FIGHTING ERUPTS BETWEEN RIVAL KURDISH GROUPS IN NORTHERN IRAQ
(ZNAF: Ankara) Fighting has broken out between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in northern Iraq, breaking a year-old Western-brokered ceasefire. A PUK official confirmed the clashes at the city of Shaklawa in the Haj Umran area near the Iranian border but said his group had acted in self defense. KDP led by Massoud Barzani, has been fighting with Turkish troops against a third Kurdish group, PKK. The PUK, headed by Jalal Talabani, said Barzani's forces had attacked it. Iran's official news agency reported last Friday that Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has captured the town of Jelaleh and 87 villages (40 square miles) from Barzani's groups in the Belek region. It added that PUK allied forces were presently entrenched on Hasan-Beig heights which looks over Bradust region. The PUK had previously claimed to have captured the towns of Haj-Omran, Qasra, Chuman and Nav-Bordan in the Balek region. 57 KDP fighters have been killed so far, the PUK claimed Tuesday. The PUK has protested to Turkey over alleged air raids on Allane and Balisan, two villages in northern Iraq under its control, which left four civilians dead and four injured.
The PUK and KDP disagree on such issues as the sharing of revenues, setting up a new administration in northern Iraq and disarming Arbil. Last year Saddam Hussein sent troops to the north to help Barzani take the key city of Arbil from Talabani's forces, reportedly supported by the government of Iran. KDP radio said that separatist Turkish Kurds of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were assisting the PUK while the KDP
forces were backed by the Turkish army. The PKK, which has rear bases in northern Iraq, is fighting for a separate homeland in Turkey. Turkish troops and KDP have killed over 900 PKK rebels in three weeks of fighting following an army incursion into northern Iraq that is now about to end.
Turkey said the army units taking part in the campaign continued to withdraw from northern Iraq, with scores of armored vehicles entering Turkish territory Tuesday. The army Monday put its death toll at 15, with 140 others injured. The PKK has been fighting the Ankara government for an independent Kurdish state in Turkey's southeast since 1984. More than 26,000 people have died in Turkey in the conflict.
A United Nations representative said the fighting between the KDP and PUK was running in an arc from Shaklawa in northeastern Iraq to Haj Omran near the border with Iran. Many trucks used for food distribution in areas affected by the fighting were used by the warring factions for military purposes. A children's vaccination program was set for October 18-20. Last October, as part of the peace process brokered by Britain, Turkey and the United States, a peacekeeping force of Turkomans and Assyrians was deployed on the line of demarcation now violated by the KDP and PUK fightings. The United States, Britain and Turkey, jointly called Friday night on the two factions to accept another ceasefire, but clearly blamed the PUK for the latest round of violent rivalry. Both PUK and KDP finally agreed to this latest cease-fire and returned UN trucks they seized in northern Iraq after declaring a truce. However, at least 12 people were killed in fighting after the signing of the ceasefire. Electrical power has since been restored in Arbil.
Roger Vivarie, Deputy Head of Mission for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that an influx from the fighting which has caused internal displacement of Iraqis in the north is feared. The impact of such a mass movement on the Assyrian population in the north remains to be seen. The governor of Iran's Kurdistan province, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, said the province was mobilizing all facilities to cope with the possible exodus of Iraqi refugees. Up to 45,000 Iraqi Kurds fled similar fighting in northern Iraq last year to Iran, which is already home to two million refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan making it one of the world's biggest host countries of refugees.
IRAQ CONDUCTS POPULATION CENSUS
(ZNUP: Beirut) The official Iraqi News Agency says Iraqis are cooperating fully with a population census, the first since 1987. A dispatch monitored in Beirut said 160,000 census takers and 9,500 local officials are carrying out the census. Iraqi authorities declared a 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. curfew on Thursday to prevent movement and travel and allow for an accurate count. Northern Iraq is likely to be left out of the latest census. The Ministry of Culture and Information has organized a tour in Baghdad for Arab and foreign journalists to observe the process. This year's census is meant to gather information about Iraq's social and economic potential. It will include a house count, demographic details on citizens, and a record of agricultural land-holdings and crops. The agency quotes the top census official as saying data collection is proceeding smoothly. Preparations for the census began last March. The agency says Iraqi citizens living in neighboring Jordan are flocking to the Iraqi embassy in Amman and five other points to fill out census forms. There may be as many as 14,000 Iraqi Assyrians living in Amman. The first modern census, conducted in 1927, showed there were about 3 million Iraqis. Eric Falt, spokesman for the UN coordinator office of humanitarian operations in Iraq, said the World Food Program had carried out its own census in the north and determined the population at 3.1 million people. According to official estimates, Iraq's overall population is 21 million, including four million residents of Baghdad. The 1987 census put more than half of the population under the age of 20. The growth rate is around 3.4 percent a year, and the United Nations estimates that the population will have reached 46 million in 2025.
"After reading your story about Mr. Malek Yusuf I was tormented even more that my people "Assyrians" have been pushed and pulled every direction for the past century. Westerners have used us to fight their ugly wars since they are not interested to lose their own sons and daughters. I Would like to raise a question to all Assyrian parents: why is it that your off-springs carry a Western name (including my name that is Albert)?. My parents are surprised to find out that I do not like my western given name. If you were to ask where they have learned these names, the answer is movies, magazines, and tabloids. Do you think Jews would ever name there sons Hitler? Since we know how Westerners have treated us in the past we should not use their names. To me it is very ugly when our first name is European and then the family name is a village in Urmi, such as Albert Sborkhan or Albert Khosroabad- shall I continue? I think you got my message including my own family. I hope you publish this on Zenda and maybe some parents wake up."
Sutter Creek, California
"With all due respect to Mar Bawai Soro, I have a few comments regarding his recent reply in the October 13, 1997 issue.
I grant that the previous attempts towards
reconciliation of the two
Churches of the East have not been fruitful, but it has not been due to a lack of effort or interest on the part of the Church of the East (Old
Calendar). In fact Mar Addai outlined the history behind these
reconciliation efforts in his August 15th interview on AssyriaVision. I
am rather baffled as to what I should conclude considering that both
parties have made attempts at reconciling their differences with no avail.
In regards to Patriarch Mar Addai's trip to California, it was critical and necessary at the time. Since his seat is in Baghdad, Iraq, it is incumbent upon His Holiness to visit with his parishes in every representative community in their respective states when he visits a country.
Mar Bawai Soro writes: " Their Holinesses our
two Patriarchs Mar Raphael
and Mar Dinkha, in Chicago, personally called Patriarch Mar Addai, who
was then in California, on the 13th of August (4:10 pm) and invited him to come to Chicago and co-consecrate Mart Maryam Church with them." It was my understanding that this event, which marked a milestone in our history, was to take place on the 15th of August. It is inconceivable that His Holiness Mar Addai could walk away from his massive obligations within such short notice. Granted, His Holiness was visiting in the Chicago area for approximately a month prior to his departure to California, during which an official invitation to this holy event would have resulted in a much more favorable response.
In my humble opinion, if we are in reconciliation talks with each other, publicizing such detailed examples could have counterproductive consequences and would alienate the process furthermore. This issue will most probably warrant a clarification response from the Church of the East-Old Calendar, expressing their point of view on this situation.
Ultimately, these finger-pointing stratagems are detrimental to our church, people, and faith. I am extremely concerned that such unrelenting exchanges can only divide us further. As an Assyrian, my nation's UNITY is imperative, standing above our church and tribal affiliations."
PRESERVATION OF ASSYRIAN ARTIFACTS IN IRAQ
Present-day Iraq, as we are all well too aware, has its share of problems. As Assyrians, it pains us greatly to witness the devastation taking place in our ancestral homeland. What has mainly been at the forefront of our concerns as of late has been the plight of the Assyrians living in northern Iraq. Many Assyrians living outside Iraq have been quite committed to the task of supporting our brothers and sisters still inside. Despite the American-led sanctions, a large portion of Assyrians have done their best to send medical supplies and other needed necessities into Iraq. Whether motivated by guilt, generosity, or a sense of obligation, we have all in some ways made our contributions, however small.
Now another current event in Iraq desperately beckons our help. It appears that the state of poverty and misery which has engulfed Iraq is now affecting the country's ancient treasures. Archeological sites and museums housing ancient Mesopotamian artifacts have been looted and sold or smuggled out of the country. According to Donny Youkhana, Director of Antiquities in Iraq, with the government's assets frozen and the country's infrastructure in ruins, little remains to help support and protect Iraq's antiquities. Desperate Iraqis have attempted, and been successful, at looting local museums - some were actually the security guards hired to protect them. Many have started their own archeological search for ancient artifacts in the hopes of smuggling them out of the country or selling them for far less than what they are actually worth. Most of the treasures that are found are smuggled into Turkey, although it is unclear whether they remain there or are then sold to the outside market. In some cases the findings are cut into pieces in an effort to smuggle them out of the country. This was the case with tablets dating back to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, as well as with one individual who had destroyed the head of the Assyrian Winged Bull. Another item that was smuggled into Turkey was an antique gazelle-leather-bound Bible allegedly worth $1.5 million. Obviously, the negative effects of these actions will forever remain. Evidence of our nation's greatness are being dismantled, and in some cases vanishing all together. As we all know, the world at large knows little, if anything, of our great culture and people. These valuable antiquities and archeological sites are testament to our nation's greatness and achievements. To have them destroyed is not only tragic, but threatens our very identity.
Iraq's official response to this latest disaster has been to, again, blame the United Nations. They state that certain UN workers have taken advantage of their diplomatic privileges by helping themselves to the country's wealth of archeological findings. Although I am personally reluctant to agree with anything said by the current corrupt regime in Iraq, apparently a UN worker from Chile was caught red-handed with some of these items. Prosecuting such an action, if true, is out of the question due to diplomatic immunity.
What I personally also find disappointing is that there are many of our own people who actually support the removal of these antiquities. They feel that housing these treasures in western countries (if that is where these pieces are going) will be an improvement, and that they will be better protected. First of all, I find this argument to be racist. The notion that people in the Third World are so backward and incapable of managing their own affairs that they need western countries to intervene on their behalf to save them from themselves is demeaning. Which is the goal - in order to justify any action taken against any individual/nation, the offense is usually to downgrade or dehumanize the other side, thereby making any action justifiable. Hitler used this tactic against the Jews, and the United States against the North Vietnamese. Besides, even if this were the case, how would one explain the success that both Egypt and Syria have had in protecting their archeological sites (Egypt obviously with its pyramids, Valley of the Kings, and numerous tomb findings, and Syria with Palmyrna, as well as others.) Secondly, despite our disgust with the governments in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, we must remember that situations change.
One day, however impossible this may be to
believe now, Iraq and hopefully other Middle Eastern countries, may actually
enjoy democracy and stability.
Removing antiquities is not a temporary thing - once they leave, they're
gone forever. Finally, even if one agrees with the idea that western
nations can better protect such items, the actual removal in itself is still destructive. Would the world still be in such awe of Egypt's great history if the pyramids' stones were displayed in different museums in different parts of the world? How about if only half of the Greek Acropolis columns were to remain? It definitely takes away from the whole picture, doesn't it? According to Dr. Elizabeth Stone, Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York in Stonybrook, the process of removing these treasures is itself destructive. Looters and buyers alike are only looking for the most valuable of these antiquities; in order to smuggle them out, they actually must be dismantled, therefore resulting in the loss of much information. Dr. Stone equates those who take part in this illegal activity to those involved in organized crime. She states that until the buyers are held responsible for their actions, little can be done.
So how may these people be held responsible for such actions? The majority of our Assyrian organizations have made supporting our people still inside a priority, and rightly so. How can our small nation still keep this as a priority, as well as lobby for the protection of our ancient artifacts? In trying to find the best organization that could assist our community with its historic preservation, I was directed to Dr. McGuire Gibson at the Orient Institute of Chicago. He provided me with a number of suggestions, among them: that Assyrians internationally should contact their respective Customs Department. According to Dr. Gibson, a UNESCO treaty was signed in the early 1970's against the purchase of any illegally obtained archeological find. This law, however, is rarely enforced unless one draws attention to the matter, making it vital that we contact our respective Customs Department when we hear of such matters, and demand that this law be enforced. Other contacts that were provided include Scotland Yard, INTERPOL, an international police organization based in Paris, and IFAR- International Foundation for Art Recovery, based in New York City.
Let me say that I realize that a heavy burden
has been placed on the
Assyrian community outside Iraq - we feel obligated to aid those still in
our homeland, maintain our cultural identity outside, be model examples of our people, and instill our traditions, language, and national pride in our children. At times it may feel like our efforts are pointless - a drop in the bucket, if you will. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any method of measuring how successful we have been at conducting all of the above. I suppose if one were to be taken, we would score pretty well and maybe that would be our reward or incentive. Until then, we must convince ourselves to the best of our abilities that we are making a difference - this I honestly believe. We Assyrians are in a unique situation - because of our size, we have always had to depend on ourselves. In a way, this as proven to be our own reward - any achievements we have ever made we can say that we did ourselves. This independence, in both cultural achievements and national survival, is something we have always taken great pride in. These ancient archeological sites and artifacts are evidence of this pride; bkhalit Allah, one day the world will come to Bet-Nahrain to view these achievements in their native beauty.
ASSYRAIN CORNERSTONE CEREMONY
An in-depth article about the Assyrian Cornernstone
ceremony which took
place on June 12, 1997 at the University of Chicago is featured in the
Oriental Institute News and Notes, No. 155, Fall 1997 issue. For more
information, please contact:
TZEDEK'S INTERVIEW WITH WALED PHARES
There is an interesting interview at an Israeli magazine TZEDEK (Justice) or ZEDKE' with Dr. Waled Phares. You can read it at www.btzedek.co.il/lebanon.htm
NEWS BITS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
A Greek military patrol on Sunday arrested
111 Iraqi immigrants abandoned
on a lonely Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The group, including 27 women and 53 children, was abandoned by a boat that transported them from the Egyptian port of Suez.
An Egyptian Christian was killed by a stray bullet during a police manhunt for Moslem militants as he worked near the site of a deadly attack against police earlier this week.
President Saddam Hussein's son Uday, appearing with a walking stick at an Iraqi Olympic Committee ceremony in Baghdad, called his wounds from an assassination attempt against him in December "an opportunity offered by God" to share the Iraqi people's suffering. Uday was struck by 14 bullets.
More than 1,230 Iranians, mostly intravenous drug users, have been diagnosed as carriers of the HIV virus which causes AIDS, and 155 people have died of the disease
Fast-food giant McDonald's says it has signed an agreement to open the first McDonald's restaurant in Beirut in late 1998, with additional restaurants following shortly.
Some 600 Arab officials and businessmen took
part in the seventh Arab Investors' Conference in Beirut. The forum at
the sea-front Summerland hotel is designed to help boost investment between
Arab nations, discuss
problems hindering inter-Arab investment and encourage economic,financial and stock exchange cooperation.
Iran currently leads Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and
China by four points in
Group A of the qualification games for next year's World Cup (Soccer/Football). The winners of the two qualifying groups in Asia advance to the World Cup while the two second-place teams meet in a one-game playoff to determine the third automatic berth. The loser of the second-place game will then meet Australia for the 32nd and final World Cup spot.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
A Discussion on "The Assyrians":
The Second of Joan Grande's Series of Gallery Talks
on the Development of Civilization.
British Museum, London
Coffee Bar (inside the museum)
Library Tour of the Near Eastern Collections
Main Library of UC, Berkeley
Middle East Studies Association's 31st Annual Meeting
San Francisco, California
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
General Meeting of the Assyrian Foundation of America
Agenda: General Elections
British Association for Near Eastern Archaeology
1997 Annual Conference
University of Durham
Maestro Nebu Issabey's Nineveh Choir
San Jose State University Music Hall
(Tickets are on sale!)
Through Mar 8,1998 In the Presence of
the Gods: Art from Ancient Sumer
The Smart Museum of Art
5550 South Greenwood Avenue
Oct 26 Third Sunday of Moses
Oct 31 Dokhrana 'd Mar Elia (of Hirta or Khirata)
Nov 1 Dokhrana 'd Mar Mikha d'Alqosh
Nov 3 Dokhrana 'd Mar Gewargis, Sahda (The Martyr)
Nov 19 Commemoration of Mar Yacoub m' Pasqa
Nov 22 Dokhrana 'd Mar Odisho d'Urmi
Dec 7 Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Soobara)
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception
Dec 13 Mar Yacub d'Nsiven (St. James of Nisibin)
Dec 20 King Abgar V
Dec 22 Mar Yousip (St. Joseph)
Dec 25 Christmas (Julian Calendar)
For the Church Liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East visit:
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
English Modern Assyrian
Blanket koosh/pa [F]
Pillow bisa/dee/ta [M]
Note: "Bisa/dee/ta" is often mispronounded as "Spadeeta." Other such mispronounced words include:
gneeveh (eyebrows) gveeneh
khmaatda (needle) mkhaadta
gdeela (ice) gleeda
F = Feminine M = Masculine P = Plural
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The Assyrian army is defeated in the north (Urartu), Syria, and the Lake Urmi region. The kingdom of Urartu (today's Turkey & Armenia) controls the traffic in metal, resulting in the revolts of Assyrians in Ashur, Arbakha, and Gusana. King Ashur-Dan III was unable to subdue these revolts. His successor Ashur-Nirari V was even less capable. With the revolt in the city of Calah (Kalakh) Ashur-Nirari perished with every member of his family. The revolt in Calah resulted in the accession of Tiglath-Pileser III to the throne. Under the new king, Assyria quickly recovered, defeated the Urarti kings, neutralized the revolts, and expanded its dominions further than before.
<< The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume III >>
The Swedish Isador Lowenstern advocates the view that Akkadian is a Semitic language. He observed that as in Hebrew, Arabic, and modern Assyrian the Babylonian cuneiform writing left the vowels unrecorded. He found no less than five different signs representing "r-" (ar,ir,er,ur,ra,ri, and ru). Five years later Edward Hincks recognized that these signs did not represent consonants, but syllables. He was able to state decisively that the Babylonian cuneiform writing contained "not one single sign standing for a simpler consonant, but signs representing a consonant preceded or followed by a vowel."
<< Extinct Languages, Friedrich >>
THE SENSUAL EXPERIENCE OF AN ASSYRIAN SCULPTURE
The visual mobility which Assyrian sculpture promotes could be taken as the model for a nonclimactic sensuality. Marquis de Sade speaks of such a narrative form of sexuality, a sexuality in which the orgasmic climax closes an incident of desire. Sade translates into scenarios of literal violence the calculated organization of erotic activity in view of explosive culminations. His work illustrates the relation between a commitment to narrativity and a commitment to certain types of pleasure. Sade thereby proposes that the life of the body does not merely happen; we cultivate, organize, dismiss or concentrate on sensations just as we order our thoughts and dismiss or linger over spectacles in the external world. The Assyrians de-center their representations and keep our attention constantly on the move; they plunge us into a network of shifting relations which destabilize narrative structures. In this visual mobility the spectator moves between two forms with a residual impression of the first form and in anticipation of a second. This constant mobility leads us to postulate an esthetic pleasure brought about not be esthetic objects but by the spaces between their constituent parts. We may define this pleasure as an agitated crossing of the intervals which separate forms. Assyrian art is a lesson in interstitial sensuality.
<< The Forms of Violence, Bersani & Dutoit>>
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
October 20, 1833: Dr. Justin Perkins, the first American missionary, arrives in Urmi.
ASSYRIAN NATIONAL FOUNDATION OF AMERICA (BERKELEY)
The Assyrian National Foundation was established in 1964 and has since been "dedicated to the advancement of Education of Assyrians." "The Berkeley Club" is better recognized for its publication of the Assyrian quarterly magazine, Nineveh. During last week's general meeting the following list financial assistance in 1997 was reported:
Needy Assyrian Families: $ 20,000
(in northern Iraq & 54 families in Jordan)
Assyrian Students (scholarships) $ 10,000
($ 1,750 were sent to students in northern Iraq)
Publication of Books $ 3,500
To contact ANF or subscribe to Nineveh Magazine:
P.O. Box 2620
Berkeley, California 94702
The next General Meeting of this organization is schedules on December 7, 1997 during which time a new Board of Directors will be elected.
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