Vol IV, Issue 16

Tamuz 6, 6748                   July 6, 1998

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse The Monasteries of Tur Abdin
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain  Saddam in Bed with Ocalan?
Surfs Up "the audacity to lie, patronise and criticize her own people"
Surfers Corner The New & Improved "Learn Assyrian Online"
News Digest International Assyriology Congress at Harvard
Calendar of Events Events & Gatherings
Assyrian Surfing Posts Atour: The State of Assyrian 
Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Australian Organization
Pump up the Volume Barber and Hair
Back to the Future The Pre-Historic Settlements of Tur-Abdin & John Sa'oro
Literatus The Revolt
This Week in History Colonel Stafford's Travel Warning
Bravo Assyrian-Canadian Periodicals


ZENDA Says...

In 883 B.C. King Ashurnasirpal II began a massive expedition in northern Bet-Nahrain (northern Iraq, southern Turkey, and Northwest Syria) where several minor kingdoms had began revolting against the administration in Nineveh.  He swiftly marched from Erbil to north-west Nineveh and crushed all opposition to his rule.  He then placed the captured cities under an Assyrian governor.  One of these areas was the Kashiari terrain, known today as the Tur Abdin.  Ashurnasirpal rebuilt the old city of Tushkhun on the Tigris river and settled the region with Assyrians.

For over 3000 years the Tur Abdin region in southern Turkey has been a center of cultural and spiritual revivalism.  The origins of the Syrian Orthodox Church, the development of the Syriac studies in theology, sciences, and philosophy, and even the modern Assyrian nationalism at the turn of the century, can be easily traced to the magnificent accomplishments of the inhabitants of this region.

With this and next week's feature articles ZENDA celebrates the prodigious undertakings commanded by today's Assyrians in Europe to preserve the vivid and resonant social and religious attributes of one of the most enduring vestiges of the Assyrian culture- that of Tur-Abdin.



Tur Abdin is a mountainous region in south-east Turkey the height of which varies between 900 and 1400 meters.  The name Tur Abdin is commonly translated as "mountains of God's servants." The word "mountain" can be found on old Assyrian wine lists.

Following the Romans' expulsion of the Jews and Christians from Jerusalem between 70 and 135 AD, some important Christian communities and theological schools appeared in Antioch, Edessa, and Nisibis.  Tur Abdin thus became the center of Syrian Orthodox Church and remained so until the Twentieth Century.  The denotation "Tur Abdin" is used to refer to a great number of the monasteries built there and the monks who lived in them. In the Middle Ages, the number of monasteries in the region was calculated at being over 80.  They served as teaching centers, no only for theology but also for philosophy, astrology, geography, art, literature, law ext.  Next to the schools of Edessa (Urhai) and of Nisibis (Nsiven) the most important monasteries were also great centers of theology: the monastery of Qartamin (Mar Gabriel) in the Fourth Century and the monastery of Deir-ez-Za'faran in the Sixth Century.

As the villages have been deserted over the past few years, so have the monasteries.  Reduced to rubble, their stone ruins have been used to demarcate the land boundaries between houses.  The great monastery of Mar Gabriel in Midyat, and the convent of Salah, where several nuns continue to live, number amongst the few which are still standing.

The current archbishop of the diocese of Tur Abdin is Timotheos Samuel Aktas.  Following the death of the metropolitan in 1969, the functions of the famous Deir-ez-Za'faran monastery (the yellow monastery) were transferred to the monastery of Mar Gabriel:  it is the only one in the region which remains active although  no more than five monks live there.

The monastery of Deir-ez-Za'faran in Midyat and two other little monasteries (Deir Mar Behnam and Deir Netapha) still exist but are inhabited only by a single monk.  The decline of these monasteries has had important consequences on the local culture.  Once housing schools, the monasteries served as meeting places for the Christian community.  They were also seen as places of refuge, offering psychological reassurance to the community as much as anything else.

Almost all the villages which were still Christian until the 1960's and 1970's are situated in a semi-circle around Midyat, between Gercus, Kerburan, Idil and Nusaybin.  There was still one Christian village in Killet, in the area surrounding Savur, and several others near Mardin.

Journal European Des Droits De L'Homme
Number 1-2, 1997
Published in Belgium



(ZNAL: London) nIraq has reportedly allowed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to open offices in Baghdad and in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.   According to the June 28 edition of the London-based, Arabic language newspaper "Al-Hayat," Iraq has also begun to provide the PKK with weapons and logistical support.  Iraq has reportedly also requested that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) allow the PKK to operate in areas of northern Iraq under their control. Iran, Syria, and Greece have reportedly provided refuge and support to the PKK, but Baghdad has recently avoided active support of the group.  Earlier this year, Baghdad appeared to acquiesce to Turkish efforts to destroy the PKK.  Having nearly crushed the PKK within Turkey, the Turkish army has operated recently in northern Iraq with the support of the KDP to finish off the PKK.  A major Turkish offensive last month looked like it was succeeding, when several high-ranking PKK commanders defected from the group to the KDP. London-based Kurdish "Med TV" on June 27 reported that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was ready to negotiate a political solution to the Kurdish issue.  Ocalan reportedly said the PKK were ready to lay down arms in return for a Turkish recognition of the "Kurdish identity" and a "wide Kurdish autonomy within the present borders."

The KDP reportedly continues to support the Turkish army, fighting the PKK and blocking access to Turkish positions.  This has brought criticism from the PUK, with whom the KDP have been pursuing closer ties.  Jabbar Farman, military commander of the PUK, commented that "At the moment, it is
Kurds who are losing, because Kurds are fighting Kurds."  The establishment of an entrenched Turkish presence in northern Iraq, as well as Turkish and KDP successes against the PKK, have apparently
raised concerns in Baghdad over Turkey's ultimate intentions.


"I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you and the staff at Zenda are doing.  I have enjoyed reading the issues on a regular basis..."

Keristofer Saryani

Mr. Saryani is a 1998 ZENDA University Graduate and will be entering Georgetown University in the Fall.

"First and for most, I would like to applaud you for the this fine magazine (or information center) you put together. I think this is valuable for all Assyrians, as well as other people, who have an interest in our culture and history. This is clearly the age of information and the web is a vital source to gain any type of info.

I would also like to congratulate all of our graduates this year.  I know that having the discipline to pursue an education is by no means an easy thing to do, but we must emphasize education to all our brothers and sisters. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO OBTAIN OUR GOALS !!  Personally, I hold a B.S. in Electronics Engineering and I'm halve way through getting my Master of Science in Software Engineering
from DePaul University (Chicago). My future goal is to pursue my Ph.D. in Computer Science specializing in Firing Algorithms of Cellular Sites.  I look forward to contributing some of my thoughts, opinions and any knowledge I have to anyone that's interested in my work.

Again, bravo to all graduates !! For the people involved with ZENDA, I would like to say thank you and keep up the great work.

Edmon Barcham
Chicago, Illinois

"I have never written to you before but I would just like to say that your publication is truly the best Assyrian publication that I have ever read.  It is informative, unbiased, and filled with up to date interesting articles about Assyrians all over the world.

I am Assyrian, I was born in London, England in 1968 and have lived in London all my life.  I am very proud of my origin and have served as the General Secretary of the Assyrian Society of UK for 7 years, this year I decided that I needed a break.  I am also an Executive Committee member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (UK Organisation) and a founding member of the Assyrian Aid Society (UK branch).

I always read your publication and would like to refer back to an article that was published a few months back by Mrs. Ninveh Ponsomby regarding the Annual General Meeting of the Assyrian Society of United
Kingdom.  I was the General Secretary at that time and I would like to state that the majority of what was written within that particular article were either exaggerations or complete lies.  To prove this we have a video tape of the AGM and I would be more than happy to supply you with a copy.  I would also like to state that according to Mrs. Ponsomby's own words, she has lived in the UK for 22 years and has never
attended any Assyrian Society functions at the Assyrian House.  As an Assyrian who was born in England and who has always attended and supported Assyrian activities within the UK, be it social, political,
cultural or whatever, I am perplexed as to how an Assyrian lady who has never mixed in with the Assyrian community of England can have the audacity to lie, patronise and criticize her own people on her very
first visit to the Assyrian House.

Keep up the good work Zenda.

Johnny Michael
United Kingdom




The following updates are currently reflected on my web pages at Learn Assyrian Online.

  1. Sample words typed in modern aramaic as opposed to written.
  2. Colors, church, and numbers recorded.  Animals will be recorded next month.
  3. A better selection of words chosen.

Songs of Assyria

  1. The addition of Biba (Qoorbaa min aaynatee), Ashur  Sargis (Jiptaa D aanw'e(gorgeous poetry), Julian Jendo (Lel'e kool waataan yimaa), and  Shabeh Lawando (the best version of Baageey'e recorded).
  2. Working on the lyrics typed in modern aramaic for Linda's "Maliktaa Shamiram" to learn to read while listening to music.

The Assyrian Screen Saver

  1. A total of 53 beautiful images instead of 34.
  2. Instead of comments, an injection of dense & researched history on each image.
  3. Since the new version of the program does not show titles above image, a black space created to show history clearly and more professionally.
  4. Images were re-sampled from the original scans of the soorgaadaa (calendar) and from my books.  They are a little larger which provide a clearer sharper image.
  5. 3 images have the stone or background cut out and painted black.  This makes the image stand out in 3D and seem to float (Like what I did to the Gilgamesh image).

    You will especially love the "Lion Hunt".  It took me days to finish.  For the best results, change your video to superVGA 800 x 600.

Baaseemaa Raabaa.  Alaha minokhoon.

Robert Oshana



This week, Harvard University is hosting the 45th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (45th International Congress of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  RAI is an annual meeting of Assyriologists and Archaeologists from around the world and this year it is being held in conjunction with the Special Exhibit at the Semitic Museum "Nuzi and the Hurrians." SEE CALENDAR OF EVENTS.  Topics include: "Images of Ashurbanipal in the 19th and 20th Century," "Assyrian Royal Inscriptions: Newer Horizons", "Assyrian Court Narratives: Historical Fiction", "The Importance of Place: Esharaddon's Stelae at Sam'al and Til-Barsib", and "Story and History: Sennacherib's Campaign to Palestine".  Special sessions will also be held at the Yale University's Babylonian Collection on July 9th and 10th.

ZENDA will be bringing you a complete report of the RAI in the coming issues.



July 19


Assyrian National Council Office 
6352 North Fairfield 
6:00 PM 
Refreshments will be served. 
All are welcome to attend. 

Sep 2-7


Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation 

Sep 11-24


For more information see ZENDA:  JUNE 8: SURFERS CORNER



Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. 
More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931 
Harvard University's Semitic Museum 
-cuneiform tablets 
-beaded jewelry 
-lion statuettes from the temple of Ishtar at Nuzi



Links to Other Assyrian Websites


ATOUR:  The State of Assyria

Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Australian Organization


 Saapparoota:  Hair-cutting
 Hair (on one's head)
 saa/re 'd ree/sha
 Srooqleh saare d'reeshookh:  Comb your hair


Observances of the Eastern Assyrian Churches


Golden Friday:  The Disciples First Miracle 
2nd Sunday of the Apostles
Feasts of the Holy Eucharist (Corpus Christi)
3rd Sunday of the Apostles
 Memorial of St. Ephrem (Mar Aprim)
Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
4th Sunday of the Apostles
Fast of the Apostles 
5th Sunday of the Apostles
St. Peter & St. Paul
AAC = Ancient Assyrian Church of the East
ACE = Assyrian Church of the East
CCC = Chaldean Catholic Church
MCC= Maronite Catholic Church
MOC = Malankara Orthodox Church
SKC = Syrian Knanaya Church
SOC = Syrian Orthodox Church


BC (7500)

There is now sufficient evidence to show that around this time, in the Tur Abdin region of southern Turkey, the early farming villages were established and wild barley and wild einkorn were cultivated.  The inhabitants also demonstrated great skill in their building techniques. The granaries were insulated against damp and some central house chambers are decorated with salmon-pink and white stone chips, the earliest known example of paving techniques.

The Rise of Civilization, David & Joan Oates

AD (483)


John Sa'oro of Qartmin Abbey in Tur Abdin was made bishop of Amida.  He built and dedicated a splendid church to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and constructed a bridge over the river Tigris outside the city.  Neither the church nor the bridge survive today.  The church of the Forty Martyrs later served as a sanctuary for survivors of the Persian siege in 503.

Monk & Mason on the Tigris Frontier, Palmer




An Official Account by King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859)

While I was staying in the land of Kutmuhi, they brought me the word: "The city of Suru of Bit-Halupe has revolted, they have slain Hamatai, their governor, and Ahiababa, the son of a nobody, whom they brought from Bit-Adini, they have set up as king over them." With the help of Adad and the great gods who have made great my kingdom, I mobilized my chariots and armies and marched along the bank of the Khabur.

During my advance I received much tribute from Shulmanuhaman-ilani of the city of Gardiganni, from Ilu-Adad of the city of Katna, -- silver, gold, lead, vessels of copper, and garments of brightly colored wool, and garments of linen. To the city of Suru of Bit-Halupe I drew near, and the terror of the splendor of [Ashur], my lord, overwhelmed them. The chief men and the elders of the city, to save their lives, came forth into my presence and embraced my feet, saying: "If it is thy pleasure, slay! If it is thy pleasure, let live! That which thy heart desireth, do!"

Ahiababa, the son of nobody, whom they had brought from Bit-Adini, I took captive. In the valor of my heart and with the fury of my weapons I stormed the city. All the rebels they seized and delivered them up. My officers I caused to enter into his palace and his temples. His silver, his gold, his goods and his possessions, iron, lead, vessels of copper, cups of copper, dishes of copper, a great horde of copper, alabaster, tables with inlay, the women of his palaces, his daughters, the captive rebels together with their possessions, the gods together with their possessions, precious stone from the mountains, his chariot with
equipment, his horses, broken to the yoke, trappings of men and trappings of horses, garments of brightly colored wool and garments of linen, goodly oil, cedar, and fine sweet-scented herbs, panels of cedar, purple and crimson wool, his wagons, his cattle, his sheep, his heavy spoil, which like the stars of heaven could not be counted, I carried off.

Azi-ilu I set over them as my own governor. I built a pillar over against his city gate, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, and others I bound to stakes round about the pillar; many within the border of my own land I flayed, and I spread their skins upon the walls; and I cut off the limbs of the officers, of the royal officers who had rebelled. Ahiababa I took to Nineveh, I flayed him, I spread his skin upon the wall of Nineveh.

My power and might I established over the land of [Laqe]. While I was staying in the city of Suru, [I received] tribute from all the kings of the land of [Laqe], -- silver, gold, lead, copper, vessels of copper, cattle, sheep, garments of brightly colored wool, and garments of linen, and I increased the tribute and taxes and imposed them upon them. At that time, the tribute of Haiani of the city of Hindani, -- silver, gold, lead, copper, umu-stone, alabaster, purple wool, and [Bactrian] camels I received from him as tribute. At that time I fashioned a heroic image of my royal self, my power and my glory I inscribed thereon, in the midst of his palace I set it up. I fashioned memorial stelae and inscribed thereon my glory and my prowess, and I set them up by his city gate.

Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Daniel David Luckenbill


July 7, 1933:  Colonel Stafford of the British Army speaks to over one hundred chiefs (Maleks) of the Assyrian tribes in northern Iraq regarding the dangers of emigration to Syria.  He succeeds in pursuing many to remain in northern Iraq.  Four weeks later the combined Arab and Kurdish armies of the newly-independent state of Iraq attack the Assyrian villages and massacre thousands of their inhabitants.



In the past year two new Assyrian journals have been published in Canada: Eamama Assyrian Newspaper and the Mar Eshai Shimmun Magazine.  The former covers a range of topics dealing with news, politics, and issues pertaining to the Assyrian-Canadian population, whereas the latter focuses on the history and death of the Assyrian Patriarch of the Church of the East, Mar Eshai Shimmun XXIII (1908-1975).  Eamama Newspaper is produced under the direction of Ms. Amira Bet Shmoel and the producers of the Assyrian Voice of Canada compile the information for the Mar Eshai Shimmun Magazine.  The "Patriarch's Magazine" is only one of the several media-related projects undertaken by Mr. Ashur Shamoun, vice-president of the Assyrian Voice of Canada Media company.

For more information on subscribing to these Assyrian magazines write to:

Eamama Newspaper
805\40 Stevenson Road  Rexdale
Toronto, Ontario
M9V 2B2

or send an email to: ashmoel@aracnet.net

Mar Eshai Shimmun Magazine
P.O. Box 421 Station "A"
Mississauga, Ontario



 London, England

Modesto, California

Sydney, Australia



This Week's Contributors:                                                                  in alphabetical order
Dr Mariam Doreen Joseph Australia Assyrian Surfing Posts
Wilbert Odisho San Jose, California Assyrian Surfing Posts
Dr. Ramon Solhkhah Harvard University News Digest
Jeanclaude Toma San Jose, California Good Morning Bet-Nahrain
Thank You For Referring ZENDA to a Friend:
Andy Daniyal Toronto, Canada
Lena Mushell San Jose, California
Robert Oshana Chicago, California
Vian Younan Modesto, California


ZENDA Magazine is published every Monday. Views expressed in ZENDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZENDA editors, or any of our associated staff.  This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZENDA   reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZENDA is not restricted, but permission from ZENDA is required.  This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: zenda@ix.netcom.com w

P.O. Box 20278   San Jose, California   95160   U.S.A.

Voice:  (408) 885-9394 Extension 5#

Fax:  (408) 885-9894

ZNAA (Assyrian Academic Society-Chicago)
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
ZNAH (Al-Ahram Newspaper, London)
ZNAL (Al-Hayat, London)
ZNAI  (Assyrian International News Agency)
ZNAK (American Kurdish
ZNAM (Archeology Magazine)
ZNAP (Associated Press International)
ZNBN (Bet-Nahrain Inc/ KBSV-TV "AssyriaVision")
ZNCN (ClariNews)
ZNIF (Iraq Foundation)
ZNDA (Zenda: zenda@ix.netcom.com)
ZNIN (Iraqi National Congress)
ZNLT (Los Angeles Times)
ZNMN (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
ZNNV (Nineveh Magazine)
ZNNY:  New York Times
ZNQA (Qala Atouraya- Moscow)
ZNRU (Reuters)
ZNSH (Shotapouta Newsletter)
ZNSJ (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNSM (Shufimafi Lebanese News)
ZNSO (Syrian Orthodox News "SOCNews")
ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)