Vol IV, Issue 10

Yaar 11, 6748                   May 11, 1998

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse Fortune-Tellers of Ancient Mesopotamia
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain  First Wheat Crops Identified in Northern Bet-Nahrain
Surfs Up "just a simple confusion in grammar"
Surfers Corner Taklitho
Deep Sea Fishing with the AAS
Assyrian Music Online
News Digest Antiquities Watchdog
Calendar of Events Kalu Soolaqa in San Jose
Hurrian Artifacts at Harvard University
Assyrian Surfing Posts Mesopotamia (Bet-Nahrain): An Online Perspective
Pump up the Volume Liver & Lung
Khudra May 1998
Back to the Future Ekron & the Urshan Sisters
Literatus Assyrian Meatball
This Week in History Malik Kambar d'Jeelu
Bravo George Zaia


ZENDA Says...

When was the last time a friend or a relative invited you to observe a fortune-teller in action- attempting to reveal your destiny by "reading" the tea leaves left at the sides of your glass or the coffee sediment collected at the bottom of your inverted cup?  Magic, pure deception, or as some may believe satanic, the act of fortune-telling is perhaps one of the oldest professions in the Middle East, dating back to the beginning of the Mesopotamian civilizations.  It is also a significant contributor to the development of the rational mind, for it permitted this fearful bipedal creature called human, constantly in search of ways to control his ever-changing surroundings, to slowly transform into the master of his environment.  The fortune-tellers of Mesopotamia later became the scientists of the Christian era whose knowledge passed on by the Crusaders and rewritten by the Christian monastery scribes and adventurous travelers.  





Mesopotamian man sough to learn what the future holds from every conceivable event and manifestation of the world around him.  Gods gave signs through such happenings, and these signs, the god' warnings, could be read, and the future that they predicted could be averted through penitence, prayer, and appropriate apotropic rituals, just as even the stern God of the Old testament could be swayed by the Ninivites' repentance, as the Book of Jonas teaches.  Some signs came unprovoked, through fortuitous happenings in house and fold and in the sky; others were specifically requested as answers to questions put to the gods through a variety of media.

The object of divination was to determine the future and the will of the deities by watching the behavior of a animal sacrifice.  Such reactions as a change in color, appearance of the entrails, motion of the smoke from a burnt offering would help the priest or the haruspex to forecast the future.  It was believed that reading the signs in such a way, particularly from observing the shapes and behavior of a liver, was the invention of the Assyrian god Shamash.

The fortuitous occurrence and a subsequent good fortune or misfortune were linked in the mind of Mesopotamian man, as they were in many early cultures and still are in primitive societies, not so much as cause and effect, but as signals or forewarnings and events.  Such linked pairs, consisting of a protasis (if-clause) and an apodosis (forecast), a pair called by the technical term "omen", were collected in lists, and these lists eventually developed into the large compendia that we call omen series.  Usually, topically connected lists in the cuneiform writing system are acrographic as well, that is, each item - each line- begins with the same cuneiform sign or group of signs, a feature that articulates the ancient syllabaries and vocabularies.  Lists can therefore often be expanded indefinitely through the addition of items that repeat the protasis with these further specifications, the forecasts connected with these additional omens are accordingly modified.  For example, a phenomenon occurring on the right side of the liver was paired with the same one occurring on the left, with the opposite forecast.  If one color occurred in the omen, similar omens with other colors- five in all; white, black, red, green, and variegated, always in this sequence- could be added.  Numbers were increased from one or two to three and more, even if the increase resulted in an absurdity, as for example in the enumeration of multiple births up to eight or nine.

Omens could be provoked by observing the shapes taken by oil poured on water, a procedure called lecanomancy and by observing the configurations of the smoke rising from an incense-burner, libanomancy.  These techniques were in vogue in the Old Babylonian period, in the first half of the second millennium B.C., but die out with it.  But the most ancient and the most tenacious in surviving of all the Babylonian divinatory techniques is divination from the entrails (extra) of the lamb, extispicy, a term more general, since it includes divination from the gall bladder, the spleen, and the lungs, than the more commonly known term, hepatoscopy, 'inspection of the liver.'  Hepatoscopy remained the main means of consulting the will of gods, even as divination from celestial bodies was gaining in importance; as late as in the reign of King Nabonidus (555-539 B.C.)


Such "rationality" dominated the Mesopotamian view of existence in which the gods revealed themselves through objects found in nature and burned as offering.  Burning sacred offerings continued to be an important religious function throughout the development of the Judeo-Christian faith.  A few centuries after the advent of Fall of Nineveh and Babylon the studies of stars and omens in Mesopotamia divorced into science and religion.  Ironically, the Christianized descendants of the haruspexes of Nineveh and the astrologers of Babylonia built the first universities in Edessa and Nisibin to amass the largest collection of works on medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and theology.

From "Transactions of the American Philosopihical Society Held at Philadelphia for Promoting Useful Knowledge (Volume 85, Part 4, 1995)"  Astral Magic in Babylonia, Erica Reiner (1995)



(ZNAM:  Washington)  According to an article published in the journal Science, scientists from Norway, Germany, and Italy have genetically identified the wild progenitor of einkorn wheat in northern Bet-Nahrain (southeastern Turkey).  This conclusion was reached after examining the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of 68 lines of cultivated einkorn, 194 lines of wild einkorn from nine regions in the Middle East and nine lines of a weedy einkorn from the Balkans.  Both cultivated and weedy lines are closely related to the wild einkorn found in the Karacadag Mountains of northern Bet-Nahrain.  The first crops of wheat were domesticated in northern Bet-Nahrain around eleven thousand years ago.


"Thanks to your contribution and help, the 'Assyrians for Ron Gonzales committee raised over $15,000 this past weekend.  On behalf of the Friends of Ron Gonzales, I would like to thank you and
your readers for their generous support."

Ash Pirayou
Friends of Ron Gonzales
San Jose, California

"An Update on the Walk-a-Thon organized last weekend for the Assyrian Aid Society of America:  we raised $8200.00 from the Assyrian businesses in Santa Clara County [California]. It was a very successful event thanks to ZENDA, Homer Younan (Grafeex), Michael Zaia (Babylon Printing), and California Sport...Thanks ZENDA and keep up the good work."

Youkhanna Khaninia
San Jose, California

"... you state, "the Assyrians in Belgium, both Eastern and Western (Aramean/Suryoyo)", as if only the Eastern Assyrians call themselves Assyrian, whereas all the Western Assyrians are known by "Aramean/Suryoyo".  I'm sure you know that this is not correct and it's probably just a simple confusion in grammar."

Raman Michael
Chicago, Illinois

In identifying the different cultural groups within the Assyrian nation ZENDA uses the linguistic differentials and omits all incongruent religious or political references often used to create disunity among these same people who enjoy a common history and origin. The terms "Eastern" and "Western" refer to the speakers of the Eastern and Western dialects of the Neo-Aramaic language (or Modern Assyrian).  The "Eastern Assyrians" is a reference to the speakers of the NA-dialects of the Greater Urmie and northern Iraq/southeastern Turkey (Ashirateh, Alqosh, etc.), and the term "Western Assyrians" refers to the Assyrians of Syria and the Greater Tur-Abdin region in Turkey. 

"Regarding the lecture on The American Assyrians at the Threshold of the 21st  Century: according to historical data Assyrian communities in the U.S.A., despite enormous geographical distances,  did not become isolated from one another or from the Assyrian communities they left behind in the Middle East.  Overtime a symbiotic relationship developed whereby Assyrian-Americans  helped to support and sustain the Assyrian communities in the Middle East financially through kinship networks and ethnic organizations.  In turn, the latter replenished the Assyrian-American communities culturally and linguistically, and injected new blood into them  so to speak,   through a continuous process of chain migration.   As long as this symbiotic relationship continues,  chances are that the Assyrian -American
communities will endure through the 21st century despite  the ongoing assimilation.

Dr. Arian Ishaya
San Jose, California

We Stand Corrected!

Please note the correct spelling of Dr. Ishaya's first name as Arian, and not Aryan, as we had misspelled in the last week's review of her lecture at University of California at Berkeley.



Last week the Assyrian-Suryoyo people living in the countries of Europe organized a Taklitho Protest-March in Belgium to raise their voice and awareness in remembrance of the 1915 Massacre committed by the Turks against the Assyrians and Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.

Many of our people "Othuroye-Suryoye-Chaldoye-Oromoye" together and undivided gathered on the 26th of the month of Neesan (April) in Brussels, the capital of Europe.

At the early hours of the morning the first persons gathered in the Skuwax Ambiyog Park started to raise their voice by shouting "Sayfo:  the year of the sword."

At 12:30 in the afternoon the hungerstrikers moved to the front of the marchers holding each other as in a human chain.  The number of protesters marching at this time was approximately 3000.  By 1:00 PM the ProtestMarch began.

The demonstrators raised their voices with slogans like "A Sohde Lo Kmaythi (The Martyrs Will Not Die!), "Terrorist Turkiya (Turkey is the Terrorist!), " H'amo Mtakso, Athro Hiro (Organised People, A Free Homeland), " Tihe Awyutho d'Bayn d'Hame (Long Live the Solidarity Among the People), "Nihe Tukoso d'Awronoyo d'Beth Nahrin (Glory to the Organisation of the Patriotic Revolutionaries of Beth
Nahrin). They passed the Parliament of Europe, shouting these slogans until they reached the offices where the Parliament was holding a meeting.

The Assyrians-Suryoye stopped in front of these offices and remained silent for one minute to honor the souls of the Martyrs.  The Swedish Parliamentarian, Stefan Anderson, also a member of the European Parliament, and and Zubeyir Aydar, a representative of the Parliament of Kurdistan in Exile ( PKDW) gave speeches and professed solidarity with the Assyrian-Suryoyo people.

After the Parliamentarians received some open letters from the organisers of the demonstration the protest-march was ended with Assyrian folklore dancing and music.

Taklitho (Hungerstrike)

Last week, a hungerstrike was held to remind us of the Massacre which took place 83 years
ago on our nation. The "Action Commission" organised a hungerstrike for a week and it ended last Thursday. It began with 36 persons.  Many gathered shared solidarity with them and by the time the strike ended the number of hungerstrikers had reached 65.  Since the hungerstrike was held at a Chaldean church of our people in the area of Sent Jos many Assyrians-Suryoye visited this demonstration. Many
others who visited the hungerstrikers included the European Parliamentarians, students, organistions, foundations and associations of our people and foreign peoples. The Turkish party of DHKP and the Turkish party of DHP and the ERNK and PKDW of the Kurds together with many other small
organisations of Turks, Kurds and Armenians in Europe visited and they all showed solidarity with the Assyrian-Suryoyo People.  A commission representing 62 organisations in Belgium with the
Parliamentarian John Lones as its Chairman visited the hungerstrike also.  Parlemtarian Claudia Rot said talked about the importance of bringing the Massacre of the Assyrians to the world's attention. The
German Parliamentarian Wilma Zimmerman said in her speech that everyone has the right to live in freedom in their land of origin!   The Swedish Parliamentarians, Stefan Anderson, Marianne Eriksson and
Jonas Syastedt, said that they would do anything within their reach to support to the Assyrian-Suryoyo people.  All these persons emphasized the importance of actions like this to "catch the eye of the world" about the Massacres and the injustice against the Assyrian people.

Another important point that must be made is that the Armenian organisations stated that it is necessary to support all victims of the 1915 Massacre in Turkey.  They promised that from now on to organise activities like these alongside the Assyrian people in order to reach the ears of the world on this Massacre and the issues dealing with both people.

The hungerstrike ended last Thursday with a small celebration.

Dawronoye Mothonoye d'Beth Nahrin
(The Patriotic Revolutionaries of Beth Nahrin)
Brussels, Belgium

With special thanks to ZENDA correspondent, Matay A. Arsan (Holland), & Jean Valentin (Belgium):  Mr. Arsan is a medical student at the Free University of Amsterdam and has been following the Hungerstrike in Brussels since the first steps of the protest-march.  Matay was born in the village of Arbo in the Tur-Abdin region of Turkey.  Jean Valentin of Belgium was the first person from Europe to bring us the news of this impressive act of unity demonstrated by the Assyrians of Belgium and has since been providing ZENDA with a vast amount of information on the Assyrian communities of Belgium and the surrounding countries.


The Assyrian Aid Society of Santa Clara County would like to invite Assyrians of the Bay Area to its Second Annual Deep Sea Salmon Fishing Trip on June 6th at the Santa Cruz Board Walk at 6:00 am  Please reserve your seat in advance. The cost is $55.00 per person including fishing accessories and line.  Payment is due by May 29th.  Seats are limited to 22 only.  For more information call me at:  (408) 226-9724  or (650) 968-9241 extension 260

Yokie Khaninia
San Jose, California



PLEASE SUPPORT THIS GREAT PAGE!  Our music is an important part of our heritage and we should preserve it by supporting our artists.

Albert Gabrial
Nineveh On Line




(ZNAM: Cambridge)  The Illicit Antiquities Research Center (IARC) of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in Cambridge, England, has begun monitoring the international trade in antiquities stolen or clandestinely excavated and illegally exported.

The center hopes to link groups that keep lists of stolen antiqueries (such as the Art Loss Register, the International Foundation for Art Research, the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, and Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Department), national antiquities authorities, the academic community, and legitimate collectors and dealers of ancient art.

Other goals of IARC include pressing the British government to ratify international conventions on the trade in antiquities, trying to cooperate with dealers and auction houses to encourage adherence to ethical practices, and promoting educational measures to foster respect for archaeological heritage.

IARC's Near Eastern Project will publish a biannual report, Culture Without Context, which will document the depredation of sites and museums in the Near East, Egypt, and Asia Minor, especially in areas disrupted by international and civil conflicts.  The first issue is devoted to the appearance of Assyrian sculptures on the international art market.

Peter Watson, author of Sotheby's: Inside Story, has joined IARC, where he will continue investigating the illicit antiquities trade.  Random House will publish an American edition of the book this year.

-Reprinted in its entirety with permission from the Archaeology Magazine, January 1998



May 16


Assyrian American Association of San Jose 
Hosted by the Ladies' Auxiliary & Men's Group 
Kabob Sandwiches...mmmmmm! 
Beta at 20000 Almaden Road 
10 AM - 6 PM 
$3/adult - 12 & Under Free 
(408) 927-8100

May 17


Entertainers:  Albert Mansour, Ashor Farhadi & the Harout Band 
Time:  6 p.m. 
Bet-Nahrain Hall 
3119 South Central, Ceres 
(209) 538-9801 
Contribution: $10 per person 
For Tickets: 
   John Soro Music Center:   (209) 551-1800 
   William Wardah:               (209) 577-8106 
   Ben Elias:                         (800) 353-5427

May 21


Sponsored by the Management, Operations, and Marketing Department California State University, Stanislaus  
University Event Center 
7:00 p.m. in the .  
Tickets:  $37.50 per person, $70 per couple.  
Narsai David Scholarship Fund for Assyrian and Business students.  
(209) 667-3507 or elkiissa@toto.csustan.edu.

May 22


A Cultural Exchange Event Organized by German Cultural Organizations/Radio&TV 

  • Lectures & Interviews with Several University Professors , Students, & Representatives of Assyrian Organizations from Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Paderborn, Berlin, and & other German Cities are Expected to Attend 
  • Assyrian Dance Groups from Wiesbaden & Hamburg 
  • Appearance on Hamburger Fruehstueckfernseher Television Program 

An Event Organized by Elizabeth Karamian

May 22-25


Sponsored by the Assyrian United Organizations of California 
Host:  Assyrian American Civic Club of California

May 23


Organized by:  Nineveh On Line 
1:00 PM 
DoubleTree Hotel (Formerly Red Lion Inn) 
Center Plaza, Modesto

June 6


Second Annual Deep Sea Salmon Fishing Trip 
Assyrian Aid Society of Santa Clara County 
Santa Cruz Board Walk 
6:00 AM 
$55.00/Person; includes accessories and line 
Limited to 22- payment due on May 29 
Yokie Khaninia at (408) 226-9724  or (650) 968-9241 extension 260

July 4



Sep 2-7


Sponsored by the Assyrian American National Federation 



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





Healthy liver: Kavda Khlemta 
Lung Cancer:  Sertdana d'Raata



May 5
Mart Shmoni & Her Sons 
May 10
Mar Addai
May 12
Mor Jacob of Nisibin [Syrian Orthodox Church]
May 15
Our Lady of the Fields or Harvest (Mart Maryam, Natdra d'Zaar'a)
May 20
Mor Dodo [Syrian Orthodox Church]
May 21
Feast of the Ascension (Soolaqa) 
May 22 
Mart Rita
May 28
Feast of the Ascension (Soolaqa) [Syrian Orthodox Church)
May 31


BC (701)

The city of Ekron (modern Tel Miqne), 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, is founded for the third time after King Sennacherib's campaign against the rebellious rulers of Palestine and Phoenicia.  Ekron became the largest olive oil production center in the ancient world.  Between 630 and 623 B.C. Assyrians withdrew from this city, also mentioned in the Bible, until its final demise when sacked by King Nebuchadnezzar in 603 B.C.

Archeology Magazine, Jan/Feb 1998

AD (1963)

Lucy Urshan, daughter of Rabbie Aprim Ushan of Urmie, Iran (village of Ada) receives a medal from the Shah of Iran "In appreciation for her services to the education in Iran."  Her sister, Louis Urshan, also receives a medal from the Shah as the principal of Anushiravan Yadegar School, the alma mater of Shah's sister.  Lucy was also the English instructor for the Shah's brother.

Assyrian Star Magazine, December 1963



Introductory Classical Assyrian 

alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary 

Saad Sadi 
APR 4 JUN 27 

3-5 PM 

North Park Univ Carlson Tower 
Room C44
Introductory Modern Assyrian I 

alphabet and the vowel system, basic literacy skills & vocabulary 

Zaia Kanoon
APR 9 JUN 25 

7-9 PM 

North Park Univ 
Room B-3
Introductory Modern Assyrian II 

reading & writing,  & elementary grammar. 

Zaia Kanoon
APR 4 JUN 27 

3-5 PM 

North Park Univ 
Carlson Tower 
Room C42




Meatballs:                                                        Sauce:

2 pounds of ground sirloin                                1 yellow onion
1 1/2 cup fine bulgur (rinsed)                            1 bell pepper
1 cup green onions                                          2  tablespoon margarine
1 cup parsley                                                  1 (16 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 cup coriander                                               1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dry)
1/2 cup dill
1/2 cup teaspoon black pepper
1 Egg
1/2 cup fresh basil (2 tablespoon dry)
1/2 tablespoon paprika


1.  Boil bulgur in 4 cups water on high heat.  When it begins to boil, reduce to medium, partially cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

2.  Chop all the vegetables and herbs very finely and place in a mixing bowl, along with the meat and spices.

3.  When bulgur has cooked, remove from heat and add 1 cup of it (strained) to the meat and vegetable mixture.  Leave the rest of the bulgur, unrestrained, in the pot for later.

4.  Blend all the ingredients in the meat mixture well.

5.  Begin forming balls, 3 inches (7-8 centimeters) in diameter, from the meat mixture and return them to the boiled bulgur and water on medium heat.  While they are cooking, begin making the sauce. As a variation you may also place a hard boiled egg in the center of each meatball when forming them.

Meatballs Sauce:

1.  Chop the onion and bell pepper and saute in margarine on medium-high heat until golden brown.

2.  Add the tomato sauce and all the spices, stir for 5 minutes then add to the meatballs.

3.  Let simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for another 20 minutes.  If the sauce thickens too much while simmering, add 1/2 to 1 cup water as needed.  This delicious dish is customarily served with Lavash bread and a bowl of fresh herbs and vegetables such as coriander, green onions, radishes, basil, parsley, and hot peppers or dill pickles.  The meatballs are also delicious cold and can be sliced and used to make delicious sandwiches.

Recipes For the Assyrian Palette, Nineva Ishaya


110th Anniversary

May 15, 1888:  born, Malik Kambar, in the village of Zereny of the Jeelu province.  Malik Kambar served as an army general during World War I in the Assyrian army, as a French general in Ethiopia during the Second World War, and commandeered the Assyrian forces in Syria.



His name or the name of his business establishment, Babylon Printing, can be found in the back cover page of hundreds of Assyrian books, magazines, brochures, and every type of printed material.  In general, if it was written by the Assyrians and for the Assyrians it is likely to have been published and printed by George Zaia, an Assyrian from the San Francisco Bay Area.

George Zaia's reputation as a successful Assyrian business owner and his generosity towards the Assyrian local churches and organizations has already reached beyond the hills of the Silicon Valley.  His name has become synonymous with professional excellence and Assyrian philanthropy.  The list of his clients include some of the largest high-tech companies in the Santa Clara County, California, hence the rise of his multi-million dollar business establishment at the slopes of the Milpitas hills.

A mild-mannered man, Mr. Zaia has presided over the affairs of the Assyrian Civic Club of San Jose and the Assyrian American Association of San Jose (when the two organizations merged in the early 1990's), and is currently the head of the Executive Board of the Assyrian Church of the East in San Jose, California.  George Zaia is herein recognized for his magnificent contribution to the circulation of Assyrian books and periodicals in the past two decades.





This Week's Contributors:
Matay Arsan Holland News Digest

Thank You For Referring ZENDA to a Friend:
Alexander Yousif


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 also 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


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