Z I N D A   M A G A Z I N E

Volume V                Issue 42
Shvadt 15, 6749                                                                           February 15, 2000

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z I N D A
The Lighthouse The Nimrud Lens
Good Morning Bet-Nahrain Mid-East Churches Meet at the Synod in Bethlehem
News Digest Pope Pleads for End of Hatred in Lebanon
Children in Sicily Learn About Mesopotamian History
Tukulti-Ninurta's Silver Plate, Evidence of a Tradition
Surfs Up No Letters Received
Surfers Corner Gilgamesh Dance Group Auditioning for New Talent
International Ecumenical Conference on Early Christianity
Assyrian Surfing Posts Assyrian Search Engine
Centre for Early Christian Studies
Literatus Bau'tha of the Ninevites
Bravo Assyrian Forumathon
Milestones Johne Herghelian
Pump Up the Volume Dream & Nightmare
Back to the Future Malik Kambar and the Battle of Qadesh
This Week in History The 300 Tiari Warriors
Calendar of Events Congress for Syriac Studies

All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.



If one Italian scientist is correct then the telescope was not invented sometime in the 16th century by Dutch spectacle makers, but by ancient Assyrian astronomers nearly three thousand years earlier.

According to Professor Giovanni Pettinato of the University of Rome, a rock crystal lens, currently on show in the British museum, could rewrite the history of science. He believes that it could explain why the ancient Assyrians knew so much about astronomy.

But experts on Assyrian archaeology are unconvinced. They say that the lens is of such low quality that it would have been a poor aid to vision.

It is called the Nimrud lens and it was found in 1850 by the legendary archaeologist Sir John Layard, during an epic series of excavations at the palace of Nimrud in what is now Iraq.

Upon his return to England, he showed the lens to physicist Sir David Brewer who thought it could have been used as a magnifying glass or to concentrate the Sun's rays.

Used as a magnifying glass, it could have been useful to Assyrian craftsman who often made intricate seals and produced minuscule texts on clay tablets using a wedge-shaped script.

It is a theory many scientists might be prepared to accept, but the idea that the rock crystal was part of a telescope is something else. To get from a lens to a telescope, they say, is an enormous leap.

Professor Pettinato counters by asking for an explanation of how the ancient Assyrians regarded the planet Saturn as a god surrounded by a ring of serpents?

Could they not have seen Saturn's rings through their telescope and interpreted them as serpents? An unconvincing argument, say experts. The Assyrians saw serpents everywhere. And why is it in their many astronomical reports on clay tablets there is no mention of such a device?

The conventional understanding of the invention of the telescope is that it was developed in the 16th century by Dutch spectacle-makers who held one lens in front of another.

One thing is sure: Galileo did not invent it - a common misconception - although he was one of the first to turn it towards the sky. By then, lenses used as spectacles had been known for hundreds of years at least, and it has been a puzzle to historians why it took so long for the telescope to be invented.

It may have been developed and then forgotten, or even kept secret. However, experts regard this as unlikely given the commercial and military uses that a telescope could serve.

Whatever its origin, as ornament, as magnifying lens or part of a telescope, the Nimrud lens is the oldest lens in the world. Looking at it evokes mystery and wonder. It can be seen in room 55 of the British Museum, in case 9 of the Lower Mesopotamian Gallery

It may not be unique. Another, possibly 5th century BC, lens was found in a sacred cave on Mount Ida on Crete. It was more powerful and of far better quality than the Nimrud lens.

Also, Roman writers Pliny and Seneca refer to a lens used by an engraver in Pompeii. So perhaps the ancients knew more about lenses than we give them credit for.

Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online Science Editor



(ZNRU:  Bethlehem)   The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem convened an assembly of the Catholic Church's first synod in the Holy Land last Tuesday to set a new agenda for the next decade. The general assembly in Palestinian-ruled Bethlehem was attended by 300 bishops, clerics and lay people.  "This is the first time we have this synod since the beginning of our existence as Christians in this land ... since 2,000 years of our history,''  Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah told reporters shortly before an opening ceremony.

All branches of the Catholic church, including the Maronite, Syrian, and Chaldean were represented at the conference due to produce a pastoral plan of church activity for the next decade or two, said Father Rafiq Khoury, secretary-general of the synod.  "This is the first time that all the sectors of the church are gathered ... and people from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, so it is really an important event,'' Khoury said.

The synod's conclusion coincides with church preparations for the visit of Pope John Paul to the Holy Land in late March.  The synod began in 1995 with a study of Catholic life in the Holy Land addressing issues of faith, religious education, health care and communal relations.



(ZNZT: Rome)   Pope John Paul II, on Sunday, asked five hundred Maronite Lebanese pilgrims in St. Mary Major's Basilica,  to help put to an end to hatred and intolerance in Lebanon.  He reminded them of the important Maronite religious figures such as the hermit, Charbel Maklouf, canonized by Paul VI on October 9, 1977; of blessed Rafqa, a Maronite nun beatified by John Paul II himself, on November 17, 1987; and of Nimatullah Al-Hardini, a Maronite monk and priest whom he beatified eleven years later.

Making reference to the Apostolic Exhortation written at the conclusion of the special Synod for Lebanon held in Rome, he expressed his joy at seeing its prompt implementation. This was made tangible in the recent Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, organized last November.

After long years of closure due to the Second World War Pope John Paul has now officially reopened the doors of the Pontifical Maronite College, an institution created by Pope Gregory XIII in the sixteenth century.

In the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, presided the Mass in the Syro-Antiochian Maronite rite. Among those present were hundreds of Maronites, many from Lebanon.   In his homily, the Patriarch insisted upon the historical relations that unite the Maronite Church with the See of Peter.

The Maronite Church takes its name from the hermit St. Maron, who died around the year 410 and whose liturgical feast is celebrated on the ninth of February. The liturgical language of the Church is Aramaic. Following the Arab invasions, the Maronites began to use Arabic, especially from the fourteenth century on. They now use the language of the country in which they live, although the most sacred part of the Liturgy, the Consecration of the Eucharist, is conserved in Aramaic.  The total number of Maronite faithful in the world was given as 3,580,000 in the official 1999 statistics. However, the actual number is much higher, perhaps 6 million, since in many parts of the world, given that they cannot find a local Maronite Church, many register themselves in parishes of the Latin Rite. After Lebanon, the largest Maronite communities are to be found in the United States, Cyprus, Egypt, Mexico, and other countries on the American continents.


(ZNAP:  Sicily)  Soon the students in the small Sicilian town of Santa Maria di Licodia will be attending shows at Don Bosco School's new "Saddam Hussein Auditorium''.  The gift was made by a group promoting ties between Italy and Iraq.  Saddam's name will be on the 500-seat auditorium when it opens in April.

The founder of the group, Salvatore Nicotra, described it as an offer the Sicilian officials couldn't refuse.
Nicotra travels regularly to Iraq on business and wishes to raise awareness of what he considers the unjust U.N. sanctions forced upon the people of Iraq.  Italy, France, and Russia are among the nations taking part in the international effort.

Angered by the Italian government's acceptance of this gift, a group of Assyrian activists led by Mary Younan of Canada have begun circulating a letter of protest.  The introduction reads: "We would like to express our concern and deception with the Sicilian officials regarding the new auditorium inauguration. The world has witnessed atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath government on the Iraqi population. We must not forget the Government of Iraq has violated provisions of international law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iraq is a party, and also violates Iraq's interim Constitution. The sanctions imposed on Iraqi people are very sad, and Saddam Hussein must not be considered as a heroic persona."

According to Rome's La Repubblica daily newspaper, in response to the gift, the school's 350 students are now learning about Babylonian history.   "By now, they'll know the Tigris and Euphrates better than the Po and the Tiber,'' the newspaper predicted.


(ZNDA: Rome)  In an effort to re-classify and document the findings of a museum in Germany, a German archeological crew has found a small silver plate belonging to the Assyrian King Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243-1207B.C.) buried under the stone foundation of a building.  This silver plate was thought to be lost among what had disappeared during WWII.  It is of pure silver and gold found at the museum. The plate was first found in the city of Ashur in Northern Iraq in 1935 by a German excavation team.  It was then transferred to Germany to be housed in the Near Eastern section of the Berlin Museum.  It had been missing since 1945.  The plate was still in poor condition when it was re-discovered much later.  After a thorough cleaning, beginning in December 1996, it was put on display to be admired by all.  The ancient Assyrians, based on this discovery, may have been the oldest people to have begun the tradition of burying documents along with the stone foundation of a new building.  This tradition is followed to this day.

The plate is 52 millimeters in length,  28 millimeters in width, and 1.3 millimeters in density.  The cuneiform writing is between 0.4-0.6 ml. in length of lines, while the depth of the writing does not surpass one tenth of a millimeter. Mr. H. Borne, an expert at the Ancient History Museum, had used Roentgen rays to learn more about the plate before it was cleaned using a process employing special chemicals and manual work, and mechanical equipment.

Translated from Arabic by Mary C., Al-Sharq al-Awsat, September 1999.


No Letters Received in the Past Week.



Dear Fellow Assyrians:

We are writing this statement to all of you so that you may be aware of an
Assyrian folklore dance demonstration/exhibition in the Chicagoland area on
February 20th, 2000.

The Assyrian Gilgamesh Dance Group will be holding an exhibition with great
hopes that many attending Assyrians will join the group. This group has been
together for over 7 years and has participated in many cultural and ethnic
events--both Assyrian and non-Assyrian functions--demonstrating the brilliant
Assyrian traditional costumes as well as the various energetic Assyrian

The Assyrian Gilgamesh Dance Group is a non-for-profit organization comprised
of dedicated committee members, some of whom are also the talented performers.

It is a rather new and exciting group that has room for very much potential.
It is important that we get exposure so that we can recruit new members. The
greater the number of members who enjoy dancing, live audiences and
traveling, the greater the livelihood and success of the Gilgamesh Dance

Needless to say, displaying our tradition and culture is vital to the
recognition and success of the Assyrian people not only in the Chicagoland
area, but all over the world as well.

If you or anyone you know is interested in visiting the exhibition, please
note the following information:

*The Assyrian Gilgamesh Dance Group Exhibition

*Sunday, February 20, 2000; 5:00 P.M.
*Devonshire Cultural Center
4400 Greenwood Street
Skokie, Illinois 60076

For more information, please call toll free (888) 531-9197 or e-mail
sherokeen@aol.com (or e-mail me).

We strongly urge parents to attend. Everyone is welcome to the folklore
exhibition, but you must be at least 16 years or older to join the Group.
Once again, if you are in this area please let everyone know. Thank you very
much for your time.

With much love from Chicago,

The Assyrian Gilgamesh Dance Group (TM)


The Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, the Melkite Greek-Catholic Eparchy of St. Michael, the Centre for Early Christian Studies and the Faculty of Theology of Australian Catholic University, jointly announce a popular and scholarly conference for lay men and women, religious and clergy entitled Orientale Lumen: Australasia and Oceania, an International Ecumenical Conference. The conference will be held from Sunday afternoon 9 July up to and including the evening of Wednesday 12 July 2000 at Ormond College, Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria.

The conference is under the co-patronage of His Holiness Ignatius IV, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and His Holiness Maximos V, Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. The conference will provide an opportunity for Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Christians to gather and discuss the quest for unity from their various perspectives, and with an eye to the Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen and the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, both of 1995. The conference warmly welcomes the participation of all interested Christians. It will include presentations by eminent scholars and theologians from Australia and abroad, liturgical celebrations of many kinds, and opportunities for everyone to learn from each other and to participate in a "dialogue of love and understanding."

Rev Professor Robert Gribben of the United Faculty of Theology, Melbourne, formerly General Secretary of the Victorian Council of Churches, will serve as moderator for the entire conference.

All inquiries and proposals for papers to:
Rev Lawrence Cross, Convenor-Secretary
Australian Catholic University
115 Victoria Parade Fitzroy 3065, Victoria, Australia.
Email: L.Cross@patrick.acu.edu.au


Johne Herghelian

Passed on Wednesday, 9 February 2000--  Mr. Herghelian was born in Tehran, Iran on 1 October 1951; son of Awner and Catherine Khezqeel.  He lost his parents at an early age.  A highly-skilled soccer player, Johne played for two Iranian soccer league clubs, Rahe-Ahan and Paas.  He emigrated to the United States in 1979 and with his family settled in Turlock, California.  Here he played in the Bet-Nahrain Organization's soccer team and later for the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock, where he coached the soccer teams until his move to Fresno, California in 1989.  Mr. Herghelian is survived by his wife, Janet; son Richard and a daughter, Rita.

This year, Ms. Rita Herghelian, a high school sophomore, was awarded full athletic scholarship to Santa Clara University to join the Santa Clara women's soccer team ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA, Soccer America, Soccer Times, and Soccer Buzz Magazine's polls.

Links to Other Assyrian Websites



There are two reasons for the observation of this three-day fast in the church of the East: firstly the fast of the people of Nineveh at the time of Jorz, and secondly the influence of Mar Savreesho, metropolitan of Beth Slokh, in the sixth century.

The prayers are found in Hudra volume 1, pp. 359-468. They contain Madrashe, Qiryana, Tishbohta, Burqafna and other elements.

However, the prayers of Ba'utha go beyond the information recorded in the Bible, which says that Jonah was not satisfied by what God told him and was unhappy that the 120,000 people were not destroyed as predicted. When the people of Nineveh approached Jonah with the glad news of the grand civic reception they had arranged for him, he refused to accept any honour from them. Finally he acquiesced because the honour was accorded to him by Gentiles who they were expressing their gratitude to God for listening to their prayers and saving their lives. The king of Nineveh placed Jonah on the royal throne and the people of Nineveh, including the king, paid their respects to Jonah for warning them of the danger which led to their repentance.

The Ba'utha of the Ninevites is observed nearly three weeks prior to the beginning of Lent, which often is in the month of January or February.

Mar Aprim
Kerala, India

From the abstract of the paper presented by Mar Aprim at the "Prayer & Spirituality In The Early Church" Conference held in Sydney, Australia between January 8 and 11, 1999.

The Rogation of Ninevites To learn more about the Rogation of Ninevites CLICK HERE



David Chibo of Assyrian Youth Group of Victoria in Australia and Dr. George Kiraz of the Syriac Computing Institute began a "Forum-athon" last month on the Assyrian Forum (click here) to collect donations for the development of Syriac fonts developed by SyrCom (see last week's Zinda Magazine or click here).  The goal of raising $1500.00 was reached this week with the total contribution of $1580.

As is stated on the SyrCom website a leading professional typographer has agreed to work on each font which will cost $1500 to produce. The fonts will be distributed by SyrCOM to users free of charge through its web site. The fonts will be copyrighted by SyrCOM, and no commercial use of them will be allowed by any party including SyrCOM. The fonts will cover Estrangelo, Serto (West Syriac), and East Syriac.  In addition to supporting Classical Syriac, full support will be given for Turoyo, Swadaya (modern Assyrian), Garshuni, and Christian-Palestinian Aramaic. SyrCOM plans to have the fonts available to the public in the first quarter of 2000.

Zinda Magazine salutes the following contributors for their generous donations:

                            Tony Khoshaba              $  50.00
                            Fred Aprim                    $ 100.00
                            Raman Michael              $ 100.00
                            "Anonymous"                $ 100.00
                            David Chibo                  $ 100.00
                            Sarkis Sargon Elia          $ 180.00
                            Carlo Ganjeh                  $ 200.00
                            Jacklin Bejan                  $ 250.00
                            Zinda Magazine              $ 500.00

To send your contributions for the production of the remaining Syriac fonts please contact Dr. George Kiraz at:  gkiraz@research.bell-labs.com .




BC (1285)

At the Battle of Qadesh, the Egyptian and Hittite armies fight for control of the Syrian territories.  Egypt long controlled southern Syria and the coast as far as Ugarit, while some northern Syrian kingdoms became vassals of the Hittites. At Qadesh (also Kadesh)  the Hittite ruler, Muwatallis, defeated the strong-man Ramses II.

Ebla to Damascus, Art & Archaeology of Ancient Syria

AD (1969)

Malik Kambar d'Jilu passes to eternity in Beirut, Lebanon.   Malik Kambar led the Assyrian troops before WWII and in 1935 commanded the Italian army in Ethiopia.


February 15, 1915:   300 Assyrian Tiari warriors accompany Mar Shimoun Benyamin, Patriarch of the Church of the East, to the Tiari region in northern Bet-Nahrain.  His Holiness was being protected from the wrath of the Ottoman troops who had earlier declared a Jihad against the Christian population.

Feb 15-17
  • Tuesday, February 15th at 7:30 p.m. 
    • Prayer Service at the Assyrian Evangelical Church

  • Wednesday, February 16th at 7:30 p.m. 
    • Prayer at Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
  • Wednesday February 16th at 7:30 p.m. 
    • Holy Mass at Saint Mary Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church 

  • Thursday February 17th. at 7:30 p.m.
    • Holy Mass at Saint Joseph Assyrian Church of the Eas
Feb 19

"Symbolism in Assyrian art"
Paul Oakes
11.15 AM
British Museum, Great Russell St. WC1. 
Gallery talk in Room 19

Feb 19-20

Sponsored by the Assyrian Australian Academic Society
Members $120 and Non-members $145 
Beachcomber Pacific Resort
Toukley NSW (90 minutes North of Sydney) 
The buses will depart at 7am on the 19th and return at 4:45 pm on the 20th
For more information:
   Ramsin Jajoo - 0414 838 410
   Assyat David - 0419 469 076

Feb 20

The Assyrian Gilgamesh Dance
Devonshire Cultural Center
4400 Greenwood Street
5:00 P.M.

For more information, call toll free (888) 531-9197 or 
e-mail sherokeen@aol.com

Feb 28

"From the Dead Sea Scrolls to Arabic Birth Magic:  The Fallen Angels & Gilgamesh Rise Again"

A lecture by Professor Martin Schwartz
Contact:  510-642-8208

Mar 28

"Reading and writing cuneiform past and present"
Christopher Walker
6:30 PM
British Museum, Great Russell St. WC1. Lecture theatre.
Tickets 7.50 pounds
Contact 020 7323 8566

Apr 12

"Egypt through the Assyrian annals"
Paul Collins
6:00 PM
British Museum, Great Russell St. WC1. Lecture Theatre
EES and BM Dept. of Egyptian antiquities.
Non-EES members contact the EES 020 7242 1880

May 27

Double Tree Hotel
2:00 PM-10:00 PM PST
Organized by: Nineveh On Line
Click Here for more information
What is MIDI?  Click Here

June 26-30

Department of Semitic Studies
University of Sydney


Alin Alkhas..........Chicago...........Surfers Corner
Jack Sadaa..........California........The Lighthouse


ZINDA Magazine is published every Tuesday.  Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA 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. ZINDA 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 ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required.  This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: zenda@ix.netcom.com.

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