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The Assyrian New Year

There are the Assyrians and there are the Assyrians. There are also the Syrians. They are all different.

Syrians are from Syria.

"Assyrians" are either:

1. The ancient inhabitants of northern Mesopotamia (Iraq)
2. A small, contemporary, Christian minority in Iraq, Turkey and Syria

Modern Assyrians use the symbols of ancient Assyria as a marker of their non-Muslim, non-Arab ethnicity.

The New York Times reports that Turkey's Assyrian minority have been allowed to celebrate their New Years festival--"Akito"--for the first time this year. Akito refers to "Akitu", the ancient Mesopotamian New Years festival. As knowledge of ancient Mesopotamian religion was lost until the decipherment of cuneiform in the 19th century I wonder whether there is an unbroken tradition between the ancient and modern Assyrian rite. Probably, "Akito" was attached as a moniker to the New Years holiday when the Assyrian community became aware of their own roots. But it's cool to see something so ancient come alive again. Cool also that Turkey has allowed them to do it.

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Blogger fMhLisa said ... (April 08, 2005 3:32 PM) 

The ancient Assyrians were scary scary folks. They make Khmer Rouge look like a bunch of softies. Facinating and frightening ancient history (thank goodness).


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