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Thread: Origin of the Ancient Assyrians (split) //mod3002 days old

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    Default Origin of the Ancient Assyrians (split) //mod

    I scanned a certain introductory excerpt from a book regarding Assyrians, with this thread in mind. The resident Assyrians can weigh in on the excerpt's reliability and authenticity.

    Origin of the Ancient Assyrians

    - An excerpt from the book Assyrian Life and History by Margaret Elise Harkness.

    The origin of the Assyrians has not yet been discovered but their religion, literature, method of writing, and science, being all of Babylonian nature, we are led to believe that the first home of the Assyrian nation was in Chaldea. This supposition is confirmed by the state ment made in the tenth chapter of Genesis, namely, that the Assyrians were of Semitic stock, and that they went out of Chaldea to found a kingdom, of which the chief cities were Nineveh, Calah, and others. 1 (Genesis,x. II, 12.)

    The original Assyria, so far as we know, was a small and compact territory occupying the middle part of the basin of the Tigris, between latitudes 35 and 39, a space about one hundred miles from north to south, and seventy miles from east to west.

    As time went on, the extent of the country increased ; and in 650 B.C. Assyria Proper reached its greatest limit, and stretched from latitude 35 to 38, and longitude 40 to 45. At this period of its supreme power, Assyria ruled over a large extent of Central Asia ; and the districts subject to its dominion included Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, and Asia Minor as far as Lydia, on the west ; Elam, and part of Media, on the east ; and Babylonia, and part of Arabia, on the south.

    Between the period when Assyria was first founded by a colony from Chaldca, and the period when it reached its greatest fame, the extent of territory acknowledging its rule varied considerably. Sometimes a warlike monarch ascended the throne, and then conquests were made in every direction. Sometimes a series of weak kings occupied the seat of government, and then the vanquished nations asserted their independence and threw off the yoke of Assyria. Owing to these constant changes, it is impossible to define the limits of the Assyrian empire at every point of its history, and we are forced to content ourselves with indicating the minimum and maximum of Assyrian dominion.

    In the seventh century before Christ, Assyria sank into decay, and remained unknown to history until about forty years ago. Then the sites of some of its most famous cities were discovered ; namely, Kalah-Shergat, supposed to represent Assur, Nimroud, the Calah of Scripture, and Kouyunjik, still indicated by local tradition as the site of Nineveh.

    Great mounds, formed by the natural accumulation of the soil over the debris of ruined edifices, indicated the existence of these buried cities, and led to the excavations which have furnished us with so much valuable information concerning ancient Assyria. There, hidden from view under masses of crumbled ruins, were found monuments engraven with annals of Assyrian fame and power, and sculptures which portray the gods whom the Assyrians worshipped, and the conquests which their kings achieved.

    The language in which this stone and brick literature is written is difficult to decipher for two reasons : the intricacy of the characters, and the fact that a knowledge of cognate languages is indispensable for the true translation of the words. Great scholars have, however, been found willing to undertake the task of decipherment, and by patient perseverance they have accomplished the work. The result of their labours is given briefly in this book, the pages of which are intended to form a popular guide to Assyrian history, and an introduction to the study of Assyriology.
    Last edited by Vasishta; 2011-02-01 at 10:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasishta View Post
    I scanned a certain introductory excerpt from a book regarding Assyrians, with this thread in mind. The resident Assyrians can weigh in on the excerpt's reliability and authenticity.
    Origin of the Ancient Assyrians

    - An excerpt from the book Assyrian Life and History by Margaret Elise Harkness.
    The origin of the Assyrians has not yet been discovered but their religion, literature, method of writing, and science, being all of Babylonian nature, we are led to believe that the first home of the Assyrian nation was in Chaldea. This supposition is confirmed by the state ment made in the tenth chapter of Genesis, namely, that the Assyrians were of Shemitic stock, and that they went out of Chaldea to found a kingdom, of which the chief cities were Nineveh, Calah, and others. 1 (Genesis,x. II, 12.)
    Hi Vasishta:

    Thank you for your interest. The bold bit is inconsistent with the genetic data. All populations with the West Asian component as their most abundant autosomal ADMIXTURE element, including, but not limited to Georgians, Turks, Iranians, Kurds, and Assyrians, count, as their principal place of origin, the Transcaucasus. I have made many posts detailing the Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal DNA of Assyrians, including that of other predominantly West Asian populations over the course of the last year. Haplogroup frequencies, haplotype diversity, tMRCAs, etc., suggest a Transcaucasian origin. Again, the same Transcaucasian nexus is clearly evident by examining the plethora of autosomal data posted, including, but not limited to, ADMIXTURE analyses, MDS plots, Identical By Descent (IBD), and Allele Sharing Distance matrix (~IBS) analyses.

    I believe the Armenians (or, rather proto-Armenians/Hurrians/Urartians) are the ancestral population of the Assyrians. How many millennia one must go back to the hypothesized proto-Armenian/Assyrian population, I do not know. TMRCAs are our best bet, but, unfortunately, they are imprecise, particularly the further one is removed from the present. There are no 67 marker haplotypes with tMRCAs less than 2000+ years. The great majority are much further removed. If I had to ponder a guess, I would say between 6000 and 7000 years ago, the ancestors of Armenians and Assyrians went their separate ways. Not shortly thereafter, it is possible, Akkadian came into existence.

    Dienekes
    January 22, 2011
    Near Eastern Grape domestication
    Kambiz links to an interesting paper on grape domestication. From the paper:

    Archaeological evidence suggests that grape domestication took place in the South Caucasus between the Caspian and Black Seas and that cultivated vinifera then spread south to the western side of the Fertile Crescent, the Jordan Valley, and Egypt by 5,000 y ago (1, 21). Our analyses of relatedness between vinifera and sylvestris populations are consistent with archaeological data and support a geographical origin of grape domestication in the Near East (Fig. 4 and Table 1).

    The genetic confirmation of the archaeological inference is particularly interesting, since "wine"is part of the Proto-Indo-European lexicon, and has related forms in both Kartvelian (South Caucasian) and Semitic languages. The Transcaucasus seems a quite good place to seek early contact between these three language families. Interestingly, the area between the Black Sea and Caspian is also where genetic analysis of Indo-Aryan origins has brought me.

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    Like Humanist says, the genetic data suggests a Caucasus origin of the ancient Assyrians. For example, Dagestanis have Y-DNA J1c3, as well as J1, and J1c3 branched off from J1. Autosomally, there's not much difference between Armenians and Assyrians, which again, points to the Caucasus. Armenians also have J1.

    Babylonian (i.e., Akkadian and Sumerian) was undoubtedly the most important influence in Assyria (Assyria was basically an extension of Babylonia; similar to the UK and the USA), both demographically and culturally, especially after Sargon of Akkad conquered Assyria (who was for some ironic reason more popular in Assyria than in Babylonia), although mythic legend has it that Sargon was originally from north Mesopotamia.

    Even if the Assyrians were Babylonians who settled in the north, the Babylonians were originally from the north anyway, so we're talking about back migrations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    Like Humanist says, the genetic data suggests a Caucasus origin of the ancient Assyrians. For example, Dagestanis have Y-DNA J1c3, as well as J1, and J1c3 branched off from J1. Autosomally, there's not much difference between Armenians and Assyrians, which again, points to the Caucasus. Armenians also have J1.

    Babylonian (i.e., Akkadian and Sumerian) was undoubtedly the most important influence in Assyria (Assyria was basically an extension of Babylonia; similar to the UK and the USA), both demographically and culturally, especially after Sargon of Akkad conquered Assyria (who was for some ironic reason more popular in Assyria than in Babylonia), although mythic legend has it that Sargon was originally from north Mesopotamia.

    Even if the Assyrians were Babylonians who settled in the north, the Babylonians were originally from the north anyway, so we're talking about back migrations.
    What about Sumerian ancestry , is it more prelevent amongst Assyrians or Iraqis?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekarfi View Post
    What about Sumerian ancestry , is it more prelevent amongst Assyrians or Iraqis?
    Probably neither carry any significant Sumerian ancestry.
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    Quoted for truth:
    Quote Originally Posted by Alaron View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by drgs View Post
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    In fact, they are not even the Europeans in strict sense, meaning European as in bearing the responsibility and understanding of European interests. Poland has always been an subordinate country, on one side sucking German dick, on the other side -- Russian one, some kind of "novice" europeans, who are full of inferiority complexes, hysteria and obsessity neuroses. This is also true for all Baltic countries

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    Which current group(s) have significant Sumerian ancestry?

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    I do agree with Elias, if he meant that Sumerian ancestry does not comprise a significant portion of any modern population's genome. The Sumerian input into any of the subsequent greater Mesopotamian populations would have been finite, and, over the course of the many millennia since, diluted. But, this of course does not mean it disappeared altogether. The modern populations I would expect to have some --although not significant-- Sumerian ancestry are the Assyrians, Iraqis, Mandaeans, Kuwaitis and Iranians.

    ---------- Post added 2011-02-01 at 09:47 ----------

    From the Mandaean thread and also relevant to this discussion:

    Near Eastern brachycephals; Syria, Armenia, and the Caucasus

    The object of the present section is to deal with the general group of brachycephalic peoples, other than the Osmanli Turks, who live in the regions lying between Syria and the Caucasus, and including both. These peoples include the various groups of Syrians, the Druses, the Armenians, the Assyrians and the Caucasic peoples proper.

    A separate group of brachycephalic Near Eastern people living until recently in the neighborhood of the eastern Armenians is that of the Aissores, or Assyrians, Christians who still speak the old Syric language, now used in Syria in a ritual sense only, but once widespread also in Mesopotamia. These Assyrians, Christians in Mesopotamia since their conversion in 70 AD., were, at the time of the Arab conquest of their country, granted a firman issued by the Prophet himself permitting them to practice their religion without hindrance. Under this sanction they flourished greatly, sent missionaries to China, and founded a colony, which still exists, in India. At the time of the Mongol invasions, between 1230 and 1400 A.D., their country was laid waste, and those who survived the calamity fled northward into Turkey, settling in the mountain district of Hakkiari, in Kurdish country, south of Lake Van and west of Lake Urmia. In 1914, 80,000 of them were still established there, while another 35,000 lived in Iran, near Lake Urmia, and 10,000 more had returned to the lowlands of Iraq, near Mosul. During the World War and in the two decades since, the Assyrians have suffered further political disasters which have left them homeless and have greatly reduced their numbers.

    These Assyrians, whose ancestors, presumably plainsmen from Iraq, may have been no different in a physical sense from the other inhabitants of that valley, are now, after some six hundred years of living in the mountains, more brachycephalic than the Armenians. Their mean stature is about 167 cm., their cephalic index mean about 87, with series by different authors varying from 85 to 90. They are almost purely brunet, and characteristically aquiline in nasal profile. Their total resemblance to Armenians, however, is not close; the faces of the Assyrians are both shorter and narrower than those of the Armenians, and their noses are likewise smaller. It is possible that mixture with Armenians produced the initial stimulus toward hyperbrachycephaly, but whatever its immediate origin, the facial dimensions show that the basic Mediterranean type involved is western, and not Irano-Afghan.
    The characters that have just been described are very close to those of the Armenid subrace of the Europid race. The Armenians themselves, from whom the name of the subrace is derived are of remarkably uniform physical type. A good description of the Armenians was published by Chantre in 1895. Essentially the same type was represented in ancient times by the Hittites and Assyrians; indeed, the type was named Assyroid by Deniker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humanist View Post
    If I had to ponder a guess, I would say between 6000 and 7000 years ago, the ancestors of Armenians and Assyrians went their separate ways.
    Paul, how do you solve the problem of the language family divergence between Armenians and Assyrians? Are you inclined to believe that:

    a) Assyrians lost their IE language due to some Semitic influence;
    b) Armenians lost their Semitic language due to some IE influence;
    c) both Assyrians and Armenians spoke some other non-IE non-Semitic language before.

    And another question: we know - thank to your research - that Assyrians are very similar to Armenians. But have you ever thought about the differences betweem these two groups? Are there any for instance in terms of Y-chromosome haplogroups?

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    To be honest, I believe our relationship with Armenians is mostly because of our shared Hurrian ancestry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wojewoda View Post
    Paul, how do you solve the problem of the language family divergence between Armenians and Assyrians? Are you inclined to believe that:

    a) Assyrians lost their IE language due to some Semitic influence;
    b) Armenians lost their Semitic language due to some IE influence;
    c) both Assyrians and Armenians spoke some other non-IE non-Semitic language before.

    And another question: we know - thank to your research - that Assyrians are very similar to Armenians. But have you ever thought about the differences betweem these two groups? Are there any for instance in terms of Y-chromosome haplogroups?
    Hi Wojciech,

    I will reply to your post in greater depth later, but in the meantime, this is the opinion of Dr. Roy King, regarding the relationship between Assyrian and Armenian Y-DNA:
    Armenian DNA Project Page -
    As per Dr. Roy King: " ... Assyrians and Armenians are practically identical [genetically] except for language which must be reflected in the I2 and perhaps E1b1b1a-V13 frequencies for the Indo-European superstratum. This is interesting in that it suggests that the Indo-European Armenian speakers came from the Balkans rather than via the Caucasus.
    Dr. Roy King sampled ~100 Assyrian men. To date, only the Assyrian J1 haplogroup results have been published. I sincerely hope he publishes the entire set soon!

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