2024 Assyrian International Art Competition Rules

Date: January 19, 2024

At the Assyrian Cultural Foundation, we value the deep impact art can have on individuals across the world. A single painting can illustrate the richness of a culture, the resilience of a group of people, and the power of love. It is our mission as a Foundation to highlight the importance of art within our culture, as well as some of the brilliant Assyrian artists still practicing today.

From this, the Assyrian International Art Competition was born. Over the past few years, we have seen a range of gorgeous work produced by wildly talented Assyrian artists across the world, and we are excited to shine a light on even more of these individuals this year.

Love is the theme for the 2024 Assyrian International Art Competition. The final deadline for submission is Friday, November 1, 2024. You may submit to the competition at any point leading up to that date but are not permitted to submit after the deadline. Below are the submission requirements.

  1. Submitted works must reflect the year’s theme. You cannot submit a previous work from your collection. It must be an original design that does not violate any U.S. copyright laws.
  2. The submitted piece must be in a 2D medium. Acceptable mediums include painting, drawing, collage, or mixed media (a combination of the aforementioned mediums). Digital art will not be accepted. The use of AI will result in immediate disqualification.
  3. The piece must be a minimum of 5ft² (or 4645.15cm² in metric).
  4. You may not submit any work that has been published in any capacity, including submissions to previous art competitions, submissions to physical or virtual galleries, works sold as prints, or works that were posted on any social media platform (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, your personal website, etc). Doing so will result in disqualification.

Once you are satisfied with your piece, you may submit your artwork to us. Doing so is simple:

  1. Fill out the application form provided on our Fine Arts Program page. This includes a space for a brief artist statement to elaborate on the work and its relation to the theme in no more than 200 words.
  2. Once you have completed the application, you may submit the form along with three high-resolution pictures of your work to finearts@acf-us.org. The images must be at least 1080×1080 pixels in size in a JPG or PNG format. Do not include any filters or watermarks on the image.

You will be notified if your piece was selected as one of the Top 10 Finalists. These pieces will be shared across our social media in early November, followed by the top five later in the month. The top three will be unveiled in early December. The top three finalists will be asked to mail their works to the Foundation for final judging. Shipping costs of up to $500 will be reimbursed.

Please keep in mind that winning submissions become the exclusive property of the Assyrian Cultural Foundation in exchange for the prize money. ACF reserves the right to display, publish, and promote the item in any capacity upon the work’s acquisition. Finalists are subject to U.S. federal, state, and local taxes on their winnings, with international winners subject to a 30% tax deduction on winnings as per the U.S. federal tax code.

Good luck! We eagerly await the arrival of your inspirational pieces of artwork.

2024 Assyrian International Art Competition

Date: January 15, 2024

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation is thrilled to once again invite artists from around the world to participate in the prestigious Assyrian International Art Competition. This year’s theme is “Love.” We encourage artists who are at least 18 years old to submit their moving and thought-provoking works of two-dimensional art. The submission deadline is November 1st, 2024.

For rules and registration, please visit: https://www.auaf.us/programs/fine-arts/

If you have any questions, reach out to us at finearts@acf-us.org.

We can’t wait to see the beautiful and inspiring artwork that will be submitted. Join us in celebrating the richness and beauty of Assyrian art!

The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures

Date: November 9, 2023


The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures 

Chicago, Illinois. United States 


The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, formally known as The Oriental Institute, is a part of the University of Chicago’s department of Near Eastern Studies. The University itself has a long history with Ancient Near Eastern Studies since its founding in 1891. The first president of the University of Chicago was William Rainey Harper, a professor of semitic languages. In addition, his brother, Robert Francis, was also an Assyriologist. The pair both taught classes in their respective fields at the university. They moved the department of Near Eastern Studies into the Haskell Oriental Museum in 1896. The collection was initially quite small, until the Oriental Institute began to fund their own excavations in 1903. Alongside these excavations being conducted in Iraq, The Oriental Institute also began sending researchers and photographers to study ancient inscriptions in Nubia and Egypt.  

James Henry Breasted, an Egyptologist, was active in the research being conducted in Nubia and Egypt. He had great aspirations for the sharing of the ancient knowledge of the Near East, and hoped to build an institution that allowed him to share that knowledge with the public. This enthusiasm caught the attention of JD Rockefeller, who also contributed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of Assyrian artworks. In 1919 Rockefeller made large donations to the Oriental Institute research laboratory, during which time the museum as an entity was formally established. In 1931, Rockefeller’s financial support provided the museum the opportunity to relocate to what is now their permanent location.  

One quality that makes The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures unique is that a vast majority of their collection was garnered during expeditions funded and conducted by the institution. These excavations began before the museum had formally been established and continue up to the modern day in locations such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Israel, and Turkey. The first excavation conducted in the near east was organized by Harper in 1903. Known as the “Oriental Exploration Fund (Babylonian Division) of The University of Chicago”, Harper and his team traveled out to Bismya, Iraq, and began their dig on Christmas Day of that same year. The excavation uncovered the ancient city of Adab, which was occupied from 3400 BCE to 1150 BCE.  Within the remains of the city the team discovered temples, palaces, a ziggurat, tablets, and a cemetery.  

In the Spring of 1920, Breasted visited Khorsabad for the first time. He knew of the treasures of King Sargon II’s palace that had been discovered by the French decades before, and believed there was still a great deal beneath the surface waiting to be unearthed.  In the years following Breasted’s visit, the University of Chicago also sent Edward Chiera, a newly employed professor at the university, to visit the site as well. During his visit, locals revealed to him a fragment of an Assyrian relief featuring two horseheads that was discovered emerging from the ground, confirming that there were still artifacts to be discovered at the site. The Oriental Institute then received permission to conduct excavations at Khorsabad between the years 1928 to 1935. In April 1929 the museum made one of its most significant discoveries, a full lamassu statue outside the throne room of Sargon II. The statue was hidden under a pile of debris from another building, which partially protected the statue from accruing further damage over time. Upon the discovery, Chiera sent a cable to Breasted describing the discovery and inquiring: “cost transportation about ten thousand dollars (stop) … shall we ask for bull (stop)”. Despite not having the money or resources in the budget to transport such an item, Breasted insisted it was a necessary addition to their collection. The Department of Antiquities of Iraq generously gifted the lamassu to the Oriental Institute, and Pierre Delougaz was put in charge of the challenging transportation back to the museum. The lamassu was reassembled and restored on site at the museum where it was built into the walls of the gallery and remains to this day.  

Of all of the museums we have talked about in our series, The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures  is the most easily accessible to Chicago residents. The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures continues to be a leader in research conducted in the Near East and works to expand both their own and the public’s understanding of the great societies that once inhabited the area. Given the high population of Assyrians in the city of Chicago, it is incredibly meaningful for such an institution to exist and provides a convenient opportunity for Assyrians to experience pieces of their history in person.  


 Written by: Melanie Perkins 




Loud, Gordon. Khorsabad, Pt. 1: Excavations in the Palace and at a City Gate. 1936. Oriental Institute Publications v. 38. 

“Highlights from the Collections | the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Oi.uchicago.edu, oi.uchicago.edu/collections/highlights-collections. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023. 

“History of the Oriental Institute | the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Oi.uchicago.edu, oi.uchicago.edu/about/history-oriental-institute. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023. 

“In the Beginning | the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Oi.uchicago.edu, oi.uchicago.edu/research/beginning. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023. 

“The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Oi.uchicago.edu, oi.uchicago.edu/. 

“The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Oi.uchicago.edu, oi.uchicago.edu/. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023 

Assyrian Dance Party

Date: October 21, 2023

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation is thrilled to announce our first Assyrian Dance Party on November 25th! For one night only, enjoy a wonderful performance featuring: Walter Aziz, Ogin Bet Samo, Emanouel Bet Younan, Robert Noghli, and a 15 piece band.

Important information:
Date: November 25th
($60) Party: 9:00PM – 1:00AM
($160) Dinner & Party: 6:30PM – 1:00AM
Location: The Westin O’Hare 6100 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018
Dress Code: Formal
Students 50% Off

Ticket Purchase Information:

Party tickets can be purchased at:
• Assyrian Cultural Foundation
• Ashtar Food Market
• Arax Foods
• Shami Meat Market
• Someria Food Market

For Dinner & Party Tickets, please contact: 224-341-8026 or 312-720-5522

#Assyrian #AssyrianCulturalFoundation #ACFchicago #AssyrianDanceParty #AssyrianMusic #AssyrianHeritage

#CultureNight #WalterAziz #OginBetSamo #EmanouelBetYounan #RobertNoghli #westinohare

The Brooklyn Museum

Date: September 18, 2023

The Brooklyn Museum 

Brooklyn, New York. United States 



The next museum we are going to cover is one of the more recent acquisitions of Assyrian art to a museum collection. The Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York, was founded in 1898 as an offshoot of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. The goal of the institution is to be “a powerful place of personal transformation and social change”.  

The Brooklyn Museum is in possession of a series of twelve reliefs from Ashur-nasir-pal II’s palace at Kalhu from 879 BCE. Upon completion of the palace, the King hosted a gala during which citizens were able to walk through the palace to admire its beauty. It is believed there were nearly 70,000 guests in attendance at this celebration. These reliefs were unearthed during the 1840’s excavations of British archeologist Austen Henry Layard, which we discussed in earlier articles. As you may recall, the British and French excavation teams developed a rivalry over the course of their discoveries. The escalating competitive attitudes are part of what motivated the teams to rapidly gather and ship as many artifacts as they could back to their respective institutions. While we know that the majority of these artifacts still reside in the museums they were initially sent to, the fervor of the excavation teams resulted in the museums acquiring far more items than they had the space to store them. Left with few other choices, the museums put some of the artifacts up for sale on the private market.  

It was in 1855 when Henry Stevens, an American, purchased the reliefs in London. His initial intention was to send the reliefs to Boston where they would become property of the city. However, Boston municipal authorities were not able to raise the necessary funds to purchase the works from Stevens. As a result, Stevens began seeking buyers in New York City. James Lenox, of the New York Historical Society in Manhattan ended up purchasing the works. The reliefs were held by the New York Historical Society in Manhattan until 1937, when they lent the works to the Brooklyn Museum due to constraints in resources and storage space. Though the museum now held and displayed the works, they did not have the funds to purchase them outright. That was until 1955.  

Hagop Kevorkian was a collector and dealer of ancient near eastern art in New York. Kevorkian was from the city of Kayseri in Turkey, and graduated from the American Robert College in Istanbul. He came to New York as a young man in the 19th century. He made a name for himself through his contributions of antiquities for a number of noteworthy institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Louvre, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The University of Pennsylvania Museum, and The Brooklyn Museum. Hagop Kevorkian provided the funds to the Brooklyn Museum to purchase the twelve Ashur-nasir-pal II reliefs and install them in the space, which was aptly named the Hagop Kevorkian Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art. 

This set of reliefs features depictions of Ashur-nasir-pal II communicating and consorting with divine entities. In addition to serving as a political leader, the Kings of ancient Assyria served as religious leaders as well. They were expected to demonstrate both an understanding and commitment to the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient Assyrian pantheon. Most of the reliefs feature apkallū -figures, also known as Genies. Genies are a divine winged being that served as the Kings protectors and consorts. Apkallū were seen as exceptionally intelligent, and were imagined to have assisted in the construction and protection of cities and their inhabitants. The relief show the King and genies celebrating religious rituals, such as tending to the sacred tree of life. The tree of life symbolism in particular was a motif used in Assyrian art to represent the divine power of the King to bestow life. The tree of life symbolism is so quincuncial to Assyrian art, that it is also used as the inspiration and subject of the logo for The Assyrian Cultural Foundation.  

Though many institutions have a larger variety of works from Assyrian, the Brooklyn Museum succeeds in providing guests an in depth look at the royal life of on Assyrian King and thus allows for a more personal and insular contemplation of the art at hand. By having the reliefs isolated from the wide variety of art that appears throughout the timeline of the empire, it allows for the details and nuances them to become more noticeable. Just as guests walked through the palace walls in 879 BCE, now visitors to the Brooklyn Museum can walk alongside these reliefs can contemplate the remarkable accomplishments of this ancient empire.  


Written by: Melanie Perkins

Published by: Brian Banyamin



“Brooklyn Museum: About the Museum.” Www.brooklynmuseum.org, www.brooklynmuseum.org/about . 

“Brooklyn Museum.” Www.brooklynmuseum.org, www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/70571 . 

“Hagop Kevorkian.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagop_Kevorkian. 

“Selected Works of Ancient near Eastern Art, Including Assyrian Reliefs.” Brooklyn Museum, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/exhibitions/3206. 


Remembering Obelit Yadgar

Date: September 8, 2023

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation deeply mourns the passing of Obielit Yadgar, a cherished voice in the Assyrian community and an honorary guest at our recent Assyrian Renaissance Concert. His dedication to the arts and his unparalleled passion for storytelling have left an indelible mark. As we reflect on his invaluable contributions, let his legacy inspire and guide future generations.


Obielit (Obie) Yadgar’s journey began in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was born. A year later, his family moved to Tehran, Iran, where he spent the majority of his younger years. Later on, Yadgar and his brother immigrated to the United States. Though he initially settled in New York, it was in Chicago where he completed his high school education and made the decision to become a writer, inspired by his great-uncle’s legacy.


The young Obie Yadgar often observed his great-uncle, renowned Assyrian writer and historian Rabi Benyamin Arsanis, hunched over his desk writing. That same passion drove Yadgar to pursue his own writing career, in which he published two novels and a book of humor: Will’s Music, Whistling to Cairo, and Obie’s Opus, all available on Amazon. In addition, he made significant contributions to the Zinda magazine in the form of essays and short stories. In Yadgar’s own words, “These essays and short stories are slice-of-life pieces on the Assyrian world.”


Following a tour of duty as a U.S. Army combat correspondent in Vietnam, Yadgar began a distinguished career as a classical music broadcaster. He worked for many years in Chicago, though it is Milwaukee where he established his home and a name for himself. His program “Obie’s Opus” played on Sundays from 8 to 9 A.M. on WMSE Milwaukee, 91.7 FM.


He also hosted Musing with My Samovar, presented by the Assyrian Podcast.


Though he is no longer with us, both broadcasts can be streamed via one’s smart device.


Written by: Sarah Gawo & Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin 

Assyrian Instrument: Lyers of Ur

Date: August 29, 2023

Paintings, ornate vases, reliefs, and other pieces of ancient fine art depict musicians playing a myriad of instruments. However, it’s rare the instruments they are modeled after survive to this day— and stringed instruments, in particular, are quite fragile. This made the excavation of the Lyres of Ur in 1922 a magnificent feat.
Three lyres and one harp were discovered at the Royal Cemetery at Ur, dating back to the Early Dynastic III Period of Mesopotamia (between 2550-2450 BC). Due to how the lyres were discovered, it is believed that the instruments were used during burial ceremonies. Though the wood was decayed, the instruments are covered in nonperishable materials such as gold and silver. As a result, archaeologists were able to cast them in a liquid plaster and recover them. Now, the Lyres of Ur are recognized as the world’s oldest surviving string instruments.
The lyres were distributed among those involved in the expedition and the country from which they were found. The Golden Lyre of Ur, or the Bull’s Lyre, which was the finest, was given to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. The Queen’s Lyre and Silver Lyre are both at the British Museum. The last instrument, the Bull Headed Lyre, is held at the Penn Museum.
To better understand how this instrument may have worked, the Oriental Institute in Chicago set out to create a replica of the Golden Lyre. After years of meticulous work from musicians and artists alike, museum guests can bask in what the instrument would have looked like in its prime— and they can even hear it too.
The Lyre Ensemble podcast, an endeavor created by the Oriental Institute, chronicles the recreation of this ancient instrument and how it may sound in traditional Mesopotamian music. Though the exact sound can never be recreated without the exact same materials used thousands of years ago, an approximation can be achieved, allowing us an exciting view of the past we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Image Credits: © The Trustees of the British Museum Released under: “CC BY-NC-SA 4.0” license.

Kilmer, Anne Draffkorn. “The Musical Instruments from Ur and Ancient Mesopotamian Music.” Expedition Magazine 40, no. 2 (July, 1998): -. Accessed August 24, 2023.

Written by: Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin

The Iraq Museum

Date: August 22, 2023

The Iraq Museum 

Baghdad, Iraq  



As we discussed in our previous museum blogs, after the 19th century exhibitions of Assyrian sites, most of the works were shipped to out of Iraq to museums around the world. However, not all of the discovered Assyrian treasures left their country of origin, as with the collection at The Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.  

Compared to the other museums we have discussed so far; The Iraq Museum was established more recently. The Baghdad Archaeological Museum was established in 1926 with the help of British author Gertrude Bell. She sought to prevent archaeologist Leonard Woolley from sending all of his discoveries from the ancient Sumerian city of Ur to Great Britain. She believed that the people of Iraq were owed access to their own history. In 1922, she began storing objects in a government building in Baghdad. The objects were then moved to another building, and the museum was established by the government. In the 1920’s it was under the Ministry of Public Works and was transferred to the Ministry of Education in the 1930s. The buildings of the museum were also constructed utilizing resources from foreign governments. The Old Museum building, Administration Building, Library, and Old Storage Building were built by the German government between 1964 and 1966, and the New Museum Building was built by the Italian government in 1983.  

The museum has artifacts from ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations. One of the most noteworthy collections is the Nimrud gold. This is a set of gold jewelry that was discovered in the royal tombs at Nimrud. The pieces provide insight into the inner workings of Assyrian royal life and funerary practices. The museum also owned a stone statue of Neo-Assyrian King Shalmaneser, son of Ashurbanipal II, from the eighth century BCE. These objects were discovered during a series of excavations at Kalhu (Nimrud) in the 1950’s. The end of WWI and the subsequent fall of the Ottoman Empire made for dramatic political changes in the area which afforded the British new opportunities to conduct excavations again, similar to those conducted in the 19th century by Henry Layard and Hormuzed Rassam. This 20th century excavation was to be led by Max Mallowan, husband of famed mystery author Agatha Christie. Mallowan was aware of the impact of Christie’s celebrity on the reception of the excavation. He even arranged “tea with Agatha” meet and greets with financial supporters of the excavation, such as the Iraq Petroleum Company. This excavation differed from those prior in a number of impactful ways.  

For the first time in the history of excavations at Assyrian sites, Iraqi authorities and professional archeologists were on site at the dig. Their presence served to ensure that the most significant discoveries stayed within the country at the Iraq Museum. Iraqi conservators also started the process of restoring and preserving the site of Nimrud, with the intention of preparing it for future visits from tourists.  

The conservators’ aspirations for the future of these archeological sites unfortunately never came to fruition. The Iraq Museum continued to operate and expand the collection of ancient Mesopotamian objects, until 1991. The Gulf War marked a time period of extreme political unrest in Iraq, and The Iraq Museum was forced to close as a result. The museum was reopened in 2000, during the reign of former president Sudam Hussain. Unfortunately, the reopening of the museum was done as an act of political propaganda, intended to present the appearance of stability and unity within the country. The safety of the museum staff and its contents was not assured by the reopening. During the Iraq War in 2003, museum staff was asked to exit the museum for their safety, as its location had put it in cross fire between American and Iraqi forces. This opened the museum up to looters. The worst of the looting took place between April 7-12th at which point museum staff returned to the institution. The staff fended off further looting attempts on their own until American forces arrived on April 16th to secure the building. Despite the efforts of the staff, the museum faced significant losses, many of which have never been recovered. The Iraq Museum was not the only historical site that suffered at the hands of looting. The result of this is that the current staff at the museum are regularly tasked with the challenge sorting through countless looted objects as they are seized at border crossings. Another challenge face by The Museum of Iraq is the preservation of historical objects, both in the museum and at the sites of their discovery. Historical sites such as Nineveh have been used as dumping grounds for garbage. Videos of terrorists’ groups destroying Assyrian monuments have been filmed and posted as recently as 2015. The destruction of a nation’s history in this manner is a war crime, and to this day the perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice.  

The Iraq Museum has faced significant challenges in obtaining, securing, and sharing its collection of ancient Mesopotamian art. However, despite the obstacles, the staff remains committed to protecting and continuing to learn from the diverse history of all of the peoples and civilizations within the region. Due to the persecution they faced in the region, many Iraqi Assyrians are not able to return to their home country. The presence of the Iraq Museum and its collection of Assyrian objects shows just how important and significant Assyrian history is to the region, and demonstrates the necessity in creating a space for all of the citizens of Iraq to engage with, learn from, and share their history with pride.  


Written by: Melanie Perkins 

Published by: Brian Banyamin 



Fantastic Jewlery from Nimrud – FEEFAA.org. www.feefaa.org/fantastic-jewellery-from-nimrud/. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023.  

“Iraq Museum.” Wikipedia, 5 Feb. 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Museum. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023. 

“Learning from the Iraq Museum.” American Journal of Archaeology, 1 Oct. 2010, www.ajaonline.org/online-review-museum/364. 

“Remnants of Empire: Views of Kalhu in 1950.” Oracc.museum.upenn.edu, http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/nimrud/modernnimrud/onthemound/1950/index.html. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023. 

‌ “The Iraq Museum | the Iraq Museum.” Www.theiraqmuseum.com, www.theiraqmuseum.com/. 

Assyrian Martyrs Day: The British Betrayal of the Assyrians by Yusuf Malek

Date: August 9, 2023


For this Assyrian Martyrs’ Day, we encourage you to explore and study an intriguing book from the Ashurbanipal Library, housed at the Assyrian Cultural Foundation.

Originally published in 1935, Yusuf Malek’s The British Betrayal of the Assyrians is a detailed narrative that delves into the events leading up to the Simele Massacre in Iraq in August 1933. Throughout the book, you will find several duplicated letters from government officials alongside the author’s firsthand experiences.

Yusuf Malek, an Assyrian politician, author, and interpreter for the British army during the first World War, embarked on a journey in a newly independent Iraq, where he dedicated his focus to advocating for the Assyrian cause.

Before creating his book, Malek requested the British government to respond to the Simele Massacre, which was committed by the Iraqi government forces. The British, however, had their own interests, and those interests were with the Iraqi government, since Britain had an agreement protecting its dominion over Iraq’s petroleum. The Assyrians and their wellbeing mattered little.

The British Betrayal of the Assyrians puts forth the argument that the British government is responsible for supporting Iraqi ruler Faisal even as the Iraqi government infringed on Assyrian national rights and persecuted them. Additionally, the book criticizes the British government’s deceptive reaction to the Simele Massacre and its abandonment of its Assyrian allies, leaving the Assyrians at the mercy of Iraqi government officials. This led to Arab, Kurdish, and even Yezidi tribesmen to kill Assyrians indiscriminately and destroy and loot their villages.

The book contains an assortment of letters that vividly depict the atrocities of the Simele Massacre. One of these letters, written by Reverend R.C. Cumberland, an American missionary, observes that the “Simel[e] massacres and similar events have gone far to destroy the confidence of the Assyrians… in the good-faith of the Government. There seems not to be the personal integrity in the government services to form a stable administration.”

Indeed, the Iraqi government’s perpetration of the Simele massacre and the persecutions that followed silenced the Assyrian movement in Iraq and divided the Assyrian leadership for decades to come. However, it also fomented a renewed nationalist spirit among Assyrians in the diaspora.

Today, the Assyrian Cultural Foundation honors the Assyrian martyrs of the Simele Massacre, the Assyrian Genocide during World War I, and other catastrophic events throughout Assyrian history. Let us commemorate the sacrifices of our martyrs throughout the long history of the Assyrian nation that have been the foundation of our existence as a people today.

To learn more about this book and explore its contents, please contact our librarian, Sarah, at sarah.gawo@acf-us.org, to schedule a visit to the Ashurbanipal Library.

You can read a digital copy of the book here: https://archive.org/details/britishbetrayalo0000yusu/page/n389/mode/2up?q=massacre

If you want your own physical copy, the book can be purchased here:  https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/yusuf-malek/the-british-betrayal-of-the-assyrians/paperback/product-15perr.html?page=1&pageSize=4


Written by: Sarah Gawo

Published by: Brian Banyamin 



“The British Betrayal of the Assyrians.” Lulu, www.lulu.com/shop/yusuf-malek/the-british-betrayal-of-the-assyrians/paperback/product-15perr.html?page=1&pageSize=4. Accessed 1 Aug. 2023.

Lang, Esther. “Assyrian Martyr’s Day.” Assyrian Cultural Foundation Assyrian Martyrs Day Comments, www.auaf.us/blog/assyrian-martyrs-day/. Accessed 1 Aug. 2023.

“Yusuf Malek.” Wikipedia, 16 June 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_Malek.

Yusuf, Malik. The British Betrayal of the Assyrians. Lulu Press, 2005.


The Vorderasiatisches Museum

Date: July 18, 2023

The next museum collection we will be discussing is the Vorderasiatisches Museum in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. The collection of ancient near eastern objects began with the discovery of what is likely the most well-known piece in the collection, The Ishtar Gate of Babylon.   


The Ishtar Gate was built in 575 BCE by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II. The gate is constructed out of brick that is coated in a rich blue glaze, intended to mimic the appearance of the precious stone lapis lazuli. It features bas-relief sculptures of lions, which are representative of the Goddess Ishtar, aurochs (a type of extinct bull) which are representative of the storm God Adas, and depictions of the mythical creatures such as mushussu red dragons, which are representative of the God Marduk. The gate was used during Kha b-Nisan each year as the processional way through which the new year’s celebration passed into the city during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.    


The Ishtar Gate was unearthed by German archeologist Robert Koldewey in a series of excavations that took place from 1899 to 1914. Based on research conducted by British historian Claudius Rich, Koldewey managed to find two royal palaces belonging to King Nebuchadnezzar as well as the Ishtar Gate. The excavation was funded by the German Oriental Society, which was founded in 1898. The presence of this funding pressured archeologists to take actions to recoup the cost of the excavation. This was primarily done through the smuggling of artifacts back to Berlin. They were originally a part of the collection at the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum, now the Bode-Museum. The Ishtar Gate was completely deconstructed, with each individual piece cataloged using a numbering system intended to help the team to reassemble the gate on site at the museum. The individual pieces were hidden in barrels of straw, shipped down the Euphrates River, and eventually made their way to Berlin. The process of reconstructing the gate onsite at the museum was a meticulous undertaking. The museum staff was tasked with sorting through hundreds of barrels containing contents of the Ishtar Gate, which had to be desalinated and reconstructed using a combination of contemporary bricks fired to resemble the blue glaze of the gate. The original gate was constructed in two parts comprised of a larger back section, and a small frontal section. The museum did not have the space to constructed the larger back section of the gate on site, and so those pieces of the Ishtar Gate remain in storage. The reconstruction of the frontal section of the gate, however, remains on display to this day.  


In 1903, there was another significant development in the growth of the collection. Robert Koldewey’s assistant, Walter Andrae, began excavating the Assyrian city of Assur. Assur was the first capital of Assyria, its religious center, and is believed to have been first settled around 2500 BCE. Though later Assyrian kings would declare capitals at Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Nineveh, Assur always remained the religious capital of the empire. It was the location of the Temple of Assur, also referred to as the Old Palace, where some Assyrian kings were returned and buried upon their death. Walter Andrae’s team uncovered various city structures and buildings, including multiple religious temples to various Assyrian Gods and Goddesses such as Sin, Ishtar, Shamash, Anu, Adad, and Nabu.   


When the excavation ended in 1914, the finds were divided between the Germany and the Ottoman Empire. In the time that the German archeologists were bringing the artifacts back to Berlin, World War I began. The team temporarily stationed in neutral Lisbon Portugal. However, when Portugal declared war against Germany in 1916, the artifacts from Assur were seized and put on display in the Museum of Porto. The objects were returned to Germany in 1926 where, along with other near eastern objects at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, the collection was moved to the Pergamon Museum. In 1945, during World War II, the Soviet Union stole the Assur works from the museum. They were held in the Soviet Union until 1958 when they were returned to East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 allowed for another step forward for the community of German archeologists, as now they were able to collaborate with each other across East and West Germany. In 1997, Johannes Renger led The Assur Project. The Assur Project was an academic undertaking aimed at creating a database of the finds at Assur and organizing them into publications.   


Today The Vorderasiatische Museum in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin Germany is made up of fourteen rooms which feature objects from ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian society. Their reconstructions of ancient monuments in particular afford visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the ancient peoples who once built and experienced these objects themselves. By prioritizing shared knowledge and collaboration with other archeologists, the team at the Pergamon Museum has been able to uncover truths about, and piece together our understanding of life in ancient Assyria.   

Written by: Melanie Perkins 



Berlin, Staatliche Museen. “About the Collection – Vorderasiatisches Museum.” Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/vorderasiatisches- museum/collection-research/about-the-collection/. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.  

“Ancient Near Eastern Cultures.” Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, https://www.smb.museum/en/museums- institutions/vorderasiatisches-museum/exhibitions/detail/ancient-near-eastern-cultures/. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.  

Pedde, Friedhelm. “ANE TODAY – 201501 – Recovering Assur From the German Excavations of 1903-1914 to Today’s Assur Project in Berlin – American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR).” American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR), https://www.asor.org/anetoday/2015/01/recovering- assur/. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.