Naum Faiq

Date: May 27, 2023

In February of 1868, Naum “Faiq” Palakh was born in Diyarbakir, located in the Assyrian region of the Ottoman Empire. While pursuing an education, Faiq gained popularity after being selected by the Brotherhood of Ancient Syrians. Following the completion of his studies, he began teaching.

When violence against the Assyrians and other Christians in the Ottoman Empire began, Faiq fled to the United States in 1912. In the US he continued writing and embarked on new endeavors, assuming the role of chief editor for “Hujada,” a magazine that later published under the auspices of the Assyrian Federation in Sweden.

He devoted his life to writing extensively about the Assyrian language and people, with his views reflected in his books, poems, and songs. He established a multilingual newspaper named “Stars of the East,” which was published in Turkey and was printed in various languages such as classical Assyrian, Ottoman-Turkish, and Arabic. Additionally, he published “Bet Nahrain” and “The Unity” in America and authored more than 25 books on diverse topics and subjects.

He succumbed to lung disease in 1930, but his contributions continue to endure. Each year on February 5th, numerous people gather to celebrate Faiq’s impact on the Assyrian nation and his prolific literary abilities in the service of his nation.


Written by: Sarah Gawo



“Naum Faiq.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Feb. 2023,

“Syriac Poems.” Assyrians [Syriacs],

SyriacPress. “Patriot Naum Faiq Palakh.” SyriacPress, 5 Feb. 2022,

English translation of poem:


Awake, son of Assyria awake,

Awake and see the world how enlightened.

The chance is fleeing from us

And time is running out

Awake, son of Assyria, Awake!

In vengeance you will take refuge.


Dr. Freidoon Azizi, MD, FACOG, FACS

Date: May 21, 2023

To Dr. Freidoon Azizi, the health and wellness of others has always been a passion. Though he practiced medicine in Illinois for over 40 years, his journey began in his home country of Iran in the 1960s. He received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from the University of Tabriz. He then moved to the United States to perform his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital and his fellowship at the esteemed Pritzker School of Medicine, at the University of Chicago.

With his formidable education, Dr. Azizi was finally able to move on to what he does best: helping others. Certified in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Azizi has supported thousands of women through a difficult time in their lives, allowing them to come out on the other side healthier than ever. Patients rave about his brilliant work and bedside behavior.

But Dr. Freidoon Azizi’s impact on the world of medicine doesn’t end there. From 1982 to 2010, Dr. Azizi served as an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the prestigious Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. There, he helped shaped the minds of students into prospective medical professionals who help promote the reproductive health of women across the country.

After decades of helping others live the healthiest lives possible, Dr. Freidoon Azizi has retired. The Assyrian Cultural Foundation congratulates Dr. Azizi for his prolific career. His dedication to his work helped thousands of women live healthier, happier lives, and we couldn’t be more thankful for his impact not only on the Assyrian community, but the greater Chicago area. We were honored to be visited by this respected doctor, and we hope retirement shows him a life of relaxation and happiness.

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation Presents: The Assyrian Renaissance

Date: May 17, 2023

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation Presents: The Assyrian Renaissance


Please join us for…
The Assyrian Renaissance
July 2nd 2023
Art Gallery opens at 4:00 pm, Concert at 6:00 pm
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
Featuring exclusive works by Rasson Bet Yonan performed by the Northbrook Symphony and the Andrew Major Chorus


Tickets go on sale June 1
Starting at $25, up to $75 based on seat location
Students in our music, art, and tutoring programs are entitled to free tickets (limited availability)
Email for more information, or to request a purchase
Tickets can be purchased at the door on July 2


Music and art have always been foundational to the Assyrian Cultural Foundation. Through our diverse programs, it is our mission to uplift Assyrian artists of all ages and shed light on their incredible achievements. The Assyrian people have long since been creating impressive pieces of art to be admired, but to many people, the Assyrian people fell into obscurity with Mesopotamia.


That is far from the truth—and this is from where the Assyrian Renaissance rises. In Latin, the word “Renaissance” translates to “rebirth.” On July 2, we illustrate that this group of people has always been with us, and always will be, in the Assyrian Renaissance produced by President and Music Director, Tiglat Issabey, and Assistant Music Director, Barbara Bright-Read. Through the gorgeous work of talented musicians and artists, the achievements of these perseverant people in art and culture are reborn to the eyes and ears of a new generation.


The Assyrian Renaissance takes place on July 2, 6:00pm, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. There, attendees can explore a world of Assyrian culture, beginning with a gallery entirely comprised of work by Reni Stephan. Then, guests will enter the concert hall to explore Assyrian folk songs and stories through a series of etudes, an Assyrian Rhapsody, and a symphony titled Khwara Khwara, Khawara Kooma.


Learn more about the brilliant musicians bringing the Assyrian Renaissance to life.
Rasson Bet-Yonan (composer)— Rasson Bet-Yonan helps keep the Assyrian culture alive in his music—from composing full-scale orchestral works that highlight Assyrian folk melodies to providing Assyrian students high-caliber music education. Through his teachings, he hopes to cultivate the next generation of bright, well-rounded Assyrian students.


Hannibal Alkhas (lyrics)— Hannibal Alkhas was an Assyrian sculptor, painter, and author, born in 1930 in Iran. He pursued his passions all his life, from moving to Chicago to study at both Loyola University and the Art Institute of Chicago, to teaching in both the States and Iran. Though his poetry and artwork gained him much acclaim, it is his children’s story, Khwara Khwara, Khawara Kooma, that he is potentially best known for. The final performance of the night uses the text of Khwara Khwara to tell the beautiful story of finding friends in the most unlikely of places.


Mina Zikri (conductor)—Mina Zikri is a professional violinist and conductor who has led renowned ensembles such as the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago and the National Symphony in Egypt. He currently serves as a faculty member of DePaul University Community Music Division, the resident conductor of the Lira ensemble, and the Music Director of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra.


Andrew Major (conductor)—Andrew Major is a versatile conductor, singer, and pianist interested in exploring historic and contemporary choral music to ask questions about the world in which we live. Andrew has a proven track record of culturally-relevant programming, dynamic collaborations, and community building as the artistic director and conductor of Roots in the Sky, a chamber choir that he founded as an undergraduate at Montana State University. Andrew holds graduate degrees in choral conducting from the Bienen School of Music (DMA and MM).


Benjamin Taylor Watkins (pianist)— Benjamin Taylor Watkins is a versatile musician who believes in the power of artistic collaboration to transform lives and communities. He was educated at Northwestern University (B.M. in piano, cum laude) and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (M.M. and D.M. in piano). In praise of his performance of Joseph Schwanter’s In Evening’s Stillness, the Herald Times proclaimed “Watkins Conquered the Steinway.”


Sargon Sargis (tenor)—A powerful tenor, Sargon Sargis was born in Chicago, Il to Assyrian parents. Since early childhood, he had dreams of becoming a singer. He first developed a love for Italian songs through classic American cinema, then for Assyrian singing through the influence of his father. Striving for excellence and continuous learning, he began studying with Rasson Bet Yonan in 2012. The two formed a strong bond as student and teacher, inspiring one another. The two are working on an album to be released sometime this year.


Leah Rose Fisher (soprano)—Assyrian-American, Leah Rose Fisher, is a New York City-based singer, voice teacher, and performing artist. She holds a Master’s Degree in Music from New York University with an advanced certificate in Vocal Pedagogy. Leah is active in film and television, in the recording studio for both albums and voiceover work, and on stage in concerts, theater, musical theater, and opera. Over the years, Leah has been able to sing for audiences large and small both nationally as well as across the globe.


Reni Stephan (multi-medium artist)— The Assyrian Renaissance art gallery is entirely comprised of work by multi-medium artist, Reni Stephan. From a young age, Stephan’s artistic prowess was easily recognizable. In his work, he combines his passion for the Assyrian culture with his love of art. His art can be found in prominent places of worship, community organizations, and commercial establishments across the United States.


Tickets go on sale on June 1 through the Assyrian Cultural Foundation. Email to request a purchase, or purchase them at the door on July 2. We look forward to sharing with you a beautiful world of music and art unlike any other.

Ninos Aho

Date: April 27, 2023

Ninos Aho was born in 1945 in a small village in Syria, Gerkeh-Shama. He relocated to Qamishli and later Damascus in pursuit of continuing education.

In 1971, he left Syria and came to the United States. After living in the United States for over 20 years, Ninos, his wife, and their children decided to go back to Syria to support the Assyrian national movement.

In Syria, he had joined the Assyrian Democratic Organization, an organization founded in 1957, in 1961 during an underground convention. The Organization was dedicated to bringing together the various sects of the Assyrian nation and raising awareness of the Assyrian national identity.

This was especially important in various Middle Eastern countries which sought to forcefully eradicate the Assyrian national identity. In an effort to combat Arab nationalist sentiments, he had the local Syriac Orthodox church choirs perform his poetry and disseminate it to the public.

His fame grew as renowned Middle Eastern musicians such as Ninib A. Lahdo and Wadi al-Safi performed his poetry in songs, amplifying its
reach and impact.

In 2013, Ninos Aho succumbed to complications arising from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and passed away. His funeral was performed in the Syriac Orthodox Church with the attendance of a bishop of the Church of the East. His legacy of both poetry and activism will endure for many years to come.


Written By: Sarah Gawo



“Assyrischer Poet Und Aktivist Ninos Aho Wegen Blutkrebserkrankung Verstorben.”

Bethnahrin, 17 July 2013, serkrankung-verstorben/.

“The New Assyrian Poem by Ninos Aho.”, 27 Sept. 2014,

“Ninos Aho: Qeenatha .”,

“Ninos Aho: The Great Assyrian Poet.” Ninos Aho | The Great Assyrian Poet,


Maria Nissan

Date: April 22, 2023

In honor of Earth Day, the Assyrian Cultural Foundation’s Fine Arts Department is honored to share the environmentalist art of Maria Nissan. Nissan is an Assyrian environmentalist artist, who uses her work to raise awareness about plastic pollution. Maria is the co-founder of MicroPlaticsJO, a non-profit organization created in 2022, striving for a radical change in behaviors toward the way plastic is consumed and how it is disposed of. Nissan uses her art as a means of educating the public, and hosts workshops about the social and environmental impacts of overconsumption and single use plastics. Her art ranges from individual sculptural pieces to immersive installations.













MicroPlasticsJO has done incredible work in Amman, Jordon, collecting trash off the streets and turning it into art. Nissan has recently relocated to Thailand in her continuous efforts to expand the company and its influence.  Nissan’s Assyrian background plays a significant role in her work. As she puts it: “I bring together thousands of years of Assyrian legacy with recent materials such as plastic. This heritage survived through time; the plastic waste we generate daily might as well remain for hundreds of years as well.” Her most recent painting series is entitled “The Heart of the Assyrian Legacy”.


It is a series of paintings that represents the unique beauty and distinctive traits of Assyrian women. Nissan sees women as pioneers in the battle for equal rights and opportunities in the middle east. Through this art series, Nisan uses distinctive elements, colors, and shapes to personify a precious cultural heritage that has prevailed through time by means of strength and courage through adversity. Nissan is particularly focused on educating children through her work, as she believes they are our future and deserve a better world to live in. Her work is a testament to the transformative power of a creative vision, and the positive influence art can have on public awareness and understanding.


To find out more about MicroPlasticsJo, and the art of Maria Nissan, please visit the following links below;



Instagram pages:



The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Date: April 18, 2023

The Metropolitan Museum of Art  

New York City, New York. United States  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City established The Department of Near Eastern Art in 1956. Many of the objects in the collection were excavated in the 1840’s by Englishman Austin Henry Layard. Layard began his excavations at Nimrud (known as Kalhu by Assyrians) in 1845. Nimrud was a prominent Assyrian city since 1350 BC and was established as the capital of Assyria in 864 BC by the King Ashurbanipal II, who moved his capital to a newly created palace that became the largest in the ancient world. Nimrud remained the capital until 701 BC, when Sargon II moved it to Dur- Sharrukin. As a result of the city’s long standing importance in the empire, several royal palaces were constructed over the centuries, and as a result Layard discovered a linty of antiquities at the site.  

The reliefs from Nimrud are unique in their portrayal of physical strength, masculinity, and majestic dignity of the human and divine figures. One has the impression that the same artist must have created them. Unfortunately, we do not know who it was. 

 Layard worked alongside his Assyrian assistant Hormuzd Rassam, and together with their team they also uncovered the Northwest Palace of Ashurbanipal II (reigned 883-859 BCE). It was a mudbrick palace, the walls of which were decorated with bas-relief stone slabs. The slabs are carved out of gypsum alabaster, and microscopic remnants of pigment serve as evidence that the reliefs were once brightly painted. They feature depictions and inscriptions of the King’s accomplishments during his rule. This inscription, known as the Standard Inscription, is unique to the reliefs at the Northwest Palace. It describes Ashurbanipal’s success in construction projects, such as being the first Assyrian King to discover and utilize gypsum alabaster to line the mud brick walls of the palace. The Standard Inscription also catalogues the King’s successful military campaigns. After Layard retired his career as an archeologist, Rassam took over the excavation on behalf of the British Museum in London. Rassam would later conduct excavations at Nineveh as well.  

The majority of the works discovered by Britian and France during the 1840’s excavations were sent to The British Museum, and the Louvre. However, many were also acquired by American missionaries and private collectors. Layard himself sent a sent a number of reliefs, including a set of lamassu, to his cousin Lady Charlotte Guest at Canford Manor. Among the private collectors who came into possession of these antiquities, one may recognize some noteworthy figures.   

The collection ancient near eastern art at The Met began in 1884 with a donation from Benjamin Brewster, one of the original trustees of Standard Oil. In 1917, JP Morgan donated a selection of Assyrian works as well. The works that Layard had sent to Lady Charlotte Guest changed hands between private collectors in 1919, and in 1932 JD Rockefeller donated eighteen of the sculptures to the museum.  

Up until 1932 these Assyrian antiquities were managed by the Department of Decorative Arts. As the collection grew, it became necessary to create a new separate department, The Department of Near Eastern Art. In March of 1949 Max E.L. Mallowan, a British archeologist, reopened excavations at Nimrud, of which the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a major financial contributor. This series of excavations yielded for the museum their collection of Assyrian ivories as well as many other smaller art objects. As the collection continued to rapidly expand, the museum eventually ran out of display space, and was forced to put many of the Assyrian pieces in storage.   

In 1956 the department was renamed for a last time to The Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. The miniscule name change can be seen as the first in a series and developments and updates the department would go through in the following years. Some of the most noteworthy changes related to the curation of the space. In 1961, the curator of the department Charles K Wilkinson opened two new galleries in the museums north wing. This allowed Wilkinson to take Assyrian antiquities out of storage, and have a larger volume on display in the museum. He also took the time to arrange the sculptures in the same manner they were originally displayed in the Northwest Palace, to the best of his ability.  

Today, The Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art provides visitors the opportunity to embark on a journey through the ancient world. The exhibitions start in the Neolithic period, with humans beginning to settle in the world’s first cities and cataloguing their own history through the development of a written language. From there, the galleries continue chronologically up to the fall of the Assyrian empire. One of the goals of the department is to “explore(s) cross-cultural themes such as medicine and magic, money and weights, the biblical world, and the relationship between art and text in the ancient Near East” (Ancient Near Eastern Art). The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an expansive collection of art, with pieces from all across the globe that encompass millennia of human history. The museum in all its grandeur presents to us the story of humanity, and The Department of Near Eastern Art offers visitors the ability to start that story from the very beginning.   

In 2016, ISIS destroyed the Assyrian artifacts at Nimrud, planting explosives in the ruins that led to shattering the incredible ancient creations, symbols of continued Assyrian existence in Iraq, to pieces. This act prompts us to appreciate what had been preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art all the more today. 


Written by: Melanie Perkins



“Ancient Near Eastern Art.”, 2022, 

Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. “Early Excavations in Assyria.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-  (October 2004; updated August 2021)  

Seymour, Michael. “The Assyrian Sculpture Court.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-  (December 2016; updated January 2022)  

Vaughn Emerson Crawford, et al. Assyrian Reliefs and Ivories in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1 Oct. 2012. 

The Ashurbanipal Library

Date: April 16, 2023




The Ashurbanipal Library was founded on July 13, 1986 by members of the Assyrian Student Club. The Library’s name pays homage to King Ashurbanipal, who was one of the last great kings of Assyria. King Ashurbanipal is known for his remarkable tablet collection, which is referred to as the Library of Ashurbanipal today. Many historians recognize that Ashurbanipal’s collection holds very valuable materials relating to chemistry, physics, medicine, and all other sciences, as well as history, and language and literature, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Thus, the founders of the Ashurbanipal Library saw it fit to give their own library such a name, in an effort to emphasize not only the greatness of the ancient king’s intellectual effort, but to also give concreteness to the continuity of Assyrian history.



In an effort to preserve Assyrian history and culture, the founders, Robert DeKelaita, Peter Jasim (Betbasoo) and others (now Betbasoo), opened the Ashurbanipal Library to the public in a small storefront on Claremont Ave., near Devon. However, due to financial burdens, the founders felt that their dream of building an Assyrian library was fading away, until the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation offered to house the Ashurbanipal library for free at their location on Clark Street in Chicago. At this time, others joined in the effort; David Malick, Dr. Robert Karoukian, Hanna Hajjar, Raymond Melko, and Sargis Sangari, Marina Eshoo, and Ester Youmaran. Other supporters regularly contributed books and volunteered periodically. Eventually, the Library was moved to the current location in Lincolnwood, Illinois.



The Ashurbanipal Library has a wide collection of books, magazines, periodicals, pictures, and videotapes in the Assyrian, Arabic, and English language. Additionally, the Library carries books in a variety of subjects, such as history, religion, literature, and more. The Library is open for academic researchers to contribute to the existing scholarship on Assyrians, which is crucial to keep Assyrian history and culture alive. Moreover, the Ashurbanipal Library occasionally hosts special lectures to encourage thought and create excitement for research on ancient and modern Assyrians. However, the Library is also open for those who would just like to browse through our collection and read for fun.



Over the years, the Ashurbanipal Library had the honor of hosting esteemed individuals, including Mar Gewargis Sliwa, the former patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Awa Royel III, the current patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Aprem Mookin, the metropolitan of the Church of the East in India, Mar Addai II, the former patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, Mar Gewargis Younan, the bishop of the Ancient Church of the East. Mar Aprem Khamis, the bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Dr. George Kiraz, a renowned Syriac scholar, Dr. Chip Coakley, Abraham Nuro, an accomplished author, and writers Odisho Barazana, Geoffrey Khan, Dr. Eden Naby, and numerous other authors, writers, academics, artists, and clerics. Many of their visits to the Library are documented in the Library’s comments book, and we value those memories immensely.




Another main feature of the Library is the book sale. The Ashurbanipal Library’s book sale includes a variety of books, DVDs, and magazines in the Assyrian, Arabic, and English language, as well as some other languages. Many of the Library’s visitors particularly purchase Assyrian language learning books and dictionaries, such as Qaryana Qadmaya and Simta De-Lishana Suryaya.


Unlike other libraries, the Ashurbanipal Library has a variety of rare books in the modern Assyrian language as well as the Classical. These rare books are characterized mostly by their age and scarcity. More recently, the Library has been prioritizing the digitization of these rare books, so they can be with the Assyrian people for generations to come. To do this, the Library scans rare books, and uploads them to the Library’s online catalog.  The oldest book in the Library titled Perdaysa De-Eden, dates back to the sixteenth century. The preservation of books, such as this one, is necessary for our legacy. (The Khudra, Book of Daily Prayers, is from 1676 and is one of the most important manuscripts in our collection as well).


Today, the Ashurbanipal Library is being assisted by two notable individuals: Ninos Nirari, a renowned Assyrian poet and broadcaster, and Helen Badawi, the Library’s director and a board member of the Assyrian Cultural Foundation. Ninos is available to address any inquiries regarding the Library’s book sale and also assists with translating Assyrian and Arabic literature, publications, papers, as well as offering photograph assistance. In addition, Ninos provides us with a list of books in various languages that are relevant to Assyrians and that we can purchase. Meanwhile, Helen is responsible for supervising the Library’s advancements and deciding which books should be included in its collection.


Throughout the years, the Ashurbanipal Library’s main goals remained the same: to collect, produce, and preserve books and other materials. The Ashurbanipal Library started with only 25 books. Today, it houses around 8,000 books, 2,000 periodicals, and 4,000 magazines thanks to the contributions of many. If you have any materials, which can increase our grasp on Assyrian history and culture, please consider donating them to the Ashurbanipal Library.


Written by: Sarah Gawo



“Ashurbanipal Library.” Assyrian Cultural Foundation,

Ashurian, Homer. “AUA Foundation Newsletter.” Oct. 1990.

DeKelaita, Robert W. “The Ashurbanipal Library, Chicago.” 1990.

“Library of Ashurbanipal.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Dec. 2022,

Shoumanov, Vasili V. Assyrians in Chicago. Arcadia, 2001.

Wells, H. G. The Outline of History. Vol. 1, Garden City Books, 1956.

What is Assyrian New Year?

Date: April 6, 2023

The Assyrian New Year, known as Kha b’Nissan (First of April) or Akitu, is a major celebration for the Assyrian community all over the world, as it gathers to renew its ties to its heritage and collective past.

The Assyrian New Year is traditionally observed on the first full moon after the spring equinox, particularly when the flowers bloom, signifying the renewal of life in ancient Assyrian religion. However, with the spread of Christianity in the Middle East, many modern Assyrians have retired the celebrations due to their adherence to the Christian faith and the distrust of what Christian clerics considered pagan practices.

Nationalism’s rise among Assyrians led to organized efforts to revive ancient traditions, and so

Akitu, having lost its religious standing, became a cultural event.

This blog delves into the history of the festivities of the pre-Christian Assyrian New Year. I will discuss the cultural and religious practices that were prevalent among the Ancient Assyrians.


The rituals performed during the festival sought blessings for the community, including a bountiful harvest, good health, and protection from dark spirits. These rituals were accompanied by music, dance, and food. The Akitu festival had multiple aims, including establishing tranquility with nature, strengthening the connection between the community and the gods, renewing the power of the king, and achieving the changes of fortune. The ancient Assyrian New Year is a characteristic of the rich cultural heritage of the Assyrian community, and it continues to motivate and shape their traditions today.


The first day of the celebration consists of prayers and thanks to the gods for the New Year, accompanied with dancing and singing. This was meant to “purify the souls,” in preparation for the subsequent practices. The following day, the chief priest asked for blessings for himself and the Assyrian people. On the third day, it was customary for the king to take hold of the statue of Nabu, one of the gods whose attribute was wisdom.

The fourth day saw the grand priest telling the story of creation. In other words, the grand priest will recite the story of the creation of the universe and all four seasons.


During the fifth day, Assyrians gathered and cooked food to eat. Meanwhile, the king was at his temple in Esagila, engaging in a ritual that emphasized his submission to divine authority and his commitment to safeguarding his people. In this ritual, as part of his demonstration of loyalty to Assyria, the king would be required to strip down and bow before his Lord Assur. This ritual was a display of submission and obedience to the God Assur, attesting the king’s dedication to preserving Assyrian culture and his subservience to his Lord. At the end of this ritual, the high priest will give the king back his robe and jewelry.

During the remaining days, the major activity is to recount the ancient Assyrian mythological stories. When the 12 days passed, the agricultural season officially commences.

This year, the Assyrian community will celebrate the marking of 6773 years. We highly recommend that everyone attends the New Year festivities!


Written by: Sarah Gawo



“Assyrian New Year – History.” Assyrian American Association of San Jose,


Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter. “The 1st of April: (Akitu).” Assyrian New Year Festival: 6765/2015, 2015.


Giwargis, Ashur. “The Meaning of the Assyrian New Year.” Assyrian International News Agency, 31 Mar. 2012,


Kamber, Emmanuel Y. “Khä B’Nësán (April 1st) – Akitu – Assyrian New Year.” Atour, 29 Mar.



Lang, Esther. “Kha B’Nissan-The Assyrian New Year.” Assyrian Cultural Foundation, 20 Mar.



Shams, Alex. “The Joys of Akitu, the Assyrian New Year.” Ajam Media Collective, 22 Jan. 2023,


Solia. “Happy Assyrian New Year 6772.” Omni Dental, 29 Mar. 2022,



Websites- Magazines-

Assyrian New Year Festival: 6765/2015 by Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter

The Louvre: The Department of Near Eastern Antiquities  

Date: March 16, 2023

The Louvre: The Department of Near Eastern Antiquities  


Musée du Louvre, Paris, France. 

The first ever museum collection of Assyrian artifacts began in 1847 with the Musée de Louvre in Paris. The first, and some of the most noteworthy, pieces from this collection were uncovered at Sargon II’s Palace at Dur-Sharrukin. The remains of this ancient palace reside in what is now modern-day Khorsabad, Iraq. The palace at Dur-Sharrukin began construction under the reign of Sargon II. The King had intended to establish a new Assyrian capital at Dur-Sharrukin as a way of asserting his authority. Dur-Sharrukin was on its way to becoming the largest city in the ancient world. However, upon his untimely death, Sargon’s son and heir, Sennacherib, moved the capital to Nineveh, leaving the palace at Dur-Sharrukin behind unfinished. After the fall of the Assyrian empire in the 7th century, the artifacts of this great nation were buried by both literal and metaphorical sands of time. The Bible, as well as select ancient Greek texts, remained the only literary recourses Western archeologists and explorers had to learn about ancient Mesopotamia up until the mid-19th century. Though, sources such as the tale of Ahiqar the Wise, Ahiqar Hakima, as well as other writings in Syriac or Aramaic kept the memory of the great nation alive in the Assyrian community. The rise of European interest in ancient objects, coupled with the political interests of Britian and France, initiated a series of excavations in the middle east conducted by these foreign governments. 

Paul-Émile Botta was a French Consular Agent in Mosul, who had been selected to lead the excavation due to his background as a naturalist, historian, and diplomat, as well as his ability to speak multiple languages. He initially began digging at Quyunjik, but was unsuccessful in unearthing any major discoveries. Based on advice from local citizens, Botta turned his attention to Khorsabad in hopes of discovering undisturbed artifacts. Compared to other Assyrian monuments, Dur-Sharrukin was buried fairly close to the surface, and within a week’s worth of digging, Botta’s team was successful in uncovering large sections of the palace. 

The Palace of Sargon II contained a number of groundbreaking discoveries. Botta and his team unearthed large gypsum alabaster slabs which featured bas-relief sculpture telling the story of King Sargon’s royal life and legacy. This included scenes of hunting and military campaigns, as well as depictions of Assyrian gods. These alabaster slabs lined the mud brick walls of the sprawling palace, which contained around two hundred rooms and courtyards. The doorways were flanked by Lamassu statues; the first of their kind to be discovered by archeologists.  

Given the significance of Botta’s discoveries, the French government supplied the team with further resources for excavation and documentation. This included sending artist Eugène Flandin, who illustrated the site and finds. Time was of the essence when it came to illustrating the artifacts, as being suddenly exposed to the desert elements and heat started to damage them. Soon after unearthing the objects, Botta began shipping them back to France by way of boats up the Tigris River. This process was fraught with difficulty. The sheer amount and size of the objects being transported overwhelmed the ships. Throughout the journey, the crews were attacked and seized by pirates, who managed to sink one of the ships. In an effort to make the transportation process easier, some controversial choices were made. This includes breaking artifacts into smaller pieces and then reassembling them onsite at the Louvre. By today’s standards, Botta’s transfer of antiquities can be seen as a lesson in “what not to do.” However, the challenges faced and mistakes made did help to inform later academics in developing standardized and regulated means by which valuable historical objects are acquired, handled, transported, and maintained. Given that this was the first ever major excavation in the Near East, they still had a lot to learn.  

After their treacherous journey, the objects arrived at the Musée de Louvre in February of 1847. On May 1st 1847, King Louis-Phillip inaugurated The Ninevite Museum. This was the first exhibition of Assyrian antiquities in the world, and there was a great deal of public interest in the collection. In the years to come, the collection continued to expand. Contributions were made by Ernest Renan in the 1860’s, and Ernest de Sarzec in the 1870’s. Sarzec discovery of Ancient Sumerian objects prompted the Ninevites Museum’s transition into The Department of Near Eastern Antiquities in 1881. At this time, Léon Heuzey was appointed head curator of the department. He was incredibly devoted to garnering recognition of and knowledge about the antiquities, and also worked as a professor in Near Eastern Antiquities. Today, The Department of Near Eastern Antiquities at the Musée de Louvre remains one of the most remarkable collections of ancient Assyrian artwork in the world. Assyrians have had their own history systematically obfuscated from them from centuries. This has been done both through the separation of the community from their native homeland, and through the destruction of historical artifacts. Though the process of the excavations of these artifacts was imperfect, the exhibitions provide modern Assyrians the ability to stand face to face with their own history during a time when that is becoming increasingly more difficult. Assyrians can also take pride in knowing how significant and awe inspiring their history is to the global community, who continue to flock to the Louvre to experience the wonders of The Department of Near Eastern Antiquities. After all, they are the decedents or the artisans and laborers who’s work now contributes to the prestige of this world rebound museum.  

Written by: Melanie Perkins

Published by: Brian Banyamin



“Early Excavations in Assyria.”, Aug. 2021, 

“The Opening of the Assyrian Museum at the Louvre.” Gouv.Fr, Accessed 16 Jan. 2023. 

“The Palace of Sargon II.” Le Louvre, Accessed 16 Jan. 2023. 

Albrecht, Lea. “Louvre Shows Mideast Relics with Dubious Past.” Deutsche Welle, 23 Nov. 2016, 

Wikipedia contributors. “Dur-Sharrukin.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Dec. 2022, 

Mar Benyamin Shimun XXI

Date: March 11, 2023


Mar Benyamin Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch XXI, was born in Qudchanis, Turkey in 1887. His mother, Asyat, was the daughter of a famous Assyrian chieftain, Qamber of Eeil, and his father, Eshai, was born of the patriarchal line of the Church of the East. Growing up, he received an education from a notable Assyrian scholar from the tribe of Tkhooma. During this time, he learned a great deal about politics and diplomacy.

On March 2, 1903, Mar Benyamin was ordained as a Metropolitan. However, after the death of his uncle, Mar Ruel Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch XX, on March 16, 1903, Mar Benyamin was elevated to the Patriarchal throne on March 30, 1903 at the age of 16. Observers noted that he quickly learned how to conduct himself as a mature leader despite his age, as he was aided by his sister, Surma Khanum.

Years after his consecration, World War I began and reverberated throughout the world and the Middle East. The conflicts between various regional powers place the Assyrian nation in a most difficult position, leading to much conflict and atrocities. With much difficulty, Mar Benyamin took it upon himself to lead the Assyrians of Hakkari out into the safety of Urmi, where they joined their brethren.

Also, he helped many Assyrians escape to Russia after having successful negotiations with Tsar Nicolas of Russia for Assyrian settlement in their residential areas. According to Braum and Winkler, Mar Benyamin accomplished “the transfer of 15,000 of his people into the Caucasus, where they founded a new homeland in the present-day states of Armenia and Georgia.” In 1917, Mar Benyamin was decorated by the Russians who wanted to show their appreciation to the Assyrians for helping them in their fight. In 1918, Mar Benyamin was assassinated by a Kurdish officer. He was 31 years old.

Mar Benyamin Shimun, Catholicos Patriarch XXI, embodies the true meaning of a hero. His bravery and courage helped many Assyrians find sanctuary in a very turbulent time in history, and for that, we honor him every year.


Published by: Brian Banyamin

Written by: Sarah Gawo



Baum, William, and Dietmar Winkler. The Church of the East: A Concise History. Routledge, 2003.

“He Lived and Died For His Beloved Assyrian Church & Nation.” Assyrian Enterprise,

Shoumanov, Vasili V. The Assyrian Martyr: Mar Benjamin Shimun, Patriarch of the Church of the East. Center for the Assyrian Genocide Studies, 2008.

Shumanov, Vasily. “The Patriarch Mar Binyamin Shimmun a Martyr of the Assyrian Nation & The Church of the East.” Zinda, 15 Mar. 2004,

SyriacPress. “Today in History: East Syriac Patriarch Mar Shimun Binyamin Murdered by Kurdish Chieftain Simko Agha.” SyriacPress, 3 Mar. 2022, n-binyamin-murdered-by-kurdish-chieftain-simko-agha/.

Werda, Joel E. “A Short Biography of Mar Benyamin Shimun XXI.” Nineveh, 1981.