History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. 1, by Gaston Maspero, Audiobook
History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. 1, by Gaston Maspero, Audiobook
Assyrian Church of the East
ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪܝܐ
(Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East)
Emblem of the Assyrian Church of the East
|Founder||Traces origins to Saints Thomas (Mar Toma), Bartholomew (Mar Bar Tulmay), Thaddeus (Addai) and Mari.|
|Recognition||First Council of Ephesus|
|Primate||Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV Khanania|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Territory||Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Georgia, Oceania.|
The Assyrian Church of the East (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪܝܐ), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܘܫܠܝܚܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪܝܐ, ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Assyria, northern Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – the Church of the East. Unlike most other churches that trace their origins to antiquity, the modern Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other churches, either Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Catholic.
Theologically, the church is associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, leading to the church, also being known as a “Nestorian Church”, though church leadership has at times rejected the Nestorian label, and was already extant some four centuries prior to Nestorius. The church employs the Syriac dialect of the Aramaic language in its liturgy, the East Syrian Rite, which includes three anaphoras, attributed to Saints Addai and Mari, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius.
The Church of the East developed between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD from the early Assyrian Christian communities in the Assuristan province (Parthian ruled Assyria) of the Parthian Empire, and at its height had spread from its north Mesopotamian heartland to as far as China, Central Asia and India. A dispute over patriarchal succession led to the Schism of 1552, resulting in there being two rival Patriarchs. One of the factions that eventually emerged from this split became the Assyrian Church of the East, while another became the church now known as the Chaldean Catholic Church, originally called The Church of Athura (Assyria) and Mosul, which eventually entered into communion with the Catholic Church, both in continuation from the Church of the East.
A more recent schism in the church resulted from the adoption of the Assyrian Church of the East of the Gregorian Calendar rather than maintaining the traditional Julian calendar that is off by 13 days. The opponents to the reforms introduced formed in 1964 the Ancient Church of the East headquartered in Baghdad and headed since 1968 by a separate Catholicos-Patriarch.
The Assyrian Church of the East is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, who currently presides in exile in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Below the Catholicos-Patriarch are a number of metropolitan bishops, diocesan bishops, priests, and deacons who serve dioceses and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the Caucasus and Russia).
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The Church of the East originally developed during the 1st century AD in the Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic speaking regions of Assyria and northwestern Persia (today’s Iraq, southeast Turkey, northeast Syria and north western Iran), to the east of the Roman-Byzantine empire. It is an Apostolic church, established by the apostles St Thomas (Mar Toma), St Thaddeus (Mar Addai), and St Bartholomew (Mar Bar Tulmay). St Peter (Mar Shimun Keapa), the chief of the apostles added his blessing to the Church of the East at the time of his visit to the See at Babylon, in the earliest days of the church when stating, “The elect church which is in Babylon, salutes you; and Mark, my son (1 Peter 5:13).
Official recognition was first granted to the Christian faith in the 4th century with the accession of Yazdegerd I to the throne of the Sassanid Empire. In 410, the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, held at the Sassanid capital, allowed the Church’s leading bishops to elect a formal Catholicos, or leader. The Catholicos, Mar Isaac, was required both to lead the Assyrian Christian community, and to answer on its behalf to the Sassanid Emperor.
Under pressure from the Sassanid Emperor, the Church of the East sought increasingly to distance itself from the western (Roman Empire) Catholic Church. In 424, the bishops of the Sassanid Empire met in council under the leadership of Catholicos Mar Dadisho I (421–456) and determined that they would not, henceforth, refer disciplinary or theological problems to any external power, and especially not to any bishop or Church Council in the Roman Empire.
As such, the Mesopotamian and Assyrian Churches were not represented at the various Church Councils attended by representatives of the Western Church. Accordingly, the leaders of the Church of the East did not feel bound by any decisions of what came to be regarded as Roman Imperial Councils. Despite this, the Creed and Canons of the first Council of Nicea (325); affirming the full divinity of Christ; were formally accepted at the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The Church’s understanding of the term ‘hypostasis‘ differs from the definition of the term offered at the Council of Chalcedon. For this reason, the Assyrian Church has never approved the Chalcedonian definition.
The theological controversy that followed the First Council of Ephesus, in 431, proved a turning point in the Church’s history. The Council condemned as heretical the Christology of Nestorius, whose reluctance to accord the Virgin Mary the title ‘Theotokos’ (‘God-bearer’ or ‘Mother of God’) was taken as evidence that he believed two separate persons (as opposed to two united natures) to be present within Christ. (For the theological issues at stake, see Assyrian Church of the East and Nestorianism.)
The Sassanid Emperor, hostile to the Roman Empire, saw the opportunity to ensure the loyalty of his Christian subjects and lent support to the Nestorian schism. The Sassanid Emperor took steps to cement the primacy of the Nestorian party within the Church of the East, granting its members his protection, and executing the pro-Roman Catholicos Babowai, replacing him with the Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis, Barsauma. The Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Babai I (497–503) confirmed the association of the Persian Church with Nestorianism.
During the medieval period the geographical horizons of the Church of the East extended well beyond its heartland in present-day northern Iraq. Communities sprang up throughout Central Asia, and missionaries from Assyria and Mesopotamia took the Christian faith as far as China and the Malabar Coast of India.
The massacres of Assyrian Christians by Tamerlane (1336–1405) destroyed many bishoprics, including the ancient Assyrian city of Ashur. The Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as China, was largely reduced to an Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian remnant living in its original heartland in Upper Mesopotamia (what had been Assyria), the triangular area between Amid, Salmas and Mosul. The See was moved to the Assyrian town of Alqosh, in the Mosul region, and Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437–1493) appointed Patriarch, establishing a new, hereditary, line of succession.
Growing dissent in the church’s hierarchy over hereditary succession came to a head in 1552, when a group of bishops from the Northern regions of Amid and Salmas elected Mar Yohannan Sulaqa as a rival Patriarch. Seeking consecration as Patriarch by a Bishop of Metropolitan rank, Sulaqa traveled to Rome in 1553, and entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. On being appointed Patriarch, Sulaqa took the name Mar Shimun VIII and was granted the title of “Patriarch of Mosul and Athur (Assyria)”. Later this title became “Patriarch of the Chaldeans”, despite none of its adherents being from the long disappeared Chaldean tribe, or from what had been South in the far south east of Mesopotamia.
Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to the Near East the same year, establishing his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by partisans of the Patriarch of Alqosh, he ordained five metropolitan bishops, thus establishing a new ecclesiastical hierarchy, a line of patriarchal descent known as the Shimun line.
Relations with Rome weakened under Shimun VIII’s successors, all of whom took the name Shimun. The last of this line of Patriarchs to be formally recognized by the Pope died in the early 17th century. Hereditary accession to the office of Patriarch was reintroduced, and by 1660 the Assyrian Church of the East had become divided into two Patriarchates; the Eliya line, based in Alqosh (comprising that portion of the faithful which had never entered into Communion with Rome), and the Shimun line.
In 1672 the Patriarch of the Shimun line, Mar Shimun XIII Denha, moved his seat to the Assyrian village of Qochanis in the mountains of Hakkari. In 1692, the Patriarch formally broke communion with Rome and allegedly resumed relations with the line at Alqosh, though retaining the independent structure and jurisdiction of his line of succession.
The so-called Chaldean Patriarchate was revived in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, then the Assyrian Church of the East metropolitan of Amid, entered into communion with Rome, thus separating from the Patriarchal See of Alqosh. In 1681, the Holy See granted Mar Joseph the title of “Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its Patriarch”, thus forming the third Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East. It was this third Patriarchate that was to become known as the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1683.
Each of Joseph I’s successors took the name Joseph. The life of this Patriarchate was difficult; stricken early on with internal dissent, the Patriarchiate later struggled with financial difficulties due to the tax burden imposed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Despite these difficulties, the influence of the Patriarchate expanded from its original homeland of Amid and Mardin towards the area of Mosul, where ultimately the See was relocated.
Mar Yohannan VIII Hormizd, the last of the Eliya hereditary line of the Assyrian Church of the East in Alqosh, made a Catholic profession of faith in 1780. Though entering full communion with the Roman See in 1804, he was not recognized as Patriarch by the Pope until 1830. This move merged the majority of the Patriarcate of Alqosh with the Josephite line of Amid, thus forming the modern Chaldean Catholic Church.
The Shimun line of Patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained within the Assyrian Church of the East, and refused to enter communion with Rome and join the Chaldean Church. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its see in Chicago, forms the continuation of this line.
In 1915 the Assyrian Church see at Qochanis see was completely destroyed by the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the context of the Assyrian Genocide, Assyrian war of independence and Armenian Genocide. Survivors of the massacres escaped by marching over the mountains into Iran and Iraq to join their kinsmen. In 1918, after the murder of Mar Shimun XXI Benyamin and 150 of his followers, and fearing further massacres at the hands of the Turks and Kurds, the survivors fled from Iran into what was to become Iraq, seeking protection under the British mandate there, and joining ancient indigenous existing Assyrian communities of both Eastern Rite and Catholic persuasions in the north of that country.
The British administration employed Assyrian troops (Assyrian Levies) to put down Arab and Kurdish rebellions in the aftermath of World War I. In consequence, Assyrians of all denominations endured persecution under the Hashemite monarchy, leading many to flee to the West, in particular to the United States, where Chicago became the center of the diaspora community.
During this period the British-educated Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, born into the line of Patriarchs at Qochanis, agitated for an independent Assyrian state. Following the end of the British mandate in 1933 and a massacre of Assyrian civilians at Simele by the Iraqi Army, the Patriarch was forced to take refuge in Cyprus. There, Shimun petitioned the League of Nations regarding his peoples’ fate, but to little avail, and he was consequently barred from entering Syria and Iraq. He traveled through Europe before moving to Chicago in 1940 to join the growing Assyrian diaspora community there.
The Church and the Assyrian community in general faced considerable fragmentation and upheaval as a result of the conflicts of the 20th century, and Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII was forced to reorganize the church’s structure in the United States. He transferred his residence to San Francisco, California in 1954, and was able to travel to Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, and India, where he worked to strengthen the church.
In 1964 he decreed a number of changes to the church, including liturgical reform, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, and the shortening of Lent. These changes, combined with Shimun’s long absence from Iraq, caused a rift in the community which led to another schism. In 1968 traditionalists within the church elected Mar Thoma Darmo as a rival patriarch to Shimun XXIII Eshai, creating the Ancient Church of the East.
In 1972, Shimun decided to step down as Patriarch, and the following year, he married, in contravention to longstanding church custom. This led to a synod in 1973 in which further reforms were introduced, most significantly including the permanent abolition of hereditary succession a practice introduced in the middle of the fifteenth century by the patriarch Shemʿon IV Basidi who had died in 1497); however, it was decided that Shimun should be reinstated. This matter was to be settled at additional synods in 1975, however Shimun was assassinated by an estranged relative before this could take place.
In 1976, the current Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, was elected as Shimun XXIII Eshai’s successor. The 33-year old Dinkha had previously been Metropolitan of Tehran, and operated his see there until the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–1988. Thereafter, Mar Dinkha IV went into exile in the United States, and transferred the patriarchal see to Chicago. Much of his patriarchate has been concerned with tending to the Assyrian diaspora community and with ecumenical efforts to strengthen relations with other churches.
The Nestorian nature of Assyrian Christianity remains a matter of contention. Elements of the Nestorian doctrine were explicitly repudiated by Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV on the occasion of his accession in 1976.
The Christology of the Church of the East has its roots in the Antiochene theological tradition of the early Church. The founders of Assyrian theology are Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, both of whom taught at Antioch. ‘Antiochene’ is a modern designation given to the style of theology associated with the early Church at Antioch, as contrasted with the theology of the church of Alexandria.
Antiochene theology emphasised Christ’s humanity and the reality of the moral choices he faced. In order to preserve the impassibility of Christ’s Divine Nature, the unity of His person was defined in a looser fashion than in the Alexandrian tradition. The normative Christology of the Assyrian church was written by Babai the Great (551–628) during the controversy that followed the First Council of Ephesus (431). Babai held that within Christ there exist two qnome (essences, or hypostases), unmingled, but everlastingly united in the one prosopon(personality).
The precise Christological teachings of Nestorius are shrouded in obscurity. Wary of monophysitism, Nestorius rejected Cyril’s theory of a hypostatic union, proposing instead a union of will. Nestorianism has come to mean dyaphysitism, in which Christ’s dual natures are eternally separate, though it is doubtful whether Nestorius ever taught such a doctrine. Nestorius’ rejection of the term Theotokos (‘God-bearer’, or ‘Mother of God’) has traditionally been held as evidence that he asserted the existence of two persons – not merely two natures – in Jesus Christ, but there exists no evidence that Nestorius denied Christ’s oneness. In the controversy that followed the Council of Ephesus, the term ‘Nestorian’ was applied to all upholding a strictly Antiochene Christology. In consequence the Church of the East was labelled ‘Nestorian’, though its theology is not dyophysite.
Pope John XXIII invited many other Christian denominations, including the Assyrian Church of the East, to send “observers” to the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). These observers, graciously received and seated as honored guests right in front of the podium on the floor of the council chamber, did not formally take part in the Council’s debate, but they mingled freely with the Catholic bishops and theologians who constituted the council, and with the other observers as well, in the break area during the council sessions. There, cordial conversations began a rapproachment that has blossomed into expanding relations among the Catholic Church, the Churches of the Orthodox Communion led by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and the ancient churches of the East.
On November 11, 1994, a historic meeting between Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II took place in Rome. The two patriarchs signed a document titled “Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East“. One side effect of this meeting was that the Assyrian Church’s relationship to the fellow Chaldean Catholic Church began to improve.
In 1996, Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV signed an agreement of cooperation with the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Raphael I Bidawid, in Southfield, Michigan. In 1997, he entered into negotiations with the Syriac Orthodox Church and the two churches ceased anathematizing each other.
The lack of a coherent institution narrative in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, which dates to apostolic times, has caused many Western Christians, and especially Roman Catholics, to doubt the validity of this anaphora, used extensively by the Assyrian Church of the East, as a prayer of consecration of the eucharistic elements. In 2001, after a study of this issue, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated a declaration approved by Pope John Paul II stating that this is a valid anaphora. This declaration opened the door to a joint synodal decree officially implementing the present Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East which the synods of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church signed and promulgated on 20 July 2001.
This joint synodal decree provides that (1) Assyrian faithful may participate and receive Holy Communion in a Chaldean celebration of the Holy Eucharist, (2) Chaldean catholic faithful may participate and receive Holy Communion in an Assyrian Church celebration of the Holy Eucharist, even if celebrated using the Anaphora of Addai and Mari in its original form, and (3) Assyrian clergy are invited (but not obliged) to insert the institution narrative into the Anaphora of Addai and Mari when Chaldean faithful are present. Far from expressing a relationship of full communion between these churches, however, the joint synodal decree actually identifies several issues that require resolution to permit a relationship of full communion.
From a Catholic canonical point of view, provisions of the joint synodal decree are fully consistent with the provisions of canon 671 of the 1991 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, which states: “If necessity requires it or genuine spiritual advantage suggests it and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is permitted for Catholic Christian faithful, for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, to receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers, in whose Churches these sacraments are valid. 3. Likewise Catholic ministers licitly administer the Sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to Christian faithful of Eastern Churches, who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they ask for them on their own and are properly disposed.” Canons 843 and 844 of the Code of Canon Law make similar provisions for the Latin Church. The Assyrian Church of the East follows an Open Communion approach allowing any baptized Christian to receive its Eucharist, so there is also no alteration of Assyrian practice. Nonetheless, from an ecumenical perspective, the joint synodal decree marks a major step toward full mutual collaboration of both churches in the pastoral care of their members.
The Church is governed by an episcopal polity, which is the same as other Catholic churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into dioceses and archdioceses. The Catholicos-Patriarch, currently Mar Dinkha IV is head of the church. The Synod comprises Bishops who oversee individual dioceses, and Metropolitans who oversee episcopal dioceses in there territorial jurisdiction.
The Chaldean Syrian Church in India and the Persian Gulf is the largest diocese of the church. Its story goes back to the Church of the East that established presence in Kerala. The converts were from lower, untouchable castes, for in a caste-ridden Malabar society. During times of disturbances in the Persian Empire and the Middle East, Assyrian inflow into Kerala ceased and local converts had to take responsibility for the churches. Nevertheless, Malabar churches retained their Nestorian connections. Connection between the Malabar church and the Church of the East was sporadic for a long period till the arrival of the Portuguese. The church is represented by the Assyrian Church of the East and is in communion with it.
The current hierarchy and dioceses is as follows. The Patriarchate of the Church of the East was located for centuries in the cathedral church of Mar Shallita, in the village of Qudshanis in the Hakkari mountains, Ottoman Empire. After the exodus in 1915 the Patriarchs temporarily resided between Urmia and Salmas, and from 1918 the patriarchs resided in Mosul, Iraq. After the Simele massacre of 1933, the then Patriarch Shimun XXIII Eshai was exiled to Cyprus. In 1940 he was welcomed to the United States where he set up his residence in Chicago, Illinois and administrated the United States and Canada as his Patriarchal province. The patriarchate was moved to Modesto, California in 1954, and finally to San Francisco, California in 1958 due to health issues. After the assassination of the Patriarch and the election of Mar Dinkha IV in 1976, the patriarchate was temporarily located in Tehran, Iran where the patriarch already resided. Since 1980, the Patriarchate again returned to Chicago, Illinois where it currently remains. The Diocese of Eastern United States served as the patriarch’s province from 1994 until 2012.
Due to the unstable political, religious and economic situation in the church’s historical homeland of the Middle East, many of the church members now reside in Western countries. Churches and dioceses have been established throughout Europe, America and Oceania. The largest expatriate concentration of church members is in the United States, mainly situated in Illinois and California.
The Holy Synod of the church is made up of:
Alice Lee Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt’s irrepressible eldest daughter, married Congressman Nicholas Longworth of Ohio in an elaborate White House ceremony on February 17, 1906. Heedless of social convention, Alice’s behavior routinely shocked her family and friends. Once the president, when confronted with another of Alice’s escapades, remarked, ‘I can do one of two things, I can run the country or control Alice. I cannot do both.’ Nevertheless, the world public was captivated with the first daughter, who seemed to embody the ideal Gay Nineties woman. In spite of its promising beginning, Alice’s 25-year marriage to Longworth was not a happy one, but Alice reigned as the grande dame of Washington, D.C. society for another 50 years. This photo was taken on March 24, 1902.
Photo: Library of Congress
Al Khazneh or The Treasury at Petra
|Location||Ma’an Governorate, Jordan|
|Elevation||810 m (2,657 ft)|
|Built||possibly as early as 5th century BC |
|Visitation||580,000 (in 2007)|
|Governing body||Petra Region Authority|
|Criteria||i, iii, iv|
|Designated||1985 (9th session)|
Petra (Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα) is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved.
Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. See: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Petra was chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See Before You Die”.
Pliny the Elder and other writers identify Petra as the capital of the Nabataeans and the center of their caravan trade. Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress, but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.
In ancient times, Petra might have been approached from the south on a track leading across the plain of Petra, around Jabal Haroun (“Aaron’s Mountain”), where the Tomb of Aaron, said to be the burial-place of Aaron, brother of Moses, is located. Another approach was possibly from the high plateau to the north. Today, most modern visitors approach the site from the east. The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge (in places only 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) wide) called the Siq (“the shaft”), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge stands Petra’s most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh (popularly known as and meaning “the Treasury”), hewn into the sandstone cliff. While remaining in remarkably preserved condition, the face of the structure is marked by hundreds of bullet holes made by the local Bedouin tribes that hoped to dislodge riches that were once rumored to be hidden within it.
A little farther from the Treasury, at the foot of the mountain called en-Nejr, is a massive theatre, positioned so as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view. At the point where the valley opens out into the plain, the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. The amphitheatre has been cut into the hillside and into several of the tombs during its construction. Rectangular gaps in the seating are still visible. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures and lined with knobs cut from the rock in the form of towers.
Some of the earliest recorded farmers settled in Beidha, a pre-pottery settlement just north of Petra, by 7000 BC. Petra is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Though the city was founded relatively late, a sanctuary has existed there since very ancient times. Stations 19 through 26 of the stations list of Exodus are places associated with Petra. This part of the country was biblically assigned to the Horites, the predecessors of the Edomites. The habits of the original natives may have influenced the Nabataean custom of burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves. Although Petra is usually identified with Sela, which means a rock, the Biblical references refer to it as “the cleft in the rock”, referring to its entrance. In the parallel passage, however, Sela is understood to mean simply “the rock” (2 Chronicles xxv. 12, see LXX).
Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews iv. 7, 1~ 4, 7), Eusebius and Jerome (Onom. sacr. 286, 71. 145, 9; 228, 55. 287, 94) assert that Rekem was the native name, and this name appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls as a prominent Edomite site most closely describing Petra, and associated with Mount Seir. But in the Aramaic versions, Rekem is the name of Kadesh, implying that Josephus may have confused the two places. The Semitic name of the city, if not Sela, remains unknown. The passage in Diodorus Siculus (xix. 94–97) which describes the expeditions which Antigonus sent against the Nabataeans in 312 BC is understood to throw some light upon the history of Petra, but the “petra” referred to as a natural fortress and place of refuge cannot be a proper name and the description implies that the town was not yet in existence.
The name “Rekem” was inscribed in the rock wall of the Wadi Musa opposite the entrance to the Siq, but about twenty years ago[timeframe?] the Jordanians built a bridge over the wadi and this inscription was buried beneath tons of concrete.
More satisfactory evidence of the date of the earliest Nabataean settlement may be obtained from an examination of the tombs. Two types of tombs have been distinguished: the Nabataean and the Greco-Roman. The Nabataean type starts from the simple pylon-tomb with a door set in a tower crowned by a parapet ornament, in imitation of the front of a dwelling-house. Then, after passing through various stages, the full Nabataean type is reached, retaining all the native features and at the same time exhibiting characteristics which are partly Egyptian and partly Greek. Of this type close parallels exist in the tomb-towers at Mada’in Saleh in north Arabia, which bear long Nabataean inscriptions and supply a date for the corresponding monuments at Petra. Then comes a series of tombfronts which terminate in a semicircular arch, a feature derived from north Syria. Finally come the elaborate façades copied from the front of a Roman temple; however, all traces of native style have vanished. The exact dates of the stages in this development cannot be fixed. Few inscriptions of any length have been found at Petra, perhaps because they have perished with the stucco or cement which was used upon many of the buildings. The simple pylon-tombs which belong to the pre-Hellenic age serve as evidence for the earliest period. It is not known how far back in this stage the Nabataean settlement goes, but it does not go back farther than the 6th century BC. A period follows in which the dominant civilization combines Greek, Egyptian and Syrian elements, clearly pointing to the age of the Ptolemies. Towards the close of the 2nd century BC, when the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms were equally depressed, the Nabataean kingdom came to the front. Under Aretas III Philhellene, (c.85–60 BC), the royal coins begin. The theatre was probably excavated at that time, and Petra must have assumed the aspect of a Hellenistic city. In the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris, (9 BC–40 AD), the tombs of the el-I~ejr[clarification needed] type may be dated, and perhaps also the High-place.
In 106 AD, when Cornelius Palma was governor of Syria, the part of Arabia under the rule of Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire as part of Arabia Petraea and became its capital. The native dynasty came to an end but the city continued to flourish under Roman rule. It was around this time that the Petra Roman Road was built. A century later, in the time of Alexander Severus, when the city was at the height of its splendor, the issue of coinage comes to an end. There is no more building of sumptuous tombs, owing apparently to some sudden catastrophe, such as an invasion by the neo-Persian power under the Sassanid Empire. Meanwhile, as Palmyra (fl. 130–270) grew in importance and attracted the Arabian trade away from Petra, the latter declined. It appears, however, to have lingered on as a religious centre. Another Roman road was constructed at the site. Epiphanius of Salamis (c.315–403) writes that in his time a feast was held there on December 25 in honor of the virgin Khaabou (Chaabou) and her offspring Dushara (Haer. 51).
Petra declined rapidly under Roman rule, in large part from the revision of sea-based trade routes. In 363 an earthquake destroyed many buildings, and crippled the vital water management system. The last inhabitants abandoned the city (further weakened by another major earthquake in 551) when the Arabs conquered the region in 663. The ruins of Petra were an object of curiosity in the Middle Ages and were visited by Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the end of the 13th century. The first European to describe them was Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
Because the structures weakened with age, many of the tombs became vulnerable to thieves, and many treasures were stolen. In 1929, a four-person team, consisting of British archaeologists Agnes Conway and George Horsfield, Palestinian physician and folklore expert Dr Tawfiq Canaan and Dr Ditlef Nielsen, a Danish scholar, excavated and surveyed Petra.
In October 1917, as part of a general effort to divert Ottoman military resources away from the British advance before the Third Battle of Gaza, a revolt of Syrians and Arabians in Petra was led by British Army officer T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) against the Ottoman regime. The Bedouin women living in the vicinity of Petra and under the leadership of Sheik Khallil’s wife were gathered to fight in the revolt of the city. The rebellions, with the support of English military, were able to devastate the Ottoman forces.
The Nabataeans worshipped the Arab gods and goddesses of the pre-Islamic times as well as a few of their deified kings. One, Obodas I, was deified after his death. Dushara was the primary male god accompanied by his female trinity: Al-‘Uzzá, Allat and Manāt. Many statues carved in the rock depict these gods and goddesses.
A stele is dedicated to Qos-Allah ‘Qos is Allah’ or ‘Qos the god’, by Qosmilk (melech – king) is found at Petra (Glueck 516). Qos is identifiable with Kaush (Qaush) the God of the older Edomites. The stele is horned and the seal from the Edomite Tawilan near Petra identified with Kaush displays a star and crescent (Browning 28), both consistent with a moon deity. It is conceivable the latter could have resulted from trade with Harran (Bartlett 194). There is continuing debate about the nature of Qos (qaus – bow) who has been identified both with a hunting bow (hunting god) and a rainbow (weather god) although the crescent above is also a bow.
Nabatean inscriptions in Sinai and other places display widespread references to names including Allah, El and Allat (god and goddess), with regional references to al-Uzza, Baal and Manutu (Manat) (Negev 11). Allat is also found in Sinai in South Arabian language. Allah occurs particularly as Garm-‘allahi – god dedided (Greek Garamelos) and Aush-allahi – ‘gods covenant’ (Greek Ausallos). We find both Shalm-lahi ‘Allah is peace’ and Shalm-allat, ‘the peace of the goddess’. We also find Amat-allahi ‘she-servant of god’ and Halaf-llahi ‘the successor of Allah’.
The Monastery, Petra’s largest monument, dates from the 1st century BC. It was dedicated to Obodas I and is believed to be the symposium of Obodas the god. This information is inscribed on the ruins of the Monastery (the name is the translation of the Arabic “Ad Deir“).
Christianity found its way to Petra in the 4th century AD, nearly 500 years after the establishment of Petra as a trade center. Athanasius mentions a bishop of Petra (Anhioch. 10) named Asterius. At least one of the tombs (the “tomb with the urn”?) was used as a church. An inscription in red paint records its consecration “in the time of the most holy bishop Jason” (447). After the Islamic conquest of 629–632 Christianity in Petra, as of most of Arabia, gave way to Islam. During the First Crusade Petra was occupied by Baldwin I of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and formed the second fief of the barony of Al Karak (in the lordship of Oultrejordain) with the title Château de la Valée de Moyse or Sela. It remained in the hands of the Franks until 1189. It is still a titular see of the Catholic Church.
Two Crusader-period castles are known in and around Petra. The first is al-Wu’ayra and is situated just north of Wadi Musa. It can be viewed from the road to “Little Petra”. It is the castle of Valle Moise which was seized by a band of Turks with the help of local Muslims and only recovered by the Crusaders after they began to destroy the olive trees of Wadi Musa. The potential loss of livelihood led the locals to negotiate surrender. The second is on the summit of el-Habis in the heart of Petra and can be accessed from the West side of the Qasr al-Bint.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the spot where Moses (Musa) struck a rock with his staff and water came forth, and where Moses’ brother, Aaron (Harun), is buried, at Mount Hor, known today as Jabal Haroun or Mount Aaron. The Wadi Musa or “Wadi of Moses” is the Arab name for the narrow valley at the head of which Petra is sited. A mountaintop shrine of Moses’ sister Miriam was still shown to pilgrims at the time of Jerome in the 4th century, but its location has not been identified since.
The site suffers from a host of threats, including collapse of ancient structures, erosion due to flooding and improper rainwater drainage, weathering from salt upwelling, improper restoration of ancient structures, and unsustainable tourism. The last has increased substantially, especially since the site received widespread media coverage in 2007 during the controversial New Seven Wonders of the World Internet and cell phone campaign.
In an attempt to reduce the impact of these threats, Petra National Trust (PNT) was established in 1989. Over this time, it has worked together with numerous local and international organizations on projects that promote the protection, conservation and preservation of the Petra site. Moreover, UNESCO and ICOMOS recently collaborated to publish their first book on human and natural threats to these sensitive World Heritage sites. They chose Petra as its first, and the most important example of threatened landscapes. A book released in 2012, Tourism and Archaeological Heritage Management at Petra: Driver to Development or Destruction?, was the first in a series of important books to address the very nature of these deteriorating buildings, cities, sites, and regions. The next books in the series of deteriorating UNESCO World Heritage Sites will include Macchu Picchu, Angkor Wat, and Pompeii. (25).
On December 6, 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage Site. Some of the sights of Petra are available on Google Street View.
Petra is the main topic in John William Burgon‘s sonnet (rhyme scheme aabbccddeeffgg) “Petra” which won the Newdigate Prize in 1845. The poem refers to Petra as the inaccessible city which he had heard described but had never seen:
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
In 1977, the Lebanese Rahbani brothers wrote the musical “Petra” as a response to the Lebanese Civil War.
The site is featured in films such as: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Arabian Nights, Passion in the Desert, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, The Mummy Returns and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Petra appeared in the novels Left Behind Series, Appointment with Death, The Eagle in the Sand, The Red Sea Sharks, the nineteenth book in The Adventures of Tintin series and in Kingsbury’s The Moon Goddess and the Son. It featured prominently in the Marcus Didius Falco mystery novel Last Act in Palmyra. In Blue Balliett‘s novel, Chasing Vermeer, the character Petra Andalee is named after the site.
The Sisters of Mercy filmed their music video for “Dominion/Mother Russia” in and around Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in February 1988.
In 1994 Petra featured in the video to the Urban Species video Spiritual Love.
Petra was featured in episode 3 of the 2010 series An Idiot Abroad.
In 1979 Marguerite van Geldermalsen from New Zealand married Mohammed Abdullah, a Bedouin in Petra. They lived in a cave in Petra until the death of her husband. She authored the book Married to a Bedouin. Geldermalsen is the only western woman who has ever lived in Petra.
|Views of Petra|
Seeing it in all its majesty, standing proud in the historical heart of Avignon, people often wonder: but what were popes doing here in Provence? Why did they leave the Roman hillsides to come to the banks of the Rhône? The monumental video projection, music and story-telling reveal the history of the building, the city and the region like never before. At the meeting of Europe’s great rivers, in the centre of old Avignon, come and experience an extraordinary 360° journey in time and space. For an unforgettable evening, on a unique and exceptional site: the cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes.
For most of the last 1500 years, the Catholic church has had at its head a pope, and the pope has been the Bishop of Rome. Yet the first thousand years of the Papacy included centuries of strife and turmoil, during which the popes, as well as being the spiritual leaders of the Catholic church, were also temporal rulers, major players in the geopolitics of Europe; they were princes with their own states and their own lands, even their own armies.
|Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
|Location||Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire|
|Affiliation||Catholic (Roman Rite)|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Minor basilica|
|Direction of façade||NE|
|Length||195 metres (640 ft)|
|Width||150 metres (490 ft)|
|Width (nave)||55 metres (180 ft)|
|Height (max)||158 metres (518 ft)|
|Dome dia. (outer)||90 metres (300 ft)|
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 at a cost of US$300 million. The design of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by those of the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica. The cornerstone was laid on 10 August 1985, and it was consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
Guinness World Records lists it as the largest church in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 sq metres (322,917 sq ft) and is 158 m (518 ft) high. However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church. It can accommodate 18,000 worshippers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter’s.
The Basilica is administered by Polish Pallottines.
Depression glass is clear or colored translucent glassware that was distributed throughout the US during the Great Depression era of the 1920s and 30s. During that time, the Quaker Oats Company began putting glassware in boxes of food as an incentive to purchase, much like modern cereal box prizes. Movie theaters and businesses sometimes offered pieces simply for coming in the door. Though of marginal quality, Depression glass has become highly collectible. In what colors was it made? More… Discuss
Two martyrs, brother and sister, who were put to death at Edessa during the persecutions of Emperor Trajan. Sarbelius, also called Sharbel, was a high priest at Edessa, in Mesopotamia. They were … continue reading
A British man’s negligence lawsuit against Sotheby’s has been dismissed despite his claims that the auction house’s experts did not do enough research when they sold a painting for him in 2006. At the time, the owner was assured by Sotheby’s that the painting he was selling was a copy of the Italian master Caravaggio‘s The Cardsharps. The piece sold for 42,000 pounds to a Caravaggio expert, who later declared it to be the work of the master himself and worth 10 million pounds. Scholars disagree about whether the painting is by Caravaggio or one of his followers. More… Discuss
The ancient Egyptians documented everything. Surviving paintings and writings show details about almost every aspect of life in that place and era. Wars and religion and rulers are all recorded in ways that have fortunately lasted into modern times.
Business and trade were no different–extensive documentation chronicled who the ancient Egyptians were doing trade with and what exactly that trade was.
According to information unearthed by archeologists, the land called Punt was a great source of riches and slaves and exotic spices and wild animals. From the descriptions that survived, the land of Punt was a peaceful and prosperous country that seemed to have a wide variety of highly valued goods to trade. The discovery of such a society would be a huge accomplishment for an archeologist.
The only problem is that nobody today knows where Punt was.
But people have looked. The first problem is that we have to rely solely on ancient Egyptian information. No other ancient civilization, so far, has unearthed a single reference to the land of Punt–which is unusual. This would imply that either Punt only dealt with Egypt (not likely), or else other societies referred to it by other names.
Any country with so many riches and expensive goods would be ripe for conquest, and yet there is no mention of Egypt (who went to war frequently with neighbors) ever going to war with Punt.
The most evidence about the land of Punt comes from a temple dedicated to the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled for more than 20 years circa 1465 BCE. A large relief of a trading mission to Punt is featured on the walls of the temple. We even know the names of the rulers of Punt during Hatshepsut’s reign: King Parahu and Queen Ati. But the Egyptians either forgot to put concrete directions to Punt in their temples and such, or else we haven’t uncovered such evidence yet.
According to the art that has survived, men from the land of Punt, unlike ancient Egyptians, had long hair and little facial hair. The people of Punt lived in round houses built on stilts–most likely to avoid damage from flooding in their land.
Wherever that land was.
There are various clues. Animals living in Punt, according to the Egyptian paintings, lived primarily in the area around the Red Sea on the Arabian peninsula. But other scholars, due to the origin areas of some of the traded goods, have proposed a location south of ancient Egypt in Africa. The surviving evidence is just not clear.
No remains have been unearthed by archeologists showing a civilization that equates itself to the land of Punt.
Author Bill Price even questions whether Punt existed at all, or was the equivalent of an ancient Egyptian imaginary utopia. This is possibly reinforced by an alternate name of Punt that translates into “Land of the God(s).”
There are even some tantalizing allusions that the Egyptians believed they originally came from Punt and journeyed and founded ancient Egypt after leaving that homeland.
Punt may currently lie below mounds of earth and sand and we won’t know the location of this marvelous land until future excavations unearth an ancient paradise.
Price, Bill. “History’s Greatest Mysteries”.
“Punt“, Wikipedia, pulled June 11, 2014
The Temples of Malta dating back to 3500 to 2500BC are some of the oldest structures in the world. pic.twitter.com/iksKrzS0c3
— tim cornwell (@247razz) January 10, 2015