By Nicholas Al-Jeloo
Armenians and Assyrians have lived closely as neighbors for more than 3,000 years. At times their relationship with one another has been cordial, at times quite close, and at other times not well at all.
Despite this, they have been through many experiences together, whether pleasant or traumatic, and have witnessed each other’s triumphs and sufferings. In modern times what brings them together especially is the issue of the Genocide. Research in the past 20 years on the Assyrian Genocide, known as Seyfo, which occurred concurrent with the Armenian Genocide is increasing and the subject is gaining more visibility.
Armenians and Assyrians in Antiquity
In ancient times the Assyrian Empire and the kingdom of Urartu (ancestors of today’s Armenians) were often at each other’s throats, but at the same time they also borrowed ideas and cultural material off one another — the Urartians wrote their language in the cuneiform script used by the Assyrians, and their artworks also heavily resemble Assyrian art forms. Legend has it that up to7,000 Assyrian prisoners of war were used to build the ancient town of Erebuni (modern Yerevan), and Moses of Khorene writes of the Assyrian queen Shamiram (Greek: Semiramis) who wooed the Armenian king Ara the Fair, and built the city of Van. Even today there is a village and canal near Van named Shamiram Suyu (“Shamiram’s stream”).
Jewish Talmudic tradition states that Adramelech and Shahrezer, sons of Assyrian king Sennacherib, killed their father after he had promised to sacrifice them to a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark, which he had begun to worship on his return from campaigning in Palestine, and fled to safety in the region of Ararat (Urartu).The village of Shushantz near Van is said to be named after their sister Shushan, and the Armenian kings of Vaspurakan (whose capital was at Van) claimed to be Assyrian, and that they were descended from King Sennacheribb through them.
Brothers in Christianity