It has been over two millennia since the Assyrian language was last spoken at Ziyaret Tepe/Tushhan, but during a recent visit by Saliba Ozman, His Grace the Bishop of Mardin and Diyarbakir of the Syriac Orthodox Church (with the scarlet shirt in the photo) and Dairoyo (monk) Yousif Said of Halab (Aleppo), one of our team, Nineb Lamassu, gave them a tour in a modern variant of the ancient Assyrian tongue.
The bishop and his party came from the monastery of Deir al-Zafaran, so named because the monks used to produce the aromatic spice saffron to support the monastery located some 60km south of Tepe. Our team has visited the monastery in past seasons and enjoyed the hosipality of His Grace, so it was our pleasure to host him in return and provide a brief tour and lunch.
We made an audio recording of Nineb’s tour and I have a brief five minute audio clip (link below) that I hope you will be able to download and enjoy.
Nineb is a language scholar and speaks most of the languages of the region, including Arabic, Turkish, Syriac, and Kurdish. He studied Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and is planning to start a PhD in philology and/or archaeology at the University of Cambridge. He’s been a member of the Ziyaret Tepe team for several years now and has learned a great deal about archaeology and the material culture of southeastern Turkey.
If you are ever in Mardin, a beautiful old city overlooking the northern plains of Syria from the Turkish mountains of the Tur Abdin, then plan a stop to see the monastery and enjoy the bishop’s hospitailty, the grand architecture and stunning views.