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Alqōsh (Syriac: ܐܲܠܩܘܫ, Judeo-Aramaic: אלקוש, Arabic: ألقوش), alternatively spelled Alkosh, Al-qosh or Alqush, is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq and is within Nineveh Plains. It is located 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of Mosul.
Christianity and Alqosh
Alqosh became an important town for Church of the East Christianity after the Assyrian monk Hirmiz who carved out a monastery out of the mountains of Alqosh. This abbey is called "Rabban Hormizd Monastery" and which was crafted in 640 AD at the outskirts of the Mountains of Alqosh. It was used as the Seat for many patriarchs of the Church of the East. From this monastery came Yohannan Sulaqa, who decided to unite with the Catholic Church in 1553 AD and established the Church of Assyria and Mosul, which by the 18th century had become renamed the Chaldean Catholic Church by Rome.
Before that, all of the inhabitants of Alqosh, like their brothers in other Assyrian towns, followed what is erroneously called the Nestorian faith, but were in actuality a part of the Church of the East. From 1610 to 1617, the Patriarchate of Alqosh, under Mar Eliyya VIII, entered in Full Communion with Rome. the union was reinstated later in 1771 when the patriarch Eliya Denkha signed a Catholic confession of faith, although no formal union resulted till the reign of patriarch Yohannan VIII (Eliya) Hormizd (1760–1838).
Prophet Nahum and Alqosh
The ancient synagogue in Alqosh reportedly contains the tomb of the prophet Nahum, who correctly prophesied the end of the Assyrian Empire, although Nahum's bones have been relocated to a nearby church. It was common for Iraqi Jews to make a pilgrimage to Alqosh during Shavuot. “He who has not made the pilgrimage to Nahum’s tomb has not yet known real pleasure,” was a common saying.
Throughout history, Alqosh has fallen victim to many calamities, most due to their oppressive Muslim neighbors and various overlords. Many attacks occurred after Alqosh started to house the abbey of Rabban Hirmizd, which was used as the Seat for several patriarchs of the Chaldean Church, as it attracted the attention of several Muslims looking to harass their Christian neighbors.
According to the testimony, written in a letter by the Qasha Habash Bin Jomaa from 1746, he describes; "... first they attacked Karamles and stole its peoples valuables and kidnapped many of its children and women. They then did the same to the inhabitants of Bartella they killed many of her men, stole their valuables, and also kidnapped its children and women. They did the same to the people of Tel Keppe and Alqosh, however, many of those two neighboring villages took refuge at the Monastery of Rabban Hirmizd. There they were surrounded by the soldiers of Nader Shah who attacked them and then massacred them. There they committed horrendous crimes that I just don't have the stomach to describe!"
In 1828, Alqosh was attacked by the army of Mosa Pasha, the governor of Amadeya, who was instigated by some of his Muslim subjects to attack the Rabban Hirmizd Monastery which he did. His army arrested and imprisoned several monks and priests and caused tremendous damage to the monastery.
In 1832, Alqosh was attacked by the Kurdish Governor of Rowanduz, nicknamed "Merkor" whose hatred for Assyrians is well known. He killed over 400 of its inhabitants. Merkor attacked Alqosh again on 15 March 1833 and killed another 172 of its men, not counting children, women, and strangers (according to church records).
In 1840, Alqosh was attacked by the brother of Merkor, Rasoul Beg, who surrounded it for several months after which he set on fire the Rabban Hirmizd Monastery and stole over 500 of its valuable books.
Alqosh through history has fought many times for its existence, such as:
- Attacks by the Moguls and Tartars in 1235 AD.
- Their resistance to tribes attacking from the north and west and from Mosul area in 1258 AD.
- Alqosh was attacked by the Tatars or Tartars prince Betaymewsh in 1289 AD.
- An attack by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1395 AD.
- Jalal Eddean's campaign, Miran Shah the son of Timur in 1400 AD.
- A second strike by Timur in 1401 AD.
- A fierce battle with the army of Baryak, Baghdad's Pasha, in 1508 AD.
- An raid by some Kurdish tribes in 1534 AD.
- A strike by the Iranian Nader Shah Koli Khan in 1742 AD.
- Mosa Pasha, the governor of Amadiya, approached Alqosh and put fire to Rabban Hermizd Monastery in 1828 AD.
- Mohammed Pasha (Mira Koor), the prince of Rowanduz attacked Alqosh. killing, robbing and raping. Those killed among the young members only were around 380 in 1832 AD.
- Resoul Beck, Mira Koor's brother, repeated the attack in 1834 AD.
- Ismail Pasha of Amadiya in 1842 attacked it and robbed Rabban Hermizd Monastery, detained its head Hanna Jesra together with a number of monks.
- The Groups of Alqoshians faced the atrocities and aggressions of Klan, one of the heads of Sendiya Tribe, and his mercenaries and murdered him in 1876 AD.
- Al Sheikh year incident in 1899 where many Alqoshians immigrated after Haji Agha Al Desooki attacked Alqosh and demanded that Alqoshians join him in attacking the Kurdish Mesrouie tribes.
- In 1903, the youth of the colony steadfastly to repeal the aggressions launched by Khalid Agha Al Zaydki till they captured and imprisoned him together with his men in sheer humiliation.
- In 1905, they revenged the murder of Segha Khosho by the Kurdish Horman Tribe who came to Alqosh to purchase wheat. The Alqoshians killed four whose tombs remained in the houses of Alqosh till recently.
- In the same year, they defeated 60 armed Kurds of the Zedkiya Tribe who wanted to take kickbacks.
- In 1919, they followed the children of some Arab tribes and forced them to leave the sheep they stole earlier.
- In 1924, they revenged the Tohla Tribe of Mosul that murdered Yousif Oudo in the Plains of Alqosh. They killed two of the aggressors.
- The attack carried by Farouq Beq in 1969, the younger brother of the Yazidis, was defeated.
- In 2014, the terrorists associated with the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) came close to Alqosh. Almost all of the people fled Alqosh; however, many men and youths did not leave Alqosh due to a desire to protect their town. ISIL failed to take the town after protection from the Assyrian militia Alqoshians and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters,. Isis only made it as far as Tesqopa, and so many people have come back alongside Christian refugees from neighboring towns as well.
Besides all these incidents, a number of natural catastrophes forced hundreds of families to immigrate due to hunger and disease:
- In 1572, Alqosh suffered diseases and famine.
- In 1596, Cholera spread among the inhabitants; as a result, 700 died. Priest Israel Shkwana described this tragedy in a poem written in 1611.
- In 1711, hunger and high cost of living returned.
- In 1757, the grasshopper year, known as the grasshopper year due to the destruction this bug/insect inflicted on the agricultural crops. It is reported that the flocks of grasshoppers blocked the sun's light during the day's peak time.
- In 1778, plague attacked Alqosh and killed many of its people.
- In 1842, cholera again arrived and eliminated hundreds of Alqoshians of various ages.
- Between 1866 and 1869, another wave of hunger and high cost of living dominated the place.
- In 1880 extreme high prices appeared.
- In 1906, a well-known agricultural insect, the alsouna, inflicted heavy comprehensive damages to the agricultural crops.
- Between 1907 and 1908, alsouna appeared again to damage flour crops.
- Between 1917 and 1918, World War I caused extreme high prices.
Many have immigrated outside of the country in huge numbers since the 1970s. It is estimated that at least 40,000 "Alqushnaye" immigrants and their 2nd and 3rd generations now live in the cities of Detroit, Michigan, the western suburb of Fairfield in Sydney, Australia and San Diego, California.
In February 2010, The attacks against Assyrians in Mosul forced 4,300 Assyrians to flee from Mosul to the Nineveh plains where there is an Assyrian majority population. A report by the United Nations stated that 504 Assyrians at once migrated to Alqosh. Many Assyrians from Mosul and Baghdad since the post-2003 Iraq war have fled to Alqosh for safety. There is no actual official census for Alqosh, but many estimate the population between 2,500 and 20,180.
Alqosh has a semi-arid climate (BSh) with extremely hot and dry summers, and cool wet winters.
|Climate data for Alqosh|
|Average high °C (°F)||12
|Average low °C (°F)||2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||39
|Average precipitation days||10||10||11||9||0||0||0||0||0||5||8||12||65|
|Source: World Weather Online (2000-2012)|
- "Iraq: Situation report No. 19". ReliefWeb.
- Frazee, Charles A. (2006). Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453–1923. Cambridge University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-521-02700-7.
- Neurink, Judit (5 July 2015). "Kurdistan needs help to preserve its Jewish heritage". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- enter your name here. "Nader Shah".
- Costa-Roberts, Daniel (15 March 2015). "8 things you didn't know about Assyrian Christians". PBS. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- "Alqosh, Ninawa Monthly Climate Average, Iraq". World Weather Online. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- Frazee, Charles A. (2006) . Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Addai Scher, Notice sur les manuscrits syriaques conservés dans la bibliothèque du couvent des Chaldéens de Notre-Dame-des-Semences, Journal Asiatique Sér. 10: 8, 9 (1906). This may be found online at Gallica by searching for "Journal Asiatique". An English translation of the first portion is at tertullian.org
Media related to Alqosh at Wikimedia Commons