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Alqosh has adorned the Bayhidhra mountains for more than 25 centuries. The town glowingly reigns over Nineveh's northern plateau known for its fertile soil and extends southward across the other Assyrian towns, such as, Telassqopa (Tel Skuf), Baqofah, Sharafiya, Batnaya, and Tel Keppe.
Alqosh traces its history back into the ancient Assyrian empire and perhaps even further. The earliest mentioning of Alqosh appears in Sennacherib's era 750 BC as evidenced by the mural inside Sennacherib's palace that was discovered in Tel Kuyunjik/Qüyüjik (Sheep Hill in Turkoman) in Mosul. Behind this mural, the phrase "This rock was brought from Alqosh’s Mountain" is carved.
Alqosh is divided into four quarters: Sainna quarter to the west, Qasha quarter to the east, O’do quarter to the north, and Khatetha quarter to the south.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Sites in Alqosh
- 3 Christianity and Alqosh
- 4 Jewish history
- 5 Destruction
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Cultural and religious situation
- 8 Economy
- 9 Modern services
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Conflicting opinions appear pertaining to the name Alqosh. Some believe it derives from the Aramaic language and the word Alqoshtti, which means "My god is my arrow". Others interpret it as Alqoshtta, the god of justice. Yet some others believe it comes from Turkish Alkuş ; the red bird. Some contend it belongs to the name AalQoun, father of Nahum the Alqoshian, one of the Old Testament prophets whose tomb still rests in Alqosh today.
The name "Alqosh" could also have originated from the Aramaic "Eil Qushti", which means "The God of the Bow". Here, an association could be drawn in conjunction with the winged disk symbol of God Ashur holding a bow. Meanwhile, in Aramaic language, rainbow is referred to as "Qeshta d' Maran", therefore, the meaning of the "Bow of Our Lord", is possible as well. Alqosh is known also as Yimma d' Mathwatha (Mother of all Villages).
A number of sites within Alqosh still carry ancient Assyrian names, for example, Sainna Neighborhood means the Moon Neighborhood and Bee Sinnat is a plain area south of Alqosh. Within approximately 2 miles (3 km), to the west of Alqosh, lies the well known ruin of Shayro Meliktha which is marked in the Iraqi ruins Map as a temple carrying a carving of Sennacherib aiming an arrow from his bow.
Sites in Alqosh
Alqosh's stone dwellings are spread along its mountainous slopes up to the tip of its plateau. They share similar decorations with all other colonies within the Nineveh plains, except for the construction that recently swamped its borders, especially in the southern part of the colony to reflect the contemporary nature of building applications in the form of cement, bricks and other materials.
A number of sites remain important to Alqoshnayes.
- Gu’ppa D’Mmaya (Water Cave) to the north.
- Gu’ppa Ssmoqa (Red Cave) to the north.
- Gu’ppetha D’Toomin (the small Toomin Cave) to the north, and Toomin may be a proper name.
- Gu’ppa D’ Magoar Gama (Thunderous Cave) located to the northeastern.
- Shweetha D’Gannaweh (Sleeping Bed of the Robbers) is a hill to the north. Some of the experts interested in Alqosh's history believe that Shweetha D’Ganaweh was a site for the Assyrian god Sىin.
- Rohmta D’Jwannqeh (Mound of the Youths) to the northwest.
- Khoosha (The Container) to the northwest.
- Raoolla D’Mmaya (Water Valley) to the west.
- Gu’ppa D’Hattarein (Cotton’s Carders Cave). In Syriac, Hattarein is a plural for the word Hattara that means cotton’s carders; it was also called Khtertta, and Mosul dwellers used to call it the Khatoora, also taken from Syriac. The word Hatterein may have another connotation.
- Kerrma D’Raysha (Peak's Vineyard), in the past the vineyard was located on top of the mountain.
- Besqeen, an old orchard behind Alqosh Mountain in a rough trail valley. Three families own this orchard: the Bendaq Youhana, Kkmikha Dman family, and Shabio Mdallow families. It resembles the remains of a monastery that was erected some ten centuries ago. The inhabitants of Alqosh knew the orchard as full of fruits and vegetables and water. Up until the 1930s, a man named Jebrail Youhana worked the orchard. The name Besqeen is a plural Syriac word that means water pond.
- Galeeya D’Qasha Hanna (Priest Hanna's Valley) to the north.
- Tellsha derived from (Toullsha) which is a material used in spreading and covering. This place may have been used by Nader Shah, the Persian ruler, as a rest area when he invaded the region 1732–1742 AD.
- Galeeya D’Dayra or Galeeya D’Qadeesha (Saints Valley or Monastery Valley), a valley leading to Rabban Hermizd monastery in the northeastern corner of Alqosh. It is an old monastery that can be traced back when Arab Muslim started to invade the region in 636 AD. Until recently, the monastery was housed by its monks who preferred to worship within its vast expanse and labor in its orchards and farms.
- Towards the plain side opposite to this site, is Virgin Mary's Monastery (Guardian of the Plants), which was built in 1856 AD. It is a huge monastery where the friar life still exists.
- Galeeya Dnerba D’Deyoeh (erroneously pronounced as Neer D’Dayoeh), the Devil Valley, located to the east of Rabban Hermizd Monastery.
- Gu’ppetha D’Hllwi (D’Hllabi), a place for milking sheep.
- Gu’ppetha D’Rrabi Rabba, the small High Priest (Teacher) Cave.
Since its establishment, Alqosh was a place for worshiping weather for the Assyrian god El-Qustu or Judaism when various Hebrew peoples were brought by the Assyrian army during the eighth and ninth century BC.
Christianity and Alqosh
Alqosh became an important town for Eastern Christianity after the coming of 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 Assyrian Church of the East. From this monastery came Yohannan Sulaqa, who decided to unite with the Catholic Church in 1553 and established the Chaldean Church.
Before that, all of the inhabitants of Alqosh, like their brothers in other Assyrian towns, followed the Nestorian faith and were part of the Assyrian 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).
By 1780, most of the inhabitants of Alqosh accepted the union with the Catholic Church. There are also people in Alqosh who adhere to their original Assyrian Church of the East faith.
Monastery of Rabban Hormizd
The monastery of Rabban Hormizd is in the mountains about 2 miles (3 km) from Alqosh. It was founded in the seventh century, and has been the See of the Patriarch of the Eliya line of the Church of the East from 1551 and 1804. Revived in 1808 by Gabriel Dambo, in the 19th century it was the main monastery of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
In 1859 a new monastery (Notre-Dame des Semences) was erected south of the Mountain monastery in the plain near Alqosh, but the ancient building is still in use.
The collection of manuscripts of this monastery is of very great importance for the study of Syriac literature, and manuscripts from it feature in almost every discussion of Syriac texts.
Alqosh was also a site of worship for the Hebrew peoples when they were brought by the Assyrian army during the eighth and ninth century BCE. For centuries, Christians and Jews lived together in Alqosh until the Jews were expelled in 1948.
The Alqosh synagogue is one of the few standing synagogues left in Iraq.
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.
AalQoun, father of Nahum, was the son of a Hebrew family among thousands whom the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V, who reigned between 727 and 722 BC, brought to Alqosh. These Hebrews lived in peace with the Alqoshniye. The interpretation that seems most logical relies on Marotha, the Alqoshian wise man from three centuries ago who asserted that the name Alqosh is derived from Sîn, the god known as Siin, meaning "the greatest god." It was located at Shweetha D’Gannaweh, a hill north of Alqosh. In this respect, Marotha relays what his ancestors have stated that those living in Nineveh would visit Alqosh every Akitu (the Assyrian and Babylonian New Year) to replay the Enuma Elish which is the Sumerian Epic of Creation. They then would have a religious ceremony in honor of the moon god Sin and the image or icon of the god would be carried in a procession on their way back to Nineveh passing through the old Nineveh Alqosh road.
To its south, an agricultural area known as Bee Siinnat is clearly derived from the word Siin. Forty days later the inhabitants of Nineveh would return the statue or icon of the god to its original place in Alqosh. Based on the foregoing, we believe that the name Alqosh is taken from the Assyrian or earlier Sumerian name for god Siin/Alqosh. Some Sumerologists claim that Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love and war, was also the offspring of the moon god Sin or as he is was originally known Nanna. Alqoshniye are still awaiting the day when excavations of Shweetha D’Gannaweh, will hopefully reveal new cultural artifacts from its Assyrian or possibly even Pre-Assyrian history.
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.
- Taymor Lank Al Selhooqi's attack of 1395 AD.
- Jalal Eddean's campaign, Miran Shah the son of Taymor Lank in 1400 AD.
- A second strike by Taymor Lank in 1401 AD.
- A fierce battle with the army of Baryak, Baghdad's Pasha, in 1508 AD.
- An attack 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.
- Groups of Alqoshians faced the atrocities and aggressions of Klan, one of the heads of Sendiya Tribe, and his mercenaries and killed 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 AD, 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 shear humiliation.
- In 1905 AD. 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 AD, they followed the children of some Arab tribes and forced them to leave the sheep they stole earlier.
- In 1924 AD, they revenged from 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 Beck in 1969, the younger brother of the Yazidis, was defeated.
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 One caused extreme high prices.
- In 2014, the fighters associated with the 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 Alqoshians and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and in return many people have came back, and with the Islamic state's recent invasions, some Christian refugees from neighboring towns as well.
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 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.
The popular clothing for men is identical to that of the Kurdish peoples. It is believed that the men of Alqosh adopted this clothing at the end of the 19th century as they gradually abandoned their historic clothing which was long pants and "zaboon". Instead of the turban, they would throw braids. Their features and clothing brings them close to their Assyrian practices.
As for women, their clothing originality extends to the history of Mesopotamia. Some signs of the Hatra's kingdom clearly appear in the posheya (Assyrian headscarf) that adorns the head and in the Mazer worn by the women. The Assyrian signs in the Alqoshian female would appear in the long braids made of wool that extend to her ankle after connecting it to the woman's original braids. The Alqoshian women exaggerated wearing golden and silver ornaments around their neck and ear and in her Poosheya that used to cover her head, that was decorated with colorful beads. The forehead was surrounded with a golden belt that skirts this posheya front the front side whereas black strings dangle from both sides. The skirted part of various colors and decorations would cover the woman's body from the front after it hangs from the shoulder to extend to the two knees. Popular alqoshi last names are Rayes, Toma, Chicka and many more.
Cultural and religious situation
Alqosh, like so many other Iraqi cities which depended on its own economy and resources, had a high percentage of illiteracy, but that does not prevent having a long-standing educational movement represented by Mar Mikha Al Nuhedri School at the beginning of the fifth century. The efforts of priests and deacons who stressed teaching the Aramaic language and its literature and many of them left their writings. Some of those names are:
- Qasha Attaya AlMeqdesi in 1517, a writer and a great calligrapher.
- Qasha Hermizd Alqushi, writer and poet in Aramaic, lived in mid-sixteenth century till the dawn of the seventeenth.
- Qasha Israel Alqushi, writer and poet in Aramaic, founder of writers and calligraphers school, 1541–1611.
- Qasha Yosip Qasha Keryakoos, writer and poet, probably in the same era as Israel.
- Qasha Georgis Alqushi, talented in Aramaic.
- Qasha Yelda, son of Reverend Aabid Yeshoaa, writer and literary figure in Aramaic during the eighteenth century.
- Qasha Israel, son of Reverend Shemaa’on son of Reverend Israel, known as the Israel junior, writer and poet, lived in the eighteenth century.
A number of Alqoshian men have their names planted in the conscious of the people of Alqosh among them are:
After World War I and after establishing the kingdom rule in Iraq, the first elementary school was founded. The school taught topics in Arabic till the fourth grade and it gradually improved to offer six-year education. The Alqoshian graduates of the elementary school were forced to pursue their education for the intermediate and secondary school in Baghdad, Mosul, Dehuk, and even Telkeppeh. After the national revolution of 1958, the first intermediate school in Alqosh was established. Currently, Alqosh houses the following schools:
- Alqosh Official Kindergarten
- Alqosh First Elementary School for Boys
- Alqosh Elementary School for Girls
- Alqosh Second Elementary School for Boys
- Alqosh Secondary School for Boys (Intermediate and secondary)
- Alqosh Secondary for Girls
- Commerce Secondary School
The residents of Alqosh are Assyrians belonging to the Chaldean Catholic Church. Alqosh of course also houses many individuals who adhere to their own philosophies. Alqosh was a Patriarch center for this church for many centuries. A number of Alqoshians became Patriarchs themselves when it became hereditary in Abouna's family (Aamokka). Eleven Patriarchs consecutively were from this family to head the Church of East. Their tombs are still in Rabban Hermizd Monastery:
- Mar Shemaa’on VI, 1504–1538
- Mar Shemaa’on VII Bermama, 1538–1551
- Mar Shemaa’on the eighth Denkha, 1551–1558
- Mar Elia VI, 1558–1576
- Mar Elia VII, 1576–1591
- Mar Elia VIII, 1591–1617
- Mar Elia IX Shemaa’on, 1617–1660
- Mar Elia X Youhana Merojean, 1660–1700
- Mar Elia XI Merojean, 1700–1722
- Mar Elia XII Denkha, 1722–1778
- Mar Elia XIII Esho Eyaab, 1778–1804
Also, Alqosh is honored with another five of her sons to head the Chaldean Catholic Church as Patriarchs:
- Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa, founder of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1552.
- Mar Yohannan VIII (Eliya) Hormizd, 1830–1838 (from Abouna family as well). He transferred the Patriarch's headquarter to Mosul.
- Mar Yosip O’doo, 1848–1878.
- Mar Yosip Emmanuel Tomika, 1900–1947.
- Mar Paulus Chiekho, 1958–1989.
Most of Alqosh's inhabitants have practiced dry agriculture since ancient times and rely on the fertile plains to the south, growing agricultural products like grain, wheat, beans and in the summer products such as cantaloupe and cucumber. Farmers followed old non-technological methods in their farming for several centuries, and their livelihood was always threatened due to nature's betrayal in situations of drought or plant epidemics such as soona and grasshoppers.
Towards the beginning of the 1960s, Alqosh was introduced to modern agricultural machinery such as tractors, harvester-threshers (reapers), along with new methods of treating and curing plant epidemics. However, irrigation are still a problem in the area, and farming still relies on rain. Currently, many farms now belong to the government and are deputized to their owners to use them, as most were taken during Saddams control.
Besides farmlands, other agriculture also occurs in grape vineyards. grapevines spread all over the village and produce various types of grapes, among which are the black grapes that are well known in northern Iraq. Many of those who know about Alqosh's history believe that there were more than 200 vineyards in the village.
Up until recently, Alqosh enjoyed being an important trade center for the various Kurdish, Yazidi, and Arab villages in the region and it houses an large market that receiving agricultural and animal products from across the region. Its market has many stores and shops containing all types of commodities for shoppers. Many local specialists manufacture goods sold and used by residents in the city and surrounding areas:
- Shoe making
- Carpentry – making agricultural tools such as sickles
- Making packsaddle for mules and donkeys
- Knitting – needle work
- Dying – dying local yarns
- Tailoring – tailoring the clothes of the region using local or imported fabric
- Tinsmithery – whitening kitchen utensils that were made of tin in the past
- Jewelry making silver and golden ornaments
- Sesame mills to produce Tahiniyi (Metthanat Bet Yaldkou, Metthanat Bet Khoubear, Metthanat Bet Bejee)
- Prepare annual ration from wheat such as Bulgur (crushed wheat), Granule, and Grits. The important tools used for this purpose are Denng, granulating machine, and Reshda making machine.
In addition to that, the residents of Alqosh raised cattle, sheep, and bees. It is important to note that Alqosh has no river, it once relied on spring and well water, but It also has ravines with water from the mountains. Some of these water wells and water fountains are:
- Aaynna Mehalat or quarter Sainna: the old fountainhead (Aaynna Aateqtta)
- Keshffah: it was in Mehalat or quarter Sainna previously
- Aaynna Mehalat or quarter Qasha
- Aaynna Albaladiya: used to be in Hamietha area
- Aaynna Al Zeqayee: a very old fountainhead that used to be in Mehalat or quarter Qasha on Aaynna Zeqyaa valley. It was filled up with earth more than two centuries ago after an Alqoshian girl from Shekwana family was killed there by the Persians.
Following are some of the wells:
- In Mehalat or quarter Qasha: Shushani, Kakka, Ballo, Ramo, Khubeir, Shekwana, Berno, Rayyes
- In Mehalat or quarter Khteytha: Khabeen, Ghazala, Khesrou, Cholagh, Jaji, Kherou, Shahara, Khoushou, Shmoona, Semaa’n, Sheaa’ya Babee, Ballo, Goula, Matti, Naim, Chenou.
- In Mehalat or quarter Sena: Odisho, Zora, Kchoucha, Toma, Qenaya, Kina, Yeldkoo, Sipo, Goharah.
Many influential and wealthy families in Alqosh are the Raies, Chika, Koja, Boudagh, Shikwana, Shahara, Zoree, Tomas, Aboona, Shushani, Kakka, Khubeir, and Tomika. Some remnants of these families remain in Alqosh, but many have established themselves elsewhere, like in Detroit, Toronto, San Diego, San Francisco and Calgary. The main rulers were the Raies also known as Al Rayes or Rayes family. They were wealthy and most people you see in Alqosh will have the last name Rayes.
In 2009, the Assyrian Democratic Movement installed a new sewage system for the town. In late 2011 CSAPC supported an electricity tower for the town, which is now fully installed for the people. In September 2012, the KRG carried out large scale projects in the town worth 12.5 billion dinars. The length of the Hungarian-stretch of the mountainside goes far north of Alqosh all the way to the south, into the street leading to the industrial district leading to 1,500 meters of the stretch. The basic purpose of the projects is to maintain Alqosh of environmental pollution, which will collect water cleaning, washing, and rain in the winter in one channel to serve the latter outside Alqosh away from the population in addition to getting rid of the negative effects of heavy rains in the winter, which before washed away soil and rocks into the streets of Alqosh.
- Tel Keppe
- Barwari—an Assyrian tribe also situated in Northern Iraq
- Tyari—an Assyrian tribe in the Hakkari province, Turkey, which borders the northern bounds of Iraq
- Some of the article is Originally based on an article by alqosh.net, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, used with permission.
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Media related to Alqosh at Wikimedia Commons