Oblivious Colonial Orientalists and Aramaeology, a Prohibited Science
The modern disciplines of Humanities emanated out of Renaissance intellectuals’ interest for the Antiquity, and the reason they mainly evolved around Classical Antiquity is the fact that Latin and Ancient Greek were the traditionally known and preserved, among scholars, languages of the Antiquity.
By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, Orientalist
disciplines of Humanities, as developed by European universities first,
and through successive stages since the 17th century (and more notably
during the last two centuries), were a model that expanded in
universities throughout all continents. They emanated out of Renaissance
intellectuals’ interest for the Antiquity, and the reason they mainly
evolved around Classical Antiquity is the fact that Latin and Ancient
Greek were the traditionally known and preserved, among scholars,
languages of the Antiquity.
European Renaissance: indifferent for Ancient Hebrew, Coptic, Aramaic Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Old Slavic, and Arabic
Other languages were also known and continually studied in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, such as Ancient Hebrew, Coptic, Aramaic Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Old Slavic, and Arabic. But all these ‘marginal’ – for the Europeans – languages were the communication means of cultures and civilizations that were not at the epicenter of the Renaissance Search for Antiquity.
Ancient Hebrew pertained to the Biblical Antiquity, being related to a mostly religious state, that of Israel, and its successor Judah. It was later used for writing down the Talmud and the other original sources of Judaism, a religion that was constantly and severely persecuted either in Western Europe or in the Eastern Roman Empire. Only the successive Islamic Caliphates tolerated Judaism, and Jews were influential in Baghdad, Cordoba, Kairwan, Cairo, Samarqand and Istanbul. Of course, this has to be interpreted as a genuine Persian influence on the Islamic Caliphatic politics and political ideology and practice; it goes back to the favourable position the Jews enjoyed within the Achaemenidian Iranian, (550 – 330 BCE), Arsacid Parthian (250 BCE – 224 CE) and Sassanid Persian (224 – 651 BCE) courts.
Coptic, Aramaic Syriac, Armenian, Georgian and Old Slavic were relevant to various Christian states and cultures, either Orthodox, Monophysitic (we employ the term conventionally here, as we do not accept its veracity) or Nestorian (another pejorative term introduced by Constantinople and Rome four centuries before their Schism about the followers of Nestorius, leading Christian philosopher, theologian and ideologist, who like Arius provided a far more accurate approach to Jesus than official Christianity down to our days). All these states and cultures were religious of nature, and in addition they were viewed inimically by the Catholic political power of Medieval Europe.
Arabic was the language of the Coran and Prophet Muhammad, whom Dante had denigrated in an unprecedented way; it was the official language of Catholic Europe’s worst enemy, especially from the times of the Crusades onwards. Holy language for the followers of a religion repeatedly depicted by Christian authors as the quintessence of the Antichrist, Arabic could hardly be a matter of study, when wars were engaged in Iberia, Western Mediterranean and Central Europe.
Above all, Latin and Ancient Greek were viewed by the Renaissance and Classicism intellectuals as key to understanding historical sources with reference to states, cultures and civilizations whereby religion did not shape the society exclusively, and religious authorities were separate from the executive – or this was what these Renaissance and Classicism intellectuals had preconceived in their minds due to lack of adequate and abundant information…..
Were there other civilizations and cultures whereby the religious authority did not impose its norms and principles on the judiciary, the legislative and the executive? Possibly, but the Renaissance and Classicism intellectuals had not access to original sources about Ancient Carthage, Anatolia (in today’s Turkey), Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia (in today’s Sudan), Mesopotamia, Persia, and India. All they could know about these cultures and civilizations was due to posterior and obviously distorting sources: Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
This is the reason, until the end of the 18th century Humanities meant mostly Classical Studies, and Biblical Studies.
The rise of the Orientalist Disciplines
With the colonial expansion of Spain and Portugal to the Indies, the subsequent Anglo-French rivalry for India, and the French expedition to Egypt, a small number of researchers, explorers, academicians, agents and adventurers started being versed into various old texts, undeciphered inscriptions and manuscripts, antiquities and antiques gathered from any corner of the areas they were traveling through! The military, political, economic competition was transferred to the academic level, and within a century from the moment Anquetil Duperron disembarked at Pondicherry, several ancient writings were already deciphered. The 19th century attested the rise of the Orientalist disciplines, namely Egyptology, Assyriology, Iranology, Indology, Sinology, Islamology. This was not an easy process - in any sense.
The Orientalist project went wrong from the very beginning because of preconceived ideas, concepts and schemes that should have been eliminated first, before the fresh discoveries determine the historical truth in the most objective, neutral and unbiased way it could be possibly obtained. Because this was not done, many discoveries have been kept for more than 100 years under silence. The average public in Europe and America, and throughout the world, has not yet got access to original sources discovered before numerous decades, and their contents have not been incorporated in Education manuals as they should, if Truth and True History of the Mankind are still sought after. The world keeps living based on erroneous descriptions, false (as incomplete and uni-dimensional) historical data, and even more disastrous interpretations and fact perceptions. This automatically guarantees ignorance, wrong choices, and error repetition.
Even worse, there were numerous and multifaceted political motivations and shadowy ideological machinations behind the Orientalist experiment; one of them was the use of the discoveries in order to shape the History model, and to depict the course of the World History in a way that would best suit the colonial academia’s preconceived ideas and undeniably biased concepts.
Another vast issue has been the political use of the Orientalist discoveries in a way to possibly corroborate the peremptory division between West and East (which is an artificial, Manichaean concept, a ridiculous factoid) and, even more strikingly, the West’s superiority over the East. ‘West’ meant mainly France and England, whereas East was exclusively the Ottoman Empire and Iran, as Mughal India had already collapsed. It was a sheer anti-Islamic action of deeply preconceived and pre-arranged machinations. It was only normal for it to have political repercussions, cultural – educational consequences, and economic ramifications that sooner or later would engulf the entire Mankind into a most definite disaster.
A most inhuman machination and practice consisted in the political decision of the colonial powers to preserve the unearthed and deciphered knowledge as hidden secret, far from the hands of the political authorities of the areas where the material record was collected. They stored an incredible amount of antiquities in the Paris and London museums, therefore pulling a great number of Europeans and Northern Americans to compete and do the same, although the real profit would go to the Anglo-French colonial scheme. Even worse, they deliberately caused vibrant reactions among the most obscurantist and extremist elements of those societies – throughout the Ottoman Empire and Iran – in order to further engulf the populations and the elites of these countries in deep and permanent ignorance, perverse and unjustified hatred, and definite weakness ensuing precisely from the lack of knowledge that the Western explorers were first unearthing and deciphering, and second exploiting, altering and falsifying.
Thus, although Ancient Greek was imposed as obligatory course in the Secondary Education of the 1828 tiny Greek state that was helped to separate from the Ottoman Empire (according to the Anglo-French plans for that state’s further role), not a single Egyptian had studied Egyptian Hieroglyphics 80 years after Champollion deciphered that scripture, and never until today (2007) a course of Egyptian Hieroglyphic was introduced in the Egyptian Secondary Education, contrarily to what has been the common practice in Greece where schoolchildren study during the Secondary Education hundreds of pages of Ancient Greek Literature.
The Orientalism of the criminal Anglo-French colonials was the key tool used to ensure the imposition of all sorts of false dogmas and doctrines of History that have been dictatorially imposed and widely taught throughout all the former Ottoman, Persian and Indian provinces that became first colonized territories, only to turn to later post-colonial uneducated realms of Barbary, with the only exception of Turkey, more recently followed by India and Malaysia.
This reality, the mere fact that all the educational systems from Greece to Sudan and from Morocco to Indonesia have practically been of Anglo-French machination and inspiration makes of all these realms permanently colonized bogus-states prone to manipulation, and genuinely unable to conceive – let alone defend – their real national interests. However, it is not our intention to discuss in this article the political repercussions and ramifications of Orientalism.
Structural problems of the Orientalist disciplines
At the end, we should add that there were also structural difficulties in the formation of the Orientalist disciplines. In many cases, scholars embarked into the effort of deciphering a writing the identity of which they did not know. In some cases, inscriptions were found in a language the every existence of which was unknown to the best scholars of the period. Like this, specialists penetrated from one sector to another, unveiling the mysteries about great civilizations and cultures far more elaborate, sophisticated and advanced than the Ancient Greeks and Romans 2500 years before Epameinondas and Caesar. Then, the new discipline (for instance Sumerology) could not be included within the earlier shaped discipline (Assyriology), as the two civilizations, cultures and languages (Sumerian and Assyrian – Babylonian) were more different one from another than the Ancient Greek civilization from the Roman civilization!
To give another, comparative, example; the decipherment of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics led to the formation of Egyptology, as the Orientalist discipline of the Humanities that focuses on all things Egyptian before the Christianization of Egypt and until the twilight of the Ancient Egyptian Civilization. But through the decipherment of the Old Persian Cuneiform (the scripture in use at the Achaemenidian times of Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes and their successors) we were not helped only to form the basics of Iranology but we were also empowered to go ahead for the decipherment of Ancient Babylonian and Assyrian Cuneiform, and consequently establish Assyriology.
Although slightly similar in the writing system, Ancient Iranian – as Indo-European language – was far closer to Greek than to Assyrian. Assyriology turned out to be the mainstream discipline of the Orientalist sector that focalizes on Ancient – mainly but not exclusively Semitic – Mesopotamia. As a tit for tat, the decipherment of the Assyrian Babylonian Cuneiform opened the way for the discovery of the Ancient Hurrians, the Ancient Hittites and Hatti of Anatolia, the Ancient Elam, and above all the spectacular discovery of Sumer, the most ancient civilization, and actually the first organized Human Society, the name of which was completely unknown to either Hebrew or Greek and Latin sources. This broke Assyriology to numerous sections that were first kind of ‘branches’ but have been so far developed into absolutely independent Orientalist disciplines, Elamology, Hittitology and Sumerology.
Then, the issue of Area Studies and the historical presentation of modern nations came to surface. It was understood that the best way for anyone to study German civilization, culture, language and literature was to include Latin since the Ancient History of Germany is mostly known due to Latin sources. No matter what you opt for in a French university, Lettres Classiques or Lettres Modernes, you take some courses of Latin and Vieux Francais.
When it comes to Classical Studies, universities – beyond the mainstream syllabus – offer Aeolian, Doric and Ionian dialects, Linear II (deciphered and identified as the earlier form of Achaean Greek), Alexandrian Greek, Papyrology, and Medieval Greek.
And when a student wants to pursue Area Studies with focus on Greece in an American university, the syllabus does not only encompass Ancient, Medieval and Modern Greek, but also comprises various courses in Philosophy, Literature, History, Art History and Archeology that cover either Antiquity or Middle Ages and Modern Times.
The same practice is attested in Departments focused in Area Studies on Italy, Spain, and Russia. Quite contrarily, and for reasons pertaining to the nucleus of the perfidious forgery of History as carried out by the colonial machinations, this practice did not apply to the historically most important people of the last 3000 years: the Aramaeans. Why this happened, and how this academic forgery will be contravened we will analyze in a separate article.