2018 David B. Perley Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Dr. Simo Parpola

The David B. Perley Lifetime Achievement Award was established to honor the lasting legacy of Dr. David B. Perley by recognizing individuals who, during their lifetimes, have made contributions of exceptional significance to the global Assyrian community. The AANF was honored to present the 2018 David B. Perley Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Simo Parpola.

DR. SIMO KAARLO ANTERO PARPOLA is a Finnish Assyriologist, teacher, historian, and author. In 1971, he received his PhD in Assyriology from the University of Helsinki, and has since served on the faculties of various universities in Europe and the United States. The main focus of his research has been on the study of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in all its aspects, but he has contributed to a number of studies, including that of the modern Assyrian identity. The University of Helsinki, from which he is now retired, granted him the title of Professor Emeritus of Assyriology.

“Disunited, dispersed in exile, and as dwindling minorities without full civil rights in their homelands, the Assyrians of today are in grave danger of total assimilation and extinction. In order to survive as a nation, they must now unite under the Assyrian identity of their ancestors. It is the only identity that can help them to transcend the differences between them, speak with one voice again, catch the attention of the world, and regain their place among the nations.” —Dr. Simo Parpola

Dr. Parpola has an impressive list of book and periodical publications, and is internationally recognized as one of the foremost scholar on ancient Assyria. In 1986, he initiated a long-term international research project to edit Neo-Assyrian sources called the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, which resulted in a 19-volume series of standard text editions (State Archives of Assyria) and a digital corpus of texts written in the Neo-Assyrian language. The published series contains cuneiform texts, transcriptions, and translations of firsthand records written by civil servants, professionals, and administrators. It is considered an important source accessible to scholars of many disciplines. He also contributed to the University of Chicago’s Assyrian Dictionary Project until its completion.

“Today, the Assyrian nation largely lives in diaspora, split into rivaling churches and political factions. The fortunes of the people that constitute it have gone different ways over the millennia, and their identities have changed accordingly. The Syriacs in the west have absorbed many influences from the Greeks, while the Assyrians in the east have since ancient times been under Iranian cultural influence. Ironically, as members of the Chaldean Catholic Church (established in 1553 but effectively only in 1830), many modern Assyrians originating from central Assyria now identify with "Chaldeans", a term associated with the Syriac language in the 16th century but ultimately derived from the name of the dynasty that destroyed Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire!” —Dr. Simo Parpola

In 1998, Dr. Parpola started the Melammu Project, an interdisciplinary project that investigates the continuity, transformation, and diffusion of Mesopotamian culture in the classical world and thereafter.

Dr. Parpola is a strong advocate of Assyrianism and the continuity of the Assyrian identity, supporting the links between the modern Assyrians and their ancient ancestors. His far-ranging interest and expertise in all aspects of Assyrian history, culture, and language has inspired generations of Assyrians around the world, as well as invigorated the academic community.

“In this context it is important to draw attention to the fact that the Aramaic-speaking peoples of the Near East have since ancient times identified themselves as Assyrians and still continue to do so. The self-designations of modern Syriacs and Assyrians, Sūryōyō and Sūrāyā, are both derived from the ancient Assyrian word for "Assyrian", Aššūrāyu, as can be easily established from a closer look at the relevant words.” —Dr. Simo Parpola

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