Tel Keppe (or TalKayf as it's known by the Arab Muslims of Iraq) used to be the largest Chaldean town in Iraq. It is located less than 8 miles North East of Mosul (Nineveh) in northern Iraq. Actually, Tel Keppe is now considered a suburb of Mosul. Currently, only around 5,000 Chaldeans live in it, while over 100,000 of its natives live in Baghdad-Iraq, San Diego-CA, and Detroit-MI. Unfortunately, forced by discriminatory practices in Iraq, the majority of its natives are now living in Detroit, MI away from their fathers' homeland in Mesopotamia.
The name, Tel Keppe, is of Aramaic origin and is made of two syllables; "Tel" which means "hill" and "Keppe" which means "stones" i.e. Hill of Stones. Her name comes from its location over a ruined suburb of Nineveh, capital of old Assyria. Hence, the reason why Tel Keppe was never mentioned as a separate town from Nineveh by the Assyrians. The first time her name was mentioned was at the end of the fifth century BC. (i.e. after the fall of Nineveh to the Chaldean-Medes alliance in 612 BC) by Zenfonenus, the Commander of the Greek army's campaign in northern Mesopotamia in 401 BC.
Unfortunately, due to the presence of the only cemetery over the hill that make up Tel Keppe, it has been difficult to excavate the Assyrian ruins of this suburb of Nineveh. However, so far what had been able to be excavated is the water irrigation canals that were built by Assyrian King Senhareeb (705- 681 BC) to irrigate the land around Tel Keppe. Also, an excavation by the Iraqi Directorate of Antiquities succeeded in finding vases dating to 2000 years BC, and other items even much older and of a prehistoric time. In addition to that, several old ruins of churches and monasteries dating to early Christianity were found in Tel Keppe. Currently, Tel Keppe has 5 old churches and one large new one.
Tel Keppe gained fame in Iraq due to the impressive role played by her children who were the first Chaldeans migrating from northern Iraq to Baghdad around mid 19th century. They were the first Iraqis to use steam ships on the Tigris river, in addition to being the first who introduced the concept of "modern days hotels" in Iraq. Their role in taking the Iraqi society from its backward tribal state into a civil and urban one was striking. Actually, the first Iraqi newspaper dealing with women's issue, that of "Arabian Woman" (Fatat al-Arab), was published by the Tel Keppian, Maryam Narmy, in 1937 at a time when the Muslim population of Iraq had no experience with "public women" let alone with a female journalist fighting for women's rights. Actually, many Tel Keppians chose journalism as their way of educating the rest of the Iraqi population with current political and social issues.
Disasters of Tel Keppe
As was the case with most of the Chaldean towns around Nineveh, Tel Keppe had its share of the savage attacks of the Mongols, Persians, and the Kurds. In 1436, Tel Keppe was attacked by the Mongols, and again in 1508, both attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of its children and the destruction of many of its churches and the burning of its crops. So was the fate of the other Chaldean towns of Tel Esqof, Elqosh and its Rabban Hirmizd Monastery.
In 1743, the Persian King Nader Shah attacked Tel Keppe, Karamles, Bakhdida, Bartilla and other Suraya towns savagely. His destructive acts resulted in the death of many thousands and the destruction of their churches and crops. Those who were able to survive did so by fleeing to the mountains.
The Kurdish governor of Rawandows, Merkor, whose legendary hatred for Christians and Chaldeans is still vividly remembered by all Chaldeans, left no Chaldean town without demonstrating in it his savagery. In 1833, Merkor attacked Tel Keppe and Elqosh and killed thousands of its inhabitants, kidnapped their women and children, and burned and destroyed what he can not take with him.
Tel Keppians in the US:
The presence of TelKeppians in the United States span a hundred years, however, the largest migrations were those during the last 30 years when TelKeppians started leaving Iraq en masse due to discrimination and Iraq's turbulent politics. In their new homeland, and true to their fame as honest and hardworking people, the Tel Keppians were quick to establish and acquire large and successful businesses. Having been free from the control of corrupt and prejudicial Iraqi governmental agencies, those businesses quickly developed into an economic empire.
Actually, that economic power manifested itself when President Bill Clinton became, and in 1996, the first American President to ever meet with an immigrant Middle Eastern community. With that the Chaldeans of Iraq, led by the Tel Keppians, became that First Middle Eastern community to be recognized by an American President. Also, during Mr. Clinton presidency, his wife, the First Lady, Hillary Rhodium-Clinton, was hosted twice by the Tel Keppians of Detroit.
After the Gulf War, the Tel Keppians led the Chaldeans in the United States in mounting a widely publicised campaign to lift the economic sanctions which was imposed on their original homeland, Iraq. Also, large sums of donations were collected and sent to the needy in Iraq without discriminating whether the recipients were Arabs or Chaldeans, Moslems or Christians. With that campaign, the Tel Keppians proved their true noble character of forgiving the insults and discrimination against them by the Iraqi government as well as by those ignorant among the Arab Muslims.
Names of Famous Tel Keppians:
1. Chaldean Patriarch Joseph II Marouf (1667-1713).
2. Author and explorer, Mary Terez Assmar, born in 1806. Published her memoir "Babylonian Princess" in English in 1844.
3. Poet Toma Taqteq, died in 1860.
4. Fr. Shemoel Jamil (1847-1917), who was in charge of all Chaldean monasteries.
5. Journalist Maryam Narmy, born in 1890. Published first Iraqi women's issues "Arabian Woman" newspaper in 1937.
6. Yousif Malik, one of the leaders of the Assyrian movement in Iraq during the 1930's. Author of "The British Betrayal of the Assyrians". Died in 1957 in Lebanon after being forced into exile by the Iraqi government which also stripped him off his Iraqi citizenship.
7. Joseph Hirmis Jammo, author of "Nineveh's Ruins or History of TalKayf" published in 1937.
8. Journalist Alexander Marouf.
9. Rofael Babu Ishaq, born in 1893 and author of "History of Iraqi Christians". Died in 1964.
10. Journalist Hanna Yatoma.
11. Journalist Joseph Antone.
12. Journalist Zareef Jabero.
Current Famous Tel Keppians:
1. Mar Emannuel Dalee: Patriach of the Chaldean Church of the East.
2. Mar Gabrial Kassab: Bishop of Australia for the Chaldean Church of the East.
3. Mar Ramzi Garmo: Archbishop of Tehran - Iran for the Chaldean Church of the East.
4. Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim: Bishop of the Chaldean Church for the Eastern United States.
5. Mar Sarhad Jammo: Bishop of the Chaldean Church for Western United States
Click here for more information on Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim and Mar Sarhad Jammo
Chaldeans of TelKeppe Desert Iraq for promise of Metro Detroit (with photos)
Click Here For A Photo And Articles In Arabic
Click Here for Weather in TelKeppe, Beth Nahreen