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2012-02-18 17:09:07 Views : 3532 |



Translated by: Aziz Emmanuel Zebari



It is an inhabited town 30 kms to the north of Mosul and 7 kms from the Town of Batanaya. According to Badger, the town’s population used to be 110 families in 1852. Father Martin, however, estimates the number at 1800 people in 1867.

Tellesqef  is regarded as one of the big Christian towns in Iraq following Qaraqush (Baghdede), Bartilla, and Elqush. The town has a special reputation in making pottery and water vats. It used to be the main source for supplying Mosul and its villages with such vats. The industry, however, declined as the inhabitants took on other modern professions in addition to farming.


The Name

Tellesqef is an Aramic compound name made up of “Tella” which means mound and “Sqeepa” meaning standing in reference to its nearby  monumental Tell which probably contains findings that date back to the time of the Assyrian Empire.

Claudius James Ridge reported in 1820 that the people of Tellesqef carried out diggings in the Tell and found a tomb containing a stone with an inscription that bore the name of “Tellesqef”. On digging further down, they came across stones and reached a grave containgn glass wares and lamps. Rigdge was able to get hold of two such glass containers which he said were similar to the ones discovered in Cteisphone and Babylon.

The scholar Gewargis Awwad mentions other excavations conducted in 1934 resulting in the discovery of the rmains of monumental buildings. In the middle of the 19th century, The French Victor Place carried out diggings in Tellesqef, but failed to find any remains.

In his “Dictionary of Countries”. Vol.1 P. 863, the Arab treveller Yaqut al-Hamawi (died in 1229) said, “Tellesqef as one word means the Tell of Christians, a big village that belongs to Mosul to the east of Tigris”.



The city witnessed numerous catastrophies the most prominent of which was the Mongols massacre of the town in 1236. There is an eloquent description of the massacres carried out in Karmles, Erbi, Tellesqef, and the Monastery of Beth Qopha in a poem written in the Chaldean dialect by Gewargis Warda. They killed thousands of people, set, fields, houses, worship places to fire destroying all the culture that existed. They caused the displacement of thousands fo people. No one was spared other than those who made it to the far away mountais. Neither was the church of Mar ya’aqub al-Muqata’a (dismembered [Translator]) which was razed to the ground. 

Tellesqef also came under the attack of Baryaq’s Mongol army in 1508 at the same time when Telqef, Elqush, and the Monastery of Rabban Hormez were attacked. It was also targeted by the army of the Persian Nadir Shah during his siege of the city of Mosul in 1743 during which the town was destroyed and many of its inhabitants killed as was the case with Karmles, Bartilla, Telkef and many other areas to the east of Mosul.

Churches and Shrines

There are two churches in Tellesqef, the first is the church of Mar Yaq’aqub al-Mugata’a , the oldest church in the town. There is no accurate information as to when it was founded. What is certain is that it used to be there before the 13th century during the Mongol massacre in 1236. The church has been mentioned in a Chaldean manuscript among the collection of Claudius James Ridge which dates back to 1499. The second church is the church of Mar Gewargis which was demolished in 1955 and replaced by a new church according to the Latin order.

“ I visited these churches in 1943, and the church Mar Gewargis which has an ancient design, had three temples, but had no ancient inscriptions”, said the French orientalist Jhon Maurice Fiye.

In the north of the town are the ruins of a small building which was consecrated to Mar Sahdootha. On the way to Elqush is the shrine of Mart Shmoony the Macabine. The Berlin Manuscript Bibiography edited by the orientalist Saho, states that there were churches and temples dedicated to Mar Ya’aqub, Mar Gewargis, Apnimaran, Sahdoona and Shmooni with her children.  


Archaeological Sites

The most important arachaeological sites are in the eastern part of the town where the site of the Monastery of Apnimaran lies – the Tell area – now the cemetery. In the middle of the cemetery is an old water well indicating that the Tell used to be an inhabited area before it was taken up by the inhabitants as a cemetery. The inhabitants have found a wall towards the north which seems to have been part of the church building. The existence of the cemetery has not made it possible to carry out any archaelolgical excavations to see the real fact about the monastery and the town together. The the second day of every Easter is observed as memorial day of the monastery which is celebrated by the people of Tellesqef every year.

The monastery has been mentioned in The Se’ert History by an anonymous writer which was edited by martyr Bishop  Adday Sher within the Eastern Patrology:” the remains of a monastery, ascribed to Aprinmaran the superior of the Moastery of Za’faran, lie near Tell Zqipa- a village that lies 5 hours to the north east of Mosul”.

Most references point out that it was Apnimaran the Great, from Beth Garmai – present day Kirkuk-  who founded the Za’afaran Monastery. There is however, no accurate information whether it was Apnimaran the Great who founded an other monastery in Tellesqef or it was an other monk with the same name; for if the person meant were Apnimaran the Great, then the date of the foundation of the monastery is the 7th century. It is more probable that the monastery was founded by Rabban Apnimaran who lived in the first half of the 10th centure and whose name was mentioned in the biography of Yousif Bosnaya (died September 979 AD) as pointed out by the researcher Shabo who says:” Rabban Apnimaran used to have a cell in the heights of Gedron which, based on the biography, were near Elaush and Rabban Hormez Monastery…”. But the Gedron Heights are non other than the height called Knud that lie between Elqush and Tellesqef. But Edward Sakho, however, is of a different opinion saying that an archaeological tablet was found in the church of Tellesqef indicating that the monastery was built or rebuilt in 1403 at the expense of the people of Telkef. The tablet, however, has disappeared and does not exist any more.


The Manuscripts of Telleskef

 There is a collection of manuscripts that were classified by Fr Butrus Haddad comprising 26 Chaldean manuscripts. The Book of Hudhra (The Book of Liturgical Prayer [Translator]), is the oldest of these manuscripts dating back to 1698. Another manuscript is found in the book case of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Kirkuk, entitled (Shappir Dobara – The Good Conduct- writeen by Deacon Ibrahim Bin Bad’aa  al- Tellesqufi in 1585.

An other manuscript was written by Fr. Ibrahim Bin Marisan al – Tellesqufi entitled ( Mar Youhanna  al- Tellesqufi). Father Ibrahim Bin Marbena has three manuscripts in the book - case of Al-Sayida Monastery that date back to 1793, 1794, 1796 respectively. In the Berlin book-case are three Chaldean manuscripts which were written in Tellesqef in the nineteen century ( Sako Catalogue- Berlin 1899, p. 215, 216, 352). There is also a book “Usul-al-I’atiraf “ (Principles of Confession) , which is written by Odisho Bin Hadaya from the town of Batnaya, on a special request from Fr. ASkar Bin Odisho al Tellesqufi in 1702.


The Achievements of Mr. Sarkis Aghajan in Tellesqef


1.     Building of 55 houses for diplaced families in the town,

2.     Building of an office and hall for the Church of Mar Gewargis,

3.     Building of (4) service shops in the compound,

4.     Building a box-like archway and pavement of the street leading to Tellesqef High School for boys.

5.     Building a room for the power supply generator for the compound with its annexes.




1.     An gricultural land for housing,

2.     A house for the Christian Affairs Committee in Tellesqef,

3.     Purchase of (7) mini-buses for university student transportation,

4.     Two tractors for the municipality of Tellesqef,

5.     A vehicle to serve the  needs of the Christian Affairs Committee and the area,

6.     Purchase of 250 desks for primary school students,

7.     A 43kv power suplly generator for the committee in Tellesqef,

8.     A 200kv power supply generator to Noor residential complex, and

9.     Purchase of a 150kv power supply generator to the church of Mar Gorgese.



1.     Connecting Noor  residential complex with a drinking water supply system,

2.     Connecting Noor residential complex to the national power supply grid with all accessories,

3.     Pavement of a 600m x 8m streets in the complex with concrete,

4.     Pavement of a (550mx8m) street from the village to the complex,

5.     Installation of (3) power supply generators with their accessories,

6.     Connection of Tellesqef communication office with the main national power supply grid and the installation of a new convertor,

7.     Installation of a communication grid of 2100- line capacity in the post and communication office in Tellesqef along with the purchase of a power supply generator.


1.     Hannoona, Habeeb, The Church of the East in the Plain of Nineveh, San Diego( 1992: 112-116.

2.     Markus, S. D. Tellesqef Throughout History. Hezel Journal, No. 3 (2007: 98-102).

3.     Christian Affairs Office/ Ankawa.  


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