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Semitic stock-raising tribes who settled in the outlying regions of Babylonia, on the northwestern coast of the Persian Gulf, in the first half of the first millennium B.C.

The Chaldeans were probably of Aramean origin; however, there is some evidence to suggest that they originated in southern Arabia. What language the Chaldeans spoke is open to dispute, since the aristocracy rapidly assimilated with the Babylonians and bore Accadian names. Moreover, there are no written texts that can be positively identified as Chaldean. In the Bible and in post-biblical tradition, a Baby Ionian-Aramaic dialect is referred to as the Chaldean language.

The Chaldeans who settled in the southern part of Mesopotamia gradually adopted a settled way of life and formed a series of principalities, such as Bit-Yakin. Most of these principalities were named after their founders. Beginning in the ninth century B.C., the Chaldeans and Elam fought Assyria for control of Babylon. In the second half of the eighth century and in the early seventh century, Chaldean princes managed to seize the Babylonian throne a number of times. Each time, however, the Chaldeans were driven out by the Assyrians. From 626 B.C. to 538 B.C. the Chaldean dynasty ruled Babylon. This dynasty, which included Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II, established the New Babylonian Empire.

In ancient Greece and Rome, priests and fortune-tellers of Babylonian origin were called Chaldeans. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the term “Chaldeans” was erroneously applied to the Sumerians.

References in periodicals archive ?
Caption: In August 2014, more than 120,000 Chaldean Christians fled Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian city, as the murderous forces of the Islamic State advanced.
Joseph Thomas said during a visit paid today by Necmettin Omar Karim governor of Kirkuk, to the Archbishop of Kirkuk for the Chaldean Christians in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah at the Cathedral of Kirkuk city center, We are staying in our homeland Iraq despite all the challenges that we face.
Kurdish and Iraqi sources report that Israel's Mossad mercenaries and Kurdish militias have staged terrorist attacks against Chaldean Christians in Iraq, particularly in Nineveh, Irbil, al-Hamdaniya, Bartalah, Talasqaf, Batnayah, Bashiqah, Elkosheven, Uqrah, and Mosul.
The Chaldean Catholic Church presently comprises an estimated 1,500,000 Chaldean Christians.
Hundred of thousand of Chaldean Christians have fled Iraq because of violent threats against their community, and many of those refugees have arrived in Lebanon during the last few years, searching for a better life or resettlement in other countries.
Elsewhere in Iraq, gunmen stormed two Christian homes in separate attacks in the city of Kirkuk, killing at least two Chaldean Christians and one Assyrian, said police Brig.
Northern Iraq is part of the contested homeland of ethnic Kurds--and until recently a safe haven for those escaping Baghdad's violence, especially Chaldean Christians.
There are 10,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians, all refugees.
Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Turkmen (Iraqi Turks who speak their own dialect of Turkish), and Assyrian and Chaldean Christians live cheek by jowl.
In Mosul and surrounding northern towns and villages, Election Day was followed by demonstrations by voters, including Chaldean Christians, who weren't able to vote because of missing ballot boxes and polling stations that never opened.
Canon White said: "The bishop and I would like to make a start by inviting the Patriach of Babylon, Badwid the First, who is the leader of one million Chaldean Christians, to come to Britain, perhaps in the autumn.