London, Jan 27 (IANS) Scientists are finding ways to preserve Aramaic, the dialect of 3,000 years ago that Jesus Christ spoke and one that is tied to both Hebrew and Arabic.
Geoffrey Khan, professor of linguistics at the University of Cambridge, has launched a quest to record the language before it dies out by visiting the scattered communities where it is still used.
By recording some of the remaining native Aramaic speakers, he hopes to preserve the language which is one of a number threatened with extinction worldwide.
The 3,000-year-old language was once widespread throughout the entire Middle East and used for trade, government and divine worship from the Holy Land to India and China, the Daily Mail reports.
As a key language used in Israel from 539 BC to 70 AD, experts believe it was likely to have been spoken by Jesus.
It is also the language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and is the main language of the Talmud (key Jewish text).
Parts of the ancient Dead Sea scrolls were written in Aramaic.
As Jesus died on the cross, he cried out in Aramaic, 'Elahi, Elahi, lema shabaqtani?' ('My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?').
But speakers are now scattered across the globe, with pockets even found in US cities such as Chicago, where several thousand Assyrians live.