Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The church complex of Bagrevand

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on April 7, 2015

St. Hovhan Church, Bagrevand

Cultural genocide – Armenia

Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey

Bel, signifying “lord” or “master”, is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Ba‘al with the same meaning.

Early translators of Akkadian believed that the ideogram for the god called in Sumerian Enlil was to be read as Bel in Akkadian. This is now known to be incorrect; but one finds Bel used in referring to Enlil in older translations and discussions.

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady, mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis, considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master”, “lord”, “owner” (male), “keeper”, “husband”, which became the usual designation of the great weather-god of the Western Semites. The title is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu. A Baalist or Baalite means a worshipper of Baal.

Bagmashtu (also known as Bagparti, Bagvarti, Bagbartu) is an Urartian goddess, and the consort or wife of the chief Urartian god Haldi. Although throughout most of Urartu Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, is known as Khaldi’s wife, at the excavation of Musasir references to “Khaldi and his wife, Bagmashtu” were found inscribed on some of the items.

It is assumed that when Urartu expanded its territories to include the area Musasir, local gods were incorporated and a new pantheon was created for that region. The locality and addition of Bagmashtu are supported by the fact that her name is of Armenian origin.

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic and its origins are under some dispute. The site where the city of Baghdad came to stand has been populated for millennia and by the 8th century AD several Aramaic Christian villages had developed there, one of which was called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis.

The name has been used as Baghdadu on Assyrian cuneiform and Babylonian records going back to at least 2000 BC. An inscription by Nebuchadnezzar (600 BC) describes how he rebuilt the old Babylonian town of Bagh-dadu. There used to be another Babylonian settlement called Baghdad, in upper Mesopotamia, near the ancient city of Edessa. The name has not been attested outside of Mesopotamia.

Even though the name has been attested in pre-Persian times, a Persian origin has been accepted by most scholars. It has been proposed that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bag “god” and dād “given”, translating to “God-given” or “God’s gift”, from which comes Modern Persian Baɣdād. This in turn can be traced to Old Persian.

Another proposal is the Persian compound bāğ “garden” and dād “fair”, translating to “The fair garden”. However, a Persian explanation remains somewhat problematic, given that the name was used long before the Persians arrived in Mesopotamia.

Bagrevand was a region of the old Armenia ruled first by Mamikonians and then by the Bagratuni family. The Bagdasarian are a noble family of Nakharars in Armenia and are of hereditary right to Bagrevand with Armenia in the province of Ararat. Variations include Bagawanean, Bagawanian, Bagdasarean.

The Battle of Bagrevand was fought on 25 April 775, in the plains of Bagrevand, between the forces of the Armenian princes who had rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate and the caliphal army.

The battle resulted in a crushing Abbasid victory, with the death of the main Armenian leaders. The Mamikonian family’s power in particular was almost extinguished. The battle signalled the beginning of a large-scale Armenian migration into the Byzantine Empire.

The battle was a watershed in Transcaucasian politics. The defeat of the Armenian revolt eliminated the power of several of the nakharar houses, most notably the Mamikonian, Gnuni, Amatuni, Rshtuni, Saharuni and Kamsarakan families, which survived either as dependants of other families, or as exiles in Byzantium.

On the other hand, the Artsruni, who switched over to the Caliphate in time, profited from the power vacuum to rise to power in Vaspurakan, while the Bagratuni, after retreating for a while to their mountain strongholds, managed to reclaim a dominant position in the country during the 9th century.

Bagavan, consisting of the words bagi (meaning: idol) and avan (meaning: city) was an ancient Armenian church-city complex situated in the south-east of what is now Ağrı Province, in eastern Turkey.

It was a well known settlement in the pagan and later medieval Armenia times because of a huge monastic complex in it known as St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) Monastery of Bagavan.

Bagavan was situated in the south east of Bagrevand province of the Historical Armenia’s Ayrarat region. Founded in the pagan Armenia as a religious center, it was the site of tombs of the pre-Christian rulers of Armenia.

Here, in the waters of Aratsani (Eastern Euphrates) river in 314, the baptism of King Tiridates III of Armenia by Gregory Illuminator (Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ) took place, becoming the first Christian King of Armenia, which marked the start of a Christian medieval Kingdom of Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church as a separate independent Christian denomination emerged later.

After that, this place was marked by a huge number of crosses engraved in the riverside rocks and pagan temples were reconstructed as monasteries.

In the nearby slopes of mount Npat dozen of chapels stood, praying places of famous Catholics Nerses the Great (second half of the 4th century). Therefrom he watched Dzirav’s battle between the Armenians and Persians.

The monastery had three churches, and their most famous bishops were Yeznik Koghbatsi and Movses Khorenatsi. Under whose leadership it became the main monastery in the Bagrevand and Arsharunik districts. Final phase of construction ended in 639.

The church is 46 meters in length, 27 meters in width and 20 meters in height (with dimensions comparable to the Armenian Apostolic churches of Dvin, Zvartnots and Talin). The monastery had 5 doors and 51 windows.

The outward appearance of the temple is made of strict shaped masonries and ornaments, a contrast to the well brightened interior. People of 19th century associated the monastery’s appearance with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Trdat the Architect (circa 940s – 1020; Latin: Tiridates) was the chief architect of the Bagratuni kings of Armenia, whose tenth-century monuments have been argued to be the forerunners of Gothic architecture which came to Europe several centuries later.

Trdat was active in Armenia before and after his reconstruction of the Hagia Sophia. In 961, Ashot III moved his capital from Kars to the great city of Ani where he assembled new palaces and rebuilt the walls.

The Catholicosate was moved to the Argina district in the suburbs of Ani where Trdat completed the building of the Catholicosal palace and the Mother Cathedral of Ani. This cathedral offers an example of a cruciform domed church within a rectangular plan.

Trdat is also believed to have designed or supervised the construction of Surb Nshan (Holy Sign, completed in 991), the oldest structure at Haghpat Monastery.

After a great earthquake in 989 ruined the dome of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine officials summoned Trdat to Byzantium to organize repairs. The restored dome was completed by 994.

During Russo-Persian wars from 1877–78 the church complex of Bagrevand was damaged, but after a period of repairs, it remained functioning until Armenian Genocide in 1915.

In the late 1940s the monastery, also known in “Turkish: Üç Kilise” “Three Churches”, was completely destroyed by the Turkish Army, along with 4,000 other Armenian monasteries in eastern half of today’s Turkey.

Part of its stones were used in the construction of houses in Taşteker village that was founded around the monastery, but most of them were removed to the town of Ağrı, where they were laid in the lower stonework of the principal mosque erected in 1950.

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