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
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/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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Ararat and the Armenian nation

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on April 26, 2018

Sjur Cappelen Papazian sitt bilde.

Sjur Cappelen Papazian sitt bilde.

Sjur Cappelen Papazian sitt bilde.

Ararat is where the European tradition and most of Western Christianity place the landing of Noah’s Ark. It is featured prominently in Armenian literature. According to Meliné Karakashian, Armenian poets “attribute to it symbolic meanings of unity, freedom, and independence.”

It is the principal national symbol of Armenia and has been considered a sacred mountain by Armenians. It is featured prominently in Armenian literature and art and is an icon for Armenian irredentism. Along with Noah’s Ark, it is depicted on the coat of arms of Armenia.

According to Kevork Bardakjian, in Armenian literature, Ararat “epitomizes Armenia and Armenian suffering and aspirations, especially the consequences of the 1915 genocide: almost total annihilation, loss of a unique culture and land […] and an implicit determination never to recognize the new political borders.”

During his travels to Armenia, Soviet Russian writer Vasily Grossman, a Jewish Russian writer and journalist, who lived the bulk of his life under the Soviet regime, observed Mount Ararat from Yerevan standing “high in the blue sky.”

He wrote that “with its gentle, tender contours, it seems to grow not out of the earth but out of the sky, as if it has condensed from its white clouds and its deep blue. It is this snowy mountain, this bluish-white sunlit mountain that shone in the eyes of those who wrote the Bible.”

According to the fourth verse of the eighth chapter of the Book of Genesis (Genesis 8:4), following a flood, Noah’s Ark landed on the “mountains of Ararat”. It means sacred land or high land, the name of a country on one of the mountains of which the ark rested after the Flood subsided ( Genesis 8:4 ).

In 2 Kings 19:37, Isaiah 37:38, the word is rendered “Armenia” in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, “Land of Ararat.” In Jeremiah 51:27 , the name denotes the central or southern portion of Armenia.

It is, however, generally applied to a high and almost inaccessible mountain which rises majestically from the plain of the Araxes. It has two conical peaks, about 7 miles apart, the one 14,300 feet and the other 10,300 feet above the level of the plain. Three thousand feet of the summit of the higher of these peaks is covered with perpetual snow.

According to F. C. Conybeare wrote that the mountain was a center and focus of pagan myths and cults […] and it was only in the eleventh century, after these had vanished from the popular mind, that the Armenian theologians ventured to locate on its eternal snows the resting-place of Noah’s ark.

The 13th century Franciscan missionary William of Rubruck is usually considered the earliest reference for the tradition of Mount Ararat as the landing place of the ark in European literature. The 14th century English traveler John Mandeville is another early author who mentioned Mount Ararat, “where Noah’s ship rested, and it is still there.”

In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz: “Raise a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations; prepare the nations for war against her, summon against her the kingdoms, Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz; appoint a marshal against her, bring up horses like bristling locusts”.

Most historians and Bible scholars agree that “Ararat” is the Hebrew name of Urartu, the geographic predecessor of Armenia and referred to the wider region at the time and not the mountain today known as Ararat.

Indeed, the phrase is translated as “mountains of Armenia”. Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of its former capital. Nevertheless, Mount Ararat is considered the traditional site of the resting place of Noah’s Ark. It is therefore called a biblical mountain.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. “Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat”, Akkadian “Urashtu” and Armenian “Ayrarat”. The Urartian toponym Biainili (or Biaineli) was adopted in the Old Armenian as Van. Hence the names “Kingdom of Van” or “Vannic Kingdom”.

The traditional Armenian name of the mountain is Masis (Մասիս; sometimes transliterated as Massis). However, nowadays, the terms Masis and Ararat are both widely, often interchangeably, used in Armenian. According to Armenian historian Sargis Petrosyan the mas root in Masis means “mountain”, cf. Proto-Indo-European *mņs-.

The folk etymology expressed in History of Armenia by Khorenatsi derives the name Masis from king Amasya, the great-grandson of the legendary Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

Hayk the Great, or The Great Hayk, also known as Hayk Nahapet (Hayk the “head of family” or patriarch), is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

Hayk is the “nahapet”, the progenitor or original patriarch, of the Armenians. He led his household of 300 away from Babylon, being pursued by its lord, Bel (“lord” or “master”), a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

Somewhere near Van, the ancient capital of urartian Armenia, a final battle took place between the siblings. Hayk beat Bel with an arrow. He unified the tribes, that altogether took the name Armenia (in armenian, Hayastan, after Hayk).

Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk, son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful. Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu, the earliest known king of Urartu.

Arame or Aramu (Armenian: Արամե) (ruled 858–844 BC) was the first known king of Urartu. Living at the time of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria (ruled 859–824 BC), Arame united the Nairi tribe against the threat of the Assyrian Empire.

Arame has been suggested as the prototype of both Aram (and, correspondingly the popular given name Aram) and Ara the Beautiful, two of the legendary forefathers of the Armenian people.

Urartu, also known as Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. It corresponds to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat. The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “Kingdom of Urartu” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-ninth century BC, but went into gradual decline. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

The name Urartu comes from Assyrian sources: Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of “Uruatri.” The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight “lands” contained within Urartu (which at the time of the campaign were still disunited).

Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century BC as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name of Armenia.

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after the god Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi, who was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. His shrine was at Ardini, known in Assyrian as Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. Khaldi was a warrior god to whom the kings of Urartu would pray for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung from the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art.

The language of the Urartians appears in cuneiform inscriptions. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.

In the early sixth century BC, Urartu was replaced by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

The name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek Ἀρμενία. The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. The exact etymology of the name is unknown, and there are various speculative attempts to connect it to older toponyms or ethnonyms.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

The kingdom of Mitanni, a state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from c. 1500–1300 BC., was a feudal state led by a warrior nobility of “Armeno-Aryan” origin. It was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians.

In the 33rd year of his reign, while he was in the Armenian Highlands in 1446 BC, Thutmose III of Egypt, referred to the people of Ermenen (Armenians), and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

To the east, they had good relations with the Kassites, a people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (short chronology).

The Kassite language has not been classified. However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-third millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the “Armenian hypothesis”. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

Herodotus, in c. 440 BC, said “the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists” (7.73). Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.

Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa.

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis.

Aratta (the Sumerian equivalent to Semitic Urartu and Indo European Armenia) is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

In Sumerian literature Aratta is described as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach and home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

The Tower of Babel as told in Genesis 11:1-9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world’s peoples speak different languages. According to the story, a united humanity in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating eastward, comes to the land of Shinar (Sumer).

In Shinar they agree to build a city and a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God, observing their city and tower, confounds their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them around the world.

There is a Sumerian myth similar to that of the Tower of Babel, called Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, where Enmerkar of Uruk is building a massive ziggurat in Eridu and demands a tribute of precious materials from Aratta for its construction.

At one point reciting an incantation imploring the god Enki to restore (or in Kramer’s translation, to disrupt) the linguistic unity of the inhabited regions — named as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land, “the whole universe, the well-guarded people — may they all address Enlil together in a single language.”

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