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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Land of Noah

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Origin of the Armenians

The origin of the Armenians is a topic about the emergence of the Armenian people and the country called Armenia. The earliest universally accepted reference to the people and the country dates back to the 6th century BC Behistun Inscription, followed by several Greek fragments and books.

The earliest known reference to a geopolitical entity where Armenians originated from is dated to the 13th century BC as Uruatri in Old Assyrian. Historians and Armenologists have speculated about the earlier origin of the Armenian people, but no consensus has been achieved as of yet.

Linguistically, Armenians have been speaking an Indo-European language for as long as it has been attested since the 5th century AD, and genetic studies show that Armenian people are indigenous to historical Armenia, showing little signs of admixture since around the 13th century BC.

Recent studies have shown that Armenians are indigenous to the Armenian Highlands and form a distinct genetic isolate in the region. Analyses of mitochondrial ancient DNA of skeletons from Armenia and Artsakh spanning 7,800 years, including DNA from Neolithic, Bronze Age, Urartian, classical and medieval Armenian skeletons, have revealed that modern Armenians have the least genetic distance from them compared to neighbouring peoples.

Armenians are also one of the genetic isolates of the Near East who share affinity with the Neolithic farmers who expanded into Europe beginning around 8,000 years ago. There are signs of considerable genetic admixture in Armenians between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, these mixture dates also coincide with the legendary establishment of Armenia in 2492 BCE, but they subside to insignificant levels since 1200 BC, remaining stable until today.

In a study published in 2017, the complete mitochondrial genomes of 52 ancient skeletons from present-day Armenia and Artsakh spanning 7,800 years were analyzed and combined with 206 mitochondrial genomes of modern Armenians and previously published data of seven neighboring populations (482 people).

Coalescence-based analyses suggest that the population size in the region rapidly increased after the Last Glacial Maximum around 18,000 years ago. During the Bronze and Iron ages, many complex societies emerged from distinctive cultures such as Kura-Araxes, Trialeti-Vanadzor, Sevan-Artsakh, Karmir-Berd, Karmir-Vank, Lchashen-Metsamor, and Urartian. No changes in the female gene pool could be documented, supporting a cultural diffusion model in the region.

The study sampled 44 ancient human skeletons from Armenia and Artsakh according to established aDNA guidelines, from a total of 19 archaeological sites from large parts of Armenia as well as Artsakh. Based on contextual dating of artifacts, their ages are estimated to be between 300 and 7,800 years old, which covers seven well-defined cultural transitions.

The study shows that the lowest genetic distance in this dataset is between modern Armenians and the ancient individuals, followed closely by Georgians, compared to other peoples in the region such as Turkish people, Persians, and Azerbaijanis.

According to a study published in 2015, in which a genome-wide variation in 173 Armenians was analyzed and compared to 78 other worldwide populations, Armenians form a distinct genetic cluster linking the Near East, Europe, and the Caucasus.

The genetic landscape in the Near East had more affinity to Neolithic Europe than the present populations do. Armenians seem to share a similar affinity to those Neolithic farmers as do other genetic isolates in the Near East, such as Cypriots, Jews, and Christians.

29% of Armenian ancestry seems to originate from an ancestral population that is best represented by Neolithic Europeans. This suggests that they may derive from a people who inhabited the Near East during the Neolithic expansion of Near Eastern farmers into Europe beginning around 8,000 years ago.

An earlier study from 2011 has also shown a prevalence of Neolithic paternal chromosomes associated with the Agricultural Revolution. Collectively, they comprise 77% of the observed paternal lineages in the Armenian Plateau – 58% in Sason and an average of 84% in Ararat Valley, Gardman and Lake Van.

Bronze Age demographic processes had a major impact on the genetics of populations in the Armenian Highlands. Armenians appear to originate from a mixture of diverse populations occurring from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

This period coincides with the Kura-Araxes culture, the appearance of Hittites in Anatolia, and major population migrations after the domestication of the horse and the appearance of chariots. It also coincides with the legendary foundation of the Armenian nation in 2492 BC. According to the “A genetic atlas of human admixture history” published by Hellenthal et al. in 2014, admixture is not inferred or is uncertain.

Starting from around 1200 BC, during the Late Bronze Age collapse, around the time the Nairi tribal confederation and Urartu begin appearing in historical records, signs of admixture decrease to insignificant levels.

It seems that widespread destruction and abandonment of major cities and trade routes caused the Armenians’ isolation from their surroundings, and their adoption of a distinct culture and identity early on in their history genetically isolated them from major admixture throughout the following millennia.

The Near East’s genetic landscape appears to have been continuously changing since the Bronze Age. There is a sub-Saharan African gene flow around 850 years ago in Syrians, Palestinians, and Jordanians consistent with previous reports of recent gene flow from Africans to Levantine populations after the Arab expansions.

There is also an East Asian ancestry in Turks from admixture occurring around 800 years ago coinciding with the arrival of the Seljuk Turks to Anatolia from their homelands near the Aral sea.

The introduction of these populations doesn’t seem to have affected Armenians significantly. Around 500 years ago, a genetic structure within the population appears to have developed, which coincides with a period when the Armenian people were divided between the Ottoman Empire and the successive Iranian empires.

Today, many great scientists with world-renowned names believe that Armenia is the cradle of creation and civilization. Among other sources, the Bible and the oldest Sumerian legends say about it.

Following the work “The Cult of God Ar in Armenia”, a new book named “Armenia – the Cradle of Creation and Civilization” (in Armenian) was written, where questions about the cult of the god-creator Ar-Ara were covered again.

According to Anjela Teryan, author of “Ancient Written Sources of European People About Their Homeland, Armenia, and Armenians” from 2016, Armenia is one of the oldest centers of civilization.

The centuries‐old traces of material culture, myths and legends, geographical and personal names reveal that Armenians are the natives of the Armenian Highland; they are indigenious who lived there since the dawn of humanity.

Greek historians Herodotus (5th century B.C.), Xenophones (5 th century B.C.), Strabo (63 B.C.‐20) and some others speak extensively about the Armenians, their history and geography.

The Greek historiography had also found its own version on the origin of Armenians. Strabo derived the etymology from an Armenius of Armenium, a city on Lake Boebeïs in Thessaly, while Herodotus called them Phrygian colonists.

This version is about the Thraco‐Phrygian origin of Armenians which is based on some common features shared by both of them, common traditions, clothing, the used armours and also the myth of Armenos of Thesalia.

According to Armenian Midieval Historiography (V‐XV c, M. Khorenatsy, Agatangelos, P. Bouzand, Sebeos, etc.) Armenian people were ancient inhabitants of Armenian Highland and they have lived here since Babelon Mess.

Starting from the middle of the 20th century, researchers, especially the linguists (V. Illich‐ Svitich, O. Shirokov, G. Klichkov, A. Dolgopolski, V. Ivanov) bro‐ught forward the idea that the ancestors of the Indo‐European language speaking peoples, the Arian tribes, had lived in the Armenian Highland and surrounding areas.

T. Gamkrelidze and V. Ivanov, in their work “The Indo‐European languages and the Indo‐Europeans”, discussed very thoroughly and deeply the questions about the location of the ancestors of the Indo‐Europeans in the areas including the Armenian Highland and surrounding lands. This opinion has many followers and enters steadily the scientific world.

Thus in the given monograph the author discusses and defends the assertions about the Armenian Highland as the homeland of the Armenians. The opinion that Armenia is the centre of Creation and ancient civilization, is also discussed.

The arguments mainly focusing on the Armenian ethnos, history and Highland from the point of view of linguistics, mythology, history, anthropology, ethnic migrations reinforce the above stated assertions. The work also explores questions related to the worship of the Creator‐ AR‐ARA (Creator = Ararich in Armenian).

The written sources of ancient peoples (Summerians ‐ “Myth of Enki and Ninmah”, Akkadians ‐ “Enuma Elish”, Hurri “About the Heaven’s Kingdom”) prove that Man was created in a land called Abzu (Apsu, Apsuv) during the reign of ‘Lord of the Earth’ Haya (Aya, Ea, Gea).

This land was known by the names Kur, Eden, Irigal, Arali. From other written sources (‘Gilgamesh’, ‘Atrakhasis’) and from its geographical location (the Land of Mountains, the region of rivers’ springs) and considering the name Arali/Abzu, it becomes clear that the land is located in the sources of Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the Armenian Highland.

The Bible, in its turn witnesses that man was created in the Armenian Highland, in the regions of the Tigris, Euphrates, Gehon and Pison rivers’ sources. In the country under the rule of the deity Haya the created man considered himself the indigene of Haya’s land, the ‘Lord of the Earth’; hay /hai/, which means’ world inhabitant, world creature’.

According to the Hurri‐Armenian mythology, which originated in the Armenian Highland (“About the Heaven’s Kingdom” , “The birth of Vahagn”), man was created in the land of Haya’s deity from the union of the Haya‐’Lord of the Mother Earth’, and of the Cosmic Creator God AR ( Arev, the Sun God).

The hay, an inhabitant created in the Armenian Highland, the worship of the deity Haya ‘Lord of the Earth’ made parallel to the Creator Father. Through the worship of the God AR he considered himself God’s Son Arma (Arman), Aram (Ar‐am, am=ma), Arme(n) and the area where the Hay‐Armens were created was called Ararat (Arar‐at), Hark (Har‐k) and Hayk (Hay‐k).

During a certain period of time in the history the Hay‐Armens had assigned to the brightest and the biggest celestial lighter with the creative powers and worshiped him as the God AR (ARA); the one that was giving Light, Life and Warmth; the Sun ‐God.

So we can say, the man created in Armenia, with his Hay‐Armen names, is considered a unique connection, a bridge between the Universe (Creator God Ar‐Ara) and Mother Earth (God/Godess Haya).

At the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C. the Semitic tribes, the Akkadians (much later the Babylonians and the Assyrians) from the Arabian peninsula appeared in the Northern or Armenian Mesopotamia to the south of the Armenian Highland and had relations with its natives, the Hay Armens.

At these times the God AR was still worshiped. Some legends and tales were preserved about the Armenian Highlands’ inhabitants living in the Haya’s Land (hay) and being the sons of the God AR (Arma, Aram).

The Akkadians called these people the Sons of God AR (Arma, Armen) and the land Armani or Aramani. Much later, in the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. the Greeks and Persians called this people Armens.

In the present work, the role and the importance of the God AR is discussed in relation to the Armenians’ (also to Arian tribes’) spiritual and material cultural foundations. Great attention is devoted to the questions concerning Armenia as being the oldest country of Light and Sun Worship.

The study shows that AR God’s name, its worship and the ideology may help understand the ancient periods of the Armenian history, as well as some names of state formations in the Armenian Highland (Aratta, Armani, Arme‐Urme, Ararat‐Urartu).

The origins of some personal and geographical names starting with AR (or having that component), the names of other Gods ( Aramazd, Ahuramazda, Ares, Aras, Ram‐/A/Ram, Mars, Yar‐Yarilo), their worships and ideologies are also examined.

The worship of Sun and the worship of AR had left a deep impact on the formation of the mentality, moral norms, spiritual and material values of the Armenian‐Arian, as well as other Arian, tribes and on their further development.

In the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C., intensive development of the means of production took place in the Armenian Highland, which in its turn had brought for the increase in the number of population. It played a certain role in ethnic migrations of the populations.

Consequently, a part of the Armenian tribes ‐ the ancestors of the Indo‐Europeans, the Arian tribes appeared in Iran, India, Greece, Europe and other areas (3rd ‐ 1st millennia B.C.), keeping the spiritual connection and the memories of the land of the ancestors and sacred mt. Ararat.

They also took with them their forefather’s names hay (Armenian) and ari (Armen, Arman), in those names including their trib’s character and sort: proud, high (hay=high) and brave, powerful (ari).

Time and space had yielded to oblivion the homeland, but the material and spiritual values (myths, customs and traditions) and also the worship of the God AR bring people back in thier perceptions to the country of Sun, Light and of AR’s worship ‐Armenia.

In the work are presented chapters of Armenia‐Summer, Armenia‐India, Armenia‐Iran, Armenia‐Greece, Armenia‐Great Britain, Armenia‐Germany, also Armenia‐the Pireney peninsula (Spain, Basconia) and Slavian tribes (Russians), where much attention is payed to ancient written sources, also to their material, spiritual and cultural connections.

It is also interesting that the Armenian language, in contrast to other Indo‐European languages, has all phonetic sounds common to all Indo‐European languages.
Anthropological studies reveal that the Armenian Highland was inhabited by the anthropological type defined Armenoid by F. von Lushan.

Research of all these materials allows us to conclude that the ancestors of the Indo‐Europeans, the Arian tribes, well before their big or small ethnic migrations (in the 5‐3th millennium B.C.) lived in tribal unions.

They had the same homeland (the Armenian Highland and surrounding lands), they worshiped the same gods (AR‐ARA, Aramazd, Vahagn, Mihr, Anahit), they had the same culture, lifestyle, names, the impacts of which have not even been destroyed by the passing millennia.

Armenian calendar

Areni-1 cave complex

Areni-1 shoe

Areni-1 Winery

Ancient Armenia

Prehistoric Armenia

Prehistory of the Armenians

Origin of the Armenians

Armenian mythology

legendary establishment of Armenia

List of Armenian kings

List of Armenian consorts

Armenian Origins

The Most Ancient History of Armenia

Armenia: Cradle of Creation and Civilization

Ancient Written Sources of European Nations About Their Ancestral Homeland – Armenia and Armenians

Timeline of Armenian history

Nakharar,  Ishkhan, Melik, Tanuter

The Land of Noah

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat.  It consists of two major volcanic cones: Greater Ararat and Little Ararat. Greater Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey and the Armenian Highland with an elevation of 5,137 m (16,854 ft); Little Ararat’s elevation is 3,896 m (12,782 ft).

Ararat (sometimes Ararad) is the Greek version of the Hebrew spelling RRṬ of the name Urartu, a kingdom that existed in the Armenian Highlands in the 9th–6th centuries BC. In classical antiquity, particularly in Strabo’s Geographica, the peaks of Ararat were known in ancient Greek as Abos and Nibaros.

German orientalist and Bible critic Wilhelm Gesenius speculated that the word “Ararat” came from the Sanskrit word Arjanwartah, meaning “holy ground.” Some Armenian historians, such as Ashot Melkonyan, link the origin of the word “Ararat” to the root of the endonym of the indigenous peoples of the Armenian Highland (“ar–”), including the Armenians.

The mountain is known as Ararat in European languages, however, none of the native peoples have traditionally referred to the mountain by that name. The traditional Armenian name is Masis, sometimes Massis.

This mountain was not called by the name Ararat until the Middle Ages; early Armenian historians has considered Ararat to be in the area of Corduene, an ancient region located south of Lake Van, present-day eastern Turkey.

According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Gordyene is the ancient name of the region of Bohtan (now Şırnak Province). It is mentioned as Beth Qardu in Syriac sources and is described as a small vassal state between Armenia and Persia in the mountainous area south of Lake Van in modern Turkey Corduene must also be sought on the left bank of the Tigris.

The region of Corduene was called Korduk’ in Armenian sources. In these records, unlike in the Greek ones, the people of Korduk’ were loyal to Armenian rule and the rulers of Korduk’ are presented as members of the Armenian nobility.

A prince of Korduk’ served in the counsel of the Armenian king Trdat and helped to defend Armenia’s southern borders. Additionally, it seems that there was the early presence of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Korduk’.

There were numerous forms of this name, partly due to the difficulty of representing kh in Latin. The spelling Karduchoi is itself probably borrowed from Armenian, since the termination -choi represents the Armenian language plural suffix -k’.

It has been cited as the country of the Carduchians, a fertile mountainous district, rich in pasturage. The people of Gordyene were known to have worshiped the Hurrian god Teshub, the Hurrian god of sky, thunder, and storms.

Taru was the name of a similar Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures. In these two, Taru was known as Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta, names derived from the Anatolian root *tarh “to defeat, conquer”.

Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu was the Araratian (Urartian) weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. He formed part of a triad along with Khaldi and Shivini.

He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, the Vedic God Indra, and the Hurrian god, Teshub. He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

The mountain has been called by the name Ararat (in the West) since the Middle Ages, as it began to be identified with “mountains of Ararat” described in the Bible as the resting place of Noah’s Ark, despite contention that Genesis 8:4 does not refer specifically to a Mt. Ararat.

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. It is depicted on the coat of arms of Armenia along with Noah’s Ark.

According to ancient written sources of Sumerians and Akkadians, Man was created in the Armenian Highlands; the land at that time was referred to as Eden, Kur or Abzu. Abzu was described to be located near Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which at that time were part of the Armenian Highlands.

The bible also supports this theory of the origin of the mankind. It’s commonly assumed that the Garden of Eden was located in the Armenian Highlands also known as the Armenian Plateau. The highlands shared their secrets with the rest of the world, introducing their findings to European and Asian civilizations alike.

Iron age metallurgy as well as apricots have their origin in the Armenian Plateau and were later on introduced to Europe. It’s only later, after the Armenian Genocide, that in an attempt to erase Armenian culture, history and achievements, the Armenian Highlands were renamed to Eastern Anatolia.

Many different cultures and nations have been referring to the Armenian Highlands as the Holy Land, including ancient Egyptians and Sumerians. Armenians were respected for their wisdom and knowledge almost in godlike nature. Thutmose III of Egypt when talking about the Armenian Highlands said that heaven rests upon its 4 pillars in Armenia.

Armenia is also often referred to as the Land of Noah based on biblical scripts. As Noah’s ark came to rest on the Ararat mountain, which at that time was still officially part of Armenia, his sons and grandsons emigrated those lands. It’s commonly accepted that Armenians are the direct descendants of his son Japheth.

Nakhchivan is a landlocked exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The region are bordering Armenia to the east and north, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest. It is an autonomous area of Azerbaijan, governed by its own elected legislature. The region continues to suffer from the effects of the Armenia-Azerbaijan War, and its Karki exclave has been a part of Armenia ever since.

Variations of the name Nakhchivan include Nakhichevan, Naxcivan, Naxçivan, Nachidsheuan, Nakhijevan, Nakhchawan, Nakhitchevan, Nakhjavan, and Nakhdjevan. Nakhchivan is mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography and by other classical writers as “Naxuana”.

The 19th-century language scholar Johann Heinrich Hübschmann wrote that the name “Nakhichavan” in Armenian literally means “the place of descent”, a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah’s Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Armenian tradition says that Nakhchivan was founded by Noah.

First century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also wrote about Nakhichevan, saying that its original name “Αποβατηριον, or Place of Descent, is the proper rendering of the Armenian name of this very city”.

Hübschmann noted, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity, and that the present-day name evolved to “Nakhchivan” from “Naxčawan”. The prefix “Naxč” derives from Naxič or Naxuč (probably a personal name) and “awan” (the modern transcription of Hübschmann’s “avan”) is Armenian for “place, town”.

According to Armenian tradition, Noah’s tomb is located in the town of Nakhchivan. The Tomb of prophet Noah or Noah’s Mausoleum is a mausoleum in the city of Nakhchivan. Architecture of the construction is dated from the 8th century. 19th century Russian and European sources such as the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary and John Foster Fraser noted that the local Armenians considered it a holy place.

The current mausoleum was built in 2006. The tomb consists of remains of the lower storey of a former temple. There is a ladder leading to a burial vault. There is a stone column in the middle of the vault. According to legend, relics of Noah are under this column. A portrait describing the mausoleum of Noah 100 years ago painted by Bahruz Kangarli is saved in the National Art Museum of Azerbaijan.

Documentary  “The Land of Noah” will make you enter to Humanity’s purest traditional routes and discover Armenia – one of the most fastinating places in Europe. The marvelous adaptation of the Armenian people, their exemplary spiritual strength and the establishment of enduring culture have made possible ​​the consolidation of a lineage that for millennia, has kept alive the legacy of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

Visit Armenia!

Ararat

Noah’s Ark landed on the “mountains of Ararat”, according to Genesis 8:4. Many historians and Bible scholars agree that “Ararat” is the Hebrew name of Urartu, the geographical predecessor of Armenia; they argue that the word referred to the wider region at the time and not specifically to Mt. Ararat.

The phrase is translated as “mountains of Armenia” (montes Armeniae) in the Vulgate, the fourth century Latin translation of the Bible. Nevertheless, Mount Ararat is traditionally considered the resting place of Noah’s Ark. It is called a biblical mountain.

Mount Ararat has been associated with the Genesis account since the 11th century, and Armenians began to identify it as the ark’s landing place during that time. 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.”

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. English traveler John Mandeville is another early author who mentioned Mount Ararat, “where Noah’s ship rested, and it is still there.”

Descent of Noah from Ararat by Ivan Aivazovsky (1889, National Gallery of Armenia) depicts Noah with his family and a procession of animals crossing the Ararat plain, following their descent from Mount Ararat, which is seen in the background.

Most Christians identify Mount Ararat with the biblical “mountains of Ararat,” “largely because it would have been the first peak to emerge from the receding flood waters”, and it is where most of Western Christianity place the landing of Noah’s Ark. A 1722 biblical dictionary by Austin Calmet and the 1871 Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary both point to Mount Ararat as the place where the ark rested.

American missionary H. G. O. Dwight wrote in 1856 that it is “the general opinion of the learned in Europe” that the Ark landed on Mt. Ararat. James Bryce wrote that the ark rested upon a “mountain in the district which the Hebrews knew as Ararat, or Armenia” in an 1878 article for the Royal Geographical Society, and he added that the biblical writer must have had Mt. Ararat in mind because it is so “very much higher, more conspicuous, and more majestic than any other summit in Armenia.”

Pope John Paul II declared in his homily in Yerevan’s St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral: “We are close to Mount Ararat, where tradition says that the Ark of Noah came to rest.” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, also mentioned Mount Ararat as the resting place of Noah’s Ark in his speech at the Etchmiadzin Cathedral during his visit to Armenia in 2010.

Those critical of this view point out that Ararat was the name of the country at the time when Genesis was written, not specifically the mountain. Arnold wrote in his 2008 Genesis commentary, “The location ‘on the mountains’ of Ararat indicates not a specific mountain by that name, but rather the mountainous region of the land of Ararat.”

Despite lying outside the borders of the modern Armenia, Ararat has historically been associated with Armenia. It is widely considered the country’s principal national symbol and brand. The image of Ararat, usually framed within a nationalizing discourse, is ubiquitous in everyday material culture in Armenia. According to ethnographer Tsypylma Darieva Armenians have “a sense of possession of Ararat in the sense of symbolic cultural property.”

Ararat is known as the “holy mountain” of the Armenian people. It was principal to the pre-Christian Armenian mythology, where it was the home of the gods. With the rise of Christianity, the mythology associated with pagan worship of the mountain was lost.

Ararat was the geographical center of ancient Armenian kingdoms. One scholar defined the historic Greater Armenia (Armenia Major) as “the area about 200 miles [320 km] in every direction from Mount Ararat.”

In 19th-century era of romantic nationalism, when an Armenian state did not exist, Mt. Ararat symbolized the historical Armenian nation-state. In 1861 Armenian poet Mikael Nalbandian, witnessing the Italian unification, wrote to Harutiun Svadjian in a letter from Naples: “Etna and Vesuvius are still smoking; is there no fire left in the old volcano of Ararat?”

The Genesis flood narrative was linked to the Armenian myth of origin by the early medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi. In his History of Armenia, he wrote that Noah and his family first settled in Armenia and later moved to Babylon.

Hayk, a descendant of Japheth, a son of Noah, revolted against Bel (the biblical Nimrod) and returned to the area around Mount Ararat, where he established the roots of the Armenian nation. He is thus considered the legendary founding father and the name giver of the Armenian people.

According to Razmik Panossian, this legend “makes Armenia the cradle of all civilisation since Noah’s Ark landed on the ‘Armenian’ mountain of Ararat. […] it connects Armenians to the biblical narrative of human development. […] it makes Mount Ararat the national symbol of all Armenians, and the territory around it the Armenian homeland from time immemorial.”

Mount Ararat has been depicted on the coat of arms of Armenia consistently since 1918. The First Republic’s coat of arms was designed by architect Alexander Tamanian and painter Hakob Kojoyan. This coat of arms was readopted by the legislature of the Republic of Armenia on April 19, 1992, after Armenia regained independence. Ararat is depicted along with the ark on its peak on the shield on an orange background.

The emblem of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (Soviet Armenia) was created by the painters Martiros Saryan and Hakob Kojoyan in 1921. Mount Ararat is depicted in the center and makes up a large portion of it.

In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Ararat came to represent the destruction of the native Armenian population of eastern Turkey (Western Armenia) in the national consciousness of Armenians. Ari L. Goldman noted in 1988, “In most Armenian homes in the modern diaspora, there are pictures of Mount Ararat, a bittersweet reminder of the homeland and national aspirations.”

Ararat has become a symbol of Armenian efforts to reclaim its “lost lands”, i.e. the areas west of Ararat that are now part of Turkey that had significant Armenian population before the genocide. Adriaans noted that Ararat is featured as a sanctified territory for the Armenians in everyday banal irredentism.

Stephanie Platz wrote, “Omnipresent, the vision of Ararat rising above Yerevan and its outskirts constantly reminds Armenians of their putative ethnogenesis … and of their exile from Eastern Anatolia after the Armenian genocide of 1915.” Turkish political scientist Bayram Balci argues that regular references to the Armenian Genocide and Mount Ararat “clearly indicate” that the border with Turkey is contested in Armenia.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Armenian government has not made official claims to any Turkish territory, however the Armenian government has avoided “an explicit and formal recognition of the existing Turkish-Armenian border.”

In a 2010 interview with Der Spiegel, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was asked whether Armenia wants “Mount Ararat back.” Sargsyan, in response, said that “No one can take Mount Ararat from us; we keep it in our hearts. Wherever Armenians live in the world today, you will find a picture of Mount Ararat in their homes.

And I feel certain that a time will come when Mount Ararat is no longer a symbol of the separation between our peoples, but an emblem of understanding. But let me make this clear: Never has a representative of Armenia made territorial demands. Turkey alleges this—perhaps out of its own bad conscience?”

The most prominent party to lay claims to eastern Turkey is the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). which claims it as part of what it considers United Armenia.

In various settings, several notable individuals such as German historian Tessa Hofmann, Slovak conservative politician František Mikloško, Lithuanian political scientist and Soviet dissident Aleksandras Štromas have spoken in support of Armenian claims over Mt. Ararat.

Mount Ararat

The Armenian Highland

The Armenian Highlands, also known as the Armenian Upland, Armenian plateau, Armenian tableland, or simply Armenia, is the most central and the highest of the three plateaus that together form the northern sector of Western Asia.

Its northeastern parts are also known as Lesser Caucasus, which is a center of Armenian culture. The present-day Armenians are an amalgam of the Indo-European groups with the Hurrians and Urartians.

It lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Mount Ararat, the highest peak of the region. It shows traces of settlement from the Neolithic era. Archaeological surveys have resulted in the discovery of the world’s earliest known leather shoe, skirt, and wine-making facility at the Areni-1 cave complex.

The highlands are divided into western and eastern regions, defined by the Ararat Valley where Mount Ararat is located. The central, axial chain of Armenian highland ridges, running from west to east across Western Armenia, is called the Anti-Taurus.

In the west, the Anti-Taurus departs to the north from the Central (Cilician) Taurus, and, passing right in the middle of the Armenian plateau, parallel to the Eastern (Armenian) Taurus, ends in the east at the Ararat peaks.

Historically, the Armenian Highlands have been the scene of great volcanic activity. Geologically recent volcanism on the area has resulted in large volcanic formations and a series of massifs and tectonic movement has formed the three largest lakes in the Highlands; Lake Sevan, Lake Van and Lake Urmia. The Armenian Highlands are rich in water resources.

To its west is the Anatolian plateau, which rises slowly from the lowland coast of the Aegean Sea and converges with the Armenian Highlands to the east of Cappadocia in central Anatolia, in the heartland of what is now Turkey. The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 m in altitude that is pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) being the tallest at 3916 m.

The boundaries of historical Cappadocia are vague, particularly towards the west. To the south, the Taurus Mountains form the boundary with Cilicia and separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea. To the west, Cappadocia is bounded by the historical regions of Lycaonia to the southwest, and Galatia to the northwest.

According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BC), the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.

To its southeast is the Iranian plateau, where the elevation drops rapidly by about 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) above sea level. It encompasses the greater part of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan west of the Indus River containing some 3,700,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 sq mi).

The Zagros Mountains form the plateau’s western boundary, and its eastern slopes may be included in the term. The Encyclopædia Britannica excludes “lowland Khuzestan” explicitly and characterizes Elam as spanning “the region from the Mesopotamian plain to the Iranian Plateau”.

The Iranian platau is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros Mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Armenian Highlands and the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest, the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf to the south and the Indo-Gangetic plains to the east in Pakistan.

From the Caspian in the northwest to Baluchistan in the south-east, the Iranian Plateau extends for close to 2,000 km. In spite of being called a “plateau”, it is far from flat but contains several mountain ranges, the highest peak being Damavand in the Alborz at 5610 m, and the Dasht-e Loot east of Kerman in Central Iran falling below 300 m.

The Caucasus, an area situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia, extends to the northeast of the Armenian Highlands. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 metres (18,510 ft) is located in the west part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. On the southern side, the Lesser Caucasus includes the Javakheti Plateau and grows into the Armenian highlands, part of which is located in Turkey.

The region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, and Northeast Caucasian language families are indigenous to the area. The Caucasus region is separated into northern and southern parts – the North Caucasus (Ciscaucasus) and Transcaucasus (South Caucasus), respectively.

The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is mostly shared by Russia and Georgia, as well as the northernmost parts of Azerbaijan. The Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the south is occupied by several independent states, namely, mostly by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, but also extending to parts of northeastern Turkey, northern Iran and the partially recognised Artsakh Republic.

To the southwest of the Armenian Highlands is Upper Mesopotamia or Armenian Mesopotamia, a region in Northern Mesopotamia that was inhabited partly by Armenians. Western Armenia is often referred to as eastern Anatolia, and Eastern Armenia as the Lesser Caucasus or Caucasus Minor. Tigranes the Great seized Northern Mesopotamia, and from 401 BC, to 387 AD was part of Kingdom of Armenia.

During the Iron Age, the region was known by variations of the name Ararat (Urartu, Uruatri, Urashtu). During Antiquity, it was known as “Armenia Major,” a central region to the history of Armenians, and one of the four geo-political regions associated with Armenians, the other three being Armenia Minor, Sophene, and Commagene.

Portasar, or Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”), is a Neolithic hilltop sanctuary erected at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, some 15 kilometers (9 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa (formerly Urfa / Edessa).

It is the oldest known human-made religious structure. The site was most likely erected in the 10th millennium BC. The PPNA settlement has been dated to c. 9000 BC. There are remains of smaller houses from the PPNB and a few epipalaeolithic finds as well. Together with Nevalı Çori, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic.

The site lost its importance around the beginning of the 8th millennium BC. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area. But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements.

Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of debris consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools; many animal, even human, bones are also found in the burial refuse. It is unknown why the enclosures were backfilled, but it preserved them for posterity.

The region was historically mainly inhabited by Armenians, and minorities of Assyrians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, and Iranians. During the Middle Ages, Arabs and particularly Turkmens and Kurds settled in large numbers in the Armenian Highlands.

Since the 1040s, the highlands have been under the rule of various Turkic peoples and the Safavid dynasty. Much of Eastern Armenia, which had been ruled by the Safavids from the 16th century, became part of the Russian Empire in 1828 and was later incorporated into the Soviet Union, while much of Western Armenia was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and later incorporated into Turkey.

Armenian population remained until 1915’s Armenian Genocide. The Christian population of the western half of the region was exterminated during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and on a smaller scale, the Assyrian and Greek Genocides.

Today, the eastern half is mainly inhabited by Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians, while the western half is mainly inhabited by Azerbaijanis, Kurds (including Yazidis), Turks, and Zazas, with a minority of Assyrians. Most of the Armenian Highlands is in present-day eastern Anatolia, and also includes northwestern Iran, all of Armenia, southern Georgia, and western Azerbaijan.

Armenian Highland

Armenian Highlands

Western Asia

Anatolian plateau

Iranian plateau

Upper Mesopotamia

Armenia

Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. The current Republic of Armenia makes up only a small part of what the historical lands used to hold. Armenians are native to the land of the Armenian Highlands which covers over 400,000 square km.

It is a country with ancient history and rich culture. In fact, it is one of the oldest countries in the world. Scientific research, numerous archaeological findings and old manuscripts prove that the Armenian Highlands are the very Cradle of Civilization.

Throughout its history, the kingdom of Armenia enjoyed both periods of independence and periods of autonomy subject to contemporary empires. Its strategic location between two continents has subjected it to invasions by many peoples, including Assyria, Medes, Achaemenid Empire, Greeks, Parthians, Romans, Sasanian Empire, Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Seljuk Empire, Mongols, Ottoman Empire, the successive Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar dynasties of Iran, and the Russians.

Located in Western Asia, on the Armenian Highlands, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

Armenia is a landlocked country in the geopolitical Transcaucasus (South Caucasus) region of Eurasia, that is located in the Southern Caucasus Mountains and their lowlands between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, and northeast of the Armenian Highlands. Armenia is bordered on the north by Georgia, the east by Azerbaijan; the south by Iran; and the southwest and west by Turkey.

Armenia has a territorial area of 29,743 square kilometres (11,484 sq mi). The terrain is mostly mountainous, with fast flowing rivers, and few forests. The land rises to 4,090 metres (13,419 feet) above sea level at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 390 metres (1,280 ft) above sea level. Average elevation of the country area is 10th highest in the world and it has 85.9% mountain area, more than Switzerland or Nepal.

Mount Ararat, which was historically part of Armenia, is the highest mountain in the region. Now located in Turkey, but clearly visible from Armenia, it is regarded by the Armenians as a symbol of their land. Because of this, the mountain is present on the Armenian national emblem today.

Population

Armenia has a population of 2,951,745 (2018 est.) and is the third most densely populated of the former Soviet republics. There has been a problem of population decline due to elevated levels of emigration after the break-up of the USSR. In the past years emigration levels have declined and some population growth is observed since 2012.

Armenia has a relatively large external diaspora (8 million by some estimates, greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself), with communities existing across the globe. Only 40,000 to 70,000 Armenians still live in Turkey (mostly in and around Istanbul).

The largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia can be found in Russia, France, Iran, the United States, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Australia, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Poland, Ukraine and Brazil.

About 1,000 Armenians reside in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, a remnant of a once-larger community. Italy is home to the San Lazzaro degli Armeni, an island located in the Venetian Lagoon, which is completely occupied by a monastery run by the Mechitarists, an Armenian Catholic congregation.

Approximately 139,000 Armenians live in the de facto independent country Republic of Artsakh where they form a majority. Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Council of Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia supports the de facto independent Artsakh, which was proclaimed in 1991.

Ethnic Armenians make up 98.1% of the population. Yazidis make up 1.2%, and Russians 0.4%. Other minorities include Assyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks (usually called Caucasus Greeks), Kurds, Georgians, Belarusians, and Jews.

There are also smaller communities of Vlachs, Mordvins, Ossetians, Udis, and Tats. Minorities of Poles and Caucasus Germans also exist though they are heavily Russified. As of 2016, there are an estimated 35,000 Yazidis in Armenia.

During the Soviet era, Azerbaijanis were historically the second largest population in the country (forming about 2.5% in 1989). However, due to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, virtually all of them emigrated from Armenia to Azerbaijan.

Conversely, Armenia received a large influx of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, thus giving Armenia a more homogeneous character. According to Gallup research conducted in 2017 Armenia has one of the highest migrant acceptance (welcoming) rates in eastern Europe.

Christianity 

Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Urartu was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia. The Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC.

The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. Armenia recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church, the world’s oldest national church, as the country’s primary religious establishment.  The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century. Between 1st and 4th centuries AD, the Armenian Church was headed by patriarchs.

According to tradition, the Armenian Apostolic Church was established by two of Jesus’ twelve apostles — Thaddaeus and Bartholomew — who preached Christianity in Armenia in the 40s—60s AD. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church.

Armenia became the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as its official state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301. This is 10 years before the Roman Empire granted Christianity an official toleration under Galerius, and 36 years before Constantine the Great was baptised.

Religion in ancient Armenia was historically related to a set of beliefs that, in Persia, led to the emergence of Zoroastrianism. It particularly focused on the worship of Mithra and also included a pantheon of gods such as Aramazd, Vahagn, Anahit, and Astghik. The country used the solar Armenian calendar, which consisted of 12 months.

Zoroastrianism in Armenia dates back as far as to the fifth-century BC, notably during the Achaemenian and Parthian periods in the Armenian Highlands. Prior to Armenia’s Christianisation, it was a predominantly Zoroastrian-adhering land. The yazatas Mithra (Mihr) and Verethragna (Vahagn) particularly enjoyed a high degree of reverence in the country.

Tiridates III of Armenia (238–314) made Christianity the state religion in 301, partly, in defiance of the Sasanian Empire, it seems, becoming the first officially Christian state. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia’s Mother Church traditionally dated 303 AD, is considered the oldest cathedral in the world.

Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches. The Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy.

The Armenian Evangelical Church has a very sizeable and favourable presence among the life of Armenians with over several thousand members throughout the country. It traces its roots back to 1846 which was under patronage of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople the aim of which was to train qualified clergy for the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Other Christian denominations practising faith based on Nicene Creed in Armenia are the Pentecostal branches of Protestant community such as the Word of Life, the Armenian Brotherhood Church, the Baptists which are known as of the oldest existing denominations in Armenia and were permitted by the authorities of Soviet Union, and Presbyterians.

Catholics also exist in Armenia, both Latin rite and Armenian rite Catholics. The Mechitarists (also spelled “Mekhitarists”), are a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church founded in 1712 by Mekhitar of Sebaste.

They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts. The Armenian Catholic denomination is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon.

The Yazidis, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. As of 2016, the world’s largest Yazidi temple is under construction in the small village of Aknalish. There are also Kurds who practice Sunni Islam.

There is a Jewish community in Armenia diminished to 750 persons since independence with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues in Armenia – in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan.

Armenia

Armenian Highlands

Armenian archeology

Artsakh

Nakhchivan

Armenian people

Satrapy of Armenia

Kingdom of Armenia

Bagratid Armenia

Cilician Armenia

Armenian Language

The Armenian language (“hayeren”) is an Indo-European language that is the only language in the Armenian branch. Armenian is written in its own distinctive writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots. It consists of thirty-nine letters, three of which were added during the Cilician period.

It is the official language of Armenia as well as the de facto Republic of Artsakh. Historically being spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands, today, Armenian is widely spoken throughout the Armenian diaspora. 

The main foreign languages that Armenians know are Russian and English. Due to its Soviet past, most of the old population can speak Russian quite well. However, more adults (50%) think that English should be taught in public secondary schools than those who prefer Russian (44%).

Armenian language is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within that family. Armenian exhibits more satemization than centumization, although it is not classified as belonging to either of these subgroups.

Some linguists tentatively conclude that Armenian, Greek (and Phrygian) and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other; within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup). Ronald I. Kim has noted unique morphological developments connecting Armenian to Balto-Slavic languages.

While Armenian constitutes the sole member of the Armenian branch of the Indo-European family, Aram Kossian has suggested that the hypothetical Mushki language may have been a (now extinct) Armenic language.

Armenia was a monolingual country by the 2nd century BC at the latest. Its language has a long literary history, with a 5th-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. Its vocabulary has historically been influenced by Western Middle Iranian languages, particularly Parthian, and to a lesser extent by Greek, Persian, and Syriac. There are two standardized modern literary forms, Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, with which most contemporary dialects are mutually intelligible.

Although Armenians were known to history much earlier (for example, they were mentioned in the 6th century BC Behistun Inscription and in Xenophon’s 4th century BC history, the Anabasis) the oldest surviving Armenian-language text is the 5th century AD Bible translation of Mesrop Mashtots, who created the Armenian alphabet in 405, at which time it had 36 letters. He is also credited by some with the creation of the Georgian alphabet and the Caucasian Albanian alphabet.

Armenian language

Eastern Armenian

Western Armenian

Proto-Armenian

Armenian alphabet

Armenian hypothesis

Graeco-Armenian

Graeco-Aryan

Name of Armenia

The name Armenian has come to internationally designate a hypothetic group of people, a wave of Indo-European speakers, that migrated over the Caucasus into Urartian lands during the 2nd millennium BC, these being the Armenians. 

An alternate theory suggests that Armenians were tribes indigenous to the northern shores of Lake Van or Urartu’s northern periphery. These are the Hayasans, Etuini, and/or Diauehi, all of whom are known only from references left by neighboring peoples such Hittites, Urartians, and Assyrians.

This theory is supported by genetic and archaeological evidence, which is suggestive of an Indo-European presence in Armenia and eastern Turkey by the end of the 3rd millennium BCE.  A minority view also suggests that the Indo-European homeland may have been located in the Armenian Highland.

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc. Arev meaning “sun” in Armenian.

The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin (“Guardian (Defender) of The Aryans Land”) is an Indo-European given name. Ariobarzanes (“Exalting the Aryans”) is a version in ancient Greek.

The Avestan concept Asha, or arta, is a Zoroastrian concept with a complex and highly nuanced range of meaning. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.

The name of the ancient city of Urartu known in Assyrian as Muṣaṣir (Assyrian KURMu-ṣa-ṣir) and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC, was in Urartian known as Ardini.

It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’. The opposite of Avestan aṣ̌a is druj, “deceit, falsehood”. It is of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aṣ̌a/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism”. 

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aṣ̌a Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.

It has been speculated that the land of Ermenen, mentioned by the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III in 1446 BCE, could be a reference to Armenia. He mentioned the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

The exonym Armenia is attested in the Old Persian trilingual Behistun Inscription (515 BC) as Armina. Here, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite). In Greek “Armenians” is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC).

The Ancient Greek terms Armenía (Armenia) and Arménioi (“Armenians”) are first mentioned by Hecataeus of Miletus (550-476 BC). Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC.

Name of Armenia

Armeno-Phrygians

Herodotus, in c. 440 BC, said “the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists”. The Armeno-Phrygians are a hypothetical people of Southwest Asia in prehistory. There are two conflicting accounts of their origins.

Ancient Greek scholars, such as Herodotus, believed that the Phrygians had originated as the Bryges of the Balkans, before migrating to western Anatolia and establishing the kingdom of Phyrgia.

After the collapse of the kingdom in the late 7th century BC (following an invasion by Cimmerians), some of the Phyrgians migrated eastward and settled in Armenia.

Some modern scholars instead believe that a proto-Armeno-Phrygian population originated in eastern Anatolia and/or the Armenian Highlands, from where the Phrygians later migrated westward.

The name Armeno-Phrygian is also used for a hypothetical language branch, the proposed “Graeco-Armeno-Aryan” or “Armeno-Aryan” subgroups of the Indo-European language family. Modern studies assert that Armenian is as close to Greek as it is to Indo-Iranian, whereas Phrygian is most closely related to Greek.

The name Mushki apparently referred to both Phrygians and a separate, non-Phrygian people. It was applied to different peoples by different sources and at different times. It is possible that the original usage of Mushki refers to a people originally from the Caucasus region who settled in Anatolia.

Additionally, genetic research does not support significant admixture into the Armenian nation after 1200 BCE, making the Mushki, if they indeed migrated from a Balkan or western Anatolian homeland during or after the Bronze Age Collapse, unlikely candidates for the Proto-Armenians.

Many modern scholars have rejected the Armeno-Phrygians hypothesis, arguing that the linguistic proximity of Greek and Phrygian to Armenian has been overstated.

Clackson (2008) asserts that the Armenian language is as close to Indo-Iranian languages as it is to Greek and Phrygian. Ronald I. Kim has noted unique morphological developments connecting Armenian to Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.

Aratta

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

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta – The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, bring stones down from the mountain, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore to Uruk to build a temple. Inana bids him send a messenger to Aratta, who ascends and descends the “Zubi” mountains, and crosses Susa, Anshan, and “five, six, seven” mountains before approaching Aratta. Aratta in turn wants grain in exchange.

‘However Inana transfers her allegiance to Uruk, and the grain gains the favor of Aratta’s people for Uruk, so the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to send a champion to fight his champion. Then the god Ishkur makes Aratta’s crops grow.

Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana – The lord of Aratta, who is here named En-suhgir-ana (or Ensuhkeshdanna), challenges Enmerkar of Uruk to submit to him over the affections of Inanna, but he is rebuffed by Enmerkar.

A sorcerer from the recently defeated Hamazi then arrives in Aratta, and offers to make Uruk submit. The sorcerer travels to Eresh where he bewitches Enmerkar’s livestock, but a wise woman outperforms his magic and casts him into the Euphrates; En-suhgir-ana then admits the loss of Inanna, and submits his kingdom to Uruk.

Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave – is a tale of Lugalbanda, who will become Enmerkar’s successor. Enmerkar’s army travels through mountainous territory to wage war against rebellious Aratta. Lugalbanda falls ill and is left in a cave, but he prays to the various gods, recovers, and must find his way out of the mountains.

Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird – Lugalbanda befriends the Anzud bird, and asks it to help him find his army again. When Enmerkar’s army is faced with setback, Lugalbanda volunteers to return to Uruk to ask the goddess Inana’s aid.

He crosses through the mountains, into the flat land, from the edge to the top of Anshan and then to Uruk, where Inana helps him. She advises Enmerkar to carry off Aratta’s “worked metal and metalsmiths and worked stone and stonemasons” and all the “moulds of Aratta will be his”. Then the city is described as having battlements made of green lapis lazuli and bricks made of “tinstone dug out in the mountains where the cypress grows”.

Other mentions in Sumerian literature: Praise Poem of Shulgi (Shulgi Y): “I filled it with treasures like those of holy Aratta.” Shulgi and Ninlil’s barge: “Aratta, full-laden with treasures” Proverbs: “When the authorities are wise, and the poor are loyal, it is the effect of the blessing of Aratta.” Unprovenanced Proverbs: “When the authorities are wise, and the poor are passed by, it is the effect of the blessing of Aratta.”

Hymn to Hendursanga (Hendursanga A): “So that Aratta will be overwhelmed (?), Lugalbanda stands by at your (Hendursanga’s) behest.” Hymn to Nisaba (Nisaba A): “In Aratta he (Enki?) has placed E-zagin (the lapis lazuli temple) at her (Nisaba’s) disposal.”

The building of Ninngirsu’s temple (Gudea cylinder): “pure like Kesh and Aratta”. Tigi to Suen (Nanna I): “the shrine of my heart which I (Nanna) have founded in joy like Aratta”. Inana and Ibeh: “the inaccessible mountain range Aratta”. Gilgamesh and Huwawa (Version B): “they know the way even to Aratta”. Temple Hymns: Aratta is “respected”. The Kesh Temple Hymn: Aratta is”important”. Lament for Ur: Aratta is “weighty (counsel)”.

Early 20th century scholars initially took Aratta to be an epithet of the Sumerian city Shuruppak related to its local name for the god Enlil; however that is no longer seen to be the case. Although Aratta is known only from myth, some Assyriologists and archaeologists have speculated on possible locations where Aratta could have been, using criteria from the myths:

Land travelers must pass through Susa and the mountainous Anshan region to reach it. It is a source of, or has access to valuable gems and minerals, in particular lapis lazuli, that are crafted on site. It is accessible to Uruk by watercourse, yet remote from Uruk. It is close enough to march a 27th-century BC Sumerian army there.

In 1963, Samuel Noah Kramer thought that a “Mount Hurum” in a Lugalbanda myth (which he titled “Lugalbanda on Mount Hurrum” at the time) might have referred to the Hurrians, and hence speculated Aratta to be near Lake Urmia.

However, “Mount Hurum”, “hur-ru-um kur-ra-ka”, in what is now called Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, is today read “mountain cave”, and Kramer subsequently introduced the title “Lugalbanda, the Wandering Hero” for this story.

Other speculations referred to the early gem trade route, the “Great Khorasan Road” from the Himalayan Mountains to Mesopotamia, which ran through northern Iran. Anshan, which had not yet been located then, was assumed to be in the central Zagros mountain range.

However, when Anshan was identified as Tall-i Malyan in 1973, it was found to be 600 km south-east of Uruk, far removed from any northerly routes or watercourses from Uruk, and posing the logistical improbability of getting a 27th-century BC Sumerian army through 550 km of Elamite territory to wage war with Aratta. Nevertheless, there have been speculations referring to eastern Iran as well. Dr. Yousef Majidzadeh believes the Jiroft culture could be Aratta.

By 1973, archaeologists were noting that there was no archaeological record of Aratta’s existence outside of myth, and in 1978 Hansman cautions against over-speculation.

Writers in other fields have continued to hypothesize potential Aratta locations. A “possible reflex” has been suggested in Sanskrit Āraṭṭa or Arāṭṭa mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts. Alternatively, the name is compared with the toponym Ararat or Urartu.

Mannaea

Armenia is also thought to be related to the Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, Biblical Hebrew Minni). The Mannaeans were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC.

In the Bible Minni is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27). Together with Ararat and Ashkenaz it is probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia. 

However, it can also relate to one of the regions of ancient Armenia, such as Manavasean (Minyas). Together with Ararat and Ashkenaz, this is probably the same Minnie from the Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to Manna.

In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia “According to the Peshiṭta and Targum Onkelos, the “Minni” of the Bible (Jer. li. 27) is Armenia—or rather a part of that country, as Ararat is also mentioned (Isa. xxxvii. 38; II Kings xix. 37) as a part of Armenia.”

Armenia is interpreted by some as ḪARMinni, that is with the addition of the Sumerogram ḪAR, which would make this name equivalent to “the mountainous region of the Minni”.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.

The name Ararat was translated as Armenia in 1st century AD in historiographical works and very early Latin translations of the Bible, as well as the Books of Kings and Isaiah in the Septuagint. Some English language translations, including the King James Version follow the Septuagint translation of Ararat as Armenia.

Ashkenaz in the Hebrew Bible is one of the descendants of Noah. Ashkenaz is the first son of Gomer, and a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations. In rabbinic literature, the kingdom of Ashkenaz was first associated with the Scythian region.

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, Biblical Hebrew Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC.

At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta, an ancient kingdom (750-521 BC), in northern the Zagros Mountains, which comprised the easternmost part of Greater Mannae. Geographically it corresponds with the modern counties of Takab and Shahin Dezh in northwestern Iran.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.

Their kingdom was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around the Urmia plain in this part of what is today named Iranian Azerbaijan. Excavations that began in 1956 succeeded in uncovering the fortified city of Hasanlu, once thought to be a potential Mannaean site. More recently, the site of Qalaichi (possibly ancient Izirtu/Zirta) has been linked to the Mannaeans based on a stela with this toponym found at the site.

After suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.

According to the Encyclopædia Iranica: Manneans were a Hurrian group with a slight Kassite admixture. It is unlikely that there was any ethnolinguistic unity in Mannea. Like other peoples of the Iranian plateau, the Manneans were subjected to an ever increasing Iranian (i.e. Indo-European) penetration. Boehmer’s analysis of several anthroponyms and toponyms needs modification and augmentation.

Melikishvili (1949, p. 60) tried to confine the Iranian presence in Mannea to its periphery, pointing out that both Daiukku (cf. Schmitt, 1973) and Bagdatti were active in the periphery of Mannea, but this is imprecise, in view of the fact that the names of two early Mannean rulers, viz. Udaki and Azā, are explicable in Old Iranian terms.

According to the Archaeological Institute of America, 1964: The Mannaeans, a little known people related linguistically to the Urartians and the Hurrians of northern Mesopotamia, were settled on the southeastern shore of Lake Urmia and southward into the mountain area of Urmia.

In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27), the Mannaeans are called Minni. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), identified Minni with Armenia, or one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.

The Mannaean kingdom began to flourish around 850 BC. The Mannaeans were mainly a settled people, practicing irrigation and breeding cattle and horses. The capital was another fortified city, Izirtu (Zirta).

By the 820s BC they had expanded to become the first large state to occupy this region since the Gutians, later followed by the unrelated Iranian peoples, the Medes and the Persians. By this time they had a prominent aristocracy as a ruling class, which somewhat limited the power of the king.

Beginning around 800 BC, the region became contested ground between Urartu, who built several forts on the territory of Mannae, and Assyria. During the open conflict between the two, c. 750–730 BC, Mannae seized the opportunity to enlarge its holdings. The Mannaean kingdom reached the pinnacle of its power during the reign of Iranzu (c. 725–720 BC).

In 716 BC, king Sargon II of Assyria moved against Mannae, where the ruler Aza, son of Iranzu, had been deposed by Ullusunu with the help of the Urartians. Sargon took Izirtu, and stationed troops in Parsua (Parsua was distinct from Parsumash located further southeast in what is today known as Fars province in Iran. The Assyrians thereafter used the area to breed, train and trade horses.

According to one Assyrian inscription, the Cimmerians (Gimirru) originally went forth from their homeland of Gamir or Uishdish on the shores of the Black Sea in “the midst of Mannai” around this time. The Cimmerians first appear in the annals in the year 714 BC, when they apparently helped the Assyrians to defeat Urartu.

Urartu chose to submit to the Assyrians, and together the two defeated the Cimmerians and thus kept them out of the Fertile Crescent. At any rate, the Cimmerians had again rebelled against Sargon by 705, and he was killed whilst driving them out. By 679 they had instead migrated to the east and west of Mannae.

The Mannaeans are recorded as rebelling against Esarhaddon of Assyria in 676 BC, when they attempted to interrupt the horse trade between Assyria and its colony of Parsuash.

The king Ahsheri, who ruled until the 650s BC, continued to enlarge the territory of Mannae, although paying tribute to Assyria. However, Mannae suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Assyrians around 660 BC, and subsequently an internal revolt broke out, continuing until Ahsheri’s death.

Also in the 7th century BC, Mannae was defeated by the advancing Scythians, who had already raided Urartu and been repelled by the Assyrians. This defeat contributed to the further break-up of the Mannaean kingdom.

King Ahsheri’s successor, Ualli, as an ally of Assyria, took the side of the Assyrians against the Iranian Medes (Madai), who were at this point still based to the east along the southwest shore of the Caspian Sea and revolting against Assyrian domination.

The Medes and Persians were subjugated by Assyria. However, the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which had dominated the region for three hundred years, began to unravel, consumed by civil war after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC.

The upheavals in Assyria allowed the Medes to free themselves from Assyrian vassalage and make themselves the major power in ancient Iran at the expense of the Persians, Mannaeans and the remnants of the indigenous Elamites whose kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians.

At the battle of Qablin in ca. 616 BC the Assyrian and Mannaean forces were defeated by Nabopolassar’s troops. This defeat laid open the frontiers of the Land of the Manneans which fell under the control of Media between 615 BC and 611 BC.

Urartian Aram

Traditionally, the name Armenia was derived from Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Hayk’s great-grandson, and another leader who is, according to Armenian tradition, the ancestor of all Armenians). The endonym Hayk’ (from Classical Armenian) in the same tradition is traced to Hayk himself.

According to the histories of both Moses of Chorene and Michael Chamchian, Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk, son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful. Ara is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia to capture him and bring him back to her, alive.

Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu (ruled 858–844 BC), the earliest known king of Urartu. Living at the time of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria (ruled 859–824 BC), Arame fought against the threat of the Assyrian Empire. His capital at Arzashkun was captured by Shalmaneser. Sagunia, a previous capital, which was also captured by Shalamaneser, seems to have been located in the vicinity of Mt. Ararat.

Living at the time of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria (ruled 859–824 BC), Arame fought against the threat of the Assyrian Empire. His capital at Arzashkun was captured by Shalmaneser. Sagunia, a previous capital, which was also captured by Shalamaneser, seems to have been located in the vicinity of Mt. Ararat.

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. Khorenatsi’s History puts them six and seven generations after Haik, in the chronology of historian Mikayel Chamchian dated to the 19th to 18th century BC.

Hindu Rama

The name Arame is likely an Armenian name originally derived from Proto-Indo-European *rēmo-, meaning “black”. The name is likely etymologically related to Hindu Rama, also known as Ramachandra. He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, and one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna, Parshurama, and Gautama Buddha.

Rāma is a Vedic Sanskrit word with two contextual meanings. In one context as found in Atharva Veda, as stated by Monier Monier-Williams, means “dark, dark-colored, black” and is related to the term ratri which means night. In another context as found in other Vedic texts, the word means “pleasing, delightful, charming, beautiful, lovely”.

The word is sometimes used as a suffix in different Indian languages and religions, such as Pali in Buddhist texts, where -rama adds the sense of “pleasing to the mind, lovely” to the composite word. The root of the word Rama is ram- which means “stop, stand still, rest, rejoice, be pleased”.

According to Douglas Q. Adams, the Sanskrit word Rama is also found in other Indo-European languages such as Tocharian ram, reme, *romo- where it means “support, make still”, “witness, make evident”. The sense of “dark, black, soot” also appears in other Indo European languages, such as *remos or Old English romig.

The name Rama appears repeatedly in Hindu texts, for many different scholars and kings in mythical stories. The word also appears in ancient Upanishads and Aranyakas layer of Vedic literature, as well as music and other post-Vedic literature, but in qualifying context of something or someone who is “charming, beautiful, lovely” or “darkness, night”.

Biblical Aram

The Table of Nations lists Aram as the son of Shem, to whom the Book of Jubilees attests, “And for Aram there came forth the fourth portion, all the land of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates to the north of the Chaldees to the border of the mountains of Asshur and the land of ‘Arara.”

Jubilees 8:21 also apportions the Mountains of Ararat to Shem, which Jubilees 9:5 expounds to be apportioned to Aram. The historian Flavius Josephus also states in his Antiquities of the Jews,

“Aram had the Aramites, which the Greeks called Syrians;… Of the four sons of Aram, Uz founded Trachonitis and Damascus: this country lies between Palestine and Celesyria. Ul founded Armenia; and Gather the Bactrians; and Mesa the Mesaneans; it is now called Charax Spasini.”

Khaldi

Ḫaldi (d,Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. He was a warrior god to whom the kings of Urartu would pray for victories in battle. Ḫaldi was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion.

His principle shrine was at Ardini (Muṣaṣir). 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”.

The Urartian Kings used to erect steles dedicated to Ḫaldi in which they inscribed the successes of theimilitary campaigns, the buildings built, and also the agricultural activities that took place during their reign.

Along with Ḫaldi of Ardini, the other two chief deities of Urartu were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Ḫaldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani and/or the goddess Bagvarti.

According to Urartologist Paul Zimansky, Haldi was not a native Urartian god but apparently an obscure Akkadian deity (which explains the location of the main temple of worship for Haldi in Musasir, believed to be near modern Rawandiz, Iraq). Haldi was not initially worshipped by Urartians, at least as their chief god, as his cult does not appear to have been introduced until the reign of Ishpuini.

According to Michael C. Astour, Haldi could be etymologically related to the Hurrian word “heldi”, meaning “high”. An alternate theory postulates that the name could be of Indo-European (possibly Helleno-Armenian) or Old Armenian origin, meaning “sun god” (compare with Greek Helios and Latin Sol).

He was the primary god of the most prominent group of Urartian tribes, which eventually evolved into the Armenian nation. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenians, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi, but other theories about the etymology of Hayk are more widely accepted.

Urartu

Ḫaldi

Hayk

Bel (mythology)

Hayk

The original native Armenian name for the country was Hayk’; however, it is currently rarely used. The contemporary name Hayastan, translated as the land of Haik, became popular in the Middle Ages by addition of the Persian suffix -stan (place).

However the origins of the name Hayastan trace back to much earlier dates and were first attested in circa 5th century in the works of Agathangelos, Faustus of Byzantium, Ghazar Parpetsi, Koryun, and Sebeos.

The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian) and the indoeuropean suffix ‘-stan’ (land).

The name has traditionally been linked to the name of the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, which is also a popular Armenian name. The historical enemy of Hayk was Bel, or in other words Baal (Akkadian cognate Bēlu). The word “Bel” is named in the Bible at Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 50:2 and 51:44.

According to the 5th-century AD author Moses of Chorene (Movsis Khorenatsi), Hayk was a great-great-grandson of Noah, who, defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region.

According to the story of Hayk, the legendary founder of Armenia, around 2107 BC Hayk fought against Belus, the Babylonian God of War, at Çavuştepe along the Engil river to establish the very first Armenian state.

Historically, this event coincides with the destruction of Akkad by the Gutian dynasty of Sumer in 2115 BC, a time when Hayk may have left with the “more than 300 members of his household” as told in the legend.

This is also when a Mesopotamian Dark Age was occurring due to the fall of the Akkadian Empire in 2154 BC which may have acted as a backdrop for the events in the legend making him leave Mesopotamia.

Hayasa and/or the Azzi

The earliest forms of the word Hayastan, an ethonym the Armenians (Hayer) use to designate their country, come from Hittite sources of the Late Bronze Age, such as the two confederated Hittite vassal states – the kingdom of Ḫayaša-Azzi (1600–1200 BC).

Hayasa and/or the Azzi 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.

There have been further speculations as to the existence of a Bronze Age tribe of the Armens (Armans, Armani, Armenner), either identical to or forming a subset of the Hayasa-Azzi. In this case, Armenia would be an ethnonym rather than a toponym.

The Hayasa-Azzi confederation were in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1290 BC. Hittite inscriptions deciphered in the 1920s by the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer testify to the existence of a mountain country, the Hayasa and/or the Azzi, lying around Lake Van.

Several prominent authorities agree in placing Azzi to the north of Ishuwa. Others see Hayasa and Azzi as identical. Records of the time between Telipinu and Tudhaliya III are sketchy. The Hittites seem to have abandoned their capital at Hattusa and moved to Sapinuwa under one of the earlier Tudhaliya kings. In the early 14th century BC, Sapinuwa was burned as well.

Hattusili III records at this time that the Azzi had “made Samuha its frontier.” It should be borne in mind that people who view themselves as great civilizations are not always too particular about which group of so-called “Barbarians” they are fighting. Also at times multiple atrocities are blamed on one group as a rallying cry for a current war.

Tudhaliya III chose to make the city of Samuha, “an important cult centre located on the upper course of the Marassantiya river” as a temporary home for the Hittite royal court sometime after his abandonment of Hattusa in the face of attacks against his kingdom by the Kaska, Hayasa-Azzi and other enemies of his state. Samuha was, however, temporarily seized by forces from the country of Azzi.

At this time, the kingdom of Hatti was so besieged by fierce attacks from its enemies that many neighbouring powers expected it to soon collapse. The Egyptian pharaoh, Amenhotep III, even wrote to Tarhundaradu, king of Arzawa: “I have heard that everything is finished and that the country of Hattusa is paralysed.”(EA 31, 26-27)

However, Tudhaliya managed to rally his forces; indeed, the speed and determination of the Hittite king may have surprised Hatti’s enemies including the Kaska and Hayasa-Azzi. Tudhaliya sent his general Suppiluliuma, who would later serve as king himself under the title Suppiluliuma I, to Hatti’s northeastern frontiers, to defeat Hayasa-Azzi.

The Hayasans initially retreated from a direct battle with the Hittite commander. The Hittitologist Trevor R. Bryce notes, however, that Tudhaliya and Suppiluliuma eventually: invaded Hayasa-Azzi and forced a showdown with its king Karanni (or Lanni) near the city of Kumaha.

The passage (in the ‘Deeds of Suppiluliuma’) recording the outcome of this battle is missing. But almost certainly, the Hittite campaign resulted in the conquest of Hayasa-Azzi, for subsequently Suppiluliuma established it as a Hittite vassal state, drawing up a treaty with Hakkana, its current ruler. The Hayasans were now obliged to repatriate all captured Hittite subjects and cede “the border [territory] which Suppiluliuma claimed belonged to the Land of Hatti.”

Despite the restrictions imposed upon Hakkani, he was not a completely meek and submissive brother-in law of the Hittites in political and military affairs. As a condition for the release of the thousands of Hittite prisoners held in his domain, he demanded first the return of the Hayasan prisoners confined in Hatti.

During their reigns, the cuneiform tablets of Boğazköy begin to mention the names of three successive kings who ruled over a state of Hayasa and/or Azzi. They were Karanni, Mariya, and Hakkani (or Hukkana). Hakkani, married a Hittite princess.

When Suppiluliuma had become king himself, Hakkani proceeded to marry Suppiluliuma’s sister. In a treaty signed with Hakkani, Suppiluliuma I mentions a series of obligations of civil right:

My sister, whom I gave you in marriage has sisters; through your marriage, they now become your relatives. Well, there is a law in the land of the Hatti. Do not approach sisters, your sisters-in law or your cousins; that is not permitted.

In Hatti Land, whosoever commits such an act does not live; he dies. In your country, you do not hesitate to marry your own sister, sister-in law or cousin, because you are not civilized. Such an act cannot be permitted in Hatti.

The kingdom of Hayasa-Azzi remained a loyal Hittite vassal state for a time, perhaps hit by the same plague which claimed Suppiluliuma and his son Arnuwanda II. But, in Mursili’s seventh year (three years before Mursili’s eclipse – so, 1315 BC), the “lord of Azzi” Anniya took advantage of Pihhuniya’s unification of the Kaskas and raided the Land of Dankuwa, a Hittite border region, where he transported its population back to his kingdom.

Cavaignac wrote of that period that Anniya “had sacked several districts and refused to release the prisoners taken.” Anniya’s rebellion soon prompted a Hittite response. The Hittite King Mursili II, having defeated Pihhuniya, marched to the borders of Hayasa-Azzi where he demanded Anniya return his captured subjects.

When Anniya refused, Mursili immediately attacked the Hayasa’s border fortress of Ura. In the following spring, he crossed the Euphrates and re-organized his army at Ingalova which, about ten centuries later, was to become the treasure-house and burial-place of the Armenian kings of the Arshakuni Dynasty. One of the captured fortresses lay on the west side of Lake Van.

Despite Mursili’s Year 7 and probable Year 8 campaigns against Hayasa-Azzi, Anniya was still unsubdued and continued to defy the Hittite king’s demands to return his people at the beginning of Mursili’s Ninth year.

Then, in the latter’s Year 9, Anniya launched a major counter-offensive by once again invading the Upper Land region on the Northeast frontier of Hatti, destroying the Land of Istitina and placing the city of Kannuwara under siege.

Worse still, Mursili II was forced to face another crisis in the same year with the death of his brother Sarri-Kusuh, the Hittite viceroy of Syria. This prompted a revolt by the Nuhašše lands against Hittite control.

Mursili II took decisive action by dispatching his general Kurunta to quell the Syrian rebellion while he sent another general, the able Nuwanza (or Nuvanza) to expel the Hayasa-Azzi enemy from the Upper Land. After consulting some oracles, the king ordered Nuwanza to seize the Upper Land territory from the Hayasan forces.

This Nuwanza did by inflicting a resounding defeat against the Hayasa-Azzi invaders; henceforth, Upper Land would remain “firmly in Hittite hands for the rest of Mursili’s reign under the immediate authority of a local governor appointed by the king.”

While Mursili II would invade and reconquer Hayasa-Azzi in his tenth year, its formal submission did not occur until the following year of the Hittite king’s reign. The Annals of Mursili describe the campaigns of Mursili against Hayasa-Azzi.

Mursili, himself, could now take satisfaction in the reduction of the hostile and aggressive kingdom of Hayasa-Azzi once more to a Hittite vassal state. After Anniya’s defeat, Hayasa-Azzi never appears again in the Hittite (or Assyrian) records as a unified nation. Hayasa as a fighting power was practically eliminated by the expedition of Mursili II.

One theory suggests that Hay derives from the Proto Indo-European word *h₂éyos (or possibly *áyos), meaning “metal.” According to this theory, Hayasa meant “land of metal,” referring to the early metallurgy techniques developed in the region.

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 confederation was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis, or perhaps had been an Armenian-speaking state.

Thus, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1962 posited that the Armenians derive from a migration of Hayasa into Shupria in the 12th century BC. This is open to objection due to the possibility of a mere coincidental similarity between the two names.

This is open to objection due to the possibility of a mere coincidental similarity between the two names and the lack of geographic overlap, although Hayasa (the region) became known as Lesser Armenia (Pokr Hayastan in modern Armenian), as well as the western and south-western regions of Ancient Armenia, in coming centuries.

The main temples of many pre-Christian Armenian gods such as Aramadz, Anahit, Mher, Nane, and Barsamin were located in Hayasa. The treasury and royal burials of the Arsacid (Arshakuni) dynasty would be located in this region as well during the 1st millennium BCE.

The mentioning of the name Armenian can only be securely dated to the 6th century BC with the Orontid kings and very little is known specifically about the people of Hayasa-Azzi per se. The most recent edition of Encyclopædia Britannica does not include any articles on Hayasa or Azzi-Hayasa likely due to the paucity of historical documentation about this kingdom’s people.

Brittanica’s article on the Armenians confirms that they were descendents of a branch of the Indo-European peoples but makes no assertion that they formed any portion of the population of Azzi-Hayasa.

Nevertheless, some historians find it sound to theorize that Armenians were native to the Hayasa region, or perhaps moved into the Hayasa region from nearby northern or eastern regions (such as modern southern Georgia or northern Armenia).

A minority of historians theorize that after the Phrygian invasion of Hittites, the hypothetically named Armeno-Phrygians would have settled in Hayasa-Azzi, and merged with the local people, who were possibly already spread within the western regions of Urartu, however, there is almost no evidence of an Armenian-Phrygian connection.

The Hayasan nobility (given they were truly Armenian) would have assumed control of the region and the people would have adopted their language to complete the amalgamation of the proto-Armenians, giving birth to the nation of Armenia as we know it today.

Hayasa-Azzi

Ishuwa

Hurrians

Phrygians

History of the Hittites

Indo-European languages

Muṣaṣir

Muṣaṣir (Assyrian KURMu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ), in Urartian Ardini, was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.

It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The city’s tutelary deity was dḪaldi. Urartologist Paul Zimansky speculated that the Urartians (or at least the ruling family) may have emigrated northwest into the Lake Van region from Musasir.

The city’s location is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses, all in the general area of Zagros south of Lake Urmia. François Thureau-Dangin tentatively located it at Mudjesir, 10 km west of Topzawa.

Reza Heidari, an archaeologist of the “Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization” of Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province claims Rabat Tepe near Sardasht, Iran as the location of Muṣaṣir. Lynch claimed that it was close to the modern town of Rowanduz in Iraq.

The Musasir temple, built in 825 BC, was an important temple in Musasir, the holy city of Urartu. The Temple at Musasir appears in an Assyrian bas-relief which adorned the palace of King Sargon II at Khorsabad, to commemorate his victory over “the seven kings of Urartu” in 714 BC.

During the early 1850s, the British Assyrian Excavation Fund entered the field under William Kennett Loftus and many antiquities and accurate drawings of wall sculptures were apportioned between the British Museum and the Louvre.

However, a convoy of antiquities was attacked by Arab robbers while being shipped down the Tigris River, and today lies buried somewhere in the bed of that river. That particular bas-relief was copied at its original location in the palace onto a drawing by Eugene Flandin(2) as Botta’s chief artist.

During this period of Assyrian campaigns, the northern Araratian regions were governed by Sarduri-and later by his son Rusa (Armenian: Hrachya, according to Movses Khorenatsi) with the capital at Tushpa (Classical Armenian: Tosp) located near the great city and the capital of the mighty Kingdom of Urartu, Van (Biaina) on the eastern shore of Lake Van. Sarduri placed Urzana as the governor of the spiritual center of Urartu, the Temple of Khaldi—Musasir Ardini.

Since 1959, the Historical Society and the Department of Antiquities have conducted excavations in the Yerznka area, west of Karin. Here at Altintepe was revealed an Urartian temple and other monuments. Only the foundations of the temple are in view.

Obviously this is not the temple of Musasir as it is located far away from the concerned area. Recently a site excavated in Iran, which is called Rabat Tepe and located at the southwestern side of Lake Urmia, was identified as Musasir. At a site called Gund-i Topzawa north of Erbil in Iraq.

Musasir

Çavuştepe

Çavuştepe (Haykaberd, meaning “Fortress of Hayk”) or Sardurihinilli is an ancient fortified site in the Gürpınar district of Van Province in Turkey’s Eastern Anatolia region. In Armenian folklore it is the fortress built by Hayk, the legendary founder of the Armenian nation, close to the site where he slew the invading Babylonian King Bel or possibly Nimrod.

It is located approximately 25 kilometers southeast of Van along the road leading to the city of Hakkâri, in a valley once known as Hayots Dzor (“Valley of the Armenians”) in historic Armenia. It was used by the Urartian kings as a fortress during the 8th century BC.

Sarduri-Hinilli has a linear plan, perched upon a ridge overlooking the Gürpınar Plain. It is composed of fortification walls as well as the remains of an Urartian royal palace, built between 764 and 735 BC during the reign of King Sarduri II (764-735 BC) at the climax of power of the Urartian Empire.

There are upper and lower sections of the fortress in which the Temple of Khaldi, citadel walls, king’s tower, workshops (7th century BC), storehouses, cisterns, kitchen, palace with a throne room, “royal” toilet, harem and colonnaded halls were located. A moat surrounded sections of the fortress.

Sarduri-Hinilli was destroyed in the 7th century BC, presumably by the Scythians. Traces of a later medieval occupation exists. The site was excavated between 1961 and 1986 by Afif Erzen.

In Movses Khorenatsi’s account, Hayk, son of Torgom, had a child named Armanak while he was living in Babylon. After the arrogant Titanid Bel made himself king over all, Hayk emigrated to the region near Mount Ararat with an extended household of at least 300 and settled there, founding a village he named Haykashen.

On the way, he had left a detachment in another settlement with his grandson Kadmos. Bel sent one of his sons to entreat him to return, but was refused. Bel decided to march against him with a massive force, but Hayk was warned ahead of time by Kadmos of his pending approach. He assembled his own army along the shore of Lake Van and told them that they must defeat and kill Bel, or die trying to do so, rather than become his slaves. In his writings Movses states that:

Hayk was a handsome, friendly man, with curly hair, sparkling eyes, and strong arms. He was a man of giant stature, a mighty archer and fearless warrior. Hayk and his people, from the time of their forefathers Noah and Japheth, had migrated south toward the warmer lands near Babylon. In that land there ruled a wicked giant, Bel.

Bel tried to impose his tyranny upon Hayk’s people. But proud Hayk refused to submit to Bel. As soon as his son Aramaneak was born, Hayk rose up, and led his people back to the land of his forefathers, the land of Ararat. At the foot of the mountains, he built his home, Haykashen.

Hayk and his men soon discovered Bel’s army positioned in a mountain pass (Moses of Chorene located the site as Dastakert), with the king in the vanguard. At Dyutsaznamart (“Battle of Giants”), near Julamerk southeast of Lake Van, Hayk slew Bel with a nearly impossible shot using a long bow, sending the king’s forces into disarray.

Thgis is supposed to have happened on August 11, 2492 BC according to the Armenian traditional chronology or 2107 BC according to “The Chronological table” of Mikael Chamchian.

The hill where Bel with his warriors fell, Hayk named Gerezmank meaning “tombs”. He embalmed the corpse of Bel and ordered it to be taken to Hark where it was to be buried in a high place in the view of the wives and sons of the king.

Soon after, Hayk established the fortress of Haykaberd at the battle site and the town of Haykashen in the Armenian province of Taron (modern-day Turkey). He named the region of the battle Hayk, and the site of the battle Hayots Dzor.

Çavuştepe

Shupria

Some modern researchers have placed it in the same general area of the Late Bronze Age state of Arme (Shupria), near modern Samsat, and have suggested it was populated, at least partially, by an early Indo-European-speaking people.

Diakonoff derived the name from a proposed Urartian and Aramaic amalgam *Armnaia (“inhabitant of Arme” or “Urme”), a region held by Proto-Armenians in the Sason mountains, a district in the Batman Province of Turkey southeast of Anatolia.

The Batman Province contains the strategic Tigris river with fertile lands by its sides, as well as rocky hills with numerous caves providing a natural shelter. Therefore, it was inhabited from prehistoric times, likely from the Neolithic (Paleolithic) period, according to archeological evidence.

Sasun, as it is called by Armenians, holds a prominent role in Armenian culture and history. It is the setting of Daredevils of Sassoun, Armenia’s national epic. Sasun’s Aramaic exonym “Arme” is also said to be the origin of the exonym “Armenia”.

Shupria, or Shubria Armenian, was a Hurrian kingdom, known from Assyrian sources from the 13th century BC onward, in what is now the Armenian Highlands, to the south-west of Lake Van, bordering Urartu. The capital was Ubbumu.

The name Shupria is often regarded as derived from, or even synonymous with, the earlier kingdom of Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur), mentioned in Mesopotamian records as early as the 3rd millennium BC. However, the Sumerians appear to have used the name Subartu to describe an area corresponding to Upper Mesopotamia and/or Assyria.

Ernst Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after a Hurrian king, Shattuara of Mitanni, was defeated by Adad-nirari I of the Middle Assyrian Empire in the early 13th century BC, he became ruler of a reduced vassal state, Shupria or Subartu.

The Subartians, Hurri-Mitanni, Hayasa-Azzi, Nairi and other populations of the region, fell under Urartian rule in the 9th century BC. Their descendants, according to some scholars, contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

Some scholars have linked a district in the area, Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Medieval Islamic scholars, relying on ancient sources, claimed that the people of Subar (Subartu or Shupria) and the Armani (Armenians) had shared ancestry. These scholars include the 17th century Ottoman traveller and historian Evliya Çelebi (Derviş Mehmed Zillî) in his most important work “Seyāḥat-nāme”(Book IV, Chapter 41).

In the early 7th century BC, Shupria was mentioned in the letter of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon to the god Assur. Esarhaddon undertook an expedition against Shupria in 674, subjugating it. At least one king of Shupria, Anhitte, was mentioned by Shalmaneser III.

Shupria

Subartu

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit.

It may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians, There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including the Kurds and Armenians.

Subartu was apparently a kingdom in Upper Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris and later it referred to a region of Mesopotamia. Most scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north.

Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Amurru, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The name Subartu is often regarded as the source of, or even synonymous with, the later kingdom of Shupria (Shubria), which is mentioned as in records from the 13th century BC. However, the name Shupria was evidently used to describe a different area, corresponding to modern eastern Anatolia and the Armenian highlands, and the Shuprians appear to have been a component of the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani, which has been identified with Aleppo, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Three of the 14th-century BC Amarna letters – Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt – mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akhenaten; in two (EA 108 and 109), Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another (EA 100), from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus).

Subartu

Armanum / Armi

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. Some scholars have linked the name Armenia with the Early Bronze Age state of Armani (Armanum, Armi) or to the Late Bronze Age state of Arme (Shupria), a Hurrian kingdom in what is now the Armenian Highlands, to the south-west of Lake Van, bordering Urartu.

These connections, however, are inconclusive as it is not known what languages were spoken in these kingdoms. Additionally, while it is agreed that Arme was located to the immediate west of Lake Van (and therefore in the greater Armenia region), the location of the older site of Armani is a matter of debate.

The name Armenian was firstly recorded on an inscription which mentions Armani together with Ebla. Armanum and Ebla was territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC, identified with the Syrian city of Aleppo. To this day the Assyrians still refer to the Armenians by the name Armani.

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. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.

Naram-Sin faced revolts at the start of his reign, but quickly crushed them. He also recorded the Akkadian conquest of Ebla as well as Armani and its king. The location of Armani is heavily debated, it is sometimes identified with a Syrian kingdom mentioned in the tablets of Ebla as Armi, the location of Armi is also debated. It was suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Armani is the earliest form of the name Armenia.

Armani, also given as Armanum, was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla (which might or might not be Ebla) to Bit-Nanib. Armi is the city most often referred to in the Ebla texts.

Naram-Sin gives a long description of his siege of Armanum, his destruction of its walls, and the capture of its king Rid-Adad. Astour believes that the Armanum mentioned in the inscriptions of Naram-Sin is not the same city as the Eblaite Armi, as Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ebla he sacked (c. 2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Arman, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla and (according to Astour), the Syrian Ebla would have been burned in 2290 BC (based on the political map given in the Eblaite tablets) long before the reign of Naram-Sin.

Armi was an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria. Armani was mentioned alongside Ibla in the geographical treaties of Sargon. This led some historians to identify Ibla with Syrian Ebla and Armani with Syrian Armi.

Armi was a vassal kingdom for Ebla, it had its own kings and worked as a trade center and Trading intermediary for Ebla. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. However, the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful: the texts of Ebla mention the exchange of gifts between the kings but also wars between the two kingdoms.

The relations between the two kingdoms are ambiguous, as ongoing work on the Ebla Tablets has revealed. Many Eblan merchants were active in Armi and vice versa, but despite intensive commercial exchange, it seems that relations deteriorated during the reign of the Eblan king Irkab-Damu’s successor Isar-Damu, whose powerful vizier Ebrium waged war against Armi in his ninth year as vizier. The texts mention that the battle happened near a town called Batin (which might be located in northeastern Aleppo), and that a messenger arrived in Ebla with news of the defeat of Armi.

Ebrium’s son and successor as vizier, Ibbi-Sipish, conducted a military campaign in his third year against the city of Bagara. The scribe who describes the campaign quotes a military expedition against Armi while speaking about the campaign against Bagara, which might mean that Bagara belonged to Armi.

Ibbi-Sipish conducted more military actions against Armi, and several other texts of his mention his campaigns against the kingdom. For example, he received linen textiles for one of these campaigns. Relations between Ebla and Armi are no less complicated than the relations between Ebla and Mari. The Eblan texts mention two interdynastic marriages with the son of the king of Nagar and that of Kish, but despite very close relations between Ebla and Armi an interdynastic marriage is never attested.

During its final years, Ebla—in alliance with Nagar and Kish—conducted a great military expedition against Armi and occupied it. Ibbi-Sipish’s son Enzi-Malik took up residence in Armi. Armi wasn’t mentioned after the destruction of Ebla.

Many theories have been proposed for this destruction. Historian Michael C. Astour believes that the destruction of Ebla and Armi would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si of Sumer, whose rule coincided with Sargon of Akkad’s first years.

King Naram-Sin of Akkad mentions that he conquered Armanum and Ib-la and captured the king of Armanum, the similarities between the names led historian Wayne Horowitz to identify Armanum with Armi.

If Armi was in fact Armanum mentioned by Naram-Sin, then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC. In any case, it is clear that the whole of northern Syria including Ebla and Armi was under the domination of the Akkadian empire during the reign of Naram-Sin.

Michael C. Astour refused to identify Armani with Armi, as Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ibla he sacked (in c. 2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Armani, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the east, in contrast to the Syrian Ebla, located in the west.

It continued to be mentioned in later Assyrian inscriptions. The later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Armani as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon. Historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

The site of Tell Bazi has also been suggested as the location of Armanum. Knowledge about Armi comes from the Ebla tablets. It has been identified with Aleppo, and with the Tall Bazi (by modern Tall Banat) an ancient habitation site on the east bank of the Euphrates 60 km south of Jarabulus in Syria.

The Bronze-Age town of Tell Bazi, associated with Aleppo, consisted of a citadel on high ground, and a larger lower town that is currently submerged under the waters of the Euphrates reservoir. The site has yielded cuneiform texts dating to the reigns of the Mittanian kings Saushtatar and Artatama I. These documents provide the probable name of the site, Baṣīru.

First mentioned as the land of Armani by Sargon, Naram-Sin boasted about his victory and destruction of the city. He gives a detailed account of the siege and the capture of Armani’s king in one of his inscriptions. When the God Dagon determined the verdict to Naram-Sin, the mighty God delivered into his hands Rid-Adad, king of Armanum and Naram-Sin personally captured him in the middle of his palace gateway.

Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin. During the Middle Assyrian and Kassite periods, the land of Armani was mentioned as located east of the Tigris. King Shalmaneser III mentions his conquest of Halman, but the identification of Halman with Akkadian Armani (Arman) is dubious.

While historian Adelheid Otto identifies Armi with the Citadel of Bazi – Tall Banat complex on the Euphrates River between Ebla and Tell Brak, others like Wayne Horowitz identify it with Aleppo. Further, if most scholars place Armanum in Syria, Michael C. Astour believes it to be located north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

 

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