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History (1)


ARMENIA (Ancient country) ARMENIA
Armenia (Akkadian Urastu; Old Persian Armina): ancient kingdom, situated along the river Araxes (modern Aras), the Upper Tigris and the Upper Euphrates.
  Its original name was Biainele; its capital the rock fortress Tuspa (modern Van). The country may be envisaged as a big rectangle, with Lake Van as its southwestern, Lake Urmia as its southeastern, Lake Sevan as its northeastern and Lake Cildir as its northwestern corner. Ancient Armenia was larger than modern Armenia.
  The country was originally called Urastu or Urartu after the mountain Ararat, which is well known from the biblical story about Noah (Genesis 8.4). The Armenians regarded the Ararat, which they called Baris, as their holy mountain.
  From the ninth century on, Urartu was ruled by a single dynasty, which expanded Armenia to the south in a period when Assyria was weak. The Euphrates became Armenia's western border. However, Assyria recuperated and in 714 BCE, the Armenian king Rusa was defeated by the Assyrian king Sargon, who marched almost unopposed through the country and took possession of the statue of the Armenian supreme god Haldi. After this humiliation, Rusa refused to live and committed suicide.

Sardure I c.840 - c.830
Ispuine c.830 - c.810
Minua c.810 - 781
Argiste 780 -756
Sardure II 755 - c.735
Rusa I c.735 - 714
  Rusa was succeeded by Argiste II, who chose for an 'internal expansion': the country along the Araxes was developed - something which is proved by archaeologists, who have discovered that there are far more seventh than eighth century settlements. After a century of development, the fertile country had become a natural target for the nomads who lived north of the Caucasus (known to the Greeks as 'Scythians', Sakesinai or Cimmerians.). Archaeologists have discovered that many Urartaean fortresses were destroyed before 600; arrowheads from a type known from the Ukraine indicate that the Scythians were responsible for the end of the Urartaean monarchy.
Argiste II 713 - c.685
Rusa II c.685 - c.670
Erimena c.670 - c.655
Rusa III c.655 - c.640
Sardure III c.640 - c.625
Sardure IV c.625 - 609
[Note: the order of the last four rulers is uncertain.]
  Having suffered from the Scythian invasion, the country was an easy target for the successors of the Assyrians, the Medes. It is certain that Armenia was a safe part of the Median empire in 585 BCE, because in that year a Median army fought a battle at the river Halys in Central Turkey. The actual annexation may have taken place as early as 605; in that case, the Median conqueror was Cyaxares.
  The Median empire was in turn overthrown by the leader of the Persians, Cyrus the Great. From 550 onward, Armenia was a satrapy of the Achaemenid empire; the satrap had his palace in Yerevan (ancient name unknown).
  The country rebelled against the Persians after the coup d' etat of the Magian usurper Gaumata (or Smerdis) had been suppressed by the counter-coup of king Darius the Great. The new king sent two armies against an unknown Armenian leader, commanded by the Persian Vaumisa and the Armenian Dadarsi. Vaumisa managed to secure the road to Armenia on December 31, 522 in a battle near Izala and continued to Autiyara, where he won his second victory on June 11. Both towns are situated on the banks of the Greater Zab river. Meanwhile, Dadarshish had defeated the Armenians on May 20, 521 near Zuzza, on May 30 at Tigra and on June 20 at Uyama. The second name suggests that this second army moved along the Upper Tigris. These five battles meant the end of the uprising. Armenia became a stable possession of the Achaemenid empire.
  According to the Greek researcher Herodotus (ca.480-ca.425), the tribes in the country belonged to the eightteenth and nineteenth tax districts; every year, they had to pay five hundred silver talents (100,000 kilogram). The geographer Strabo mentions another tax: 20,000 colts.
  Under Persian rule, the Urartaean language was replaced by the Armenian language. Probably, this was not caused by ethnic, but by social changes. Although are sources are scarce, it is certain that the before 500 BCE, the elite spoke Hurrian -a language that does not belong to any known linguistic family- and the common people spoke Armenian. When the Persians had conquered the country, they favored the latter language, which is related to Greek and -at a distance- Persian.
  Although the Armenians seem to have called themselves Haikh, Herodotus makes in his Histories a distinction between the Armenians and Alarodians (a rendering of 'Urartaeans'). He also mentions the Chaldaioi, Kolchoi, Makrones, Mares, Moschoi, Mossynoikoi, Saspeires, Tibarenoi (Tabali in Persian), tribes that lived in Armenia (or in its neighborhood).
  Armenia was a tribal society. The Athenian author Xenophon (ca.430-ca.355) informs us about it in book four of his Anabasis. He describes at great length how in 401/400 BCE an army of Greek mercenaries, which had supported the Persian pretender Cyrus the Younger, had to fight its way back to the Black Sea through Armenia. One of the characteristics of tribal society is that the tribes are loosely organized; old tribes disappear and new ones come into being, depending on the situation. From the above mentioned tribes, Xenophon mentions the Chaldaioi, Kolchoi, Makrones, Mossynoikoi and Tibarenoi, and he introduces the Chalybes, Drilai, Kardouchoi and Taochoi. Xenophon   Herodotus already knew that Armenia was rich in cattle (Histories 5.49). Most tribesmen were poor cattle breeders who roamed with their herds -sheep, cows, horses- between the summer's and winter's pasture. Xenophon mentions no cities, but gives fine description of village live.
  [A group of our soldiers] surprised the villagers with their headman, and seventeen colts which were being reared as a tribute for the [Persian] king, and, last of all, the headman's daughter, a young bride only eight days wed. Her husband had gone off to chase hares, and so he escaped being taken with the other villagers. The houses were underground structures with an aperture like the mouth of a well by which to enter, but they were broad and spacious below. The entrance for the beasts of burden was dug out, but the human occupants descended by a ladder. In these dwellings were to be found goats and sheep and cattle, and cocks and hens, with their various progeny. The flocks and herds were all reared under cover upon green food. There were stores within of wheat and barley and vegetables, and wine made from barley [i.e., beer] in great big bowls; the grains of barley malt lay floating in the beverage up to the lip of the vessel, and reeds lay in them, some longer, some shorter, without joints; when you were thirsty you must take one of these into your mouth, and suck. The beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavor to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired. (Anabasis 4.24-26)
  In short, the Armenians were a primitive nation, and it comes as no surprise that Xenophon mentions that their warriors fought with simple weapons, such as slings and arrows.
  The Persian garrisons, on the other hand, were oases of luxury. For example, at the confluence of the Buhtan and the Tigris, Xenophon visited a palace that could be used by the satrap; he saw houses with storage towers, which were probably used by the officers (4.4.2). Xenophon mentions an artificial road leading toward this settlement (4.3.5). In the neighborhood of a second Persian village, Xenophon's men found great supplies of beef (a delicatessen), barley, wine, raisins and pods (4.4.9). This is confirmed by the archaeological evidence: e.g., wall paintings were discovered at Arin-Berd.
  One of the last Persian satraps of Armenia was Artasata, who became king of Persia under the name Darius III (336-330). During his reign, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid empire (between 334 and 330), and Armenia regained its autonomy. (We learn of a new tribe, the Albanoi.) Several kings are known from this period:
Orontes c.320
Samus c.260
Arsames c.260 - c.230
Xerxes c.320 - 212
Orontes 212 - c.200
  After 200, parts of Armenia became incorporated in the Seleucid empire under king Antiochus III the Great. Soon, the country regained its independence in the form of two small kingdoms, west and east of the Euphrates. The western kingdom was known as Little Armenia under ruled by king Zariadris; the other state was called Great Armenia and ruled by Zariadris' son Artaxias (189-164). The latter rebuilt -following an advice of his Carthaginian friend Hannibal- Yerevan in 188, called it Artaxata, and made it his capital.
  The younger capital Tigranocerta was built by a descendant of Artaxias, Tigranes II the Great (ruled ±95-±55), who had been able to reunite Armenia but was defeated by the Roman general Pompey in 66 BCE. The western part of Armenia became part of the Roman world and was included in the province Cappadocia. Great Armenia remained independent, as a buffer state between the Roman and the Parthian empires. As a rule, the Romans were permitted to appoint the king. However, the country was briefly occupied by the Romans between 114 and 117 CE.

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

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