Origin Of Armenians

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Haik is the legendary patriarch and founder of the first Armenian nation.

Ancient Origin of Armenians

People have inhabited the Armenian Highlands since the Stone Age. The earliest possible record identified with Armenians, is from Armenic Sumerian records from around 2700 BC, in which the Armenians are referred to as the sons of Haya, after the regional god of the Armenian Highlands. Another early record from Akkadian inscriptions dated to 2300 BC, which mentions Armani together with Ibla, as territories conquered by Naram-Sin. Thutmose III of Egypt, also mentions the people of Ermenen in 1446 BC, and says in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars" (Thutmose was the first Pharoah to cross the Euphrates to reach the Armenian Highlands).[1] Even to this day Kurds and Turks refer to Armenians by Ermeni. The first major state in the region was the kingdom of Ararat, which appeared around Lake Van in the thirteenth century B.C. and reached its peak in the ninth century B.C.

Khorenatsi’s theory

Hayk Nahapet (Armenian: Հայկ; also known as Haig; transliterated as Haik) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. At Dyutsaznamart (Armenian: Դյուցազնամարտ, "Battle of Giants"), near Julamerk southeast of Lake Van, on August 11, 2492 BC (according to the Armenian traditional chronology) or 2107 BC (according to "The Chronological table" of Mikael Chamchian), Hayk slew Bel with a nearly impossible shot using a long bow, sending the king's forces into disarray. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi (410 to 490 AD). Contents


The name of the patriarch, Հայկ Hayk is not exactly homophonous with the name for "Armenia", Հայք Hayk’. Հայք Hayk’ is the nominative plural in Classical Armenian of հայ (hay), the Armenian term for "Armenian."[2] Some claim that the etymology of Hayq' (Հայք) from Hayk (Հայկ) is impossible[2] and that origin of the term Hay ("Armenian") is verifiable.[2] Nevertheless, Hayk and Hayq are usually[who?] connected to hay (հայ) and hayer (հայեր, the nominative plural in Modern Armenian), the self-designation of the Armenians.

Hayk would then be an aitiological founding figure, like e.g. Asshur for the Assyrians, Indra for the Indians, etc. One of Hayk's most famous scions, Aram, settled in Eastern Armenia from the Mitanni kingdom (Western Armenia), when Sargon II mentions a king of part of Armenia who bore the (Armenian-Indo-Iranian) name Bagatadi ("Theodore").[3]

A connection was made in Armenian historiography of the Soviet era, with Hayasa mentioned in Hittite inscriptions.[4]

The Armenian word haykakan (Armenian: հայկական, meaning "that which pertains to Armenians") finds its stem in this progenitor. Genealogy

Movses gave Hayk's genealogy as follows: Japhet, Gomer & Tiras, Torgom, Hayk, and his descendants as Armanak, Aramais, Amasya, Gegham, Harma, Aram and Ara Geghetsik.[5] Hayk was also the founder of the Haykazuni Dynasty. Some of the prominent Armenian royal houses such as the Bagratuni, Khorkhoruni, Bznuni, Syuni, Vahevuni, Manavazian, Arran among others, had traced their genealogy to Hayk Nahapet. According to Juansher Hayk "..was prince of the seven brothers and stood in service to the giant Nimrod (Nebrovt') who first ruled the entire world as king.[6]" Folklore Hayk and King Bel

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.[7] ”

The Battle of Giants and Defeat of Bel

Hayk defeats Bel with an arrow.

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 (Armenian: Դյուցազնամարտ, "Battle of Giants"), near Julamerk southeast of Lake Van, on August 11, 2492 BC[8] (according to the Armenian traditional chronology) or 2107 BC (according to "The Chronological table" of Mikael Chamchian), Hayk slew Bel with a nearly impossible shot using a long bow, sending the king's forces into disarray.

The hill where Bel with his warriors fell, Hayk named Gerezmank meaning "tombs".[9] 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[10] [edit] Comparative mythology Further information: culture hero

The figure slain by Hayk's arrow is variously given as Bel or Nimrod. Hayk is also the name of the Orion constellation in the Armenian translation of the Bible. Just as Hayk fled from Babylon because of Bel, whom he eventually killed, so Zeus had escaped to the mountains of the Caucasus, later to return to Sicily and hurl fatal arrows into the bodies of his titanic foes.

Khorenatsi’s theory that the Armenians descended from Torgom (Togarmah) is consistent and derived from, Biblical references to the House of Togarmah, a land known for its horses in the extreme north. Armenia would have been the north hinterlands for the Mesopotamian world of the Old Testament, and the Armenian Highlands were renowned for horse breeding and horsemanship throughout ancient times. [2]


"The original Armenians must have been very adventurous. Their brothers, i.e. the other Indo-European tribes, went towards north or south, towards more fertile areas in Europe and India, while some decided to stay in Persia. But these Armenians went even further, in the heart of these impassable mountain regions and climbed as high as they could.” [3]

"The Hurrians had a history of their own. Assyrian and Sumerian sources dating from the end of the third millenium B.C. supply our first information about this nation, people, and the land of Hurri, South of Caucasus. We also know that they come from the region of Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia, and are referred to as Horrittes by the Bible. Still, later in the ninth-seventh centuries N.C. the highland of Armenia were inhabited by a people who were related to the Hurrians and whose country bore the name Urartu, the Biblical Ararat" [4]


  1. Eric H. Cline and David O'Connor (eds.) Thutmose III, University of Michigan, 2006, ISBN 978-0472114672
  2. Strabo, Geography, XI.14.9.
  3. M. E. Elliot, Beginning again at Ararat, New York, 1924, p. 268
  4. Dr. Johannes Lehman, "The Hittites,"

See also

External links