Ancient Armenia

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Ancient Armenia was a rocky land of ravines, rivers and rugged cliffs, and hundreds of stone monuments and churches.


Sumerian words in Armenian.

The modern Armenian name for the country was Hayk, or Hayastan. Haya, combined with the suffix '-stan' (land). Hayk was one of the great Armenian leaders after whom the The Land of Hayk was named. He is said to have settled at the foot of Mount Ararat, traveled to assist in building the Tower of Babel, and, after his return, defeated the Babylonian king Bel (believed by some researchers to be Nimrod) in 2492 BC near the mountains of Lake Van, in the southwestern part of historic Armenia (present-day eastern Turkey). Nairi, meaning "land of rivers", used to be an ancient name for Armenia and Armenians, used by Assyrians and Egyptians.

Hayk (Haya in Armenic Sumerian) was a chieftain of the Armens, an Armenian tribe at the time of Aratta (The name also resembles Ararat, and the mountain is indeed located in the possible area of Aratta). Hayk is also used in place of Orion, in the Armenian translation of the Bible. The traditional etiology for the ethnonym is 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. Armani is mentioned among the enemies defeated by the Akkadian king Naram-Sin (2300 BC), locating them in the southern Armenian Highland. The Assyrians (direct descendants of Akkadians) to this day refer Armenians by their inscription Armani. Old Persian name 'Armin', means "dweller of the garden of Eden". Thutmose_III of Egypt (1500 BC in his 23rd year records) mentions the people of 'Ermenen' as paying tribute when he held his court at Nineveh, and says that in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars." (To this day Turks refer to Armenians by this form 'Ermeni') Artatama's (Armenian name with 'Arta' prefix) title was "King of the Hurri", which reveals the Hurrian-Aryan Armenian links.

A Babylonian inventory of the Akkadian Empire locates the land Armanî next to Lullubi[1] Another mention by pharoah Thutmose III in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen ("Region of the Minni"), and says in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars".[2] The Kurdish and Turkish form referring to Armenians is Ermenin.

V.V.Ivanov and Tamaz Gamreklide place the Indo-European (Aryan) homeland in Armenian Highland, postulating the Armenian language as an in situ development of a 3rd millennium BC Proto-Indo-European language

Indo-European family tree


The early religions in Armenia are not that well known. According to De Morgan there are signs which indicate that the Armenians, as their other Aryan relatives, were initially nature worshipers and that this faith in time was transformed to the worship of national gods, of which many were the equivalents of the gods in the Roman, Greek and Persian cultures.

Georg Brandes described the Armenian gods in his book: “When Armenia accepted Christianity, it was not only the temples which were destroyed, but also the songs and poems about the old gods and heroes that the people sang. We have only rare segments of these songs and poems, segments which bear witness of a great spiritual wealth and the power of creation of this people and these alone are sufficient reason enough for recreating the temples of the old Armenian gods. These gods were neither the Asian heavenly demons nor the precious and the delicate Greek gods, but something that reflected the characteristics of the Armenian people which they have been polishing through the ages, namely ambitious, wise and good-hearted.”[3]



Armenia's early inhabitants were as resourceful as her turf. Pioneers in metallurgy, they are credited by some researchers as the first producers of bronze, an alloy harder and stronger than copper. Center to a sophisticated civilization in the third millennium B.C., with an influence that spread as far south as Palestine and north to the Caucasian plain, the Early Bronze Age culture was equal in stature to her contemporaries in Iran and Mesopotamia. As the Sumerians were well aware, it was from the lands of Ararat that the Tigris and Euphrates made their Civilizing descent. As suggested by megaliths scattered throughout the country, water culture was prized before the people ethnically related to the present day Armenians arrived. [4]

Aryan migrations pointing off the starting point: Armenia.


"The Hurri-Mitanni kingdom of Armenia kept close contact with its western neighbor, Hittite or Hatti land. Masses of population were often transplanted from one country to the other. " [5]

"Yet the Hurrians did not disappear from history. Away to the North in their Armenian homeland, they entrenched themselves and build up the kingdom of Urartu." [6]

"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" [7]

"All indications point toward the general region of Armenia as a main area of Hurrian concentration." [8]

"The Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrian (and Urartians), Luvians and the Proto-Armenian Mushki who carried their IE language eastwards across Anatolia. After arriving in its historical territory, Proto-Armenian would appear to have undergone massive influence on part the languages it eventually replaced. Armenian phonology, for instance, appears to have been greatly affected by Urartian, which may suggest a long period of bilingualism." [9]


  1. no. 92 of Schroeder's 1920 Keilschrifttexte aus Assur; W. F. Albright, A Babylonian Geographical Treatise on Sargon of Akkad's Empire, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 45. (1925), p. 212.
  2. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915[1]; Eric H. Cline and David O'Connor (eds.) Thutmose III, University of Michigan, 2006
  3. G. Bernadis, L'Arminie et l'Europe, Geninve, 1903, p. 17
  4. The Magical Pine Ring: Culture and the Imagination in Armenian-American Literature By Margaret Bedrosian, pp. 4
  5. Vahan Kurkjian, "History of Armenia," Michigan, 1968
  6. Jacquetta Hawkes, "The First Great Civilizations," London, 1967
  7. Dr. Johannes Lehman, "The Hittites,"
  8. E. A. Speiser, "Hurrians and Subarians,"
  9. “Armenians” in Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture or EIEC, edited by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams, published in 1997 by Fitzroy Dearborn.

See also