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Early Armenian history

Armenian history

Early History

Biblical name Ararat - the Kingdom of Ararat or, in Assyrian, Urartu. Its native name was Biainili, and its capital was at Tushpa (modern Van). The documented history of Urartu begins in 1275 BC, and ends early in the sixth century BC.

The Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrian (and Urartians), Luvians and the Proto-Armenian Mushki who carried their language eastwards across Anatolia. After arriving in its historical territory, Proto-Armenians 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.[1]


Urartu was often called the "Kingdom of Ararat" in many ancient manuscripts and holy writings of different nations. The reason for uncertainty in the names (i.e. Urartu and Ararat) is due to variations in sources. In fact, the written languages at that time employed only consonants and not vowels. So the word itself in various ancient sources is written as "RRT", which could be either Ararat, or Urartu, or Uruarti and so on. Urartians themselves referred to their kingdom as 'Biainili'.


The civilizing influence of Ararat was widespread throughout the ancient world in the first millennium BC. It reached even such distant peoples (geographically and chronologically) as the Etruscans, the Greeks and the Achaemenid Persians (who were greatly influenced by the cultural heritage of the Kingdom of Ararat or Ayr-Ar-at). The Scythians and the Cimmerians and the newly established Iranians state, no doubt regarded the Armenian officials and army officers of Ararat as the representatives of one of the most highly civilized countries; and as prisoners of war or as soldiers serving in the armies.

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. The Nairi, an Iron Age people of the Van area, are sometimes considered related or identical.


The distinctive artifacts associated with the kingdom of Urartu are normally assumed to constitute the material assemblage of a homogeneous culture. This article reviews the characteristics of these artifacts class by class, and argues that for the most part they are deliberate creations of an imperial government, not a broad spectrum of the east Anatolian population. Archaeological research on Urartu has focused on excavating fortresses, which are essentially state enclaves, rather than settlement sites. The model of Inca imperialism is invoked as an alternative to the presumption of cultural uniformity. The extent to which it applies and the issue of provincialism within the Urartian state can only be addressed by shifting the emphasis of Urartian archaeological studies toward the governed.

List of Rulers

Aramu 858 BC-844 BC; United the tribes of Urartu against Assyria

Lutipri 844 BC-834 BC

Sarduri I (also Sarduris I) 834 BC-828 BC; moved the capital to Tushpa, expanded the fortress of Van.

Ishpuini the Establisher 828 BC-810 BC; expanded the empire and conquered Mushashir.

Menuas the Conqueror 810 BC-785 BC; greatly expanded the kingdom, organized the centralized administrative structure, fortified a number of cities and founded fortresses, developed a national canal and irrigation system.

Argishti I 785-753 BC; fortified the empire's frontier, founded Erebuni (modern Yerevan) and Arghishtihinili.

Sarduri II 753 BC-735 BC; maximum expansion; zenith of Urartian power.

Rusa I 735 BC-714 BC; Assyrian and Cimmerian attacks.

Argishti II 714-680 BC

Rusa II 680 BC-639 BC

Sarduri III 639 BC-635 BC

Eriména 635-629 BC

Rusa III 629 BC-590 BC or 629 BC-615 BC

Sarduri IV 615 BC-595 BC

Rusa IV 595 BC-585 BC; Urartu falls to the raids of Assyrians, Medes and Scythians.


  1. “Armenians” in Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture or EIEC, edited by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams, published in 1997 by Fitzroy Dearborn.