Armenia: The Indomitable Land of Noah
Armenia is known as the "Land of Noah,” made famous by the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. The ark landed on Ararat mountain, which was then a part of Armenia, and Noah's sons and grandchildren settled there. It is well known that Armenians are the direct descendants of Noah's son, Japheth. Armenia's coat of arms depicts the Biblical Mount Ararat, which is an essential symbol of the nation.
Despite it being located in contemporary Turkey, Mount Ararat, with its two volcanic cones, appears more distinctive from Yerevan, Armenia. Historically, the Armenian people originated and resided in the Armenian Highlands, which are located in Northwest Asia. The Armenian Highlands are known to have played a critical role in the origins of modern-day human culture and civilization.
The earliest mentions of the Armenian Highlands date back to the third millennium BC, by the Kings of Akkad. This suggests that there has been a long history of state associations in the Armenian Highlands. Throughout the years, various Armenian sovereignties have formed and perished. You can find the full list of historical Armenian principalities and states at the conclusion of this article.
The Armenian Highlands are inextricably linked to the history of the Old World, and the nation of "Armenia" is marked on a 5th century Babylonian map. Despite much inquiry, the origins of Armenians and the Armenian language remain a mystery. Scientists and linguists have been unable to determine which linguistic group Armenian belongs to, since no relatives of the Armenian language have been found in any of the Indo-European languages to which it
belongs. As a result, it was classified as a separate language within the Indo-European language family.
The Armenian language is presently spoken by 10 million people worldwide. Surprisingly, the only language that has survived among the "dead" of old languages is Old Armenian, commonly known as "grabar." As a result, books and manuscripts written in Old Armenian are now readable if you know modern Armenian. According to experts, the origins of the Armenian language dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. Armenian has thus been spoken on the tongues of the Armenian people for nearly 5000 years.
"I mastered the Armenian language...to comprehend what language the Gods spoke. Armenian is the language used to communicate with God... and Armenia is the realm of the Gods...and the Gods came from the Araratian plain." - Lord Byron (1788 - 1824)
During the AD 40-60 period, Jesus' apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus evangelized Armenia, and the Armenian Apostolic Church was established. Gregory the Illuminator christened Armenia, which became All Armenia's Catholicos. Armenia thus became the first country to adopt Christianity. The Armenian Apostolic Church overcame many obstacles during the initial spread of Christianity, since there was no Bible with a language understandable to Armenians. The Old Armenian alphabet, prior to Mesrop Mashtots, was comprised of 28 letters, and was utterly incompatible with the contemporary Armenian sound scale.
Mesrop Mashtots was an early medieval Armenian linguist, composer, philosopher, statesman, and hymnologist, who invented the distinctive Armenian alphabet in 405-406 AD. This innovative and exquisite alphabet was essential to the forging of Armenian national identity, and has remained unchanged since its inception. When the Bible was translated into modern Armenian via the Mashtots alphabet, more working class Armenian people began to read, honor and practice its teachings.
The Armenian script is widely recognized as one of the most flawless languages in the modern world, alongside Georgian and Korean. Mesrop Mashtots is, according to many scholars, the creator of both the Georgian and Albanian as well as the Armenian alphabet. With the development of the Armenian Alphabet, Armenian literature experienced a renaissance, as did world literature, which was vigorously translated into New Armenian. Many bits of old writings would have disappeared had they not been saved thanks to Armenian translations. The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Armenia, also known as The Matenadaran, is the world's biggest collection of Armenian manuscripts, and the repository of preserved ancient manuscripts from around the world. There are over 120,000 pieces and manuscripts in The Matenadaran.
Armenia has been forced into many battles with neighboring nations in order to retain its national identity and beliefs. Throughout the centuries, the Arab, Turkish (Ottoman), and Iranian empires persecuted Armenians, expelled them from their homeland, and imposed their religion on them. Rivers of blood have flowed, and Armenia has lost 90% of its land. Yet the God-given miracle is this: all those empires no longer exist, while Armenia remains, vibrant, flourishing and free.
The Ottoman Turks were the most ruthless of all. With Turkey's entry into World War I in 1914, the "young Turks" had the opportunity to entirely eliminate Christianity from the region.
Over 1.5 million men, women, and children were murdered between 1915 and 1923 as a consequence of forced Islamazation, or died through mass executions, deportation marches, forced starvation, and other brutalities.
However, hundreds of thousands of people were able to flee to different countries all over the world, forming a large part of the Armenian Diaspora, commonly known as "Spyurq."
Among the heirs of escaped Armenians are famous people such as: Charles Aznavour, Aram Khachatourian, Komitas, William Saroyan, Ivan Aivazovsky, Sergei Parajanov, Arno Babajanyan, Anri Vernoy, Kirk Kirkorian, Andre Agassi, Cher, Alan Prost, Serj Tankian, Kim Kardashian, and many more.
Thus, the Turks committed the first definitional genocide in recorded human history. This genocide has been formally recognized and condemned by the United Nations, the European Parliament, and other bodies. In addition, France, Italy, Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Brazil, The Vatican, Russia, Canada, United States and many more countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide.
April 24th is the day the world commemorates the Armenian Genocide committed by Turks in 1915. That day, 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Constantinople and sent to Chankri and Ayash, where they were later slain.
Despite all of this, Turkey has refused to recognize the Armenian genocide. Furthermore, Turkey remains committed to wiping Armenians and Armenia off the map through hostile military, economic and covert activities. Turkey's last military actions on that territory occurred during the fall of 2020. 5,000 people were killed, the majority of them being young Armenian soldiers.
Armenia is now a vigorous and dynamic industrial-agrarian country with a rapidly rising economy. The lack of a sea exit does complicate matters for the Armenian economy, as Turkey obstructs transport connectivity to the international market. As will all her challenges however, Armenia overcomes and finds ways to move goods efficiently. Armenia has a population of 3 million people, with a total of 10 million Armenians worldwide.
In recent history, Armenia has gained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, this unique and vibrant nation continues to thrive, grow, and expand beyond its borders to connect productively with the rest of the world.
Armenia is a treasure to the global community. For Christians, Armenia has the sacred honor of being the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity. She has had to overcome countless existential threats to her territory, and has triumphed over many hostile foes, fighting simply for the right to exist and celebrate her culture, religion and language.
The world Christian civilization contributing to the growth and flourishing of this small country. Armenia joyously welcomes any travelers who come to her land with respect and curiosity.
To help you better understand the Armenian people and culture, we've compiled a list of fascinating, little-known facts about Armenia. Read on and you will see why Armenians are so proud of their homeland. Armenia welcomes you!
Interesting Facts about Armenia
● Armenia is one of the only monoethnic countries in the world, as 97% of people living in Armenia are Armenians. Armenians are a friendly, generous and kind-hearted people, who take pride in their tradition of warm hospitality.
● Armenia is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Haghpat Monastery - built in the 10th - 13th centuries
Sanahin Monastery - built in the 10th - 13th centuries
Echmiadzin Cathedral - built in the 4th century
Saint Hripsime Church - built in the 7th century
Saint Gayane Church - built in the 7th century
Zvartnots Cathedral - built in the 7th century
Geghard Monastery - built in the 4th -8th centuries
Saint Shoghakat Church - built in the 17th century
● Yerevan is Armenia's 13th capital, and one of the world's oldest cities. It is located in the north-east region of the Araratian plain and was built in 782 BC by King Argishti I. Yerevan is 29 years older than Rome. In 2018, Yerevan commemorated its 2800th anniversary.
● In the year 303, the world’s first church was built in Armenia, which was named Echzmiadzin. The Cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.
● Armenia, along with Iran, China, Greece, Egypt, and Japan, is among the world's six oldest countries, having survived for several millenia.
● The first reference of Armenia may be found in the Behistun Inscription of Iranian King Dareh 1st, which dates from 502 BC. Back in the fifth century BC, Greek authors Herodotus and Senofonte mentioned Armenia and Armenians.
● Armenia is home to the apricot, referred to in the past as "Armenian apples."
● The Armenian Duduk is one of the world's oldest brass instruments, with mentions dating back to Urartu Kingdom inscriptions, implying that the duduk has a 3000 year history.
● David the Invincible, a 6th century philosopher, mathematician, and physicist, published the world's first mathematical textbook. The Matenadaran has one of its copies.
● Lavash, a delicious Armenian flatbread, has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage collection. In 2005 and 2010, respectively, the performance on duduk and the mastery of creating Armenian "khachkar" (cross-stone) were added to the collection.
● The Armenian national epic is called Sasuntsi David, and is based on folklore. It was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage collection in 2012.
● Armenia’s Areni winery is one of the world's oldest. The oldest winery in Areni village, near the Arpa river, was discovered a few years ago in the Areni cave, where people produced wine around 6000 years ago. Among the goods discovered during the excavations were fermentation vats, a wine press, storage jars, and pottery sherds. Many experts think that the grape used to make the wine in Armenia approximately 6000 years ago is the "great-grandfather" of the famous French "Pinot Noir" wine. Those wines produced in France are now among the most expensive in the world.
● The oldest shoe in the world was discovered in the Areni village in 2008. The shoe dates back around 5500 years. The shoe, together with a goat horn, was discovered in a very nicely cultivated hole about 45 cm deep and 44 cm wide. The shoe was crafted from a single piece of leather. The laces and laces' holes have also been preserved.
● Chess has been very popular in Armenia since the 9th century. Mentions of chess are found in manuscripts from the 12th and 13th centuries, which are stored in The Matenadaran. The number of chess grandmasters in Armenia outnumbers all other countries combined. Chess is now part of the curriculum in all Armenian public schools. The lessons educate children to think critically and creatively, as well as to be flexible and intelligent.
● The "Wings of Tatev" ropeway is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest reversible ropeway with no stations. The ropeway's total length is 5752 meters. The travel time to the Tatev Monastery is 11 minutes. It can reach a maximum height of 320 meters and hold up to 25 individuals.
Notable People Praise Armenia
Elizabeth Bauer (Australian Armenologist): “In general, much too little has been known about Armenia, even though, culturally speaking, Europe owes her a considerable debt. At the dawn of history, Armenia was one of the cradles of civilization. Millennia before the Christian era, the economy, arts and popular traditions of Armenia had developed to such an extent that her culture stimulated Egypt, Greece and Rome, both materially and spiritually.”
Rockwell Kent (American painter, writer): “If I am asked where is the place on the earth that one can come across many miracles, I would name Armenia. Involuntarily, you are surprised that in such a small place on the earth it is possible to meet such monuments and such people, who can be the ornaments and pride of the whole world.”
Pope John Paul II: “Sacrifice: an inseparable part of Armenian history.” I long for the day when I kiss the Armenian land, which has been warmed by the blood of so many victims.”
George Gordon (Lord) Byron (English Poet): “If the scriptures are rightly understood, it was in Armenia that Paradise was placed. But whatever may have been their destiny, and it has been bitter, whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe. Armenian is the language to speak with God.”
Anatole France (a French poet): “We must agree that Armenians are a wise and valiant nation who strive for mastery of all the civilized world's high values, and who have won the compassion of other countries both with their talent and with their sufferings. A country that refuses to die will never die.”
Osip Mandelstam (Russian Writer): “Armenia is a book, which was studied by the first people.”
Mel Gibson (American Actor): “I know about Armenian Genocide. I know that Armenians have a very difficult history. The Armenians have always struggled and kept their religion and self-determination. The Armenians have always represented their history to the world. They really are the most noble nation.”
Franz Viktor Werfel Austrian (Austrian-Bohemian novelist, playwright, and poet): “Armenia is the cradle of civilization, one of the leading and most developed states of the Ancient World.”
Mao Dun (a Chinese writer): “We are captivated by the glory of Armenia's ancient culture; such ancient manuscripts are rare in China.”
Fridtjof Nansen ( Norwegian explorer): “The history of the Armenian people is a continuous experiment. An experiment of survival.”
Armin T. Wegner (German writer and human rights activist, photographer and an examiner of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire): “Before my eyes to this day is the decease of a whole nation, who was evacuated from its own land”
Laura Kelly (American Senator): "The Armenian alphabet is shredded lace – squiggly, feathery and mysterious. More elongated than Arabic, more elegant than Cyrillic."
Max Sax (Prince of Saxony): “The nation, whose Christian faith is so old, the nation who did not turn away from Christ even after strong storms and cruelest persecutions, the nation whose history is almost a ceaseless suffering, certainly deserves not only our compassion but also our love.”
David M. Lang (Historian, a Professor of Caucasian Studies): "Given the number of Armenians, their contribution to world civilization is insignificantly greater."
Arnold Schwarzenegger (American actor, producer and the 38th governor of California): "Today, California has an honor of being the home of the world's largest Armenian Diaspora. That's a thriving community. A proud tribute to the Armenian nation's resilience and determination in the face of adversity."
List of Historical Armenian States
Arata - XXVII - XXII BC
Armani - XXII - XVIII BC
Armatana - XVII - XVI BC
Hayasa - XV - XIII BC
Nairi - XIII-IX BC
Urartu - 850 - 580 BC
Ayrarat Kingdom - 323 - 200 BC
Little Armenia - 323 - 115 BC
Sofena III - 94 BC
Great Armenia - 189 BC - 428 AD
Marzpanate Armenia - 428 - 645 AD
Armenian Kingdom - 885 - 1045 AD
Kingdom of Vaspurakan - 908 -1021 AD
Kingdom of Kars - 963 - 1064 AD
Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget - 978 - 1118 AD
Kingdom of Syunik - 987 - 1170 AD
The Principality of Khachen - X-XVI AD
Principality of Yedesea - 1083-1098 AD
Principality of Melitene - 1071 - 1104 AD
Principality of Pir -1086/1097 - 1098/1100 AD
Shah-Armens - 1100 - 1207 AD
Zakarid Armenia - 1199 - 1236 AD
Khams - 1603 - 1750 AD
Yerevan Khanate - 1747 - 1828 AD
Nakhichevan Khanate - 1747-1828 AD
First republic of Armenia - 1918 - 1920
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic - 1920 - 1990 AD
Republic of Armenia (in the USSR) - 1990 - 1991 AD
Republic of Armenia (independent) - 1991 - present