History of Armenia

Republic of Armenia today occupies a little part of Armenian plateau and Caucasus minor (only 10% of the territory of historical Armenia). Evidences of human living found in this territory date back to early Stone Age. In different regions, e.g. at the slopes of mount Aragats, in Hrazdan canyon, and in other places primitive stone tools have been found fabricated nearly half a million years ago, in epoch of Shell palaeolith. Living in neighborhood with great civilizations of Middle East and Mesopotamia (Shummer, Akkad, Babylon, Assyria, Media etc.), Armenia itself developed a powerful culture and for its convenient position was playing role of connecting-link in the region. Through its territory several world trade routes were passing, including a branch of Great Silk Road. But unfortunately for the same reason of convenient position it had become a tidbit for different conquerors: Parthia, Seleucids, Rome, Byzantium, Arabs, Mongol-Tartars, and Turks – Seljuks, then Ottomans, and again Persia.

The earliest proto-Armenian states of Arme-Shupria, Hayasa, Hayasa-Azzi, Nairi and others formed on the territory of the Armenian plateau as early as in 13th century BC. The most powerful among the early states of this region was Van’s kingdom (9-6th century BC), which was called Urartu by Assyrians and Ararat kingdom in the Holy Bible. In 8th century BC Van’s kingdom with its capital Van had been a superpower of its epoch, which united the entire Armenian plateau under the reign of a single king.

In the 6th century, after Urartu fell, Armenia’s royal Yervanduni (Ervandides) family governed the country for 200 years, accepting the dominance of Achaemenid Persia for a while. As a result of the invasions of Alexander the Macedonian in 331 BC Armenia too had a cultural exchange with Greek architecture, religion and philosophies. As centers at the crossroads of trade routes connecting China, India and Central Asia with the Mediterranean, Armenian cities thrived on economic exchange.

King Artashes founded a new dynasty in 189 BC, expanding his territories, making reforms and unifying the Armenian people. The “renaissance of Armenia” was accomplished during the reign of Tigran 2nd the Great (94-54 B.C.), who had the title – “King of Kings.” In the 1st century BC Tigran grew Armenia to a great degree of military strength and political influence, conquering lands outside its ethnic territory. Armenia’s borders extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, being known as “Armenia from Sea to Sea”.

When the Romans and Parthians were fighting for domination over Armenia by 64 AD, the new Arshakuni (Arshakides) dynasty came to power and ruled until 5th century AD.

In 387 AD the Armenian kingdom was divided between Roman Empire (later – Byzantine) and Persia. In 7th century Armenia was invaded by Arabs. Fighting against Caliphate, Armenians won their independence in 9th century. The country was ruled by the Bagratuni (Bagratides) dynasty, which brought prosperity to Armenia. In 11th century Seljuk-Turks conquered Armenia. Many Armenians left native country to search for their luck outside Armenia. In Kilikia (or Cilicia) a part of paradise on the North-Eastern coast, where many Armenians lived since the times of Tigran the Great, Rubinyan (Rubenid) dynasty established a new Armenian state in 11the century. The Armenian kingdom of Cilicia fell because of the invasions of Egyptian mamluks in 1375 and since then Armenians no longer had their state up to the newest times. Armenia was then conquered by Mongol-Tartars and later by Temur (Tamerlane), whose hordes were robbing ravaging the country until 15th century. In 16th century Armenia was conquered and divided between Persia and newly-formed Ottoman Empire. The Eriwan and Nakhijevan khanates were annexed by Russia In 19th century, when Russian Empire won the war against Persia. Destiny of the Armenians, who remained under Turkish rule, was extremely tragic. They suffered from Armenian Genocide, a calamity, which lasted from 1894 until 1923. The mass massacres took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians. The ones who survived by miracle were spread all over the world. Since then the question of Armenian Genocide recognition remains open…

The 1st Republic of Armenia had been declared in May 28, 1918, but had a short life. In 1920 Soviet power entered Armenia. It became one of the 15 Republics of the Soviet Union. During the Word War II Armenian nation was struggling against the fascism in the ranks of Soviet Army, as well as ally armies. The renowned 89 Armenian division passed fighting from Caucasus Mountains to Berlin. Armenia gave more than 100 Heroes. Famous sons of the nation are Marshal Hovhannes Baghramyan, Admiral of the Fleet Ivan Isakov, Air Force Marshal Sergey Khudyakov (Khamferyants), and Armoured Force Marshal Hamazasp Babajanyan etc.

In the period of ”Perestroyka” a conflict between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan was provoked. In 1991 after referendum Armenia declared itself Independent.

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