History

The cradle of Armenian nation is the Armenian highland. The Armenians are one of the founders of the world civilization. First Armenian states were Aratta, Hayasa, Armenia-Shupria, Subbartu which date back to the 3rd millennium BC. But the first Armenian state that covered the whole Armenian highland was Ararat kingdom which was formed in the 9th century BC, which in historiography is known as Urartu.  Ararat kingdom was the strongest country of Western Asia. During Argishti I’s reign (786-764) the country flourished and became very strong. Argishtidefeated his major enemy Assyria, conquered the whole east and made his country prosper. The powerful king had 2 cities built in Ararat valley: Erebuni and Argishtikhinili. Erebuni that was built in 782 BC is present-day Yerevan, the immortal city of the Armenians, which is older than Rome and nowadays is the oldest capital city of the world. Argihstikhinili is town Armavir, which later became Armenian capital as well.

Ararat kingdom was later replaced by Yervanduni kingdom in 580 BC. During their reign the political, cultural center of Armenia was Ararat valley. About the royal family of Yervanduni literary heritage is preserved in greek, Persian sources. During Yervanduni royal family’s reign Armenia was a flourishing country and the most powerful one in Western Asia. Even Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeating Achaemenid Persian Empire in 331 BC could not defeat Armenian kingdom.

In 189 BC the Artashesyans climb the Armenian throne. This royal dynasty brought glory and power to Armenia.  Artashes I (189-160 BC) made the country flourish with the help of hid reforms, and his grandson Tigran the Great II (95-55 BC)  made Armenia the most powerful country of Western Asia by conquering Iran, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Cilicia, Assyria… Tigran could neutralize threats of powerful Rome. Tigran the Great’s image has inspired foreign leaders. Today there exist more than 30 operas about Tigran the Great by foreign composers in the world.

Unfortunately, the Artashesyans’ glory was not long-lasting. In 54 the Arshakunyan dynasty was established. Arshakuni kings had to fight for Armenia’s independence constantly against 2 powerful neighbours: Iran and Rome. During the Arshakunyans’ reign 2  epoch-making events took place: in 301 during Trdat III reign (287-331) Armenia was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion. And in 405 during Vramshapuh’s reign Armenian alphabet was created, which gave rise to the development of Armenian culture. In 428 Arshakunyandynasty collapsed.

The country was under Persian and roman rule. The Armenians were constantly fighting for their independence. The arabs conquered Armenia in the 7th century. For two centuries the Armenian nation fought against Arabic rule and in 885 they succeeded by founding Bagratuni kingdom. During the Bagratunis’ reign the country flourished and prospered…   Ani which became the capital in 961 was one of the most prosperous and the largest cities of the world at that time. The Bagratunis created the federation of separate kingdoms, which was an unprecedented event in the history at that time.

The Bagratuni kingdom collapsed in 1045 but no so late in 1080 in the western part of Armenia in Cilicia new Armenian statehood was established, which in 1198 during Levon II the Great became Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The kingdom could confront the raid of the Seljuks, Mamluks, crusaders and Mongols, but in 1375 surrounded by enemies the country was destroyed.

At the same time in the 13th century the independence of Armenia was reestablished by the Zakaryan dynasty’s attempts. For a short period Armenia again started to prosper, but the Mongol raids destroyed and harried the Armenian state.

For thousands of centuries Armenia fought against foreign conquerors. Armenia was divided into two parts: between ottoman Turkey and Persia. In 1813 the Russians conquered Armenia.

In 1914 world war I gave hopes to the Armenians to unite their two parts, but 1915 became the darkest period of Armenian history. More than 1500000 Armenians became victims of genocide… more than 1.000.000 left their homeland, western Armenia was abandoned by Armenians. It was the first genocide in the world history.

But even after undergoing the genocide, the Armenians found strength to fight and regain the independence which they had lost hundreds of years ago. In 1918 by defeating Turkish army in Sardarapat the Armenians declared their independence and the republic of Armenia was established. The newly founded country had a lot of problems and was constantly fighting with neighbours. After all, in 1920 Soviet Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan overthrew the republic of Armenia. The soviet republic of Armenia was declared in 1920 which in 1922 became a part of the USSR.

In 1988 new national awakening took place. The Armenians initiated fight for liberation of Armenians of Artsakh and for their national self-determination. In Azerbaijan’s war the Armenians won and Armenian second republic was formed: Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. And on September 21st, 1991 the republic of Armenia left the USSR and declared its independence.