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The Early Christianization of Armenia
The Christianization of Armenia began with the work of Syrian apostles from the 1st century CE and was boosted in the early 4th century CE by such figures as Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the Armenian king and spread the gospel message. A more complex process than legendary accounts portray, Armenia's adoption of Christianity was, nevertheless, a momentous chapter in the country's history, as the historian R. G. Hovannisian here explains:
The conversion of Armenia to Christianity was probably the most crucial step in its history. It turned Armenia sharply away from its Iranian past and stamped it for centuries with an intrinsic character as clear to the native population as to those outside its borders, who identified Armenia almost at once as the first state to adopt Christianity. (81)
The Legend: Saint Gregory the Illuminator
The credit for establishing Christianity as the official religion of ancient Armenia is traditionally given to Saint Gregory the Illuminator or Enlightener (previously known as Grigor Lusavorich, c. 239 - c. 330 CE). Gregory is credited with converting king Tiridates the Great (r. c. 298 to c. 330 CE) to the new religion, formally establishing the Armenian Church, and spreading Christianity throughout his country. For these achievements, Saint Gregory has become the patron saint of Armenia.
Gregory was born in Cappadocia and raised as a Christian, attending there a Greek Christian school. On returning to Armenia, Gregory gained a position as a palace functionary at the court of the Armenian king at Vagharshapat. There he made a stance against the pagan religion of the period and refused to participate in its rites. The reigning monarch was Tiridates the Great, and he had the troublesome Gregory imprisoned, tortured, and thrown into the terrible Khor Virap prison at Artashat. Known as the “pit of oblivion”, nobody ever returned from Khor Virap.
After a 13-year ordeal down in the pit, Gregory was given a miraculous lifeline by, of all people, Tiridates' sister Khosrovidukht. She had had a vision that Gregory was the only person who could save the king from his terrible illness (lycanthropy). Accordingly, Gregory was freed from Khor Virap, and naturally, besides trying to cure the king, he made his best efforts to convert him to Christianity. Tradition (and the Armenian Apostolic Church) records that Tiridates was indeed cured and converted to his new faith in 301 CE by Saint Gregory.
Gregory was then made the first bishop (katholikos) in Armenia's history c. 314 CE, and he set about formally establishing the Christian Church. To get the ball rolling, Tiridates gave Saint Gregory up to 15 provinces worth of territory to establish the Armenian Church. The old pagan temples were torn down, and the whole nation was obliged to embrace the new faith. Churches and monasteries sprang up everywhere, and the Armenian aristocracy quickly followed the royal family's example with many noble families converting to Christianity.
Saint Gregory, then, had state backing to spread the Gospel message, and it was a work continued by his descendants who inherited the role of first bishop of Armenia. Gregory used two powerful tools to spread the word: education and military power. Schools were established in which children of the existing pagan priestly class were prepared for the Christian priesthood. Meanwhile, military units were dispatched to destroy pagan temple sites and confiscate their vast riches, which were then used to fund Christian building projects. Naturally, many temple sites, along with several rich and semi-independent feudal principalities, resisted the new policy and these were put to the sword. Pagan traditions were never fully eradicated but they certainly became weakened by the removal of the temples and their economic resources. Still, many anti-Christian and pro-Persian aristocratic families persisted in resisting at least into the next century. Gregory, meanwhile, oversaw mass baptisms in the Euphrates River bishops were then appointed from the noble clans (nakharars) and lower priests from the class of knights (azats) to guide the ever-growing flock of faithful.
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The History: A Gradual Adoption
That is the legend of how Armenia became a Christian state. Modern historians, though, prefer a more organic process of acceptance and conversion occurring in different places at different times. They also prefer the more secure date of around 314 CE of Armenian's official adoption of Christianity. This followed the Roman emperor Constantine I's Edict of Milan in 313 CE which legalised Christianity in the Roman Empire of which Armenia was a province. It seems probable that Christianity actually entered Armenia by two separate but more or less contemporary routes, thus explaining the conflicting accounts in ancient historical records.
Saint Gregory represented the transmission via Greek culture in the capital while in the provinces a greater influence came from Syria, especially via the Armenian communities in the cities of Mtsbin and Edessa in Mesopotamia. Edessa, in particular, following the work of the two apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, was a major centre of the faith. With a large Armenian population and the religion having there been established for over two centuries, it is probable that returning emigrants brought Christianity back with them. Indeed, both of the aforementioned apostles travelled to Armenia, as did many Assyrian priests such as Bardatsan (Bardaisan) of Edessa, and there set up schools which taught and preached the new faith. Another route into Armenia of Christian ideas was via the border regions of Bitlis (Baghesh) and Mush (Taron) to the west of Lake Van. Thus, the spread of the religion was much slower and more haphazard than in the traditional account.
Historians also suggest that Tiridates the Great may well have adopted Christianity for more practical reasons than a change of faith based on his miraculous recovery of health. The end of the ancient pagan religion was a fine excuse to confiscate the old temple treasuries which were jealously guarded by a hereditary class of priests. The religion was also a useful point of distinction between Armenia and Sasanid Persia, who had been trying to spread Zoroastrianism in the country. Christianity, therefore, became a means to resist Iranian cultural imperialism.
At the same time, Rome, the other regional power seeking to control Armenia, saw the value in permitting the spread of Christianity as a means to maintain Armenia's independence from Persia. Finally, a monotheistic religion with the monarch as God's representative on earth might well instil greater loyalties from his nobles and people in general. As it turned out, the Armenian Church became an independent institution with noble families providing its key figures and monasteries able to achieve self-sufficiency through their own landed estates.
As we have seen Christianity entered Armenia and spread outwards via two principal routes, from the southern provinces northwards and from the capital outwards. To further complicate matters, there were also two variants of the faith, as here explained by the historian S. Payaslian:
The southern Armenian form of Christianity was oriented more toward the masses, espoused more democratic ecclesiastical principles and communal philosophy, and was therefore less amenable to rigid institutional hierarchy…but it was the western, Greco-Roman form of Christianity, which entered Armenia by way of Cappadocia, that superseded the southern church and established its ecclesiastical hegemony in Armenia. (35)
Saint Gregory, was, of course, an exponent of the western form of the faith.
For ordinary people, besides the obvious replacement of traditional gods and pagan temples, there were also social changes which directly affected them. One notable area was marriage as the Christian church formalised the institution and made it necessary for the couple to legalise their union through the swearing of vows which adhered to the Christian doctrine. Even the choice of partner was more limited as partners now had to come from outside one's family with the exception that a widow might marry her brother-in-law. Polygamy, which had not been uncommon, was also prohibited. Other traditional rituals which were now forbidden included lamentations for the dead and mourning dances during which mourners often cut their faces and arms. The Church brought benefits as well as restrictions, though, setting up hospitals, hostels, orphanages, and leprosaria for the poor and sick.
Mesrop Mashtots & the Armenian Alphabet
By the early 5th century CE Christianity in Armenia was given a great boost by the invention of the Armenian alphabet by the scholar-clergyman Mesrop Mashtots (360/370 - c. 440 CE). Mashtots, with full state and church backing, created a new script with the primary purpose of allowing the common people to read the Bible and other Christian texts in their own spoken language, which at that time had no written form. The ultimate consequence of this approach to spreading the gospel through language is here summarised by S. Payaslian:
The following years witnessed enormous efforts by learned religious leaders and scholars to translate Greek and Syriac Christian texts into Armenian and to strengthen the new national culture through Armenianization. The church gradually gained control over Armenian culture, literature and education and, with the support of the state, instituted a Christian hegemonic, “totalising discourse”. Armenian culture, identity, and history came to be viewed nearly exclusively through the prism of Christian theology. (40)
This article was made possible with generous support from the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research and the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies.
Armenians celebrate both public and religious holidays. The celebrations here are usually accompanied with joyful songs and traditional circle dances. Usually all stores are open on holidays and Saturdays. Most of the shops and supermarkets are open on Sundays, too.
The Armenian banking system consists of 21 commercial banks, which are supervised by the Central Bank of Republic of Armenia. The banks in Yerevan are open from 10 am to 4 pm on week-days and from 10 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. No lunch breaks! The ATMs can be found on all the major streets.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
The great majority of Armenians in Armenia and in the Diaspora are urbanites. In the republic of Armenia, 68 percent live in urban areas with a population density of 286 persons per square mile (110.5 per square kilometer).
Contemporary Armenian architecture has followed the basic characteristics of its historical architectural tradition: simplicity, reliance on locally available geological material, and the use of volcanic tufa for facings. During the Soviet era, however, prefabricated panels were used to build apartment
What is Houshamadyan?
Houshamadyan is the name of a non-profitmaking association that was founded in Berlin, Germany, in 2010. It has a basic mission: to reconstruct and preserve the memory of Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire through research. In this connection, this website (www.houshamadyan.org) will be the means best suited to reflect the results of our Association’s work. It is for this reason that the maintenance of the website, finance, further development, finalisation and enrichment is the Houshamadyan Association’s first aim.
The sources of finance for Houshamadyan are, at present, individual gifts. We are hopeful that among those who visit us, some will be found who will encourage this work by giving donations.
Our research encompasses all aspects of the history of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, including social history, the history of daily life, local microhistory, dialects, music, literature, material culture and so on. Also of special importance to us are the collection and preservation of culturally valuable artefacts of all kinds produced by the Ottoman Armenians such as musical recordings of historical value, old photographs, pictures, old film footage and so on. Similarly important to our work are documents bearing on Ottoman Armenian history such as printed books, periodical publications and archival material, or papers in individual collections such as correspondence, unpublished notes, official documents, autobiographical details etc. The contents of these kinds of collections may be scanned at high quality then the scans sent to our address. We also want documenting oral history by recording interviews and related materials.
All the things briefly outlined above are the basic materials for the subjects published on our website.
Later, when the work on the website stabilises, the Houshamadyan Association also plans to organise scholarly conferences and lectures as well as exhibitions concerning the above-mentioned themes connected with the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Similarly, future work will include the publication of specialist works on these themes. In this case, special subjects already published in the pages of our website will be chosen, re-edited and prepared for publication.
This website will be pivotal to Houshamadyan’s work. We are convinced that the internet is the most practical, influential and immediate means of carrying out the wide scope of work required to reconstruct the Ottoman Armenian memory. More than this, it is our aim to create a collaborative website to which each individual visitor will have the ability to make comments or input the things that are in his possession – photographs, books, memoirs, information etc – so that it’s pages may be enriched collaboratively. The visitor will also have the ability to send such items via our electronic address to the Houshamadyan editors.
It is not our plan to make this website solely an Armenian preserve. It is true that the themes chosen are mainly concerned with the Armenians and therefore an important percentage of those accessing the website will be Armenians. Yes, it was the Armenians who were dispossessed and exiled from those regions. Even their memory is often insulted and eradicated in modern Turkey. Thus there is no doubt that our plan will help to give a new value to the Ottoman Armenian memory – once more giving it its proper place in the general Ottoman inheritance. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that this website, concerned with Ottoman Armenian memory, will want to be a place where, through text and multi-media means, the Armenian will ‘recapture’ his lost lands, re-establish himself there to spite the Other – in this case mainly the Turk and the Kurd - who will be the target for fierce attacks, and whose role and place will be less appreciated in the memory of the village, town or city of the past.
On the contrary – we are convinced that the memory of the majority of the villages, towns and cities of the past that are within present-day Turkey’s borders don’t only concern the Armenians. Yes, our subject for study will be the Ottoman Armenian legacy. But that is an indivisible part of the local general inheritance that clearly has been built up through the circumstances of the co-existence of various groups. The Houshamadyan website, in the same way, plans to be the collaborative space for today’s inhabitants of the places we are interested in, for those individuals who are descendants of people from those same places, for social sciences experts, especially the specialists in Ottoman studies and historians among them and all those who believe in the importance of the reconstruction of such a legacy. Finally we are convinced that our work on the reconstruction of the memory of the life lived by Ottoman Armenians will become even richer and more abundant when we turn today’s inhabitants of these areas – individuals who are immediately linked to the ‘soil and water’ of these places - into participants. Then, when our website succeeds in becoming the means of contact where, through united efforts, it will be possible to reconstruct the legacy of the past to a significant degree, we will be able to say that Houshamadyan has achieved one of its aims.
We know that the challenge is a great one. Yes, internet technology gives us the possibility to gather various, scattered and more and more difficult to obtain historiographical sources and artefacts. In this sense we already have, at our disposal, a rich quantity of sources that allows us to begin such large-scale work. But the whole question is of the reconstruction of the memory of the approximately three thousand Ottoman villages, towns and cities that were inhabited by Armenians. Perhaps it will be impossible to find information about every one of them, and the sources available to us for others might be very scanty. But Houshamadyan is a long-term project. Revisions to the website always give us the opportunity to refresh and enrich our texts and multimedia subjects.
Basic Info on Armenia - History
Yerevan has a long-long history of thousands of years, dating back to the rise of oldest civilizations in the world.
One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan's name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand IV, the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat. However, it is likely that the city's name is derived from the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni (Ô·Ö€Õ¥Õ¢Õ¸Ö‚Õ¶Õ«), which was founded on the territory of modern-day Yerevan in 782 BC by Argishti I.As elements of the Urartian language blended with that of the Armenian one, the name eventually evolved into Yerevan (Erebuni = Erevani = Erevan = Yerevan).
Early Christian Armenian chroniclers attributed the origin of the name, "Yerevan," to a derivation from an expression exclaimed by Noah, in Armenian. While looking in the direction of Yerevan, after the ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the flood waters had receded, Noah is believed to have exclaimed, "Yerevats!" ("it appeared!").
In Armenian manuscripts, Yerevan was also mentioned as Erevan, Erivan, Erewan, Ervan, Eruan, Arevan, Iravan, Revan and Ayravan.
However, the predominant former names of the city are Erebuni and Erevan.
The principal symbol of Yerevan is Mount Ararat, which is visible from any area in the capital. The seal of the city is a crowned lion on a pedestal with the inscription "Yerevan." The lion's head is turned backwards while it holds a scepter using the right front leg, the attribute of power and royalty. The symbol of eternity is on the breast of the lion with the image of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border
An illustration of Yerevan by French traveller Jean Chardin in 1673
A cuneiform inscription left by King Argishti I of Urartu about the foundation of the city in 782 BC
Main Square in 1916
The territory of Yerevan was settled by humans since the 4th millennium BC, fortified settlements from the Bronze Age include Shengavit, Karmir Blur, Karmir Berd and Berdadzor. Archaeological evidence indicates that an Urartian military fortress called Erebuni (Ô·Ö€Õ¥Õ¢Õ¸Ö‚Õ¶Õ«) was founded in 782 BC by the orders of King Argishtis I at the site of current-day Yerevan, to serve as a fort/citadel guarding against attacks from the north Caucasus, thus Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Irrigation canals and an artificial reservoir were built on the territory of Yerevan during the height of Urartian power. The fortress of Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) was destroyed by the Scythians in 585 BC. Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, Yerevan was one of the main centers of the Armenian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. The timespan between 4th century BC and 3rd century AD is known as the Yerevan Dark Ages due to absence of historical data. The first church in Yerevan, the church of St. Peter and Paul was built in the 5th century (collapsed in 1931).
During the height of the Arab invasions, Yerevan was taken in 658 AD. Since then the site has been strategically important as a crossroads for the caravan routes passing between Europe and India. It has been called Yerevan since at least the 7th century A.D. Between the 9th and 11th centuries Yerevan was a safe part of the Armenian Bagratuni Kingdom, before being overrun by Seljuks. Yerevan was seized and pillaged by Tamerlane in 1387. The city became an administrative center of the Ilkhanate. Due to its strategic significance, Yerevan was constantly fought over and passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans for centuries. At the height of Turkish-Persian wars, the city changed hands 14 times between 1513 and 1737.
Yerevan was liberated by Russian troops during the second Russian-Persian war on 1 October 1827 and formally ceded by the Persians in 1828. The city started to grow economically and politically. Old buildings were torn down and new buildings of European style were erected.
Emperor Nicholas I visited Yerevan in 1837. The first general plan of the city was made in 1854. Between 1850 and 1860, the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane were opened and the English Garden was built. The first printing house of Zacharia Gevorkian was opened in 1874 and the first theatre was built in 1879 near the church of St. Peter and Paul. Yerevan was connected via a railway line to Alexandropol, Tiflis and Julfa in 1902, in the same year the first public library was opened. A telephone line with 80 subscribers was put into operation in 1913. The October Revolution in 1917 put an end to the Russian Empire. On May 28, 1918, Yerevan became the capital of the independent First Republic of Armenia. On 29 November 1920 the Soviet regime was established in Armenia and
Yerevan became the capital of the newly formed Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union. The Soviet era transformed the city that was originally intended for a few thousand residents into a modern metropolis with over a million people, developed according to the prominent Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian&rsquos design. Tamanian successfully incorporated national traditions with contemporary urban construction. Tamanian's new radical-circular layout for the city was imposed over the existing old city - which led to the destruction of a large number of buildings of historic importance. Important churches, mosques, the Persian fortress, baths, bazaars and caravanserais were all demolished during the Soviet period. The city was transformed into a large industrial, cultural and scientific center with over 200 important industrial enterprises. During the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1965, Yerevan was the center of a 24 hour mass anti-Soviet protest (the first such demonstration in the USSR) to demand recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Soviet authorities. In 1968 the city's 2750- anniversary was celebrated. The city became one of the largest industrial and cultural centers of the Soviet Union. In 1981 the first stations of the Yerevan Metro opened.
Following the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the Independent Republic of Armenia on 21th September 1991.
Over the past years, Yerevan transformed vividly and rapidly. Renowned for its cultural activites, museums, theaters and nightlife, it has become a major tourist destination. Yerevan is the financial and business hub of the country, and is home to many international organizations.
When you buy a tour to Armenia you should know certain things about the country. Here are, to our mind, 16 most interesting facts about Armenia.
1. Armenia is an ancient country
Armenia, along with Iran, China, Greece, Egypt and Japan, is among the 6 ancient countries that have survived for thousands of years. Armenia was first mentioned in king Dari I’s Behistun manuscript in 520 BC. Armenia was also mentioned in ancient Greek authors Herodotus and Xenophon in the V century BC.
2. First country to adopt Christianity
Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity as state religion. Jesus Christ’s apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew preached in Armenia and Armenian Apostolic Church is named after them. Gregory the Illuminator (Lusavorich), who baptized Armenia in 301, became the first Catholicos of All Armenians. Armenia became the first Christian state.
3. The first church in the world was built in Armenia
Echmiadzin Cathedral was the first official church, built in the IV century. First Catholicos Gregory the Illuminator (Lusvorich) dreamed that Christ came down from the sky with a fiery hammer in the hand and pointed out the place to build a church. In the year 303 in that place, where at the time was an ancient pagan temple, the church was founded, named Echmiadzin.
Christ’s Spear (Spear of Longinus), which the Roman soldier Longinus thrust in Jesus Christ, is kept in the treasury of the Echmiadzin Cathedral. Since 2000, the cathedral is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
4. Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world
Yerevan, the 13th capital city of Armenia, one of the oldest cities in the world, is located in the north-eastern part of the Ararat Valley. It was founded in 782 BC by King Argishti I. Yerevan is 29 years older than Rome. In 2018 Yerevan will celebrate its 2800 anniversary.
5. The Armenian alphabet is one of the most advanced in the world
The Armenian alphabet was created in 405-406 AD by a scholar and monk Mesrop Mashtots. The key to creating the Armenian alphabet served the ancient Armenian language, consisting of 28 letters, which absolutely didn’t correspond to the sounds of the Armenian language. Mashtots’ alphabet consists of 36 letters. 7 letters convey vowel sounds and 29 letters – consonants. After the XII century 2 more letters appeared in the alphabet, and in 1940 through the merger of existing two letters another letter appeared in the alphabet, but it has no title. Scientists consider the Armenian alphabet one of the three most advanced in the world, along with Georgian and Korean alphabets.
Mesrop Mashtots is also the creator of the Georgian and Albanian alphabets. More than one thousand six hundred years the Armenian alphabet exists almost unchanged. The monument to the Armenian alphabet and its creator Mesrop Mashtots is in the village of Artashavan, on the slope of Mount Aragats.
6. The world’s first textbook of arithmetic problems was created by an Armenian mathematician
The world’s first textbook of arithmetic problems was created by an Armenian scientists the VI century mathematician David the Invincible. A sample of this book is kept at Matenadaran – the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts named after St. Mesrop Mashtots. Matenadaran is one of the largest repositories of manuscripts in the world. Matenadaran is also the world’s largest repository of ancient Armenian manuscripts.
7. Armenia is the homeland of apricot
Armenia is considered to be the homeland of apricot. This is due to the history of the penetration of apricot from Asia to Europe. The famous French biologist De Poerderle (fr. De Poerderlé) in the XVIII century, wrote: “The name of this tree comes from Armenian, Asian province, where it appeared and from where it was brought to Europe …”
Previously it was thought that in the XIX century, the apricot was imported from Armenia to Greece by Alexander the Great, and then from Greece to Italy. This version was not confirmed by the Roman and Greek inscriptions of the time: apricot is not mention there.
However, apricot is mentioned in the sources of the I century, which gives evidence that the apricot was in Italy in the I century BC, after the Roman-Parthian Wars. Apricot was called “Armenian apple” (lat. Mela armeniaca, lat. pomum armeniacum), which confirms the theory that the apricot was brought to Rome from Armenia. Arab geographer Ibn al-Faqih in his “Book of Countries” (903) mentions the Armenian apricot under its Armenian name “tsiran” and calls it “the fruit of Armenia.”
Famous Armenian musical instrument “duduk” is made of apricot wood.
8. Biblical mountain Ararat
Mount Ararat is the symbol of Armenia. It is depicted on the emblem of the country. Noah landed on Mount Ararat on his ark after the waters of the world Flood subsided “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4).
Ararat Mountain range consists of two extinct volcanoes: Great Ararat (in Armenian Masis, 5165 m) and Small Ararat (in Armenian Sis, 3927 m).
However, at present, the mountain is not in Armenia. It is in the territory of modern Turkey. It was moved to Turkey in 1921 by the Treaty of Kars. The modern Republic of Armenia doesn’t recognize the Treaty of Kars.
9. Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide – Armenian massacres organized and implemented by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and lasted until 1923. The genocide was carried out by means of physical destruction and deportation, including the displacement of the civilian population in the conditions that lead to certain death. In 1907 in Turkey the power was taken by the Young Turks, who had the ideology of pan-Turkism, or the dream of a “Great Turan” from the Balkans to the Altai. Turkey’s entry into the First World War in 1914 gave the Young Turks the opportunity for a final decision of “the Armenian issue”, that is, the complete extermination of the Armenians.
“Who now remembers the extermination of the Armenians?” – asked Adolf Hitler, thus motivating the German attack on Poland and planning the Holocaust.
About 1,500.00 Armenians were violently killed. Armenian Genocide is recognized and condemned by 26 countries. This event was 100 years old on April 24, 2015.
10. The Armenian Diaspora
The total number of Armenians in the world is 10-12 million, whereas the population of Armenia is around 3 million.
After the 1915 genocide nearly 500,000 Armenians were scattered around the world and Armenian Diaspora greatly increased. Armenian refugees from Turkey settled in many cities of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. Large Armenian communities now exist in the United States, Russia, Iran, Lebanon, Ukraine, France, Syria, Argentina, Jordan, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Australia and other countries.
Diaspora has a great economic and political support to Armenia.
11. Winery in Areni is the oldest in the world
A few years ago in the village of Areni, located on the bank of the river Arpa in Areni-1 the world’s oldest winery was found, which had produced wine over six thousand years ago. Among the items found: press juice extraction, fermentation vessels, cups for drinking, the remains of vines and seeds. Scientists believe that the grapes, from which the wine was made in Armenia 6000 years ago, was the ancestor of the famous Pinot Noir. Now in France, they produce expensive wine from this sort of grape.
The village of Areni is famous for its wine even now. Every year in October it hosts an annual wine festival.
12. The oldest shoes
In September 2008, in the village of Areni the oldest shoe in the world was discovered. It aged over 5500 years. The footwear was found together with goat horns in a neatly shaped hole with the depth of 45 cm and a diameter of 44cm. It has been perfectly preserved thanks to the special microclimate, and that it was under a thick layer of sheep excrement, which acted as a hard protective shell. The shoe was of 37-th size and was filled with straw and grass. It was worn on the right foot, and it was made from a single piece of leather. Also the shoelaces and holes with 2-3 mm in diameter meant for the shoelaces have been preserved.
13. Armenian bread is in the list of UNESCO world Heritage
In 2014 Armenian lavash was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The decision was made during the meeting of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Paris. The List of Intangible Heritage Site also includes: playing duduk (2005), the skill of creating Armenian khachkars – stone crosses (2010) and medieval Armenian epic “David of Sasun” (2012).
There are 9 cultural sites on the territory of Armenia, also under the protection of UNESCO: the Monastery of Haghpat (X-XIII century), the Monastery of Sanahin (X century), Echmiadzin Cathedral (IV century), Saint Hripsime Church (VII century), St. Gayane Church (VII century), the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots (VII century), Geghard Monastery (IV-XIII centuries), Saint Shoghakat Church (XVII century), the Upper Valley of the river Azat.
15. Armenian Brandy (cognac)
Armenian brandy – a well-known drink to all of us, respected around the world. Industrial production of cognac began in 1887. The merchant Nerses Tairyan built the first winery in Yerevan. 12 years later it was bought by a Russian merchant Nikolai Shustov from Moscow. A few years later Shustov cognac became popular not only in Russia but also abroad. In 1900 Shustov incognito sent samples of brandy to an exhibition in Paris. The Jury unanimously awarded the Grand Prix to the unknown winemaker. Learning that the birthplace of the drink was Armenia, the French allowed Shustov (as an exception) to write on the bottles the word “cognac” instead of “brandy” as all foreign manufacturers of such products were instructed to do.
Russian Emperor Nicholas II, who tried Shustov’s brandy at a testing competition in 1912, gave him the right to be the main supplier of this drink at Russian imperial court.
We also know that cognac was Winston Churchill’s favorite alcoholic drink. Every day he drank a bottle of 50-degree Armenian brandy Dvin.
15. Ropeway “The wings of Tatev” is in the Guiness book of records
Ropeway “Wings of Tatev”, located next to the monastery of Tatev is the world’s longest passenger ropeway. It was built in the framework of “Tatev Revival” and opened on 16 October 2010. The length of the ropeway is 5752 meters. Ropeway “Wings of Tatev” is the only engineering facility of this magnitude in the world built in just 10 months. Air path to the monastery takes 11 minutes, the maximum height is 320 meters, the maximum number of passengers is 25, the capacity of the ropeway is 200 passengers per hour.
16. Armenia is a chess superpower
Chess has been known in Armenia since the IX century. It is mentioned in Armenian manuscripts of XII-XIII centuries which are kept in Matenadaran.
Soviet chess player Tigran Petrosyan was the 9th World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969.
In modern Armenia since 2011, starting with the first class, students have been learning chess at schools as a compulsory subject. Chess classes contribute to the development of mental abilities of children, teach them to think flexibly and wisely. Armenia aspires to its methods of teaching to become one of the best in the world. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is the president of the Armenian Chess Federation.
In 1999 men’s and in 2003 Armenian women’s team became the winners of the European Championship. In 2006 the men’s team won the Chess Olympiad in Turin, in 2008 repeated this success in Dresden, and in 2011 won the World Team Championship in Ningbo. Currently, Armenian men’s team is one of the strongest in the world, and leading Armenian chess player Levon Aronian is consistently among the top three players in the world in the FIDE rating list.
31 interesting facts about Armenia that you might know
The following facts about Armenia will help you visualize Armenia's vibrant past and present. What makes this country stand out above other places? Why does this small nation have such persistent pride? How has this country made such a great contribution to the world around it? Who are the Armenian people and where do they come from? Let us start from the beginning:
- Armenia lies in the highlands of the Southern Caucasus Mountains. There is evidence that civilization existed here since 4000 BC.
- The apricot is Armenia's national fruit. Apricot seeds have been found in the earliest archeological sites. Some early botanical names for apricots are Prunus armeniaca and Malaarmeniaca .
- The pomegranate is the Armenian symbol of life. Tradition tells us that a mature pomegranate has 365 seeds, one for each day of the year. The pomegranate appears in artwork, carpets, and design patterns.
- The Armens mixed with the indigenous Hayasa eventually producing the Armenian people. To this day, the Armenian people call themselves "Hay", their country "Hayastan" and their language "Hayeren".
- Recently, the world's oldest known leather shoe, dated at 5500 years old, was discovered in Southern Armenia. Also, a wine-producing facility was found nearby.
- Throughout its history, Armenia has experienced periods of independence and autonomy and been subjected to various empires. At its peak, Armenia was over ten times its present size.
- Yerevan is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. The fortress of Erebuni (Yerevan) was built in 782 BC, 29 years before the building began in Rome.
- The Armenian Apostolic Church was founded by two of Jesus' apostles: Thaddaeus and Bartholomew. They preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40&ndash60. In AD 301, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Today, over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to this church.
- Etchmiadzin is the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia. It is considered the oldest in the world according to scholars.
- In the 5th century, Mesrop Mashtots created a truly unique alphabet for the Armenian language. This new alphabet was created for the purpose of translating the Bible into Armenian. This gave the common person access to the Bible.
- The old Armenian calendar used the base AD 552 on the Julian calendar for year one. This was the date that the Armenian Apostolic Church separated from the Chaledonian Churches. Their new calendar had 12 months of 30 days and an extra month to make up the difference. Each month was given a name and each day a separate name.
- The Armenian eternity sign is a national symbol and identity of the people. It is one of the most common symbols in their architecture, carved on khachkars and on walls of churches.
- Today, due to the Armenian Genocide, most Armenians are living outside of their homeland. Three million Armenians live in Armenia, while seven million are living elsewhere in the world.
- Through the Middle Ages Armenia became weaker due to invading forces. By the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire controlled Western Armenia and the Persian Empire controlled Eastern Armenia. To this day, Western Armenia remains in Turkey.
- The Russian Empire gained control of Eastern Armenia by 1828, following their victory in the Russo-Persian War. This control lasted until the Russian Revolution.
- During the latter days of the Ottoman Empire, Christian Armenians were subjected to extensive discrimination. The Hamidian massacres occurred between 1894-1896. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation began advocating reform and defending villages, thus subjecting them to further massacres.
- On 24 April 1915 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were rounded up and eventually murdered. This is the date that Armenians commemorate Armenian Genocide Day. Eventually, 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives.
- Mount Ararat is also a national symbol that is sacred to Armenians. Although the peaks are in present-day Turkey, they are most easily seen from Yerevan.
- The Russian Caucasus Army along with Armenian volunteer units and Armenian militia eventually regained most of Western Armenia. These gains were quickly lost due to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
- During the chaos in Russia, Eastern Armenia declared its independence on 28 May 1918. They call this First Republic of Armenia Day, which is still celebrated. Armenian independence was brief--they became part of the Soviet Union on 4 March 1922.
- Following WWII and Stalin's death in 1953, Armenia experienced rapid improvements. Armenian SSR went from a mostly agricultural center to an important industrial production center. Armenia underwent a cultural and economic rebirth which included limited religious freedom. The huge statue of Stalin in Yerevan was replaced with Mother Armenia which still stands over the city.
- Armenia declared its sovereignty from the Soviet Union in 1991. The referendum that followed was overwhelming in favor of full independence, which was declared on 21 September 1991.
- Armenian buildings are constructed mainly of basalt or tuff. The most common variety of tuff used in Armenia has a pinkish color. Since most buildings in Yerevan have tuff exteriors, the city is called "the pink city".
- Armenia's Lake Sevan is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in Eurasia.
- Armenia has the most chess grandmasters per capita than any other country. Today, chess is part of the curriculum in all public schools.
- The Wings of Tatev cableway is in the Guinness World Record for the longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway. The cableway carries passengers from Halidzor to the Tatev monastery.
- Armenia is the third most mono-ethnic country in the world.
- There are six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Armenia: Haghpat monastery, Sanahin Monastery, Echmiadzin cathedral and churches, Zvartnots archaeological site, Geghard monastery, and Azat valley.
- Each year in late March to August, about 650 pairs of white storks descend onto wetland-adjacent villages in Armenia. Many of their very large nests are sitting atop electrical poles, visible from the road.
- Armenia has a total of 359 species of birds, of which 14 are rare in Armenia and are not included in the species count.
- The favorite sports played in Armenian are wrestling, weightlifting, judo, association football, chess, and boxing.
Now that you know a little bit about Armenia, why not visit this nation and discover its uniqueness for yourself. The facts and figures do little justice to this nation&mdashit's the warmth of the people that bring everything alive. You'll want to visit Armenia again and again.
The word düdük is of Turkish origin (Ottoman Turkish: دودوك düdük),  itself derived from Persian tutak.  In Armenia, the instrument is also known as tsiranapogh (ծիրանափող).
This instrument is not to be confused with the northwestern Bulgarian folk instrument of the same name (see below, Balkan duduk). Similar instruments used in other parts of Western Asia are the mey and balaban.
The duduk is a double reed instrument with ancient origins, having existed since at least the fifth century, while there are Armenian scholars who believe it existed more than 1,500 years before that.  The earliest instruments similar to the duduk's present form are made of bone or entirely of cane. Today, the duduk is exclusively made of wood with a large double reed, with the body made from aged apricot wood. 
The particular tuning depends heavily on the region in which it is played. In the twentieth century, the Armenian duduk began to be standardized diatonic in scale and single-octave in range. Accidentals, or chromatics are achieved using fingering techniques. The instrument's body also has different lengths depending upon the range of the instrument and region. The reed (Armenian: եղեգն, eġegn), is made from one or two pieces of cane in a duck-bill type assembly. Unlike other double-reed instruments, the reed is quite wide, helping to give the duduk both its unique, mournful sound, as well as its remarkable breath requirements. The duduk player is called dudukahar (դուդուկահար) in Armenian.
The performer uses air stored in their cheeks to keep playing the instrument while they inhale air into their lungs. This "circular" breathing technique is commonly used with all the double-reed instruments in the Middle East. 
Duduk "is invariably played with the accompaniment of a second dum duduk, which gives the music an energy and tonic atmosphere, changing the scale harmoniously with the principal duduk." 
Armenian musicologists cite evidence of the duduk's use as early as 1200 BC, though Western scholars suggest it is 1,500 years old.  [ unreliable source? ] [ dubious – discuss ] Variants of the duduk can be found in Armenia and the Caucasus. The history of the Armenian duduk music is dated to the reign of the Armenian king Tigran the Great, who reigned from 95–55 B.C.  [ unreliable source? ] [ dubious – discuss ] According to ethnomusicologist Dr. Jonathan McCollum, the instrument is depicted in numerous Armenian manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and is "actually the only truly Armenian instrument that's survived through history, and as such is a symbol of Armenian national identity . The most important quality of the duduk is its ability to express the language dialectic and mood of the Armenian language, which is often the most challenging quality to a duduk player." 
While "duduk" most commonly refers to the double reed instrument described on this page, by coincidence there is a different instrument of the same name played in northwestern Bulgaria. This is a blocked-end flute resembling the Serbian frula, known also as kaval or kavalče in a part of Macedonia,  and as duduk (дудук) in northwest Bulgaria.   Made of maple or other wood, it comes in two sizes: 700–780 millimetres (28–31 in) and 240–400 millimetres (9.4–15.7 in) (duduce). The blocked end is flat. Playing this type of duduk is fairly straightforward and easy, [ citation needed ] and its sound is clean and pleasant.
The sound of the duduk has become known to wider audiences through its use in popular film soundtracks. Starting with Peter Gabriel's score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, the duduk's archaic and mournful sound has been employed in a variety of genres to depict such moods. Djivan Gasparyan played the duduk in Gladiator, Syriana, and Blood Diamond, among others.  It was also used extensively in Battlestar Galactica.  In the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, its computer-altered sound was given to the fictitious Tsungi horn, most notably played by Iroh and often being featured in the show's soundtrack. With many of the members who worked on ATLA now working on The Dragon Prince, the duduk regularly appears in its soundtrack as well. The sound of the duduk was also used in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for a lullaby which Mr. Tumnus plays on a fictitious double flute and in the theme song of the Dothraki clan during the TV adaptation Game of Thrones.  
The 2010 Eurovision Song Contest entry from Armenia "Apricot Stone", which finished 7th in the final, featured prominent duduk played by Djivan Gasparyan.
Film soundtracks Edit
The duduk has been used in a number of films, especially "to denote otherworldliness, loneliness, and mourning or to supply a Middle Eastern/Central Asian atmosphere". 
Skirts have been worn since prehistoric times as the simplest way to cover the lower body. Figurines produced by the Vinča culture (c.5700-4500 BC) located on the territory of present-day Serbia and neighboring Balkan nations from the start of the copper age show women in skirt-like garments. 
A straw-woven skirt dating to 3.900 BC was discovered in Armenia at the Areni-1 cave complex.  Skirts were the standard attire for men and women in all ancient cultures in the Near East and Egypt. The Sumerians in Mesopotamia wore kaunakes, a type of fur skirt tied to a belt. The term "kaunakes" originally referred to a sheep's fleece, but eventually came to be applied to the garment itself. Eventually, the animal pelts were replaced by kaunakes cloth, a textile that imitated fleecy sheep skin.  Kaunakes cloth also served as a symbol in religious iconography, such as in the fleecy cloak of St. John the Baptist.  
Ancient Egyptian garments were mainly made of linen. For the upper classes, they were beautifully woven and intricately pleated.  Around 2,130 BC, during the Old Kingdom of Egypt, men wore wraparound skirts (kilts) known as the shendyt. They were made of a rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the lower body and tied in front. By the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, longer skirts, reaching from the waist to ankles and sometimes hanging from the armpits, became fashionable. During the New Kingdom of Egypt, kilts with a pleated triangular section became fashionable for men.  Beneath these, a shente, or triangular loincloth whose ends were fastened with cord ties, were worn. 
During the Bronze Age, in the Southern parts of Western and Central Europe, wraparound dress-like garments were preferred. However, in Northern Europe, people also wore skirts and blouses. 
In the Middle Ages, men and women preferred dress-like garments. The lower part of men's dresses were much shorter in length compared to those for women. They were wide cut and often pleated or gored so that horse riding was more comfortable. Even a knight's armor had a short metal skirt below the breastplate. It covered the straps attaching the upper legs iron cuisse to the breastplate. Technological advances in weaving in the 13-15th century, like foot-treadle floor looms and scissors with pivoted blades and handles, improved tailoring trousers and tights. They became fashionable for men and henceforth became standard male attire whilst becoming taboo for women.  
Skirts are still worn by men and women from many cultures, such as the lungi, lehnga, kanga and sarong worn in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and the kilt worn in Scotland and Ireland.
One of the earliest known cultures to have females wear clothing resembling miniskirts were the Duan Qun Miao (短裙苗), which literally meant "short skirt Miao" in Chinese. This was in reference to the short miniskirts "that barely cover the buttocks" worn by women of the tribe, and which were probably shocking to observers in medieval and early modern times. 
In the Middle Ages, some upper-class women wore skirts over three metres in diameter at the bottom. [ citation needed ] At the other extreme, the miniskirts of the 1960s were minimal garments that may have barely covered the underwear when the woman was seated. Costume historians [ who? ] typically use the word "petticoat" to describe skirt-like garments of the 18th century or earlier.