View of modern Artashat • Statue of King Artaxias I
Apricot gardens in Artashat • Khor Virap Monastery
World War II memorial • Statue of Kevork Chavush
|• Mayor||Gagik Muradyan|
|• Total||18.3 km2 (7.1 sq mi)|
|Elevation||830 m (2,720 ft)|
|• Density||1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||GMT+4 (UTC+4)|
|Area code(s)||+374 (235)|
|Sources: Population |
Artashat (Armenian: Արտաշատ; Hellenized as Artaxata: Greek: Ἀρτάξατα), is a city on Araks River in the Ararat valley, 30 km southeast of Yerevan. Being one of the oldest cities of Armenia, Artashat is the capital of Ararat Province. Modern Artashat is situated on the Yerevan-Nakhichevan-Baku and Nakhichevan-Tabriz railway and on Yerevan-Goris-Stepanakert highway. The name of the city is derived from Iranian languages and means the "joy of Arta". Founded by King Artashes I in 176 BC, Artashat served as the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia from 185 BC until 120 AD, and was known as the "Vostan Hayots" or "court" or "seal of the Armenians."
Modern-day Artashat, which is located 5 km northwest of the location of ancient Artashat, has a population of 25,300.
King Artashes I founded Artashat in 185 BC in the region of Vostan within the historical province of Ayrarat, at the point where Araks river was joined by Metsamor river during that ancient eras, near the heights of Khor Virap. The story of the foundation is given by the Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi of the fifth century: "Artashes traveled to the location of the confluence of the Yeraskh and Metsamor [rivers] and taking a liking to the position of the hills [adjacent to Mount Ararat], he chose it as the location of his new city, naming it after himself." According to the accounts given by Greek historians Plutarch and Strabo, Artashat is said to have been chosen and developed on the advice of the Carthaginian general Hannibal:
It is said that Hannibal the Carthaginian, after Antiochus had been conquered by the Romans, left him and went to Artaxias the Armenian, to whom he gave many excellent suggestions and instructions. For instance, observing that a section of the country which had the greatest natural advantages and attractions was lying idle and neglected, he drew up a plan for a city there, and then brought Artaxias [Artashes] to the place and showed him its possibilities, and urged him to undertake the building. The king was delighted, and begged Hannibal to superintend the work himself, whereupon a very great and beautiful city arose there, which was named after the king, and proclaimed the capital of Armenia.
However, modern historians argue that there is no direct evidence to support the above. Some sources have also indicated that Artashes built his city upon the remains of an old Urartian settlement. Strabo and Plutarch describe Artashat as a large and beautiful city and call it the "Armenian Carthage". A focal point of Hellenistic culture, Armenia's first theatre was built here. Movses Khorenatsi points that in addition to numerous copper pagan statues of the gods and goddesses of Anahit, Artemis and Tir brought from the religious center of Bagaran and other regions to the city, Jews from the former Armenian capital of Armavir were relocated to Artashat.
Artashes also built a citadel (which was later named Khor Virap and gained prominence as the location where Gregory the Illuminator was to be imprisoned by Trdat the Great) and added other fortifications, including a moat. Given the city's strategic position on the Araks valley, Artashat soon became Artashat a center of bustling economic activity and thriving international trade, linking Persia and Mesopotamia with the Caucasus and Asia Minor. Its economic wealth can be gauged in the numerous bathhouses, markets, workshops administrative buildings that sprang up during the reign of Artashes I. The city had its own treasury and customs. The amphitheater of Artashat was built during the reign of king Artavazd II (55-34 BC). The remains of the huge walls surrounding the city built by King Artashes I could be found in the area.
Wars against Romans and Persians
During the reign of Tigranes II, the Armenian kingdom expanded and conquered many territories in the south and west, ultimately reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Due to the remoteness of Artashat in the greater context of the empire, Tigranes built a new capital called Tigranakert. However, in 69 the Roman general Lucullus invaded Armenia, defeated Tigranes' forces at the outskirts of Tigranakert, and sacked the new capital. As the harassed Roman forces continued to move northeast in pursuit of the Armenian king, a second prominent battle took place, this time at Artashat where, according to Roman sources, Tigranes II was defeated once again. Artashat was restored as capital of Armenia in 60 B.C.
However, the city remained a hotly contested military target for the next two centuries. It was occupied by Capadocian legions under the Roman general Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, who razed it to the ground in 59 AD as part of the first, short-lived, Roman conquest of Armenia. After Emperor Nero recognized Tiridates I as king of Armenia in 66, he granted him 50 million sesterces and sent architects and construction experts to help in the reconstruction of the ruined city. The city was temporarily renamed Neronia, in honor of its sponsor, Nero.
Artashat remained the capital of Armenia until 120 when the see of power was moved to Vagharshapat during the reign of Vologases I (Vagharsh I) 117/8–144. After his death, the Romans led by Statius Priscus invaded Armenia and destroyed Artashat in 162 A.D. Archaeological excavations conducted during the Soviet era uncovered a Latin inscription bearing the full titles of the Emperor Trajan that was probably inscribed upon the governor's palace, dating back to the first quarter of the second century. Artashat remained one of the principal political and cultural centres of Armenia until 369 when it was thoroughly destroyed by the Persian invading army of king Shapur II.
In 449, just prior to the Battle of Avarayr, the city witnessed the "Artashat Council" where the political and religious leaders of Christian Armenia gathered to discuss the threats of the Persian Sassanian king Yazdegerd II. However, after losing its status as a capital to Vagharshapat and later Dvin, Artashat gradually lost its significance.
The exact location of ancient Artashat was identified during the 1920s, with archaeological excavations beginning in 1970.
Soviet period and independence
The modern city of Artashat – adjacent to the ancient city – was formed as a city in 1962 within the Armenian SSR. It was given the status of an urban community with the merge of three villages, Upper Ghamarlu, Lower Ghamarlu and Narvezlu.
The city has grown gradually as an industrial hub during the Soviet period, mainly in the sphere of food-processing and building materials production. The city has twelve industrial plants.
In 1995, with the new law of the territorial administration of the Republic of Armenia, Artashat became the provincial centre of the newly created Ararat Province.
Education and culture
Nowadays, the cultural life of Artashat is enhancing with the presence of several cultural institutions. The city has a cultural palace, an art center named after Charles Aznavour and a dramatic theater named after Amo Kharazyan.
There are 6 public education schools, 7 kindergartens, one musical, an art and two sport school in Artashat, as well as a local television station and a number of local newspapers. The Alexander Melik Pashaev Musical School opened in 1956.
In 2004, a new amusement park was inaugurated in the center of Artashat, which is used to host public celebrations, concerts and musical shows at nights.
During the events dedicated to the 1600th anniversary of the invention of the Armenian alphabet, sculptors from all over Armenia and the diaspora created many cultural monuments in the center of Artashat. The monument of King Artashes I also stands in the center of the city.
The new church of Surp Hovhannes is currently under construction since 2003 with many interruptions, and was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012. In September 2009 a dome-blessing ceremony was conducted by the supreme Catholicos of all Armenians, where crosses were placed on the top of the domes.
Theatre in Artashat
Artashat is the venue of the first ever theater show performed in the history of Armenia. King Artavazd II (55-34 BC) managed to stage and direct The Bacchae of Euripides at the Artashat amphitheater in 53 BC with the presence of king Orodes II of Parthia.
During the last 15 years, the dramatic theatre of Artashat named after Amo Kharazyan, has performed Armenian and international classic as well as modern works.
Artashat has several industrial sectors. During the last decades many factories which produce alcoholic drinks, canned foods, dairy products, building materials and textiles were opened in the city and the surrounding area.
After some difficulties during the economical crisis of the 1990s in Armenia, many firms in Artashat overcame the hard situation and started producing their products in the domestic and international markets.
The Artashat Cannery is supplied with modern technology, while the Artashat Winery that (opened in 1995) is considered as one of the most developed factories in Armenia. The products of the winery are mainly exported to Russia and other CIS countries. The Porcelain Factory of Artashat is one of the main suppliers of building materials in the Armenian market and the only one in the Republic which produces porcelain tiles.
Artashat has a municipal football stadium where many competitions and championships for young football teams and atheltics are held. FC Dvin Artashat, founded in 1982 as Olympia Artashat was the only football club in the city. After the 1999 Armenian Premier League season, the club was dissolved due to financial difficulties and is currently inactive from professional football.
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- Artashat urban community
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