|Location||Arzanene Province, Kingdom of Armenia
(near Diyarbakır, Turkey)
|Builder||Tigranes the Great|
Tigranocerta (Greek: Τιγρανόκερτα Tigranόkerta); Tigranakert Armenian: Տիգրանակերտ) was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom. It bore the name of Tigranes the Great, who founded the city in the first century BC. The name of the city means "made by Tigran", and was possibly located near present-day Silvan or nearby Arzan (Arzn, in the Armenian province of Arzanene or Aghdznik), east of Diyarbakır, Turkey. It was one of four cities in historic Armenia named Tigranakert. The others were located in Nakhichevan, Artsakh and Utik.
To create this city, Tigranes forced many people out of their homes to make up the population. Armenia at this time had expanded east to the Caspian Sea, west to central Cappadocia, and south towards Judea, advancing as far as the regions surrounding what is now the Krak des Chevaliers. A Roman force under Lucius Lucullus defeated Tigranes at the Battle of Tigranocerta nearby in 69 BC, and afterwards sacked the city, sending many of the people back to their original homes. During Pompey the Great's 'conquests of the east', Tigranocerta was retaken briefly by Rome, but was lost when Tigranes the Great was given parts of his kingdom back after his initial surrender to Pompey for the cost of 6,000 talents (an indemnity paid to Rome over an uncertain period). It was again taken by the Romans when Corbulo, a Roman legate (head of a legion), defeated Tiridates during the Armenian rebellion of 64 AD.
The city's markets were filled with traders and merchants doing business from all over the ancient world. Tigranocerta quickly became a very important commercial, as well as cultural center of the Near East. The magnificent theater that was established by the Emperor, of which he was an avid devotee, conducted dramas and comedies mostly played by Greek as well as Armenian actors. Plutarch wrote that Tigranocerta was "a rich and beautiful city where every common man and every man of rank studied to adorn it." The Hellenistic culture during the Artaxiad Dynasty had a strong influence and the Greek language was in fact the official language of the court. Tigranes had divided Greater Armenia – the nucleus of the Empire – into four major strategic regions or viceroyalties. After the plunder, which included the destruction of statues and temples, the city was set ablaze. An abundant quantity of gold and silver was carried off to Rome as war booty. Lucullus took most of the gold and silver from the melted-down statues, pots, cups and other valuable metals and precious stones. During the pillage most of the city's inhabitants simply fled to the countryside. The newly established theater building was also destroyed in the fire. The great city would never recover from this devastating destruction.
- Hovhannisian, P. (1985). Hambardzumyan, Viktor, ed. Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia (in Armenian) 11. Yerevan: Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. p. 697.
- See Thomas A. Sinclair, "The Site of Tigranocerta. I," Revue des Études Arméniennes 25 (1994-95): pp. 183-254; idem, "The Site of Tigranocerta. II," Revue des Études Arméniennes 26 (1996-97): 51-117.
- Karapetian, Samvel (2001). Armenian Cultural Monuments in the Region of Karabakh. Yerevan: "Gitutiun" Publishing House of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. p. 213. ISBN 9785808004689. "It should be noted that the data of records referring to these four towns, all of which were called Tigranakert and differed only by provinces, were often confused, if the name of the province; Aldznik, Goghtn, Utik or Artsakh..."
- Cassius Dio, Roman History, 36.2.3.
- Holmes, T. Rice, "Tigranocerta." Journal of Roman Studies 7 (1917): pp. 120-38.
- Goldsworthy, Adrian. In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won The Roman Empire, 2nd Ed.. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003.
- Plutarch, Life of Lucullus, 26.2.
- Plutarch, Life of Lucullus, 29.3.
- Hovannisian, Richard G. (2006). Armenian Tigranakert/Diarbekir and Edessa/Urfa. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 9781568591537. "The city that later generations of Armenians would call Dikranagerd was actually ancient Amid or Amida (now Diarbekir or Diyarbakir), a great walled city with seventy-two towers..."