The Armenian Mountain Range near the Iran–Turkey border
|Elevation||5,137 m (16,854 ft)|
|Area||400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi)|
The Armenian Highlands (Armenian: Հայկական լեռնաշխարհ, romanized: Haykakan leṙnašxarh; also known as the Armenian Upland, Armenian plateau, Armenian tableland or simply Armenia) is the most central and the highest of the three plateaus that together form the northern sector of Western Asia. To its west is the Anatolian plateau, which rises slowly from the lowland coast of the Aegean Sea and converges with the Armenian Highlands to the east of Cappadocia. To its southeast is the Iranian plateau, where the elevation drops rapidly by about 600 metres (2,000 ft) to 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) above sea level. The Caucasus extends to the northeast of the Armenian Highlands. To the southwest of the Armenian Highlands is Upper Mesopotamia.
During the Iron Age, the region was known by variations of the name Ararat (Urartu, Uruatri, Urashtu). In Antiquity, the population living on the Highlands was ethnically diverse, but in the Achaemenid period (550–330 BC), Armenian-speakers came to prominence. Recent studies have shown that Armenians are indigenous to the Armenian Highlands and form a distinct genetic isolate in the region.
Later, the Highlands were known as "Armenia Major," a central region to the history of Armenians, and one of the four geo-political regions associated with Armenians, the other three being Armenia Minor, Sophene, and Commagene.
Since the 1040s, the highlands have been under the rule of various Turkic peoples and the Safavid dynasty. Much of Eastern Armenia, which had been ruled by the Safavids from the 16th century, became part of the Russian Empire in 1828 and was later incorporated into the Soviet Union, while much of Western Armenia was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and later incorporated into Turkey. The highlands are divided into western and eastern regions, defined by the Ararat Valley where Mount Ararat is located. Western Armenia is often referred to as eastern Anatolia, and Eastern Armenia as the Lesser Caucasus or Caucasus Minor.
The region was historically mainly inhabited by Armenians, and minorities of Assyrians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, and Iranians. During the Middle Ages, Arabs and particularly Turkmens and Kurds settled in large numbers in the Armenian Highlands. The Christian population of the western half of the region was exterminated during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and on a smaller scale, the Assyrian and Greek Genocides.
Today, the eastern half is mainly inhabited by Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians, while the western half is mainly inhabited by Azerbaijanis, Kurds (including Yazidis), Turks, and Zazas, with a minority of Assyrians.
The Armenian Highlands is part of the Alpide belt, forming part of the Asian range that stretches from the Pontic Mountains to the Malay Peninsula. Its total area is about 400,000 km2. Historically, the Armenian Highlands have been the scene of great volcanic activity. Geologically recent volcanism on the area has resulted in large volcanic formations and a series of massifs and tectonic movement has formed the three largest lakes in the Highlands; Lake Sevan, Lake Van and Lake Urmia. The Armenian Highlands are rich in water resources. The central, axial chain of Armenian highland ridges, running from west to east across Western Armenia, is called the Anti-Taurus. In the west, the Anti-Taurus departs to the north from the Central (Cilician) Taurus, and, passing right in the middle of the Armenian plateau, parallel to the Eastern (Armenian) Taurus, ends in the east at the Ararat peaks.
Most of the Armenian Highlands is in present-day eastern Anatolia, and also includes northwestern Iran, all of Armenia, southern Georgia, and western Azerbaijan. Its northeastern parts are also known as Lesser Caucasus, which is a center of Armenian culture.
From 4000 to 1000 BC, tools and trinkets of copper, bronze and iron were commonly produced in this region and traded in neighboring lands where those metals were less abundant. It is also traditionally believed to be one of the possible locations of the Garden of Eden.
The Armenian Plateau has been called the "epicenter of the Iron Age", since it appears to be the location of the first appearance of Iron Age metallurgy in the late 2nd millennium BC. In the Early Iron Age, the Kingdom of Van controlled much of the region, until it was overthrown by the Medes and Orontid dynasty.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the land of Aratta is placed in a geographic space that could be describing the Armenian plateau. In Antiquity, the population living on the Highlands was ethnically diverse, but in the Achaemenid period (550–330 BC), Armenian-speakers came to prominence. Recent studies have shown that Armenians are indigenous to the Armenian Highlands and form a distinct genetic isolate in the region. There are signs of considerable genetic admixture in Armenians between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, these mixture dates also coincide with the legendary establishment of Armenia in 2492 BCE, but they subside to insignificant levels since 1200 BC, remaining stable until today.
Middle Ages: Turkish and Persian conquests
Seljuk Turks first arrived in the Armenian highlands in the 1040s and expanded westward conquering territories and populating the peninsula until finally the Ottoman Empire was declared in 1299. The Seljuks victory at the Battle of Manzikert ushered in the most catastrophic four and a half centuries in Armenia's history. Most of the Armenian population suffered an unrelenting devastation, but Ruben I, Prince of Armenia led some of the Armenians out of the highlands and escaped into the mountains of Cilicia where they founded a new principality that was not in the Turkish line of fire.
Armenia's troubles began with the Seljuks but there was more to come. In the early 13th century, as various peoples fled from the advancing Mongol onslaught, the highlands were once again disturbed by the migrations of the Karluk and Kharizmian peoples. The Mongols, who did not distinguish between Christianity and Islam, reached the highlands in 1235. With their arrival, Armenia became part of "the East" in its entirety for the first time since the territory was partitioned during the Byzantine–Sasanian wars. Considered the successors of the Abbasids, Sassanidss and Seljuks, the Mongols eventually converted to Islam and established their dynasty in Azerbaijan.
In 1410 the area was ruled by Kara Koyunlu who ruled until 1468. The pastoral culture of the Kara Koyunlu Turks undermined agricultural practices in Armenia. In 1468, the Ak Koyunlu Turks assumed power; their reign lasted until 1502 when the Safavids place Armenia under Iranian rule. The Ottoman Turks don't take control of the highland region until 1514, several decades after Armenians in the Ottoman Empire are given millet status. The highlands come under Ottoman control following the defeat of the Safavids at the Battle of Chalderon; they appointed Kurdish tribesman to rule over the highlands' local administrative affairs. By 1516, the Ottoman Empire has conquered all of the formerly Armenian lands, including Cilicia.
Throughout Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages, during various centuries, the Armenian Highlands was fought over between the Iranian Parthian Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire, Byzantine Empire, and the Arab Caliphate.
Early modern period
From the early modern era and on, the region came directly under Safavid Iranian rule. Heavily contested for centuries between the Iranian Safavids and its archrival the Ottoman Empire, with numerous wars raging over the region, large parts of the Highlands comprising Western Armenia were finally conquered by the Ottomans in the first half of the 17th century following the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39) and the resulting Treaty of Zuhab. Eastern Armenia, the other major part of the Highlands, stayed in Iranian hands up to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay, when it was ceded to Imperial Russia.
Late modern period
During the first half of the 19th century, the Ottoman-held parts of the Armenian Highlands comprising Western Armenia formed the boundary of the Ottoman and Russian spheres of influence, after the latter had completed its conquest of the Caucasus and Eastern Armenia at the expense of its suzerain, Qajar Iran, after four major wars spanning more than two centuries.
The Armenian Genocide was the "physical elimination of the Armenian people and most of the evidence of their ever having lived on the great highland called the Armenian Plateau, to which the perpetrator side soon assigned the new name of Eastern Anatolia". Since the Armenian Genocide and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the Highlands have been the boundary region of Turkey, Iran and the Soviet Union and, since the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia, and parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Flora and fauna
|1||Mount Ararat||5,137 m (16,854 ft)||Ağrı Province|
|2||Mount Aragats||4,095 m (13,435 ft)||Aragatsotn Province|
|3||Mount Süphan||4,058 m (13,314 ft)||Bitlis Province|
|4||Mount Kapudzhukh||3,906 m (12,815 ft)||Syunik Province / Ordubad|
|5||Mount Avrin||3,650 m (11,980 ft)||West Azerbaijan province|
|6||Mount Azhdahak||3,597 m (11,801 ft)||Gegharkunik Province|
|7||Mount Kezelboghaz||3,594 m (11,791 ft)||Syunik Province|
|8||Mount Artos||3,515 m (11,532 ft)||Van Province|
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Among the diversity of ethnicities residing on the Armenian plateau in Antiquity, the Armenian-speakers came to prominence during the Achaemenid period.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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