Artsakh (historic province)
|Province of Kingdom of Armenia|
|c. 189 BC–387 AD|
Location of Artsakh (green) in Armenia
|Historical era||Antiquity, Middle Ages|
• Conquered by Artaxias I
|c. 189 BC|
• Ceded to Caucasian Albania
• Kingdom of Artsakh founded
Artsakh (Armenian: Արցախ, romanized: Artsʻakh, pronounced [ɑɾˈtsʰɑχ]) was the tenth province (nahang) of the Kingdom of Armenia from c. 189 BC until 387 AD, when it was made part of Caucasian Albania, a subject principality of the Sasanian Empire, following the Peace of Acilisene. From the 7th to 9th centuries, it fell under Arab control. In 821, it formed the Armenian principality of Khachen and around the year 1000 was proclaimed the Kingdom of Artsakh, one of the last medieval eastern Armenian kingdoms and principalities to maintain its autonomy following the Turkic invasions of the 11th to 14th centuries.
Cuneiform inscriptions left by Urartian kings mention a land or lands called "Ardakh/Adakh", "Urdekhe/Urtekhini", and "Atakhuni", which some scholars identify with Artsakh. When speaking about Armenia in his Geography, the classical historian Strabo refers to an Armenian region which he calls "Orchistene", which is also believed to be a rendering of the name Artsakh. Some early Armenian sources spell the name as Ardzakh (Արձախ).
Many different proposed etymologies and interpretations of the name Artsakh exist. The 19th-century Armenian scholar Ghevont Alishan writes of the name's origin that it "remains unknown, but perhaps it would not be out of place to think that it comes from the name of bushes and trees tsakh, in accordance with the land's forested character". David M. Lang connects Artsakh with the name of King Artaxias I of Armenia (190–159 BC), founder of the Artaxiad dynasty that ruled Greater Armenia. Another scholar proposed that Artsakh consists of the elements art ("field" in Armenian) and aght (a Classical Armenian word for "black").
Based on the putative attestations of Artsakh as Urtekhe and Orchistene, historian Babken Harutyunyan hypothesizes that the initial vowel in Artsakh was originally an "o" sound (the vowel sounds "o" and "u" are not distinguished in cuneiform) that later underwent a vowel shift to an "a" sound, which is typical of Indo-European languages. On the basis of this assumption, linguist Lusine Margaryan proposes a connection with the Armenian word vortʻ (ortʻ in classical pronunciation, ortʻs in the accusative case), meaning grapevine, and the Hurro-Urartian suffix -ekhe/-akh (indicating placenames). According to this hypothesis, the name Artsakh developed from the unattested form *Ortʻsakh and can be interpreted as meaning "place of grapevines, grape garden"․
In the Middle Ages, Artsakh was occasionally referred to as "Little Syunik" or "Second Syunik" after the neighboring province. Medieval Armenian authors also referred to it as Khachʻen(kʻ) or, together with neighboring Utik, Arewelkʻ ("East" in Armenian), Arewelitsʻ koghmankʻ ("the eastern regions"), or Aghuankʻ (the Armenian name for Caucasian Albania). The territory of Artsakh or part of it fell under the region known as Arran and, later, Karabagh. The name Artsakh was repopularized among Armenians in the modern era, particularly with the emergence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Artsakh is used by Armenians as a synonym for Karabagh and is used in the official name of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh (also known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic).
|Early Modern Age|
Artsakh was located on the easternmost edge of the Armenian Plateau (the eastern part of the Lesser Caucasus) and was mostly mountainous and forested. Its area is estimated to have been 11,528 km2. It was bordered by the following Armenian provinces: Utik to the east, Gardman to the northeast, and Syunik to the southwest. The river Arax formed its southern boundary, while the Hakari/Aghavno River was its only clear boundary with Syunik. To its east and southeast laid the lowlands between the Kura and Arax rivers and the Mughan plain, which at one point formed the Paytakaran province of Armenia. Artsakh's two largest rivers were the Gargar and the Tartar (Trtu in Classical Armenian sources), which flow eastward and eventually join the Kura. The medieval Kingdom of Artsakh (1000–1261) encompassed the entire territory of the classical province and also included Gardman-Parisos to the north and the cantons of Sodk and Gegharkunik of Syunik, located on the shores of Lake Sevan.
Important places in Artsakh (mostly fortified towns) included Parisos, Tigranakert, Sodk, Tsar, Vaykunik, Asteghblur, Goroz and Berdaglukh. The city of Tigranakert, which was first excavated in 2005, is believed to have been founded by King Tigranes the Great of Armenia in the 1st century BC, although conceivably it could also have been founded by King Tigranes I (123–55 BC). Later, in the Caucasian Albanian period, the village of Gyutakan (Armenian: Գյուտական, known as the "Royal Village") became of great importance as the residence of Vachagan III the Pious (467–510 AD), the last King of Caucasian Albania. During early medieval times, the castle of Khachen served for a considerable time as the center of Artsakh.
- Myus Haband
- Mets Arank
- Mets Kvenk
- Sisakan Vostan or Sisakan-i-Kotak
It is not certain how Artsakh was administered as a sub-national political entity within Armenia. Ghevont Alishan believed that Artsakh was originally a part of Syunik that was later separated and regarded as its own province. According to some Armenian scholars, Artsakh formed a principality with the adjacent canton of Sodk. Conceivably it was royal land. Its northern part also comprised the principality of Koght and it is possible that the princes of Koght were the original owners of Artsakh. Under the rule of Caucasian Albania, Artsakh, while often referred to, was not a recognized political entity. By the 9th century it comprised a number of small political units ruled by the Aranshahiks, including the principalities of Khachen in the center and Dizak in the south. Only in the 13th century did these two states merge into one – the Kingdom of Artsakh.
Anthropological studies show that the current Artsakh (Karabakh) Armenians are the direct physical descendants of the indigenous population of the region.[verification needed] Following the modern consensus among western scholars concerning the origin of the Armenian people, they represent a fusion of the mostly Indo-European natives of the Armenian Plateau (including Artsakh) and the proto-Armenians, conventionally called the "Armens" of Armenian Plateau. According to this theory, from earliest times the Armenian Plateau was inhabited by many ethnic groups. The ethnic character of Artsakh may thus have been originally more diverse than it is now. It may have even been the homeland of the ancient tribes who lived in the region of Arran, although that is not certain. It is worth noting that Strabo described Armenia (which then included also Artsakh and Utik) in the 1st century BC as "monolingual", though this does not necessarily mean that its population consisted exclusively of ethnic Armenians.
According to the Encyclopædia Iranica, the proto-Armenians had settled as far north as the Kura River by the 7th century BC. In Robert Hewsen's view, until the 6th–5th centuries BC the proto-Armenians lived only in the western half of the Armenian Plateau (in areas between Cappadocia, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and Lake Van) and came to Artsakh and adjacent regions such as Syunik and Utik somewhat later than the central parts of the Armenian Plateau (as late as the 2nd century BC, as a result of Artaxias I's conquests). Although little is known of the people that lived in Artsakh and Utik prior to the putative 2nd-century BC arrival of the Armenians, Hewsen argues that the names of those tribes (mentioned by Greek, Roman and Armenian authors) demonstrate that they were not Armenian and mostly non-Indo-European, and that they assimilated into the Armenians over time.
By medieval times, from at least the 9th century, the population of Artsakh had a strong Armenian national identity. Its people spoke a local Eastern Armenian dialect, the Artsakhian dialect (today known as the Karabakh dialect), which was mentioned by 7th-century grammarian Stepanos Syunetsi in his earliest record of the Armenian dialects․
The early Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi tells of a certain Aran, a descendant of the legendary Armenian patriarch Hayk through Sisak, who inherited "the plain of Albania [Aghuankʻ] and the mountainous region of the same plain" from the Arax River up to the fortress of Hnarakert (located on the Kura), and was appointed governor (koghmnakal) by King Vagharsak the Parthian. Khorenatsi writes that Aran's descendants formed the ruling families of the lands of Utik, Gardman, Tsawdēkʻ and Gargar, and that Aghuankʻ (the Armenian name for Caucasian Albania/Arran) was named so after Aran, since he was called aghu (meaning "soft, tender, amiable" in Armenian) on account of his good manners.[a] This story is repeated by later medieval Armenian historians, including Stephen Orbelian and Movses Kaghankatvatsi. The latter author identifies Aran as the founder of the original ruling dynasty of Caucasian Albania, the Aranshahiks. Armenian historians such as Bagrat Ulubabyan and Asatur Mnatsakanyan interpret Khorenatsi's story about Aran and his descendants as an allegorical reflection of the historical Armenianness of the lands between the Kura and Arax rivers, i.e. Utik and Artsakh.
In 1968, Soviet archaeologists discovered a fragment of a jawbone of a pre-Homo sapiens human dating back possibly to the Middle Acheulean culture in a cave complex near the village of Azokh in modern-day Nagorno-Karabakh. Other sites of archaeological interest are located in the vicinity of Stepanakert, Khojaly, and Astghashen, where ancient burial mounds containing human and animal remains, tools, pottery and other objects have been discovered. In general, archaeological remains in Artsakh reflect the competing influences from around 800 BC of the neighboring rival states of Urartu, Assyria, and Mannai. If Artsakh is to be identified with the Adakh/Urtekhini/Atakhuni of Urartian cuneiform inscriptions, then it was the target of military campaigns by two Urartian kings: Sarduri II and Rusa I.
After the fall of Urartu (6th century BC), most of the region south of the Kura River came under the domination of the Medes, followed by the Achaemenian Persians until 331 BC when Alexander the Great invaded the region during his wars with the Achaemenids, upsetting its balance of power. In Robert H. Hewsen's view, Artsakh and neighboring Utik became a part of the Kingdom of Armenia only after 189 BC, when the Artaxiad dynasty came to power in Armenia. Strabo reports that King Artaxias I of Armenia (r. 189 – 159 BC) expanded his state in all directions at the expense of his neighbors, conquering the lands of Caspiane (previously ruled by the Medes) and "Phaunitis" (supposedly a copyist error for Saunities, i.e. Syunik), as well as, presumably, the lands lying in between Syunik and the Caspian Sea, i.e. Artsakh and Utik. Many Armenian historians reject this view, arguing that Artsakh and Utik were ruled and populated by Armenians from the earliest days of the formation of the Armenian people. It is possible that Artsakh had earlier been part of Orontid Armenia in the 4th–2nd centuries BC rather than under Median rule.
Strabo mentions that the land of Orchistene, frequently identified with Artsakh, "furnishes the most cavalry" of the Armenian provinces. In the Classical Armenian sources, Artsakh is described as a strategic and fortified region. In the words of the historian Leo, judging from the Classical Armenian sources, Artsakh, along with Syunik, Utik, Sasun and other remote regions of Greater Armenia, was regarded as a "wild" or "barbarous" province when compared with the center of the kingdom, Ayrarat.
In 301, Armenia was converted to Christianity under the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia. The Armenian historian Agathangelos mentioned the princes of Utik and Sodk (which probably comprised Artsakh) among the sixteen Armenian princes who escorted Gregory the Illuminator to Caesarea, where he would be enthroned the Patriach of Armenia.[non-primary source needed]
Artsakh became a major stronghold for Armenian missionaries to proclaim the Christian Gospel to neighboring countries. In 310 St Grigoris, the grandson of Grigor the Illuminator, was ordained bishop of Iberia and Caucasian Albania in the monastery of Amaras, being just 15 years old at the time. After his martyrdom by the Mazkutian king on the field of Vatnean (near Derbent), his disciples conveyed his body back to Artsakh and buried him in Amaras, which had been built by Gregory the Illuminator and Grigoris himself. Hence St Grigoris became a patron saint of Artsakh. The historian Pavstos Buzand wrote that "... every year the people of that places and cantons gathers there [in Amaras] for the festive commemoration of his valor".
Loss to Caucasian Albania
The second half of the 4th century saw a series of wars between the Kingdom of Armenia and Sassanid Persia. After enduring 34 years of warfare, the Armenian nobility of Artsakh and most other provinces of Armenia revolted, refusing to support the Armenian king Arshak II anymore out of war-weariness. According to Pavstos Buzand, after bringing Arshak's son Pap to the Armenian throne and defeating the Sassanid invaders with Roman assistance, the Armenian sparapet (supreme commander) Mushegh Mamikonian severely punished the rebelling Armenian provinces, Artsakh included, and brought them back under the control of the Armenian monarchy. Then, in 372 he attacked the Caucasian Albanians and took back from them the neighboring province of Utik, in the process reestablishing the Kura River as the boundary between Armenia and Caucasian Albania.
In 387, according to the terms of the Peace of Acilisene, the Armenian kingdom was partitioned between the Roman and Sasanian empires. Caucasian Albania, as an ally of the Sassanids at the time, gained Armenian territories the right bank of the river Kura up to the Arax, including Artsakh, Gardman and Utik.
Following the Battle of Avarayr (451), in which a united Christian army consisting of Armenians, Georgians, and Caucasian Albanians clashed with the Sassanid army, many of the Armenian nobles retreated to impassable mountains and forests in several provinces, including Artsakh, which became a center for resistance against Sassanid Iran. From the 5th to the 7th centuries Artsakh was ruled by the Armenian noble family of Arranshahiks. Furthermore, the Armenian rulers of Artsakh began to play a considerable role in the affairs of Caucasian Albania.[page needed] In 498 in the settlement named Aghuen (in present-day Mardakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh), an Albanian church assembly was held, in the presence of the nobility and princes (azgapetk) of Artsakh and the king Vachagan the Pious, to adopt the Constitution of Aghven, which would arrange relations between the nobility (landlords), clergy and village people.
In the 7th–9th centuries, the South Caucasus was dominated by the Arab Caliphates. In the early 9th century two Armenian princes, Sahl Smbatian and Esayi Abu-Muse, revolted against Arab rule and established two independent principalities in Artsakh: Khachen and Dizak. At the time the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII addressed letters "to prince of Khachen – to Armenia", being the residence of the Armenian prince Sahl Smbatian. In 852–855 Sahl Smbatian and Esayi Abu-Muse fought against the Abbasid commander Bugha. The latter 28 times unsuccessfully attempted to conquer Ktich Castle (situated near modern-day Togh in Nagorno-Karabakh), the main stronghold of the Armenians of Artsakh. The descendants of Sahl Smbatian through his son Atrnerseh consolidated their rule over Artsakh over the years; Artsakh was politically unified for three-and-a-half centuries until Hasan the Great partitioned it between two of his sons in 1182. From c. 1000 to 1266 the rulers of Khachen styled themselves "Kings of Albania" or "Kings of Artsakh", but they stopped using the royal title after the death of Hasan Jalal Dawla in the 1260s. The principality eventually split into smaller parts known as the Khamsa Melikdoms of Karabakh, ruled by branches of the House of Hasan-Jalalyan. Artsakh intermittently as vassals until the early 19th century, through the subsequent full domination by the Kara Koyunlu, Ak Koyunlu, Iranian Safavids, Zands, Afsharids, and Qajars, until it was ceded to Imperial Russia following the outcome of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the following Treaty of Gulistan.
- Republic of Artsakh
- Principality of Khachen
- Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity)
- Caucasian Albania
- Ulubabyan believes "Gargar" to be an error in place of Gugark. Ulubabyan and Yeremyan identify Tsawdēkʻ with the canton of Sodk southeast of Lake Sevan, near Artsakh, although others place it farther away in southwestern Armenia.
- Hewsen, Robert H. (2001). Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-226-33228-4.
- Hewsen 2001, pp. 118–121.
- Chorbajian, Levon; Mutafian, Claude; Donabédian, Patrick (1994). The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geo-Politics of Nagorno-Karabagh. London: Atlantic Highlands, NJ. pp. 52, 59. ISBN 1856492877. OCLC 31970952.
[...] Artsakh sometimes called Little Siunik or Second Siunik, [...]
- Ulubabyan, B. (1976). "Արցախ" [Artsʻakh]. In Hambardzumyan, Viktor (ed.). Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia (in Armenian). Vol. 2. Yerevan. pp. 150–151.
The name is mentioned in Urartian inscriptions as 'Ardakh', 'Urdekhe', 'Atakhuni'. The Greek historian Strabo mentions it as 'Orkhistine'...
- Hakobyan, T. Kh.; Melik-Bakhshyan, St. T.; Barseghyan, H. Kh. (1986). "Արցախ" [Artsʻakh]. Հայաստանի և հարակից շրջանների տեղանունների բառարան [Dictionary of toponymy of Armenia and adjacent territories] (in Armenian). Vol. 1. Yerevan State University. p. 506.
Some assume that Tsavdekʻ and the lands of Urdukhe and Atakhani mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions are synonyms of Artsakh, which is unlikely.
- Ulubabyan, Bagrat (1994). Արցախի պատմությունը սկզբից մինչև մեր օրերը [History of Artsakh from the beginning to our days] (PDF) (in Armenian). Yerevan: M. Varandean Publishing House. pp. 9–10, 12–13. ISBN 5-8079-0960-7.
- Strabo. Geography, 11.14.
- Margaryan, Lusine (2020). "«Արցախ» և «Ղարաբաղ» տեղանունների ստուգաբանության հարցի շուրջ" [On the issue of the etymology of the placenames 'Artsakh' and 'Gharabagh'] (PDF). Banber Matenadarani (29): 349–350.
- Margaryan 2020, p. 354.
- Lang, David Marshall (1988). The Armenians: A People in Exile. London: Unwin Hyman. p. x. ISBN 978-0-04-956010-9.
- Hewsen, Robert H. (1972). "The Meliks of Eastern Armenia: A Preliminary Study". Revue des Études Arméniennes. New Series. IX: 288.
James H . Tashijian... derives the Armenian name from ard (sic, i.e. art) «field» and aghd (sic, i.e. ałt), a classical Armenian word for «black»...
- Harutyunyan, B. H. (1994). "Արցախի, Հայոց Արևելից կողմերի և Ղարաբաղի տարածքի հարցի շուրջը" [On the question of the territory of Artsakh, Eastern region of Armenia and Kharabagh]. Patma-Banasirakan Handes (1–2): 265.
- Margaryan 2020, p. 352.
- Shnirel'man, Viktor Aleksandrovich (2003). Войны памяти: мифы, идентичность и политика в Закавказье [Memory Wars: Myths, Identity and Politics in Transcaucasia] (in Russian). Moscow: Akademkniga. pp. 22, 50. ISBN 5-94628-118-6.
- Toal, Gerard; O'Loughlin, John (5 November 2013). "Land for Peace in Nagorny Karabakh? Political Geographies and Public Attitudes Inside a Contested De Facto State". Territory, Politics, Governance. 1 (2): 158–182. doi:10.1080/21622671.2013.842184. S2CID 54576963. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
Today, most Armenians use the term Artsakh interchangeably with the term Karabakh in Armenian, Russian and English.
- Hewsen 1972, p. 308.
- Leo (1989). Երկերի ժողովածու [Collected Works] (in Armenian). Vol. ix. Yerevan. pp. 246–250. ISBN 5-550-00407-0.
- Yeremyan, Suren T. (1963). Հայաստանը ըստ «Աշխարհացոյց»-ի [Armenia according to "Ashkharhatsoyts"] (in Armenian). Yerevan: Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences Publishing. p. 41.
- Hewsen 2001, p. 63.
- Alishan, Ghevond (1993). Արցախ [Artsʻakh] (in Armenian). Translated by Tʻosunyan, G. B. Yerevan State University Publishing House. pp. 5–6. ISBN 5-8084-0221-2.
- Hewsen, Robert H. (1984). "The Kingdom of Arc'ax". In Samuelian, Thomas J.; Stone, Michael E. (eds.). Medieval Armenian Culture. University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies. Chico, CA: Scholars Press. pp. 50–54. ISBN 0-89130-642-0.
- Hewsen 2001, p. 62.
- Hewsen 2001, pp. 100–103.
- Alishan 1993, p. 9.
- Alishan 1993, p. 8.
- Hewsen 1984, p. 48.
- Этническая одонтология СССР (in Russian). Moscow: Nauka. 1979. p. 135.
- Bunak B. Anthropological makeup of the Caucasus / / Vestn. State. Museum of Georgia. T. XIII. 1946.
- Hewsen 2001, p. 58.
- Hewsen, Robert H. "Ethno-History and the Armenian Influence upon the Caucasian Albanians" in Samuelian, Thomas J. (Ed.), Classical Armenian Culture. Influences and Creativity, Chico: 1982, pp. 27–40.
- Hewsen 2001, pp. 10, 58.
- Schmitt, R. (December 15, 1986). "ARMENIA and IRAN i. Armina, Achaemenid province". Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. II, Fasc. 4. pp. 417–418. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
- Hewsen 2001, pp. 85–86.
- Ulubabyan 1994, p. 16.
- Moses Khorenats'i (1978). History of the Armenians. Translated by Thomson, Robert W. Cambridge, Massachusetts & London: Harvard University Press. pp. 139–140.
- (in Armenian) Stepanos Orbelian, History of the House Sisakan (Պատմութիւն Տանն Սիսական), transl. A. A. Abrahamian, Yerevan: Sovetakan Grogh, 1986, pp. 73, 278.
- The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movsēs Dasxuranc'i. Translated by Charles Dowsett. London: Oxford University Press, 1961, pp. 3–4, 7, 24.
- Cyril Toumanoff. Studies in Christian Caucasian History. Georgetown University Press 1963, pp. 257–258.
- Balayan, Vahram (2005). Zovig Balian, Gayane Hairapetyan (ed.). Artsakh History. Yerevan, Armenia: Scientific Council of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. p. 20. ISBN 99930-2-078-8.
- Ulubabyan 1994, p. 18.
- Ulubabyan 1994, pp. 12–13.
- Balayan 2005, p. 32.
- The History of Caucasian Albanians by Movses Dasxuranci. Translated by C. J. F. Dowsett, London 1961. 1.17, 2.11 2.14.
- Pavstos Buzand, The Epic Histories Attributed to P'awstos Buzand, English transl. by N. Garsoian, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983. IV.50; V.12.
- Leo (1966). "Հայոց պատմություն․ առաջին հատոր" [History of Armenia, Volume One]. Երկերի ժողովածու․ առաջին հատոր [Collected Works, Volume One] (PDF) (in Armenian). Yerevan: Hayastan. p. 146.
- Agathangelos, The Conversion of Armenia, 795–796.
- Pavstos Buzand, III.5.
- Pavstos Buzand, III.6.
- Viviano, Frank. "The Rebirth of Armenia," National Geographic Magazine. March 2004.
- Movses Kaghankatsvatsi, 1.18.
- Hewsen 2001, p. 73.
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- Babian, Archbishop Gorun (2001). The Relations between the Armenian and Georgian Churches: According to the Armenian Sources, 300–610. Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon: Kevork Melidi Netsi Literary Award. p. 60.
- Jeghishe, About Vartan and the Armenian War. Translation and notes by Ye. Ter-Minasian. Yerevan 1989, sec. 6, p. 252-258.
- Minorsky, Vladimir (1958). A History of Sharvan and Darband in the 10th-11th Centuries. Cambridge: Heffer and Sons.
- Leo (1947). Հայոց պատմություն [History of Armenia] (in Armenian). Vol. II. Yerevan: Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences Institute of History. p. 156.
- Movses Kaghankatvatsi, 1.26
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