Prehistory of the Armenians

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The history of Armenia dates back over 4000 years.[citation needed] The country's name "Armenia" is a creation of the second half of the 3rd millennium BC and it means ‘the land of the people of Aram’. The first to mention this country's name were the Akkadians as Armani.[1] The next to mention the Armenians and their country were the Achaemenid kings of Persia, and the Greek geographer Hecataeus of Miletus.

The Country of the Armenians[edit]

The country representing Armenia, the highlands to the east of peninsular Anatolia, was the previous Kingdom of Ararat. The borders of Armenia have changed so often that one can only give a rough description of it, such as: to the east up to the confluence of the rivers Kur and Araxes, to the south River Araxes, south of the Kashiari range of mountains up to Nisibis (Mtsbin), to the west the River Euphrates and to the north the Pontus range of mountains, the southern plains of Georgia and the Kur river.

The Armenians[edit]

Armenians call themselves Hay (pl. Hayk’) and their country Hayastan.[2] The Armenians have called themselves also Aramean Azg (Nation of Aram), T’orkomean Azg (Nation of Togarmah), Haykazean Azg (Nation of Hayk) and Askanazean Azg (Nation of Askanaza); the latter is an anachronism, since in the Bible 'Askanaz' represents the Scythians. The term 'Armenian', when it was created in the 3rd millennium BC, originally denoted the Hay people.[3][4]

In the beginning[edit]

The Hays (Proto-Armenians) are mentioned, for the first time, in the Hittite inscriptions as Hayasa.[5] The Greek rendering of the name Hay, i.e. Παι = Hay (P > H, cf. pater > hayr) + ον or οντ = being, in the sense of creature (cf. ontology, ontogeny) + ες, plural suffix, therefore ‘Hay Creatures’.[6][7][clarification needed]
The hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Proto-Armenians contain some ancient discarded and forgotten words which still have their exact parallels in Germanic languages such as English.[citation needed] E.g. English sore = Proto-Armenian sor, tap = tap’, ire = ira[disputed ], door = dur, mass = mas[disputed ], daddy = tati[dubious ], tie = ti, day = ti, bit = pih, cwēn = kin, collective suffix -en (as in oxen)[dubious ] = an (the Proto-Armenians did not have the /e/ phoneme[citation needed]), negative prefix un = an, etc. But the English words quoted are the result of many years of development which had different phonetics in the past.
Consequently[clarification needed], we are left with a single name, a name of unique importance.[peacock term] The ancient Armenian god Tir, also known as Tīw and Tiwaz, was only known to the Hays of Armenia. In Armenia Tir was the supreme god, but under the hegemony of the Achaemenids, Ahura Mazta (Aramazd) became supreme and Tir his scribe, defender of arts and letters and god of oracles and dreams. No other nation besides the Armenians have such a god (scholars have linked the Armenian god with a secondary Persian god of Tishtrya).
It is noteworthy that even the Tīw version of the name of the god Tir was kept by the Armenians in the sense of God during the hieroglyphic age in Aram - the present usage of the word is Dew in the sense of evil spirit and demon. Also, the Armenian word T’iw, meaning number and to tell (stories), derives from this god's name.[8][9] [10]

The native Hayasa and Mitanni[edit]

The native people of the Armenian Highland called themselves Armens and Hayasa, after the name of the Armenian patriarchs Aram and Hayk.[11][12][13][14]

b) The Scythian and Cimmerian pressure in the 8th and 7th centuries BC forced some Paeonians to leave their country for Anatolia.[15]
c) Darius I (522-486 BC) in 510 BC instructed his general Megabazos] to deport the Paeonians east of Lake Prasias to Anatolia.[16]
d) The Paeonians disappeared east of the River Strymon due to pressure from the Macedonians to the west and the Thracians to the east.[17]
e) Alexander the Great’s expedition to Asia included Paeonian cavalry[18] and Agrianian infantry;[19] these soldiers disappeared at the end of the campaigns, but never returned to their homelands in the Balkans.
f) The Paeonian people were carried along with the Celts (Galataeans) to Anatolia, 275 BC.[20]
g) Philip V of Macedonia expelled the population of Bylazora in 217 BC.[21] These people arrived in Armenia and settled to the south of Ararat, establishing the city of Bayazet.
h) Again, Philip V of Macedonia expelled all the Paeonians in 182 BC.[21] Most of these migrants arrived and settled around Nisibis (Mtsbin), to the south of Armenia. The extensive lands of the south became known, after their name, as Mygdonia.

Below is a list of the various kingdoms, the branches of the Proto-Armenians, with dates (if known). The kings in block letters are those who left hieroglyphic inscriptions. The Assyrians recorded some kings by their demotic names; these Assyrian versions are shown after a dash. These are followed after an oblique by the names recorded by Moses Khorenats’i in his late 5th century work, the History of the Armenians, were rewritten in classical Armenian for the understanding of the people of that period.[22]

1. Carchemish kingdom starts very early in the 10th century BC: Suhis I (10th century) and his Hurrian queen Watis; Asatuwatimaza/Amasia (10th century); Suhis II (10th century); Katuwa/Kaypak (10th-9th centuries) and his queen Ana; Sangara/Gaŗnik (9th century); Astiruwa/Erast (early 8th century, died c. 770 BC in a plague) and his queen Tuwarasaisa/Nuart; Kamana/Havanak (8th century, died 738 BC); Pisiri/Husak (8th century the last king dethroned by Sargon II of Assyria 718 BC). Two of the famous prime ministers recorded in history: Iarairaisa/Arayan Ara (first half 8th century, died at Nineveh 754 BC); Sastura/Baz (8th century, son of Iarairaisa).
2. Kingdom of Gurgum (Marash) starts very early in the 10th century BC: Larazamasa I (10th century); Muwazisa/Manavaz (10th century); Halparutiya I (10th century); Muwazali-Mutali/Arbun (9th century); Halparutiya II (9th century); Larazamasa II – Palalam/P’aŗock (9th century); Halparutiya III/Hrant (9th-8th centuries); Tarkulara (8th century); Mutalu (8th century, the last king dethroned by Sargon II of Assyria 712-711 BC).
3. Kingdom of Melid (Malatya) starts in 9th century BC. Shakhu/Shara (9th century); Khelaruada/Vstamkar (8th century); Sulumal/Gełama (8th century, dethroned by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria 732 BC); Gunzinanu/Əndzak (8th century); Tarkunazi/Tork’ Angeł (dethroned by Sargon II of Assyria 712 BC); Mugalu/Mshak (7th century); ...ussi/Anushawan (7th century)
4. The kingdom of Kummukh (Commagene) starts in the 9th century BC. Qatazilu/Ampak (first half of 9th century); Kundashpi/Vashtak (9th century); Queen Panamuwatis and her Hurrian husband Suppiluliumas – Ushpilulume (9th-8th centuries); Kushtashpi/Shavarsh (8th century); Mutalu (8th century, dethroned by Sargon II of Assyria in 708 BC).
5. The kingdom of Tabal starts in the 9th century BC. Tuate (9th century); Kikki/Sisak, son of Tuate (9th century); Tuwatis/Aramayis (8th century, died in a plague c. 770 BC. His prime minister was known as Ruwas); Wasusaramimasa/Harma (8th century, dethroned by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria 730 BC); Khuly/Khoy (8th century); Ambaris/P’arnak (8th century, dethroned by Sargon II of Assyria in 713 BC); Ishkallu (7th century); Mugalu/Mshak and his son ...ussi/Anushawan, as in Melid.
6. Several city kingdoms developed to the west of Tabal; some left inscriptions in addition to being recorded in the History of the Armenians by Khorenats’i. For that reason, in addition to the kings' names, the place names of their kingdoms are also listed: Pukhame of Khubishna (9th century); Warpalawa – Urballa/Arbak of Tukhana (8th century); Uirime/Perj of Khubishna (8th century); Ushkhiti of Atuna (8th century); Tukhame of Ishtunda (8th century); Kiaki/Głak of Shinukhtu (8th century); Kurti/Kornak of Atuna (8th century); Hurakhara of Porsuk (end 8th century); Panuna of Kululu (end 8th century); Tarkhuna of Bolkarmaden (end 8th century); Sapi of Karaburna; Gurti/Goŗak of Til-garimmu (7th century).
7. This section contains the names of the Cilician kings, mainly from Cilicia Tracheia: Pikhirim/P’arnavaz of Khilakku (9th century); Kate of Que (9th century); Kirri of Que (9th century); Tulli of Tanakun (9th century); Azatiwata/Norayr regent of Adana (8th century); Kirua of Illubru (7th century); Sanduarri/Aŗnak of Sissu and Kundu (7th century); Sandasarme/Hrachia of Khilakku (7th century); Syennesis/Pajuyj of Cilicia (end 7th early 6th centuries); Apuwashu/Baos of Pirindu (6th century).
8. The last two names belong to Kinalua of Unqi on the Orontes River in present-day Syria. Only the two names recorded in the History of the Armenians are listed, although the explanation of the names makes it clear that there were more numerous Proto-Armenian kings, such as Lubarna I and II, a Khalparutiya, etc. Surri/Sur of Kinalua (9th century); Kulani/Ts’olak of Kinalue (9th century).

While in the country of Aram, the Proto-Armenians fought three decisive wars. Of these wars, the first and the second were fought simultaneously in the north (Tabal) by Wasusaramimasa against Bar-ga’ya of KTK[23] and the south (Carchemish) by Kamana against Mati’ilu of Arpat.[24] The third war against Assyria was fought in Commagene by Eshpai (Hayk) of Zapkaka (the later Kiaka), when the Assyrian king, Sargon II, was killed.[25] All three of these wars are recounted in the History of the Armenians by Moves Khorenats’i, written during the second half of the 5th century AD.

The hieroglyphic inscriptions of Armenia[edit]

The Proto-Armenians in the country of Aram used the hieroglyphic script, a legacy shared with the Hittites, already in use particularly in Carchemish (Mitanni). They soon developed it with new signs adapting to their language, which the kings and the wealthy city-lords used for their inscriptions.[26]

The Nairi and Ararat kingdom[edit]

In the year 591 BC the Median king Cyaxares attacked Lydia in western Anatolia. In order to be absolutely certain that there was no danger to his army from behind, he placed a regiment of Median soldiers under the leadership of Niwk’ar Madyes, the son of Bartatua (Herodotus’ Protothyes), who had helped him with his Scythian hordes in the destruction of the Assyrian capital Nineveh. It appears the intention of Cyaxares was to subdue Urartu (Ararat) and remove any threat to his campaign.
Madyes with his hordes of Scythians combined with the small army of the Medians succeeded to overrun most of Urartu (Ararat) and devastated the main cities, which has been confirmed by various archaeological investigations, such as the destruction of Armavir (Argishtikhinili), Bastam (Rusa-patari), Kef Kalesi, Karmir Blur (Teishebaini), Chavushtepe (Sardurikhinili), Toprak Kale (Rusakhinili), etc.
The ex-royal ‘Houses’ of the Hays were still the heads of each community by the choice of the people of each region. The Hays never fought with Arartu. The Hays and the Araratians (Armens) had an agreement whereby the country would be shared between them, which we see in the dispersion of the royal ‘Houses’ in the periphery of the country, such as: Gełark’unik’ in the north-east, Sisakeans in the east, the Katmeans in the south, the Angeł Tun in the south-west and the Shahunik’ in the west.[27] The north was not covered in the early days, but soon a branch of the Shahunik’, known as Gusharids took control of it, thus encircling the whole country. The three most important ‘Houses’ were centrally placed north of Lake Van; the Bznunik’ north-west of the lake, Khorkhorunik to the north (they were armenicised Hurrians of Carchemish country) and the Manavazeans (the leaders of the Hay forces) to the north, bordering both the Bznunik’ and the Khorkhorunik’.
A second agreement under the code name of Ostan (Ost = branch + an = collective suffix = Branches of the Hays) was achieved between the Hay ex-royal Houses,[28] whereby under the leadership of Haykak Manavazean they would attack the Medo-Schythian army. It is also thought that the remnants of the Arartian (Armens) army joined the Hays forces. The dispersion of the Hay ex-royal Houses proves these events, which arrangement was disastrous for the country, since the spreading out of these ‘Houses’ became their weakness and Azhi-Dahaka (Azhdahak), the Median king, easily subdued them conquering the whole highland, and appointed as satrap a certain Eruand Sakavakeats’ (an Armenian).[29] The History of Armenians mentions that Madyes and his forces had conquered the half of the country and were running havoc for two years, which deducted from 591 BC, the start of the war with the Lydians, appears to be the only plausible period of 588 BC.[30]
This last battle with the Medians is recorded in the History of the Armenians (Book I.12-13), but not the details of an agreement with Arartu and the Ostan agreement between the Hay ex-royal Houses. Also, Khorenats’i makes Aram the leader of the Hay forces, but he is the only person who mentions Niwkar Madyes and his end, and for the past 1,500 years the prehistory he wrote is the only one which is on most levels a true history of the Armenians,[31] albeit with obvious errors and without a reliable chronology.

The Orontid dynasty[edit]

The ancient Arartian dynasty of Armenia was succeeded by the Orontid Dynasty of Armenia.

  1. Towards the end of the 6th century the Odomantians arrived and settled in the west between Acilisene and Sophene, and the district became known as Odomantis.
  2. At the same time as the Odomantians the Syriopaeonians arrived and settle in Lesser Armenia (later Cappadocea) and became known as White Syrians
  3. Between the passage of Xenophon and Alexander the Great the population of the city of Gordyina in the Balkans arrived and settled to the south and the large district became known as Gordyene.
  4. Perhaps it was towards the end of the 4th century BC when the people of Europos arrived and settled in Carchemish, which started to be called Europos.
  5. It may well be that at the same time as the people of Europos the population of Amydon arrived and settled in the city of Bit-Zamani, which became known as Amida.
  6. Towards the end of the 3rd century BC the population of Bylazora arrived and settled to the south of Mount Ararat and built the new city of Bayazed.
  7. The first half of the 2nd century BC saw the Migdonians arrive in the south of Armenia and settled around Nisibis (Mtsbin) and the large district became known as Mygdonia; but the people spread from the Euphrates in the west up to Atropatene.
  8. At the same time as the Mygdonians the Agrianes of north Paeonia arrived in Anatolia, but they settled west of Sebastia (Megalopolis) and named their city Agriane.
  9. At the same time as the Mygdonians the population of Astibus arrived and built for themselves the holy place of Ashtishad and named the district Taron after their royalty of Derrones (their god of healing was also known as Tarron).[32]


  1. ^ I. M. Diakonoff, The Pre-History of the Armenian People, Caravan Books, Delmar, New York, 1984. See: Chapter 3.3.3 (p.126), and Note 115 (p.199).
  2. ^ The Armenians have called themselves also Aramean Azg (Nation of Aram), T’orkomean Azg (Nation of Togarmah), Haykazean Azg (Nation of Hayk) and Askanazean Azg (Nation of Askanaza); the latter is an anachronism, since in the Bible Askanaz represents the Scythians.
  3. ^ This was well known to the scribes of Darius, since in the Elamite version of the Bisitun (Behistun) inscriptions the Highlands were named Urartu under the 18th Satrapy centred on Van, and the Armenians were under the 13th Satrapy centred on Melid (Malatya), even though the Babylonian version of the inscriptions had named the Highlands Armenia. For the Satrapies of Darius see: Herodotus III.93-94.
  4. ^ According to Khorenats’i, it was during the reign of Vałarsh I (AD. 117-144) that reforms of administration took place, when a system on the lines of feudalism was established. In this period, the Urartian nobility were granted various titles, dukedoms and responsible positions in the Court. Khorenats’i has telescoped the deeds of Vałarshak of Mtsbin, the Parthian of c. 130 BC, with that of Vałarsh I, the Arsacid.
  5. ^ Homer, Iliad, II.848 and onwards.
  6. ^ P. Kreichmer and H. Krahe, in Homerische Personenomen, Ed. H. von Kemptz, Göttinger, 1982, p.330.
  7. ^ Herodotus, Histories, VII.73; Strabo, Geography, VII.3.2, VII.25, VII.25a.
  8. ^ St Byzantinus, Ethnica, edition of W. Dindorf, Leipzig, 1825. An epigram from Tlos in Lykia is quoted under pressure from Scythian and Cimmerians. For additional support in this matter see Notes 20 to 28 below.
  9. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History of the Armenians, published by Bennett and Bloom, London, 2003. See Vol. I, p.32.
  10. ^ Arrian, Anabasis. I.5.2-4.
  11. ^ G. Soultanian, Volume I. pp.43-47.
  12. ^ R. A. Crossland, 'Linguistic Problems of the Balkan Area in late prehistoric and early classical period' in C.A.H. vol.3, part 1, ch.20c (11982).
  13. ^ T. & M. Dothan, People of the Sea, McMillan, N.Y. 1992. See also: A. R. Burn, Minoans, Philistines & Greeks, Paul Trench Trubner, London, 1930.
  14. ^ See Note 6 above.
  15. ^ Radoslav Katičič, Ancient Languages of the Balkans, Mouton de Gruyter, 1977.
  16. ^ Herodotus, V.17; V.98.
  17. ^ Irwin L. Merker, "The Ancient Kingdom of Paeonia", Balkan Studies, 6/1, 1965.
  18. ^ Plutarch, Lives – Alexander, Vol.II, p.498.
  19. ^ N. G. L. Hammond, Macedonia, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1991, p.143. For Notes 24 & 25, the best references will be found in Arrian Anabasis of Alexander, Loeb Classical Library, in two volumes, 1976 and 1982.
  20. ^ Merker, "The Ancient Kingdom of Paeonia" – Note 23 above. See also (Note 25 above) Hammond Macedonia, p.183.
  21. ^ a b John Wilkes, The Illyrians, Blackwell, London, 1992, pp. 149-51. See also (Note 21 above) Katičič, Ancient Languages of the Balkans.
  22. ^ For full explanations of the names and various other details see G. Soultanian, The Pre-History of the Armenians, Volume 1, part 2 (2003).
  23. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History. See volume II, pp.154-162.
  24. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History. See volume II, pp.100-107.
  25. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History. See volume I, pp.145-151.
  26. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History. See volumes II and III.
  27. ^ Armenians most important central river Araxes comprises Armenian roots, such as: Armenian prefix ‘Ar’ meaning first, original, towards, at the time, etc. The second is Greek root ‘Axi’, which means worth, value. ‘Eraskh’, which again comprises two indigenous roots of ‘era’ meaning first, original (cf. Erakhayrik = first fruit) and the ‘skh’, which is the root of the word ‘Skhrali’, meaning wonderful, admirable, worthy.
  28. ^ The indigenous word Ostan the Armenian linguists have derived from the Iranian, admitting at the same time that the Pahlavi do not have an ‘ost’ root word (Adjaryan), which is puzzling. Ostan comprises two roots of which ost means a branch and an is a collective suffix, same as the English –en (cf. ox > oxen, child > children, brother > brethren, or in Armenian esh > eshan, dzi > dzian, hor > horan, ma > maran, etc.). This indigenous word, Ostan, was created at the beginning of the 6th century BC and stood for the ex-royal Houses of Aram, Melid and Tabal, therefore the sense of it was ‘the branches of Hay ex-royal Houses’. The same word, Ostan, continued its existence in Armenia and the original ex-royal Houses that entered the Highlands were known as Ostans until the time of Arsacid King Khosrov III the Small (330-339) when Hayr Mardpet was the Great Chamberlain. The Mardpet and the King Khosrov III conspired and created conditions which eventually ended up in the extermination of the leading Ostan Houses of the ‘Fathers’ (Manavazeans) and the Sons (Bznunik’), who used to enjoy the respect of the population more than the king,. Thus the Arsacids managed to usurp the title of Ostan and started to use it for their own purposes. Perhaps they had not foreseen that other Houses, too, would follow them and use the same title for their own purposes.
  29. ^ Xenophon, Cyropaedia. Loeb edition, two volumes, 1979 and 1983. See Book III.
  30. ^ Xenophon, Anabasis, Book IV. Chapter 3.4 (p.140 – Penguin edition 1949).
  31. ^ G. Soultanian, The History of the Armenians and Movsēs Khorenats’i, published by Bennett and Bloom, London, 2011.
  32. ^ Hammond, Macedonia. Note 15 above. See p.22.