Prehistory of the Armenians

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The history of Armenia dates back to the 6th century BC Orontid Dynasty[1] The country's name "Armenia" is a creation of the 6th century BC. The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date to the Achaemenid Empire. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian-Assyrian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite). In Greek, Αρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC). and it means ‘the land of the people of Arame’.

A minority of scholars had in past times attempted to link the Akkadian terms Armânum or Armanî with Armenia. The first to mention this country's name were the Akkadians as Armani.[2] However, most scholars reject the link with the much later appearing Armenia, placing Aramanum/Armani in the Levant, particularly linking it to the city of Aleppo[3][4]

Additionally, it is known that the earliest affirmed peoples of the region, the Hurrians-Urartians and Hattians spoke language isolates such as Hurrian and Hattic, which were unrelated to Armenian, which is an Indo-European language.

The Country of the Armenians[edit]

The country representing Armenia, the highlands to the east of peninsular Anatolia, was the previous language isolate speaking Kingdom of Urartu. 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.[5] 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 6th century BC, originally denoted the Hay people.[6][7]

In the beginning[edit]

A people known as the Hayasa-Azzi are mentioned in Hittite records, however it is disputed as to whether the Hayasa bore any relation to Armenians, and scholars generally do not link the two, rather believing there is simply a general similarity between the two names[8][9][10].

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’.[11][12][clarification needed]
2000 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 ], 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.[13][14] [15]

The native Hayasa and Mitanni[edit]

Some mostly Armenian writers assert that native people of the Armenian Highland called themselves Armens and Hayasa, after the name of the Armenian patriarchs Aram and Hayk.[16][17][18][19]

b) The Scythian and Cimmerian pressure in the 8th and 7th centuries BC forced some Paeonians to leave their country for Anatolia.[20]
c) Darius I (522-486 BC) in 510 BC instructed his general Megabazos] to deport the Paeonians east of Lake Prasias to Anatolia.[21]
d) The Paeonians disappeared east of the River Strymon due to pressure from the Macedonians to the west and the Thracians to the east.[22]
e) Alexander the Great’s expedition to Asia included Paeonian cavalry[23] and Agrianian infantry;[24] 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 (Galatians) to Anatolia, 275 BC.[25]
g) Philip V of Macedonia expelled the population of Bylazora in 217 BC.[26] 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.[26] 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.

The hieroglyphic inscriptions of Armenia[edit]

The Pre-Armenian Hurrians, Hattians, Hittites, Mitanni and Urartians in the region which would become Armenia used Anatolian hieroglyphs, a script developed by the Luwians of Western Anatolia during the 14th to 13th centuries BCE. They soon developed it with new signs adapting to their specific languages, which the kings and the wealthy city-lords used for their inscriptions.[27] Cuneiform was also present from an even earlier date, introduced in the earlier part of the 2nd millennium BCE from Mesopotamia by the Old Assyrian Empire and Babylonian Empire.

The Nairi and Ararat kingdom[edit]

In the year 591 BC the Median king Cyaxares attacked the Luwian kingdom of 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), the Scythian ruler whose hordes had aided the Medes, Persians, Chaldeans and Babylonians in the destruction of the Assyrian capital Nineveh in 612 BCE. It appears the intention of Cyaxares was to subdue Urartu (a former vassal of Assyria) 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 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), Çavuştepe (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 (Armenians) never fought with Urartu. The Hays and the 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.[28] 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,[29] 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).[30] 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.[31]
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,[32] albeit with obvious errors and without a reliable chronology.

The Orontid dynasty[edit]

The ancient Urartian dynasty was succeeded by the Orontid Dynasty, heralding the formation 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).[33]


  1. ^ Toumanoff, Cyril (1963). Studies in Christian Caucasian history. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 278ff.
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ American Oriental Society (1937). Jump up ^ Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, Eisenbrauns 1998, ISBN 0-931464-99-4
  4. ^ Nicholas Adontz. "Histoire d'Arménie : les origines, du Xe siècle au VIe siècle av. J.C.", Paris 1946: "Armani has absolutely no relation to Armenia."
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Anne Elizabeth Redgate, The Armenians, Wiley-Blackwell, 2000 ISBN 978-0-631-22037-4, p. 24.
  9. ^ Bryce, pp. 158-63; Trevor Bryce records Azzi-Hayasa's known activities against Hatti but never once mentions its origins. In contrast, he openly discusses the southern Italian and Western Anatolian origins of the Sea Peoples on page 369 and 372 of his book.
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropædia, Volume 1, 2003. p. 566
  11. ^ P. Kreichmer and H. Krahe, in Homerische Personenomen, Ed. H. von Kemptz, Göttinger, 1982, p.330.
  12. ^ Herodotus, Histories, VII.73; Strabo, Geography, VII.3.2, VII.25, VII.25a.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History of the Armenians, published by Bennett and Bloom, London, 2003. See Vol. I, p.32.
  15. ^ Arrian, Anabasis. I.5.2-4.
  16. ^ G. Soultanian, Volume I. pp.43-47.
  17. ^ 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).
  18. ^ T. & M. Dothan, People of the Sea, McMillan, N.Y. 1992. See also: A. R. Burn, Minoans, Philistines & Greeks, Paul Trench Trubner, London, 1930.
  19. ^ See Note 6 above.
  20. ^ Radoslav Katičič, Ancient Languages of the Balkans, Mouton de Gruyter, 1977.
  21. ^ Herodotus, V.17; V.98.
  22. ^ Irwin L. Merker, "The Ancient Kingdom of Paeonia", Balkan Studies, 6/1, 1965.
  23. ^ Plutarch, Lives – Alexander, Vol.II, p.498.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Merker, "The Ancient Kingdom of Paeonia" – Note 23 above. See also (Note 25 above) Hammond Macedonia, p.183.
  26. ^ a b John Wilkes, The Illyrians, Blackwell, London, 1992, pp. 149-51. See also (Note 21 above) Katičič, Ancient Languages of the Balkans.
  27. ^ G. Soultanian, The Pre-History. See volumes II and III.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Xenophon, Cyropaedia. Loeb edition, two volumes, 1979 and 1983. See Book III.
  31. ^ Xenophon, Anabasis, Book IV. Chapter 3.4 (p.140 – Penguin edition 1949).
  32. ^ G. Soultanian, The History of the Armenians and Movsēs Khorenats’i, published by Bennett and Bloom, London, 2011.
  33. ^ Hammond, Macedonia. Note 15 above. See p.22.