Armenians are one of the oldest nations of the world. They are contemporaries of ancient Shoumers, Accadians and Egyptians. There are many hypothesis about the formation of the Armenian people,now there is one predominatint theory in the scientific circles: the Hamkrelidze- Ivanov's theory, according to which Armenians are an Indo-European people and are aborigines of Armenian highlands. The name of the country, Armenia and people Armens first were mentioned in the cuneiform of Persian king Darii I.The cuneiform was written in three languages-ancient Persian, Accadian and Elammian. In the Persian and Elammian copies the country is mentioned as Urartu, but in Accadian version it is mentioned as Armenia. Homer speaks about Armens in his "Iliad". Armenians call themselves hi and the country Hayastan. This names are based on the legend about the courageous Haik warrior who defeated the Persian warrior Bell.
There were a number of states located in the Armenian highlands in the prehistorical times, they fought each other and their neighbors -Khettians , Assyrians, Babylonians, etc. Assyrian sources of that time called these states by one name "Nairi" - a country of rivers. However, the Assyrian sources of the 9th century B.C. mention the same state as the United kingdom of Urartu.
In the 8th century B.C. this state became so powerful, that it was able to withstand Assyrian invasions and won a number of battles.It became the most powerful state in the Near east (during the rule of kings Menoua and his son Argishti). It was back then when the castle Erebuni later renamed into Yerevan was founded (782 B.C.). After the new war Urartu obtained the dominating role in the region, it was more powerful than Assyria (7th century B.C.). At the end of the 7th century B.C. the new Ervanduni dynasty came to the political arena.During the reign of king Ervand II Armenians participatedin the siege of Ninevia-the capital of Assyria. After Ninevia fel, Armenia became dependent on Midia, one of the strongest countries in the region, and Armenian princes grew up in Midia.
After Alexander the Great defeated the dynasty of Accemenians in Persia, Armenia recognized the power of Alexandr the Great.
During the reign of Antioch III famous Armenian general Artashes led the selevk troops against the Ervanduni dynasty in Armenia and became the king in 190 B.C., establishing the dynasty of Artashes. He enlarged the territory of Armenia by a part of selevk land, so Armenia became comlpletely independent again. Artashes built the new capital of Armenia- Artashat, which was called by the Romans Armenian Carthagen.
During the reign of Artashes and his successors Armenia's role increased in the region, and it reached the pinaccle during the rule of Tigran the Great (95-55 B.C.). After he became the king he made an alliance with Mihrdat IV Eupator, king of Pont. Armenia began the war against Parfia and Rome. Gaining victory over Parfia and some other neighbouring countries, Armenia reached Egypt. Roman troops, gained a victory over Tigran's troop in the battle and made him return the lands. A new Armenian-Roman war started and lasted over 30 years. Romans could not conquer Armenia for a long time, however, they finally succeeded. After long battles between the Roman troops led by Marcos Antonios and troops of king Artavazd II, the son of Tigran,armenian army was defeated.
After Artavazd the armenian throne was interchangebaly occupied by the proteges of Parfia and Rome depending on how powerful one of these countries was at the moment. In the 1st century Trdat, the brother of Parfian king, stepped on the Armenian throne; he became the founder of Arshakuni dynasty. Trdat could win Rome and fully restore the independence of Armenia. Armenia became an important political power in the region, which had become a stage of struggle between Rome and Parfia. The most memorable service to the country by the dynasty of Arshakuni was the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301, thus Armenia became the first Christian state in the world. Though in 387 Armenia was divided between Persia and Rome, the Arshakuni dynasty did not abandon the political arena until the beginning of the 5th century. Arshakunies were ruling in the Persian part of the country.The proteges of Rome were governing in the Roman part. Persia was promoting assimilation policy with Armenians, trying to convert Armnians into zoroastrism. In 451 Armenians rebelled against the Persians, and in May, 451, Armenian troops led by general Vardan Mamikonian gained victory over the Persian army.
In the 7th century by the time when Persia became weak, Armenia became dependent on the Arabic Caliphate. The first mass immigration of Armenians from native lands, took place. Muslims settled in the Armenian land. Two centuries later Armenians managed to regain independence. Then the dynasty of Baghratuni came to power.
Bagratunies did not succeed in unifying the country, since the strong Arabic influence was still present on the occupied lands. By the end of the dynasty of Bagratuni (1040) Armenia became dependent on the Byzantine Empire, which tried to weaken military and economic power of the country in any possible way. The consequence of this policy was that Armenians were unable to stop Turkish invasions, and they began war with Byzantine Empire, too.
However, during this period Kilikian Armenian State was founded, at this time another mass of Armenians left their homeland and got settled in the remote countries crossing the Mediterranian. Winning the battles with Egyptian Sultane and Arabs, the Kilikian Armenian State, became one of the strongest states of the Near East, and since it adopted the principals of the crusaiders, it established relations with many states of Europe. The zenith of the Kilikian Armenian State was during the reign of king Levon II, when Armenians could subdue even the Antiochian Principality. However after certain period of political competition Armenians began to collaborate with the crusaders. Kilikian Kingdom fell in 1375, and the Armenian king left for France.
After the fell of the Kilikian kingdom Armenian territories were occupied by Turks.The invasion of the country by turks forced many Armenians to leave their country for Europe and India. This situation continued all the way until 1830-s, when the first Russian-Turkish war began. After the war so-called "Armenian Question"was raised.
"Armenian question" had been discussed in many international conferences at the beginning of the 20th century, but each participating country had its own political ambitions in this region. The longlasting negotiations ended up in giving autonomous status to Armenia within the republic of Turkey, and the international observers were supposed to control this status. Unfortunately, the international observers didn't stay in Armenia for a long time, so Armenians had to deal with all the challenges themselves. Turkey immediately increased the taxes in most of the Armenian regions. The situation was like this during 1900-1910.
Soon the "YoungTurks" party came to power in Turkey. Inspired with the ideology of creating a vast and powerful country "Young Turks" made a decision to deport and slaughter Armenians to finally resolve the destiny of the Eastern part of Turkish Empire. They cunningly told the Armenians that they should join the army, and so they deported Armenian men to the DerZor desert (it is in the territory of Syria nowadays). Then they deported women and children and killed them after torturing and raping them.There was no remorse for anybody. The slogan of the Turks was: "We need to leave alive only one Armenian and we will keep him in the museum". The pinnacle of the massacres became April 24th, 1915 when Turks deported Armenian intelligencia and after mocking them burried them alive.Since then April 24 became the memorial day of the massacres, and every year people all over Armenia go to the Genocide memorial in Yerevan to remember this tragic day. Totally Turkish troops killed over 1.5 million Armenians, and deported over 3-4 millions people. Those Armenians who survived immigrated to various countries in Europe, Asia and all the way to the USA. Thus this exodus of Armenians established the Armenian Diaspora (Armenian communities all over the world). Indeed, the period between 1915 and 1916 was the most tragic in Armenian history.
In 1918 Armenia(eastern part of the historical territory of Armenia or nowadays territory of Armenia, inclusive of Kharabakh, Nakhijevan Ghars region , which is on the Turkish side today)Armenia established independence. The leading political party of the time was Dashnaktsutiun . The first Armenian Republic had a short duration of 2 years.
In 1920 after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and development of Russian Soviet Socialistic Republic detachments of the 11th Red Army came to Armenia and made the political leaders leave Armenia, proclaiming the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1922 joined the Soviet Union as an independent republic.
With the collapse of the USSR in 1989 the Armenian national movement began first of all with the purpose of reintegration of Karabakh into Armenia (in 1923 Stalin annexed two large regions of Armenia: Kharabakh and Nakhijevan to Azerbaijan, within the period of time Azerbajanians or Turks moved into Nakhijevan and became majority of the population, however the population of Kharabakh have always been predominantly Armenian, thus, in 1988 there was 85% Armenian population in the autonomous republic) in 1988, which was in the administrative structure of Azerbajan, though over 2/3 of its population were Armenians. After proclamation of Armenia as an independent democratic republic confrontation between the two neighbor republics over Karabakh issue began, soon the political conflict grew into a military conflict. Although the problem of Karabakh is being discussed in the international forums, summits and conferences, there is no decision concerning Karabakh yet.
Sergey E. Harutyunyan