2300 BCE Jan 1
, Armenian Highlands

Early 20th-century scholars suggested that the name "Armenia" may have possibly been recorded for the first time on an inscription which mentions Armanî (or Armânum) together with Ibla, from territories conquered by Naram-Sin (2300 BC) identified with an Akkadian colony in the current region of Diyarbekir; however, the precise locations of both Armani and Ibla are unclear. Some modern researchers have placed Armani (Armi) in the general area of modern Samsat, and have suggested it was populated, at least partially, by an early Indo-European-speaking people. Today, the Modern Assyrians (who traditionally speak Neo-Aramaic, not Akkadian) refer to the Armenians by the name Armani. It is possible that the name Armenia originates in Armini, Urartian for "inhabitant of Arme" or "Armean country." The Arme tribe of Urartian texts may have been the Urumu, who in the 12th century BC attempted to invade Assyria from the north with their allies the Mushki and the Kaskians. The Urumu apparently settled in the vicinity of Sason, lending their name to the regions of Arme and the nearby land of Urme. Thutmose III of Egypt, in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC), mentioned as the people of "Ermenen", claiming that in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars". Armenia is possibly connected to Mannaea, which may be identical to the region of Minni mentioned in The Bible. However, what all these attestations refer to cannot be determined with certainty, and the earliest certain attestation of the name "Armenia" comes from the Behistun Inscription (c. 500 BC).

The earliest form of the word "Hayastan", an endonym for Armenia, might possibly be Hayasa-Azzi, a kingdom in the Armenian Highlands that was recorded in Hittite records dating from 1500 to 1200 BC.

Hayasa-Azzi | ©Angus McBride

Hayasa-Azzi Confederation

1600 BCE Jan 1 - 1200 BCE
, Armenian Highlands

Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation in the Armenian Highlands and/or Pontic region of Asia Minor. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1190 BC. It has long been thought that Hayasa-Azzi may have played a significant role in the ethnogenesis of Armenians.

All information about Hayasa-Azzi comes from the Hittites, there are no primary sources from Hayasa-Azzi. As such, the early history of Hayasa-Azzi is unknown. According to historian Aram Kosyan, it is possible that the origins of Hayasa-Azzi lie in the Trialeti-Vanadzor culture, which expanded from Transcaucasia toward northeastern modern Turkey in the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.

Igor Diakonoff argues the pronunciation of Hayasa was probably closer to Khayasa, with an aspirated h. According to him, this nullifies the connection to Armenian Hay (հայ). Additionally, he argues that -asa cannot be an Anatolian language suffix as names with this suffix are absent in the Armenian Highlands.

Diakonoff's criticisms have been refuted by Matiossian and others, who argue that, as Hayasa is a Hittite (or Hittite-ized) exonym applied to a foreign land, the -asa suffix can still mean "land of." Additionally, Khayasa can be reconciled with Hay as the Hittite h and kh phonemes are interchangeable, a feature present in certain Armenian dialects as well.

Hurrian Empire of Mitanni | ©Angus McBride


1600 BCE Jan 1 - 1260 BCE
, Tell Halaf

Mitanni was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Since no histories or royal annals/chronicles have yet been found in its excavated sites, knowledge about Mitanni is sparse compared to the other powers in the area, and dependent on what its neighbours commented in their texts.

The Mitanni Empire was a strong regional power limited by the Hittites to the north, Egyptians to the west, Kassites to the south, and later by the Assyrians to the east. At its maximum extent Mitanni ranged as far west as Kizzuwatna by the Taurus mountains, Tunip in the south, Arraphe in the east, and north to Lake Van. Their sphere of influence is shown in Hurrian place names, personal names and the spread through Syria and the Levant of a distinct pottery type, Nuzi ware.

Nairi Tribal Confederation | ©Angus McBride

Nairi Tribal Confederation

1200 BCE Jan 1 - 800 BCE
, Armenian Highlands

Nairi was the Akkadian name for a region inhabited by a particular group (possibly a confederation or league) of tribal principalities in the Armenian Highlands, approximately spanning the area between modern Diyabakır and Lake Van and the region west of Lake Urmia. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartian sources. However, its co-occurrence with Nihriya within a single text may argue against this.

Prior to the Bronze Age collapse, the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. If Nairi and Nihriya are to be identified, then the region was the site of the Battle of Nihriya (c. 1230 BCE), the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former kingdom of Mitanni.

The first kings of Urartu referred to their kingdom as Nairi instead of the native self-appellation Bianili. However, the exact relationship between Urartu and Nairi is unclear. Some scholars believe that Urartu was a part of Nairi until the former's consolidation as an independent kingdom, while others have suggested that Urartu and Nairi were separate polities. The Assyrians seem have continued to refer to Nairi as a distinct entity for decades after the establishment of Urartu, until Nairi was totally absorbed by Assyria and Urartu in the 8th century BCE.

Battle of Mount Waush (714 BCE) | ©Marek Szyszko

Kingdom of Urartu

860 BCE Jan 1 - 590 BCE
, Lake Van

Urartu is a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the historic Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Iranian Medes in the early 6th century BC. Since its re-discovery in the 19th century, Urartu, which is commonly believed to have been at least partially Armenian-speaking, has played a significant role in Armenian nationalism.

Modern reproductions of the ancient wall-paintings at Erebuni Fortress.

Erebuni Fortress

782 BCE Jan 1
, Erebuni Fortress

Erebuni was founded by Urartian King Argishti I (r. ca. 785–753 BC) in 782 BC. It was built on top of a hill called Arin Berd overlooking the Aras River Valley to serve as a military stronghold to protect the kingdom's northern borders. It has been described as being "designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital." According to Margarit Israelyan, Argishti began the construction of Erebuni after conquering the territories north of Yerevan and west of Lake Sevan, roughly corresponding to where the town of Abovyan is currently located. Accordingly, the prisoners he captured in these campaigns, both men and women, were used to help build his town.

Successive Urartian kings made Erebuni their place of residence during their military campaigns against northern invaders and continued construction work to build up the fortress defences. Kings Sarduri II and Rusa I also utilized Erebuni as a staging site for new campaigns of conquest directed towards the north. In the early sixth century the Urartian state, under constant foreign invasion, collapsed.

The region soon fell under the control of the Achaemenian Empire. The strategic position that Erebuni occupied did not diminish, however, becoming an important center of the satrapy of Armenia. Despite numerous invasions by successive foreign powers, the city was never truly abandoned and was continually inhabited over the following centuries, eventually branching out to become the city of Yerevan.

Assyrians: Chariot and infantry, 9th century BC | ©Angus McBride

Urartu attacked by Assyrians and Cimmerians

714 BCE Jan 1
, Lake Urmia

In 714 BC, the Assyrians under Sargon II defeated the Urartian King Rusa I at Lake Urmia and destroyed the holy Urartian temple at Musasir. At the same time, an Indo-European tribe called the Cimmerians attacked Urartu from the north-west region and destroyed the rest of his armies.

Medes | ©Angus McBride

Conquest of Urartu by the Medes

585 BCE Jan 1
, Van

The Medes under Cyaxares invaded Assyria later on in 612 BC, and then took over the Urartian capital of Van towards 585 BC, effectively ending the sovereignty of Urartu. According to the Armenian tradition, the Medes helped the Armenians establish the Orontid dynasty.

Uratu Chariot | ©Angus McBride

Kingdom of Yervanduni

585 BCE Jan 1 - 200 BCE
, Lake Van

After the fall of Urartu around 585 BC, the Satrapy of Armenia arose, ruled by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty, also known by their native name Eruandid or Yervanduni, which governed the state in 585–190 BC. Under the Orontids, Armenia during this era was a satrapy of the Persian Empire, and after its disintegration (in 330 BC), it became an independent kingdom. During the rule of the Orontid dynasty, most Armenians adopted the Zoroastrian religion.

The Orontids ruled first as client kings or satraps of the Achaemenid Empire and after the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire established an independent kingdom. Later, a branch of the Orontids ruled as kings of Sophene and Commagene. They are the first of the three royal dynasties that successively ruled the ancient Kingdom of Armenia (321 BC–428 AD).

Cyrus the Great | ©Angus McBride

Armenia under the Achaemenid Empire

570 BCE Jan 1 - 330 BCE
, Erebuni

By the 5th century BC, the Kings of Persia were either ruling over or had subordinated territories encompassing not just all of the Persian Plateau and all of the territories formerly held by the Assyrian Empire including Armenia. The Satrapy of Armenia, a region controlled by the Orontid dynasty (570–201 BC), was one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC that later became an independent kingdom. Its capitals were Tushpa and later Erebuni.

Alexander the Great

Armenia under the Macedonian Empire

330 BCE Jan 1
, Armavir

Following the demise of the Achaemenid Empire, the Satrapy of Armenia was incorporated into Alexander the Great's empire.

Hellenistic Armenia | ©Angus McBride

Armenia under the Seleucid Empire

321 BCE Jan 1
, Armenia

The satrapy of Armenia became a kingdom in 321 BC during the reign of the Orontid dynasty after the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, which was then incorporated as one of the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Seleucid Empire. Under the Seleucid Empire (312–63 BC), the Armenian throne was divided in two — Armenia Maior (Greater Armenia) and Sophene — both of which passed to members of the Artaxiad dynasty in 189 BC. 

Seleucid Infantryman | ©Angus McBride

Kingdom of Sophene

260 BCE Jan 1 - 95 BCE
, Carcathiocerta

The Kingdom of Sophene was a Hellenistic-era political entity situated between ancient Armenia and Syria. Ruled by the Orontid dynasty, the kingdom was culturally mixed with Greek, Armenian, Iranian, Syrian, Anatolian and Roman influences. Founded around the 3rd century BCE, the kingdom maintained independence until c. 95 BCE when the Artaxiad king Tigranes the Great conquered the territories as part of his empire. Sophene laid near medieval Kharput, which is present day Elazig. Sophene most likely emerged as distinct kingdom in the 3rd-century BC, during the gradual decline of Seleucid influence in the Near East and the split of the Orontid dynasty into several branches.

Seleucid War Elephants of Antiochus Magnesia, 190 BCE | ©Angus McBride

Artaxiad dynasty

189 BCE Jan 1 - 9
, Lake Van

The Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, controlled Syria, Armenia, and vast other eastern regions. However, after their defeat by Rome in 190 BC, the Seleucids relinquished control of any regional claim past the Taurus Mountains, limiting Seleucids to a quickly diminishing area of Syria. A Hellenistic Armenian state was founded in 190 BC. It was a Hellenistic successor state of Alexander the Great's short-lived empire, with Artaxias becoming its first king and the founder of the Artaxiad dynasty (190 BC–AD 1). At the same time, a western portion of the kingdom split as a separate state under Zariadris, which became known as Lesser Armenia while the main kingdom acquired the name of Greater Armenia.

According to the geographer Strabo, Artaxias and Zariadres were two satraps of the Seleucid Empire, who ruled over the provinces of Greater Armenia and Sophene respectively. After the Seleucid defeat at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, a coup by the Armenian noble family of Artashes toppled the Yervanduni dynasty and declared their independence, with Artaxias becoming the first king of the Artaxiad dynasty of Armenia in 188 BC. The Artaxiad dynasty or Ardaxiad dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 189 BC until their overthrow by the Romans in AD 12. Their realm included Greater Armenia, Sophene and intermittently Lesser Armenia and parts of Mesopotamia. Their main enemies were the Romans, the Seleucids and the Parthians, against whom the Armenians had to conduct multiple wars.

Scholars believe that Artaxias and Zariadres were not foreign generals but local figures related to the previous Orontid dynasty, as their Irano-Armenian (and not Greek) names would indicate. According to Nina Garsoïan / Encyclopaedia Iranica, the Artaxiads were a branch of the earlier Orontid (Eruandid) dynasty of Iranian origin attested as ruling in Armenia from at least the 5th century BC.

Kingdom of Commagene

Kingdom of Commagene

163 BCE Jan 1 - 72 BCE
, Samsat

Commagene was an ancient Greco-Iranian kingdom ruled by a Hellenized branch of the Iranian Orontid dynasty that had ruled over Armenia. The kingdom was located in and around the ancient city of Samosata, which served as its capital. The Iron Age name of Samosata, Kummuh, probably gives its name to Commagene.

Commagene has been characterized as a "buffer state" between Armenia, Parthia, Syria, and Rome; culturally, it was correspondingly mixed. The kings of the Kingdom of Commagene claimed descent from Orontes with Darius I of Persia as their ancestor, by his marriage to Rhodogune, daughter of Artaxerxes II who had a family descent from king Darius I. The territory of Commagene corresponded roughly to the modern Turkish provinces of Adıyaman and northern Antep.

Little is known of the region of Commagene prior to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. However, it seems that, from what little evidence remains, Commagene formed part of a larger state that also included the Kingdom of Sophene. This situation lasted until c. 163 BC, when the local satrap, Ptolemaeus of Commagene, established himself as an independent ruler following the death of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The Kingdom of Commagene maintained its independence until 17 AD, when it was made a Roman province by Emperor Tiberius. It re-emerged as an independent kingdom when Antiochus IV of Commagene was reinstated to the throne by order of Caligula, then deprived of it by that same emperor, then restored to it a couple of years later by his successor, Claudius. The re-emergent state lasted until 72 AD, when the Emperor Vespasian finally and definitively made it part of the Roman Empire.

Parthians | ©Angus McBride

Mithridates II invades Armenia

120 BCE Jan 1 - 91 BCE
, Armenia

In approximately 120 BC, the Parthian king Mithridates II (r. 124–91 BC) invaded Armenia and made its king Artavasdes I acknowledge Parthian suzerainty. Artavasdes I was forced to give the Parthians Tigranes, who was either his son or nephew, as a hostage. Tigranes lived in the Parthian court at Ctesiphon, where he was schooled in Parthian culture. Tigranes remained a hostage at the Parthian court until c. 96/95 BC, when Mithridates II released him and appointed him as the king of Armenia. Tigranes ceded an area called "seventy valleys" in the Caspiane to Mithridates II, either as a pledge or because Mithridates II demanded it. Tigranes' daughter Ariazate had also married a son of Mithridates II, which has been suggested by the modern historian Edward Dąbrowa to have taken place shortly before he ascended the Armenian throne as a guarantee of his loyalty. Tigranes would remain a Parthian vassal until the end of the 80's BC.

The King of Kings Tigranes the Great with four vassal Kings surrounding him

Tigranes the Great

95 BCE Jan 1 - 58 BCE
, Diyarbakır

Tigranes the Great was King of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome's east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House. Under his reign, the Armenian kingdom expanded beyond its traditional boundaries, allowing Tigranes to claim the title Great King, and involving Armenia in many battles against opponents such as the Parthian and Seleucid empires, and the Roman Republic.

During his reign, the kingdom of Armenia was at the zenith of its power and briefly became the most powerful state to the Roman east. Artaxias and his followers had already constructed the base upon which Tigranes built his empire. Despite this fact, the territory of Armenia, being a mountainous one, was governed by nakharars who were largely autonomous from the central authority. Tigranes unified them in order to create internal security in the kingdom. The borders of Armenia stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. At that time, the Armenians had become so expansive, that the Romans and Parthians had to join forces in order to beat them. Tigranes found a more central capital within his domain and named it Tigranocerta.

Republican Rome | ©Angus McBride

Armenia becomes a Roman client

73 BCE Jan 1 - 63 BCE
, Antakya/Hatay

The Third Mithridatic War (73–63 BC), the last and longest of the three Mithridatic Wars, was fought between Mithridates VI of Pontus and the Roman Republic. Both sides were joined by a great number of allies dragging the entire east of the Mediterranean and large parts of Asia (Asia Minor, Greater Armenia, Northern Mesopotamia and the Levant) into the war. The conflict ended in defeat for Mithridates, ending the Pontic Kingdom, ending the Seleucid Empire (by then a rump state), and also resulting in the Kingdom of Armenia becoming an allied client state of Rome.

Battle of Tigranocerta | ©Angus McBride

Battle of Tigranocerta

69 BCE Oct 6
, Diyarbakır

The Battle of Tigranocerta was fought on 6 October 69 BC between the forces of the Roman Republic and the army of the Kingdom of Armenia led by King Tigranes the Great. The Roman force, led by Consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, defeated Tigranes, and as a result, captured Tigranes' capital city of Tigranocerta.

The battle arose from the Third Mithridatic War being fought between the Roman Republic and Mithridates VI of Pontus, whose daughter Cleopatra was married to Tigranes. Mithridates fled to seek shelter with his son-in-law, and Rome invaded the Kingdom of Armenia. Having laid siege to Tigranocerta, the Roman forces fell back behind a nearby river when the large Armenian army approached. Feigning retreat, the Romans crossed at a ford and fell on the right flank of the Armenian army. After the Romans defeated the Armenian cataphracts, the balance of Tigranes' army, which was mostly made up of raw levies and peasant troops from his extensive empire, panicked and fled, and the Romans remained in charge of the field.

Pompey invades Armenia | ©Angus McBride

Pompey invades Armenia

66 BCE Jan 1
, Armenia

Early in 66 the tribune Gaius Manilius proposed that Pompey should assume supreme command of the war against Mithridates and Tigranes. He should take control from the provincial governors in Asia Minor, have the power to appoint legates himself and the authority to make war and peace and to conclude treaties on his own discretion. The law, the Lex Manilia, was approved by the Senate and the People and Pompey officially took command of the war in the east.

On the approach of Pompey, Mithridates retreated into the centre of his kingdom trying to stretch and cut off the Roman supply lines but this strategy did not work (Pompey excelled at logistics). Eventually Pompey cornered and defeated the king at the river Lycus. As Tigranes II of Armenia, his son-in-law, refused to receive him into his dominions (Greater Armenia), Mithridates fled to Colchis, and hence made his way to his own dominions in the Cimmerian Bosporus. Pompey marched against Tigranes, whose kingdom and authority were now severely weakened. Tigranes then sued for peace and met with Pompey to plead a cessation of hostilities. The Armenian Kingdom became an allied client state of Rome. From Armenia, Pompey marched north against the Caucasian tribes and kingdoms who still supported Mithridates.

Parthia, 1st century BCE | ©Angus McBride

Roman–Parthian Wars

54 BCE Jan 1 - 217
, Armenia

The Roman–Parthian Wars (54 BC – 217 AD) were a series of conflicts between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. It was the first series of conflicts in what would be 682 years of Roman–Persian Wars.

Battles between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 54 BC. This first incursion against Parthia was repulsed, notably at the Battle of Carrhae (53 BC). During the Roman Liberators' civil war of the 1st Century BC, the Parthians actively supported Brutus and Cassius, invading Syria, and gaining territories in the Levant. However, the conclusion of the second Roman civil war brought a revival of Roman strength in Western Asia.

In 113 AD, the Roman Emperor Trajan made eastern conquests and the defeat of Parthia a strategic priority, and successfully overran the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, installing Parthamaspates of Parthia as a client ruler. However he was later repulsed from the region by rebellions. Hadrian, Trajan's successor, reversed his predecessor's policy, intending to re-establish the Euphrates as the limit of Roman control. However, in the 2nd century, war over Armenia broke out again in 161, when Vologases IV defeated the Romans there. A Roman counter-attack under Statius Priscus defeated the Parthians in Armenia and installed a favored candidate on the Armenian throne, and an invasion of Mesopotamia culminated in the sack of Ctesiphon in 165.

In 195, another Roman invasion of Mesopotamia began under the Emperor Septimius Severus, who occupied Seleucia and Babylon, however he was unable to take Hatra.

Tiridates III of Armenia

Arsacid dynasty of Armenia

12 Jan 1 - 428
, Armenia

The Arsacid dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 12 to 428. The dynasty was a branch of the Arsacid dynasty of Parthia. Arsacid kings reigned intermittently throughout the chaotic years following the fall of the Artaxiad dynasty until 62 when Tiridates I secured Parthian Arsacid rule in Armenia. However, he did not succeed in establishing his line on the throne, and various Arsacid members of different lineages ruled until the accession of Vologases II, who succeeded in establishing his own line on the Armenian throne, which would rule the country until it was abolished by the Sasanian Empire in 428.

Two of the most notable events under Arsacid rule in Armenian history were the conversion of Armenia to Christianity by Gregory the Illuminator in 301 and the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots in c. 405. The reign of the Arsacids of Armenia marked the predominance of Iranianism in the country.

Roman Armenia | ©Angus McBride

Roman Armenia

114 Jan 1 - 118
, Artaxata

Roman Armenia refers to the rule of parts of Greater Armenia by the Roman Empire, from the 1st century AD to the end of Late Antiquity. While Armenia Minor had become a client state and incorporated into the Roman Empire proper during the 1st century AD, Greater Armenia remained an independent kingdom under the Arsacid dynasty. Throughout this period, Armenia remained a bone of contention between Rome and the Parthian Empire, as well as the Sasanian Empire that succeeded the latter, and the casus belli for several of the Roman–Persian Wars. Only in 114 was Emperor Trajan able to conquer and incorporate it as a short-lived province.

In the late 4th century, Armenia was divided between Rome and the Sasanians, who took control of the larger part of the Armenian Kingdom and in the mid-5th century abolished the Armenian monarchy. In the 6th and 7th centuries, Armenia once again became a battleground between the East Romans (Byzantines) and the Sasanians, until both powers were defeated and replaced by the Muslim Caliphate in the mid-7th century.

Legionaries vs Sassanid Cav. Mesopotamia 260 AD | ©Angus McBride

Sasanid Empire conquers the Kingdom of Armenia

252 Jan 1
, Armenia

Shapur I annihilated a Roman force of 60,000 at the Battle of Barbalissos. He then burned and ravaged the Roman province of Syria and all its dependencies. He then reconquered Armenia, and incited Anak the Parthian to murder the king of Armenia, Khosrov II. Anak did as Shapur asked, and had Khosrov murdered in 258; yet Anak himself was shortly thereafter murdered by Armenian nobles. Shapur then appointed his son Hormizd I as the "Great King of Armenia". With Armenia subjugated, Georgia submitted to the Sasanian Empire and fell under the supervision of a Sasanian official. With Georgia and Armenia under control, the Sasanians' borders on the north were thus secured. The Sassanid Persians held Armenia until the Romans returned in 287. 

Roman soldiers

Armenian Revolt

298 Jan 1
, Armenia

Under Diocletian, Rome installed Tiridates III as ruler of Armenia, and in 287 he was in possession of the western parts of Armenian territory. The Sassanids stirred some nobles to revolt when Narseh left to take the Persian throne in 293. Rome nevertheless defeated Narseh in 298, and Khosrov II's son Tiridates III regained control over Armenia with the support of Roman soldiers.

Saint Gregory preparing to restore the human figure to King Tiridates. Armenian manuscript, 1569

Armenia adopts Christianity

301 Jan 1
, Armenia

In 301, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, amidst the long-lasting geo-political rivalry over the region. It established a church that today exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, having become so in 451 after having rejected the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian Apostolic Church is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion. The first Catholicos of the Armenian church was Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Because of his beliefs, he was persecuted by the pagan king of Armenia, and was "punished" by being thrown in Khor Virap, in modern-day Armenia.

He acquired the title of Illuminator, because he illuminated the spirits of Armenians by introducing Christianity to them. Before this, the dominant religion amongst the Armenians was Zoroastrianism. It seems that the Christianisation of Armenia by the Arsacids of Armenia was partly in defiance of the Sassanids.

Late Roman cataphracts 4-3th century

Partition of Armenia

384 Jan 1
, Armenia

In 384, Roman emperor Theodosius I and Shapur III of Persia agree to formally divide Armenia between the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the Sasanian Empire. Western Armenia quickly became a province of the Roman Empire under the name of Armenia Minor; Eastern Armenia remained a kingdom within Persia until 428, when the local nobility overthrew the king, and the Sassanids installed a governor in his place.

Fresco of Mesrop | ©Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Armenian alphabet

405 Jan 1
, Armenia

The Armenian alphabet was introduced by Mesrop Mashtots and Isaac of Armenia (Sahak Partev) in 405 CE. Medieval Armenian sources also claim that Mashtots invented the Georgian and Caucasian Albanian alphabets around the same time. However, most scholars link the creation of the Georgian script to the process of Christianization of Iberia, a core Georgian kingdom of Kartli. The alphabet was therefore most probably created between the conversion of Iberia under Mirian III (326 or 337) and the Bir el Qutt inscriptions of 430, contemporaneously with the Armenian alphabet.

Sassanian Persians | ©Angus McBride

Sasanian Armenia

428 Jan 1 - 646
, Dvin

Sasanian Armenia, also known as Persian Armenia and Persarmenia may either refer to the periods in which Armenia was under the suzerainty of the Sasanian Empire or specifically to the parts of Armenia under its control such as after the partition of 387 when parts of western Armenia were incorporated into the Roman Empire while the rest of Armenia came under Sasanian suzerainty but maintained its existing kingdom until 428.

In 428, Bahram V abolished the Kingdom of Armenia and appointed Veh Mihr Shapur as marzban (governor of a frontier province, "margrave") of the country, which marked the start of a new era known as the Marzpanate period, a period when marzbans, nominated by the Sasanian emperor, governed eastern Armenia, as opposed to the western Byzantine Armenia which was ruled by several princes, and later governors, under Byzantine suzerainty. Armenia was made a full province within Persia, known as Persian Armenia.

Armenian spearman of the Arshakid dynasty. III - IV centuries AD | ©David Grigoryan

Battle of Avarayr

451 Jun 2
, Çors

The Battle of Avarayr was fought on 2 June 451 on the Avarayr Plain in Vaspurakan between a Christian Armenian army under Vardan Mamikonian and Sassanid Persia. It is considered one of the first battles in defense of the Christian faith. Although the Persians were victorious on the battlefield, it was a pyrrhic victory as Avarayr paved the way to the Nvarsak Treaty of 484, which affirmed Armenia's right to practise Christianity freely.The battle is seen as one of the most significant events in Armenian history. The commander of the Armenian forces, Vardan Mamikonian, is considered a national hero and has been canonized by the Armenian Apostolic Church.

First Council of Dvin

First Council of Dvin

506 Jan 1
, Dvin

The First Council of Dvin was a church council held in 506 in the city of Dvin (then in Sasanian Armenia). It convened to discuss the Henotikon, a christological document issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in an attempt to resolve theological disputes that had arisen from the Council of Chalcedon.

The Armenian Church had not accepted the conclusions of the Council of Chalcedon (fourth Ecumenical Council), which had defined that Christ is 'acknowledged in two natures', and condemned the exclusive use of the formula "from two natures". The latter insisted on the unification of human and divine natures into one composite nature of Christ, and rejected any severing of the natures in reality after the union. This formula was professed by Saints Cyril of Alexandria and Dioscorus of Alexandria. Miaphysitism was the doctrine of the Armenian Church among others. The Henotikon, Emperor Zeno's attempt at conciliation, was published in 482. It reminded bishops of the condemnation of Nestorian doctrine, which emphasized the human nature of Christ, and did not mention the Chalcedonian dyophysite creed.

Rashidun Caliphate Army | ©Angus McBride

Muslim conquest of Armenia

645 Jan 1 - 885
, Armenia

Armenia remained under Arab rule for approximately 200 years, formally starting in 645 CE. Through many years of Umayyad and Abbasid rule, the Armenian Christians benefited from political autonomy and relative religious freedom, but were considered second-class citizens (dhimmi status). This was, however, not the case in the beginning. The invaders first tried to force the Armenians to accept Islam, prompting many citizens to flee to Byzantine-held Armenia, which the Muslims had largely left alone due to its rugged and mountainous terrain. The policy also caused several uprisings until the Armenian Church finally enjoyed greater recognition even more than it experienced under Byzantine or Sassanid jurisdiction. The Caliph assigned Ostikans as governors and representatives, who sometimes were of Armenian origin. The first ostikan, for example, was Theodorus Rshtuni. However, the commander of the 15,000-strong army was always of Armenian origin, often from the Mamikonian, Bagratuni or Artsruni families, with the Rshtuni family having the highest number of troops at 10,000. He would either defend the country from foreigners, or assist the Caliph in his military expeditions. For example, the Armenians helped the Caliphate against Khazar invaders.

Arab rule was interrupted by many revolts whenever Arabs attempted to enforce Islam, or higher taxes (jizya) to the people of Armenia. However, these revolts were sporadic and intermittent. They never had a pan-Armenian character. Arabs used rivalries between the different Armenian nakharars in order to curb the rebellions. Thus, the Mamikonian, Rshtuni, Kamsarakan and Gnuni families were gradually weakened in favor of the Bagratuni and Artsruni families. The rebellions led to the creation of the legendary character, David of Sassoun. During Islamic rule, Arabs from other parts of the Caliphate settled in Armenia. By the 9th century, there was a well-established class of Arab emirs, more or less equivalent to the Armenian nakharars.

Bagratid Armenia

Bagratuni dynasty

885 Jan 1 - 1042
, Ani

The Bagratuni or Bagratid dynasty was an Armenian royal dynasty which ruled the medieval Kingdom of Armenia from c. 885 until 1045. Originating as vassals of the Kingdom of Armenia of antiquity, they rose to become the most prominent Armenian noble family during the period of Arab rule in Armenia, eventually establishing their own independent kingdom.

Ashot I, nephew of Bagrat II, was the first member of the dynasty to rule as King of Armenia. He was recognized as prince of princes by the court at Baghdad in 861, which provoked war with local Arab emirs. Ashot won the war, and was recognized as King of the Armenians by Baghdad in 885. Recognition from Constantinople followed in 886. In an effort to unify the Armenian nation under one flag, the Bagratids subjugated other Armenian noble families through conquests and fragile marriage alliances. Eventually, some noble families such as the Artsrunis and the Siunis broke off from the central Bagratid authority, founding the separate kingdoms of Vaspurakan and Syunik, respectively. Ashot III the Merciful transferred their capital to the city of Ani, now famous for its ruins. They kept power by playing off the competition between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs.

With the start of the 10th century and on, the Bagratunis broke up into different branches, fragmenting the kingdom in a time when unity was needed in the face of Seljuk and Byzantine pressure. The rule of the Ani branch ended in 1045 with the conquest of Ani by the Byzantines.

The Kars branch of the family held out until 1064. The junior Kiurikian branch of the Bagratunis continued to rule as independent kings of Tashir-Dzoraget until 1118 and Kakheti-Hereti until 1104, and thereafter as rulers of smaller principalities centered on their fortresses of Tavush and Matsnaberd until the 13th century Mongol conquest of Armenia. The dynasty of Cilician Armenia is believed to be a branch of the Bagratids, which later took the throne of an Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia. The founder, Ruben I, had an unknown relationship to the exiled king Gagik II. He was either a younger family member or kinsman. Ashot, son of Hovhannes (son of Gagik II), was later governor of Ani under the Shaddadid dynasty.

Seljuk Turks in Anatolia | ©Angus McBride

Seljuq Armenia

1045 Jan 1
, Ani

Although the native Bagratuni dynasty was founded under favourable circumstances, the feudal system gradually weakened the country by eroding loyalty to the central government. Thus internally enfeebled, Armenia proved an easy victim for the Byzantines, who captured Ani in 1045. The Seljuk dynasty under Alp Arslan in turn took the city in 1064.

In 1071, after the defeat of the Byzantine forces by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert, the Turks captured the rest of Greater Armenia and much of Anatolia. So ended Christian leadership of Armenia for the next millennium with the exception of a period of the late 12th-early 13th centuries, when the Muslim power in Greater Armenia was seriously troubled by the resurgent Kingdom of Georgia. Many local nobles (nakharars) joined their efforts with the Georgians, leading to liberation of several areas in northern Armenia, which was ruled, under the authority of the Georgian crown, by the Zakarids-Mkhargrzeli, a prominent Armeno-Georgian noble family.

Constantin III of Armenia on his throne with the Hospitallers. "Les chevaliers de Saint-Jean-de-Jerusalem rétablissant la religion en Arménie", 1844 painting by Henri Delaborde.

Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia

1080 Jan 1 - 1375 Apr
, Adana

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was an Armenian state formed during the High Middle Ages by Armenian refugees fleeing the Seljuk invasion of Armenia. Located outside the Armenian Highlands and distinct from the Kingdom of Armenia of antiquity, it was centered in the Cilicia region northwest of the Gulf of Alexandretta.

The kingdom had its origins in the principality founded c. 1080 by the Rubenid dynasty, an alleged offshoot of the larger Bagratuni dynasty, which at various times had held the throne of Armenia. Their capital was originally at Tarsus, and later became Sis. Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, and saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East. It also served as a focus for Armenian nationalism and culture, since Armenia proper was under foreign occupation at the time. Cilicia's significance in Armenian history and statehood is also attested by the transfer of the seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, spiritual leader of the Armenian people, to the region. In 1198, with the crowning of Leo I, King of Armenia of the Rubenid dynasty, Cilician Armenia became a kingdom.

Kalka | ©Pavel Ryzhenko

Mongol destroy Dvin

1236 Jan 1
, Dvin

Dvin, the former capital of Armenia, is destroyed during the Mongol invasion and definitively abandoned.

Ottoman Turks | ©Angus McBride

Ottoman Armenia

1453 Jan 1 - 1829
, Armenia

Due to its strategic significance, the historical Armenian homelands of Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia were constantly fought over and passed back and forth between Safavid Persia and the Ottomans. For example, at the height of the Ottoman-Persian wars, Yerevan changed hands fourteen times between 1513 and 1737. Greater Armenia was annexed in the early 16th century by Shah Ismail I. Following the Peace of Amasya of 1555, Western Armenia fell into the neighbouring Ottoman hands, while Eastern Armenia stayed part of Safavid Iran, until the 19th century.

Armenians preserved their culture, history, and language through the course of time, largely thanks to their distinct religious identity among the neighboring Turks and Kurds. Like the Greek Orthodox and Jewish minorities of the Ottoman Empire, they constituted a distinct millet, led by the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Under Ottoman rule, Armenians formed three distinct millets: Armenian Orthodox Gregorians, Armenian Catholics, and Armenian Protestants (in the 19th century).

After many centuries of Turkish rule in Anatolia and Armenia (at first by the Seljuks, then a variety of Anatolian beyliks and finally the Ottomans), the centres with a high concentration of Armenians lost their geographic continuity (parts of Van, Bitlis, and Kharput vilayets). Over the centuries, tribes of Turks and Kurds settled into Anatolia and Armenia, which was left severely depopulated by a slew of devastating events such as the Byzantine-Persian Wars, Byzantine-Arab Wars, Turkish migration, Mongol Invasions and finally the bloody campaigns of Tamerlane.

In addition, there were the century-long Ottoman-Persian Wars between the rival empires, the battlegrounds of which ranged over Western Armenia (therefore large parts of the native lands of the Armenians), causing the region and its peoples to be passed between the Ottomans and Persians numerous times. The wars between the arch-rivals started from the early 16th century and lasted till well into the 19th century, having disastrous effects for the native inhabitants of these regions, including the Armenians of Western Armenia. There were also significant communities in parts of Trebizond and Ankara vilayets bordering Six vilayets (such as in Kayseri). After the Ottoman conquests many Armenians also moved west and settled in Anatolia, in large and prosperous Ottoman cities like Istanbul and Izmir.

Shah Ismail I | ©Cristofano dell'Altissimo

Iranian Armenia

1502 Jan 1 - 1828
, Armenia

Iranian Armenia (1502–1828) refers to the period of Eastern Armenia during the early-modern and late-modern era when it was part of the Iranian empire. Armenians have a history of being divided since the time of the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire, in the early 5th century. While the two sides of Armenia were sometimes reunited, this became a permanent aspect of the Armenian people. Following the Arab and Seljuk conquests of Armenia, the western portion, which was initially part of Byzantium, became eventually part of the Ottoman Empire, otherwise known as Ottoman Armenia, while the eastern portion became and was kept part of the Iranian Safavid Empire, Afsharid Empire and Qajar Empire, until it became part of the Russian Empire in the course of the 19th century, following the Treaty of Turkmenchay of 1828.

Yerevan fortress siege by forces of Tsarist Russia, Capture of Erivan Fortress by Russia, 1827 | ©Franz Roubaud

Russian Armenia

1828 Jan 1 - 1917
, Armenia

At the end of the Russo-Persian War, 1826-1828, with the Treaty of Turkmenchay, Iran was forced to cede its territories comprising the Erivan khanate (comprising modern-day Armenia), the Nakhichevan Khanate, as well as the remainder of the Republic of Azerbaijan that had not been ceded forcefully in 1813. By this time, in 1828, the century-long Iranian rule over Eastern Armenia had thus officially come to an end.

A significant number of Armenians were already living in the Russian Empire before the 1820s. After the destruction of the last remaining independent Armenian states in the Middle Ages, the nobility disintegrated, leaving Armenian society composed of a mass of peasants plus a middle class who were either craftsmen or merchants. Such Armenians were to be found in most towns of Transcaucasia; indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century they formed the majority of the population in cities such as Tbilisi. Armenian merchants conducted their trade across the world and many had set up base within Russia. In 1778, Catherine the Great invited Armenian merchants from the Crimea to Russia and they established a settlement at Nor Nakhichevan near Rostov-on-Don. The Russian ruling classes welcomed the Armenians' entrepreneurial skills as a boost to the economy, but they also regarded them with some suspicion. The image of the Armenian as a "wily merchant" was already widespread. Russian nobles derived their income from their estates worked by serfs and, with their aristocratic distaste for engaging in business, they had little understanding or sympathy for the way of life of mercantile Armenians.

Nevertheless, middle-class Armenians prospered under Russian rule and they were the first to seize the new opportunities and transform themselves into a prosperous bourgeoisie when capitalism and industrialisation came to Transcaucasia in the later half of the 19th century. The Armenians were much more skilled at adapting to the new economic circumstances than their neighbours in Transcaucasia, the Georgians and the Azeris. They became the most powerful element in the municipal life of Tbilisi, the city regarded by Georgians as their capital, and in the late 19th century they began to buy up the lands of the Georgian nobility, who had gone into decline after the emancipation of their serfs. Armenian entrepreneurs were quick to exploit the oil boom which began in Transcaucasia in the 1870s, having large investments in the oil-fields in Baku in Azerbaijan and the refineries of Batumi on the Black Sea coast. All this meant that the tensions between Armenians, Georgians and Azeris in Russian Transcaucasia were not simply ethnic or religious in nature but were due to social and economic factors too. Nevertheless, in spite of the popular image of the typical Armenian as a successful businessman, at the end of the 19th century 80 per cent of Russian Armenians were still peasants working the land.

Armenian civilians, being deported during the Armenian genocide

Armenia during First World War

1915 Jan 1 - 1918
, Adana

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire systematically carried out the Armenian genocide. This was preceded by a wave of massacres in the years 1894 to 1896, and another one in 1909 in Adana. On 24 April 1915, Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Constantinople to the region of Ankara, where the majority were murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.

Armenians gathered in a city prior to deportation. They were murdered outside the city.

Armenian Genocide

1915 Apr 24 - 1916
, Türkiye

The Armenian genocide was the systematic destruction of the Armenian people and identity in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Spearheaded by the ruling Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), it was implemented primarily through the mass murder of around one million Armenians during death marches to the Syrian Desert and the forced Islamization of Armenian women and children.

Before World War I, Armenians occupied a protected, but subordinate, place in Ottoman society. Large-scale massacres of Armenians occurred in the 1890s and 1909. The Ottoman Empire suffered a series of military defeats and territorial losses—especially the 1912–1913 Balkan Wars—leading to fear among CUP leaders that the Armenians, whose homeland in the eastern provinces was viewed as the heartland of the Turkish nation, would seek independence. During their invasion of Russian and Persian territory in 1914, Ottoman paramilitaries massacred local Armenians. Ottoman leaders took isolated indications of Armenian resistance as evidence of a widespread rebellion, though no such rebellion existed. Mass deportation was intended to permanently forestall the possibility of Armenian autonomy or independence.

On 24 April 1915, the Ottoman authorities arrested and deported hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and leaders from Constantinople. At the orders of Talaat Pasha, an estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenians were sent on death marches to the Syrian Desert in 1915 and 1916. Driven forward by paramilitary escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to robbery, rape, and massacres. In the Syrian Desert, the survivors were dispersed into concentration camps. In 1916, another wave of massacres was ordered, leaving about 200,000 deportees alive by the end of the year. Around 100,000 to 200,000 Armenian women and children were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. Massacres and ethnic cleansing of Armenian survivors were carried out by the Turkish nationalist movement during the Turkish War of Independence after World War I.

This genocide put an end to more than two thousand years of Armenian civilization. Together with the mass murder and expulsion of Syriac and Greek Orthodox Christians, it enabled the creation of an ethnonationalist Turkish state.

Armenian Army 1918

First Republic of Armenia

1918 Jan 1 - 1920
, Armenia

The First Republic of Armenia, officially known at the time of its existence as the Republic of Armenia, was the first modern Armenian state since the loss of Armenian statehood in the Middle Ages.

The republic was established in the Armenian-populated territories of the disintegrated Russian Empire, known as Eastern Armenia or Russian Armenia. The leaders of the government came mostly from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF or Dashnaktsutyun). The First Republic of Armenia bordered the Democratic Republic of Georgia to the north, the Ottoman Empire to the west, Persia to the south, and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic to the east. It had a total land area of roughly 70,000 km2, and a population of 1.3 million.

The Armenian National Council declared the independence of Armenia on 28 May 1918. From its very onset, Armenia was plagued with a variety of domestic and foreign issues. A humanitarian crisis emerged from the aftermath of the Armenian genocide as hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees from the Ottoman Empire were forced to settle in the fledgling republic. Lasting two and a half years in existence, the Republic of Armenia became involved in several armed conflicts with its neighbors, caused by overlapping territorial claims. By late 1920, the nation was partitioned between the Turkish Nationalist forces and Russian Red Army. The First Republic, along with the Republic of Mountainous Armenia which repelled the Soviet invasion until July 1921, ceased to exist as an independent state, superseded by the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic that became part of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Yereven Armenian socialist Republic 1975

Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic

1920 Jan 1 - 1990 Jan
, Armenia

The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, also commonly referred to as Soviet Armenia or Armenia was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union in December 1922 located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It was established in December 1920, when the Soviets took over control of the short-lived First Republic of Armenia, and lasted until 1991. Historians sometimes refer to it as the Second Republic of Armenia, following the demise of the First Republic.

As part of the Soviet Union, the Armenian SSR transformed from a largely agricultural hinterland to an important industrial production center, while its population almost quadrupled from around 880,000 in 1926 to 3.3 million in 1989 due to natural growth and large-scale influx of Armenian genocide survivors and their descendants. On 23 August 1990 the Declaration of Independence of Armenia was adopted. On 21 September 1991, the independence of the Republic of Armenia was confirmed in a referendum. It was recognized on 26 December 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Armenia's independence on December 25, 1991

Republic of Armenia established

1991 Sep 23
, Armenia

The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Armenia was signed by Armenia's president Levon Ter-Petrossian and Supreme Council of Armenia secretary Ara Sahakian on August 23, 1990 in Yerevan, Armenia. The Republic of Armenia was established on September 23, 1991 upon dissolution of the Soviet Union. The declaration was rooted in the December 1, 1989, joint decision of the Armenian SSR Supreme Council and the Artsakh National Council on the "Reunification of the Armenian SSR and the Mountainous Region of Karabakh" with ties to the Republic of Armenia established on May 28, 1918 and the Declaration of Independence of Armenia (1918). The statement include 12 declarations including the establishment of a right of return for the Armenian diaspora. It renames Armenian SSR to the Republic of Armenia and establishes that the state have a flag, coat of arms, and national anthem. It also states the nation's independence with its own currency, military, and banking system. The declaration guarantees free speech, press, and a division of governance between a judiciary, legislature and presidency. It calls for a multiparty democracy. It establishes the Armenian language as official.


References for History of Armenia.

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