There are countries which took their names from the people living on the land. There are also countries which took their names from their geographic locations or from their administrative divisions.
The residents of these areas have often forgotten their original names and are remembered simply by the name of the region they inhabit. We may cite Turkey, Germany, and France as examples of countries which took their names from the people living in them. In contrast, Italy and the United States of America are not the names of people, but rather geographical names which were adopted by the people living in these areas, who consequently gave up their original names.
Likewise, in the ancient past of Anatolia there were geographical area names, and the people living in these regions were known by these `geographical’ names. As examples we may cite Cappadocia, Cilicia, Pamphilia, Pafloginya, etc. However, for those who once lived in these regions, these names were a means of identification, in the same way that today we say someone is from Istanbul, from Ankara, and so on.
Many sources claim that Armenia was also such a geographical region name. Armenians, however, call themselves `Hai’ and their country `Haiastan’ and there are no extant sources which clearly state the origin of the name Armenia. Some early Armenian historians, among whom we may name Moses of Khorene, claimed that the Armenians were Urartus and that the name `Armenia’ derived from that of an Urartu king named `Aramu’. Contemporary Armenian historians have for the most part discarded this theory. As we shall establish shortly, there was in fact no relationship between the Urartus and their civilization on the one hand, and the Armenians on the other.
It is, however, possible to find a degree of truth in Moses of Khorene’s theory if it is approached from another angle. Specifically, the use of the term Armenia to designate a geographical region may well have derived from the name Aramu and then its sources been forgotten. The result was that while `Armenian’ had originally meant `from the region of Armenia’ it lost this meaning. Today, the name Armenian is once again used in the sense of `from Armenia’, though this in fact has nothing to do with the present country of Armenia. (In foreign languages there is no distinction made between `from Armenia’ and `Armenian’, and the word `Armenian’ is used for both meanings.)
Arnold Toynbee put forth the following ideas with regard to the origin of the name `Armenian’: “If the valley of the Teleboas had in fact thus been transferred from Urartu to Armenia at some date between the end of the Assyrian and the beginning of the Median Age, this might prove to be the explanation of two puzzling pieces of nomenclature. In the first place it might explain how the Mushkian (i.e. Phrygian) followers of Gurdi, who in their own language called themselves Haik, came to be known in the Achaemenian official terminology neither as Haik nor as Mushki nor as Gordians, but as “Arminiya”. This old Persian ethnikon of a place name “Arminiya” may represent the Urartian word Urmeniuhi-ni which occurs in Menuas’ inscription found in the neighbourhood of Mush as the name of one of the conquered local cities which he had razed to the ground; and, in confirming the cession of this Urartian canton called Urmeniuhi-ni to the Mushki intruders who called themselves Haik, the Medes, and the Persians after them, may have labeled these new owners of this transferred piece of Urartian territory with the Urartian local place-name.” (A. J. Toynbee. A Study cf History. Oxford University Press. 1963, VII, p. 661)
Toynbee, while adding that this explanation is merely speculation, adds that it is possible that the term `Armenia’ may have been derived from the name of `Erimena’, who was the father of the last Urartian ruler, Russas III; alternatively, it might derive from `Aruma-ni’, which means the country of the Arameans, a people who came from the North Arabian steppes at the end of the 11th or beginning of the l0th century BC and conquered Nairi.
It is not our intention to introduce either historical or archaeological research on this topic. Our reasons for mentioning it at all are completely different. W hile it is accepted that the name `Haiastan’ has nothing to do with the name `Armenia’ or `Haik’ with `Armenian’, and while it is usual to find the residents of Armenia in ancient times referred to as `Armenians’, it is not usual for the word Armenian to be used as though it were synonymous with Haik. Thus it is not possible to ascertain whether the inhabitants of Armenia were the ancestors of the Armenians of today, or whether the region inhabited by those ancestors was identical with the region that was called Armenia in early times.
W hile the derivation of the name Armenia as a region thus remains an unanswered question, it is equally uncertain as to when the group known as `Haik’ first appeared in this area.
As this book is not designed as scholarly research into ancient Armenian history, we have not seen the necessity to delve into this subject further. We have been satisfied to repeat what appears in the books we have used as sources, and have followed the chronology which they present.
Early Armenian historians, such as Moses of Khorene, Toma Ardzouni and others, are content to write that the Armenians are the descendants of the Prophet Noah, and because they accept that Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat, they claim to have occupied this region throughout history. W hile there is no particular reason to respond to such mythical views of history, one point which has been overlooked by its proponents should be mentioned. Namely, if one wants to base understanding of history on religious books and mythology, one should be consistent. As these accounts tell how the entire human race increased from the children of the Prophet Noah, one must assume likewise that the Turkish people also increased in the vicinity of Mount Ararat and were successful in maintaining their hold on the lands of their origin.
Gatteyrias has this to say about the origins of the Armenians: “W hen the first tribes began to migrate out of the Pamir Plateau, one group settled in the Sind Valley to the South, while the remainder moved North and settled in the Iranian Plateau. As a result the only migratory path which remained open was that lying to the West. Correspondingly, subsequent migratory tribes were forced to settle in Europe. As they began the first steps of their migrations they encountered the Caucasus Mountains, and seeking a passageway they moved South to Asia Minor…
These tribes who settled in various valleys of Armenia, developed and lived their own lives without contact with one another particularly strong, and on occasion formed confederations with other groups.
W hen the Assyrians conquered the country of Nairi in the year 1130 sc, upùto the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that is, during the period of the first Assyrian Dynasty, they found them in this state.
During the time of the Second Assyrian Dynasty, these wars of conquest continued in a more serious fashion and the people of Urartu of Ararat experienced a whole series of defeats campaign Armenia surrendered. After the eighteenth or nineteenth campaign Armenia surrendered in 782-780 BC, and for a forty- year period the Assyrians remained the uncontested rulers of the Upper Tigris valley. Throughout this period they tried to expand their civilization.
During these attempts of the Semitic peoples to settle, the Armenian tribes of Urartu resisted these efforts and consequently they were able to preserve more effectively than the others their Aryan blood and spirits…” (J.A. Gatteyrias. Op. cit., p. 12-15)
Without dwelling on its geographical and historical inconsistency, we understand that the: author claims that during the period of the Great Migrations the Armenians migrated from the Pamir Plateau to this region. What is interesting here is that the Armenians were considered simply as one of the tribes which comprised the Urartu Empire, and that the word Armenian itself may have been used as a geographic term to indicate the Urartu borders.
The ideas of Jacques de Morgan on this point are as follows: In any case according to the documents at our disposal the movement of the Armenians from Cappadocia to the Erzurum Plateau occurred between the viii and vii centuries BC and this group of people had been occupying the Lake Van and Ararat regions for at least 600 years. (J. de Morgan. Op. cit., p. 43-44)
Macler says: Armenia, or that geographical region known as Armenia since the earliest period of history, was not always occupied by those people whom we call Armenians… even if this region was not the home of another race per se, it certainly was the home of a people who spoke another language than Armenian.
The first recorded references to the Armenian people are inscriptions in stone found in Bissutun which date from 515 BC, that is from the Achemenid period of Darius. These inscriptions show that Armenia was a Satrap, or province of Darius’ Empire. (F. Macler La nation Armenienne. Son Passe. Ses malheurs. Paris, 1924, p. 18-19)
As we see, Macler’s view was that Armenia was called Armenia long before the people we know as Armenians inhabited it. Later we shall return to a discussion of the Darius inscriptions.
Let us look at Pastermadjian’s book:
…The Armenians, who are an Indo-European people, first appear in the East in Urartu, that is Armenia together with the Kimers who were another Indo-European group from the Caucasus; or alternatively, they may have come from the West via the Balkans and Asia Minor in the company of another Indo-European people, the Phrygians with whom they shared blood ties. They appear to have arrived in the VII or VI century sc. This second thesis, which is still accepted in the academic world, is that the Indo-European Armenians entered Anatolia from the Balkans.
According to legends the Chieftain of these Indo-European peoples was named Haik. According to the Armenians, Haik was the founder of their state and their first king. They gave themselves the name `Hai,’ that is, the sons of Haik.
The Armenian Chroniclers relate that Haik and his people came and settled in Armenia in the year 2200 BC, and in support of this they provide a list of Kings and Rulers who lived between 2200 BC and 800 BC. This is a legend which modern historical scholarship has rejected. Nations, unlike individuals, like to age… (Н. Pasdermadjian. Op. cit., p. 23 ).
As we read these lines, although it is not clear what theory Pastermadjian embraced, it is clear that he accepted the idea that Armenians came to the region called Armenia in the 7th or 6th century sc. As a result, Pastermadjian accepts the arrival of the Armenians as having occurred one hundred years later than does Jacques de Morgan.
Let us now examine Nalbandian:
…The Urartu Kingdom was not only a powerful military state but it also had a highly developed civilization. Its people spoke a non-Aryan language, which has been deciphered and they believed in a single supreme god whom they named Khaldi…
In the Eighth and Seventh centuries BC a new people invaded Urartu and conquered it. According to Herodotus, the people who overthrew Urartu were Phrygian colonists known as Armenians. As time passed, the Armeno-Phrygian tribes imposed their Indo-European language on the Urartians, and the amalgamation of the two peoples resulted in the formation of the Armenian nation. (L.Nalbandian. The Armenian Revolutionary Movement. Los Angeles, 1963, p. 4)
Let us first say that Herodotus in no way made the claims attributed to him by Nalbandian. (We shall prove this later. ) On the other hand, it would be a unique process if a language which had its own script had been replaced by a language that did not have a script. Normal progress dictates just the reverse process. Nalbandian’s contribution to the discussion is the idea that the Armenian people resulted from the combination of some Phrygian tribes who migrated to this region and the local populace: in other words, the idea that prior to this time there had been no such thing as the Armenian people.
Hovannisian’s view is: `They had moved on to the Plateau as Indo-European conquerors and extended their hegemony over the indigenous peoples whom they eventually assimilated. Then, after a period of submission to the Achaemenids and Seleucids, they regained independence under a dynasty that wielded authority throughout the two centuries before Christ. (R. Hovanisian. Armenia on the Road to Independence. Los Angeles, 1963, p. 2)
From his style, it is not very clear from where and when Hovannisian thinks the Armenians arrived. His sense of scholarship prevents him from writing about points which have not been scientifically proved. W hat is clear is that he believes the Armenians to have migrated from another region to Armenia, and that this occurred prior to the Achaemenid invasion. In this respect it is worth recalling that the formation of the Achaemenid dynasty, that is the invasion of Armenia by the Medes, took place in the 6th century sc.
The following passages are quoted from Grousset, who was the author of a large work on Armenian history:
Towards the year 1200 BC one portion of the Thracian tribes passed over into Asia where they were assimilated into the Hittite Empire, under the name of Phrygians. These Phrygians settled on the Anatolian Plateau, and extended their sovereignty up to the Cilician Gates in the Southeast, and in the Northeast as far as Hoyuk (the former capital city of the Hittites, Bogazkoy), which lies to the North of Hattus. According to the Assyrians they must have been the same Phrygians who are mentioned in their sources under the name, `Mouchki’….
In the year 677 BC the Assyrian King, Assarhaddon, defeated a Cimmerian force which was commanded by one Teuchpa or Tiochpa. This Cimmerian group then moved into Anatolia, where, between the years 676-675 BC they destroyed the remaining Phrygians and brought an end to their sovereignty, if not to their ethnic identity…
These Cimmerians were unable to follow up their victory, but the Phrygian Empire was not reconstructed, and ultimately it was partially replaced by the Lydian Empire. Thus, one group of the defeated Phrygian tribes moved to the east in search of a new homeland. In all likelihood, this is the manner in which the people known as Armenians came into being. (R.Grousset. Op. cet., p. 67-68)
Grousset in this way accepts that the group of people whom we today call Armenians first entered the geographical region of Armenia after 675 BC.
Particularly today, when Urartian history is no longer a mystery, owing to the findings of various archaeological excavations, we have every right to expect that contemporary scholars will incorporate these new findings into their works. Those readers who feel this way will be disappointed by Professor Lang’s study which makes the following statement in regard to Urartian history:
The founder of the unified Urartian kingdom was evidently King Arame or Aramu, mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions of King Salmanesar iii under the years 860, 858 and 846 BC, and no doubt to be identified with the half-legendary Armenian king, Ara the Fair, loved by Queen Semiramis…. The Armenian chronicler Moses of Khorene regards the Urartian king Aramu as the eponymous ancestor of the Armenian Nation. (D. Lang. Armenia, Cradle of Civilisation. London, 1980, p. 94)
Is it really possible that a professor of history has so failed to read the current research on Urartian history, that he can still accept myths written by Moses of Khorene (legends which are even rejected by many Armenian historians) as historical fact, and in this manner to find a connection between the Urartians and Armenians?
Professor Lang goes even further than this, and on page 114 of his work we read:
As mentioned, the Armenians term themselves `Haik,’ and their land `Hayastan.’ There seems good reason to connect this ethnic name with the old eastern Hittite province of Hayasa, in mountainous western Armenia, along the upper reaches of the River Euphrates or Kara-Su. The Hayasa people’s language was evidently related to the ancient Indo-European languages.
After noting the fact that Professor Lang is not a linguist, let us answer him with Grousset’s pen:
The name Hayasa does not go further than to draw attention to the Armenian name of Armenia. In reality, this is a fortuitous analogy. As for the location of this region, Louis Dalaporte placed it near Trebizond… Contrary to his opinion, N. Adontz feels that it was located in the Dersim Mountains on the upper Euphrates. (R.Grousset. Op. cit., p. 42)
The name of the country of Hayasa is also found in a Hittite inscription which belongs to the reign of Murshilish ii the Hittite ruler who reigned from 1345 to 1320 BC. Bedrich Hrozny, the famous Hittitologist and archaeologist, describes this period of Hittite history as follows:
The Hittite Empire comes to an end around the year 1200 BC. This catastrophe occurred in the reign of Tuthaliyash V (around 1200 BC), who was the son and successor of Arnuvantash. Groups of Phrygians, Thracians, and Mycinians, and other Balkan peoples including Armenians, were pushed into Asia Minor by the Illyrians. These `migrations’ were finally stopped by the Pharaoh Ramses III at the gateway of Egypt. W hen these waves of migrations ceased it becomes clear that the principal heirs of the Hittite Empire were the Phrygians in the west, and the Mouchkis in the east. Further to the south in the Toros and Anti-Toros mountain ranges a number of small Hittite states continued to exist right up until the year 717 BC when Sharruken (Sargon) the Assyrian king conquered the last great Hittite fortress of Kargemish, thereby bringing the political existence of the Hittites to an end. (В.Hrozny, Histoire de L’Asie Anterieure. Paris, 1947, p. 191-197)
The first appearance of the word Armenia occurs in the Bissutun inscriptions from the reign of Darius. These inscriptions belong to the year 515 BC. After this date, the next appearance of the words Armenia and Armenian in historical texts are found in the work of Herodotus, who lived between the years 484 and 430 BC.
In Herodotus’ works the words `Armenia’ and `Armenian’ are mentioned on pp. 120, 244, 358, 360 and 468.(12) On p. 120, he mentions the area of `Armenia’; on p. 244, while listing the various Iranian states, he writes: `Pattyica, together with the Armenians and their neighbours as far as the Black Sea’; on p.358, after mentioning the `Ionians’, `Lydians’, `Phrygians’, `Cappadocians’, and `Cilicians’, he adds: `now the Armenians…
… On p. 360 he uses the word `Armenia’, writing: `Leaving Armenia and entering Matiene…’ On page 468 we find the following paragraph:
The dress of the Phrygians was, with a few small differences, like the Paphlagonian. This people, according to the Macedonian account, were known as the `Briges’ during the period when they lived in Macedonia, and changed their name at the same time as, by migrating to Asia, they changed their country. The Armenians, who are Phrygian colonists, were armed in the Phrygian fashion and both contingents were commanded by Artochmes, the husband of one of Darius’ daughters. (Herodotus. The Histories. N. У., 1972, p. 468)
Today, almost all serious scholars, relying on the combined testimony of the Darius inscriptions and Herodotus, accept that the Armenians migrated to and settled in the region of Armenia in 515 BC.
Yet in both the Darius inscriptions and in Herodotus’ work the word `Armenian’ can also be understood as having the meaning of `from Armenia’. Neither the Darius inscriptions nor Herodotus mention a particular race, but rather the people from a given region. As Armenia was known as such long before the people we call Armenians entered the region, it is hard to say that the documents cited prove that the Armenians came to this region prior to 515 BC.
The same comment may be made with regard to the relevant passages in Xenophon’s Return of the Ten Thousand. (Xenophon. The Persians Expeditions. N.V., 1979, p. 186) The third, fourth and fifth chapters of Book Iv deal with the armies’ journey through the region of Armenia in 401-400 BC. In these references it is also clear that `Armenia’ is used in the sense of a geographical region. The word `Armenian’ appears once in the third chapter, as `These were Armenian, Mardian and Chaldean mercenaries in the service of Orontas and Artouchas’, and once more at the end of the fifth chapter where we read: `Armenian children in local clothes…’ (Jbidem, p. 197) In both these instances it is possible to define his use of this term as meaning `from’ or `of’ Armenia.
However, throughout his passage on the region of Armenia, he does not call the local villagers Armenian, and the language they used to communicate with the local people is defined as Persian. While there can be no doubt that the name of the region was in fact Armenia, there is no indication in this period that its residents were called `Armenians’ as a people.
On the last page of the French translation of the same book (Chapter 7, Book VII), there is a paragraph not written by Xenophon but supposedly added by Sophenete, which lists the names of the states through which the ten thousand passed, and of their governors.
From other sources we know that the Secretary of the Governor ruling the region of West Armenia through which the ten thousand passed was one Tribaz (Orantes was the Persian Governor of the whole region). In the above-mentioned paragraph by Sophenete, Tribaz is presented as being the head of the `Phases’ and `Hesperites’; there is no mention of `Armenians’. (Anabase, garnier-Flammarion. Paris, p. 249)
There are also a number of authors who have advanced some rather `original’ theories as to the origins of the Armenians. As an example of this type of writer we may mention Ruppen Courian, who makes the following claims:
The Armenians are the former inhabitants of today’s Switzerland. The Romance language has many similarities to Armenian. While there are variations in the formation of words and expressions, the interpositioning of syllables, and loan-words, the background and the rhythm of both languages are the same. Some people will oppose this idea. To understand its basis we have only to examine the map of Switzerland. There, lying between the villages of Oberhalbstein, Muhlen, Piz Jolien, and St. Moritz, we find a place called `Piz Er’. What is the meaning of this name?
The Turks and other Asians say `Ermeni’ to indicate an Armenian. The meaning of `er’ is `man’, in other words, `Ermeni’ means the man who comes from the land. (R. Couriau. Promartyrs de la Civilisation. Yverdon, 1964 p. 27)
On page 31 of the same author’s book we are told that the name of the province of Van is derived from the French word `vent’ meaning wind because Van in eastern Anatolia is a windy city.
If it were necessary to look for the meaning of the proper name of the Swiss village, Piz Er, in Turkish, surely a more logical explanation could be found. Er means man and pis means dirty, so we could define the `Turkish’ meaning of the proper name as `Dirty Man’. But this kind of `word-game’ has no place in serious scholarship, and its only proper use is in humorous writings!
In conclusion, we may summarize the points we have discussed in the form of quotations from various books, as follows:
Since the very early days of history a particular region of Anatolia has been known as `Armenia’. The people whom we now call `Armenians’ migrated to this region from the west. The earliest possible date at which they may have arrived in this region was in the course of the 6th century s c. It is equally plausible, however, to suggest that they may not have arrived in the region until the beginning of the 4th century s c. This whole question is shrouded in obscurity.
W hat we know for certain is that at the time of Alexander the Great’s Anatolia campaign (331 BC), the Armenians were occupying the region in question. It is equally certain that there can be no question of their having existed as an independent state in this period, for they were simply living in one of the Persian provinces.
From book `The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed` by Gurun Kamuran. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1985.