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The origin of the Armenians is not decisively certain and has been explained by several scholarly theories.

Traditional Armenian accounts
Armenianwarriors3

Armenian warriors

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The earliest surviving Armenian writings about their own origin explain that the Armenian people are descendants of Japheth, a son of Noah. As Mt. Ararat,


which was historically in the kingdom of Armenia, is held to be the site on which Noah's ark landed, his family settled in Armenia, and later moved to Babylon. Haik, a descendant of Japheth who is said to have been the leader of the Armenian people, rebelled against the Babylonians and returned to the lands of Armenia. This legendary account reflects the Christian beliefs of the Armenians after 301 AD, as they favored an explanation of their origins that gave them a prominent place in the history of the Bible.

Moses of Chorene states that the Armenians descended from Torgom (Togarmah was the Son of Gomer, Grandson Japheth, Great Grandson of Noah) is consistent and derived from, Biblical references to the House of Togarmah, a land known for its horses in the extreme north. Armenia would have been the north hinterlands for the Mesopotamian world of the Old Testament, and the Armenian Highlands were renowned for horse breeding and horsemanship throughout ancient times. [1]

Some scholars believe, for example, that the earliest mention of the Armenians is in the Akkadian inscriptions dating to the 28th-27th centuries BC, in which the Armenians are referred to as the sons of Haya, after the regional god of the Armenian Highlands. [2]

Template:History of Armenia

Greek ethnographyEdit

In the 5th century BC Herodotus, in his review of the troops opposing the Greeks, he wrote that “the Armenians were armed like the Phrygians, being Phrygian settlers (refugees).”[3] Whether his comment described all Armenians as Phrygian settlers, or only those warriors he happened to see, is still unclear. In 400 BC, Xenophon, a Greek general waging war against the Persians, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.[4] Whether this was the native language of the region, or a vestigial lingua franca from the days of Persian rule is unclear. Strabo (64 BC-19 AD) states that throughout the Armenian state consolidated by King Artashes (189-159 BC), the people of various extractions spoke Armenian,[5] although their customs were like the Medes. [6]

Some ancient Greeks believed the Armenians to be descendants of Armenus the Thessalian, one of the argonauts. However, the historian Herodotus wrote that the Armenians originated in Thrace, moved into Phrygia, and finally settled in the lands of Armenia. Strabo wrote that the Armenians were descended from people who migrated from Phrygia in the west and the Zagros region to the south.

Modern hypothesesEdit

A popular scholarly theory, which was unchallenged until the 1980s, posits that the Armenians were an Indo-European group that migrated with proto-Iranians from the Aral Sea or with Phrygians from the Balkans after the collapse of the Hittite empire. Another recent theory is that the Armenians were among the original inhabitants of the area, given the apparent uniqueness of Armenian in the Indo-European language family and its similarity to the language of the Hurrians, a group of people indigenous to the area. This theory tends to be more popular with Armenian scholars, whereas the theory that the Armenians have origins in Thrace and Phrygia is more accepted among Western scholars.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Strabo, Geography, XI.14.9.
  2. Artak Movsisyan, Hnaguyn Petut’yunĕ Hayastanum–Aratta (Yerevan: Depi yerkir 1992) 41.
  3. Herodotus, History, 7.73.
  4. Xenophon, Anabasis, IV.v.2-9.
  5. Strabo, Geography, XI.14.5-6.
  6. Strabo, Geography, XI.13.9
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