History of Armenia

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Armenia was first established in the history of Armenia as a country in Asia Minor in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Chr. Mentioned in today's country name.

Largest extension of Armenia under Tigranes



The earliest presence of hominins was proven at the Karakhach and Kurtan sites , with an approximate age of 1,810,000 ± 5,000 and 1,432,000 ± 28,000 years ago . The third site from this early period is Muradovo .

Copper, Bronze and Iron Ages

In the time of the Anatolian Chalcolithic era with approx. 3630–3380 BC. Chr. One of the oldest known shoe finds from the cave of Areni I. (Province Vayots Dzor Province dated) in the south of the country.

Between 3500 and 2100 BC We know the Kura Araxes culture . Shortly after 3000 BC As before in the Majkop culture, the first wheel models appear here around 2400 BC. The first wagon wheels. The Kura Araxes culture is followed by the Trialeti culture .

From about 860 BC. Until at least 547 BC Between the "three seas" Lake Van , Lake Urmia and Lake Sevan existed the Urartu empire , which also comprised about half of today's Armenia.

Since 782 BC . Chr Yerevan / Yerevan ( Urartian Erebuni ) is known as name of a settlement and fortress that later became the name of the Armenian capital.

From 700 BC BC broke briefly until about 672 BC. The Kimmerer from the Caucasus over the west coast of the Caspian Sea coming into the region. 547 BC Urartu is conquered by Cyrus II and becomes part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire .

Oldest surviving use of the name Armenia

In the trilingual Behistun inscription by Darius I from 521 BC. The name of Armenia ( old Persian Arminia , Elamite Harminuja ) is equivalent to the old name Uraštu in the Babylonian language . After the country was annexed by Alexander in 334 BC Local dynasties ruled Armenia under the rule of the Seleucids .

Orontid and Artaxid dynasty

After the division of the Alexander Empire among the generals of the Macedonian conqueror , in the years from 312 BC The upper satrapies to Seleucus I , who later extended his rule to Syria and Asia Minor . The satrapy of Armenia, which comprised the mountainous region north of Mesopotamia between the Taurus and the Lesser Caucasus , also belonged to his empire and that of his successors called the Seleucids . The rulers of Armenia, who came from the Persian family of the Orontids , gained an independent position and assumed the title of king. From 212 BC BC brought the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III. (223–187 BC) reigned the Seleucid rule in the upper satrapies and initially forced the last Orontid rulers to recognize his sovereignty until he brought the country under his direct rule and appointed two governors with the title " Strategos ". A smaller part in the southwest, the Sophene , was placed under the rule of Zariadris ; the remaining larger remainder was placed as "Greater Armenia" (Latin: Armenia Maior ) under the governorship of Artaxias . After Antiochus III. in its further expansion came into conflict with the Romans, he had to conclude the humiliating peace of Apamea after the defeat in the Battle of Magnesia (189 BC) . As a result of the defeat of Antiochus, Zariadris and Artaxias (I) made themselves independent and assumed the title of king. Arsamosata around Arazan became the capital of Sophene .

In addition to these two kingdoms, there was a landscape in the mountains northwest of Karasu, called Armenia Minor (Lesser Armenia) by the Romans , about which little is known. She was later by King Mithridates VI. conquered by Pontos and subsequently belonged to the kingdoms of Pontus and Cappadocia , until it was finally incorporated into the Roman provincial administration with these. Middle of the 2nd century BC Then the rulers of Kommagene made themselves independent as kings of the Seleucid Empire, who invoked a descent from the Seleucids as well as from the Orontids.

King Artaxias I (190–159 BC) founded the Artaxid dynasty , which led Armenia to the zenith of its economic and political power, and under which it experienced the most brilliant period in its history. Artaxias I decided to give up the capital Jerwandashat founded by Jerwant IV on the Aras ( Armavir remained the religious center of the Armenian kingdom) in order to found a new metropolis further downstream, which he called Artaxata (Artaschat) . As Strabo and Plutarch reported, Hannibal , who around 188 BC After the Battle of Magnesia , he fled to Artaxias' court, advised the Armenian king significantly on this project and even drafted plans for Artashat. Excavations of the Armenian Academy of Sciences brought the walls of the city located on nine hills, buildings with wall paintings, the palace, remains of the barracks and accommodation for warriors with families, weapons, arrows, sling stones, pitch, a chest with silver coins, representations of gods and Mounts with silver masks, decorative objects made of clay, not least of all clay-fired water pipes to the light. Terracotta vessels and candlesticks from the Urartian era prove that the newly founded capital was able to look back on an older history and tradition as a settlement.

Strabon reports that a uniform language was spoken in the rulership of Artaxias and Zariadris. However, Armenian was not written down and developed into a literary language until the 5th century AD. In addition to Greek, which had become the general language of education in the age after Alexander the Great , Aramaic was used as a traditional language of communication and administration.

The empire consolidated by King Artaxias I seemed endangered when his grandson, King Artawasd I (123–95 BC), had to bow to the Parthians invading from the east . The heir to the throne, Prince Tigranes , was taken hostage at the Parthian court. Against the cession of 70 valleys in eastern Armenia, the Parthians released Tigranes after the death of King Artawasd. In 95 BC He ascended the throne of the Artaxids as ruler of Armenia .


Ancient map of Armenia

The Parthians tried soon after the end of Artaxidendynastie members of his own ruling house of Arsakiden to sit on the throne as a vassal kings. These were then referred to as Arshakuni . The Romans, on the other hand, were initially successful with their own allies, most recently from the Iberian (Georgian) royal family. Rhadamistos , the last representative, came to power through the murder of relatives, whereby the Romans did not intervene. As a result, the Parthian great king succeeded in asserting his brother Trdat I (Tiridates) as a candidate against the Roman candidate, Tigranes of Cappadocia. However, this had to recognize the Roman sovereignty in 63 AD (coronation of Trdat I. 66 in Rome by Nero ). Nevertheless, the sovereignty over Greater Armenia remained controversial; It is questionable whether there was a contractual arrangement according to which the Parthian great king presented a candidate and the emperor appointed him, as some researchers assume. When the Parthian great king Osroes I deposed the Armenian king in 114 and made his nephew king, Emperor Trajan did not recognize him . He even managed for a short time to incorporate the country as a Roman province.

But the Arsakid dynasty continued to rule in Armenia until 428. In 224 the Arsacids in Persia were defeated and ousted by the Sassanids , and the Sassanids again began a more aggressive western policy. In the campaign of 252 Shapur I , 296 once again succeeded his son Narseh in conquering Greater Armenia, but they were not able to establish their rule permanently; For a time, at least in western Armenia, there were Arsenic kings. When Diocletian defeated the Sassanids in 297, they had to give up sovereignty over Greater Armenia - Trdat III. from the house of the Arshakuni ascended the throne and subsequently promoted Christianity in Armenia. In the 4th century there were fierce battles between the Romans and the Sassanids over Armenia, especially between Constantius II and Shapur II , which were very changeable (see Roman-Persian Wars ).


The monastery of Chorvirap in the former capital Artaxata ; here was Krikor Lusavoritsch imprisoned, later the King Trdat III. converted to Christianity

The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrated its 1700th anniversary in September 2001, since in 301, according to tradition, the adoption of Christianity under King Trdat III. and the spiritual guidance of St. Grigor Lusavoritsch , the “illuminator”. Armenia thus became the first strongly Christian state in the world. This should lead to Armenia retaining its national character despite frequent occupation , division and conquest . Rome and the Persian Sassanid Empire divided the Armenian Kingdom between themselves in 387, although battles between these two great powers still broke out in this region throughout late antiquity . Nevertheless, the Armenians developed a high level of culture, literature and architecture - especially after Mesrop Maschtotz created their own alphabet in 405. Christianity is still a decisive component of Armenian identity today.

End of the ancient state

Both in the Roman part and in the much larger Sassanid part of ancient Greater Armenia, the dynasty of the Arshakuni (Arsacids) was deposed in 390 and 428 respectively, the Sassanids appointed a Marzban (a kind of margrave) as a representative of the great king. When they tried under Yazdegerd II to introduce the Zoroastrian state religion in Armenia, there was a revolt of the Armenians under the noble house of Mamikonian . In 451, however, the Armenian aristocracy was subject to the Persian troops in the battle of Avarayr ; its leader Vardan Mamikonian was killed. A long guerrilla war ensued, which finally ended in 484 with the recognition of Christianity and the Vahan Mamikonian as Marzban.

Armenia between Byzantium and Persia, struggle for religious autonomy

Julian's Persian Campaign 363

In 363, Julian undertook a campaign against the Sassanid Empire that ended in defeat. His successor Jovian had to agree to a peace that was unfavorable for the Romans. Shapur III. (383–388) stopped the persecution of Christians and agreed with the Roman emperor in the east, Theodosius I , probably in 387 the division of the always controversial Armenia, whereby the strengthened position of Persia was also made clear by the fact that the Sassanids received around four fifths of the land (so called Persarmenia ). The capital of the Persian part became Dvin , which was to play an important role in the further course of Armenian history. King Yazdegerd II tried around 449 to force the Armenian nobility to adopt Zoroastrianism. This was done by destroying and reallocating churches, as well as coercive measures against clerics. This led to growing resistance, the Battle of Avarayr broke out in May 451 . The resistance ended only after the Persians granted tolerance, but priests continued to be murdered. So there were further surveys from 482 until the Great King Balasch allowed the practice of religion in 485.

The Romans also seem to have been satisfied with the solutions in northern Mesopotamia and Armenia, so that in the fifth century there was a peaceful coexistence of the two great powers, which was only interrupted by two short wars under Theodosius II .

In the 6th century, Armenia again became one of the main areas of conflict between the East and the Sassanids , with various members of the Armenian nobility changing sides several times (see Roman-Persian Wars ). Under Emperor Maurikios (582–602) from 591 to 602 and Emperor Herakleios (610–641) from 630 to 637/640 it was possible to bring the majority of Greater Armenia under Roman control - however, the administrative measures of the imperial government and their attempts to induce the Armenians to accept the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which the Armenian Church had rejected in two synods in 506 (in Dvin ) and 555, to rebellions of the Armenian nobility.

Due to the religious schism, Byzantium operated a policy hostile to Armenia. Emperor Maurikios (582–602) concluded an agreement with the Sassanid ruler Chosrow to depopulate the border areas in order to avoid further conflicts with his opponent by creating a dead zone. He settled the affected Armenians in Thrace and Macedonia , where, as a war-tried people, they were supposed to repel enemies across the Danube and the Bulgarians. But in this way Maurikios had acted against the interests of his own empire. Its defensive strength in the east against the Sassanids was now severely weakened.

The Georgians, who were subjected to similar repression by the Persians in the 5th and 6th centuries, and where martyrdoms occurred (Martyrdom of Shushanik, around 466–474), feared that their association with the Armenian Church would lead to a similar fate how the Armenians might suffer, and in 602 they joined the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Emperor Herakleios, who ascended the Byzantine throne in 610, was of Armenian descent. He managed to counteract the impending ruin of his empire through determined economic and administrative reforms. The emperor won brilliant victories over the Sassanids in Armenia around 624, until the year 628 finally brought peace: large parts of Armenia came back to the Byzantine Empire with the territories occupied by the Persians. Now the ruler also sought relaxation in questions of faith. In 633 he traveled to Theodosiopolis (in Armenian also called Karim, today Erzurum ) to hold a conference with Catholicos Esr and numerous bishops, in which the resolutions of Chalcedon were deliberately not the focus of the discussions. But the plans of the emperor, who wanted to tear down the walls of religious differences and bring peace to the empire, could no longer be carried out, because the first military onslaught of Islam fundamentally changed the situation.

Armenia under Arab rule

In 636 the Arabs invaded Syria, in 638 they conquered Palestine. In the decisive battle of Yarmuk , people from Armenia also fought on the Byzantine side. After the subjugation of the Persian Empire, the Arabs occupied Mesopotamia in 639/640. From here they penetrated into Armenia under their commander Habib Ibn Maslama and stormed the capital Dvin in October 640 . The Armenian princes of the endangered areas, headed by Iškhan Theodoros Rštuni , negotiated with the Arabs, who were more religiously tolerant than the Byzantines, in order to protect the country and the population from destruction and loss. The nobility kept their possessions and their position, and in return, taxes had to be paid and weapons assistance had to be offered. In Dvin the Arabs established the seat of their governor and his officials, so they had the destroyed city rebuilt and provided with strong fortifications.

The invasion of the Arabs interrupted the brief period of peace in which a lively cultural activity had developed in Armenia. A large number of literary works had emerged, which were copied by monks in monasteries and thus found wide distribution. Historians had recorded and commented on the political events of past centuries; religious and philosophical writings had a lasting influence on the spiritual life. Among the Armenian scholars of the 7th century, Ananias of Shirak was the most important figure who wrote fundamental works on cosmography, geography, arithmetic, the calendar, weights and measures, explained the causes of the solar and lunar eclipses and criticized contemporary astrology. A musical tradition in Armenia, which was already highly developed at that time, experienced a new heyday thanks to the improvement of the notations from the 4th century. In addition to folk songs, some of whose themes were still adopted from pagan times, contemporary composers expanded the repertoire of church chants, which were distinguished by their extraordinary richness in melody.

St. Hripsime from the 7th century

Classical Armenian architecture (5th to 7th centuries) reached a zenith when, after the construction of the large domed church of St. Hripsime near Etschmiadzin by Catholicos Komitas in 618, the palace church Zvartnots was commissioned by Catholicos Nerses III (641–618). 661). Nerses, who took office during the turbulent times of the Arab invasion, moved his residence from the haunted Dvin to Swartnotz and immortalized himself in the history of the country as the builder of the most beautiful architectural creation in Armenia of his time.

The activities of the Catholicos (who was given the name Nerses Schinogh , "the builder" because of his lively building activity ) prove that the Arabs initially did not pursue Islamization. However, they continued their conquests and subjugated other areas of Armenia and Georgia; they brought Caucasian Albania under their control and finally marched in 642/643 to Cappadocia. In order not to lose Armenia, which lay like a wall between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs, Emperor Constans II (641–668) promised troops to support those princes who wanted to defend themselves against the Arabs. Certainly Armenia would have been the strongest and best ally of the Byzantine Empire if the emperor had recognized the independence of the Christian people. But the Patriarch Paulus II of Constantinople (641-654) urged the Armenians in a letter to accept the conditions of the Council of Chalcedon. Catholicos Nerses III. and Prince Theodor Rschtuni called a church meeting in 648 to discuss the situation. While the Byzantophile-minded Catholicos saw the emperor's help with arms as a salvation from Islam, the Armenian nobility and clergy reacted to the prospect of an alliance with religious submission with indignation and icy rejection. In view of the threat of persecution of Christians by Muslims, the Armenians saw the Byzantines' intolerance to the question of faith and their struggle for primacy as a tremendous provocation of the Christian conscience. Since further Arab incursions were to be expected after the end of the armistice between the Arabs and Byzantines, the ecclesiastical efforts of Byzantium exerted a not insignificant influence on the decision of the Armenian aristocrats to voluntarily recognize Arab suzerainty.

From the Byzantines, the Arabs took over the division of Armenia into four parts. Armenia I included the area of Arrān , Armenia II the area of ​​Jurzān (= Georgia), Armenia III the district of Vaspurakan and the capital Dvin and Armenia IV Arsamosata and Achlāt .


Haghpat Monastery , a burial place of the Bagratids

Ashot I Bagratuni was then able to re-establish an Armenian kingdom, taking advantage of the gradual weakening of the caliphate in 885/886, which was recognized by both the caliph and the Byzantine emperor. Smbat (892-914), the successor of Ashot, was killed by the Arabs, Ashot II (915-928) brought the freedom struggles to an end.

The heyday of the empire of the Bagratids falls under Gagik (990-1020). In the second half of the 11th century the empire fell through unfortunate wars and internal strife. From the late 10th century the Byzantines advanced again from Asia Minor and were able to incorporate one Armenian kingdom after another into their empire, finally also the area of Ani itself in 1045. The Armenian kings were offered new goods in the interior of Asia Minor, where tens of thousands of families are now going resettled. There and in Armenia there were again a dispute with the Orthodox imperial church after attempts to establish a union through talks had failed. Again there was political and ecclesiastical disagreement when the Turkish Seljuks from Central Asia emerged as a new, expansive Muslim power. On August 16, 1064, the Seljuks conquered and devastated Ani , the Armenian capital ( also known as the city ​​of 1001 churches because of its many imposing sacred buildings ), in 1071 they defeated the Byzantine emperor in the battle of Mantzikert northwest of Lake Van and then conquered most of Asia Minor and Armenia.

Kingdom in Cilicia

As a result, in 1080 Armenian refugees founded an independent principality under the Rubenids in Cilicia . These allied with the crusaders against the Byzantines and Turks and vice versa. Leo II. (1189–1219) received from Emperor Heinrich VI. (HRR) the title of king. In 1342 the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia fell to the Catholic Lusignans of Cyprus. When the capital Sis was conquered by the Egyptian Mamluks in 1375 , Cilicia was the last independent state of the Armenians until the 20th century. The area of ​​Cilicia fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1515 .

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia is often referred to as Lesser Armenia by western historians . It must not be confused with the area in Asia Minor, which the Romans called Lesser Armenia (Latin: Armenia Minor ) in ancient times, between the right bank of the upper reaches of the Euphrates or Karasu and the southern coast of the Black Sea . Occasionally, however, this happens outside of the specialist literature.

The Armenian Heartland in the Late Middle Ages and Modern Times

Most of the Armenians lived in the heartland even after the Turkish conquest in the 11th century, but where they had to endure changing Turkmen rule. A Christian foreign rule brought the prosperity of the neighboring Georgian kingdom in the 12th and 13th centuries, which was able to conquer a large part of Armenia with the support of Armenian princes (in 1184 the Georgians took Ani ). The invasion of the Mongols from 1223 ended Georgian power and once again brought devastation to the country. In the following centuries, under the Mongolian and Turkish dynasties, periods of relatively peaceful rule alternated with wars and invasions of new nomadic tribes; The worst devastation was probably caused by the campaigns of Timur Leng around 1400. At the beginning of the 15th century, the Armenians had become a minority in many areas of ancient Armenia through flight, expulsion and settlement of Turkish and Kurdish tribes. Only in a few areas had some of the old aristocratic families been preserved.

The Armenian heartland experienced a renewed division after 1500 between the Ottoman Empire in the west, which also gradually subjugated all areas in Asia Minor and Syria inhabited by Armenians, and the new Shiite Safavid Empire in Iran in the east; In 1639, the border between the Persian Eastern Armenia and the Ottoman Empire, which still applies today, was determined by and large. In Eastern Armenia, the proportion of Armenians in the population continued to decline, especially after Shah Abbas I deported around 250,000 Armenians to Iran in 1604 , where they founded a colony that still exists today in New Julfa . Since the 18th century, the Armenians and the Catholic have maintained contacts with the Russian Empire, which was advancing southwards .

Russian rule in northeastern Armenia

Borders in 1882

The northeastern part of Armenia (the area of ​​today's Republic of Armenia) came under the suzerainty of the Russian Empire with the peace of Turkmanschai in 1828 as a result of the Russo-Persian War of 1826–1828 . Most of today's Armenian territory was organized as the Yerevan Governorate .

After the Russo-Turkish War from 1877 to 1878 in the context of the Balkan crisis , the Ottoman Empire had to cede further parts of Armenia with the provinces of Kars and Ardahan to Russia in the Peace of San Stefano . These territorial changes were only partially maintained at the Berlin Congress (for example, the handover of Beyazıt was canceled ). Culturally and linguistically, significant differences had developed between Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia by this time, which are now reflected in the division of the Armenian language into Eastern and Western Armenian.

The development in western Armenia until 1914

In the course of the 19th century the West Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire rediscovered their own culture and roots under the influence of West European Enlightenment. This was also due to the fact that a Protestant missionary movement , which originated mainly in the USA and which was initially aimed at the Turkish Muslims but then found more grateful addressees in the Christian Armenians, had created a dense network of schools. In Constantinople and other major cities, a broad stratum of intellectuals emerged who gave this reawakening literary and political expression. On the other hand, the Armenians living in the so-called Armenian provinces in Eastern Anatolia felt their discrimination in the Millet system of the Ottoman Empire more and more and began to defend themselves against excessive tax burdens and constant attacks by local (especially Kurdish ) tribal leaders. At the same time, the European powers acted as patrons of the Eastern Christians, especially the Armenians, but primarily pursued their own colonial interests. Neither the reforms introduced in the course of the Tanzimat nor the reforms contractually fixed at the Berlin Congress brought an improvement in their situation for the Armenians.

In 1885 , the first Armenian political party, the Democratic-Liberal Party (then called Armenakan) , was founded in Van , then the center of western Armenia . However, the situation of the Armenians worsened under Sultan Abdülhamid II . The first wave of systematic massacres took place in 1894–1896, killing an estimated 80,000–300,000 Armenians. At the turn of the century, the Armenians often relied on the movement of the Young Turks , from whom they finally hoped for equality within the Ottoman state, which was increasingly threatened with collapse. But it was precisely these alleged allies who were to decide and carry out the destruction of Armenian life on Turkish soil a little later. The Adana massacre in 1909 preceded it.

Ottoman ruled southwestern Armenia in World War I.

On April 24, 1915, the Young Turkish movement , which came to power in 1908, arranged for the arrest, deportation and murder of Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul , thus initiating the genocide of Armenians - two thirds of the Christian people who had lived in the Ottoman Empire for thousands of years. The survivors went into exile ; tens of thousands (mostly young girls and orphans) were forcibly Islamized. The Dersim region , or Tunceli in Turkish , was an important refuge for many Armenians until it was destroyed by the Turkish army in 1937/38. After the military coup in 1980, attempts were made to Islamize the Armenians in Dersim as well. In 1994 about 200 villages in Dersim were destroyed by the Turkish and para-military forces. Today around 60,000 Armenians live in Turkey, almost exclusively in Istanbul.

Turkey still denies genocide today. However, since the mid-1960s it has been recognized by an increasing number of national parliaments - including the German Bundestag and the Swiss National Council , the French National Assembly , the Council of Europe and the European Parliament . In 2005, a conference took place in Istanbul that dealt with the subject, although there had been sharp protests by Turkish nationalists before and during the conference.

First republic in northeastern Armenia 1918–1920

Flag of Armenia : red above, then blue and orange below
Coat of arms of the first republic of Armenia

As a result of the First World War , a number of independent states emerged in areas that had previously belonged to the German Empire , the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire . One of these states was the Democratic Republic of Armenia (a similar case is Estonia ), proclaimed on May 28, 1918 , which joined the Entente against the Central Powers . At Herbert Hoover's instigation , the Allied Supreme Council appointed Colonel William N. Haskell , who had previously led a US Food Administration relief operation in Romania, as the Allied High Commissioner for Armenia. During his year of service, he was also director general of all American and European aid agencies in Transcaucasia , including the American Relief Administration . In the neutral zones of the newly created state, Haskell practically exercised the power of government.

The Treaty of Sèvres of August 10, 1920, one of the Paris suburbs that ended World War I , provided for the independence of Armenia over an area of ​​160,000 km 2 (more than five times the area of ​​today's Armenia ). However, the treaty never entered into force because it was not ratified by all contracting states. The flag and the coat of arms are since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, again symbols of today's Republic of Armenia.

At the end of 1920 the Red Army marched in from the east , while the troops of the Young Turkish government advanced on the capital Yerevan from the west . On November 29, 1920, the Armenian SSR was proclaimed.

Soviet rule

As a result of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) , the Treaty of Sèvres was revised in the Treaty of Lausanne in favor of Turkey. In 1920 Armenia was partitioned between Turkey and Soviet Russia . This was fixed in the Kars Treaty of October 23, 1921. After the establishment of the USSR in 1922, the Armenian SSR became a part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic .

On December 5, 1936, Soviet Armenia became a formally independent Union republic of the Soviet Union and was from then on called the Armenian Socialist Soviet Republic. It developed into an important location for the chemical industry , the shoe industry and IT . Many electronic components for Soviet space travel and also robots were developed here. In addition, fruits and tobacco were exported to other parts of the Soviet Union. In Ararat valley is since the 19th century Brandy produced, estimated internationally because of its unusual gentleness. In the Soviet Union, the Armenian SSR was a popular travel destination, partly because of its warm climate.

The Armenian SSR, alongside the Estonian SSR , the Latvian SSR and the Lithuanian SSR, has been a center of the separatist movements within the Soviet Union, which accelerated the dissolution , since the late 1980s . At this time, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh , a predominantly Armenian-populated area within the Azerbaijani SSR , flared up again. Since 1988 the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh has demanded independence from Azerbaijan and had to defend themselves against the attacks.

On December 7, 1988 at 11:41 a.m. (local time) , a severe earthquake struck the Lori region in the north of the Armenian SSR, which reached a value of 6.8 on the Richter scale . In addition to the city of Spitak , which was almost completely destroyed, the cities of Leninakan (today Gyumri ) and Kirovakan (today Vanadzor ) as well as many surrounding villages were badly damaged. Many buildings, especially schools and hospitals, did not withstand the earthquake and 25,000 people were killed. Then there were the winter temperatures and the unpreparedness of the authorities. The government let foreign aid workers into the country. This was the first time the Soviet Union accepted foreign aid on a large scale. The economic development of this region is still hampered by the lasting damage to the infrastructure.

On August 23, 1991, the Armenian SSR was renamed the Republic of Armenia based on the first republic. After the declaration of independence on September 21, 1991, today's Republic of Armenia was established . The southwest, by far the largest part of the historical settlement area of ​​the Armenians remained under Turkish rule - including Mount Ararat , on which, according to biblical tradition, Noah's Ark landed. To this day it is considered the national symbol of the Armenians and also appears in the state coat of arms .

Renewed independence since 1991

On September 21, 1991, Armenia declared itself independent from the dissolving Soviet Union .

The parliament (the national assembly ) has only one chamber and is currently elected every five years.

On October 16, 1991 Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected the first President of the Armenian Republic. He was re-elected on September 22, 1996. However, its popularity continued to decline. Since a ceasefire in May 1994, which followed the occupation of a sixth of Azerbaijan by Armenian troops , the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not improved significantly. So far there has been no breakthrough in the relationship between the two states, a situation that negatively affects their economic development. In February 1998, Ter-Petrosyan was forced to resign because he had made concessions to Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict, which were perceived as too far-reaching concessions in relation to Arzach - the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh. Levon Ter-Petrosyan's minister, led by his prime minister and later successor to the presidency, Robert Kocharyan , rejected a peace plan proposed by international mediators in September 1997, which Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Azerbaijan supported.

Robert Kocharyan , previously President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic , a stabilized de facto government , won the early presidential elections in Armenia in 1998. His re-election in 2003 was accompanied by irregularities. In January 2006, a constitutional amendment that had long been requested by the Council of Europe came into force, which gave parliament more rights. For example, the president was still allowed to appoint the prime minister, but this had to be confirmed by parliament. The opposition accused the government of which held in connection with the constitutional amendment referendum to have massively rigged.

Parliamentary elections were held in May 2007; international election observers certified that the election process largely corresponded to western standards. The Republican Party , which had previously led a coalition government and also provided the prime minister, won the elections. Presidential elections were held in February 2008. According to the constitution, incumbent Kocharyan could no longer run. With just over 50% of the votes in the first ballot, the then close confidante Robert Kocharyan and the incumbent Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan were elected as head of state. Opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan did not recognize the election result and spoke of forgery. The election was followed by demonstrations by supporters of Ter-Petrosjan lasting several days. On March 1, 2008, a police brutal demonstration was broken up. Ter-Petrosyan was placed under house arrest and President Kocharyan declared a state of emergency.

Since the Karabakh conflict, Armenia's economic development has been severely hampered by the blockade of its borders not only by Azerbaijan, but also by Turkey. This represents an obvious breach of the rules of the World Trade Organization , in particular Article 11 (freedom of transit) of the Trade Facilitation Agreement that came into force on February 22, 2017. The government of Armenia is ready to enter into diplomatic relations without reservation and to open borders with Turkey; However, this makes a solution to the conflict over Karabakh a condition and also insists that Armenia first drop the charge of genocide during the Ottoman Empire and formally renounce any form of reparation .

On October 10, 2009, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols in Zurich for the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of the borders. The rapprochement came about through the mediation of Switzerland and under diplomatic pressure from the USA and the EU. How the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was dealt with was just as contentious as the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh after the agreements. However, the protocols were never ratified and later formally denounced by both parties.

In April 2018, the constitutional amendment came into force, according to which the state administration switched to the parliamentary model and the president was only given representative functions. The overall management of the executive is entrusted to the Prime Minister.

Just a few weeks after Serzh Sargsyan was appointed prime minister and in response to his two full terms as third president of Armenia, a peaceful revolution occurred that led to the handover of the post from prime minister to opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan . The National Assembly was later dissolved and in the parliamentary elections that followed in December 2018, formerly opposition parties captured all parliamentary seats. The new National Assembly confirmed Nikol Pashinjan as Prime Minister.


The Armenian diaspora (7 million people) continues to play a major role . Money transfers from the numerous Armenians abroad support the economy. In 2005, according to an estimate by the Armenian Central Bank, diaspora Armenians transferred around one billion US dollars. 45% of them came from Russia and 15% from the USA.

The constitution, which came into force in January 2006, no longer prohibits dual citizenship. (This was previously not allowed because it was feared that the Diaspora Armenians, if they were eligible to vote, would be able to determine the foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia. For this reason, according to the new regulations, the right to vote can only be exercised locally; possible.) A large number of foundations and other organizations are trying to intensify the connection between the motherland and the diaspora.


Web links

Commons : History of Armenia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Robert Rollinger : The Median Empire, the End of Urartu and Cyrus the Great Campaigne 547 BC. Chr. In Nabonaid Chronicle II 16. In: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Ancient Cultural Relations between Iran and West-Asia , Teheran 2004, pp. 9-12.
  2. SL Presnyakov, EV Belyaeva, VP Lyubin, Nickolay V Rodionov, AV Antonov, AK Saltykova: Age of the earliest Paleolithic sites in the northern part of the Armenian Highland by SHRIMP-II U – Pb geochronology of zircons from volcanic ashes , in: Gondwana Research 21.4 (2012) 928-938.
  3. SL Presnyakov, EV Belyaeva, VP Lyubin, NV Rodionov, AV Antonov, AK Saltykova, NG Berezhnaya, SA Sergeev: Age of the earliest Paleolithic sites in the northern part of the Armenian Highland by SHRIMP-II U – Pb geochronology of zircons from volcanic ashes , in: Gondwana Research 21.4 (2012) 928-938.
  4. Ron Pinhasi, Boris Gasparian, Gregory Areshian, Diana Zardaryan, Alexia Smith, Guy Bar-Oz, Thomas Higham : First Direct Evidence of Chalcolithic Footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands. In: PLoS ONE. 5/6, 2010, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0010984
  5. Hans JJG Holm: The Earliest Wheel Finds, their Archeology and Indo-European Terminology in Time and Space, and Early Migrations around the Caucasus. Series Minor 43. Budapest: ARCHAEOLINGUA ALAPÍTVÁNY. ISBN 978-615-5766-30-5 .
  6. ^ Otto Edzard, Dietz: History of Mesopotamia. From the Sumerians to Alexander the Great. Munich 2004, pp. 192–195.
  7. See on this: History of Armenia . In: Ehsan Yarshater (Ed.): Encyclopædia Iranica (English, including references)
  8. Wolfram Kinzig : Persecution of Christians in antiquity , CH Beck, Munich 2019, p. 117.
  9. Cf. al-Balādhurī : Kitāb Futūḥ al-Buldān. Ed. Michael Jan de Goeje . Brill, Leiden, 1866. p. 135. - German transl. Oskar Rescher . P. 137. Digitized .
  10. Cf. Canard: Art. "Armīniya" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. I, p. 642a.
  11. ^ Cem Özdemir: Turkey and Armenia: Peacemakers in sight. In: Spiegel Online . October 11, 2005, accessed January 7, 2017 .
  12. ^ Haskell's Armenian post , The New York Times, July 6, 1919
  13. ^ Bertrand M. Patenaude : The Big Show in Bololand. The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 , Stanford University Press, Stanford 2002, pp. 60 f.
  15. Rainer Hermann: How should one be able to live in such a country? In: FAZ.net . April 20, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2017 .