Armenian History

Photo by Ter Sahak

Armenian Origins “Descendants of Noah”

For over 5000 years, Armenians have inhabited the Caucasus Mountains and the Anatolian Plateau. According to oral tradition, our homeland was the site of the Garden of Eden and we are descendants of Noah – when the ark landed on Mount Ararat. For thousands of years BCE, at our zenith of power, our community stretched from the Mediterranean, the Caspian, and the Black Seas. Formerly practicing a pantheistic religion, we became the first Christian nation in 301.

We speak an ancient language and our alphabet was created in 405. Our ancestors were among the first to use the wheel, forge bronze, and cultivate grapes. The 4th-6th and the 10th centuries were golden eras of peace and prosperity with a flourishing of literature, art, commerce, and a unique style of architecture.

C. Rapkievian

Conquest and Genocide

At the cross-roads of Europe and Asia, we were conquered by Greeks, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Ottoman Turks and Russians throughout history. In the late 1800‘s, we were persecuted under the rule of the Turkish Sultan – forbidden to speak our language and practice our religion openly. In 1885, Armenian teachers, writers, and religious leaders were tortured and executed. Between 1894 and 1896 over 100,000 Armenian villagers were massacred.

In 1915, the “Young Turks” began the planned genocide of the Armenian people. The older boys and men were arrested and executed. Women, children, and the elderly were marched into the desert without food or water. Over 1.5 million Armenians perished. In 1920, the eastern part of historic Armenia was annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1991, eastern Armenia became an independent country. Over the centuries, Armenian diaspora communities have existed in many corners of the world.

An Ancient Culture Lives

Throughout our long history, we have survived and today we continue to celebrate our culture. Since ancient times, we have cherished our artistic traditions of music, carpets, spider-web-lace, stone carving, illuminated manuscripts, poetry, and dance.

Photo by Joyce Naltchayan Boghosian

The Armenian style of dance is forceful and energetic for the men and delicate, elegant, and graceful for the women – often the hands play the most important part. Our traditional folkdances – danced in an open circle – reflect our connection to the past and our hope for the future.

Photo by Joyce Naltchayan Boghosian

 

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