Ancient Armenia
Armenia (Akkadian Urartu; Old Persian Arminiya): ancient kingdom, situated along the river Araxes (modern Aras), the Upper Tigris and the Upper Euphrates. Its original name was Biainele; its capital was Tušpa (modern Van). Armenia may be envisaged as a big rectangle, with Lake Van as its southwestern, Lake Urmia as its southeastern, Lake Sevan as its northeastern and Lake Çildir as its northwestern corner. It was a bit larger than modern Armenia. Armenia was originally called Urartu after the mountain Ararat, which is well known from the biblical story about Noah (Genesis 8.4).

From the ninth century on, Urartu was ruled by a single dynasty, which expanded Armenia to the south in a period when Assyria was weak. The Euphrates became Armenia's western border. However, Assyria recuperated and in 714 BCE, the Armenian king Rusa was defeated by the Assyrian king Sargon, who marched through the country almost unopposed and took possession of the statue of the Armenian supreme god Haldi. Rusa refused to live after this humiliation and committed suicide.

Sardure I        ±840 - ±830
Išpuine           ±830 - ±810
Minua            ±810 -    781
Argište I           780 -    756
Sardure II         755 - ±735
Rusa I             ±735 -   714

Rusa was succeeded by Argište II, who chose for an "internal expansion": the country along the Araxes was developed - something which is proven by archaeologists, who have discovered that there are far more seventh than eighth century settlements. After a century of development, the fertile country had become a natural target for the nomads who lived north of the Caucasus (known to the Greeks as "Scythians"). Archaeologists have discovered that many fortresses were destroyed before 600; arrowheads from a type known from the Ukraine indicate that the Scythians were responsible for the end of the Urartaean monarchy.

Argište II           713 - ±685
Rusa II            ±685 - ±670
Erimena           ±670 - ±655
Rusa III           ±655 - ±640
Sardure III       ±640 - ±625
Sardure IV       ±625 -   609

Having suffered from the Scythian invasion, Armenia was an easy target for the Median kings; and when the Persian leader Cyrus had conquered Media, Armenia became a satrapy of the Persian empire. Its capital was Erevan. The country rebelled against the Persians after the coup d' état of the magian Gaumâta had been suppressed by Darius. The new king sent two armies against an unknown Armenian leader, commanded by the Persian Vaumisa and the Armenian Dâdarshish. Vaumisa managed to secure the road to Armenia on December 31, 522 in a battle near Izatâ (near Mardin in modern Turkey) and continued to Autiyâra, where he won his second victory on June 11. Meanwhile, Dâdarshish had defeated the Armenians on May 20, 521 near Zuzza, on May 30 at Tigra and on June 20 at Uyamâ. This meant the end of the Armenian uprising. It became a stable satrapy of the Persian empire. Although the Armenians seem to have called themselves Haikh, the Greek researcher Herodotus called its inhabitants Armenians and Alarodians (a rendering of "Urartaeans").

Under Persian rule, the Urartaean language was replaced by the Armenian language. Probably, this was not caused by ethnic, but by social changes. Although are sources are scarce, it is certain that the before 500 BCE, the elite spoke Hurrian -which resembles no other language- and the common people spoke Armenian. When the Persians had conquered the country, they favored the latter language, which is related to Thracian, Phrygian and -at a distance- Persian.

After the Macedonian king Alexander the Great had defeated the Persian empire, Armenia was more or less autonomous. Several kings are known:

Orontes                 ±320
Samus                   ±260
Arsames           ±260 - ±230
Xerxes              ±320 - 212
Orontes            ±212 - ±200

After 200, parts became incorporated in the Seleucid empire under king Antiochus III the Great. Soon, it regained its independence as two small kingdoms, west and east of the Euphrates, known as Little Armenia under king Zariadris and Great Armenia under his son Artaxias (189-164). The latter rebuilt //, called it Artaxata, and made it his capital. The younger capital Tigranocerta was built by a descendant of Artaxias, Tigranes II the Great (ruled ±95-±55), who had been able to reunite Armenia but was defeated by the Roman general Pompey in 66 BC. The western part became part of the Roman world and became part of the province Cappadocia. Great Armenia remained independent, as a buffer state between the Parthian empire and the Roman empire.

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