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History of Ancient Armenia

   Syllabus for one-year Distance learning course on Armenian Studies

 
 
 
HISTORY OF ANCIENT ARMENIA
 
 
 
Arsen Bobokhyan, PhD, Associate Professor 
Yerevan State University, Distance Learning Laboratory 
 
 
 
 
I. Introduction 
This distance learning course module is devoted to the ancient history of Armenia from the Stone Age ca. 200000 years ago until the beginning of the medieval period in the first centuries AD. During seven classes we shall diachronically reveal the main development stages of history of Armenia touching different historical aspects (culture, economy, politics) based on mainly two types of sources - archaeological (which is the main source until the Bronze Age) and written. The course module will touch also problematic questions of history of Armenia such as the origin of the Armenians, the so called problem Urartu-Armenia, i.e. the question of relations and possibility of direct tradition between these cultures, etc. The course module supposes to comprehend the ancient history of Armenia in the context of world history on the one hand and as an essential part of common Armenian history from the other. 
 
II. Aims of the course module
The aims of the course module are: 
- Present the earliest stages of the history of Armenia from prehistory to early history.
- Provide students with theoretical and empirical tools to understand the process of history of Armenia.
- Define the peculiarities of ancient history of Armenia in the context of world history.
 
III. Learning outcomes 
Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to: 
- Explain the characteristic traits of different periods of history of Ancient Armenia.
- Define traditions and innovations in different stages of ancient history of Armenia.
- Obtain tools to deepen their knowledge in history of Armenia independently.
 
IV. Methodology and assessment
 Assessment of performance will be carried out through written assignments, specifically weekly essays and final research paper.
 
Performance of students will be evaluated as follows:
Weekly essays – 60%
Final research paper - 40%
 
V. Course module content and assigned readings                                                 
 
Class 1. Introduction to the history of Armenia 
Before going to the main stages of history of Armenia it is important to define sources, the space of historical action and the timeframes of the term “ancient”. Particularly we deal with the geographic unit Armenian Highland and its historical divisions and the period which begins in the earliest periods of human history and goes until the first centuries AD. Also important is considering the problem of cultural orientations of Armenia throughout the history (Near East, Caucasus, Europe?). These questions will be introduced during Class 1.
 
Readings:
• Lang D.M. 1970, Armenia: Cradle of Civilization, London.
• Burney C., Lang D.M. 1971, Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus, London.
• Bournoutian G.A. 1993, A History of the Armenian People, v. 1, California.
• Hovannisian R.G. 1997, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, v. I, The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, New York.
• Avetisyan P., Bobokhyan A. (ed.) 2012, Archaeology of Armenia in Regional Context, Yerevan.
 
Assignment 1. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- According to which criteria we can define the geographical unit Armenian Highland?
- What does “Ancient Armenia” mean in chronological terms?
- How can you periodize the ancient history of Armenia and according to what sources? 
 
Class 2. Armenia in the Stone Age
Stone Age is the longest period of human history which begins ca. 2000000 BP and divides into three main stages: Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. A transitive period from the Stone to Bronze Age reflects the Chalcolithic period since the 5th millennium BC with the first use of early copper metallurgy. Reflection of these all periods in Armenia and its significance in regional and meta-regional context will be discussed during Class 2.
 
Readings:
• Sardaryan S.H. 1967, Prehistoric Society in Armenia, Yerevan.
• Burney C., Lang D.M. 1971, Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus, London.
• Kushnareva K.K. 1997, The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory, Pennsylvania.
• Gasparyan B. 2010, Landscape Organization and Resource Management in the Lower Palaeolithic of Armenia, TUBA-AR 13, 159-183.
• Areshian G.E., Gasparyan B., Avetisyan P., Pinhasi R., Wilkinson K., Smith A., Hovsepyan R., Zardaryan D. 2012, The Chalcolithic of the Near East and Southeastern Europe: Discoveries and New Perspectives from the Cave Complex Areni-1, Armenia, Antiquity 86, 115-130.
 
Assignment 2. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- How can you define the role of Armenia in Palaeolithic; was it primary or secondary center of human evolution?
- What does “Neolithic Revolution” mean and what are the main traits of it in Armenia?
- What do you understand under the term “Early Agricultural societies” and how they are reflected in Armenia of the Chalcolithic period?
 
Class 3. Armenia in the Bronze Age
Bronze Age begins with the so called “Urban Revolution” birth of first cities, state and writing, wide use of bronze metallurgy at the end of the 4th millennium BC. These all achievements took place in the Near East and Egypt and transferred also to northern mountainous borderland among which also Armenia during the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Ages i.e. during the 3rd and  the 2nd millennia BC, signifying the birth of early complex societies. The paradigm of Armenian way to civilization will be discussed during Class 3.
 
Readings:
• Burney C., Lang D.M. 1971, Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus, London.
• Diakonoff I.M. 1984, The Pre-History of the Armenian People, New York.
• Kushnareva K.K. 1997, The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory, Pennsylvania.
• Badalyan R.S., Avetisyan P.S. 2007, Bronze and Early Iron Age Archaeological Sites in Armenia: I. Mt. Aragats and Its Surrounding Region, British Archaeological Reports, International Series 1697, Oxford.
• Smith A.T., Badalyan R.S., Avetisyan P. 2009, The Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies, v. 1: The Foundations of Research and Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia, Oriental Institute Publications 134, Chicago.
 
Assignment 3. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- What is the significance of Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture for Armenia, the Caucasus and the Near East?
- How can you characterize the Middle Bronze Age societies of Armenia, what are their main achievements?
- What is a “complex society” and why we speak about it in Armenia especially since the Late Bronze Age?
 
Class 4. Armenia in the Iron Age
Discovery of iron at the end of the 2nd millennium BC brought new tendencies in developments of human history and accelerated the process of creation of big state formations in the mountainous regions of the Near East and among which also in Armenia especially through militarization of society. Questions of rise and collapse of Urartian state (end of the 2nd - mid of the 1st millennia BC) will be discussed during Class 4.
 
Readings:
• Piotrovskii B.B. 1967, Urartu: The Kingdom of Van and its Art, London.
• Burney C., Lang D.M. 1971, Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus, London.
• Diakonoff I.M. 1984, The Pre-History of the Armenian People, New York.
• Smith A.T., Badalyan R.S., Avetisyan P. 2009, The Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies, v. 1: The Foundations of Research and Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia, Oriental Institute Publications 134, Chicago.
• Avetisyan H., Bobokhyan A. 2010, Archaeology of Urartu, Yerevan.
 
Assignment 4. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- How can you describe the Iron Age local societies of Armenia, the land Etiuni?
- What kind of state was Urartu, describe the main stages of its history?
- How can you define the Urartian culture, what are its main traits?
 
Class 5. Armenia in the Early and Middle Classical period 
During the 6th century BC Armenian state appears under the rule of Yervandid dynasty with strong influences from Achaemenid Iran. After the fall of Achaemenid Empire through the campaigns of Alexander the Great, Armenian state under Artaxiad dynasty was established, which presents the apogee of Armenian political history (2nd - 1st centuries BC). These two periods with their peculiarities will be discussed during Class 5.
 
Readings:
• Toumanoff C. 1963, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, Washington.
• Kurkjian V. 1968, History of Armenia, Michigan.
• Bournoutian G.A. 1993, A History of the Armenian People, v. 1, California.
• Hovannisian R. G. 1997, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, v. I, The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, New York.
• Tirats’yan G. 2003, From Urartu to Armenia, Neuchâtel.
 
Assignment 5. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- How can you describe the problem Urartu-Armenia, what is common and what is uncommon between these two?
- What kind of state was Armenia under Yervandid dynasty? Describe Armenian society and culture during the 6-3th centuries BC. 
- Analyze the main achievements and losses of Armenia during Artaxiad period and define the main traits of Hellenistic culture of Armenia?
 
Class 6. Armenia in the Late Classical period 
Under Late Classical we understand the first five centuries of our era, the period of domination of Armenian Arsacid dynasty, until the collapse of Armenian statehood at the beginning of the 5th century, a period which is characterized by political instability but plenty of cultural and religious events (proclamation of Christianity as state religion, invention of Armenian alphabet). This period will be discussed during Class 6.
 
Readings:
• Kurkjian V. 1968, History of Armenia, Michigan.
• Adontz N. 1970, Armenia in the Period of Justinian, Lisbon.
• Bournoutian G.A. 1993, A History of the Armenian People, v. 1, California.
• Hovannisian R. G. 1997, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, v. I, The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, New York.
• Chahin M. 2001, The Kingdom of Armenia, London.
 
Assignment 6. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages: 
- Present the main traits and development stages of Arsacid Armenian state?
- Why Armenia became the first Christian state? Can you describe the process of Christianization?
- What are the most essential achievements of Armenian cultural life in Late Classical period and why they happened just in this timeframe?
 
Class 7. Problems of the history of Ancient Armenia
Among the biggest problems of Armenian history is the question of the origin of the Armenians and their cultural and historical legacy in the territory of Armenian Highland, as well as the problem of early identity developed in Armenian reality. Mentioned questions will be discussed during Class 7.
 
Readings:
• Diakonoff I.M. 1984, The Pre-History of the Armenian People, New York.
• Gamkrelidze T.V., Ivanov V.V. 1990, The Early History of Indo-European Languages, Scientific American March, 110-116.
• Grosby S. 1997, Borders, Territory and Nationality in the Near East and Armenia, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 40, 1-29.
• Petrosyan A. 2002, The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Origins of the Armenian Epic: Myth and History, Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Series 42, Washington.
• Petrosyan A. 2011, Collegiality and Interchange in Armenian Studies, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 20, 137-156.
 
Assignment 7. Students should answer the following questions in up to 5 pages:
- Can you describe the myths and theories on Armenian origin?
- Who are those ancient peoples who could be the ancestors of modern Armenians?
- How can you explain the case of development of early identity by the Armenians?
 
Class 8  Closing exam
Based on your interest, choose any topic discussed within this course module and elaborate research paper (ca. 10 pages).
Դուք այստեղ եք: Ուսումնական ծրագրեր Հայագիտություն History of Ancient Armenia