The Discovery of the Kingdom of Van

The Discovery of the Kingdom of VanIt is known for a fact that the Kingdom of Van (Urartu) has existed at some point in time. But did you know that its discovery was made due to the records of a medieval Armenian history book?

The existence of the Kingdom of Van was unknown until 1823 when a French scholar J. Saint-Martin stumbled upon a passage in the 5th-century “History of Armenia” of Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi who had recorded the kingdom in fairly good detail. Inspired by the texts, Jean Saint-Martin sent a research team to the pinpointed location, which lead to the discovery of a kingdom completely unknown to western historical circles.

On the other hand, medieval Armenian historians have been well aware of the ancient Kingdom of Van. In particular, Khorenatsi described settlements of the kingdom, attributing them to the legendary Armenian hero and king Ara the Beautiful (also known as Aram). These descriptions exactly matched the later discovered Assyrian clay tablet, which attributed the establishment of the kingdom to Aramu, the first king of the state (ca. 860 – 843 BC).

“Urartian history is part of Armenian history, in the same sense that the history of the ancient Britons is part of English history, and that of the Gauls is part of French history. Armenians can legitimately claim, through Urartu, an historical continuity of some 4000 years; their history is among those of the most ancient peoples in the world.”

Mack Chahin, “The Kingdom of Armenia, A History”, 1987, revised in 2001 by peopleofar


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