Ancient Armenia – The Hayk Dynasty

Hayk defeats Bel with an arrow.

Armenia from 2017 BC to 331 BC was ruled by the Hayk dynasty*

After the death of the legendary (h)Aik in 2026 BC, the rule passed to his son Armenak. He became known among the people as a gatherer of Armenian lands. Thanks to his policies, the borders of Armenia significantly expanded, and many tribes voluntarily joined the Armenian territory.

Apparently, Armenia, as a state, announced its presence exactly during his reign, since neighboring states (Persia, Greece, etc.) gave the new country the name of its ruler – Armenia (Land of Armenak).

Armais – 1980 BC -, son of Armenak, continued the policy of strengthening the state, erecting the ancient capital Armavir on the banks of the Araks River.

Amasia – 1940 BC – son of Armais, led intensive construction at the foot of Ararat, which thus gained its second name – Masis.

Gegham – 1908 BC – son of Amasia; Garma – 1858 BC – son of Gegham.

Aram – 1827 BC – son of Garma, expanded the borders of Armenia in all directions with his victories. The successes of the Armenian king alarmed the Assyrian ruler Nin, who could not forgive the Armenians for the death of his ancestor Bel.

Fearful of open confrontations, Nin decided to resort to cunning and attract Aram to his side: as a sign of favor, the powerful Assyrian king allowed Aram to wear a pearl bandage and ordered him to be called second only to himself.

Some ancient historians associate the country’s name, Armenia, with the name of Aram. Aram is also attributed with the first geographic division of Armenia (Greater, Lesser).

Ara the Beautiful (Gehetsik) – 1769 BC – son of Aram, inherited the throne shortly before the death of Nin, whose wife was the beautiful Semiramis (Shamiram). Tales of Ara’s beauty had long excited Semiramis’s imagination.

Becoming a widow, she sent envoys to Ara with rich gifts and an invitation to visit her court, the most lavish in Asia at the time. Ara ignored the proposition of the powerful queen. Receiving the refusal, Semiramis decided that the proposal to become merely a subject had offended Ara.

She sent a new embassy with a marriage proposal and a promise of sharing the throne. Ara refused again, citing that he was perfectly happy with his beloved wife Nuard and his people, who passionately loved their ruler. Semiramis took this as an insult and immediately ordered the troops to be gathered.

In 1767 BC, Semiramis’s forces invaded Armenia. Caught off guard, Ara failed to muster troops and engaged in battle with minimal forces. Semiramis ordered her troops to capture Ara alive.

However, Ara spared no effort in fighting shoulder to shoulder with simple soldiers against the invaders. He was killed in battle. Heartbroken, Semiramis ordered to find Ara’s body and bring it to her.

She then demanded that Meras, the high priest of Armenia, revive Ara’s body. According to legend, to calm the troops awaiting a miracle, a lookalike of Ara was found among the soldiers and presented to the crowd.

In memory of the “miraculous revival” of Ara, Semiramis erected a tomb with a commemorative inscription. Having taken a look around in conquered Armenia, Semiramis found its climate healthier and decided to establish her summer residence there.

On the shore of Lake Van, she ordered the construction of a city in her honor – Shamiramakert. To protect the city from the lake’s floods, a cyclopean dam was built by the queen’s order. The city was built in the best traditions of Babylonian culture, equipped with aqueducts, baths, adorned with gardens and flower beds, and filled with two- and three-story palaces.

Ara II -1743 BC, (Kardos), the son of Ara the Beautiful. At Semiramis’s insistence, he took the name of his deceased father and at the age of twelve was appointed by the queen as the ruler of Armenia. Armenia became a vassal of Babylon.

As he grew up, Ara II directed all his forces to fight against Assyrian rule, remembering his father’s death and hating Semiramis. Ara II died in battle. Armenia remained under the rule of Ninia (Zamasis), Semiramis’s son, who himself killed his mother.

Anushavan Sos – 1725 BC – the son of Ara II, appointed by Ninia as the ruler of Armenia.

From this period, Armenia remained a vassal of Assyria for almost a thousand years, although it constantly tried to free itself from dependence. In this connection, this dependence weakened and then intensified.

However, the order of appointing Armenian rulers remained the same. A long line of rulers from this period are only known to historians by their names, they did not leave any significant mark in the history of Armenia. The exceptions are the following:

Zarmayr – 1194 BC – During his reign, Armenian troops took part in the Trojan War on the side of Priam. Zarmayr died under the walls of Troy. His death led to long unrest in Armenia, which never lost hope of freeing itself from Assyrian dependence.

Paruyr – 742 BC – In alliance with the Medes, he rose against the Assyrian king Sardanapal. Under the pressure of the rebels, the Assyrian kingdom fell after sixteen centuries of existence, and liberated Armenia welcomed Paruyr already adorned with a royal diadem. Paruyr became the first king of Armenia.

Grachya – 700 BC – Son of Paruyr, he was an ally of King Nebuchadnezzar, who conquered Judea. It was from this campaign that Grachya brought back, ransomed from Nebuchadnezzar, a noble Jew named Shambat, who later became the progenitor of the Bagratuni dynasty.

Tigran I – 565 BC – He remained in Armenian history as one of the most celebrated Haykides. It was under him that the possessions of ancient Armenia reached their maximum limits. Armenia flourished.

This was facilitated by its alliance with the Persian king Cyrus. This alliance greatly disturbed the Median king Astyages, whose possessions were coveted by both Tigran and Cyrus. Astyages decided to use any means to destroy this alliance.

Astyages intended to use his marriage to Tigran’s beloved sister, Tigranui, as a means to this end. With her help, the Median king wanted to incite a conflict between Tigran and Cyrus, and, taking advantage of the situation, expand his own possessions.

But Tigranui remained loyal to her beloved brother and timely warned the Armenian king about Astyages’ cunning scheme. Tigran sent an angry letter to his treacherous relative, and began to prepare for war himself.

In a fierce battle, the Armenian king killed Astyages with his own hands. As a result of this battle, the Median kingdom fell. The victor returned home with rich trophies and many prisoners, among whom were high-ranking nobles and relatives of the Median king. The Armenian king settled them all in the Nakhichevan province, handing over its administration to his sister Tigranui, in whose honor the city of Tigranakert was built here.

Vahagn – 520 BC – the son of Tigran, was an extraordinary personality, possessing extraordinary courage and strength. His feats are celebrated in the Armenian epic, folk songs. Armenians compare him to the Greek Hercules.

Unfortunately, the period of prosperity did not last long. Soon Armenia fell under the dependence of its powerful neighbor – Persia.

Vahe – 331 BC – was killed in the battle of Arbela, defending the Persian king Darius III Codomannus against the new conqueror of Asia Minor, Alexander the Great. With the death of Vahe, the Haik dynasty ceased.

*The date of the creation of Armenia according to Khorenatsi is confirmed by geneticists.

Source: Biggos –

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *