Ancient Sources About Armenia – Artak Movsisyan

Ancient Sources About ArmeniaThe first known historical information about the Armenian Highlands is contained in Sumerian cuneiform records dating back to the 18th-17th centuries BC. These records mention an early state formation called Aratta.

The name “Aratta” is identified with Ararat and is considered its pro-form. This is evident from the comparisons of Sumerian and biblical stories about the Great Flood. In Sumerian and biblical stories, Aratta and Ararat are represented as a place of salvation.

In the oldest cuneiform records of Mesopotamia, proper nouns were represented through their sounds, syllables, and ideographic signs. If represented by its pronunciation, the toponym “Aratta” is written in three syllables (A-rat-ta). The ideographic version of that toponym was written as “Subur” (Subari, Subartu).

Thereby, these two names were used to refer to the same country. Analysis of mentions of Subur-Subari-Subartu, the oldest of which date to the 16th century BC, shows that this country was located in the Armenian Highlands, more specifically, around the basin of Lake Van and in the Highlands’ southwestern regions.

Since the 16th century BC, Mesopotamian sources have mentioned the god Hay(a), as well as the people and the country with the same name. It is noteworthy that in Sumerian accounts, the name “Suburi” corresponds to the name Hay(a). This shows that these two records refer to the same country.

In fact, we have, on one hand, the correspondence of Aratta to Subur and on the other of Subur to Hay(a). This means that already in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, Armenia was known under three names: Aratta, Hay(a), and Subur.

Since the 14th-13th centuries BC, chroniclers mentioned such names as “Arman(i)”, “Armi”, “Aram”, all connected with the Armenian Highlands. Those names are the pro-form of the word “Armenia.” Records from Ebla (Northern Assyria) dating to the 14th-13th centuries BC mention “Sons of Haya” who lived in the country of Armi and who had active relations with neighboring countries.

“Sons of Haya” from Ebla and the god Hay(a) along with the homonymous country in the Sumerian sources are etymologically connected with one center, the Armenian Highlands.

Thus, in the 14th-13th centuries BC, names “Aratta”, “Hay(a)”, “Subur”, and “Arman(i)” were used to refer to Armenia and Armenians. All these names are directly related with the Armenian Highlands. “Subur” fell out of use in the first half of the 1st millennium, whereas the other names continued to exist. At some point, they took their modern form: Ararat, Hayk-Hayastan, and Armenia.

Artak Movsisyan

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