Ancient Village of Akori – Where Noah Planted a Willow

Ancient Village of AkoriThe Akori settlement is situated on the northeastern slope of Masis, otherwise known as Greater Ararat. Now, this area is occupied by Iğdır Province of Turkey. An ancient legend recounts that after the Great Flood, Noah planted a willow tree (“uri” or “ureni” in Armenian) on the site of the village. The historic name of the settlement is believed to have been “Akhuri”, which derived from the Armenian word for “willow.”

This village was first mentioned in the 5th century by Armenian chronicler and historian Ghazar Parpetsi.

4.5 kilometers from the village stood the famous monastery of Saint James (also Saint Hakob), which is believed to have held a wood fragment of Noah’s Ark. The monastery was also known for its sacred springs generating waters with healing powers.

According to a tradition, the monastic complex was built on the site where an angel had handed a fragment of Noah’s Ark to Saint James of Nisibis. Saint James of Nisibis was a 4th-century Syriac bishop and a Christian missionary in Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church venerates Saint James as a saint. Interestingly, James of Nisibis is the first person known to have attempted to climb up Mount Ararat to find the wreckage of Noah’s Ark.

The village of Akori and the Saint James Monastery both were ruined in a devastating earthquake on July 2, 1840. Nothing managed to survive, except for cemetery khachkars (cross-stones) in the monastery. Those khachkars stand even today. Prior to the disaster, Akori was quite a big village, housing about 2,200 people, most of them Armenians.

In 1829, Baltic German explorer, mountaineer, and naturalist Friedrich Parrot along with Armenian writer Khachatur Abovyan lead an expedition towards the peak of Mount Ararat. In his memoirs, Parrot describes Akori as a prosperous, cozy, and hospitable place. In fact, Parrot’s group made its first stop near the Saint James Monastery.

At the site of the village of Akori now stands the Kurdish-populated Yenidoğan village. Shortly after the destruction of the original Akori, a village named New Akori would be built on its spot. In 1965, New Ahori was renamed Yenidoğan.


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