The Kingdom of Van reached the peak of its power during the reign of Argishti I (786-764 BC). His activities are reconstructed with precise chronology thanks to inscriptions carved on a rock on the southwestern side of Van and other numerous cuneiforms.
The second year of Argishti I’s reign (785 BC) was extremely rich in external undertakings.
First of all, due to strategic necessity, he organized a campaign against Diauehi, annexing to his state a part of it – a district rich in iron ore.
The second blow was dealt to the Etiuni Union and some neighboring states for their assistance to Diauehi.
The army of the Kingdom of Van asserted its superiority over other countries, ending its campaigns near the borders of the country of Abuni.
Later Argishti reaches the plain of Kars, after which he goes to Javakhk, to the Mountain Mighty Sirimi (later Mount Surami).
As noted in the cuneiform “all these great deeds Argishti did in just one year”. In 784 BC, the northern campaigns of Argishti I continued, he annexes the country of Abiliani (later the district of Abekhank) to his state, conquers a part of the Etiuni Union called Veduri-Etiuni, located in the basin of Lake Sevan, as well as other small principalities.
Through another campaign, the positions of the Kingdom of Van were strengthened to the southwest of Lake Urmia, in the area of the middle stream of Mets Zab, and roads leading from Assyria to the Urmia basin and the Armenian Highlands were taken under control.
In the 4th year of his reign (783 BC), Argishti goes on a large campaign to the west – to the territory of Asia Minor. Following Menua, he again conquers Melitene, Hatinili, Tabal (biblical Tubal), separating the latter from the kingdom of Melitene.
The king returned from the western campaign with tens of thousands of prisoners of war and other numerous spoils. After this campaign, the roads leading from Asia Minor to Assyria, which were a source of raw materials for her, are blocked.
In 782 BC, the troops of Van conquer the “marine province” of Kehuni (Gehuni), which was part of the Etiuni Union in the north of the Lake Sevan basin, and later continues his victorious campaign in Alishu, the Agstev valley.
In 782 BC, the fortress of Erebuni (Yerevan) was founded, where 6600 warriors from Tsopani (Tsopk) were stationed. The campaign then continues to the northeast, up to the future Gugar land, the territory of the Tashir district.
The Kingdom of Van was preparing for an upcoming grand campaign to the south. To prevent the success of the Armenian troops, Assyria attacked first in 781 BC. This is evidenced by Assyrian primary sources.
Argishti not only defeats the Assyrian troops, but also continues the counterattack, moving south, he reaches Parsua (later Parsk) and Babylonia (originally Babilu) through the Zagros Mountains, which extended up to the Persian Gulf.
Argishti thus blocks Assyria from three sides at once – from the north, east, and south, and the next year he repeats the campaign to Zagros to strengthen his positions.
Thus, in 786-791 BC, under the leadership of Argishti I, the Kingdom of Van was created, the borders of which reached Asia Minor in the west, the Zagros Mountains in the east, and Babylonia in the south.
After this, however, Argishti’s victorious campaigns continued, as mentioned in the Khorkhor cuneiform. In particular, it tells of military clashes occurring south of Lake Urmia in 779-777 BC.
It also mentions Argishti’s victorious war against Assyria in the 8th year of his reign (778 BC). Assyrian sources, in turn, testify to the wars against Urartu 781-778 BC, but Assyria’s plans were not successful. In 779 BC
Argishti undertakes a long campaign, reaching the Northern Lake. Argishti continued to pursue an active foreign policy, accompanied by numerous campaigns, in 775-773, during which he completely destroyed the forces cooperating with Assyria, finally consolidating his positions in the territories south of Lake Urmia. He also made campaigns to the north and west.
Thus, under Argishti I, the kingdom of Biainili-Urartu-Ararat achieved unprecedented successes, becoming a powerful force in the Near East.
Argishti decides to settle the conquered territories and also strengthen the internal power of the state.
He gave impetus to urban planning: such major administrative-economic centers as Erebuni and Argishtihinili, founded in 776 in the Ararat Valley, were established.
New canals were laid, arable lands were expanded, all these measures were aimed at satisfying the growing needs of the state.
See also: “Chrestomathy of the history of the Armenian people”, T1, from ancient times to 298 AD Oganisyan P., Movsisyan A. EGU. Yerevan. 2007. p. 550. History of the Armenian people. From the origins to the end of the III century AD. Textbook. EGU.Yerevan 2006.356 p.
Translated by Vigen Avetisyan