Ashkharhazhoghs – Democracy in Ancient Armenia

Ashkharhazhoghs – Democracy

The references to democracy in Ancient Armenia through the Ashkharhazhogh conference (Armenian: World Assembly) are preserved in the writings of Romano-Jewish historian Josephus from the 1st century AD.

In the pre-Christian era, the Ashkharhazhogh conference was usually convened every year on Navasard holidays at the sanctuary of the Vanatur temple in Bagavan located at the foot of the Npat mountain in Bagrevand Province. In Christian times, the conference was convened at the residence of the King of Armenia Vagharshapat or in the village of Shahapivan.

The conference discussed issues of national importance, as well as developed and approved general or binding laws. The conference was also convened in emergency cases, for the election of a spiritual leader, during political crises, or special occasions. In Ashkharhazhogh conferences, bdeshkhs (governors), nakharars (ministers), high clergy, azats (an elite division of the Armenian army), and sometimes representatives of the peasantry and working class took part.

Gevork Nazaryan

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