Gavar Harq – Ancient Armenia during the Haikian period

Northwest of Lake Van, between Taron and the middle course of the Aratsani River, lies Gavar Harq – the cradle of Armenia during the Haikian period. The territory of the Gavar extends from Lake Nazik and Khach or Khachlva in the east to the steep bend of the Aratsani River in the west, where it flows past the historical city of Mzur.

To the south, Harq is separated from Taron by the Harqian and Nemrut Mountains, and to the north by the Dzernaxar and Hamekaberd (Hamurberd) Mountains – from Varazhnunik. The Kori region, adjacent to Lakes Nazik and Harq, which originally formed part of Harq, later separated into a separate Gavar, the boundary with Harq is formed by the Sipani Net – Sipan bow range (it also looks like a bow, curved to the west, and even the famous victorious Haik bow), now called Blejan.

Why is Harq, in particular, considered the cradle of the Haikian dynasty – the first royal dynasty of Armenia? First of all, this is evidenced by the very name of the Gavar, the etymology of which is given in the work of Khorenatsi.

The name is Harq comes from the Armenian “hairq” – “fathers”, and means Land of the Fathers, Land of the Ancestors. It is from the toponym Harq that the Greek Arche – ancient, that is, originating from our ancestral fathers, comes from.

By the way, the Gavar is rich in silver, which served as the basis for its calquing and reinterpretation in many languages. Thus, in several Eastern-Caucasian languages, silver is denoted by the word “hark” – the name of the ancient Armenian Gavar, that is, metal from Armenia, from Harq.

In addition, telling about the struggle of Haik and Bel, about the arrangement of Armenia by Haik, Movses Khorenatsi specifically emphasizes – disagreeing with the Babylonian policy of assimilation, Haik gathers his kin-gerdastan and returns to the land of his ancestors – Armenia.

It is a return, not just resettlement. Thus, Armenia was populated by the Armenian ancestors of Haik before 2492 BC. And Haik traces his lineage to the son of Noah Apet (Biblical Japheth, Japheth, Japetus). Apet’s son – Gomer (eponym of the country Gamirk in Cilicia and the Armenian “karmir” – red), Gomer’s son – Tiras (a reflection of the image of the ancient Armenian god Tir or Ter), and Tiras’s son – Torgom, in whose name the region in Lesser Armenia was named, from where the Armenian nation originates – Tun Torgom, the House of Torgom (we will tell more about him).

Haik Nahapet is the son of Torgom (by the way, according to Georgian tradition – also the brother of Kartlos, the ancestor of the Georgians). Moving from the Torgom House located west of Greater Armenia, our ancestors reached Turuberan through the Gavar Tsopk and settled primarily in Taron (remember the story of Sem and Tarawne?) and Khark. That’s why the Gavar received its name – Land of Fathers, Land of Ancestors, Land of Forefathers.

In Harq, as well as in neighboring Varazhnunik and (h)Ayots Dzor, Haik founded one of the first settlements of Armenian Land – Haikashen. This most ancient city lies slightly west of Lake Khach, at the foot of the Sipan bow.

To the south of it lies a grove, revered by our ancestors as holy, and one of the first monasteries in Armenia – the monastery of Koreats Surb Karapet. The ruins of Haikashen, as well as the village that later appeared in its place, are called Harab Shahar – the ruined city, by the Kurds, and Oren Kent (village near the mound) by the Turks.

Even further south, between the foot of Sipan’s Bow and Lake Nazik, lies Mount Khorkhoru Air – the cave of Khorkhor (Ziyaret, holy, for the Kurds), where one of Haik’s sons, Khorkhor, established his settlement, giving his name to the Khorkhoruni dynasty and the Khorkhorunik Gavar – part of Harq.

As Khorenatsi writes, Khorkhor founded many villages, and “beginning with him, the nakharar lineage of Khorkhoruni – brave and illustrious people, prominent even now – in our time,” continues to this day. Gavar Harq was inherited by another son of Haik, Manavaz, who founded his city, Manavazakert, a little further east, on the left bank of the Aratsani – now Manazkert. The Manavazyan dynasty that descended from him is no less glorious and well-known.

On both banks of the Aratsani and its left tributary Liz or Vard (Bull or Rose River), there are settlements with a rich history. On the right bank of the Aratsani, at the foot of the Hamakaberd (Hamurberd, to which we will head later) mountains, is the village of Harq or Hergis. Until the 10th-11th centuries, one of the military bases of the Armenian army was located here, playing a significant role in the defense against the Byzantines.

The village is now called Hyuyuk-Agyul – in Turkic, the word hyuyuk denotes an ancient hill, a mound with the remnants of a settlement (Armenian analog – Mohrablur). A little north of the village is the Arsnahbyur spring (Bride’s source).

Downstream of the Aratsani, on the edge of Hamur Forest, two other significant Harq settlements are located next to each other. Eryan (Hert, Koryan), as we have already told, disputes with Taron’s Tergevank the right to be called the homeland of David Anhakht.

In particular, the historian Stepanos Taronetsi Asoghik stands on his side. And in the neighboring Elpis in 1912, People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR Zhan Eloyan was born. East of the village is a fortress of the same name.

On the contrary, on the left bank of the Aratsani and along the banks of Liz are the most ancient avans of Harq. Next to the lake of the same name, at the foot of Mount Berdush, is located Vostan or Bstavan – the current Bostankent.

At the end of the 19th century, as in many villages in Armenia, a school was opened here with the efforts of Garegin Srvandztian. According to Akop Manandyan, it is here that the road station Bastavena or Vastavana, indicated on the road leading from Artashat to Tigranakert, on the famous Roman road map of Peutinger, should be located.

Further to the east, at the mouth of Liz, on its banks are Kohak, Mankan Gom, and Ovhak. Even further to the east, near the border with the Gavar Apahunik or Manavazean, at the confluence into the Aratsani of its left tributary Korodzor (Turkish calque – Kersu, the Kor River) are the villages of Tehut, Arvtots, and Yotndjur.

The largest and most significant of them is Arvtots. The name Arvtots, or more ancient Aaravutk, comes from the Old Armenian root “arvuyt”, denoting the abundance of greenery, and rich juicy grass pastures. The Armenian name of the village Arvtots, like a dozen other villages of the same name throughout Armenia, is now directly translated into Turkish – Yonjalu.

Near Arvtots, on the right bank of Korodzor, stands a small chapel Tadevos Arakyal, where in 1915 there was an armed defense of the Armenians. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 263 Armenian houses in the village.

At the northern end of Arvtots, on Mount Mazrhu, a cuneiform inscription of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser, dated to 1114 BC and telling of his campaign against Armenia – the Land of Nairi, was found.

In the village, there were a school and the Surb Astvatsatsin Church. In the neighboring village of Tehut, where a church and a school also operated and there were 221 Armenian houses, Makar Tehutetsi, the Armenian Catholicos (1813-1821), was born.

Among the significant and known villages of Harq, it is also necessary to mention Brgashen (in Kurdish transcription Pyurkashin), Gyuhk, Liz, and Melkoni Dzor. Pay attention to the consistent row of distortions of the Armenian name – Melkoni Dzor turns first into Melkan, then into Melkyan, and finally into Mollakyand! By the way, those who trace the etymology of the root Melik, Melkon from Arabic-Persian “prince” are deeply mistaken.

The toponym originates from the Armenian and Hittite “mala”, which meant “house near the water”. It is from this root that the Armenian Melik-Melkon, Arabic Mulk – estate, and the Kurdish-Turkish prefix Mala to many Armenian names, over time distorted into Molla. Hence also the Turkic “mala” – house (Ekmal – Armenian Miatsun).

The eastern part of Harq, separated over time into the Gavar Kori – is a separate story, related to one of the micro toponyms of Yerevan. Kori means the district of the Kor or Korodzor (Kersu) River, i.e. the Curved Gorge.

From the coastal Van Gavar Bznunik (from Baz – the name of the grandson of Haik and the son of Manavaz) Kori is separated by the Koreay or Koreay ridge in Grabar – i.e., the mountains of Kori. The highest point of the ridge is Mount Kortevan or Hatavin, now Zera (2399 m above sea level), wherein in 1896 there was a battle between a group of Armenian fedayis and Turkish regular troops.

So, the gorge to the north of Yerevan, on the left side of the Tbilisi highway, is called Koreay Dzor – precisely after the name of the Western Armenian Gavar. In general, Yerevan is the quintessence of Western Armenian toponyms, which the people thus preserve in memory.

And there is no connection here with Korea, refugees from which were allegedly settled here in the 1950s, – this is a result of the so-called “domestic” etymology that arises in the absence of historical memory.

Among the villages of Kori worthy of mention are Tukh Manuk or Kakarlu (the ancient toponym Tukh Manuk is a separate conversation) and the historical Ardzkah (Artsuh), later Latar – here was the residence of King Prosh, here King Tiran was blinded.

Grigor Beglaryan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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