Few people have ever wondered about how Armenians had lived in Babylon. And yet, their life and activity in Babylon had been quite remarkable.
Armenians played a significant role in Babylon. The trade of Armenians with Babylon has been mentioned more than once by Greek authors. Herodotus described in detail how the Armenians on willow rafts would descend south along the Euphrates. After trading, they would sell their rafts and return back on donkeys.
Naturally, this could not but form a certain community of Armenians in the territory of Babylon. Given that the Armenians were obviously in Babylon during the Urartian period, this community must have been quite significant.
Unfortunately, we do not know the early history of Armenian trade, but we can safely assume that the Armenians played a significant role in the ancient East. Actually, the similarity of Armenian “hamkars” (artisans) and the Sumerian-Semitic “tamkars” is quite interesting.
Tamkars were trading agents engaged in royal or temple trade in other countries. Is it possible on the basis of this fact and given the presence of Semitic words in the Armenian language to trace a certain evolution of the state merchant into an artisan, or is it just a coincidence? It’s difficult to tell.
Nonetheless, we can tell that the Armenian Highlands were involved in trade from pre-civilization times. Proof of this is Armenian obsidian in Ukraine and Indian shells in the south of modern Georgia.
The most striking example of the power of the Armenians of Babylon is the very fact of an Armenian coming to power. The last king of Babylon was Armenian Arakha who renamed himself Nebuchadnezzar IV. “Arakha” most likely is distorted “arka” (“king” in Armenian), and this has probably been a nickname rather than a name.
The local name of Arakha is known, which was Nabonid. His coming to power speaks of the strong position of the Armenians of the city and their noticeable influence on the state apparatus. This is evidenced by the abundance of information about officials-Urashtians, that is, Armenians.
One of the most famous Armenian officials in Babylon was Shamash-Barakku. His Armenian name, like all other Armenians of Babylon except for Arakha, is unknown, which suggests that Arakha is indeed a nickname given to him by people close to him, most likely also Armenians.
Here, several centuries later, the Byzantine version of the “Armenianization of power” came into being. Thanks to their trade relations and innate ambition, Armenians gradually became associated with the state apparatus and eventually became its key link. The Byzantine scenario was more ramified and brought to power Armenian kings, generals, and clergymen of Armenian descent.
Arakha himself was also an officer. And it was he who rebelled against Persia and temporarily restored independence to Babylon, for which he would pay cruelly. This was the last king of Babylon.
Then, the Armenians of Babylon disappeared without a trace, dissolving in the urban environment. With that said, the first megalopolis in the world itself had by that time already exhausted its civilizational potential and would only remain in history textbooks and in the rastaman jargon.
Arthur Hakobyan, Antitopor