The Ancient Capital Yervandashat – Armenia

The Ancient Capital Yervandashat – Armenia

Yervandashat was once a populous city located at the confluence of the Western Arpachay (Akhurian) River with the Araks. Having been the second capital of ancient Armenia after Armavir, it was founded by the last representative of the Yervanduni dynasty King Yervand III in 229 BC.

According to Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi, the city was founded as a new capital of Armenia in order to replace Armavir which had been abandoned by its population due to a water shortage caused by a change in the direction of the flow of the Araks River.

Yervandashat remained the capital of Armenia until the transfer of the royal residence to the city of Artashat in 160 BC.

At the beginning of the 4th century AD, the King of Greater Armenia Trdat III transferred the city, which by that time had become the center of the Arsharunik region, to the Kamsarakan family.

The city was destroyed in 364 during the invasion of Shapur II, and its population (about 50,000 Armenian and other families) was deported to Persia.

Small-scale archaeological studies of the 1980s based on the remains of city fortifications revealed traces of ancient gardens and palaces described by Kaghankatvatsi.

Traces of walls, streets, and city buildings of the former capital of Armenia have also been preserved. The name “Yervandashat” itself lives in the name of an Armenian village located in just a kilometer from the site of the ancient capital on the east side of the confluence of the Akhurian and Araks Rivers.

The border with Turkey passes along Araks, and thus, the ruins of the Armenian capital are lying on the Turkish bank of the river, which makes them inaccessible from the territory of Armenia for exploration by archaeologists.

On the opposite bank which was once connected to the city by a stone bridge, at the same time with the city, a strong fortress called Yervandakert was built, the remains of which have survived to these days as well.

From the surviving gravestone inscriptions, it is clear that Yervandakert was inhabited in as far back as the 15th century and was called Marmeta (Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, volume 86, St. Petersburg, 1890-1907).

Alexander Bakulin

View of modern Ervandashat
Map of the surroundings of the city of Yervandashat with the river Araks
The excavated part of Ervandashat – the foundations of the walls of the palace
The excavated part of Ervandashat – the foundations of the walls of the palace 2
The excavated part of Ervandashat – the foundations of the walls of the palace

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