The Development Of Mathematical Knowledge In Ancient Armenia

Palaces and fortresses, roads and temples, bridges and irrigation systems built thousands of years ago testify to the development of mathematical knowledge in ancient Armenia.

There is no doubt that in the educational institutions of Armenia, mathematics and natural sciences have been taught from ancient times. In the 5th century, the simplest fractions were known in Armenia.

The very first Armenian math manuscript that has reached us is an arithmetic textbook from the 7th century written by scientist Anania Shirakatsi. It contains tables of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division along with a collection of problems.

In the Middle Ages, the works of Greek mathematicians were translated in particular. The main work of Euclid, “Elements” (around 300 BC), was first translated from the original source precisely into Armenian.

Armenian scientists, including mathematicians, also made a huge contribution to the scientific life of neighboring countries, especially in Byzantium.

The first printed mathematics textbook in Armenian was published in Marseille in 1675 and was called “The Art of Counting” (“Արհեստ համարողության”).

The first Armenian mathematician known to us is Aghan Artsruni (Աղան Արծրունի) who lived in the 5th century. He was the great-grandson of apostate Meruzhan Artsruni and the son of Nakharar Vasak Artsruni.

Being a student of the school of Sahak-Mashtots, Artsruni not only perfectly mastered the Greek language and was engaged in translation activities but also had deep knowledge in geometry. According to Arabic sources, a student of Mashtots, Artsruni was the author of the work “Proof of the 5th postulate of Euclid” (“Էվկլիդեսի 5-րդ պոստուլատի ապացուցումը”).

Academician Hrachya Acharyan in his work “Armenian Writings” (“Հայոց գրերը”) among the 60 students of Sahak and Mashtots listed Artsruni on the 12th place.

It is known that Aghan Artsruni was the mentor of famous Armenian historian Ghazar Parpetsi (Ղազար Փարպեցի), as well as Vard and Vahan (leader of the uprising 481-484) Mamikonyans (Artsruni was their uncle from the mother’s side).

Parpetsi spoke very well of his mentor, calling him “saint, virtuous, angel, wonderful, and blessed.”

Among the students of the Armenian mathematician were also his sister Anushvram (the wife of Bdeshkh Ashushi) and Princess Dzvik, the wife of Hmayak Mamikonyan and mother of Sparapet Vahan Mamikonyan, Vard, Vasak, and Artashes.

Aghan Artsruni was buried in Vaspurakan in the patrimony of the Artsruni family in the center of the Mets Aghbak Hadakakert district.

Pictured below is the cover of the first printed math textbook in Armenian (Marseille, France, 1675).

Arshaluis Zurabyan

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