A scientific publication of the Russian Empire talks about the beauty of the ancient Armenian cemetery in Julfa (destroyed by Azerbaijanis a few years ago).
Within the framework of the 1881 project “Collection of materials for describing the localities and tribes of the Caucasus”, the inspector of the Nakhichevan city school K. A. Nikitin published an extensive study “Nakhichevan: biblical and legendary legends, historical information, and monuments of antiquity”.
Nikitin published a detailed description of not only the city of Nakhichevan but also more or less significant cities and towns of the county. Making a brief excursion into the history of the region, the author noted that before the conquest of the area by Byzantium in the 11th century, the patriarchal throne and the capital of Armenian kings had been located in Nakhichevan.
The first city to find its description in Nikitin’s study is Julfa (Jugha). “Here, for a long time, a handful of the Armenian population found refuge. This settlement is the famous Julfa mentioned by Armenian historians in the most distant centuries.
Here, up until now, the ancient foundations of two or three bridges over the Araks are visible in the river. Caravans with good shave passed from Persia to Armenia and back, and Julfa was the main city along this path,” the author wrote.
Touching upon the topic of the population and their fate, Nikitin noted that in as early as 1600, there were more than 50,000 inhabitants in Julfa. But in 1881, only a cemetery remarkable in its vastness with countless tombstones remained in this city. The cemetery, like the ancient tombs of Greece, depicted the diseased’ tools, crafts, or signs of fame during life.
In 1605, Julfa was destroyed by Shah Abbas and robbed by his troops. The city’s residents – 12,000 families or 50,000 people – were driven into Persia and settled near Ispahan (Isfahan). There, they founded the suburb of New Julfa.
“Since then, an insignificant village of the same name remained in the place of the old Julfa. Until recently, 10-12 families remained here, but in 1848, they left this gorge and moved to another place,” the author noted.
It should be noted that in Old Julfa which along with Nakhichevan was incorporated into Azerbaijan, thousands of Armenian cross-stones (khachkars) were destroyed. The last case of khachkar destruction in Julfa was registered in 2005-2006 when the Azerbaijani military demolished the cross-stones and turned the cemetery into a shooting range. Before the barbaric destruction, about 10,000 Armenian cross-stones dated to the 9th-17th centuries were in Julfa.
Recall that the “Collection of materials for describing the localities and tribes of the Caucasus” was a large publisher of narrative sources governed by the administration of the Caucasian school district in 1881-1908. The publisher’s works included research and description of the history, life, and ethnographic features of the peoples inhabiting the Caucasian region of the Russian Empire.
Destruction of the Armenian cemetary, Jougha, part I
Destruction of the Armenian cemetary, Jougha, part II
Destruction of the Armenian cemetary, Jougha, part III