Korduk – The Southernmost part of Greater Armenia

Today’s journey will take us to the southernmost part of Greater Armenia, to its border with Assyria, where one of its largest provinces, Korduk, is spread out. Constituting the western part of the Ashkhar of Korchayk (the southernmost in Greater Armenia), the province of Korduk lies between the Tigris, Djerma or Eastern Tigris (Botan), and Tmorik – the later Hezil rivers.

These are the southern foothills of the southernmost ridge of the Armenian Highlands – the Kordvats mountains, transitioning into the Prtigris plain – this is where Mesopotamia, in ancient times Assyria, actually begins.

The territory of Korduk is more than 6,000 sq.km., it is a mountainous province, almost entirely covered with forests, dissected by intermountain valleys, only in the far south, at the confluence of the Tmorik-Hezil and Tigris rivers, it lowers into a treeless steppe.

The toponym Korduk goes back to the root “kord” of the Old Armenian language, which had two meanings: “untamed land”, “virgin soil” and “dense”, “thick”. Both meanings well characterize this province, covered with dense forests, “densely” cut by the mountainous relief, at all times remaining not fully developed and populated only along the river valleys region.

In the oldest Assyrian-Babylonian cuneiform scripts, the province of Korduk is named after its center Tman (Tmnis) as the land of Tumni. Tghatpalasar 1st at the end of the II millennium BC calls it the country (home) of Cadmus or Cadmukhi, – actually Tun Cadmosi lies to the west of Korduk, on the right bank of the Tigris.

Finally, Xenophon, Strabo, and other ancient Greek authors name Korduk the country of Cordukh or Gordyatsvots. The name Tun Cadmosi comes from the name of the grandson of Aik Naapet, the son of Aramanyak Cadmus, and the toponym Korduk, along with the name of the Kordvats mountains, as already mentioned, leads its etymology from the Old Armenian “kord”, found in various regions of Armenia more than a hundred times.

The similarity in the sound of the names Korduk, Kordvats, Kordrik and the name of the people “Kurds” is just a coincidence. Due to the geographical coincidence of the territory of Korduk and the initial settlement of the Kurds, this toponymic coincidence began to be disseminated as a link of the incoming nomadic people to the oldest land, already settled by the Armenians and their ancestors.

I repeat, the term “kord” has served as a topo-forming root in the oldest and ancient Armenian toponymy for about 4,000 years, indicating either the density and thickness of some relief element, or the untamed nature of this region.

A historical and geographical feature of Korduk has always been the fact that this province is located in the southernmost part of Greater Armenia, and it is through it that the most accessible path from Assyria, Mesopotamia and Palestine to Armenia and further – to the Black Sea, the Caucasus and Sarmatia runs.

The oldest of the developed routes from East to West also runs through Korduk – from Persia, Media-Marastan and Atropatene to Greater and Lesser Armenia, and then to Cappadocia and Asia Minor. Today, the territory of Korduk borders the borderland of Western Armenia with Syria and Iraq.

In general, for all the oldest countries and peoples of Mesopotamia, Armenia began exactly with Korduk – the mountainous country of the gods of Sumer and the famous country of Ararat-Aratta, which saved humanity from destruction by flood.

It is here, in the province of Korduk in the ashkhar of Korchayk of Greater Armenia, in that corner where the Tigris and Tmorik-Hezil rivers converge, the mountains of Aratta-Ararat or Ararad are located – today they are called either Ziarat (Saints) or Judi – do not confuse with the Judi mountains in the eastern part of Korchayk.

The highest point of the Aratta ridge – the eponymous mountain Aratta-Ararat-Ararad, which at different times and among different peoples also bore the names Nibur, Harit and Judi-Ziarat, is 2,086 meters above sea level.

Although for the Armenian Highlands as a whole this is more than an average indicator, but for those approaching from the south, from the Mesopotamian plains lying at sea level or even below, this was a wall of unattainable height, symbolizing a new country.

It is not surprising that in the oldest epics about the Great Flood, it is the mountain Aratta-Ararat that appeared as the first refuge of the surviving human race. It is on this peak that the famous Sumerian Utnapishtim found refuge, who later became the prototype of Noah – the hero of the story of Gilgamesh.

The name Utnapishtim perfectly reflects the ancient meaning of the Armenian sacred system – “ut” (“eight”, but in the Old Armenian language and in some dialects – “okht” from “yot” – “seven”, that is, the international sacred number) and “pashtel” – “revere”, “bow”. As a result – the veneration of seven gods.

And this name has forever remained in the Armenian Highlands – near the top of Aratta-Ararat, the village of Utits (now Girkchilyan) has been founded since ancient times.

Later, when the texts of the oldest legends were edited and adapted for the Bible, the name Ararat was transferred to the highest point of Armenia and the entire Ancient world – Mount Masis (fortunately, the ashkhar surrounding Masis of Greater Armenia is also called Ayrarat), and the name of the village Utits, to avoid the truth about the “pagan” Utnapishtim, was surrounded by the legend that Noah, on his way to Masis-Ararat, landed here eight of the “creatures” taken on board the ark.

It is the above-described textual escapade that became the reason that in the biblical text Noah’s ark was attached not to a separate – single peak, but to the “mountains of Ararat”, that is, to the mountainous country of Aratta-Ararat.

And the name Aratta has remained in the Armenian Highlands not only in numerous variations of the oldest Armenian Ar-Ararat, Ararich and Aregak. This name has also been preserved in the name of a small river – the left tributary of the Tigris, which flows from the Kerkar (Chalk) mountains to the west of the Aratta-Judi ridge and is still called Urada.

Thus, using the oldest Armenian toponyms, it is possible to localize with great confidence the oldest country Aratta – that is, Ararat, in the extreme south of Greater Armenia, at its borders with Assyria.

On the territory of Korduk, names bearing linguistic traces of another oldest name of Armenia – Nairi, or the Land of Rivers, are often found.

The toponym Nairi, without changing its meaning, was borrowed from Old Armenian by later languages – Arabic, Kurdish, Turkic, in the sounds Nahr, Nehri, Nari, and in Armenian itself, along with the original Nairi, forms Nare, Narek and others appeared.

So, in Korduk, we can encounter rivers Nerak, Nare, and Nardush, the plain of Nahri, the mountain range Chia-ye-Naira (in the far north of modern Iraq), and so on.

Extremely interesting information can be gleaned from the names located in the north of Iraq – in ancient times, these areas were the territory of the gavars of South Kordrik and Middle Kordrik, Aytvank, and Aygark ashkhar of Korchayk of Greater Armenia.

Due to the fact that in modern times the dominant element here, as well as in the adjacent areas of Western Armenia, are the Kurds (although the current adventure of militants of the so-called ISIS has, among other things, the goal of changing precisely the ethnic composition of the region), the ancient Armenian toponyms of Korchayk and Korduk have changed little, among them there are even completely “untouched” names.

And in favor of the presented version about the initial spread of the name Aratta-Ararat, which in the form of Ararad is accepted as true by the majority of scientists, the preserved names here speak, for example, the village of Masis, Dasht-e-Masik, Kar-Masik, and others.

As we can see, without even changing their Armenian grammatical forms, these toponyms eloquently speak about the connection of the oldest names Aratta-Ararat and Masis-Masik (by the way, a variant of the name of Mount Sipan on the northern shore of Van is Nekh-Masik – Little Masis).

Considering the latest data, in particular, of American geneticists, that the Armenian gene exists in an unchanged form in Armenia as a general component of the Armenian nation for already 5 thousand years, and secondly, the narrative presented in the work of Horenatsi about the Aikyan period of Armenian history is a reliable historical information, I think, we can conclude that the above-mentioned toponyms are remnants of the oldest Armenian topo system, which included the names of the Armenian country – Ararat-Aratta and Nairi, elements of the relief of Armenia – the geographical basis for the oldest non-Armenian epics about the Flood and the salvation of humanity, as well as the names of numerous descendants of Aik – our ancestors, who became eponyms of settlements and even entire gavars (eponym – the name of a person, transferred to a geographical element).

Our journey through the Korduk gavar would be incomplete without visiting places that are not as famous but no less significant for Armenian history. Thus, in the northern part of Korduk, in a dense forest, there are several settlements that have preserved in their names the oldest names of regions that once made up the country of Nairi.

This is primarily Erun or Eruh (now Deh) – a trace of the Eruni toponym of the oldest cuneiform; preserved in the primary sounding Shezu; the village of Bishi or Boshi – a trace of the oldest Bushshe or Bisia (from which, by the way, the name of Armenian gypsies – bosha – may come); the oldest settlements Vandak and Puniq, distorted later into Fyndyk and Pinakka, and many others.

The latter examples are interesting for a vivid demonstration of how “logically” and “naturally” the primary version and the primary meaning of a toponym can be changed. The Armenian “vandak” or Persian “band” with the meaning of a limited mountainous area (saravand – plateau) turns into “funduk” or “fyndyk” – in an area that has never had nut groves, well, and Puniq, always identified with Phoenix, becomes Pinakka, even though olives or palm trees have never grown in the surroundings.

Grigor Beglaryan

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