Taron and Arshamunik – Armenians are chained to their land with centuries-old chains

One of the medieval philosophers once noticed that a man grows into the land when his ancestors rest in it. Armenians are chained to their land with such powerful centuries-old chains that this bond can be broken only by destroying its bearers.

Repeating again and again the well-known thesis about the need to thoroughly know one’s homeland, I emphasize: this knowledge is needed not only in the context of elementary patriotism but also from the perspective of that very genetic attachment to one’s native land, – the land where ancestors rest and where great sons of the nation are born.

This knowledge is necessary to overcome the vicious local feudalism, which recognizes only “our own”. Once, during the time of her formation as a person, my daughter asked me – who am I? Yerevanian, Karabakhian? My roots on my father’s side are from Artsakh, on my mother’s – from Kars. My wife’s are from Artsakh and Goris respectively.

We and our children were born in Yerevan. So who am I? Well, of course, and simply – Armenian. All the above-mentioned names are my homeland. I don’t see the slightest difference. My ancestors rest everywhere. My parents and my children were born and are born everywhere. For the ending “ci” in my language only indicates the place of birth, and before simply replaced the surname.

So, Taron; a dense forest with inexhaustible reserves of gazpen – manna from heaven, lying west of Mush. Just below the edge of the forest, where the slopes of the mountains Simsar or Sevsar of the Main Armenian Taurus system are already approaching the Mush plain, 9 km northwest of Mush lies a village with a rich history – Khoronk, originally – Khorni or Khorean.

During its heyday in the early Middle Ages, it was a town with almost two thousand houses. Khorni-Khoronk provided the Armenian army during the Arshakuni dynasty with 600 horsemen and 1700 infantrymen. Under the name Khornia, the town is mentioned in Hittite inscriptions, and from the 4th century (under the name Khorni) – in Armenian sources, starting with Zenob Glak. Khoronk belonged to the Msho Surb Karapet monastery.

Here around the year 410 was born the future historian Movses, who entered history under the surname Khorenatsi – by the place of birth. Khorenatsi rightly holds the honorary title of “father of Armenian history”. His “History of Armenia” or “Ayots Patmutyun” – a fundamental work, giving descendants the basic knowledge about the emergence and formation of the Armenian nation, its early history.

It was Khorenatsi who described in detail the deeds of Hayk Nahapet and his descendants, it was on the basis of his work that Gevond Alishan calculated the date of Hayk’s battle with Bel – 2492 BC, from which the Armenian calendar begins.

By the way, last year American geneticists came to the conclusion that Khorenatsi’s narrative about Hayk and the period of Haykian early Armenian history is not a legend, but reliable factual material.

This narrative provides answers to many questions about Armenia’s toponymy. Based on it, one can trace the etymology of many geographical names of our homeland – the original etymology, completely Armenian, without the admixture of Hittite-Hurrian or Urartian derivative roots. An etymology connected to the period of the ancient Armenian history of the 4-3 millennium BC, when Torgom’s descendant Hayk was settling in Armenia.

Movses Khorenatsi died at the end of the 5th century and was buried in the monastery of Msho Arakelots. In his native village of Khorenk, nearly 50 Armenian households lived until 1915, engaged in farming and animal husbandry. The Surb Astvatsatsin Church and a school were operating.

According to some researchers, for example, Ormanyan, Khorni or Khorenk translates from ancient Armenian as “place of birth”. I would draw attention to the obvious linguistic connection with the toponym Orean, Oryan, denoting an ancient settlement, a fortified city, repeated in Armenia dozens of times.

In the northern part of the Mush plain, 22 km northeast of Mush, on the left bank of the Açenç river of the Mehraget basin, another significant village of Taron and all of Armenia, Açekaç, later – Açik, modern Hasik is located. To the north of the village, the plain turns into the southern foothills of the Khark mountains, called the Açeaç mountains. Here, in 362, another brilliant son of Armenia was born, the restorer of the Armenian alphabet, the first Armenian teacher and translator Mesrop Mashtots.

He died on February 17, 440, in Vagharshapat and was buried in the village of Oshakan in Aragatsotn region. The name of the village and the surrounding region, as well as the aforementioned Açeaç Drakht forest, was given by the ash tree – a sacred tree revered by our ancestors.

The village of Açekaç is usually identified with the late Açik – today’s Hasik. However, Sogomon Tarontsi testifies that Açekaç was located 5-6 km upstream – at the foot of Mount Açik (1602 m above sea level).

According to Tarontsi, the ruins of Açekaç existed until 1915 and were a pilgrimage site for Armenians and Kurds. At the end of the 19th century, about 50 Armenian households and 11 Kurdish, or rather Yezidi, households lived in Açik. The Surb Mesrop Church and a school operated in the village. In 1914-15, the Armenian residents organized armed resistance to the criminal Turkish regime, taking refuge on Mount Açik.

Right next to Mush, 4 km to the southeast of it, on the left bank of the Arax or Araxadzor river of the Mehraget basin, in the northern foothills of Simsar and Tirin Katar, halfway from Mush to Msho Arakelots Monastery lies the village of Tergevank or Nergin, considered in Armenian studies to be the birthplace of the famous philosopher David Anakht (the Invincible).

However, another ancient village in the neighboring region of Khark, – Erian (Hyrrian, Khert, Koryan – its name variants), disputes the right to be considered his birthplace, although the majority of researchers lean towards Tergevank.

David Anakht was born in 475, died in the middle of the 6th century in Akhpat, was buried in the same monastery of Msho Arakelots. In Tergevank in 531, a monastery of the same name was built, serving as a rural church in modern times. In 1888, through the efforts of villagers Ovannes Kazaryan and Mkrtich Yeretsyan, another church was founded in Tergevank.

The heart of Armenia – Taron, with its almost 7-thousand-year history, is the birthplace of many other famous figures of Armenia. Not far from Açekaç, 9 km to the southeast, on the right bank of Mehraget, lies one of the most significant villages of the Mush plain, Til, with a church built in 756. Here in the 9th century was born the founder of the Armenian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, Bagrat I.

The name of this and a dozen other villages was given by the ancient Armenian root “til” – hill (Arabo-Hebrew “tell”). In the village of Kemik, 5 km south of Ashtishat and Açeaç Drakht forest, in the 18th century was born a prominent representative of the Armenian liberation movement, the associate of Ovsep Emin, Bishop Ovan.

In the very forest of Açeaç Drakht, 12 km west of Ashtishat, lie the ruins of the village of Airablur (Hill of Fathers), where in the 15th century was born Bishop Ovannes Tarontsi, who restored the monastery of Msho Surb Karapet. This list would take several pages, as would the enumeration of the graves of famous figures buried in Taron.

The northwestern neighbor of Taron is the hawar of Arshamunik, which also belongs to the ashkhar of Turuberan. It is located between the mountains of Avatamk or Karkeo to the south and the Byurakn plateau to the north, on the plateau known as Mayragomk or Mergemer. To the west, Arshamunik is separated by the mountains of Serovbe (or Serok) from the hawar of Ashtyank of ashkhar Tsopk, and to the east, by the rivers Byurakn and Aratsani, from the hawars of Hark and Varazhnunik of Turuberan.

According to Pavstos Buzand, this was initially a part of Taron, later separated as the property of the princely dynasty of Arshamuni, which, according to many researchers, originated from the younger brother of Tigran II, Arsham. The name of one of the large villages of the hawar, Salikan (or Salygan, Salkan), is thought to originate from Slkuni, one of the ancient Armenian princely dynasties.

A village with the same etymology lies on the way from Taron to Balaovit, to the west of the Palunyats pass and the Kvars avan. By the way, the latter (Slkuni-Salygan-Selikan-Salkan-Solhan) is identified by Armenologists with the historical Boglan, which is incorrect. Boglan is located 6 km to the west and is the same village of Palunyats (Palunyats gyuh), mentioned by historians.

Arshamunik is primarily famous for a small lake Kerlich (Curved lake) – it was there that Ayk Naapet buried his bow after defeating Bel. And the mountain next to the lake is called Akhekhnasar (Ray Mountain) or Surb (Sacred), while the Kurds call it Ziaret (Sacred). Also in Arshamunik are the mountains of Ara (Araler), Arjgglor (Bear stone), Areguni, and Mayragomk.

Among the large and significant villages of Arshamunik – Amasia (named after Ayk’s great-grandson, variant – Avmasi), Bazkan, Shahaz, Tiatun (Diadin), Arpi (Arap). Numerous sources of Mayragomk – Mayragomats, Selavadzor, Tsarakank and others – give rise to the right tributaries of Byurakn (which in turn flows into Aratsani).

In the far west of Arshamunik, in the mountains bordering Ashtyank, Serovbe (Serok) are the famous oldest cities of Armenia – Vohin or Shtea (from both names comes the present village of Vohnut or Ohnut, and the toponym Ashtyank) and Eriza or Erez (current Azizan), as well as the monastery Vankik on the shore of the lake of the same name.

In the eastern part of Arshamunik, in the valley of the Bazkan river, there is the Dzrshatakh Dzor gorge, in which a part of Armenian residents of Vardo and Khnus areas perished in 1915. Our way then goes east from Taron, into the hawar of Hark – the beginning of the beginnings of Armenia…

by Grigor Beglaryan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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