The ancient city of Dvin has been one of the oldest Armenian settlements, as well as an antique capital of Armenia. Dvin’s history traces back to as far as the 3rd millennium BC.
The territory of this antique settlement is of most interest in terms of archaeology. During 1958 excavations, Late Bronze and Early Iron Age structures such as workshops and worship statues have been discovered in Dvin.
Of particular interest are 1st-millennium four sanctuaries built in the architectural traditions of Pre-Urartian (Araratian) dwellings. These large structures featured stone bases and walls built from unpolished clay. The sanctuaries’ flat roofs rested on wooden columns. Inside of those sanctuaries were placed striking altar stelae with complex compositions and traces of eternal fire. Additionally, black-polished utensils used at rites were found inside.
In the early 8th century BC, Dvin and several other settlements in the Ararat Valley were ruined by invaders. Another cause of the destruction was a great fire, clear traces of which were discovered during excavations in the city.
According to UNESCO, Dvin housed a 6th-century BC fortress.
Dvin disappeared Capital of Armenia
Since the first half of the 4th century AD, the city of Dvin has been the primary residence of the Armenian Arshakuni royal dynasty, as well as the Holy See of the Armenian Church. In 335 AD, King Khosrov II built a palace in Dvin, making the city the capital of Armenia, and subsequently, the seat of the Armenian Catholicos.
Dvin has been one of the most prosperous and populous cities east of Constantinople. This ancient city rapidly reached a population of over 100,000. Dvin also quickly turned into a regional economic center and a crossroad of eastern and western trade routes. From within Dvin started six routes connecting the city to Iraq, Iran, Assyria, the Byzantine Empire, as well as countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Produce manufactured in those countries has been imported into Dvin. The city has also been prominent for its export of pottery and textiles made by skilled craftsmen. Dvin has been the hub of craftsmanship and transit commerce after all!
In spite of the decline of the Arshakuni dynasty, Dvin remained the largest city in Armenia. In the late 7th century, Dvin along with most of Armenia came under the control of the Arab Caliphate. The Arabs would establish an administrative unit of Armenia with its center situated in Dvin. Since the beginning of the 8th century, Dvin has carried on its fame of a wealthy, free-trade city even under the Arab rule and even though the city has been a battleground between Arab and Byzantine forces for the next two centuries.
In 1236, Dvin was invaded by Tatar-Mongols, and though it was severely plundered, it managed to survive for one more century. The city along with other settlements was last mentioned by one of the Georgian chroniclers. The site of Dvin would subsequently accommodate several small villages, which exists even today.
Many Armenian and foreign written sources call Dvin the “Great Capital.” The city was also the birthplace of Kurdish generals Najm ad-Din Ayyub and Asad ad-Din Shirkuh bin Shadhi, who were at the service of the Seljuks. Saladin, Najm ad-Din Ayyub’s son, was the founder of the Egyptian Ayyubid dynasty.
Dvin’s archaeological sites are inscribed in the UNESCO. The plentitude of fine artifacts unearthed in the territory of this ancient city testify to the craftsmanship of the ancient inhabitants of Dvin.