Lake Hazar – Historical Armenia

Hazar (Turkish: Hazar Gölü, Armenian: Ծովք, Tsovk) is a rift lake in the Taurus Mountains, 22 km southeast of the city of Elazig, Turkey. This lake is the source of the Tigris River.

The ancient city of Elazig was founded by Armenians and historically has had many different names. Among Armenian and Byzantine authors, it was named Kharberd, Karberd (Armenian: Քարբերդ or Կարբերդ), Karput (Armenian: Քարփութ), or Karpote. These names translate from Armenian as “stone fortress”.

Founded in the 2nd century BC, the Armenian city was originally named Horberd (Armenian: Հորբերդ). This name at some point transformed into “Kharberd” (Armenian: Խարբերդ).

In different eras, the city has been referred to as a fortress in the Andzit region of the Armenian kingdom of Sophene, which since the 1st century AD has been a province of the Armenian Kingdom under the Orontid, Artaxiad, and Arsacid dynasties.

Lake Hazar is 20 km long and 5-6 km wide, and it has an approximately elliptical shape. An endemic species of fish called Aphanius asquamatus live in the lake.

Scientists have discovered 4000-year-old archaeological traces of a city at the bottom of Hazar. The city was consumed by the lake around 1830. Next to it was a village and an old Armenian Christian church. At the moment, Turkey desires to have the “Sunken City” inscribed on the World Heritage List as Turkish historical heritage.

There are several references to the Hazar Lake and the Sunken City in written sources. For example, Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa (Matteos Urhaetsi, Matteos of Urha, a 12th-century chronicler from the city of Edessa) mentioned it in his book “The Chronicle”.

According to some sources, until the beginning of the 1800s, the rise in the lake’s water level was insignificant. But due to tectonic shifts, the settlement went underwater within 30 years.

Nana Herouni

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