The government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II replaced the name “Armenia” by terms like “Kurdistan” and “Anatolia”. Since 1880, the use of the name of Armenia in official documents was forbidden. The Sublime Porte thus attempted to convince everyone that there is no such thing as the “Armenian Question” – no Armenia, no issues related to it.
The Kemalists, ideological successors of Young Turks, carried on with the process of the “nationalization”. It gained momentum especially in the republican years. In 1923, the whole territory of Western Armenia was renamed Eastern Anatolia.
In his “Jihan Numa”, renowned 17th-century Ottoman scholar, historian, and geographer Kâtip Çelebi wrote a chapter named “About the Country Called Armenia”. However, when the book was republished in 1957, its editor, one H. Selen, renamed the chapter “Eastern Anatolia”. This case is only one of the hundreds of others, clearly demonstrating the Turkish falsifications in regard to Armenians’ indigenousness to Western Armenia, not to mention the rest of historical Armenia.
In the 17th century, when the “Armenian Question” hadn’t yet emerged, the term “Eastern Anatolia” did not exist. Additionally, the 16th-century “Islamic World Map”, as well as 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman maps featured Armenia as a distinct territory with its cities.
Armenia and Anatolia clearly are separate geographical entities on the map published in Istanbul in 1803 – 1804. Ottoman authors have used “Armenia” until the 19th century, including Osman Nuri, who repeatedly mentioned Armenia in his book “Abdul Hamid and the Period of His Reign”. Ottoman historians and chroniclers were perfectly aware of the location of Armenia and did not “confuse” it with Anatolia, unlike their modern colleagues.
“Anatolia” means “sunrise” or “east” in Greek. Asia Minor was named Anatolia between 5th and 4th centuries BC. In the times of the Ottoman Empire, the term “Anadolou” was used to denote the north-eastern provinces of Asia Minor with Kyotahia at its center.
Several European, Ottoman, Armenian, Russian, Persian, Arabic, and other sources did not confuse Armenia with Anatolia. This testifies that Armenians still constituted the majority of their homeland’s population, which was even recognized by the Ottomans.
Thus, Western Armenia became Eastern Anatolia. Since 1880, thanks to the efforts of the Turkish lobby, the term “Eastern Anatolia” somehow made it into the western scientific circles. This could somewhat be caused by the lack of knowledge of modern experts.
If Armenia now in any way agrees with this replacement, it will mean voluntary abandonment of Armenians’ homeland, centuries-old historical and cultural heritage, and disregard of the Armenian Genocide and the rights of Armenians to the western regions of historical Armenia.
Lusine Sahakyan, Doctor of Philosophy, Yerevan State University