Mkrtich Emin – Author Of The Russian Translation Of Movses Khorenatsi’s “History Of Armenia”

… I would like to especially note outstanding 19th-century Armenist Mkrtich Emin whose life and activity were inextricably linked with the House [Lazarev House in Armenian Lane]. Under his leadership, an Armenian studies school was established at the Lazarev Institute.

Emin was born in New Julfa (Isfahan), Persia. His father, a rich man, sent the boy to study in India. Young Mkrtich about the Lazarev Institute learned from his teachers. Soon, the inquisitive young man was drawn to Moscow.

Emin left India and boarded a Swedish ship sailing towards distant Russia. Having traveled around half the world, he arrived in Europe and then through Finland arrived in Russia.

In the fall of 1829, Emin was accepted into the first class of the Lazarev educational institution. 5 years later, the gifted young man completed the study and entered the Moscow University where he received excellent historical and philological training.

In the subsequent years – more precisely, from 1838 to 1876 with short interruptions – the activity of Emin as a scientist, teacher, and translator was associated with his native educational institution. In 1850, after his work “On Folk Historical Songs of Ancient Armenia” had become universally recognized, Emin accepted the leadership of the Department of Armenian Literature of the Lazarev Institute.

In the 1860s, Emin prepared for printing and then published a number of outstanding works of Armenian literature and history in the Institute’s printing house. Among them were the “History of Aghvan” by Movses Kaghankatvatsi, “Chronography” of Mkhitar Ayrivantsi, the “General History” of Vardan the Great, the “History” of Stepanos Taronatsi, and some other monuments of Armenian writing.

However, the main merit of the scientist was the translation of the “History of Armenia” of Movses Khorenatsi into Russian. Being the first Russian scientist to carry out this enormous work, Emin made the great 5th-century Armenian historian’s works accessible to the Russian reader.

At that time, the knowledge of Russian people about Armenia, its history, and its famous figures from different centuries was very limited. They knew more about Armenia as a theater of military operations. Periodical information was also given by the press – in particular, via entertaining travels and essays on the “country of Ararat”.

Emin was the first scholar of Armenian studies to give a serious scientific assessment of the work of the ancient historian who had put forth and studied many serious problems of Armenian studies. The entire work is called “The History of Armenia by Moses of Khoren, 5th Century, With Notes and Appendices.”

In the appendix, Emin included his own study and analysis titled “On the Armenian Alphabet”. Emin compiled a grammar of the ancient Armenian language and an anthology accompanied by an Armenian-Russian dictionary.

Thus, the cause started by the Arzanov brothers received its organic development. With his scientific work, Emin not only revealed to the reader the charm of Armenian texts but also confirmed the idea of the need for a deep study of ancient Armenian culture in society and in scientific circles.

Throughout decades, Professor Emin has also been an inspector at the Lazarev Institute. He was distinguished by his keenness to students, his enormous industriousness, and his ability to cause interest in science among many people.

Emin would bequeath all his savings – 10 thousand rubles – to the building in the Armenian Lane where he had worked and studied. After his death, funds from the “Emin Fund” would be spent exclusively on publishing materials on Armenian ethnography and philology. Thus, many young Armenian scholars would be given an opportunity to say a new word in Armenian studies.

Source: Amirkhanian A.T., “Secrets of the Lazarev House”, “EVERYTHING FOR YOU”, 1992, Moscow.

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