Remembering Artak Movsisyan: The Origin and Meaning of the Self-designation Hayk.

Two years ago, on October 2, renowned historian and popularizer of science, outstanding Armenologist Artak Movsisyan passed away prematurely at the age of fifty. He greatly contributed to the understanding of ancient Armenian history.

Artak Movsisyan, a doctor of historical sciences and professor, was known not only for his books, articles, and lectures, but also for his documentaries. Many recall his collaborative works with directors Artak Avdalyan and Vage Sukiasyan, including films like “Tigran Mets: The Patriotic Ruler” (dedicated to the 2100th anniversary of the coronation of Tigran the Great, 2006), “A Capital Older Than Rome” (2014), “Kingdom of Ararat-Urartu” (2017), “Nemrut: The Great Shrine of the Sun King” (2018), “Traveler Through the Millennia: Yerevan” (2018), and others.

A scholar may have followers, an artist – fans. Artak Movsisyan had both. One of them, Gagik Asatryan, spoke of him in the following way:

“People like Artak Movsisyan deserve respect, as they were the guardians of our memory databases, those repositories where Nzhde, Andranik, Tigran the Great, and the gods of Armenian myths shine through the contents of dusty books.”

Movsisyan succinctly and accessibly presented the ancient history of Armenia as revealed by the latest research.

At the very beginning of his famous book “History of Armenia”, Movses Khorenatsi states that the gods of the first era were formidable and powerful, they accomplished great deeds, and from them descended a generation of giants, one of whom is our ancestor Hayk.

Khorenatsi quotes Mar Abas Katina, an Armenian chronicler of the second century BC, who wrote at the behest of King Vagarshak (Armenian: Վաղարշակ). The sources used by Katina himself are quite diverse: they include sources from Mesopotamia, Persian sources, and Hellenistic ones.

This raises an important question: Which god’s son was Hayk-Naapet?

In Armenian mythological sources, these details did not survive as they were banned after the adoption of Christianity due to their polytheistic nature. However, in the sources from Mesopotamia, the name of the god Hayk is clearly traced, which is the name of the god Haya-Enki, who was spoken of as the god of wisdom, whose cult was directly associated with the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris and with the Armenian highlands. Thanks to the sources from Mesopotamia, we understand a very important element in the emergence of the Armenian ethnicity – the most ancient layer, namely, that Hayk was considered the son of Haya. Incidentally, in Greek mythology, Hayk corresponds to Orion, and in Sumerian, to Dumuzin.

Hayk was the son of Haya and the patron of the country of Aratta. According to the rules of the Armenian language, the particle “-k” has not only a diminutive-caressing meaning but also indicates belonging. For example, an Indian in Armenian sounds like “hndik”, a Persian like “parsik”. In the Middle Ages, when Armenians first learned about Russians, they called them “rusik”, and the name Hayk is a combination of the name Haya and the particle “-k”, which indicates belonging.

Therefore, Hayk means – the son of the god Haya-Enki. And when Khorenatsi says that we were named after Hayk, he means that all Armenians are Hayks, i.e., sons of the Armenian god, of the Armenian genus.

The fact that a people are called by the name of their main god, or they are named after their main god – is quite a common phenomenon.

The closest example is Assyria. Ashur – the main god, and the people, the country, and the capital were also called Ashur. In our case, we have the self-name – “hay” and the god Hayk (Hayk), who in the sources of Mesopotamia also has honorary names: Enki, which means the ruler of the country, and also Nudimud, which means Creator.

About the creation of man

In the ancient sources of Mesopotamia, in the story of the creation of man, it is said that it was Haya – the wisest of the wise, together with the mother of the gods, who created the human race from clay in the image and likeness of God. That is, here we read exactly what will later be written in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis: He created man from clay in the image and likeness of God. These primary sources were written long before the appearance of the Bible, much earlier than the 15th century BC, when the Prophet Moses lived. The mother of gods or the primordial mother is mentioned as Ninmah, which means the Great Mother.

Khorenatsi, in his work, cites information not only from Mar Abas Katina but also quotes from Abidenos (Abiden, Abidenos; an ancient Greek historian of the 2nd—3rd centuries AD) and from Greek sages. Katina, by the way, is an Assyrian by nationality, and it is emphasized several times that he is a “very experienced Assyrian”. Khorenatsi mentions that Mar Abas Katina undertook this work at the direction of King Vagharshak II and collected all the information together in his manuscript.

There have been many discussions about this among scholars: it reached the point where the time of writing was dated to the 14th century AD, which already contradicted Khorenatsi, since the Vagharshak mentioned by him should have lived in the second century BC according to chronology. As for the sources that Khorenatsi used, he does not specify them, generally stating that he gathered information from the Chaldeans, Persians, Assyrians, visiting their “divans”, that is, archives. He put together all the information that was available at that time.

In fact, Khorenatsi researched the archives of all the peoples of the Middle East, processed all the available information and data, and created his work, his History. We also had similar works before him, made by priests, but only mentions of them remained.

Khorenatsi also mentions that in the main center of the cult of Aramazd, which was located in the fortress of Daranahsky Ani (Daranahyats, Daranagi – an area in the west of the province of High Armenia (Bardzr Hayk) of Greater Armenia) Upper Hayk, there was a sacred pagan archive of writing. And an Assyrian preacher named Bardasan at the turn of the 2nd-3rd centuries preaches one of the directions of Christianity, but after failing, goes to the archive of Daranahyats Ani and translates our sacred histories into Greek and Assyrian, that is, naturally, the texts were not in Greek or Assyrian, but in Armenian.

There are several pieces of evidence that we had such sacred pagan histories, archives at temples, where historical records were written, collected, accumulated and stored.

“Mehenagrer” – the oldest hieroglyphs

“Meh’yany” (Armenian: Մեհյան) are the oldest pagan shrines where texts written in hieroglyphics were kept. The term “mehenagrer” or “mehenagrutyun” refers to hieroglyphics, temple inscriptions, pre-Christian Armenian script, Armenian hieroglyphs, not cuneiform, but ideograms. They are not similar to the cuneiform of Mesopotamia, but to Egyptian hieroglyphs. And the sacred archives are the archives of Armenian pre-Christian temples.

We have already mentioned that the main center of the cult of Aramazd was located in the province of Daranagi. Aramazd should not be confused with Ahura Mazda, who was worshiped in Persia. These gods are not identical.

In Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda is one of the gods of the dualistic deity. In this religion, there are two equal gods – the supreme god of good, Ahura Mazda, and the supreme god of evil, Ahriman, they are equal in their influence. In the pre-Christian Armenian faith, there is no evil god or evil god at all, this is the mythology of a single deity, where Aramazd is the only supreme god. And not only is there no evil god as his opposite, but there are no evil gods at all in Armenian mythology.

The main center of the cult of Aramazd was located at the source of the Euphrates, in the province of Bardzr Aik, today’s region of Erzinka, near the fortress of Ani-Kamakh in Western Armenia. According to Khorenatsi, it was there that a large archive of pagan sacred texts was kept, where manuscripts about Armenian history were stored.

But it should be noted that when saying the fortress of Ani, we do not mean the famous city of Ani near the river Araks. Therefore, it is emphasized – Daranahyats Ani, the region of Erzinka, near the source of the Euphrates, not far from Erzerum, in the territory of modern Turkey.

These are just excerpts from one interview with Artak Movsesyan – and there were many, fascinating and professional stories. In the future, we will repeatedly return to the topics that concerned the scientist, to his interpretation of history, including deep antiquity.

by Armen Petrosyan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

2 thoughts on “Remembering Artak Movsisyan: The Origin and Meaning of the Self-designation Hayk.

  1. Dear Art A Tsolum. (Armen Petrosyan)

    In your article about the late Atak Movsisyan you make the comment :

    “Meh’yany” (Armenian: Մեհյան) are the oldest pagan shrines where texts written in hieroglyphics were kept. The term “mehenagrer” or “mehenagrutyun” refers to hieroglyphics, temple inscriptions, pre-Christian Armenian script, Armenian hieroglyphs, not cuneiform, but ideograms. They are not similar to the cuneiform of Mesopotamia, but to Egyptian hieroglyphs. And the sacred archives are the archives of Armenian pre-Christian temples.

    This is of interest to me as I am intrigued by apparent cultural connections between the Caucasus and Ancient Egypt. This may sound like a strange request but as an amateur archaeologist I have been researching a great flood which was likely the flood of Noah. Strandlines in Azerbaijan in a valley and on mud volcanoes show the flood reached an impossible height of 222m above sea level. Details can be found here : A consequence of the flood is that survivors migrated away from Eurasia to the Mediterranean region and the Nile Valley possibly around 10,000 years ago. This flood has yet to be investigated. A consequence of the flood is that settlers in the Nile Valley returned their loved ones to their ancestral homeland. Sir William Flinders Petrie described this here :

    Within the Pyramid Text of the Book of the Dead there is the ‘Book of the Two Ways’ This describes the two routes burial parties could ravel to get back to the Caucasus. One is via the Black Sea and Sea of Azov and the other through Armenia. The reason I am writing to you is to contact an Armenian linguistic expert who is familiar with the ancient ideograms that have connections to Egyptian hieroglyphs. Sadly, I found that Dr. Movsisyan has passed away. What intrigued me about his book ‘The Writing Culture of Pre-Christian Armenia’ was the statement – ‘They considered the word RWNDKN (picked out and translated supposedly in Pahlavi by A. Borisov as “outgoings, passers-by”). I’m curious to find out if this might refer to the burial party en route to the Caucasus. The reason I suggest this is that I learned several years ago of a rock panel with ideograms in the north Caucasus. As this panel (which has not yet been found or studied) could possibly contain similar ideographic writing. I believe this is worth finding and comparing it with ancient Armenia writing. It may even offer some proof that the Book of the Dead refers to an ancient journey back to an ancestral homeland and not the mythical landscape Egyptologists believe it to be.

    I trust this information is of interest to you and look forward to a reply.

    Best wishes

    Ronnie Gallagher

    1. Hello respected Ronnie Gallagher. Your comment is very valuable to us. I am pleased to inform you that Artatsolum is gathering articles on the history, language, and culture of ancient, medieval, and modern Armenia. However, we are not professionals in archaeology or linguistics. We have provided our translation of an article by Armen Petrosyan, which was published in a Russian-language resource. We hope your comment will interest the specialists who read our resource. From our side, we will try to find people capable of satisfying your interest. Thank you again for your comment.

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