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1600th Anniversary

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Chieftain
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: 1600th Anniversary
    Posted: 12-Apr-2005 at 19:06

The year 2005 marks the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrob Mashdots.

In 405 A.D., Armenia had already endured over 4 centuries of being divided between two empires. Just years before, in 387, Armenia was partitioned (a formal political split) between the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Persians. The Armenian crown and religious leaders saw the potential peril they would face under both administrations. At the same time, the Syrian Church, whose liturgy was used by the Armenian Church, was putting pressure on the power of the Armenian Church. The Armenian Catholicos Sahak and King Vramshapuh realized that the only way to keep political and cultural authority over a partitioned nation was to utilize a common and unique literary system. They asked scholar and clergyman Mesrob Mashdots to create an alphabet that would distinguish Armenia from its more powerful neighbors. Mashdots was born in the Armenian province of Taron (west of Lake Van), and had studied Greek and Syriac, and was employed as a royal secretariat. According to one of his students, Koriun, who later wrote Mashdots's biography, Mashdots had been well taught in military arts and secular law. He knew well enough about the threat of assimilation that the Armenians faced. He traveled throughout Asia Minor and the Middle East, using alphabetical structures of Greek, Syriac, and various other alphabets (including scripts from an earlier attempt at an Armenian alphabet) as his base. Sometime between 400 and 405 A.D. (405 is more generally accepted) he created the 36-letter Armenian alphabet which still remains virtually unchanged to this very day. In the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia, the Armenians added 2 more letters in order to pronounce all the European words, due to strong and continual contact between Europe and Armenian Cilicia.

Fortunately, the Persian Sassanid Monarchs during this time were surprisingly very tolerant, as well as Emperor Theodosius II of Byzantium, and they allowed Mashdots and his students to open up schools throughout Armenia to teach the language with its newfound alphabet.

Mashdots then went on and created alphabets for the Georgians (still in use today) and the Caucasian Albanians. Hats off to a man who gave so many gifts to human culture. Not only to his own Armenian culture, but also to that of his neighbors.

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  Quote Jazz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2005 at 02:12
Cool - interesting story.

Just to give a glimpse of how Armenia has been a political pawn over the years.

Armenia had been frequently partitioned between the Romans and Persian until the Arab invasions of the 7th century.  Ususally the split was about 50-50, but in 2 instances, it was more one way than another.  Once was after Julian the Apostate's failed 362 invasion of Persia, where there Persians got about 4/5 of Armenia.  The other was in 591, after East Roman Emperor Mauriakos helped the Persian Shah Chosroes II in a Persian civil war, and as a gesture of good will, the Shah gave viturally all of Armenia to the Romans.  After the 602 mutiny and the assasination of Mauriakos, the Great war of 602-629 ocurred, as the Persians attemped to regain Armenia and then some.

By the time the Arabs arrived in 637, both the East Romans and the Persians were exhausted and unable to stop the armies recently united by Islam.
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2005 at 02:28

Ya, good info. The first partition of Armenia split Armenia from the Western coast of Iberia (Georgia) straight down between the tip of the Tigris rive and Lake Van. The second partition in 591 split it in a diagnal line from Lake Van to Lake Sevan (in present-day Armenia). Changing many of the policies in the region. It has always been valued because of the connection it makes between east and west and its trade routes and merchants. You seem to know a lot about Armenian history...a lot more than the average Armenian does. Have you read a book? Or youve just looked it up online? Im curious.



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  Quote Jazz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2005 at 03:07
Thanks for your kind words.

But my interest in history includes mainly the East Roman Empire (what some misappropriately call "Byzantine"), early Middle Ages (both Europe and the Middle East), including the Vlkerwanderung, the rise of Islam, and the early Ottoman years.

Honestly my knowledge on Armenian history stems from it's relations with the (East) Roman Empire. 

But the entire episode of the the 591 truce with the Sassanians, the 602 mutiny and the assasination of Mauriakos, and the resulting 602-629 war between the Romans and the Persians, where the ultimate victor was Islam is in my humble opinion vastly underated when you consider how it's results changed the course of world history.
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Apr-2005 at 18:35

BTW, here is what the Armenian alphabet looks like .

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