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Encyclopedia >> Armenological Encyclopedia >> Formation of the first Armenian state: Aratta

  Formation of the first Armenian state: Aratta


Sumerian and Akkadian written monuments of Mesopotamia give priceless information on the history of Armenia in III-II millennia B.C. Sumerians, who were the creators of one of the first civilizations, before assimilating in Southern Mesopotamia lived in northern Mesopotamia and in the Southern regions of the Armenian highland. Leaving it they kept the connection with the highland for a long time. Therefore the earliest mentioning of the highland we find in the Sumerian written monuments. Sumerians created the first cuneiform, which was adopted by the Akkadians of the Semitic origin in the second half of the III millennium BC, later it was widely spread in the countries of Southwestern Asia, including Van kingdom. In the Sumerian manuscripts land of Aratta was mentioned. Aratta was the first State formation of the Armenian highland known so far. Information about it refers to the XXVIII–XXVII centuries BC. What do Sumerian sources tell about Aratta land, its location, its State structure, economy, culture and other questions? In the epic poem Arrata was mentioned as a high mountainous country. They had to pass Uruki river to go from Aratta to Sumer. The only river passing through city Uruk is Euphrates, the only mountainous region in the basin of which is the Armenian Highland. Therefore, Aratta was certainly found in the Armenian Highland. It is also evidenced by the toponyms mentioned in the way from Aratta to Sumer. Among them, is for example land of Zamua. The latter is in the south of Lake Urmia (In the Assyrian sources Lake Urmia is called “Sea of Zamua land”), therefore continuing Sumer-Zamua line we’ll reach the Armenian Highland. It’s known that with the Armenian Highland the worship of the god of wisdom and cosmic water – Hay(a) was connected, whose son Hayk was the patron god of Aratta. Arrata was a theocratic state. Thit means that Aratta had such a government, in which the clergy reigned either secular or spiritual power.The king of Aratta was also the highest priest of the country. For the solution of the important issues concerning the country the priest-king convened Senior’s meeting. The main economic official of the state is mentioned, who was called <<Administrator>>. Many economic officials are also mentioned in Aratta such as tax collectors, superintendents, which show that the country had a developed state system. Certain information has reached about economic relations of Aratta and Sumer. People of Aratta imported wheat and other tiller products and instead exported metals and precious stones. Besides, construction materials - <<mountainous stones>> were sent to south. In Sumer as a force and vehicle jackasses were used, but in Aratta- horses. The use of horses in the economy and military-art brought unprecedented progress. In the Sumerian manuscripts information was preserved about the army of Aratta and its fortified capital. According to one of them, Sumerian army occupied the capital of Aratta of the same name, but after a year of occupation it couldn’t occupy it. <<They were throwing arrows  from the walls of Aratta all the year and like rain stones were thrown from slings the whole year. So the days and months passed and it became a year>>. One of the most important information about Aratta is the use of its own writing, which is also proved by the hieroglyphic monuments discovered in the Armenian Highland in the III millennium BC, which haven’t transcribed yet. In XXVIII – XXVII centuries architects from Aratta went to Sumer to build great buildings there. In XXVI –XXV centuries’ BC manuscripts the Subarians, settled in Mesopotamia, are mentioned as clerks, bakers, blacksmiths, gardeners, etc. The fact, that in the period of Aratta, the Armenian Highland was united into one cultural zone, which is accepted in the archaeological literature to call Early Bronze Age culture, is of great interest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Movsisyan A.