Ararat: The Ancient Kingdom of Armenia

Between the years 1300 and 600 B.C. the virile kingdom of Ararat rose to be a large empire, which long held the Assyrians at bay.

The existence of the Kingdom of Ararat, or Urartu, was unknown until the year 1823 when a French scholar, J. Saint-Martin, chanced upon a passage in the ‘History of Armenia’ by Movses Khorenatzi (Moses of Khorene), the Armenian historian of the sixth century A.D., which aroused his curiosity.

It tells the Armenian legend about the unrequited love of Queen Shamiram of Assyria (the Greek Semira-mis) for Ara the Beautiful, a legendary king of Armenia. Her pride wounded, Shamiram went to war against Ara but gave strict orders to her warriors not to harm him. Unfortunately, a chance arrow killed him, and the unconsolable queen decided to remain in Armenia, the land of her hero.

The story continues to the effect that in the shadow of ‘an oblong-shaped mountain’, on the eastern shores of the great salt-lake Van, the queen built a marvellous city, with a fabulous palace for herself. Then, on the eastern side of the mountain ‘over the whole surface of the rock, as if it were on wax, she caused a great many characters to be traced...’

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