History 132H – History of Ancient & Medieval Armenia

This course is a survey of Armenia and the Armenian people from pre-history to the fourteenth century CE. The course will focus on the kingdom of Urartu and the development of the Armenian nation and its encounter with their neighboring people. The course will also cover the development of important religions in Armenia, from the cult of Mithraism, one of the most important traditions in the Mediterranean World to Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Armenians & Iranians. Finally, the development of Christianity in Armenia and the interaction with Zoroastrianism and Islam will be studied. The course will also focus on the social and political system of Armenia, from the idea of Armenian kingship to the development of the Naxarar system. The course will pay attention on the Arshakuni and the Marzpanate period in relation to the Sasanian and the Roman Empires. Finally, the literary and artistic output of Armenia for its own history will be previewed.

Professor: Touraj Daryaee
T-TH 5:00 pm – 6:20 pm
Humanities Hall 143
Office: 324 Krieger Hall
Office Hours:
T-Th 2:3:30pm & by Appointment



There will be a written midterm and a final (50% each). There are no makeup exams. The exam includes short identification questions along with one or two major essays. The final exam is not cumulative.

G.A. Bournoutian, A Concise History of the Armenian People, Mazda Publishers, 2002.

C. Toumanoff, “Introduction to Christian Caucasian History: II. States and Dynasties of the Formative Period,” Traditio, vol. 17, 1961, pp. 1-106.

Week I: Armenian Geography, Historiography and the Nation (January 10th / No Class on the 12th)

Readings: Bournoutian “Highlands and Crossroads: TheLandofArmenia”

S. Astourian’s “In Search of their Forefathers. National Identity and the Historiography and Politics of Armenian and Azerbijani Ethnogeneses” eds, Schwartz D.V., Panossian R. (eds.), Nationalism and history: the politics of nation building in post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, University of Toronto Centre for Russian and East European Studies (1994), pp- 41-94.

Week II: Urartu & the Indo-European Armenians (1000-550 BCE) (January 17, 20)

Readings: Bournoutian “Ara and Semiramis: Urartu, theFirstKingdominArmenia”

Primary Sources: Moses Khorenats‘i, History of the Armenians, Sections 4-13.

M. van Loon “The Inscription of Ishpuini and Meinua at Qalatagh, Iran” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 34, no. 3, 1975, pp. 201-207; E. Yamauchi, “The Scythians: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes,” The Biblical Archaeologist, vol. 46, no. 2, 1983, pp. 90-99; V.V. Ivanov, “The Indo-European Homeland in the Near East: New Evidence,” Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, vol. 175, no. 3, 2007.

Week III: From Achaemenids to the Ervandunis / Orantids (550-200 BCE) (January 24, 26th)

Readings: Bournoutian “Satraps to Kings: The Yevandunis”

Primary Sources: Darius’ Behistun Inscription; Xenophon’s Anabasis, Book 4.4-5 http://rbedrosian.com/Classic/anab4.htm

D.T. Potts, “Darius and the Armenians,” Iranistik, vol. 5, nos. 1-2, 2006-2007;

Week IV: The Artaxid Dynasty & Tigran the Great (190 BCE – 1 CE) (Jan. 31, Feb. 2)

Readings: Bournoutian “Between Roman Legions and Parthian Cavalry”

Primary Sources: Strabo’s Geography, Book 11.14: http://rbedrosian.com/Classic/strabo11d.htm

G. Traina, “Hellenism in the East: Some Historiographical Remarks,” Electrum, vol. 6, 2002.

J.R. Russell, “Some Iranian Imagery of Kingship in the Armenian Artaxid Epic,” REArm, vol. 20, 1986-7.

J.R. Russell, “The Lost Epic of Tigran: A Reconstruction based upon Fragments,” Armenian and Iranian Studies, Harvard.

Week V: The Aršakuni Dynasty (54-428 CE) (February 7, 9)

Readings: Bournoutian “The Arsacid / Arshakuni Dynasty” / Toumanoff

Primary Sources: Agathangelos

E. Dabrowa, “The Arsacid Empire,” ed. T. Daryaee, The Oxford History of Iran, 2012.

T. Daryaee, “A Contribution on Mithra’s Role in the Armenian, Iranian and the Roman World,” H. Mahamedi Memorial Volume 2011: http://tourajdaryaee.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/daryaee-article-mithra-armenia.pdf

N. Adontz, “The Feudal Basis on the Naxarar System,” in Armenia in the Period of Justinian, 1970.

N. Garsoian, “Prolegomena to A Study of the Iranian Aspects in Arsacid Armenia,” Armenia between Byzantium and the Sasanians, 1985.

N. Garsoian, “The Iranian Substratum of the “Agathangełos” Cycle,” ed. N.G. Garsoian et. al., East of Byzantium, 1982.

**Midterm (February 14th)**

Week VI: Mithraism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity: Religion & Literature inArmenia (February 16, 21)

Readings: Primary Sources: Agathangelos, History of the Armenians, “The Pagan Shrines are Overthrown” Chapter 10; G. Muradyan & A. Tophcyan, The Romance of Artaban and Artašir in Agahangelos’ History: http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/pdf/eSasanika4-topchyan.pdf

History of Vardan and the Armenian War: http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/pdf/Elishe.pdf

R.D. Young, “The conversion of Armeniaas a Literary Work,” eds. C.B. Kendall et. al., Conversion to Christianity from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age, 2009.

J.R. Russell, “On the Origins and Invention of the Armenian Script,” Le Muséon, vol. 107, 1994.

J.R. Russell, “Pre-Christian Armenian Religion,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, II, vol 18, no. 4, 1990.

J.R. Ruseell, “The Armeno-Iranian Roots of Mithraism,” ed. J. Hinnells, Studies in Mithraism, 1994.

Week VII:Armenia between SasanianIran &Rome (428-650 CE) (February 23, 28)

Readings: Bournoutian “FireTemplesand Icons” / Toumanoff

Primary Sources: History of Vardan and the Armenian War: http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/pdf/Armenianletter.pdf

P. Cowe, “Elišē’s ‘Armenian War’ as a Metaphor for Spiritual Life,” From Byzantium to Iran. Armenian Studies in Honour of Nina G. Garsoian, 1997.

R.W. Thomson, “Elišē’s History of Vardan: New Light From Old Sources,” ed. Th. J. Samuelian, Classical Armenian Culture. Influences and Creativity, 1982.

T. Greenwood, “Sasanian Reflections in Armenian Sources,” http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/pdf/e-sasanika5-Greenwood.pdf

Week VIII: The Arab Conquest: Between Islam and the Christian World (650-860 CE) (March 1, 6)

Readings: Bournoutian “A People of the Book”

Primary Sources: History of Łewond the Eminent Vardapet of the Armenians

The History of Al-Tabari: The Conquest of al-Bāb, vol. 14, pp. 34-38.

P. Cowe, “The Politics of Poetics: Islamic Influence on Armenian verse,” ed. J.J. van Ginkel et. al, Redefining Christian Identity, 2005.

Week IX: The Bagratuni Dynasty (861-1118 CE) (March 8, 13)

Readings: Bournoutian “ALandofManyCrowns: The Bagratuni Dynasty”

C. Toumanoff, “Baratids,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/bagratids-dynasty

Week X: The CilicianKingdom ofArmenia and Turkic Migration (1198-1375 CE) (March 15)

Readings: Bournoutian “From Majority to Minority”

Final Examination: March 22th 4:00-6:00pm

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