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Prehistoric Armenia facts for kids

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Armenian Empire
Tigranes the Great's Empire

The prehistory of Armenia means the first people in the land of Armenia.

The first excavations in Armenia, were by Russian savants in 1876, brought to light a burial-ground near Dilijan in which were prehistoric (before history) graves. Jacques de Morgan in 1887-89 dug up 576 graves around Alaverdi and Akhatala, on the Tiflis-Alexandropol railway line.

Paleolithic

The most recent and important excavation is at the Nor Geghi 1 Stone Age site in the Hrazdan river valley. Thousands of 325,000 year-old artifacts show that human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the Old World, rather than spreading from a single point of origin (usually hypothesized to be Africa), as was previously thought.

Neolithic

The sites of Aknashen and Aratashen in the Ararat plain region are believed to belong to the Neolithic period. The Mestamor archaeological site, located to the southwest of Armenian village of Taronik in the Armavir Province, also shows evidence of settlement starting from the Neolithic era.

Bronze Age

Zorats Karer 2008, part of the stone circle
Bronze Age burial site Zorats Karer (also known as Karahunj).

An early Bronze-Age culture in the area is the Kura-Araxes culture, assigned to the period between c. 4000 and 2200 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), proceeding westward and to the south-east into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van. Early 20th-century scholars suggested that the name Armenian may have possibly been recorded for the first time on an inscription which mentions Armanî (or Armânum) together with Ibla, from territories conquered by Naram-Sin (2300 BC) identified with an Akkadian colony in the current region of Diyarbekir; however, the precise locations of both Armani and Ibla are unclear. Today, the Modern Assyrians (who traditionally speak Neo-Aramaic, however, not Akkadian) refer to the Armenians by the name Armani. The word is also speculated to be related to the Mannaeans, which may be identical to the biblical Minni.

The earliest forms of the word Hayastan, an ethonym the Armenians (Hayer) use to designate their country, might possibly come from Hittite sources of the Late Bronze Age, such as the kingdom of Hayasa-Azzi. Another record mentioned by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars". However, what all these attestations refer to cannot be determined with certainty, and the earliest certain attestation of the name Armenia comes from the Behistun Inscription (c. 500 BC).

Iron Age

Influencedurartu1
The territory of the Armenian language appears to have been roughly coincidental with Hurrian and closely related Urartian (with Dark shading). The poorly known and presumably related non-Indo-European Etio language was to its north. Many of these languages occupied partially or wholly the earlier territory of the Kuro-Araxes culture (light shading). The nearest Indo-European-speaking neighbors of the Armenians were the Gutians and Hittites (including the Luvians and Palaic-speaking peoples), none of which spoke languages closely related to Armenian. Assyrian was a non-Indo-European language. Burials with wheeled vehicles have been uncovered at Trialeti and Lchashen.

The main object of early Assyrian incursions into Armenia was to obtain metals. The iron-working age followed that of bronze everywhere, opening a new epoch of human progress. Its influence is noticeable in Armenia, and the transition period is well marked. Tombs whose metal contents are all of bronze are of an older epoch. In most of the cemeteries explored, both bronze and iron furniture were found, indicating the gradual advance into the Iron Age.

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