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Nakhichevan

 

          According to Movses Khorenatsi, the territory of Nakhichevan region had been part of the Ancient Armenian Kingdom as early as from the 6th century B.C. In his description of the deeds of the Armenian King Tigran Yervandyan the historian notes that the king “settled his wife and many maidens of his family together with the youths and numerous captured people in the eastern side of the great mountain which reached the borders of Goghtn, i.e., in Tambat, Oskiokh, Dajguin and other settlements. These people were also given three small towns, Khram, Jhukhu, Khoshakunik, as well as the valley on the opposite bank of the river from Ajhanakan to the fortress of Nakhichevan” (cf. “History of Armenia by Moses Khorenatsi”, 1858). The boundary stone with the Aramian inscription of the Armenian King Artashes I (189-160 B.C.) found on the foothill of Ishkhanasar, as well as other inscriptions found in the region around the Lake Sevan attributed to the same king confirm that in the 2nd century B.C. the District of Syunik constituted part of the Ancient Armenia (cf.: A.G. Perikhanyan, “Aramian Inscription from Zangezur”, Historical-Philological Magazine, 1965, No 4; A. Ya. Borisov “Inscriptions of Artaxia (Artashes), King of Armenia, 1946, No 2).

          According to Strabon, Syunik was inhabited by the Armenian ethnos. (Strabon, “Geography in 17 Books”, 1964, Vol. XI, XIV). It is stated in “The History” by Pavstos Byuzand that Nakhichevan was part of Armenia. Pavstos Byuzand mentioned that some of the people captured by Tigran II (71-70 B.C.) in Palestine were settled there. In the 4th century Nakhichevan, including other Armenian towns, was plundered by Shapuh II Sasanid, and thousands of Armenians and Jews were forcedly withdrawn from there (cf.: “History of Armenia” by Pavstos Byuzand, 1953).
          During the 6th and 7th centuries Nakhichevan suffered from the Persian-Byzantine wars, and in the 7th century it was enslaved by the Arabs. In 705 the Armenian noblemen and princes were invited to Nakhichevan by Mahmed, the Arab vice-regent and burnt alive (“History of Caliphs” by Vardapet Ghevond (VIII century), 1862).
          In 902 King Smbat I the Bagratid passed the dominion of Nakhichevan region to Ashot Artsrunid “for the support and contribution to the victory over the Kaysiks of Manavaz”. (History of Artsrunid Family, Archimandrite Thomas Arstunid, 1917). After the death of Ashot Artsrunid (904) Nakhichevan was handed over to Smbat, the reigning prince of Syunik. According to Iiohannes Draskhanakertid, “since Nakhichevan had been previously granted by the king to Smbat, the prince of Sisakan… the king did not wish to take away from the prince the title issued by himself”. (Iiohannes Draskhanakertid, “History of Armenia”, 1986).
          Stepanos Orbelyan (XIII century) refers to Nakhichevan (former Nakhchavan) as part of Syunik region: “…with the capital of Nakhichevan” where the Orbelyan and Proshyan Princes, as well as the representatives of other Armenian feudal clans ruled.
          Wilhelm de Rubruck (XIII century) who visited Nakhichevan wrote, “Formerly there used to be eighty Armenian churches while now only two small churches have survived and the rest was destroyed by the Sarratsins” (cf.: “Journey of Plano Karpini and Rubruck to Eastern Countries”, 1957).
          Nakhichevan town continued to be one of the centers of the Armenian culture in XIV - XVIII centuries. During the aforementioned period the scriptoria and schools of Nakhichevan played a significant role in the medieval Armenian manuscript art and pedagogy. Dozens of manuscripts created in Nakhichevan town have been preserved. (Metanadaran, Manuscript ## 3822, 3567, 3722, etc.).
          Julfa region which historically was the Province of Yernjak, Syunik Region, is included in Nakhichevan. According to “Ashkharatsuyuts” by Anania Shirakatsi (VII century), “The ninth province of Syunik covers the area between the River Yeraskh and Artsakh region eastwards of Airarat region, and has twelve gavars (districts): Yerbjak, Jauk, Vayotsdzor, Gelakuni with the sea of the same name, Sodk, Alaejk, Tsluk-Aband, Balk, Dzork, Arevik, Kosakan with the rivers of the same name, reaching the town of Nakhkorzean with the crossing of the same name, and the River Aghavno”. (“Ashkharatsuyts”, Movses Khorenatsi).
          The fortress Yernjak was the administrative center of the province. In the late 1100’s Yernjak Fortress and town Jauk belonged to Prince Yelikum Orbelyan. They had been passed to the possession of the latter as a gift from Atabek Eldkuz (Ildegiz). In the 13th century Yernjak and Gohgtn represented the second province of Syunik (Stepanos Orbelyan). Jugha (Julfa) was one of the large towns of the province.
          Shahbuz region which historically was Jauk Province of Syunik District, is part of Nakhichevan. Jauk was the hereditary estate of the reigning princes of Syunik (St. Orbelyan). Josepho Barbaro, a Venetian traveler wrote during his visit to Jauk in 1471-1473, “Town Jagri (Jauk) lies in front of me. Here Armenians live… they have two monasteries…with fifty monks''. The struggle against the hordes of Tamerlan in 1387 is one of the heroic episodes of the history of the fortress.
          Throughout the period covering the 8th to 14th centuries the region was under the Tatar-Mongol yoke, and in the course of the 14th to 18th centuries the territory became the arena of the Turkish-Persian wars.
          At the beginning of the 17th century, due to the forceful expulsion organized by Abbas I Shah the population of many of the Armenian towns and villages (Goghtn, Nalhichevan, Yernjak, Jugi, Jauk) fled from their homeland.
          The territory of the present Ordubad region is identical to the historical Armenian Province of Gokhtn. Movses Khorenatsi states that since long ago Goghtn Armenians lived in Gohgtn which was part of Sisakan (cf.: “History of Armenia” by Movses Khorenatsi).
          Goghtn is indicated in “Ashkharatsuyuts” as the 33rd province of the Armenian region of Vaspurakan. According to Thomas Artsrunid (X century), Goghtn continued to be part of Vaspurakan till the year of 737.
          Throughout the period from the 16th to the 17th centuries Nakhichevan was the subject of Chukhur of Saad (Yerevan Province).
After the collapse of the power of Nadir Shah (1747) Nakhichevan Khanate was established which was connected to Russia after the Russian-Turkish war in 1826-1828.
          Under Turkmenchay Agreement (1828) (Details in: www.genocide.ru) Yerevan and Nakhichevan Khanates, as well as Ordubad District were passed to Russia.
          According to the order of Nikolay I of March 20, 1828, immediately after the conclusion of Turkmanchay Agreement Nakhichevan and Yerevan Khanates which had been connected to Russia were merged into the Armenian Province. The province constituted Yerevan, Nakhichevan and Ordubad districts (“Collection of Documents Related to History of Survey of the Armenian Nation”).
          From December 9, 1867 Transcaucasus was divided into five provinces: Kutayisi, Tbilisi, Yelisavetpol and Baku. In addition to seven other districts, Nakhichevan district was also included in Yerevan province.
          In 1918-1920, as a result of two Turkish invasions, part of the Armenians populace (25000 persons) of the former Nakhichevan province (later – a district) was assassinated by the Turkish occupants and bands of Mousafats, and part of them was forced to leave their homeland.
          On March 16, 1921 the Soviet Russia and Turkey entered into an agreement in Moscow, which defined that Nakhichevan was passed to the Soviet Azerbaijan “with the status of an autonomous territory”. In the context of the international law the conclusion of the aforementioned agreement was apparently an illegitimate action: two states decided on passing the territory of a third state without the latter’s consent to the fourth state (Details in: Moscow Agreement www.genocide. ru)
          In order to give a legally acceptable form to the agreement, in the same year it was renewed in Kars (Details in: Kars Agreement www.genocide.ru) with the participation of the Soviet Transcaucasus republics: “The Turkish government and the Soviet governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia agree that Nakhichevan region constitutes an autonomous region (with its borders as defined in the Annex of this Agreement) under the protection of Azerbaijan”. It should be noted that the wording read not “the composition”, but “under the protection” of the Soviet Azerbaijan. It was beyond any doubt that Nakhichevan was an Armenian territory which was passed to the protection of the Soviet Azerbaijan deriving from the interests of the world revolution.
          Otherwise, how could an Azerbaijani territory be passed to the protection of Azerbaijan itself?
          The fact that province was one of the authentic Armenian regions is proven by the rich heritage that is preserved in the cultural centers of Nakhichevan. In the medieval ages dozens of cultural centers with Armenian schools existed in Goghtn, Jauk, Yernjak, Agulis and other regions of Nakhichevan province. The masterpieces of the Armenian miniature art and manuscripts are indicative of the high skills of the Nakhichevan scribes and painters. Numerous monuments of the Armenian architecture were erected. Many of them have been preserved and still exist in the gorges and valleys of Agulis, Ordubad, Vananda, Tskhni, Gilan and Bist.
          According to the statistics of the census in 1897, 34 ,672 Armenians lived in Nakhichevan (34,4%). In 1926 their number was 11,276 (10,8%), and in 1979, as a result of the Armeniophobic policy of the Azerbaijani authorities, only 3406 (1,4%) of Armenians lived in Nakhichevan. At present not a single Armenian lives in Nakhichevan.      

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