Observations from My Quest for Authenticity, Truth and the Origins of the World

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In my ongoing search for authenticity, truth, and the origins of the world, I revisit my observations from a 2017 trip to the major cities, towns, and archaeological sites of historic Armenia.

I was mainly drawn to the high level Armenian aesthetics and technical standards of art, architecture and stone carving. I studied most of the museums in the region, and I enriched my knowledge with historical material.

I have drawn the following conclusions from my personal visit and autopsy to historic Armenia.

The Armenians are most likely an ancient Mesopotamian nation, descending from Urartu and Hur. Ur-Hur-Ar (Ararat) – Ar (Armenia) radicals strongly support this conclusion.

There is a historical continuity of the Armenian people in the ancient Armenian Plateau/Upper Mesopotamia and its surroundings.

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The Lake Van Citadel on the rock of Lake Van overlooking the city of Van, the ancient acropolis of Urartu in cuneiform script (resulting from Urartu/Assyrian interaction) on the slopes surrounding Lake Van and the multiple Armenian monasteries remaining on the slopes and on the four islands of Lake Van (Lim, Gdouts, Aghtamar and Arteri) are all historical imprints of the same civilization in continuity and transformation. They highlight the passage from the ancient world to the Christian world.

Cuneiform script at the entrance to Urartu Castle, shore of Lake Van, October 2017 (Photo: Dr Anastasios Mavrakis)

The ancient Urartu/Mesopotamian monuments and the modern Christian Armenian monuments of Lake Van face each other in a dialectical relationship between the ancient and the modern, the past and the present of the Armenian civilization, of which Lake Van is the epicenter .

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Famous and prosperous Armenian cities were built under the acropolises/fortresses of Urartu, as is the case in Van, Kharpert, Palu, Kars and Yerevan (Erebuni).

The ancient Armenian cemetery of Urfa, at the foot of the hill of the Armenian district of Urfa, includes the Armenian mansions and the church.

Urfa, hill and Armenian cemetery, November 2017 (Photo: Dr Anastasios Mavrakis)

The multiple partitions and genocides of the Armenian nation are impossible to ignore, notably in 387 AD and 591 AD between the Greco-Byzantines (Rum) and the Persians and in 1555 AD and 1639 AD between the Ottoman Turks and the Persians . The Third Partition in 1555 AD led to the massive population movement and forced migration to Persia and the formation of the Persian-Armenian community. It is also important to mention the forced mass movement of Armenians to Cilicia by the Greco-Byzantine (Rum) in the 11th century to oppose the Arab invasions, the Hamidian massacres between 1894-1896, the massive genocide of 1915, the population exchange between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1988, the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007 and the Artsakh war in 2020.

As I carefully traveled through the cities of historic Armenia, I realized that one of the reasons for the Armenian Genocide was the stark discrepancy in socio-economic levels between Armenians and neighboring nations, especially Kurds and Turks.

View of Armenian houses in Bitlis from Alexander Castle, October 2017 (Photo: Dr. Anastasios Mavrakis)

This is clearly seen walking through the streets of Bitlis with the beautifully preserved Armenian tuff (volcanic stone) houses, the streets of Arapgir with the elaborate multi-storey Armenian mansions and the Armenian quarter of Anteb with the magnificent Armenian cut stone structures, now converted into cafes.

Arapgir, Armenian mansion, January 2018 (Photo: Dr Anastasios Mavrakis)

Turks and Kurds, mostly nomadic nations, were introduced to architecture and housing by Armenians, Greeks and others.

This socio-economic mismatch most likely led to an envious desire to confiscate and appropriate Armenian property, as is the case with the Sanassarian College in Erzurum, where Kemal Atatürk proclaimed the resolutions of the Erzurum Congress in 1919.

There are also testimonies that the wealthiest Armenian merchants were summoned by the Turkish authorities before the start of the death marches in 1915 and were forced to hand over all their possessions.

The Armenians were also victims of the German-Turkish alliance and interests and Russian expansionist aspirations, in an effort to control the Black Sea and the Caucasus.

Facing an existential threat, Armenians continued to suffer in 2020 with the Artsakh War and Cultural Genocide – eradication of Armenian cultural and historical identity/memory and consciousness.

Modern Turkish national consciousness and identity was built on the falsification and destruction of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek national consciousness and identity. These dispositions are encouraged very early in the Turkish educational system and perpetrated by a fanatical and aggressive political ideology.

The resilience of the Armenian nation despite continuous persecutions, mass deportations and genocides is remarkable. A characteristic example is the Museum of Modern Art in Yerevan. It is a symbol of Armenia’s resistance to central Soviet dogma. Armenia was reluctantly forced to surrender to the Soviet Union in 1920 to survive Turkish aggression, which resulted in another partition of Armenia, this time between the Soviet Union and Turkey, and l oppression of Armenia by the Soviet authorities that resulted. lasted until 1991.

Armenian culture also emphasizes education, as evidenced by the multiple Armenian universities in historic Armenia, mostly run by American and European professors, such as Euphrates College in Kharpert, founded in 1852 and destroyed after the Genocide. , with most teachers. tortured and executed.

Religion and education are linked in the Armenian tradition, similar to the Greek tradition. The theological manuscripts are artistically beautifully illustrated. The schools promoted philosophy, sciences, law, history and humanities. They safeguarded the cultural and historical identity of the Armenian nation. The connection of cultural and historical identity to the Divine responds to the psychological need for an amulet – the call to the Divine expresses the psychological need for resilience and survival in adverse conditions in the form of prayer or a wish for protection. Similarly, ancient Greek texts are copied and preserved in the Greek monasteries of Asia Minor.

The Armenian nation has also made significant cultural contributions, especially in the fields of architecture, sculpture, and music. Having carved out the volcanic soil of Upper Mesopotamia since ancient times, the Armenians have proven themselves to be among the best architects in the world. This is exemplified by Ani Cathedral designed by architect Trdat, who also rebuilt the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople when it collapsed in 989 AD. Other examples of exquisite Armenian architecture are the magnificent dome of the zhamatun of the Horomos monastery in Ani, the still standing khachkars from Surp David Abrank in Erzincan, the magnificent stone carving of the Armenian Holy Cross Cathedral on Akhtamar Island, the stunning Gothic arches of the interiors of Surp Garabed and Surp Asdvadzadzin churches in Chunkush, the elaborate architecture of Dadivank and Gandzasar in Artsakh, among many others.

Gdouts Island, Lake Van, October 2017 (Photo: Dr Anastasios Mavrakis)

I observed the multiple and different styles of Armenian architecture, both in urban and rural areas, using tuff in Yerevan and Bitlis, ashlar in Anteb and black stone in Diyarbakir. I loved the beautifully illustrated Armenian manuscripts in the Matenadaran Museum in Yerevan, as well as the Soghomon Soghomonian (Komitas) collection of Armenian folk songs.

Armenian culture marks the transition from the ancient world to the Christian world. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD and serves as a buffer on trade and cultural routes between West and East.

I would also like to note some historical parallels between the Armenian and Greek nations, such as the destruction of Greek Smyrna in 1922 and the destruction of Armenian Van between 1915 and 1918; the formation of Greek communities in the Santa Mountains (Eptakomi) in Trebizond and Armenian communities in the Zeitun Mountains, in an effort of protection and resistance; as well as the population exchange in 1988 between Armenia and Azerbaijan; in 1922 between Greece and Turkey and in 1974 between Christian and Muslim Cypriots. The Constantinopolitan Greek-Rum community owes much to the Armenian presence, culture, and prosperity in the city.

Recognizing the multiple and ongoing genocides against the Armenian nation is essential to appreciate Armenian historical/cultural memory/consciousness; safeguarding Armenian heritage; preserve Armenian monuments and memory/identity; and to recognize the significant contribution of the continuing Urartu-Armenian civilization to the birth of Renaissance/Western culture, serving as both the cradle and the easternmost frontier.

Locals often asked me during my trip why I preferred to visit Armenian monuments. My answer was direct and simple: because Armenian monuments are the most beautiful.

Dr Anastasios Mavrakis

Originally from Athens, Greece, Dr. Anastasios Mavrakis is a graduate of Athens University School of Medicine. He has completed residencies and fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is now a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Mavrakis is fluent in Greek, English, Spanish, German and French and speaks Turkish. He is interested in the preservation of historical memory and historical awareness and in the photography of endangered monuments. A student of Ancient Greek, Dr. Mavrakis is also particularly interested in the study of ancient civilizations still living in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and Mesopotamian-Armenian, Greek and Jewish.

Dr Anastasios Mavrakis
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