Armenia from Ethnogenesis to the Dark Ages

History 177A

Spring 2014
Day & Time: 
TuTh 330-5P

This survey course will cover close to three millennia of Armenian history, from the process of ethnogenesis to the almost complete destruction of the Armenian "feudal" system by the end of the fifteenth century. Much as this course is based on the broad framework of Armenian political history and institutions (kingship, nakharar system, the church, etc.), it also emphasizes economic development, social change, and cultural transformations. We will reflect upon a number of themes. For instance, how could a small nation survive whose homeland was located both at the crossroads of major invasions and population movements and along the fault planes of powerful empires? What did it mean to be Armenian in Antiquity or the Middle Ages? What impact did the adoption of Christianity by the Armenian state make on the fate of this nation? The more specific topics to be covered will include the following: the ethnic origins of the Armenian people; the subsequent formation of the Armenian nation; the Yervanduni, Artashesian, Arshakuni, and Bagratuni dynasties; the transformation of a tribal society into a particular kind of "feudal";society; the Christianization of Armenia and the development of an early medieval literate culture; Armenian historiography and self-perception; trade and cities; the Cilician kingdom; and the impact of Turkic, Mongol, and Turkoman invasions on Armenian social, political, and cultural life.