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The first agricultural settlement near Lake Van in Armenia was established around 6000 BCE . The Kingdom of Urartu arose near Lake Van c. 1300 BCE but it fell to the Assyrians. Around that time, proto-Armenians who spoke an Indo-European language migrated from the west onto the Armenian Plateau and mingled with the local people of the Hurrian civilization.  Hurrian civilization had its center in Mesopotamia and extended into Anatolia. The Armenian language e-Haieren is an independent branch of the Indo-European group of languages. Armenians called themselves hai (from Hayk - a legendary hero) and their country Haiastan. The name Armenia was first mentioned in an inscription of the Persian King Darius I in 521 BCE. It was written in three languages on the Behistun cliff near the city of Kermanshah. It was called Armina in the Persian, Harminia in the Elamic and Urashtu in the Babylonian language. Ancient Greek historians referred to the people as Armenians, a term derived according to legend from the Armen tribe.

The rise of Persian Empire brought the eastern portion of Armenia under Achaemenian rule. Armenia remained as a satrapy of Persia for several centuries. Persian coins were in circulation in Armenia during this period.

Satraps under Persian rule

Orontes I  (c. 401-344 BCE)
Codomannus/Darius III (c. 344-336 BCE)
Orontes II  (c. 336 -325 BCE)

Alexander sent his commander Mithrenes to occupy Armenia in 331 BCE. There was no mention his success in the record and some believe he died during the battle. The persian satrap of Armenia named Orontes made his submission to Alexander after the victory at Gaugamela and was allowed to be satrap of Armenia under Macedonian control. After Alexander's death, Armenia was given to Seleukos I.  The Seleucids of Syria allowed the choice of its rulers. Coins of Seleucid were in circulation in Armenia during this period.

Satraps under Seleucid rule

Mithranesc (c.325-317 BCE)
Orontes III (c. 317-260 BCE)
Samus  (c.260 BCE)
Arsames  (c. 260-230 BCE)
Xerxes  (c. 230-212 BCE)
Orontes IV  (c. 212-200 BCE)

Romans overthrew the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III in 190 BCE. Artaxias and Zariadris were ruling Armenia at that time. They declared themselves kings - Artaxias in Armenia and Zariadris in Sophene. Thus began Armenia as an independent country again with the Artaxid dynasty. Tigranes I (grandson of Artaxias) annexed the neighboring countries and enlarged the size of Armenia. Armenia was a strong slave owning state with a complex class structure. Shinakans (peasants) worked on lands owned by the King and mshaks (slaves) worked on private lands of the Nobles. The priests and the nobles also owned slaves. Armenia became one of the powerful states in the southwestern part of Asia under King Tigran II (Tigranes or Tigran the Great ). During his reign (95-55 BCE), Greater Armenia stretched from the mediterranean sea in the southwest to the Mtkvari river (Kura in Azerbaijan) in present day Georgia in the north and Caspian sea in the east. He built a new capital named Tigranocerta (present day Farkin). He started to issue the first coins of Armenia.

List of Armenian Kings

Artaxias (c.190-164 BCE) no coins known.

Artavasdes I (c. 165-159 BCE) no coins known.

Tigranes I (c. 159-96 BCE)

Tigranes II (c. 95-56 BCE)

Artavasdes II (c. 55-34 BCE)

Artaxias II (c. 30-20 BCE)

Tigranes III (c. 20-8 BCE)

Tigranes IV (c. 8-5 BCE)

Artavasdes III (c. 5-2 BCE)

Tigranes IV and Queen Erato (c. 2 BCE)

Tigranes V (c. 3 BCE)

Queen Erato  (c. 3 BCE-8 CE)

Vonones (c. 10-18 CE)
(Expelled Parthian King ruling from Armenia)

Artaxias III (c. 18-34 CE)

Arsaces/Arshak I (c.34-36 CE)

Mithridates (c.36-51 CE)

Radamistus  (c.52-54 CE)

The independent empire built by Tigran II was slowly destroyed by the Romans who were expanding their empire into Asia. The  Roman generals Lucullus and Pompey the Great were instrumental in that task. Western Armenia fell under the influence of Rome and the eastern part fell to the influence of Parthians by 30 BCE. The last Artaxid ruler of Armenia was Artaxias III (18 -34 CE).

Armenia was not united under a single ruler and it was usually divided between Roman and Parthian empires. Each empire picked a local Armenian king to rule.  In 53 CE, the Romans and the Parthians agreed for Tiridates I (brother of the Parthian king) to be the king of Armenia and starting an Arsacid dynasty.


Tiridates I (c.53-63 CE)

Tigranes VI (c. 60-62 CE)

? (c. 62-110 CE)

Axidares (c. 113-114 CE)

Sanatruces (c. 115 CE)

Vologases I (c. 117-142 CE)

? (c. 143-160 CE)

Pacorus (c. 160-163 CE)

Sohaemus (c. 163-175 CE)

? (c. 175-215 CE)

Valarsh II (c. 215 CE)

Tiridates II (c. 217-252 CE)

Tiridates III (c. 287-330 CE)

Khosrov II (c.331-338 CE)

Tigranes (c.338-350 CE)

Arsaces II (c. 350-367 CE)

Arsacides lost their Persian throne to the Sassanids in 226 CE and Armenia declared itself against the Sassanids. It led to a conflict between the two countries for next two centuries. Western Armenia remained under Roman influence. Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 CE and later on influenced by Byzantine Empire. Armenia came under Sassanid rule in 428 CE and remained under it till 633 CE.

Armenia was later conquered and ruled by  Arab Empires, Byzantine Empire, Mongols and Turks between 633 - 1917 CE. The last Armenian state was annexed in the fourteenth century to became a part of Ottoman Empire. However, an outlying Kingdom of Cilician Armenia in the Taurus Mountains survived as an independent state through the middle ages. Armenia emerged as an independent republic in 1918 after the Ottoman empire collapsed. In 1922, the Soviet Union occupied Armenia and for the next 70 years it remained as a soviet republic.  Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on September 23, 1991. What a journey from 1300 BCE to 1991 CE !


Bickerman, E. J., Chronology of the Ancient World, Cornell University Press, USA, 1968-1982.
Chahin, M., The Kingdom of Armenia, Dorset Press, USA, 1991.
Cook, J. M.,  The Persian Empire, USA, 1983.
Errington,  R. M.,  Diodorus Siculus and the Chronology of the Early Diadochoi 320-311 BC, 1977.


Ancient Country List