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Ancient Armenia

The earliest mention of Armenia is in the Old Testament of the Bible. The mountain Ararat where Noah's Ark is believed to have landed after the Great Flood is in Armenia. Evidences of civilization in Armenia dating as far back as 4000 BC have been discovered by archeologists. Armenia was part of the Hittite Empire, the Hayasa- Azzi colony, and the Kingdom of Urartu at various times. The Kingdom of Armenia grew and prospered between 331 BC and 428 AD. Prior to the establishment of the kingdom, Armenia was a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire.

Early Days
With the fall of the Kingdom of Urartu, Armenia was annexed by the Achaemenid Empire as part of the eighteenth satrapy, Armina. Orontes I established the Orontid Dynasty that ruled Armenia. The early Orontid rulers pledged allegiance to the Achaemenid Dynasty. But by 331 BC the Orontes II died fighting for Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela and the later Orontid rulers declared the independence of the Kingdom of Armenia. The Seleucid rulers were unhappy with the independent reign in Armenia and Orontes III went up against King Artiochus II. In 272 BC Orontes was defeated and paid the Seleucids a huge war indemnity. In about 200 BC, King Antiochus III, the Seleucid king stirred up a revolt against Orontes IV. The kingdom was taken over by Artaxias I, a Seleucid loyalist.

Artaxiad Armenia
The Seleucid Empire was defeated by the Romans in 190 BC in the Battle of Magnesia. s Artaxias I took the opportunity to declare his Armenian territory independent of Seleucid rule. He annexed the neighboring Armenian highlands and established a new capital at Artaxata. Artaxias I is believed to have extended the hospitality of his court to Hannibal Barca, the Carthaginian general. Much of the prosperity of the Kingdom of Armenia is attributed to the strategic position of Artaxata on the Black Sea trade routes. This made trade with distant nations such as India and Bactria convenient.

Tigranes the Great
King Tigranes II, referred to in historic records as Tigranes the Great, was the greatest king of the Kingdom of Armenia. In the course of his reign, from 95 BC to about 55 BC, Tigranes II expanded the boundaries of Armenia from the Mediterranean coast to the Kura River in the Caucasus Mountains and included most of modern day Iran, Lebanon, Syria and parts of Turkey. His acquisition of Syria in 83 BC marked the peak of the kingdom's expansion.

Rule of the Romans and the Arsacids
The Roman influence on Armenia showed a steady rise following the defeat of Mithridates VI in the Battle of Tigranocerta. In about 34 BC the Romans led by Mark Anthony defeated the Armenians but did not annex the kingdom. Augustus used Armenia as a neutral land in his peace negotiations with Parthia. A number of Roman sponsored kings ruled Armenia in the first half of the first century AD. But Armenia soon became a matter of contention between the Parthians and the Romans. Through the first and early second centuries Armenia was the seat of a power struggle between the Romans and the Parthia. By 166 AD, Armenia was part of the Arsacid Empire.

In 287 AD, Tiridates III reestablished the Kingdom of Armenia with he support of the Romans. He adopted Christianity and declared Armenia a Christian state in 301 AD. By 387 AD the region was split and incorporated by Romans and the Persians marking the end of the the Kingdom of Armenia.
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