Monday, January 23, 2017

Exploring Armenia’s Hidden Past

Armenia is a small and mountainous country of peaks and high plateaus cut by river valleys. It was the first to embrace Christianity as a state religion.

Powerful old stone churches are silhouetted on the hilltops and tucked into the valleys at-testing to Armenian fortitude. Tragedy and triumph have become dual themes that are indelibly woven into the fabric of its history.
In 2013 and 2014, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago conducted excavations at the medieval village of Ambroyi in the Republic of Armenia. This excavation represent-ed an innovation in the study of medieval archaeology of Ar-menia, which had primarily focused on large urban centers.

The excavations revealed that village life continued in Armenia despite the Mongol conquest of the region in the 13th century and provides valuable information about vil-lage life that can be compared to villages that have been excavated in the wider region. This talk will discuss the vil-lage of Ambroyi and its significance to our understanding of Armenian archaeology of the medieval period.

Dr. Tasha K. Vorderstrasse received her PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Chicago 2004. Her work concentrates on the material culture of the Near East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia and the interactions between these regions and China.

Most Americans have check-ered understanding of Armenia or Armenians. The history, at best is inscrutable. Ef-forts to grasp historical meaning of the Transcaucasus al-low for few exceptions. Transcaucasia roughly corresponds to modern Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Ar-menians living in the Ottoman Empire. Though reports vary, most sources agree that there were about 2 million Armeni-ans in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre.

By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. To-day, most historians call this event a genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people.

However, the Turkish government does not acknowledge the enormity or scope of these events. Despite pressure from Armenians and social justice advocates throughout the world, it is still illegal in Turkey to talk about what happened to Armenians during this era.

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