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Artsakh from ancient times till 1994 artsakh from ancient times till 1918

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Nagorno-Krabakh (Armenian name Artsakh) occupies the eastern and southeastern mountainous and foothills regions of the Caucasus Minor, composing the northeastern part of the Armenian plateau. It archly stretches from the mountains, surrounding from the east the basin of Lake Sevan, to the southeast, as far as the river Yeraskh (Araks).

In different periods of the history primary sources called the land various names: Urtekhe-Urtekhini, Orkhistene, Artsakh, Tsavdek, Khachen, Karabakh.

The first evidences of the ancient history of the land dates back to the Acheul period of the early palaeolith (500-100 thousand years ago).These are the ancient tools and osteological materials, found in the caves of Vorvan-Azokh, Tsakhach, Unotand Khoradzor.The maxilla of the Neanderthal man,discovered in Vorvan-Azokh,has a special significance for studying the anthropogenes process.

The excavations of the settlements as well as burial places of the bronze and iron epochs (Stepanakert, Khojaly, Krkjan, Amaras, Madaghis, the valleys of Khachenaget and Ishkhanaget) evidence that the territory was the part of the so called Kuro-Araks cultural system,4-3millenium BC.

For indoeuropeistics the unique for Caucasian region huge barrows (Stepanakert, the valley of Khachenaget), dating back to the 3-rd millenium BC,is of special significance. According to a numder of researchers it is these barrows that are the first evidences of the Indo-Europeans' ancient activity.

At the beginning of the first millenium BC Artsakh entered the political-cultural sphere of Assyria and Urartu. In one of the Khodjalu barrows a sardione cornelian, bearing the name of the Assyrian king Adad-Nirari was discovered.The cuneiform inscription of Urartu king Sardur II discovered near the village of Tsovk evidences that his troops reached the country of Urtekhini (Artsakh).

The State Urartu (Bible name is Ararat) and tribes, constituting its part,were of particular importance in formation of the Armenian people. After the Urartu Kingdom fall (in the early 6 th century BC) Armenian ethnic groups began to play an active role in the region. Since its existence it had to resist to the supremacy of Midiya. In 550-331's the Armenian Kingdom , including Artsakh, was under the Percia's rule.

The borders of the Armenian State , by the Artashessians' dynasty in the early 2nd century BC, passed along the river Kur .According to the evidence of a number of Greek-Roman primary sources, they were also the northeastern borders of the spread Armenian ethnic element. Artsakh, constituting a part of the above mentioned state, was ruled by the Aranshahik local kin(the legend about the origin of the Armenians says that the patriarch of this kin Aran is the descendant of the Armenians' forefather Hike).In the middle of the 1 st century BC Armenia became the most powerful state of Asia Front. Armenian king Tigran Mets (Tigran the Great), attaching great importance to Artsakh, built here Artsakh Tigranakert , one of the four towns of those times, bearing his name . Ruins of this town are in the environs of the present Agdam. In the place of the ancient town there remained barrows, stone sculptures, cult erections, hollowed out in the rocks.

In 66-428's AD Artsakh constituted the part of the Arshakouni kingdom; after its fall and passing under the hegemony of Persia Artsakh and Utic were annexed to the Albanian kingdom, situated in the north of the river Kur. In 469 the kingdom was reformed into Persian province retaining the name Albania (Persian Aran).

In the early 4 th century Christianity spread in Artsakh. At the beginning of the 5 th century, thanks to the creation of the Armenian written language by Mesrop Mashtots, an unprecedented rise of culture began both in Armenia and Artsakh. Mesrop Mashtots founded the first Armenian school at the Artsakh monastery Amaras.

In the 5 th century the eastern part of Armenia, including Artsakh, continued to remain under the Persian rule. In 451 the Armenians in response to the policy of compulsion to the Zoroastrianism on the part of Persia , organize a powerful revolt known as Vartanants Sacred War. Artsakh also took part in this war, particularly distinguished its cavalry. After the suppression of the revolt the considerable part of the Armenian forces took shelter in the impregnable fortress and thick woods of Artsakh to continue further struggle against the foreign yoke. At the end of the same century Artsakh and neighbouring Utic united under the rule of the Aranshahiks with Vachagan the Devout at the head (487-510's). Under the latter a considerable rising of culture and science is observed in Artsakh. According to the evidence of the contemporary, in those years in the land there were built as many churches and cloisters as there are days in a year.

On the boundary of the 6-7 th centuries the Albanian province in the north is splitted into several small principalities with respect to which the shared name "Albania" or "Albanians" is no longer applied, as they henceforth appear under the name of living there peoples or ruling princely houses.

In the South Artsakh and Utic create a separate Armenian principality of the Aranshahiks. In the 7 th century the Armenian Aranshahiks are replaced by the Mihranians' dynasty of Persian origin which, becoming related with the Aranshahiks, turns to Christianity and rapidly armenized.

In the second half of the 7th century in the initial period of the Arabian dominion the political and cultural life in Artsakh doesn't cease. In the 7th-8th centuries a distinctive Christian culture was shared. The monasteries Amaras, Katarovank, Horek, Jrvshtik or st. Yeghishe and others acquire pan-Armenian significance.

From the beginning of the 9th century princely houses of Khachen and Dizak became stronger. The prince of Khachen Sahl Smbatian and the prince of Dizak Yesayi Abu Mousse head the struggle against the Arabs. They and later on their heirs succeed in retaining their own dominion borders impregnable.

From the 10 th century the Khachen principality becomes of great importance in the land's polititical and cultural life. During the 11th -12th centuries Artsakh and Khachen are subjected to the seljuk-turk nomad tribes' invasion but they defend their independence. The end of the 12 th century and the first half of the 13 th century was one of the most favorable periods for the land's flourishing. At that time here are built such valuable architectural ensembles as church and vestibule of Hovhannes Mkrtich in Gandzasar Monastery (1216-1260), the Dadi Monastery Cathedral Church (1214), and Gtchavank Cathedral Church (1214-1248).All these churches, by right, are considered to be the masterpieces of the Armenian architecture.

In 30-40's of the 13th century the tatar-mongols conquer Transcaucasus. The efforts of the Artsakh-Khachen prince Hasan-Jalal succeeded in partially saving the land from being destroyed. However, after his death (1261) Khachen also becomes the victim of the tatar-mongols. The situation becomes still more aggravated in the 14 th century in the years of the Turk tribes kara-kojunlu and agh-kojunlu, who have come to replace the tatar-mongols. During that period many monuments of architecture were destroyed. Since that period the region is called Karabakh. In the 16 th century in Karabakh a number of original administrative–political entities called "melikutjun" (principalities) are formed, and their rulers-"meliks"(Semite word, denoting "crowned head"). Later they were united into 5 big principalities: Varanda, Khachen, Dizak, Djraberd, Gjoulistan, which are known as "principalities of Khamsa" (Arabian word for five).

In the 16-17cc. the princes (meliks) of Artsakh head the liberation struggle of the Armenians against shah Persia and soultan Turkey . Simultaneously with the armed struggle Artsakh meliks send their envoys to Europe and Russia to get help from the Christian West.

In the 50's of the 18 th century, having taken advantage of the civil intestine of the Karabakhian princes and with the assistance of the Varanda prince Shahnasar II, one of the Turk-speaking tribe's leaders Panah succeeded to settle down in the fortress of Shoushi. He proclaimed Karabakh a khanate and himself khan. The Persian Court supported this step. The rights of the local princes were restricted. In Artsakh began the process of penetration of a foreign and alien ethnic element that later on led to the change of the land ethnic structure.

At the end of the 18 th century and at the beginning of the 19 th century the role of the Russian Empire becomes more active. As a result of the Russian-Persian War of 1804-1813 Persia forever cedes almost the whole Caucasus to Russia including the Karabakh and Gandzak khanates, which was scripted by the Gjulistan treaty, concluded on October 12,1813. With that treaty ends the first Russian-Persian war which gave a start to the process of Russia's establishing in Transcaucasia.

The new Russian-Persian war of 1827-1828 ended in the Turkmenchie treaty on February 10, 1828, according to which the Yerevan and Nakhichevan khanates, as well as the Ordoubad province were assigned to Russia. This completed the annexation of almost all the lands of Eastern Armenia to Russia.

In 1840 Imperial Russia carries out an administrative division of Transcaucasia: the Georgian-Emeret region with the centre in Tiflis and the Caspian region with the centre in Shemakh are formed. The most part of the eastern Armenia territories is included into the Georgian-Emeret region, the rest of the part, including Karabakh-into the Caspian region.

In the second half of 40's of the 19 th century as a result of a new administrative division, Tiflis, Kutaisi, Shamakh regions are formed as well as the Derbend regions which are partially situated in Transcaucasia. Eastern-Armenian territories with the status of separate provinces are incorporated into the above mentioned first three regions.

According to Imperial Russia's new Charterof December 9,1867 Transcaucasia is divided into 5 regions: Kutaisi, Tiflis, Yerevan, Yelizavetpol and Baku. The part of eastern Armenia is incorporated into Yerevan region, the other-into Yellizavetpol and Tiflis regions.Nakhichevan province is also incorporated into Yerevan region. Nagorno-Karabakh is basically incorporated into Yelizavetpol region. Such administrative territorial division with small changes was retained till 1918's.

The history of the Armenian people abounds in the episodes of the struggle with a foreign domination. Located at the confluence of different civilizations and having an exceptional geographical position, the Armenian plateau was constantly subjected to invasions of the invaders. The people carried on an unceasing struggle with a foreign yoke for restoration on the native land its lost nationhood, freedoms and rights. The Armenian people (the Armenians) of Artsakh did not stay apart from this struggle; moreover, on the certain stages of the history it appeared in the role of the leader of the national - liberation movement.

In the late 16th century in Karabakh there appeared original administrative-political entities known in historical science as "melikutyun" (principalities) and their governors are called "meliks"(princes). This Semite word means "crowned head". Meliks become the bearers of the Armenian national power.

Thanks to the princes from the end of the 17th century in Artsakh there arouse and spread the idea of liberation of the motherland from the Persian yoke. Parallel with the armed struggle Armenians in that period made diplomatic efforts, at first turning to Europe, then- to Russia. Such political and war leaders as Israel Ori, archimandrite Minas, the Catholicos of Gandsasar Yesai Jalalian, yuzbashis Avan and Tarkhan become people leaders.

The absence of power in 18th century in Persia created the threat to its integrity. Both Turkey and Russia expected to get its share from the possible breaking up of Persia , Turkey with this purpose striving for enlisting the support of the Dagestani mountaineers, Russia seeking its supporters among Armenians and Georgians. At the same time, Russia took the mission of liberation of the Christian peoples. In this situation, there were more favorable circumstances for the Artsakh people's liberation struggle.

In spite of the interest displayed by Russia in the Armenian policy in that period, for the whole space of the struggle of the Armenians it never got beyond the mere promise.

The Armenians connected their hopes with the Russian emperors, thus arousing still more hatred of the Muslims towards them, whom, when an opportunity occurred, severely mutilated them. The example of such cruelty is the march of Russia to Persia in 1721. At the very beginning the Russian forces succeeded in occupying Derbent and Baku . Instead of the promised help Peter I advised the Armenians of Artsakh to leave their native land and move to Derbent, Baku , Gilan, Mazandaran where the Russian power had already been established. Intending to consolidate its hold on the occupied. Khanates, attached to Caspia , Russia signed the treaty with Turkey , on July 12, 1724, giving the latter a free hand in the whole Transcaucasia (as far as Shamakha).

In the same year Ottoman troops invaded the land. Their main victim became the Artsakh Armenian population, who, headed by princes, rose to struggle for its independence, never having received the promised support on Russian side. Yet, the march of Peter I gave a new impulse to struggle of the Armenians.

In 1720's the formed in Karabakh host concentrated in three military camps or skhnakhs (fortified place). The first of them, called the Great Skhnakh, was situated in the Mrav Mountains near the river Tartar. The second Pokr (Minor) skhnakh was on the slope of Kirs Mountain in the province of Varanda and the third - in the province of Kapan . Shkhnakhs, i.e. the Armenian host possessed absolute power. That was a people army with the Council of military leaders, the Catholicos of Gandzasar also entering it and having a great influence. Proceed from the demands of wartime, princes shared their power with yuzbashis, all of them having equal rights and obligations at the military councils.

The policy of Peter I with respect to the Armenians continued under Katherine I - his wife (1725-1727) and Peter II- his grandson (1727-1729), requests turned to Czar Russia for military support remained without response as before. The Armenian host at the head of its leaders, Catholicos Yesai, yuzbashis Avan and Tarkhan resisted the Ottoman regular army for considerably a long time. Nevertheless, being isolated and alone in their struggle the Armenians could not achieve their final goal-independence. As a result of the eight-year stubborn resistance the Armenian Skhnakhs weakened after which Northern, or primordial, Karabakh again broke into separate principalities, returning to its former political order.

However, even in such circumstances principalities did not refuse from their struggle against Ottomans. This time the Armenians turn to Nadir-shah, having ascended the throne in 1729, who was able for a time to restore the former might of his country. Under Nadir-Shah the Armenians acquired certain privileges, since they carried on a struggle against Ottoman Turkey, a sworn enemy of Persia . In the time of Nadir- Shah numerous Artsakh-Karabakhian principalities united, forming 5 principalities, which ruled over the country, called henceforth Khamsa or the Country of Khamsa (translation version - "The country of five"). It stretched from the Gandzak province borders to the South as far as the river Araks. Principalities were headed by the dynasties: the Melik-Beglarians in Gyulistan; Melik-Israyelians in Jraberd; the Hasan-Dzalalians in Khachen, the Melik-Yeganians in Dizak.

In time Khamsa Principalities become rather strong, turning the land, thanks to its felicitous geographical position, into an impregnable fortress.

However, because of internal civil intestines the former head of robbers Panakh from the Turks tribe "sarudjalli" was able to invade Northern Caucasus and, having gained a foothold, founded here the so called Karabakhian khanate . Subsequently Ibragim-khan, the son-in-law of Varanda melik Shahnazar II, having taken power from his father, hatched a plot in 1785, killed the Jraberd, Gulistan and Dizak princes, conquered Gandzasar Monastery- the hearth of the Armenian national-liberation struggle. As a result the principalities of Khamsa were finally broken down.

1918-1920's is one of the hard periods of the century-old history of the Karabakhi Armenians. It was in these years that the ancient Armenian region Artsakh was turned into the subject of "territorial debates".

After the collapse of the Russian Empire on February 10, 1918 the Transcaucasian seim was convened which on April 9 of the same year declared on the secession of Trascaucasus from Russia and proclaimed the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. However, the independent Transcaucasus existed shortly. Azerbaijan wanted the unification with Turkey, Georgia relied on Germany, whereas nobody supported Armenia, that continued to be loyal to the allied duty before the Entente and to the interests of Russia. The new offensive of the Turkish troops, begun early in April 1918 after the withdrawal of the regular Russian Army, accelerated the break-up of Transcaucasus.

On May 26,1918 "taking into account of arisen fundamental divergences on the subject of war and peace between the peoples having created the Transcaucasian Independent Republic", the Same stated the break-up of Transcaucasus and giving up its authorities.On the same day Georgia declared on its independence. On May 28, the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic and the Republic of Armenia were proclaimed.

As it is known an administrative territorial division in the Imperial Russia was carried out not according to the ethnic indication. Till the end of May 1918, i.e. before the dismissal of the Transcaucasian Seim, Nagorno Karabakh was a part of the Yelizavetpol Province.

In these circumstances the government of Azerbaijan declared the incorporation of Karabakh into the newly established Azerbaijani Democratic Republic of Baku and Yelizavetpol provinces. By this act Azerbaijan sought to consolidate its hold on Karabakh and Zangezur the historical territories of Armenia with the Armenian population predominant.

Such actions of Azerbaijan were conditioned also by those tragic circumstances the Armenians were plunged into during the year of World War I. As it is known, in 1915 the Ottoman Turkey carryied out the great massacres of the Armenians in the territory of the Western Armenia . From the very beginning the Young Republic of Armenia was already so exhausted , that was not able to implement the function of defence of the Armenian population and advocate its right for primordial Armenian lands in full measure.

However, the people of Nagorno Karabakh and Zangezur rejected to recognize the jurisdiction of the Azerbaijani Republic.Here the Armenian national Councils took the power into their hands, organized and headed the struggle against Azerbaijan.

On July 22, 1918 the first Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh was convened, which proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh an independent administrative-political unit elected the National Council as well as the people's government, made up from seven persons. On July 24, the Declaration of the People's Government of Karabakh was adopted which set forth the objectives of the newly established state authority problems.

After this Congress the Azerbaijani Government was trying to incorporate Nagorno Karabakh into the Azerbaijani territory with the help of theTurkish troops.The commander of the troops, Nuri-Pasha, laid an ultimatum to the National Council of Karabakh, however, the second Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh, convened on September 6, rejected this demand of the Turkish commandment and the Government of Azerbaijan.

On September 15, 1918 the Turkish troops entered Baku and the great massacres of the Armenian population of the city began, the victims of which became 30 thousand Armenians. Hundreds of villages in Baku and Yelizavetpol regions were subjected to destructions and extermination.Under these circumstances the command of the Turkish troops' again laid an ultimatum to the Nagorno Karabakh People's Government, demanding disarmament from Karabakh, the pass of the Turkish and Azerbaijani troops into Shoushi and recognizing the power of Azerbaijan.

To discuss the ultimatum the Third Congress of the Armenians was convened, on September 17, 1918, where the draft of the answer to the Turks was adopted, in which the demands of disarmament and subordination to the power of Azerbaijan were decisively rejected. The Turkish command had to refuse from the demand of the general disarmament of the people and agreed not to insist on recognizing the power of Azerbaijan and preserve the status quo of Karabakh. The Turks only insisted on the necessity of bearing the troops into Shoushi. Since the defeat of the German block in World War I was the question of some days, People's Government of Karabakh agreed on this demand to win the time. However, the population of the district was dissatisfied and couldn't reconcile themselves to bringing the troops into Shoushi. Marching into Shoushi without fighting the Turks disarmed the Armenian population of the town, arrested the representatives of intelligentsia. On this account the Armenians of Karabakh cancelled the decision of the Third Congress and began to prepare for resistance.

On October 31,1918 Turkey admits its defeat in World War I. Its troops retreated from Transcaucasus and the English troops replaced them in December and became entire masters. The Government of Azerbaijan for this once tried to capture Nagorno Karabakh with the help of the English. The new borders of Transcaucasus could not be defined without the agreement of England. Stating that the fate of the disputable territories must be solved at the Peace Conference in Paris, the English command in reality did everything for incorporating Nagorno Karabakh into Azerbaijan long before the final resolution of the problem.

Establishing a full control over the export of the Baku oil, the English sought the final secession of Transcaucasus from Russia ; Azerbaijan , as it was supposed, was to play a role of an advanced post of the West in the South Caucasus to create barriers to the sovietization of the region.

On this account the policy of the allied powers in the relation with Transcaucasia had a pro-Azerbaijani trend. The Karabakh problem settlement was dragged out rather calculating on the development of the military-political situation that would be favorable for Azerbaijan , therefore the change of the ethnic structure of Nagorno Karabakh.

On January15, 1919 the Azerbaijani Government with the ''knowledge of the English command'' appointed Khosrov bek Sultanov governor-general of Nagorno Karabakh, simultaneously laying an ultimatum to the Karabakhian National Council to recognize the power of Azerbaijan.

On February 19, 1919 the 4th Congress of the Armenian population of Karabakh was convened in Shoushi decisively rejected this ultimatum of Azerbaijan and expressed protest in connection with the appointment of Sultanov governor-general. The resolution adopted by the Congress says,"Insisting on the principle of the self –determination of people, the Armenian population of Karabakh respects the right of the neighbouring Turkish people for self-determination and together with this decisively protests against the attempts of the Azerbaijani Government to eliminate this principle in relation to Nagorno Karabakh, which will never admit the power of Azerbaijan over it."

In connection with the appointment of Sultanov the British mission came out with an official notification, which stated , that "by the British command's consent Dr. Khosrov bek Sultanov is appointed provisional governor of Zangezur, Shoushi, Jivanshir and Jebrail provinces. The British Mission finds it necessary to confirm that belonging of the mentioned districts to one or another unit must be solved at a Peace Conference."

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