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Name of Armenia

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Name of Armenia

The name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek Ἀρμενία. The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. The exact etymology of the name is unknown, and there are various speculative attempts to connect it to older toponyms or ethnonyms.


The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite). In Greek, Αρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC).[1] Herodotus, in c.440 BC, said "the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists" (7.73) (Ἀρμένιοι δὲ κατά περ Φρύγες ἐσεσάχατο, ἐόντες Φρυγῶν ἄποικοι.). Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.[2]

Further speculations

Although disputed and unproven, some speculations on the exact origin of the Armenia exonym have been proposed.

From Armanî, Armânum, Ermenen, Urmenu or Minni

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî.[3] There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC[4] identified with an Akkadian colony in the Diarbekr region.[5] However, many historians, such as Wayne Horowitz, identify Armanî which was conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad, with the Syrian city of Aleppo and not with the Armenian Highland.[6]

Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars".[7]

The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.[8]

Minni (מנּי) is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions,[9] corresponding to the Mannai. Armenia is interpreted by some as ḪARMinni, that is, "the mountainous region of the Minni".[10]

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning "assemble/create" which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.[11]

From Hayasa-Azzi (native Armenian name Hayastan)

There have been further speculations as to the existence of a Bronze Age tribe of the Armens (Armans, Armani; Armenian: Արմեններ Armenner, Առամեններ Aṙamenner), either identical to or forming a subset of the Hayasa-Azzi.[12][13] In this case, Armenia would be an ethnonym rather than a toponym.


Armenologist Nicholas Adontz has rejected some of these speculations in his 1946 book.[14]

Armenian historiographic tradition

Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk (Հայկ), son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful (according to classical Armenian historian Moses of Chorene).[15][16] Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu, the earliest known king of Urartu.[17] The endonym Hayk’ (from Classical Armenian) in the same tradition is traced to Hayk himself.[18]

The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name.[19]

Modern names

Modern terms for Armenians and Armenia in Armenian and neighboring languages:
Language Armenians Armenia
Armenian հայեր (hayer) Հայաստան (Hayastan), Հայք (Hayk’)
Arabic أرمن (Arman) أرمينيا (Armīniyā)
Aramaic ܐܪܡܐܢܥ (Armānī) ܐܪܡܝܢܝܐ (Armīniyā)
Azerbaijani Ermənilər Ermənistan
Persian ارمنی (Armani) ارمنستان (Armanestan)
Georgian სომხები (Somkhebi) სომხეთი (Somkhet'i)
Greek Αρμένιοι (Arménios) Αρμενία (Armenía)
Hebrew ארמנים (Armenim) ארמניה (Armeniya)
Kurdish Ermeni Ermenistan
Russian армяне (armyane) Армения (Armeniya)
Turkish Ermeniler Ermenistan


  1. ^ "Χαλύβοισι πρὸς νότον Ἀρμένιοι ὁμουρέουσι (The Armenians border on the  
  2. ^ Xenophon, Anabasis, IV.v.2-9.
  3. ^ H. A. Rigg (1937).
  4. ^ surviving in an early Babylonian copy, ca. 2200 BC, URI 275, lines I.7, 13; II.4; III.3, 30.
  5. ^ Horace Abram Rigg, Jr., A Note on the Names Armânum and Urartu, Journal of the American Oriental Society (1937).
  6. ^ , Eisenbrauns 1998, ISBN 0-931464-99-4Mesopotamian Cosmic GeographyWayne Horowitz,
  7. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 [1]; Eric H. Cline and David O'Connor (eds.) Thutmose III, University of Michigan, 2006, ISBN 978-0-472-11467-2.
  8. ^ Vahan Kurkjian, History of Armenia, Michigan 1968 [2]
  9. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia s.v. Minni
  10. ^ Easton's Bible Dictionary
  11. ^ T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, The Early History of Indo-European (aka Aryan) Languages, Scientific American, March 1990; James P. Mallory, "Kuro-Araxes Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  12. ^ Rafael Ishkhanyan, "Illustrated History of Armenia," Yerevan, 1989
  13. ^ Elisabeth Bauer. Armenia: Past and Present (1981), p. 49
  14. ^ Nicholas Adontz. "Histoire d'Arménie : les origines, du Xe siècle au VIe siècle av. J.C.", Paris 1946: "Armani has absolutely no relation to Armenia."
  15. ^ Moses of Chorene,The History of Armenia, Book 1, Ch. 12 (Russian)
  16. ^ History of Armenia by Father Michael Chamich from B.C. 2247 to the Year of Christ 1780, or 1229 of the Armenian era, Bishop's College Press, Calcutta, 1827, page 19: "[Aram] was the first to raise the Armenian name to any degree of renown; so that contemporary nations ... called them the Aramians, or followers of Aram, a name which has been corrupted into Armenians; and the country they inhabited, by universal consent, took the name of Armenia."
  17. ^ "Արամ" in H. Ačaṙean (1926-35), Hayocʿ Anjnanunneri Baṙaran (Yerevan: Yerevan State University), 2nd ed., 1942-62
  18. ^ Razmik Panossian, The Armenians: From Kings And Priests to Merchants And Commissars, Columbia University Press (2006), ISBN 978-0-231-13926-7, p. 106.
  19. ^ Parsiana, Book of Iranian Names[3]: a dweller of the Garden of Eden, a son of king Kobad
  • Horace Abram Rigg, Jr., A Note on the Names Armânum and Urartu Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Dec., 1937), pp. 416–418.

External links

  • Armenian History;
  • Alternate Names or Name Variants for Republic of Armenia
  • History of Armenia
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