Armenia’s Geography through History

Armenia is one of the oldest nations in the world, but it’s borders have constantly changed. Today, a look at its changing borders over the past 2500 years. For all you map fans, here’s another set!

Armenian was not a unified political entity until the region came under Persian rule at around 600 B.C. Armenia was an autonomous region with a Persian Satrap.

Armenia's changing borders through history

Persian rule lasted until Alexander the Great, who’s troops occupied the region and gave it a native Armenian governor. Armenia became a province of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander’s death.

Armenia's changing borders through history

Armenia won independence in the 2nd century BC and was occasionally conquered by Rome and Parthia, but was by and large autonomous as a buffer state between the two empires. Armenia became the first Christian Kingdom in 301 (barely beating Ethiopia for that honor, which became Christian in 330).

Armenia's changing borders through history

In 384, the kingdom was split between the East Roman Empire and the Persians. Roman Armenia was called Lesser Armenia; Persian Armenia was called Eastern Armenia. The region was subsequently conquered by Arabia and Byzantium until briefly winning independence in the 11th century.

Armenia's changing borders through history

The Armenian region was conquered by Seljuks, but the Crusaders gave the King the coastal region of Cilicia, which became Armenia’s political capital for several hundred years until it was defeated by the Mamelukes of Egypt.

Armenia's changing borders through history

After that, the Armenians were ruled by Ottomans and Russians for centuries until the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the people were driven into Russia. There they were confined to a small region of the Russian Empire, and later the Soviet Union, until independence was granted in 1990.

Armenia's changing borders through history

Today, Armenia is a poor independent nation. It’s immediate future does not seem bright, but no matter what anarchy awaits the future of the globe, the Armenians have shown that their southern Caucasus nation can survive almost crisis, and will probably last for many centuries to come.

SOURCE: Maps created with Fireworks and Nasa World Wind; maps taken from my high school text: 且“產ŒåÂ?²å¹´è¡¨ãƒ»åœ°å”ºÂ³.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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20 Responses to Armenia’s Geography through History

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  3. Paul says:

    Out of curiosity, didn’t Armenia at some point in history conquer into Syrian lands? I seem to remember hearing that, it’d be interesting to see what their borders were like at that time. In all likelihood it didn’t last very long at all though which is probably it was left out.

  4. Curzon says:

    Yes, Armenia conquered Syria and other neighboring regions from the Seleucids after becoming independet at around 100 B.C. (My map above of that period shows the kingdom shortly after independence was established.) This series could be 100 maps long if every change in the borders was taken into account — this is a general guide.

  5. Dan says:

    Reminds me of the Balkans, so many overlapping Empires. The entire region is like Thessaly, obviously part of the Greater Serbian, Illyrian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, Turkish, Latin Empire.

  6. varske says:

    That’s a pretty neat set of maps. Someone should do a set to show the ebb and flow of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Can you explain the technology you used?

  7. Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace says:

    Certainly impressive that this was dealt with in your Japanese High School text – it certainly wasn’t in my English ones. We hear a lot of bad things said about some Japanese textbooks, but this seems excellent…

  8. Curzon says:

    Indeed, in Japan, the course “World History” actually covers just that — world history. Armenia is not covered per se, but historical atlases are required texts.

  9. Joe says:

    I still have my old historical atlas. Among other things, it has pull-out maps showing Eurasia during every century between 200 BC and 1600 AD. Fascinating to compare…

  10. Artyom says:

    Much, much inaccuracies. Please consult Robert Hewsen’s beautiful, professional, and accurate Armenia: A Historical Atlas which can be found “here.”:http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/332284.html

  11. Daniel Nexon says:

    What of the Mongol period?

    I enjoy these posts a great deal. Keep them coming… but we need to remember two things: (1) it is very easy to overplay the degree of political and social continuity between polities that bear the same name and occupy roughly the same place (the error of primordialism) and (2) our maps don’t represent very well the lived experience of ancient political communities.

  12. Curzon says:

    Artyom: My graphic skills might not be up to snuff, but my maps are very similar to those of Professor Hewsen. Also, these are snapshots: my historical Atlas shows three sets of borders for the Armenia Crusader state.

    Dr. Nexon: Thank you, I have another one coming up later this week. I have excluded period when Armenia was not an independent polity, hence the Ottoman, Mongol, Seljuk, etc periods are not listed. Again, this is just a survey and could have many more maps.

  13. sun bin says:

    interesting maps.

    do people actually migrated like the poles and germans after WWII? (esp 1100-1400) or is this just where the amenian kings ruled (perhaps with limited migration as well)?

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  15. Dan says:

    Curzon,

    While your taking requests, any hope of a similar series for the Kurds?

  16. Robert H. says:

    It’s an interesting sent, but while the maps are somewhat accurate they do not portray the general historical armenain borders. I’d say they are from some brief periods. Except the last two maps the rest are somewhat unknown.
    The historical contents are also plagued by inaccuracies. Crusaders didn’t give anything to armenians. Armenian king Toros 2nd the son of Levon 1st (who was captured by Byzantine) fought and cleared Cilician armenia from the Byzantine army.

    While i appreciate the effort put into this blog i feel it’s necessary to correct some major mistaks. I do appologise if i sounded too critical.
    If anyone’s interested, you can find more maps and a more accurate knowledge about armenian history Here http://www.armembassycanada.ca/armenia/history.htm.
    Maybe this will be of help to the starter of this blog also.

    Cheers

  17. Hakob says:

    Seems like the map of 100 B.C. – 200 A.D. is incorrect. During that time the Armenian king Tigran the Great created the from-sea-to-sea Armenia.

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