THE ARMENIAN CULTURAL MONUMENTS
IN THE REGION OF KARABAKH
SPEECH OF REGARD AND APPRECIATION
I am infinitely pleased to express my appreciation
to Mr. Samvel Karapetian, who had undertaken this task with really
apostolic commitment and profound understanding of the power of
history, who had been dreaming of getting there, had gone there,
wondered there, measured and documented over a thousand of Armenian
monuments. Monasteries, churches, khachkars, inscriptions and residentials
were documented and published in numerous articles and several volumes,
and thus saved from oblivion and apostasy. After this rewarding
work Samvel Karapetian undertook a new, and actually exceptional
volume of the "Armenian Cultural Monuments" by which over 1600 Armenian
monuments will be ever saved from oblivion, destructive pace of
time, work of the elements or premeditated destruction and damage.
The land described by Samvel Karapetian is historical Armenia, part
of the historical provinces of Artsakh, Utik and Paytakaran, Syunik
and Vaspurakan, once Armenian land, Armenian world. And even if
the people are silent and try to renounce the history of this sacred
land, thousands of the stones of this book will cry out and say
that Armenians had been living there, Armenians had been creating
there, given breadth to the stones, given tongue to the stones...
I pray for the success of this book. God bless
In the course of historical events once vast area of Armenian habitation was constantly shrinking. Due to the World War I and the events of the next few years this process went on unprecedented scale. As a result the major part of Armenia was annexed to Turkey, and minor provinces - still under the Turkish pressure were joined to the newly established Republic of Azerbaijan, while the Republic of Armenia inherited only the tenth part of its former historical territories. Thus, in 1920 about 30,000 sq. m (exceeding the territory of the present-day Republic of Armenia) were annexed to the Soviet Azerbaijan. Later, certain areas, still inhabited by Armenians, were included into the Autonomous Region of Nagorno (Mountainous)-Karabakh (in 1923) and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhijevan (1924). As a matter of fact, 2 of the 15 provinces of Metz Haik (Greater Armenia) - namely the whole Artsakh and Utik, and separate parts of Syunik and Vaspurakan occurred under the Azerbaijanian control. Within a few decades the main Armenian population of these territories was slowly and deliberately expelled (as, for example, in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhijevan), and those who still remained were forcibly displaced in 1988-89 (as the entire population of about 50 villages and towns of North Artsakh). As a result, the former Armenian territories annexed to Azerbaijan shrunk considerably, insulating and isolating the Armenians mainly within the borders of the present Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Gardmank (North Artsakh). As a result of such territorial losses, boundary delineation and later – administrative division of Azerbaijan countless pieces of culture, sanctuaries and shrines worshiped over the centuries and sacred for Armenians, were left under the foreign rule. Nevertheless being still dissatisfied with the results achieved in 1989-1990 Azerbaijan unbound a real war against Karabakh. In this really dramatic situation, being cut off Armenia, having nowhere to withdraw and no other means to protect their life and the right to live in their homeland the Armenians also took to arms. During the six following years of national liberation war the Armenians liberated and retained their historical homeland. Access to the former Armenian villages and towns, monasteries and churches, fortresses and bridges, cemeteries and khachkars (cross stones) was finally gained and the monuments unknown to the scientific world because of the willful administrative restrictions and obstruction imposed by the Azerbaijanian authorities, were open for research. The historical landmarks of the present day Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were more or less familiar by virtue of a number of publications, while the vast majority of the Armenian cultural monuments situated in the adjoining regions (currently under Armenian control) still remained obscure. The present work is called to fill this obvious gap. We should also mention that up to 1988-1989 the area of former Armenian habitation included much more administrative districts of Azerbaijan (particularly, Ghazakh, Shamkhor, Touz, Getabek, Dashkesan, Khanlar, Goran districts in North Artsakh; and Norashen, Nakhijevan, Shahbuz, Julfa and Ordubad districts in Autonomous Republic of Nakijevan) than those eleven regions reflected in this research. Numerous monuments of Armenian history and architecture still remain undocumented (particularly, in Ghazakh, Shamkhor, Touz, Getabek, Dashkesan, Khanlar, Goran districts, Northern Artsakh; or Norashen, Nakhijevan, Shahbooz, Julfa and Ordubad districts, Autonomous Republic of Nakijevan). The RAA organization has provided for the complete investigation of these cultural monuments in its forthcoming issues. The present research is based on data assembled by the scientific expeditions, comprising Hayk Assatrian (1984-85), Volodya Haroutyunian (1987), Vahagn Karapetian (1993) Hayk and Naira Torossians (1993-94), Armen Mnatsakanian (1994-95), Alec Poghossian (1995) and Vahagn Tashchian (1996) whose role may hardly be underestimated and I am extremely grateful for their kind assistance in this research. Certain parts of this work were already published in the periodicals. Scientific popular version of this book was published in the daily “Republic of Armenia” (issues NN 183-191, 193-200, 218-227, 242, 244-251 for 1997, and NN 12-15, 30-34 for 1998). Special thanks to RAA USA, for their valuable assistance in the publication of this volume.