Upon its establishment, the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan predominantly comprised the lands of Historical Armenia, namely the territories lying on the right bank of the river Kur. Moreover, motivated by certain political considerations, it even appropriated the name of Atropatene Province situated in the north of Iran.
Indeed, J. Stalin failed to implement the plan he had long premeditated, i.e. the gradual partition of Armenia between the Soviet Socialist Republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, some densely-populated Armenian territories such as Nakhichevan, Nagorno and Dashtayin Karabakh as well as Northern Artsakh were annexed to the "fraternal" Republic of Azerbaijan, while Javakhk and a number of other districts of Gugark became part of Georgia.
The Armenians of Artsakh, who had been severed from their homeland in such an illegal, unjust manner, found themselves under the dominion of Azerbaijan, becoming immediate targets for that country's extremely chauvinistic and anti-Armenian policies. Stripped of their national educational and spiritual values, they suffered persecution and harsh living conditions for many decades.
All their ties with Armenia broken, the Armenian-populated villages of Karabakh were faced with economic slump so that the region's northern inhabitants, who were completely alone and neglected on the eve of the deportation of 1988, proved absolutely powerless to struggle for their survival in their sacred native land. In the aftermath of the aforementioned forced displacement, the Armenian spirit died away in Northern Artsakh, where the Armenians had been living throughout many centuries. Along with that, a wide variety of historical monuments, forming an inseparable part of Armenia's cultural legacy, were left derelict.
The present work pursues the objective of saving from oblivion the history of hundreds of villages of Northern Artsakh and the cultural monuments once erected there, by handing it down to the coming generations. The number of these monuments is diminishing with every single passing day, in the aftermath of the acts of vandalism perpetrated at state level in the Republic of Azerbaijan. In the summer of 2006, we learnt about the destruction of St. Gabriel and St. Hakob Churches of respectively Mirzik and Voskanapat Villages of Khanlar District. This comes to suggest that a considerable part of the monuments presented in this work has either shared the same fate (so far the Azerbaijanian authorities have banned any fact-finding missions or private researchers from entering Northern Artsakh) or is in grave danger of annihilation.
The work does not include the administrative district of Shahumian, presently within the territory of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, but originally part of Northern Artsakh. The history of this district, that has been occupied and stripped of its Armenian population since 1992, will be treated in our next volumes together with the other districts of Nagorno Karabakh.