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Ancient Armenia the "Cradle Of Civilization"?.......... I'd like to think so.
THE IMPULSE

While researching the history of Armenia and the food history of that area, I became aware of the similarities of the Biblical description of the "Garden Of Eden" and the story of Noah, his "Ark" and the "Great Flood". With a little geographic study, a little delving into the history of the area I came up with the assumption (it was fun anyway) that the ancestral home of my family just might be the "Cradle of Civilization".

Dr. Harold H. "Buzz" Baxter


THE SUPPOSITION

With a little imagination, some biblical and historical facts and a little deductive reasoning you can place Ancient Armenia as the "Cradle Of Civilization". In fact you can almost narrow it down to the poor little village of Khokh, near Harput. A small village in now Eastern Anatolia, Turkey which lies between the confluence of the headwaters of the Tigris, Pison, Gihon and Euphrates rivers. This is the village that my paternal great grandparents lived worked and died. They were Armenians in a Turkish "Ottoman" land. They were Christians in a land of Turks and Kurds who would rather see them dead.

After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, many of the early Christians, escaping from persecutions in Jerusalem, came to Asia Minor and settled in different cities like Ephesus, Hierapolis and Cappadocia. St. Paul preached in Perge, Derbe, Lystra, Psidian Antioch, Ephesus (see Letter to Ephesians) and Konya. St. John stayed for a while in Ephesus together with Virgin Mary and, after he returned from Patmos where he was exiled, died in Ephesus. St. Peter settled in Antioch and build the first Christian church carved in a cave. St. Philip settled in Hierapolis but was killed together his family by the Romans. Christianity was declared as the official religion in 380, during the reign of Theodosius I, and destruction of pagan temples was legalized. Even so, throughout the Byzantine era Christianity had great ups and downs in popularity. Many found the road to piety confusing and assorted schisms between the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox Byzantine church certainly didn't simplify matters. The Ottomans, Mongol nomads from the North had invaded and conquered a great part of Eastern Europe and Asia minor. This was not good news for the Christian Armenians who were despised by their Muslim neighbors.

It was here in Harput ( Village of Khokh) that my paternal grandparents lived before emigration of their children to the United States of America. It was here that they eked a living out of the fertile river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. It was here where late in the 19th century that the severe opression by the Turks forced them to leave their home and begin life anew in The United States Of America. Now if you believe the Old Testament of the Bible, you can even come to the conclusion that somewhere between the confluence of those four rivers a couple called Adam and Eve frolicked in the "Garden of Eden". God must have had some attatchment to this area, because not too far from here on the peak of Mt. Ararat, Noah's Ark came to rest after the "Great Flood". The beginning of a new civilization? True believers would argue that all life but Noah's and his family and the animals two by two were lost in the flood and that humanity began again at the base of Mt. Ararat. The base of Mt. Ararat being Ancient Armenia. Adding that Armenia was the first nation on Earth to take Christianity as it's national religion. Some grand plan seems to be in force here.


THE HISTORY

A thousand years before the birth of Christ, the Anatolian area of now Turkey was inhabited by a tribe called the Urartans, probably the predecesors of the Assyrians. You can make this assumption because Urarta in Assyrian means "Ararat". Or in other words, the people who live near Mt. Ararat. Like the inhabitants of this area before the Urartans and after them, they were often plaqued by marauders and conquerors. This area was run over by invaders for hundreds and thousands of years. In recent history, Alexander the Great, The Romans, Genghis Khan and some less notables. In the period we are concerned with were the Medes or Kurds, the Sythians, the Hitites. The Hitites were the ancestors of the Jews, Syrians and a people who were called Hyasaians. Armenians even today call themselves "Hyes", and their country today which lies East of Anatolia is refered to as "Hayastan". This identity has remained for over three thousand years. The bickering between nations in this part of the world has been going on for milleniums and in my opinion is like a family feud. Although some have taken on different religious beliefs and different languages, the ethnicity seems to remain the same. The food, the dances, family respect and general demeanor varies little from country to country.


THE GEOGRAPHY

The mountains of East Anatolia (Ancient Armenia) are high and rugged. Mt. Ararat is 17,000 feet and many are above 10,000 feet. Some are extinct volcanoes but many are snowcapped peaks with rivers forming in the highlands and running down into the valleys, the plains and through the deserts below them. These rivers run for hundreds and thousands of miles and have fertile lands in their wake. This little bit of geography takes us to the Bible and it's description of "The Garden Of Eden".

GENESIS: Chapter 2

Verse 8: And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there he put man whom he had formed.

Verse 9: And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight,  and good 
for food;the tree of life also in the midst of the garden,  and the tree of knowedge of good and evil.

Verse 10: And a river went out of Eden to water the garden;  and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.

Verse 11: The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.

Verse 12: And the gold of that land is good;  there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

Verse 13: And the name of the second river is Gihon;  the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

Verse 14: And the name of the third is Hiddekel [The Tigris]that is which goeth toward the east of Assyria.  And the fourth river is Euphrates.

Below is a map of the biblical description of "The Garden Of Eden". Where the four rivers described in the Bible originate (The Confluence).

I have read many theories about the location of the "Cradle Of Civilization" or "The Garden Of Eden", but none seems to pay any attention to the word "confluence". I would suggest that the confluence of four rivers means exactly that. Where the 4 rivers meet and, so to speak, mix with each other. This must be at the highest altitude of the rivers, or at the lowest. This would give credence to my theory that the confluence occurs on the high plains of Turkey's Anatolian Province of Kharpert. The other theory that seems to be considered is the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq, or perhaps further SouthEast in Kuwait. But wait a minute, the Bible states that it was the confluence of four rivers. The Iraq or Kuwait theories have the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates dumping into the Persian Gulf. This is hardly the environment to grow apples!

THE CONCLUSION

Possibly my theory of "The Cradle of Civilization" my be flawed, but if you try the food of this area, you will become a believer that this is truly the "Land Of Milk And Honey". The next time you happen onto a person of Armenian ancestry, you might just extend your hand and say "Hello Brother".





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