Ani (Armenian: Անի; Greek: Ἄνιον, Ánion; Latin: Abnicum; Turkish: Ani) is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey's province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia.

Between 961 and 1045, it was the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The iconic city was often referred to as the "City of 1,001 Churches," though the number was significantly less. To date, 50 churches, 33 cave chapels and 20 chapels have been excavated by archaeologists and historians. Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and sophisticated fortifications distinguished it from other contemporary urban centers in the Armenian kingdom. Among its most notable buildings was the Cathedral of Ani, which is asso...Read more

Ani (Armenian: Անի; Greek: Ἄνιον, Ánion; Latin: Abnicum; Turkish: Ani) is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey's province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia.

Between 961 and 1045, it was the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The iconic city was often referred to as the "City of 1,001 Churches," though the number was significantly less. To date, 50 churches, 33 cave chapels and 20 chapels have been excavated by archaeologists and historians. Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and sophisticated fortifications distinguished it from other contemporary urban centers in the Armenian kingdom. Among its most notable buildings was the Cathedral of Ani, which is associated with early examples of Gothic architecture and that scholars argue influenced the great cathedrals of Europe in the early gothic and Romanesque styles; its ribbed vaulting would not be seen in European cathedrals for at least another two centuries later. At its height, Ani was one of the world's largest cities, with a population of well over 100,000, though this seems highly optimistic given its limited area.

Renowned for its splendor, Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236. Ani never recovered from a devastating 1319 earthquake and, more significantly, from the shifting of regional trade routes, and was abandoned by the 17th century. Ani is a widely recognized cultural, religious, and national heritage symbol for Armenians. According to Razmik Panossian, Ani is one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride. In 2016, it was added onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Historical affiliations

Kamsarakan dynasty 5th century AD
  Bagratid Armenia 961–1045
  Byzantine Empire 1045–1064
  Seljuk Empire 1064–1072
Shaddadids 1072–1199
Georgia (country)  Kingdom of Georgia 1201–1236
Zakarid Armenia 1201–1360
Kara Koyunlu 1360–1380s
  Timurid Empire 1380s–1430s
Aq Qoyunlu 1430s–1500s
Iran  Safavid Iran 1500s–1579
  Ottoman Empire 1579–1878
  Russian Empire 1878–1918
Transcaucasian DFR 1918
Armenia  Republic of Armenia 1918–1920
Turkey  Ankara Government 1920–1923
Turkey  Republic of Turkey 1923–present

Early history

Armenian chroniclers such as Yeghishe and Ghazar Parpetsi first mentioned Ani in the 5th century.[1] They described it as a strong fortress built on a hilltop and a possession of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty.

Bagratuni capital  The Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia, c. 1000

By the early 9th century, the former territories of the Kamsarakans in Arsharunik and Shirak (including Ani) had been incorporated into the territories of the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty.[2] The Bagratuni dynasty was the second notable dynasty in the Armenian kingdom.[3] They secured their independence from the Arabs near the end of the 9th century after being controlled by the Persians and Umayyad Arabs for many years at this point.[3] The king of Bagratid Armenia that led to this independence was Ashot I.[3] He had a short-lived position as the king of the Bagratid dynasty, however, the impact of securing the freedom of the dynasty would last for many years.[3] His son, Smbat I, ruled directly after he did.[3] The Bagratid dynasty consisted of many sub-kingdoms, the most notable of which were the Kingdom of Kars, Lori, Syunik, Artsakh, and Vaspurakan.[3] The Bagratuni dynasty led to some of the most notable works of art and architecture in Armenia's history, one of which being the Cathedral of Ani.[3] The leader of the Bagratid dynasty, Ashot Msaker (Ashot the Meateater) (806–827) was given the title of ishkhan (prince) of Armenia by the Caliphate in 804.[4] The Bagratunis had their first capital at Bagaran, some 40 km (25 mi) south of Ani, before moving it to Shirakavan, some 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Ani, and then transferring it to Kars in the year 929. In 961, king Ashot III (953–77) transferred the capital from Kars to Ani.[5] Ani expanded rapidly during the reign of King Smbat II (977–89). In 992 the Armenian Catholicosate moved its seat to Ani. In the 10th century the population was perhaps 50,000–100,000.[6] By the start of the eleventh century the population of Ani was well over 100,000,[citation needed] and its renown was such that it was known as the "city of forty gates" and the "city of a thousand and one churches." Ani also became the site of the royal mausoleum of Bagratuni kings.[7]

Ani attained the peak of its power during the long reign of King Gagik I (989–1020). After his death his two sons quarreled over the succession. The eldest son, Hovhannes-Smbat (1020–41), gained control of Ani while his younger brother, Ashot IV (1020–40), controlled other parts of the Bagratuni kingdom. Hovhannes-Smbat, fearing that the Byzantine Empire would attack his now-weakened kingdom, made the Byzantine Emperor Basil II his heir.[8] When Hovhannes-Smbat died in 1041, Emperor Michael IV the Paphlagonian, claimed sovereignty over Ani. The new king of Ani, Gagik II (1042–45), opposed this and several Byzantine armies sent to capture Ani were repulsed. However, in 1046 Ani surrendered to the Byzantines,[5] after Gagik was invited to Constantinople and detained there, and at the instigation of pro-Byzantine elements among its population. A Byzantine governor was installed in the city.[1]

Cultural and economic center  Plan of the city

Ani lied along any previously important trade routes, but because of its size, power, and wealth it became an important trading hub. Its primary trading partners were the Byzantine Empire, the Persian Empire, the Arabs, as well as smaller nations in southern Russia and Central Asia.[1]

Gradual decline and abandonment

In 1064, a large Seljuk army under Alp Arslan attacked Ani; after a siege of 25 days, they captured the city and slaughtered its population.[9] An account of the sack and massacres in Ani is given by the Turkish historian Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, who quotes an eyewitness saying:

The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins and taking prisoner all those who remained alive...The dead bodies were so many that they blocked the streets; one could not go anywhere without stepping over them. And the number of prisoners was not less than 50,000 souls. I was determined to enter the city and see the destruction with my own eyes. I tried to find a street in which I would not have to walk over the corpses; but that was impossible.[10]

In 1072, the Seljuks sold Ani to the Shaddadids, a Muslim Kurdish dynasty.[9] The Shaddadids generally pursued a conciliatory policy towards the city's overwhelmingly Armenian and Christian population and actually married several members of the Bagratid nobility. Whenever the Shaddadid governance became too intolerant, however, the population would appeal to the Christian Kingdom of Georgia for help. The Georgians captured Ani five times between 1124 and 1209:[5] in 1124, 1161, 1174, 1199, and 1209.[11] The first three times, it was recaptured by the Shaddadids. In the year 1199, Georgia's Queen Tamar captured Ani and in 1201 gave the governorship of the city to the generals Zakare and Ivane.[12] Zakare was succeeded by his son Shanshe (Shahnshah). Zakare's new dynasty — the Zakarids — considered themselves to be the successors to the Bagratids. Prosperity quickly returned to Ani; its defences were strengthened and many new churches were constructed.

 Canon tables from the Haghbat Gospels; 1211 (Yerevan, Matendaran, MS 6288, fols. 8v–9r).[13]

In 1217 and 1220, the city came under attack from the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum whose forces destroyed and pillaged the city however they did not occupy it. The Mongols unsuccessfully besieged Ani in 1226, but in 1236 they captured and sacked the city, massacring large numbers of its population. Under the Mongols the Zakarids continued to rule Ani, as the vassals of the Georgian monarch.[14] During the reign of George V and Bagrat V, the city was part of the Kingdom of Georgia. [15] [16]

By the 14th century, the city was ruled by a succession of local Turkish dynasties, including the Jalayrids and the Kara Koyunlu (Black Sheep clan) who made Ani their capital. It was ruined by an earthquake in 1319.[9][5] Tamerlane captured Ani in the 1380s. On his death the Kara Koyunlu regained control but transferred their capital to Yerevan. In 1441 the Armenian Catholicosate did the same. The Persian Safavids then ruled Ani until it became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1579. A small town remained within its walls at least until the middle of the seventeenth century, but the site was entirely abandoned by 1735 when the last monks left the monastery in the Virgin's Fortress or Kizkale.

Modern times

"Of true Armenian architecture the finest and most characteristic specimens are to be found in the ruined city of Ani..."

 —James Bryce, 1876[17]

 In 1905–06, archaeological excavations of the church of Saint Gregory of King Gagik were undertaken, headed by Nikolai Marr.

In the first half of the 19th century, European travelers discovered Ani for the outside world, publishing their descriptions in academic journals and travel accounts. The private buildings were little more than heaps of stones but grand public buildings and the city's double wall were preserved and reckoned to present "many points of great architectural beauty".[9] Ohannes Kurkdjian produced a stereoscopic image of Ani in the second half of the 19th century.

In 1878, the Ottoman Empire's Kars region—including Ani—was incorporated into the Russian Empire's Transcaucasian region.[5] In 1892 the first archaeological excavations were conducted at Ani, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and supervised by the Georgian archaeologist and orientalist Nicholas Marr (1864–1934). Marr's excavations at Ani resumed in 1904 and continued yearly until 1917. Large sectors of the city were professionally excavated, numerous buildings were uncovered and measured, the finds were studied and published in academic journals, guidebooks for the monuments and the museum were written, and the whole site was surveyed for the first time.[18] Emergency repairs were also undertaken on those buildings that were most at risk of collapse. A museum was established to house the tens of thousands of items found during the excavations. This museum was housed in two buildings: the Minuchihr mosque, and a purpose-built stone building.[19] Armenians from neighboring villages and towns also began to visit the city on a regular basis,[20] and there was even talk by Marr's team of building a school for educating the local Armenian children, building parks, and planting trees to beautify the site.[21]

In 1918, during the latter stages of World War I, the armies of the Ottoman Empire were fighting their way across the territory of the newly declared Republic of Armenia, capturing Kars in April 1918. At Ani, attempts were made to evacuate the artifacts contained in the museum as Turkish soldiers were approaching the site. About 6,000 of the most portable items were removed by archaeologist Ashkharbek Kalantar, a participant of Marr's excavation campaigns. At the behest of Joseph Orbeli, the saved items were consolidated into a museum collection; they are currently part of the collection of Yerevan's State Museum of Armenian History.[22] Everything that was left behind was later looted or destroyed.[23] Turkey's surrender at the end of World War I led to the restoration of Ani to Armenian control, but a resumed offensive against the Armenian Republic in 1920 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk resulted in Turkey's recapture of Ani. In 1921 the signing of the Treaty of Kars formalized the incorporation of the territory containing Ani into the Republic of Turkey.[24]

In May 1921, the government minister Rıza Nur ordered the commander of the Eastern Front, Kazım Karabekir, for the monuments of Ani to "be wiped off the face of the earth."[25] Karabekir records in his memoirs that he has vigorously rejected this command and never carried it out.[26] Some destruction did take place, including most of Marr's excavations and building repairs.[27] In October of the same year, a separate treaty was signed between Turkey and the RSFSR, confirming the border between Turkey and the soviet republic of Armenia as it is today. The Russian negotiator Ganeckij of this treaty tried to include Ani into the soviet republic of Armenia, but Karabekir did not agree.[28]

During the Cold War, Ani lay on the Turkish-Soviet border, a segment of the Iron Curtain.[29] In the 1950s Ani was part of the USSR's territorial claims on Turkey. In 1968 there were negotiations between the Soviet Union and Turkey, in which Ani would be transferred to Soviet Armenia in exchange for two Kurdish villages being transferred to Turkey, however nothing resulted from the talks.[30]

^ a b c Cite error: The named reference ghaf was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Whittow, Mark (1996). The Making of Byzantium, 600–1025. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 213–214. ISBN 978-0-520-20497-3. ^ a b c d e f g Admin (January 5, 2019). "The forgotten kingdom: Bagratid Armenia". PeopleOfAr. Retrieved December 9, 2022. ^ Garsoian, Nina. "The Arab Invasions and the Rise of the Bagratuni (649–684)" in The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I, The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian. New York: St Martin's Press, 1997, p. 146. ISBN 978-0-312-10169-5 ^ a b c d e Cite error: The named reference eb11 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Redgate, Anne Elizabeth. The Armenians. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998, p. 210. ^ Manuk-Khaloyan, Armen, "In the Cemetery of their Ancestors: The Royal Burial Tombs of the Bagratuni Kings of Greater Armenia (890-1073/79)", Revue des Études Arméniennes 35 (2013): 147–155. ^ Whittow. Making of Byzantium, p. 383. ^ a b c d Cite error: The named reference eb9 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Quoted in Norwich, John Julius (1991). Byzantium: The Apogee. New York: Viking. pp. 342–343. ISBN 978-0-394-53779-5. ^ Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Kartlis Tskhovreba (History of Georgia), Artanuji pub. Tbilisi 2014 ^ Lordkipanidze, Mariam (1987). Georgia in the XI-XII Centuries. Tbilisi: Genatleba. p. 150. ^ Eastmond, Antony (2017). Tamta's World: The Life and Encounters of a Medieval Noblewoman from the Middle East to Mongolia. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316711774. ISBN 9781316711774. ^ Sinclair, T. A. Eastern Turkey: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey, vol. 1 (London: Pindar Press, 1987), p. 444. ^ W. Barthold, ' Die persische Inschrift an der Mauer der Manucehr-Moschee zu Ani ', trans. and edit. W. Hinz, ZDMG, Bd. 101, 1951, 246; ^ Ivane Javakhishvili, The History of the Georgian Nation, vol. 3, Tbilisi, 1982, p.179 ^ Bryce, James (1878). Transcaucasia and Ararat: Being Notes of a Vacation Tour in Autumn of 1876 (3rd ed.). London: Macmillan and Co. p. 301. ^ Kalantar, Ashkharbek, The Mediaeval Inscriptions of Vanstan, Armenia, Civilisations du Proche-Orient: Series 2 – Philologie – CDPOP 2, Vol. 2, Recherches et Publications, Neuchâtel, Paris, 1999; ISBN 978-2-940032-11-2 ^ Marr, Nicolas (2001). Ani – Rêve d'Arménie. Anagramme Editions. ISBN 978-2-914571-00-5. ^ Manuk-Khaloyan, Armen. "The God-Borne Days of Ani: A Revealing Look at the Former Medieval Armenian Capital of Armenia at the Turn of the 20th Century." Armenian Weekly. November 29, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2012. ^ Hakobyan, Tadevos (1982). Anii patmutyun, 1045 t. minchev ankumn u amayatsume [The History of Ani, from 1045 Until its Collapse and Abandonment], vol. 2 (in Armenian). Yerevan: Yerevan State University Press. pp. 368–386. ^ Kalantar, Ashkharbek (1994). Armenia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Recherches et Publications. ISBN 978-2-940032-01-3. ^ Marr, Nikolai Y. "Ani, La Ville Arménniene en Ruines", Revue des Études Arméniennes 1 (1921). ^ (in Armenian) Zohrabyan, Edik A. (1979). Sovetakan Rusastane yev hay-turkakan haraberutyunnere, 1920–1922 tt. [Soviet Russia and Armenian-Turkish relations, 1920–1922]. Yerevan: Yerevan State University Press, pp. 277–80. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1986). "The Role of Turkish Physicians in the World War I Genocide of Ottoman Armenians". Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Oxford University Press. 1 (2): 192. doi:10.1093/hgs/1.2.169. PMID 11617154. ^ Karabekir, Kazım (1960). İstiklal Harbimiz [Our War of Independence] (in Turkish). Istanbul: Türkiye Yayınevi. pp. 960–970. ^ Sim, Steven. "The City of Ani: Recent History". VirtualANI. Archived from the original on January 26, 2007. Retrieved January 26, 2007. ^ Kobro, Georg (1991). Das Gebiet von Kars und Ardahan. Munich: Niemanis Verlag. p. 209. ISBN 3910100007. ^ "Ani viewpoint & Iron Curtain". Retrieved August 7, 2019. ^ Naegele, Jolyon (April 9, 2008). "Caucasus: Ancient City of Ani Is So Close, Yet So Far". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
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