AFTER THE SALE OF THE CITY OF ANI, ARMENIANS
CONVERGE SOUTHWARD ONTO A NEW REGION, CALLED UNSPECIFICALLY
When foreign intruders came from the far east of Asia inside Armenia,
(circa 900 A.D.) and occupied the whole territory and the
capital city of Ani, residence of Pakradounis’ royal dynasty,
they destroyed all around pitiless, plunging the country into
total disorder and gloomy destruction.
These foreigners established their domination everywhere, persecuting
and killing the population, creating miserable life conditions.
This people were obliged to search refuge in neighborhoods,
or in other free lands outside Armenia.
Historians say that caravan after caravan of Armenians headed
toward the north, passing over the Caucasian mountains, settled
in Crimea (Russian Empire), and more in far countries as Poland,
Hungary, Romania and Bulgary. Other people proceeded to the
western regions of Asia Minor occupied by the greek byzantines,
and settled down near Bosphorus Strait, in Constantinople
exactly, the mother city of the Roman-Greek Empire.
But other people preferred to go southward, near the shores of
the Mediterranean Sea. Many princes, ministers and others
liked to accompany all this caravans headed toward areas where
they found large extents of land.
This land, or as we like to call it “region”, had the name
of Cilicia, a greek appellation meaning green environment,
or something like that, according to etymologists. We begin
now by exposing just the position and the generalities characterizing
this region, where the newlycomers established their own community
bringing important improvements and accelerating house constructions.
More later they founded and inaugurated a realm which lasted
approximately three centuries, since 1080 to 1375 A.D.
CILICIA ON THE MAP
Located at the eastern basin of Mediterranean Sea, just north
of Cyprus Island, Cilicia was a beautiful and fertile land
known since the ancient times. It belonged to no any defined
population but many intruders had occupied and then left it.
Beginning from 1080 A.D. Cilicia has been obviously known
as the territory belonging to Armenians where they left huge
memorabilia of their own.
The geographical structure of the new refuge of Armenian people,
the territorial entity of Cilicia is composed of three sections:
maritime, rural and mountainous. 300 miles of seashore stretches
beginning from the city of Antalia at the west to eastward
till the city of Alexandrette, so forming the maritime section.
At the West, there are high and arc-shaped Taurus mountains,
surrounding the country with other chain of mountains which
are the Amanos mountains, constituting a natural boundary
and a wall, as defense for the inhabitants who live overthere.
Between the sea and the mountains, exists an immense extension
of cultivable land, named Field of Adana, which can be estimated
as the source of wealth of Cilicia where a hot or moderate
climate dominates all year long. Mountains and rural sections extend over 35,000
sq.mil., but the cultivable portion is only 12,000.
Four medium lenght rivers descending from the Taurus mountains
irrigate the abovementioned fields: Jihoun, Sihoun, Cydnos,
the latter crossing the city of Tarson, but at the west runs
the river Seleucia, just near the homonym city. Many other
rivers and sources bring abundant water to the rural Cilicia.
CROPS OF CILICIA
The Field of Adana is a cultivable area of 60 miles long and
20 miles large. Even if small sized, it is very fertile with
variety of fruits: there is a rich growth of pears, apples,
oranges, grapes, apricots, cherries and peaches. The most
important and lucratif crop is the cotton, a remarkable and
high quality produce of this land. Rural Cilicia, with its
hot and humid climate, favorites also the growth of some tropical
plantations, such as dates and bananas. On the flanks of the
mountains, man can find olive, chestnut, hazelnut trees.
Almonds are abundant and of exceptional quality and taste.
You can find beautiful oranges with their own exquisite perfume
and juicy taste you can’t enjoy elsewhere: perhaps, in Palestine,
where oranges with exceptional beauty and big slices are
called Jaffa oranges. Cilicia’s mountains are covered with
thick and centennial trees. The botanical richness is famous
with variety of exotic flowers,very beautiful and strangely
The Taurus mountains, whose underground is not well known yet,
need exploration and hard work in order to have a lucrative
production of possible mineral richness. In the ancient times,
lead, gold and silver were extracted from the deep entrails
of the Taurus mountains which are so huge, panoramic and magnificent.
Nowadays saline minerals are extracted from caverns existing on
the flanks of Cilician mountains. People tell about massive
portions of salt, so natural, so tasteful, simple product
whose chemical compound it is said to be pure sodium chloride,
with no other mixture. These massive portions are brought
down to homes and reduced into little pieces and then pulverized
for kitchen purposes. But this habitude now is in extinction.
At the north of Adana there are interesting oil fields never
exploited, as also the anthracit.
THE INHABITANTS OF CILICIA
A country rich like this, with natural defense at the north by
impassable heights, and by the sea at the south, would certainly
be enormously coveted by any conquering nation. In the old
times dominating people have been the Hittites, Assyrians,
Persians and Romans. Then came the Byzantines, just in time
when Armenians reached the region and begun to appropriate
From the ancient times, Armenian merchants from homeland have
established their colonies and businesses in the proximity
of the shores of Mediterranean Sea. At the time of Tigran
the Great, Armenians moved toward the west of Euphrate river,
and during the centuries they continuously organized little
entities, specially among mountainous regions. This immigration
took big proportions during the persian Sassanide dynasty’s
persecutions. The cities of Malatia,Cesarea, Sebastia, Edessa
had more Armenian population then Greeks or Assyrians. The
massive immigration of Armenians into Cilicia begun before
920-1000 A.D., when byzantine army
commanders Nicephore Phocas and Johannes Chemeskik
occupied Cilicia from the Arabs expulsing them out of
the region. They created a new era of prosperity, revitalizing
all the desolate lands around. Soon Cilicia was populated
by newcomer Armenians. Accompanying the working people, artisans
or simple adventurers were also aristocratic people who occupied
soon all the castles and
other strongholds. The clergy, that has been the faithfull
custodian everytime for the Armenians, came here with them
for the defense of faith, spiritual
and educational purposes
for all them in search of a new and honorable life
for themselves, their children and for their friends. Khachig
I, a catholicos chief of Armenian Church, had seat in Antiochia
before 900 A.D.
A new fatherland was in sight instead of the other
fatherland, trampled upon by the Byzantines and many other
PILARDOS, THE ARMENIAN COMMANDER
In 1071, when the Greeks were defeated at the gates of Manazgerd
city by the invader Alp-Aslan, one of the generals serving
among the Greek army was Pilardos the Armenian, on assignment
of defense for the city of Malatia.
Consecutively he conquered many autonomous feudal ruling
houses and distributed
lands and castles to everybody:
so Wassil the Thief received Kessoun, Toros received
Edessa, Tatoul received Marash, Rouben received Barzerpert.
Other Armenian princes dominated in the rural Cilicia: Aboulgharib
Arzrouni in Tarson, and Oshin also in the castle of Lampron,
and Abirad received the region of
Zopk castle. Abirad’s son was Nerses Shnorhali, who
became one of the most famous figures of Armenian Church.
PRINCE ROUBEN (1080-1095)
Cilicia was ready to be a little Armenia. In order to realize
such an ambition, it was important to unite the castle-owner princes and the remaining population. That
was done by the prince
Rouben. Brave, intelligent and aristocratic, Rouben reigned
over the Parzerpert and environments, and over the castle
Kosidara (near Hadjin city), in the middle of the country.
We have no satisfactory
informations about his origins, but many historians relating
the history of Cilicia say he was from the dynasty of Pakradounis
reigning at north, in the city of Ani, or probably from the
other dynasty of Arzrounis, kins of Pakradounis, dominating the southern part of Armenia, around the Van Lake, (here
seen in our picture). The most valuable opinion was that Rouben
was the chief of reserve officers of king Gagik II, in the
northern city of Ani, kingdom of Pakradounis. After the king’s
death (1079 A.D.) surely he passed with all his guard corps
into eastern Cilicia and occupied all around the Parzerpert
castle and the stronghold of Kizistra.
Rouben protected his clansmen against the Greek and other warriers.
Once King Gagik II was dead, Rouben was revengeful against
the Greek : the time was propitious to act, because the byzantine
emperor was occupied to make war in Europe, Seljuks also were
in trouble, very busy for the distribution of lands among
them; so nobody paid attention that upon the Taurus mountains a new dynasty was borning : the Roubenians.
And when Rouben died, in 1095 A.D. he left an immense and
organized authority to Constantin, his son.
Extra: 1700 YEARS AGE, ARMENIAN ADOPTED THE CHRISTIAN
In 301 A.D., Armenians became Christians, abjuring the paganism
and neglecting all its idols. It was during the reign of king
Dertad III (286-330 A.D.) that the Armenian people adopted
the christian faith and made it their official religion. The
conversion to this new religion occurred with the help of
a person called Krikor, whom later the people honored as the
“Illuminator” of the nation. The ceremonial took place during
a garden meeting on the shores of the Arazani river, in Ardashad.
King Dertad with all his family, wife and sister, and all
the kins, received their baptism, soaked into the waters of
In order to commemorate this exceptional event of Armenian
national history, the newly created Armenian Government in
Erevan, (after the collapse of Soviet rule in 1991), with
the cooperation of the Spiritual Chief of the Apostolic Church
of Armenia, and all the communities, will inaugurate with
a Solemn Mass the new multimillion worth Cathedral, dedicated
to St.Gregory the Illuminator. During a visit to Rome of His
Holiness the Catholicos Karekin II, on last November 2000,
and His Holiness the Pope John Paul II presided over an ecumenical
liturgy in St. Peters’ Basilica. Then the Pope offered to
Karekin II the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator, kept
venerated during centuries in a church of Naples, in Italy.
The relics have been brought to Armenia, where they will be
exposed to the faithfull and then put into custody of the
church responsibles. The church you see on the picture at
left, is the Holy Cross church on Akhtamar Island in Van Lake,
constructed by order of Gakig Arzrouni, king of Vasbouragan
region. This church can be considered the prototype of the
new Church of Erevan (above, at right). Architect: Stepan