Lia A. Avetissian, Yerevan, February 2013
The Armenian alphabet is based on the principle that "every sound has its symbol." The 36 letters of our alphabet reflect the Armenian phonetics, but are arranged in an order different from the Greek and Latin alphabets. As well, in the Armenian alphabet the starting letters Ա (A) and Բ (B) are followed by Գ (G) and not by Ս (C); the letter Ե (E) is followed by Զ (Z) instead of "F", which was not in the Mesrop Mashtots alphabet.Mashtots invented not just the "wrong" alphabet, but also built the 36 letters into a matrix of four columns by nine rows and applied a numeric code to each letter. The 24-letter Greek alphabet is also arranged in four rows by six columns. But do these columns mean anything or show anything in the lexicography of the Greek language? No. What about the Latin’s succession with its 25 letters? Does it work in any field except as in simple numerology? The answer is the same.
Meanwhile, the Armenian letters--arranged into four columns and nine rows--have both a numeric code assigned to each letter, from 1 to 36 (Ա, Բ, Գ, ․․․ Ւ, Փ, Ք = 1, 2, 3, ․․․ 34, 35, 36) and also represent numerical values: for single digits (starting with Ա), tens (starting with Ժ), hundreds (beginning with Ճ) and thousands beginning with Ռ, ending with Ք that symbolizes 9,000. Hence, the maximum numerical value represented by the Armenian letters is 9,999. The next numerical value, 10,000, has a unique word, Բիւր (byur). However, this is a simplistic and primitive level of the knowledge hidden in the Armenian alphabet.
If we follow the groundwork of modern Armenian scientists, we see that the sequence of Mashtots’ letters is a strictly logical system. And through its decoding we may obtain information about the remote past of human beings, the world, and even the universe. Moreover, such details as the anatomy of humans, up to the number of their joints, the structure of the cerebral hemispheres, and even the regulatory rhythmic pulsations seem all to have been encoded in it. But this is information which scientists uncovered after 13 to 15 centuries had elapsed.
Edward Ayanyan, a Yerevan-based journalist and a researcher, put together the numeric codes of the Armenian letters in the Armenian names of metals and got exactly the numbers that correspond to the atomic number (the number of protons and electrons) in the periodic table of elements (see "With Metal in the Voice", YEREVAN Magazine, September 2007—in Russian). A bright and talented scientist, US-based Vahan A. Setyan did his own research in this field. Last year he published his findings in “Enigma of the Armenian Alphabet: Letters, Protons and Paradoxes” (2012, USA) and came to the same conclusion.
Here are their samples with my comments: Gold Ոսկի (voski) has a digital code equal to 79. Lead Արճիճ (artchitch) has a digital code 82. The word silver (Armenian Արծաթ (artz/at) is a compound of two roots. The first root is Արծ (Artz-“lightener”). See արծել artzel), meaning to etch engravings on metal; to highlight; արծարծել (artzartzel) means to elucidate or unravel significance). The heavenly symbol of Armenian kingdoms–Արծիւ (Artziv) for eagle is also a compound word based on the same root Արծ (Artz). The second root in Armenian name of the silver is the famous -աթ (-at) that is known as a suffix designating its cosmic nature (see the words կաթիլ – katil (drop), or Երկաթ (yerkat), Iron in Armenian, which translates to “heavenly metal”). Thus, the digital codes of these metals as:
Gold → Ոսկի (voski) 24+29+15+11 = 79
Silver → Արծ[աթ] (artz[at]) 1+32+14 = 47
Lead → Արճիճ (artchitch) 1+32+19+11+19 = 82
Lo and behold, these are the same 79, 47 and 82 we find in the periodic table of the elements in the relative cells for gold, silver and lead, as their respective atomic numbers. Whereby, these Armenian names of the three metals that were known in antiquity also designate the number of electrons and protons in the atoms of the metals, which defines their chemistry!
Of course, there are many metals for which their Armenian names do not work in this manner. Tin Անագ (Anag) and copper Պղինձ (Pghindz), well-known in antiquity, are good examples. But, are we sure the names we now use are correct and not substitutes for much earlier ones? For example, tin known as Անագ (Anag), was also known as Կլաէկ (Klaek) in the past. The word is still alive in many Armenian dialects, including that of Urfa. We even had a verb կլաէկել (klaekel), meaning “to tin”. Looking around, at our neighbors, in Turkish it is still “kalay”, in Georgian is “kalis” (კალის), and our Ossetian brothers are using “къала кæнын” (kyala kænen) – isn’t it something familiar? It is important to mention that the profession of tinsmith, the farriers, and knife grinders, like many kinds of smiths, till the end of the 19th century, was famous as the art and craft of Armenians. Even our linguistic classification of the basic Armenian dialects is supported by the verb “to grid”: (srum em); (kə srem); (srel em); (sreils em); (srem go); (ha srim) and is nonrandom: it reaffirms that in all the regions of Metz Hayk all over 400,000 sq. kilometers where this dialects were still alive before 1915, the profession of the grinder was not only actual, but also specific “Armenian”.
But let us return to the periodic table and try the following algorithm for Կլաէկ (klaek), as well. Discounting the middle է = 7 as an almost silent letter here and putting together 15 + 12 +1 + 15 we obtain… 43, the atomic number of tin, as it appears in the periodic table!
How could these coincidences happen? Mashtots, as we know, did not invent words; and all the more, he did not invent the Armenian language. This language is dated by Western linguists as being 8,000-years-old. But, Armenian literacy, even with its short-cut biography, seems to have started (better to say – re-started) in 405 AD. Nonetheless, it possesses a wonderful potential to comprehend the knowledge of chemistry and physiology, anatomy and mathematics and many other disciplines that were belatedly discovered one-and-half millennia after Mashtots.
Moreover, even if we sum up the letters, or multiply them, or consider a simple numerical sequence, they always find a corresponding system. It turns out that our digitized alphabet is an access code to a multitude of knowledge, and in antiquity, it was enough to have Armenian language literacy to be a competent and knowledgeable person.
All of this indicates that the Armenian alphabet could not simply be the result of work even done by a huge group of brilliant scientists. It turns out that its history is much older than 1,600 years; it is of the same age as the language and the history of Armenian civilization itself. What if, as a link of the perfect "language-letter-numeric code" system, our alphabet explained to us the deep, hidden meaning of the notion of the "Holy Trinity"? The biblical essence which is difficult to grasp even by the most committed Christians? "In the beginning was the Word" (Ի սկզբանէ էր Բանն), and the “Word” is understood by Armenians in two meanings: Word and Idea (=Program?).
Let’s get back to the Armenian alphabet. The letters are anthropomorphic; that is, each one is a metaphor of humans and their civilizational role in various manifestations.
Let us consider the letter Գ (G). It is the first in the name of our generator of ideas, i.e. the head գլուխ (glukh). It looks very familiar to us as the head of an Armenoid on his shoulders. In Armenian not only the word head, but also the concepts related to intelligence start with this symbol, such as the secret (գաղ - gagh), knowledge (գիտ - git), scientific discovery (գիւտ - gyut), literacy (գիր - gir), and the resulting book (գիրք - girk), idea (գաղափար - gaghapar), generalist (գիտակ - gitak) and the inventor (գիւտարար gyutarar or գիւտէնբեր gyutenber). If the latter reminds you of the name of the inventor of the first printing press, you are correct. Because the name of the parents of Hovhannes (Johann) Gutenberg were quite different, and such a name should be his special Armenian designation for his generalist head, which is in Armenian գիտակ գլուխ (gitak glukh)!
The same letter stands in front of our ancient technological terms: գազ - gas (cubic meter), գամ - gam (metal crutch, nail), գաջ - gaj (alabaster), գլան - glan (plunger) and others.
Գ (G) also stands at the start of the word that describes the container of all these treasure of ideas – the skull, which in Armenian is գանգ (gang). Might be, the marine troops of criminals were called “gangs” because of the skulls designed on their flags? It is interesting to investigate, as beginning with the middle Ages the main aim of their muggings was the rich Armenian commercial navy overseas. However, they were met with good resistance, as the daring of our brave spirits also begins with this magic G: գար – gar (“Brave up to the odd” - synonymous of ծուռ – tzur, such as Sanasar and his heroic generations were. The names Edgar and Garik or Garnik also come from this root, but we will talk about it much later). There is a short step from the heroic eccentricity to the absolute bedlam in one’s head. That’s why the word “crazy” also starts with this letter, it’s գիժ – gizh, or a compound խելագար – khelagar.
The Armenian alphabet is a hierarchical system, where each letter is not just in sequence, but also participates in the differentiation of knowledge, skills or definitions. All the 144,000 root words of this ancient, but still alive language are easy to distribute according to this principle.
This alphabet system is built on a scale of values in descending order, starting with the Divine Essence (the first letter) going down the scale to the last one – Ք (Q).
That is why the first letter Ա (A) symbolizes the Divine Spark of human talent, the Արարիչ Ararich (Creator) and the chief God of the ancient Armenians, whose name is Ար Ar. He was known also as Ան (An). We still use “An” in our daily language, but indicate it as a negative prefix. For example, when we say Աննկատ - Annkat (invisible) it also means “visible [only] to God”… but not to you. Or Անտեր - Anter (a person; people without any support; something (goods; property) belonging to nobody) can be understood as “a person with [only] God’s support” or something (goods; property) belonging to [only] God. The second amazing fact related to the “An” is the meaning of sun in English. It can be understood as Grabarian z/An, and its true translation is “the God” (z = the). Don’t forget that we were Arians, i.e. Sun-worshippers before Christianity. That’s why reading Արեվ - Arev (the Sun) in Russian, but from right to left, we find Вера (Vera), which means “Belief” in that language! And we have lots of such samples in many languages.
The letter Ա looks like a tiny little man, lifting up his hands to heaven in a deep bow. This first letter of the alphabet is also the first letter of Armenian words designating heavenly bodies, starting with the sun (Արեգակ - Aregak), stars (Աստղ - Astgh), meteorites (Ասուպ - Asup) and ending with the sunrise (Այգ - Ayg). Consider that the Garden of Eden and Armenia itself were famous to ancient Christian theologians as Այգեստան (Aygestan) – a place where the sun rose for the first time after Creation and has a meaning “Home of the Sunrise” – Այգ[ը]զտան –Ayg[ə]ztan. Yes, you are right: Armenia and the Orient (or Arients) were synonyms for a very long time.
Also the basic fundamental words denoting root (Արմատ - Armat), nation (Ազգ - Azg), person (Անձ - Andz), his aspiration for Freedom (Ազատ – Azat), the Gospel (Աւետ - Avet), legends (Առասպել - Araspel), the non-random symbols of our kingdoms like the lion (Առիւծ -Aryutz) and eagle (Արծիւ - Artziv) begin with this letter Ա. Moreover, with the same Ա letter begins the words for creativity Արարում (Ararum), Arts Արուեստ (Arvest) and crafts Արհեստ (Arhest); that is everything we usually classify as "given by God" (Աստուածատուր).
That is why we should not be surprised that the main objects of receptors sitting in our eyes Աչք (Achq), ears Ականջ (Akanj), hands Ափ (Ap) and teeth Ատամ (Atam) also belong to the Ա (A) club.
We feel shame without use of any receptors; it is something that belongs to the well-developed soul. However, the word “shame”, being a basic element of our culture, also starts with Ա – Ամօթ (Amot).
But talking about all these basic values we didn’t mention the most important persons that were representing the Creator, Ararich, on the Earth. They were the Armenian kings of the first dynasties and were known as Արքա (Arqa). After extirpation of these sacral dynasties we have
got just Թագավոր (Tagavor), the Bearer of the Crown. The lowercase letter of Armenian A, Ա is “ա” and looks like a crown on the monarchs’ head. There are several pictographs on Geghama Mountains in Armenia, where you can see an engraved image of a man with “ա” on his head and the letter Ա is above him. It seems strange if you do not know that Արքա (Arqa) is the plural form of Ար (Ar), Creator, so these patriarchs had to be smaller than Him and could be many in different Armenian kingdoms. But of course they were higher in this hierarchy than half mortal- half- god – the Cesar, who is understood very well in Armenian as Կեսար: half-Ar.
This letter is a leader of the Armenian alphabet; not only because it stands at the starting position. It’s impossible not to notice that a considerably imposing number of Armenian words start with Ա (A) – such that all the first volumes of the four-volume Armenian vocabulary, by our linguistic masters -- Hrachya Acharian and Stepan Malkhasiants--are devoted to the words beginning with Ա.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Armenian civilization and language. I want to express my thanks to Jirair Tutunjian, the editor of Keghart.com, who encouraged me to submit my previous articles to this site a few months ago at our Yerevan meeting.