Compiled by Jirair Tutunjian
Posted by Nayiri Abrahamian
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Grand Mosque of Medina

In the early eighth century the Grand Mosque of Medina needed major restoration and repair. Armenian architect Vartan was hired by the Arabs to carry out the work (707-709).

Tigranes the Great and Halley’s Comet

Tigranes the Great (140—55 BC) wears a tiara on coins bearing his profile. The headpiece has an eight-pointed starburst between two eagles. On some coins, the starburst has a long tail. Modern astronomers calculate that Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to the sun on Aug. 6m 87 BC. By placing this image on his coinage, the Armenian king was declaring to his subjects that he was far from fearing the omen in the sky, that he embraced it, and made it a symbol of his era.

Joe Hockey

Joe Hockey, Australia’s treasurer, is of Armenian original. His father (born in Bethlehem, Palestine) changed the family name—Hokeidonian—when he immigrated to Australia in 1948. Born in Sydney in 1965, Hockey is an outspoken representative of Armenian rights. His grandfather was a Genocide survivor. Hockey has been an MP since 1996.

Similar Armenian and Basque words

Scores of Armenian and Basque words are similar giving rise to the theory that the Basques, the oldest people in Europe, came from Armenia. Here are examples of linguistic similarities, first in Basque and then in Armenian: elki (elk—exit); jaraunsi (jarankel—to inherit); murtsa (murts/prunts—fist); tegi (degh—place); toil (touyl—weak); laine (layn—wide); irurden (yerorten—third); astadun (hastadun—strong); astatu (hastadel—prove); astarak (ashdarag—tower); euskadun (voskee—gold). Ushkiani Mountains in Armenia were mined for gold in ancient Armenia. As well, many place names in the Basque are similar to place names in Armenia—Goris, Deba River, Aran, Karkar, Araxe River. Some scholars believe Taragona was founded by Armenians and derives from Taron in Armenia. Andres de Posa, Baltaza de Echava, Gaspar Escolano, Joseph Kurst have studied the Armenian/Basque connection.

Akabi Hikayesi

“Akabi’s Story” (“Akabi Hikayesi” in Turkish) is the first novel written in Turkish. Its author was Vartan Pasha (Hovsep Vartanian), a member of the Ottoman Privy Council, the first Ottoman academy. The story was about the doomed love of Akabi, a member of the Apostolic Armenian Church and Hagop, a member of the Armenian Catholic Church. Sectarian differences separate the lovers. The novel was in Turkish but printed in Armenian script. Between 1850 and 1870 many books were published in this manner in the Ottoman Empire for Armenians who could read the alphabet but didn’t understand Armenian.

Yashar Kemal

Yashar Kemal, the famous “Turkish-Kurdish” author, had an Armenian father who had fled the Van massacres during the Genocide of Armenians and settled in the Cukurova region at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. In 1951 Kemal managed to stop the destruction of Akhtamar Church by the Turkish army. In 2013 the Republic of Armenia bestowed on him the Krikor Naregatsi medal for standing up to the Turkish army. His most famous work is “Memed, My Hawk”. Kemal was born in 1923. His real name is Kemal Sadik Gokceli.


Upon returning to Istanbul after the Genocide, Yervant Odian (one of the few of the city’s Armenian intellectuals who survived the Genocide), wrote: “Here in the literary realm, there is a bleakness that reigns over everything, or perhaps it is something worse: death. I feel like I am the groundskeeper of a cemetery.” About the same time writer Hagop Oshagan wrote: “There is an eternal grayness here. Letters and literature are more neglected than ever before. People are carried away by politics, and with the scarcity of writers, people are slowly abandoning literature.” But despite the difficult circumstances, in 1922 several Armenian writers launched a literary journal called “Partsravank”. The first issue included work by Shahan Berberian, Kegham Kavafian, Hagop Oshagan, Vahan Tekeyan, and Gostan Zarian. The journal lasted barely six months.

Marjorie Housepian Dobkin

Marjorie Housepian Dobkin (1922-2013) was one of the most prominent Armenian-American writers of her generation. Her first novel, “A Houseful of Love” (1957) was published to great critical acclaim and was a “New York Times” bestseller and was published in many languages. Her book “Smyrna Affair” (1971) ; also published as “Smyrna 1922” was considered by many scholars as the most important study of the Turkish burning of the ancient Greek city in 1922. Her 1966 article “The Unremembered Genocide,” published in “Commentary” magazine was the first major essay about the Armenian Genocide in the post-war era and had a great impact in reinvigorating public awareness about the event which started the modern age of genocide. Dr. Dobkin was born in New York and was a professor of literature for many years. She was also associate dean of students at Barnard College.

T.E. Lawrence and Dr. Ernest Altounyan

Looking back to his life, T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) wrote to poet-historian Robert Graves: “I think Frederick Manning, and an Armenian, called Altounyan, and E.M. Forster are the three most I care for, since Hogarth died.” Lawrence was referring to Dr. Ernest Altounyan, whom he had met in Aleppo.

Edward Hoagland on Cornelius Boghosian

In “African Calliope: a Journey to the Sudan”, Edward Hoagland wrote about Cornelius Boghosian, an Armenian who bore a stark likeness to Hemingway: “Boghosian wore a bristly gray moustache and safari jacket, with suitably clipped manner that showed he had been an officer with one of Montgomery’s divisions. Yet behind these familiar emblems, this protective coloration was an Armenian insistence upon a life of infinite possibilities; that we might stay out in the moonlight forever, that we might fall into another cushy berth with a dictator that we might all die this evening, or become banner friends.”

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