Photo: Akhtamar Island, Lake Van in the spring & Church of the Holy Cross 10th c. AD. Historic Armenia, today part of the Turkish Republic.
Akhtamar Island, Lake Van, Church of the Holy Cross built in the 10th Century AD, commissioned by King Gagik Artsruni, of the Artsruni Dynasty, rivals of the Bagratuni Dynasty. Rivalry between the two powerful Armenian houses of Bagratuni & Artsruni were not severe, but destabilized the region from the onslaught of invading Arab forces from the south during the middle ages.
The unique importance of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross comes from the extensive array of bas-relief carving of mostly biblical scenes that adorn its external walls. The meanings of these reliefs have been the subject of much and varied interpretation.
Van was inhabited by Armenians since the dawn of civilization, the Van fortress was founded in the 9th century BC, firstly by the Armenian Araratian King Arame, or his folk legend name “Ara The Beautiful” who was directly descended from the Nairi tribe of Armenia. The Van fortress was made the capital of the Ararat Kingdom by the Armenian King Sarduri I in the 9th century BC. The citadel was called Tushpa (Tosp) at the time, the province was called Biainili or Vianili. The B/V prefix both bare the same sound, Vianili & Bianili.
The letter “B” is often used as “V” in Arartian (Ancient Armenian) texts showing a linguistic evolution in pronunciation or script, this is where the word Van derives from. Many Armenian locations bare the van suffix, such as yereVAN, seVAN, stepanaVAN, the meaning of the word “VAN” is “place to live” or “residence”, showing belonging. The provincial region is known to Armenians as Vasbouragan, however the city, or inhabited area has always been called Van. Van is the satem classification for belonging in the Armenian language, hence the oldest inhabited Armenian region is simply referred to as Van, meaning ‘Place to live’ or ‘residence’.
Source: Monarchy Of Historical Armenia. (2014, March 13). Akhtamar Island, Lake Van, Church of the Holy Cross [Facebook post]. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/nmo2owr.
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