“A forgotten Empire: Tigran’s Greater Armenia,” Giusto Traina

“A forgotten Empire: Tigran’s Greater Armenia,” Giusto Traina


This is a drawing from
a national encyclopedia of Armenia. [INAUDIBLE] of the frontiers
are a bit optimistic. But, as a matter of
fact, Tigranes’s empire stretched from the Caspian
to the Mediterranean Sea, which is actually usual
for Armenian history as we normally consider our
media as a highland country with some plains, with some
rivers, with some lakes. But with no particular
vocation [INAUDIBLE] the sea. And now, we have
this interesting map. But, this is a map
of Tigranes’s empire. It’s a must in Armenia
school manuals and atlases. And it may possibly be compared
with a map of the Mediterranean in 117 AD in most of
Western textbooks. Rather interestingly, this map
shows the largest expansion of the Roman provinces by the
end of Trajan’s reign, which incidentally– when incidentally, greater
Armenia lost its independence for a short period. In his attempt to
demolish the founding myths of modern nations, the
great British historian Eric J. Hobsbawm said that among
the Armenians to find an example of a fairly
important kingdom, it was necessary to go
until the first century BC. As a matter of fact, Tigranes
is still very popular and can eventually inspire
not only patriotism, but also some business. [LAUGHTER] And in the Republic of
Armenia, we may enjoy a drink and making a toast
to our favorite king. And in the diaspora, we may even
wear him on a classic t-shirt. But, if Tigranes is
Armenian national hero, he is almost unknown, alas,
in the rest of the world. And in fact, his
story can be mostly reconstructed with the aid
of Roman sources, which understate his
role in the warfare operations against Rome. Nonetheless, for
almost 20 years, he was at the head
of a sizable empire, holding the royal
epithet of great and the title of king of kings. Despite that, nowadays, his
empire is almost forgotten. Why? Let’s start from the
beginning of the story. The Armenian kingdom, one of
the political consequences of the Treaty of
Apamea, signed in 188 BC by the Romans and the
Seleucid King, Antiochus III. The defeated king was
forced to renounce a large part of his
possessions in Asia Minor and in the Caucasus. The first the King
of Armenia was Artashes, the first
Artaxias in Greek, the founder of the
dynasty called Artaxias. But, it’s a modern term. And his successor, Tigranes
I, probably his son, was a friend of the Romans
during the third Punic War, so 149 to 146, he had
sent auxiliary troops to support them. His successor was his
brother, Artavasdes I– no coins– because during
this period of the Armenian, during his reign,
Armenia was in a sort of turmoil with the
Seleucids and the Parthians, but [INAUDIBLE] Why
Artavasdes and not Tigran the Great– because
Tigranes the Great was born in 140 BC. So when Tigranes I died, his son
was simply too young to rule. In the meantime, a
new power had just taken hold in
neighboring Mesopotamia. By the end of the
second century, after a long series
of wars, the Parthians expelled the Seleucids
from Mesopotamia for good. And around 110, the Parthian
army also defeated Armenia. And Artavasdes I was
obliged to submit to the authority of
the Parthian king and provide guarantees
to the conqueror. He eventually gave
him Prince Tigranes, who was now 30 years old. The [? sending ?]
of royal hostages was a common practice
in ancient diplomacy, particularly in the East. A defeated king could
take advantage of it, sending his nephew
to the Parthians. Artavasdes eventually
neutralized a potential revolt, sending him to Mesopotamia. And, as a matter
of fact, Tigranes lived in the region of
Babylon, either in the larger– in the larger [INAUDIBLE]
city of Seleucia, or possibly also the royal
court of [INAUDIBLE],, we don’t know about that. As a token of the
execution of the peace treaty between
Parthia and Armenia, Tigranes remained in
Mesopotamia for 15 years. Possibly among his
acquaintances there were also the priest
of the famous temple of the Esaglia, the temple
of Marduk in Babylon. In fact, the astrological
journals written on cuneiform tablets by the priest give
evidence of the sojourn of the crown prince,
{?_{?_[NON-ENGLISH]_?}_?} of Armenia after 110. This is not the good
tablet, buy I didn’t find the real thing on the internet. I’m very sorry. But anyway, this is the text. This is the translation made by
Mark Geller about the cuneiform evidence giving some interesting
accounts on Tigranes himself. And usually such
kind of documents do not refer to regions
outside the Mesopotamia, a sign that the return of
Tigranes to Armenia was considered particularly
worthy of mention. In his short biographical
account of Tigranes’s rise and fall, the
Greek author Strabo observes that the change
of fortune, experienced by Tigranes were varied. In fact, the
[INAUDIBLE] of this king is mortal, though remarkable. The long years spent as
hostage far away from Armenia did not diminish his ambition. On the contrary,
[INAUDIBLE] that he stay at the Parthian
court eventually opened up new perspectives. As a matter of
fact, as he finally ascended the Armenian
throne, in 95. Tigranes was a 45-year-old. Needless to say, heroes
are not necessarily young. Therefore, we regret to dismiss
this modern iconography– somehow recalling the style
of Frank Frazetta at first. But it’s quite interesting. Because in the imaginary,
especially for when people give a [INAUDIBLE] idea. But especially in diaspora. It’s interesting to look. Has Tigranes’ portrait– has
been considered as a hero. And so it could be worth
noting, saying this iconography, because it will be
very, very interesting. We would possibly
find many surprises. I didn’t put, of course,
the illustration. We can find in the
[? militarist ?] handbook. So they are very
popular, as well. But there is very much to be
done about Tigranes, in art. Maybe [INAUDIBLE] will know
that there is also opera by Vivaldi– Il Tigranes– and so on. And there is still very much
to be explored about it. But let’s go back to [INAUDIBLE] What happened, in
fact, after 95? At first, Tigranes was
obliged to give the Parthians some lands. And in the immediately
following years, he made it clear that
his projects did not jeopardize the alliance
with the Parthians. On the other hand, he found a
powerful ally in Asia Minor, in Mithridates VI,
king of Pontus, or northern Cappadocia–
because now it’s not fashionable anymore speaking about Pontus– who was beginning
his aggressive policy in Asia Minor against Rome. And dynastic marriage
was sealed, this pact. Tigranes took as
a wife Cleopatra, a daughter of Mithridates. And, accordingly,
the Armenian king was eager to lead a series
of military campaigns. Possibly Tigranes
was lucky enough to connect the beginning
of his escalation with a major astronomical event. That is, the passage
of Halley’s comet in the inner solar system,
as this coin seems– I say, seems– to attest. Such a sensitivity
for a strong army, anyway, was not
unusual in Asia Minor. Mithridates, his
future father in law, exploited a similar
phenomenon in the same way, as early as 120 that is
the beginning of his rule. Is it then tempting
to consider this coin as a piece of evidence
of Tigranes’s propaganda, a sort of starting
point of his adventure? But, in fact, the shape of
the comet is less than clear. In any case, in the
[? Iranian ?] war, the comets were
considered as bad omens. It is also tempting to suppose
that the priests of the Esagila contributed to Tigranes’s
education as a future king. Maybe this has anything to
do with the so-called comet, but it could be be possible. At any rate, Tigranes soon
started the hostilities against the Parthians,
possibly around 85. Before going westward, to
conquer several regions of the eastern Mediterranean,
eventually occupying the last relics of
the Seleucid empire. Founding an ephemeral
Armenian empire, which included south
of Cappadocia, Cilicia, northern Mesopotamia,
and northern Syria. We cannot precisely date all
the steps of this escalation, but the occupation of the relics
of the Seleucid empire seems to have taken place in 83. So, reconstruction
can possibly let us think that the first
region he conquered was [INAUDIBLE] and now
Armenian kingdom, which achieved its independence
at the same time of Armenia. And after the Cicero’s
[INAUDIBLE] Tigranes’s Armenia becomes Greater
Armenia, a name which survived until the end of
the kingdom, in 428 AD. Then, it seized
several territories in Eastern Anatolia,
at the expense of Rome’s friendly kings. Finally summoned by the citizens
of the metropolis of Antioch, he took possession of
a large part of Syria, putting to end what remained
of the Seleucid empire. So from Tigranes on, the
last the Hellenistic king was the king of Egypt. And Tigranes installed
an Armenian governor, and periodically held
court in Antioch. Until now, Armenia
was [INAUDIBLE] in the mountains
of the Caucasus. Now it was connected
to the Mediterranean. Greek counselors
attended Tigranes in his diplomatic affairs, with
kings and with Greek cities, but the king had not
forgotten the Parthians. Taking advantage of a dynastic
crisis within their empire, he extended the Armenian
area of influence up to upper
Mesopotamia, where he occupied the important center
of Nisibis, Nusaybin in Armenia. Then he pushed even
into [INAUDIBLE] In the history of Armenia,
the greatest kings built new capitals to
consolidate their power and prestige. Tigranes’s new
capital was created in southwestern
Armenia, opportunely close to Mesopotamia and Syria. And he called it Tigranocerta– Tigranes’s foundation. Most likely the site
of this new capital may coincide with the
archaeological site found near the small
village of Arzan, in Turkey. Tigranocerta had buildings
of Hellenistic style. Like, for example,
a great figure. It’s a– but we may
consider this either as an indicator of actual
Hellenization of the city, or as a mere veneer of Hellenism
embedded in Oriental context. It depends on the point of view,
on the ideology of the scholar. But, possibly,
Tigranocerta was just a mixed city, where Hellenistic
elements [? sided ?] more typically Iranian elements. The Greek historian
Appian of Alexandria mentions a palace
and the paradisos that is a Persian garden
for the royal hunts. And so the text, [INAUDIBLE]
if you cannot [INAUDIBLE] large parks, enclosures for wild
animals, and fish ponds. And he also erected
a [INAUDIBLE] nearby. And this is a British
traveler [INAUDIBLE] the ruins of [INAUDIBLE]
visible in 19th century. Now this site is
in bad condition. In any case, Tigranes chose
this new residence as the place to be crowned with the
Hellenistic symbol of kingship, the diadem. This is the diadem, and this
is the [? tiara ?] [INAUDIBLE] the language the diadem
is a sort of [INAUDIBLE] we can have, for example, to
the prom princess and so on. But, in fact, the diadem
is actually this band. And significantly,
his coins show him wearing the diadem,
put on the lowest part of his [INAUDIBLE] the tiara. [INAUDIBLE] Oriental
eagles [INAUDIBLE] the Macedonian star. And even the style of the
coin, it’s pretty Hellenistic. It’s a sign that, in fact,
after the peace of Apamea many kingdoms were
developed in Asia Minor. Possibly, not every
one was cherishing a dream of being a new
Alexander’s kingdom, but the imitation of
Alexander made by Tigranes is particularly clear. [INAUDIBLE] reflected that
Tigranes ambitious program to constitute a multi-ethnic
kingdom, governed by a king who wanted to be
Hellenistic and Iranian as well. To build and
populate his capital, Tigranes deported Greeks,
Salesians, and Arabian nomads– who were more or less
obliged to leave their homes. In a similar way– influenced by Iranian,
if not earlier models– he also deported several
Jewish families to Armenia. Accordingly, its
capital was conceived as a bridge between the
Caucasus and the Mediterranean, eager to receive
traders and artisans. City in [? Vlimachanda– ?] we
have here a wonderful expert of the role of great citizens
here, but the port of trade was not less interesting. It would be interesting
to discuss with Professor [INAUDIBLE] about this. But Tigranocerta was not the
only foundation of this king. There is another. There are different
cities with the same name, so it’s not always easy to
understand what happens. Tigranes was not the only king
with the name of Tigranes, as well. But there is another
city, located in [INAUDIBLE] or
[? Arsach, ?] if you prefer, and dating from the same period. Recently excavated by an
Armenian archaeological team, we’ll call it
Tigranocerta as well– albeit with [? lack ?]
evidence on the name. This could be confirmed
by a passage of Strabo, that oddly locates Tigranes’s
capital near Iberia. In any case, I don’t
want to go in that with this philological question. But this city seems
to have held a similar economic and strategic
function as Tigrancerta. In fact, these centers put
on the fringe of the empire– we all have Tigranocerta– where regulated
international trade, and controlled the movements
of merchants and soldiers. Such a policy reveals
an ambitious project. While the king
consolidated his kingdom, aiming at the creation of
the trading network of cities located in strategic position
on the borders of his kingdom, this implied a radical
reorganization of space. For the same reasons
the king could count on a composite army, where
traditional units of cavalry were [? cited ?] by Macedonian
style hoplite phalanges. This is cited by Plutarch. And then, this reconstruction
was made for a video game. But this is not
nonetheless good enough to give an idea of what
Tigranes’s army looked like. Meanwhile, Mithridates
was harassing the Romans in Anatolia. Tigranes was his main ally, but
he had many other supporters, including several cities
of Asia Minor in Greece. Roman citizens were
eventually slaughtered, and Rome’s authority in
the eastern Mediterranean was heavily challenged. Also, the Armeno-Pontic
alliance was basically settled on an even basis. In fact, this is one of
the core points why– when we study Roman history– we know a lot about
the Mithridatic Wars. And textbooks don’t consider
very much Tigranes’s empire. Because, as a matter of
fact, Roman sources transform Mithridates as the real villain. So the guy we love
to hate, because he slaughtered Roman citizens. And he also died [INAUDIBLE]
less honorable way. Which was not the case, as
we will see, of Tigranes. In fact, Roman sources
describe Tigranes as a typical Oriental tyrant. Plutach records Tigranes’s
theatrical arrogance, but Plutarch doesn’t
like non Greeks. He can’t help it. He’s a very chauvinistic author. And at a certain moment, he
gives the following description of court life under
Tigranes’s reign. This is a description of
some pomp and circumstance situation in Antioch. This passage of Plutarch
has been also depicted in some Italian engraving,
possibly the 18th century. But anyway, it’s better
to put it on a T-shirt. It’s less dull. And so Plutarch says,
“Many were the kings who waited upon him, and for
whom he always had about him like attendants or bodyguards. Would run on foot by their
master’s side when he rode out, clad in short blues. And when he sat
transacting business would stand by with
their arms crossed. This attitude was thought to
be the plainest confession of servitude, as if they
had sold their freedom and offered their
persons to their master– disposed for suffering
rather than for service.” It’s typical Greek, of course,
because in Oriental kingdoms everyone depends on the king. And the kings depend
on a king of kings. So this hasn’t anything
to do with servitude. But the real problem, that the
Persian term for slave or serf, bandaka, it’s not the
same meaning of doulos– as slave labor in Greek. So the relational dependence
is quite a change. But, of course,
Plutarch was writing when Trajan was preparing
his invasion of Armenia and Parthia. And it was very
important to explain that the Greek communities and
the Greek-speaking communities in the Parthian empire were
waiting for the liberators. I’m not sure the
Jewish community were waiting for the Romans,
but it is another story. And during the last phase
of the Mithridatic Wars, started in [INAUDIBLE],,
the Roman general Lucullus forced Mithridates to
[INAUDIBLE] in Armenia, and urged Tigranes to hand
him his ally and stepfather. At his refusal, Lucullus
attacked Armenia. And in 69, he achieved
a [? further ?] success near Tigranocerta, where
he massacred a large number of Armenian soldiers despite
their overwhelming numerical superiority. Tigranes’s mistake was to
make Macedonia-like phalanges. And the Macedonian
phalanges doesn’t always win against Roman legions. Later on, kings of
Asia Minor decided to make their own
legends, about Tigranes had not the best the counselors. Because, of course,
[INAUDIBLE] were Greek. And then, with the aid
of the Greek community, he entered the
city– where he found the troop of Greek actors,
who were eventually employed to celebrate Lucullus’
victory in the theater. Afterwards, Tigranocerta
was destroyed, and his deported
inhabitants were sent to their respective countries. Once Strabo wrote his
geography, in the first two decades of the first
century AD, the city was reduced into
a small village. This defeat provoked the
defection of Tigranes’s allies, subsequently forcing him
to abandon Syria and give up almost all his conquests. The citadel of Nisibis
in upper Mesopotamia was occupied, despite
the fierce resistance of the governor of the region– brother of Tigranes. And the following
year, near [INAUDIBLE],, the Romans decimated the
aristocracy of the kingdom. At the age of 72, Mithridates
was a few years his cadet. The king resisted
the Romans until 66, when Lucullus was replaced
by [INAUDIBLE] commander, who had just defeated the
pirates in the Mediterranean, was not only a great
general, but also an exceptional diplomat. Tigranes the younger, the
king’s son, betrayed his father and provided Pompey
valuable information, which supplied the data
provided by his intelligence and by the Greek experts,
as scholars assisted Pompey during his campaign. As a matter of fact, this. And not only the Romans,
the classical world discovered the
Armenian geography only with Pompey’s campaign. It is worth nothing
that the before Pompey the Romans had no idea of a
river the river called Araxes. Better said, they thought that
the Araxes was an other river, as Herodotus says. Xenophon went to Armenia,
so he knew the territory. But at Xenophon’s time,
Xenophon could not challenge Herodotus’s authority. So when he crossed the Araxas,
he called it with another name. With Pompey, everything changed. And Greek geographers,
who could not actually arrive to have a description of
a difficult island territory, possibly had now a new idea
because of the campaigns made, not only in Armenia,
but in all the Caucasus. And Pompey marched
again on Artaxata. And Tigranes, confident
in his clemency, decided to capitulate. In fact, Pompey contented
himself with the excitation [INAUDIBLE] himself to
pay an important tribute. But in return, he
saved his throne. In fact, Pompey did not listen
to Tigranes the younger, who was willing to
replace his father, and preferred to keep Tigranes
on the throne instead. As he preferred a respected
and authoritative king as a friend and ally
of the Roman people, in order to keep out the
danger of the Parthian power. In 63, Mithridates put
an end to his life. Tigranes, his former ally,
did not share his tragic end, but died around 55, at
the venerable age of 85. And there is a little Greek
work on the second century AD. So it’s the macro [GREEK]
so the longer living people. And Tigranes is filed among
the exceptional characters who managed to live up
to 85, 90, and so on. And from now on the
borders of greater Armenia were more or less fixed. Except for a few
intervals the kingdom remained independent
until a 428 AD. The memory of the
greatness of Tigranes is perpetrated in the
epic histories sung by the Armenian bards, some
traces of which may be detected in the history of Armenia– written in classical Armenian
by Movses Khorenatsi. However, this author
gives a blurred account, confounding the great
king with an [INAUDIBLE] prince of the sixth century BC. And, in fact, the
history of the Tigranes’s ephemeral empire was summarily
transmitted by his defeaters– the Romans, who gave
him the features of an Oriental
opportunistic monarch. This may explain why
Roman sources accord him a secondary role in the history
of the so-called Mithridatic Wars. Because with his
fierce opposition, Mithridates had well
deserved his black legend. Whereas Tigranes finally
made a wiser decision, assuring the peace for his
kingdom, of submission. [APPLAUSE] Yes? The languages. So did Tigranes know Armenian? Because I think this was
an approach, that maybe he didn’t even know Armenian,
but he knew so many languages. Do you think he was– In fact– [INAUDIBLE] In fact, Strabo says
that after Artaxias I in the country, everyone, after
the unification of the country, people spoke Armenian. So as Tigranes was
an Armenian prince, maybe Tiridates I
was a Parthian that did not speak Armenian instead. But why not Tigranes? But we don’t have evidence
that he didn’t speak? No, no, no, no. But he knew also various
languages, right? Yes but in fact
in one of these– he’s good at two. One’s his captivity in Parthia. Because he was in
Parthia 15 years. The Parthian empire was a very
developed, cultivated empire– with Greek cities,
Jewish communities, and the rest of this
Babylonian civilization. So he was able in 15
years to learn more than he could have learned
if he stayed in his country. It is quite interesting
because in some fact, the Parthians created Tigranes. And that may also explain
why an Armenian was the main ally of
Mithridates, and not, say, for example, Cappadocia
In the balance of power all these petty
kingdoms had problems. And the superpowers–
so Romans from one side and Parthians
on the other side, could take advantage of this. But Tigranes knew better. Yes? In the slide where you were
talking about his armies, you said it was
from a video game. So I understand it may
not be very historical No, no, no, it’s a
good reconstruction. Now, video gamers can be
better than academic historians sometimes. [LAUGHTER] So I wanted to ask, since
you brought the slide up, that central figure there
seems to be in a war chariot. But you called that a cavalry– the archer seems
to be in a chariot, but you call this a cavalry. Where do you see the chariot? The front horse,
what’s behind it? Or is he on a horse– No, no [INAUDIBLE] horse. I was going to ask
[INAUDIBLE] of Armenia. I don’t know what happens
when the Assyrians invaded [? Weratu. ?] Were they
coming with chariots? Well, the Hittites had chariots,
you know, with those mountains. so they could handle it. Yes. Well, the chariotry
was being [INAUDIBLE] the king has this
[INAUDIBLE] shooting arrows. But mostly the Assyrian army
was cavalry and [INAUDIBLE] Chariotry [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] in Plutarch,
who when he describes the Battle of Tigranocerta,
explains [INAUDIBLE] This is very interesting
[INAUDIBLE] you know [INAUDIBLE]
in, for example, the Seleucids, one of the causes
of the fall of the Seleucid empire is that they did
not give too much space to the Iranian subjects. So the Seleucid army was
basically a Macedonian-based army, even though they could
take advantage of mercenary troops and– but it was still
considered [INAUDIBLE] On the other hand, in the
countries of Iranian tradition, the armies are the
mirror of the society. Now we have the [NON-ENGLISH]
who are the most noble families. The mounted light archers
represent [NON-ENGLISH],, so the other
aristocratic families. And then we have infantry,
which is more or less made by peasants or
slaves, and so on. And here you have both,
because the Tigranes was ruling a multiethnic kingdom. So there was the core
of Armenian aristocracy, of course. But on the other
hand, he had also cities and other countries. It is quite interesting
because the iconography we find in his coins,
allow a lot of messages. And in fact, if you look
at the Parthian coins on the other hand,
there were presenting– Parthian kings oscillate
between more Hellenistic trades and Oriental trades. And it is also part of the
ideology of the kingdom. Tigranes’s ideology
was Hellenistic. Roman sources present him
as an Oriental tyrant. And because their
main concern was to demonstrate that
the Greeks were in better hands under the
Romans and not under Tigranes. Mithridates is another story. So you said that after Tigranes
conquered [INAUDIBLE] How similar to that [INAUDIBLE] Now, all the maps I showed
were drawn by internet. Some maps are more optimistic. Some maps are pessimistic. We can reconstruct Armenian’s,
Tigranes’s conquests, because we have some
evidence about the countries he conquered. But for the rest of the
time it is quite difficult to explain what happens, because
we don’t have field surveys. Archaeological sites for the
classical age are not so many. Most of them have
been investigated in the Araxes valley. In Turkey, of course,
you cannot do fieldwork, saying you’re working
on the Armenians. But on the other hand,
also in the highlands, it’s very difficult to tell. If you don’t make a
proper excavation, you cannot really tell an Iron
Age wall from a Hellenistic wall, because the structures
are always the same. So it is very difficult to say. But, of course, maps
are mostly ideological. Maybe a good idea
should be, for example, to turn them upside
down, in order to give us some psychological
[INAUDIBLE] I don’t know. So was one of the challenges
of when Tigranes was the king– you said the Armenian empire had
a [? combo of ?] nationalities [INAUDIBLE] Yes, of course. Right. So being able to get
along with others, like if you’re Muslim
or Jewish or Christian. Muslim? No, not Muslims. I’m sorry I’m not [INAUDIBLE]
Yeah, so one of the challenges was to be able to [INAUDIBLE] No, no, no, no, you’re using
most modern categories. I know I am a very unpopular for
my audience, but I have to say, there was not such thing
as Armenian identity under Tigranes. Their identity was only one– the allegiance to the king. That was their identity. Of course, there
was also a society– a traditional society, founded
on families, traditions, and all this sort of thing. As concerns a
religion, there was something which
resembled Zoroastrianism, but some [? various ?]
different kings. But on the other hand, you
had also other communities. Tigranes himself
deported families which were considered even in a
latter age as Jewish families. So we don’t know if this family
is aware or practicing Judaism. But in the archives, there
were the Armenian families and the Jewish families. We don’t know when they
started the archiving of people in this way– maybe are
after Christianisation. But, of course, this was a
situation in urban sites, because urban sites need
different kinds of community. And this was in Armenia itself. Then Tigranes had to cope
with certain [INAUDIBLE] as Seleucians and
the Arabs, and so on. And everyone had a
particular function. And that’s all, because
our evidence cannot help us to reflect the
inter-ethnic relations. So this is something we can
do more for modern times, but not for antiquity. So was the common cause to
[INAUDIBLE] a great empire? [INAUDIBLE] and winning was just
to create [INAUDIBLE] empire? Of course, when you hold part
of the Eastern Mediterranean and your ambition is possibly
to go up to Persian Gulf– if somebody likes Arabian
Gulf is the same for me– in order to control
the main trade routes. So it was about prestige. It was about an opportunity
of changing the balance, the Hellenistic [INAUDIBLE]
having power even if– and that was possibly the
most delicate thing because of course Tigranes
had the problem of wanting to be a
Hellenistic king, but he was not Macedonian. But there is a period
of transformation. And the alliance
with Mithridates seemed to work, especially
because the Rome was in a crisis. So it is interesting
to understand why Tigranes’s empire
rose, and why it fell. And it is quite [INAUDIBLE]
In Hellenistic history, some empires can fall
just by accident, because the king
was slain in battle. But it was not the case. It was not the case. The real problem is that when
the Romans could gather up a large army, the Roman
military skill was stronger. That’s it. Yes? Can you talk a little bit about
the structure of governments? Well, we know more about
one of the governors. It was the governor of Syria. So the name was
[? Barzafranes ?] and Baghdatis And this is interesting because
the name Baghdatis, which is the ancestor of Bagrat. So the first Bagratid
was possibly a member of the family of the Bagratids. It’s interesting because
[INAUDIBLE] that Bagratid family had the same
function of the Surene in the Parthian empire. So it was the family where
they had the privilege to crown the king, to put
the diadem on his head. On the other hand,
it’s interesting, because linguists consider
a name such as Baghdatis– can consider it in the same
way as Semitic or Iranian, according to the information. So it’s not so easy. But what is interesting is that
we have an interesting evidence in Italy. You know the
Arretine ware So it’s a very luxury pottery
fabricated in Italy, especially in Tuscany, so near Arezzo. And too, these vases
were signed with stamps. We don’t know if
the same signature belonged to the artist, or to
the owner of the laboratory. But what is interesting is
that there is a famous pottery kiln, owned by some
Marcus Perennius, which was afterwards
signed by two characters, called the Marcus
Perennius [? Bargatis. ?] And the Marcus
Perennius Tigranus. So it is difficult
to reconstruct the story of this man
but what is actually interesting is that it possibly
could have been a freedman. So war prisoners– the
problem is to understand, were these people Armenian,
or was it just a way to give them a brand
with a historical name? And the fact that the names
are Tigranus and Bargatis seems to hint at the
situation under Tigranes. But maybe I’m going too
far with the hypothesis. [INAUDIBLE] you quoted
Strabo quite a few times, and of course Strabo would
be a really important source since [INAUDIBLE]
But I’m wondering when Strabo kind of talks
about Pontus specifically, he really makes sure to say
that his family was Roman. [INAUDIBLE] he really separates
himself from [INAUDIBLE] And I’m wondering what you think– how Strabo should
be used for Armenia, and what kind of pifalls
there are as a source? Especially since [INAUDIBLE] You know, we only have
Strabo’s geography. Strabo also wrote a more
important historical work, where he narrated at length all
the history of these countries. We know that he was speaking
about Tigranes, also, because Strabo is cited as a
source by Flavius Josephus. And the real problem
is that as an historian Strabo could use earlier
histories, like Posidonius, for example, who was
a friend of Pompey. But as for geography,
the situation is different, because his
description of Armenia shows very clearly that Strabo
never set foot in Armenia. So Pontus is not very
far from Armenia. But he possibly was
not interested in it. And this is very frustrating. Because on one
hand, Strabo is one of the best sources we have
about the situation in Armenia in this period. And on the other hand,
we understand very well that he was trying to
put together information he had from other
historians, but not from other kinds of witnesses– even Armenian natives
living in [INAUDIBLE] It’s difficult to understand. For the beginning
of the kingdom, he was clearly using Polybius. But we don’t know. We don’t know. And we don’t have Polybius. If we had Polybius,
we would better understand what happened
at the beginning of the kingdom of Armenia. The situation was very
fluid, until Tigranes. Follow-up question, what
are your main sources for [INAUDIBLE] You have [INAUDIBLE]
You have Cassius Dio. You have Plutarch, of course. And [? Flores, ?] and
also some later sources. So several separate indications. Of course, we also
have Movses Khorenatsi. Khorenatsi is a riddle,
because it mixes together several traditions. Telescoping reigns
and kings, and so on, and sometimes using classical
sources, like Flavius Josephus, just in order to
say that Tigranes defeated the Roman during
[INAUDIBLE] [? Garbinos ?] campaign. So sometimes it’s
very unbelievable. I like you very much
Movses Khorenatsi, but sometimes it’s
very difficult to defend him against the
mainstream Armenian studies. Yes? Yes, thank you. [INAUDIBLE] Tigranes was a
great and [INAUDIBLE] ruler [INAUDIBLE]. Yes. But about the [INAUDIBLE]
question of your sources, what do you know about
[INAUDIBLE] My second question because you forced me to
ask this question– what about the [INAUDIBLE] what
do we know about their trade, about their life? Well, about– so the first– the real Tigranocerta
was never excavated. And it will possibly
never be excavated, because it’s Arzan in Arzanene. And even though the
Turkish government accepted to accept an
archaeological team working on the Armenian capital,
which is still very unlikely, then you have to
cope with the Kurds. And this is a very
hot [? debate. ?] I went myself to Tigranocerta,
and got some landscape pictures and so on. And this one is from
Google Earth, of course. But the real problem
of these scientists, we still don’t know if it
was the real Tigranocerta, because there are
other identifications. But I’m mostly sure
it was this one. As concerns the other
Tigranocerta in [INAUDIBLE],, it has been excavated. But it has been excavated
by Armenian archaeologists. So Armenian archaeologists like
very much to clean the walls, in order to understand
the architecture. But they are not very fond of
pottery and material culture. So I still wait
for an inscription. Who knows? [INAUDIBLE] Tigranes. Oh, there are several
studies of Tigranes. What is interesting is
that not all Armenian kings struck money. But Tigranes was
one of the most, because he also had to wage war. And so you have to
pay your mercenaries. That’s why we find so many
coins of Tigranes over several– Then we have a problem,
because of course with titulature at
a certain moment, Tigranes is called
the King of Kings. But what’s the
date of this money? We usually think that
Tigranes began King of Kings about 83, when Demetrius
II of Parthia died. Others think that
it’s a later title. So, unfortunately, we don’t
have so many literary sources, nor epigraphic sources. Then we have to
rely to numismats. And the numismats can
display a lot of fantasy in their chronological
reconstructions. Yes? Is the coin, is it
inscribed [INAUDIBLE] Greek? Come again? Is it [INAUDIBLE] Yes, yes, the coin. So who made that? Tigranes, of course. This one– most coins
were stuck in Antioch. The coins we have found either
has been found in Armenia– but I know numismat. And I have some problems to
follow all the reconstructions. There is also an interesting
book on coin circulation. But it’s only problem
is it’s in Armenian. Numismats didn’t
look at the date. It’s [INAUDIBLE] And there is still a
lot of work to be done, because most of these books
were elaborated in Soviet times. So people didn’t
even think it was useful to make an
English abstract. So they prefer to make
Russian abstracts. And the books were not
available, as well, sometimes. Now it’s better, because
they are scanning the books. I told you, you can find
them more easily in PDF. But before, 20
years ago, you had to go to Armenia with
huge bags, and pay for 40, 50 kilos a book each time. It was very straining. Yes? A question, Professor. At its height, what was the
area of Tigranes’s empire? What was the total
population at its height? Total population, I quit. [LAUGHTER] Because I don’t believe
in ancient demography. I’m sorry, and I’m very
primitivist on this point of view. But this is interesting, that
I found in popular literature the earliest witnesses– some
articles written in 1922. Saying that the population
of Tigranes’s empire was 30 million people. So when you think how
many people composed the Roman Empire–
maybe 100 million. So you think it’s
very difficult. But I was frequently asked these
questions [INAUDIBLE] still popular in popular books. And I should have to
make the research, in order to understand
when this was written, by which [? erudite ?]
in the 19th century. But you know, there
are some legends which are spreading from a
publication to another one, especially when you have
a popular literature or popular history. On the right side of the coin
[INAUDIBLE] king of kings. But what’s the
image in the middle? The image in the middle should
be some possibly victory with a palm. Or, a Tyche. It’s possibly a Tyche. it’s a personification
of a city. It means good luck– good luck with the city. That could be a Tyche. And underneath,
you have the river. So I’m not so sure,
because I always take from internet,
this popular thing. But it was struck
in Antioch’s mint. So in this case the river
could be the Orontes Otherwise it would be the Araxes. Well, thank you very much. I guess if there
are other questions, we have some food there
that is getting very cold. So we’ll eat food, and
then ask questions. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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