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ARTAXATA (Artashat) Armenia, U.S.S.R.

Armenian royal city founded by king Artaxias I (190-156 B.C.) on the advice of the exiled Hannibal of Carthage. “It is situated on a peninsula-like elbow of land and its walls have the river [Araxes] as protection all round them” (Strab. 11.14.6).

The bed of the Araxes has shifted southwards, leaving the ruins of Artaxata in a “low-lying and rather swampy site” which is ca. 30 km S of the present Armenian capital of Erevan. Chosen primarily for defensive reasons, the site may have become unhealthy quite early in its history since numerous alternative royal cities were established in the near vicinity, notably Garni, 35 km to the NE.

Artaxata was several times invaded by Roman forces. In 68 B.C., Lucullus fought inconclusively in the vicinity. Pompey subsequently defeated Tigranes, and set him up as a client king in Artaxata in 66 B.C. Corbulo captured the city in A.D. 58, and Trajan entered it once again in 114. An inscription of the Fourth Scythian Legion, dating from 116, has been found. Artaxata was still of importance in the 4th and 5th c. Systematic excavations are planned.


C. F. Lehmann-Haupt, Armenien einst und jetzt (1910) 173-76M; D. M. Lang; Armenia, Cradle of Civilization (1970); C. Burney & D. M. Lang, The Peoples of the Hills (1971).


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