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ARSE´NE (Ἀ̔ρσηνή: Ván), a large lake situated in the S. of Armenia. Strabo (xi. p.529) says that it was also called Thonitis (Θωνῖτις), which Groskurd corrects to Thospitis (Ξωσπῖτις, comp. Ptol. 5.13.7; Plin. Nat. 6.27. s. 31). The lake Arsissa, which Ptolemy (l.c.) distinguishes from Thospitis has been identified with Arsene, and the name is said to survive in the fortress Arjísh, situated on the N. of the lake (St. Martin, Mém. sur l'Armenie, vol. i. p. 56). On the other hand, Ritter (Erdckunde, vol. ix. p. 786) identifies Arsissa with the Mantiane of Strabo, and Lake Ván. It must be recollected that till lately this district has been a terra incognita, and but little yet has been done for the illustration of ancient authors. Till further evidence therefore has been collected, it would be premature to come to any distinct conclusion on these points. Strabo (l.c.) describes Arsene as abounding in natron, so much so as to remove stains from cloth: the water was undrinkable. The Tigris, he adds, flows through it with such rapidity that the waters do not commingle; hence it has been inferred that Arsene is the same as the Arethusa of Pliny (6.31, comp. Bitter, Erdkunde, vol. x. p. 90; Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopaedia). Lake Ván is of an irregular shape, in extreme length from NE. to SW. about 70 miles, and in extreme breadth from N. to S. about 28 miles. The level is placed at 5467 feet above the sea. The water is brackish, but cattle will drink it, particularly near the rivers. (Kinneir, Travels, p. 384; London Geog. Journ. vol. iii. p. 50, vol. x. pp. 391, 398, 410.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.27
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.31
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