YEREVAN (Armenpress)—Artifacts have been found in the medieval capital of Armenia, Dvin, that can shed more light on the region’s ancient history. In a conversation with Armenpress the Deputy Head of the Archeological Expedition Group, Nyura Hakobyan, summed up the archeological activities of 2013 and stated that the activities have been carried out in the Western and Eastern parts of the Catholicos’s Palace, which dates back to the 5th century AD.
Among other things Nyura Hakobyan emphasized, “We have also organized excavations in the surroundings of the Southern pyramid, where we have found a stove, which dates back to the Early Iron Age.”
In addition, the Deputy Head of the Archeological Expedition Group Nyura Hakobyan underscored that they have opened a part of an Arab structure. Also, a residential zone has been opened in the Southern pyramid of the archeological site (11th-13th centuries).
Dvin was a large commercial city and the capital of early medieval Armenia. It was situated north of the previous ancient capital of Armenia, the city of Artaxata, along the banks of the Metsamor River, 35 km to the south of modern Yerevan. The site of the ancient city is currently not much more than a large hill located between modern Hnaberd (just off the main road through Hnaberd) and Verin Dvin, Armenia. Systematic excavations at Dvin that have proceeded since 1937 have produced an abundance of materials, which have shed light into the Armenian culture of the 5th to the 13th centuries.
Ancient Armenian literary sources almost always give the name of the ancient city of Dvin as Dwin or Duin. Later authors favored the Dvin appellation, which is the most common form given in scholarly literature.
The ancient city of Dvin was built by Khosrov III of Armenia in 335 on the site of an ancient settlement and fortress from the 3rd millennium BC. From then, the city was used as the primary residence of the Armenian Kings of the Arsacid dynasty. Dvin boasted a population of about 100,000 citizens in various professions, including arts and crafts, trade, fishing, etc.
After the fall of the Armenian Kingdom in 428, Dvin became the residence of Sassanid-appointed marzpans (governors), Byzantine kouropalates and later Umayyad and Abbasid-appointed ostikans (governors), all of whom were of senior nakharar stock. In 640, Dvin was the center of the Emirate of Armenia. On January 6, 642 the Arabs stormed and took the city of Dvin, slaughtered 12,000 of its inhabitants and carried 35,000 into slavery.
Under Arsacid rule, Dvin prospered as one of the most populous and wealthiest cities east of Constantinople. Its welfare continued even after the partition of Armenia between Romans and Sassanid Persians, and eventually it became a target during the height of the Arab invasions. According to Sebeos and Catholicos John V the Historian, Dvin was captured in 640 during the reign of Constans II and Catholicos Ezra. The Arabs called the city Dabil.
Dvin was the birthplace of Najm ad-Din Ayyub and Asad ad-Din Shirkuh bin Shadhi, Kurdish generals in the service of the Seljuks. Najm ad-Din Ayyub’s son, Saladin, was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin was born in Tikrit, Iraq, but his family had originated from the ancient city of Dvin.
Despite the fact that Dvin was a battleground between Arabs and Byzantine forces for the next two centuries, in the 9th century, it was still a flourishing city. Frequent earthquakes and continued Arab oppression led to the decline of the city from the beginning of the 10th century. During a major earthquake in 893, the city was destroyed, along with most of its 70,000 inhabitants.
The Byzantines recaptured Armenia along with Dvin in 1045 from the Bagratunis. In 1064, the Seljuk Turks invaded and occupied the city. The Kurdish Shaddadids ruled the city as Seljuk vassals until the Georgian King George III conquered the city in 1173. In 1201-1203, during the reign of Queen Tamar, the city was again under Georgian rule. In 1236, the city was completely destroyed by Mongols.