« ForrigeFortsett »
In the earliest periods, our country was divided into Armenia Major and Armenia Minor. The former, known as Armenia proper, was divided into fifteen provinces, the central being the district of Ararat. The Armenian highlands are the most elevated mountainous region of Western Asia, consisting of a succession of rolling plateaux. Thus Armenia crowns the highest elevated region, with a mean altitude of from 5,000 to 7,000 feet above the level of the sea, and culminating with Mount Ararat, the loftiest in Western Asia, which forms the centre of the mountain system, with a vertical elevation of 17,210 feet above the level of the sea, or 10,210 feet above Araxes plain, above which she reposes.
The surface of the country is broken up by volcanoes and upheavals, and consists of a series of terraces, deep valleys, mountain masses and bleak plateaux. Here and there dislocation of rocks and mountains, and irregularity of the strata, afford convincing evidences of volcanic devastation.
From the Armenian plateau, at the front of Mount Ararat, arise the sources of the rivers of Western Asia. The Tigris, the Euphrates, the Aras or Araxes, the Cyrus (Kur), the Acampsis and the Halys, all have their sources within her limits and their estuaries in different seas. The two first, with deep and rapid waters, flow southeast into the Persian Gulf. The Acampsis (The Pison of the Bible by some), rising from southwest of Erxerum, fed and swollen by various streamlets, sweeps along with strong and smooth current into the Black Sea. Araxes (perhaps the Gihon of the Bible) springing, about thirty miles south of Erzerum, from the side of Bingol or “Mountain of one thousand lakes," and with beautiful windings through regions of fertility and enchantment, mingles with the Cyrus, and both, with northward and again southward sweeps through the plain of Moghan, discharge east into the Caspian sea by three mouths, being navigable up to the point of junction. The name of the river, “Araxes," is supposed to commemorate Araxes, whose son was drowned in the rapid waters. Xenophon, however, traces its derivation to Ar-Ax or “holy water,” which has been dedicated to the sun. This stream possessed different names at various periods, commemorative of various events. The Haly's or the modern Kizil-Irmak, is the most westerly. It springs from verdant spots, at no great distance from the Euphrates, and flows with rapid volume into the Black Sea.
The volcanic soil of the country is of astounding fertility and yields abundantly the crops of wheat, barley, apricots, maize, tobacco, rice and other minor products. Here is raised also mulberry,cotton, grapes and a dye called yellow berry. Beautiful vineyards, smiling gardens, orchards and groves abound in many parts of the country, especially in the valleys, where luxurious vegetation would gladden the heart of the most critical epicurean. Productions of melon, fig, granate and trees of oak, pine, ash, walnut, apple, peach and chestnut abound. The land is also rich in corn and wine, honey, oil and olives.
Her wealth and boundless resources are even richer than the richest province of Asia Minor. There are gold mines on the line of communication between Erzerum and Trebizoud. The river Acampsis, the supposed Pison of the Bible, “which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where
there is gold," runs through that section of the country to-day. The mountains abound in treasures of silver, copper, iron, lead, antimony, sulphur and sulphate, especially in the west and amongst the hills of the Euphrates. Export minerals comprise salt from Lake Van, sulphur, iron and alum. There are stones of syenite, jasper, marble, granite and porphyry. Sand and limestones are the prevailing geological formation of the country, and are particularly famed, for from it our royal palaces and ecclesiastical edifices were erected.
The climate is healthy, and is varied according to the altitude of the highlands. The long winter extending from October to May is severe, while the summers are short and pleasant. The air is pure and delicious, the atmosphere clear and bright. Like all mountain regions, Armenia abounds in lakes. Among them Van, Sevan and Ormi or Orumiah are the most noteworthy. All lakes are petrified but Sevan, which is called "sweet lake.” It reposes near the city of Erevan. Ormi lies in the southern part of the country, within the territory of the Shah's kingdom.. Lake Van is by far the largest and most beautiful in entire Western Asia. It is embowered in the very centre of ancient Armenia, on the east of the city of Van, in a rich and verdant valley surrounded by green, forest-clad mountains. Its triangular surface is 5,000 feet above the sea level, with an area of 1,400 square miles. Its romantic beauty, the sluggish surge of its deep, blue waters, the fragrant associations, so famed in history and fiction, have been the inspiration of many a poet.
The petrified lakes of Armenia are particularly interesting. Such lakes are really the result of the evaporation of the sun's heat. During the warmest seasons of the year the water becomes crystalized like ice with deposits of salt
an inch thick, which are gathered by the neighboring people into boats and carried away. In cold summers, the crust of salt on the surface does not appear.
Mineral springs, both cold and hot, abound. In my travels through the country I have seen many of them gush from the ground with great force from between the strata of limestone. These hot springs, so numerous, are another evidence of the subterranean commotion of the region.
People all over the country, who suffer any ailment repair to these waters, whose medicinal properties and chemical composition are of great reputation for their curative effects. Sometimes these waters are conducted to city bathing houses or basins by means of pipes.
As has been mentioned, Mount Ararat is the nucleus of the river and mountain systems, and is the center of the old world, situated midway between the Black and Caspian seas. It is a mountain rich with events of undying significance to mankind. Around its base legends and traditions, true and fabulous, hold perpetual carnival.
To-day it is the mighty boundary stone of three great empires—the Turkish, Russian and Persian. It has two summits, seven miles apart, the greater to the northwest extremity and the lesser toward the southeast. The snowclad summit of the Greater Ararat is wrapped in clouds during most of the day. These Aoat away at nightfall and leave the snowy crown clear and distinct against the starry sky. Seen from the northeast, a more rugged and aweinspiring view is obtained than from any other point.