One hundred years after the Medz Yeghern, the Armenian homeland remains unknown to many Armenians and non-Armenians alike. The new book “Historic Armenia After 100 Years” by Matthew Karanian (Stone Garden Press, Pub. February 15, 2015) seeks to change this.
There are many reasons that the Armenian homeland has remained off the map for travelers during the past century. The descendants of the Armenians who survived the Medz Yeghern—the Great Crime, the Armenian Genocide—often choose not to return to their homeland because the memories that they received from their ancestors are so painful.
Others choose not to visit historic Armenia because they believe that their presence there will provide economic support to the people who have wrongfully displaced the native Armenians.
Still others, Armenians and non-Armenians alike, do not travel to historic Armenia because no one has articulated for them a compelling reason to visit. What is there left to learn about, or see, in the Armenian homeland? Hasn’t everything been destroyed?
The Medz Yeghern began in 1915 and terminated the 3,000-year history of Armenians in their historic homeland. During the past 100 years, the population of Armenians in the land of historic Armenia has been almost completely eliminated.
During the one hundred years since 1915, most of the cultural monuments of the Armenian nation in historic Western Armenia have been eliminated, as well. Churches and monasteries have been bombed, khatchkars have been bulldozed, frescoes have been whitewashed.
But there is still much that remains. Armenian monuments have survived in every region, and are in abundance in places such as Ani and Van. Armenian churches still function in places such as Kesaria (Kayseri) and Diyarbakir. In time, additional churches may be returned to the Armenians. Everything has not been destroyed.
By traveling to historic Armenia, visitors signal their interest in these surviving monuments, and in Armenian culture and history. The current custodians of Armenian monuments may therefore conclude that an ancient church is more valuable as a tourist destination than as quarry material for, say, a barn.
These are some of the logical and rational reasons for visiting historic Armenia. But the most compelling reason for visiting has nothing to do with either.
Armenians should visit historic Armenia because it is their homeland. No other reason is necessary.
And non-Armenians should visit to celebrate the culture of the world’s first Christian state, in a region that is as holy as the Holy Land.
‘Historic Armenia After 100 Years’ introduces the reader, region by region, to the sites of historic Armenia that exist today, and that are worth finding, viewing, and enjoying. The sites that are included are the primary sites that should be on your itinerary.
For the pilgrim who is unable to travel to historic Armenia, this book is an alternative to making the journey.
The Armenian Genocide began in 1915, and after one hundred years, it is appropriate to reflect upon all that has been lost in one century. But we should also celebrate, and rally to support, all that still remains. Because whether we witness the passage of one hundred years, or another thousand, this will always be our homeland.