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  • Earthling 7:07 am on 27th February 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apocalyptic music, global ecological crises, insect apocalypse, lyatoshynsky ballad, , Mosolov Sonata 2 Free Download, Roslavets Piano Trio 2 Free Download, Roslavets Piano Trio 4 Free Download,   

    State of the Modern World Address — February 2019 

    The Catastrophic Decline of Insects & Animals: The Facts, and What You Can Do About It
    Scriabin’s “Insects and Sunlight” Sonata:

  • Earthling 3:16 pm on 24th February 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crime in moscow, cybersurveillance squads in russian schools, data insecurity, data privacy for genocide victims, , facial recognition glasses for police in moscow, hardcore surveillance in moscow, internet freedom in mother russia, internet freedom in the russian military, kids looking at extreme content, , places criminals can't hide in russia, street cameras in moscow,   

    February Internet Freedom Update 

    “Hello, is this the FSB? I found two terrorists, they’re yelling that they were just playing.”

    Moscow becomes the first Russian city with total surveillance
    The Moscow government has planned to provide police with facial-recognition glasses, and this system will also be connected to traffic cameras this year.
    The Department of Information technology (DIT) of the Moscow City Hall will order the development of augmented reality glasses with facial recognition capacity for the police, said sources involved in the preparation of the project and the interlocutor of RBC in the city hall.
    Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced the street camera facial recognition system this January: “Facial recognition to search for criminals has already been implemented in the subway, and this year will be on the street cameras. And it would be cool: criminals will stay away from Moscow, they can’t hide here.”
    According to him, currently, the urban video surveillance system has 167,000 cameras — they are in courtyards, entryways, parks, schools, clinics, retail outlets and construction sites, as well as in the halls of the Executive Branch and other public places. Sobyanin noted that footage from the cameras is used in the investigations of about 70% of offences.
    Complaints from citizens will now trigger unscheduled inspections of internet companies
    The Russian government has approved new rules for the organization and implementation of state control and supervision of personal data processing.
    Accoring to Roskomnadzor, the audits are conducted in relation to the activities of companies (their documents, local acts and information systems) for compliance with the Federal law “On personal data”.
    Complaints from citizens with proven facts of human rights abuses and violations identified by supervisors will now be a ground for unscheduled audits, which will be conducted after consultation with the Prosecutor’s office.
    Several regions of Russia have cyber-surveillance squads
    Authorities continue to support organizations that monitor the internet and collaborate with government agencies to identify “prohibited materials”, but in some regions they have gone further by entrusting these organizations with the surveillance of students.
    In a number of republics (states) of Russia, local authorities continue to create cells of pseudo-public cybersquad organizations. They are entrusted with legally questionable tasks. For example, last year we learned about the involvement of the Kogalym authorities in monitoring the internet to search for materials of extremist, terrorist and drug-oriented content accessible to minors.
    The same trend is continuing this year. Ugra reported on the establishment of cybersquad cells for as many as 151 of the General Education organization districts, “to ensure information security”. According to the district’s Department of Public and External Relations, the cybersquads only checked 11,789 internet resources in the last year. Complaints included resources where published information was aimed at the promotion of drugs or suicide, among other things. The department said that young people identified 774 antisocial actions on the internet, and at the request of cybersquads 330 internet pages were taken down by Roskomnadzor.
    Concerns have been raised about the age of these students monitoring extreme content, as they are hardly young adults.
    Strange methods of working with young people have been demonstrated the leadership of one of the medical educational institutions of Kazan. A video has spread online, which shows an assembly in a medical college where students are warned about the cooperation of the college administration with some local cyberquad, and its spying on students’ social network accounts:
    “We work with Cybersquad of the Republic of Tatarstan. All of your social networks, your contacts, Telegram, Instagram, are under control, under our strict control. Because again, our goal is the health of the citizens. Psychological, ideological and moral health. These are the three main components.”
    If this is not bravado from the college teachers, but a very real fact, then here is a violation of Russian law, since we are talking about unauthorized spying on citizens, even “informally”. It is known that the regional cybersquad office appeared in Tatarstan in 2016. Citizens who enter there conduct “raids” on the web in search of content that could be dangerous. Apparently, during these questionable activities, “cybercombatants” acquired a taste [for interesting content], and the administration of the university decided to pass the task of teaching onto somebody else’s shoulders, while at the same time trying to discover the secrets of their students. But thank you, dear teachers, for at least warning about surveillance…
    State Duma adopts law on internet restrictions for military personnel
    The text of the new legislation forbids military personnel to post information about their close relatives, colleagues, command, or locations of military units, and restricts the use of devices that can distribute audio, photos, videos and location data via the internet. All in all, this seems reasonable from a military point of view.
    Above content was mostly translated and paraphrased from Roskomsvoboda (CC4-licensed) by an anonymous student of Russian with the help of Google and Yandex machine translation services.
    Google Fesses Up To Hidden Microphone In Nest Home Security Platform
    Millions of genocide victims in China also have their data exposed online
    Millions of Swedish healthcare hotline calls left unprotected online

  • Earthling 4:09 pm on 20th February 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abaran-Su, Aghri-dagh, Ahaltzikhe, Airarat, Akampsis, Akhlath, Akhurean, Akstafa, Alagoz, Alatsovit, Albag, Alibaug, Aliovit, Alotz, Althamar islet, Altzniq, Ani, Apahunik, Aragadz, Aragatsotn, Ararat, Araxene plain, Araxes, Araxes civilization, Arberani, Ardahan, Ardzrunian Armenia and Geography, arghidag, arghidag History of Armenia, Armenian agriculture, Armenian black lands, Armenian chernozem, Armenian geography, armenian geography and history, Armenian Taurus, Arpa-chai, Arran, Arsharuniq, Artahan, Ashotz, Asthianene, backbone of armenia, Bagratid Armenia and Geography, Bagrevand, Barda, Basean, Basil II and Armenian geography, basins of armenia, Batum, bayonetted geography, Bingol mountains, Bitlis, Bitlis River, Blue Lake Armenia, Bzuniq, Chakatk, Chorokh, Colchis, Commagene, crateriform mountains in armenia, Dariunk, Dersim, Dvin, Dwin, Ekeleatz, Erzerum, Erzincan, Euphrates, fishy softwater of lake sevan, Gabeleanq, Ganja, Gargar, glens of armenia, Gogarene, Gok-Chai, Golthen, Golthn, Goomgoom, Gorjiak, Goumgoum, Gugark, gugarq, Gumgum, Guria, Hachich, Hanzeth, hanzith, Harput, Harq, Hashteanq, Hashtenq, high-quality fertile Armenian soil, Histoire de l'Armenia, historical armenia, Imereti, Julfa, Kandil-dagh, Kara su, , Karduene, Karpi-chai, Kars, Kemah, Khemsdinan chain, Khoith, Khoy, Khozan, Kingdom of Urartu, Kizilchai, Kogovit, Koh-i-nuh, Kolaver, Kop-dagh, Kori, Kotaiq, Koura, Kura, , Lake Sevan, Lake Urmia, Lazare of Pharpi, Lazica, Leninakan, little caucasus of armenia, Liz, Lori, Malatya, Manazkert, Manzikert, Mardastan, Masis, massifs of Armenia, Mekhethi, Melazkert, Miocene Armenia, Moghan, Mogk, , Mount Ararat, mountain ranges in armenia, mountains of the devil, Moush, Moxoene, Murad-chai, Nakhichevan, Narek, NarekOstan, Noah's ark, Oltichai, Ostan, Paghnatun, Palnatun, Palu, Pleocene Armenia, pontic, Province of Tao, Qarabagh, quaternary period, R. blanchard, Rene Grousset, Reshtunik, Sason, Sasun, Shaytan-dagh, Shusha, Shusha region, Sipan, Sivan-Maden, Sophene, Sourb-Khatch, Strabon, Suram, Syunik, table of tekman, Tao, Taron, Taronitide, Tendurek, Tendurek mountains, Theodosiopolis, Tiflis, Tigrus, Tmorik, Tosp, troglodytism in Armenia, Tsophk, Turuberan, valleys of armenia, Vanand, Vannic Armenia, Vaspurakan province, Vishapazunk, Where noah's ark landed, Xenophon, Yerevan, Zagros mountains, Zengi-chai, Zikar   


    Image of Armenian Plateau from Ahmed Soyuk on Panoramio (CC3 License)


    General characteristics of Armenian geography
    Armenia, according to the geographer R. Blanchard’s definition, is “an enormous mountain range towering over the depressions of Transcaucasia and Mesopotamia,” or rather it is simultaneously a mountain range “because its frame is formed of adjacent folds” and a plateau “because its folds are drowned in eruptive effusions.” Briefly, “a great natural fortress with steep outskirts, but containing behind its battlements tables, basins and plateaus,” with “a striking contrast between the walls of the periphery and the relatively softer forms of the interior relief.” (Average height of the peripheral chains is 3000 to 4000 meters; the inner plateau is 1500 to 1800). Moreover, a new conflict is manifest in the interior itself, again “between high mountains, wild and deserted, and fertile basins, populated by sedentary people, basins that Armenia is dispersed between.” (1)
    One could not better formulate the two characteristics of Armenian geography: the profound individuality of this country in comparison to other lands of Western Asia, and its interior compartmentalization. From these geographical facts the two constants of Armenian history ensue: on one hand, the powerful “personality” of the Armenian nation, a personality which has enabled it to survive through all its invasions, dominations, and catastrophes; on the other hand, the inveterate feudalism which, from antiquity to 1064, was a cause of weakness and discord for Armenia.
    The Defense of the Armenian Fortress: the Mountains Bordering the North.
    In accordance with these general facts, the Armenian territory is divided into a certain number of well-distinguished zones.
    First are the border mountains that separate Armenia in the north from Transcaucasia and primarily the Georgian countries; and in the South, from the Mesopotamian plains. Strabon (XI, 14, 2) already remarked that “the circumference of Armenia is almost entirely composed of lowlands and mountainous land.”
    The northern ridge is highly elevated, between 3000 and 4000 meters. It is composed of three distinctly parallel chains which curve in the arc of a concave circle from the West to the East, from the North of Erzincan to the height of Tiflis, then from the Tiflis region to the Shusha region.
    In the northwest sector of this area, from Batum to the pass of Suram, the Pontic territory, with its abundant rains and soft climate, adorns the mountains, or at least their reverse to the north, with magnificent vegetation. It is the country known in antiquity as Lazica. Cantons, moreover, are cut “in a disorder of crests and gulfs with an impenetrable undergrowth of hollies, laurels, azaleas, and rhododendrons.” Let us note, however, that the Chorokh (ancient Akampsis) and its tributary the Oltichai, through their valleys across the adjacent chains, successfully establish a means of penetration into the interior, as we notably see in the campaigns of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II.
    The forested surfaces of the peripheral chains that separate Armenia from Guria and Imereti (ancient Colchis) come to an end on the southern slopes. The northern side, still covered with pine trees, is contradicted by the south with its naked slopes, and this dryness gains the northern side as it leaves the basin of the Black Sea and meets that of the Caspian. The upper Koura in the ancient district of Kolaver, around Ardahan or Artahan, to the north of Kars, still benefits from Pontic rains. Further to the East, the mountains are bared. Nevertheless, the floors of the valleys, and especially the gorges, preserve even here their jewelry of forests: thus the valley of Akstafa, in the region of Lori, is celebrated for its pine trees, plane trees, and gigantic walnut trees.
    The northern border chain thus runs in the arc of a concave circle, surrounding the country from Erzincan to Ardahan and from Ardahan to Lake Sevan, across the ancient provinces of Tao, Kolaver, Alotz, and Gugark, the ancient Gogarene. Near Sevan, it divides into two masses which encircle the lake and surround the province of Karabakh as well (the region of Ganja and Barda), a “plateau built from layers of lava, the highlands of which display a steppic vegetation between the forested mountains,” while remaining brilliantly drained by the last southern tributaries of the right side of the Koura.
    The Araxes clears a passage between these mountains, to the north those of Syunik (the land between Lake Sevan and Nakhichevan) and Karabakh, and to the south those of Persian Azerbaijan; it puts Armenia in direct communication with Iran. The valley of one of the southern tributaries of the Araxes, the Kizilchai which waters the country of Khoy (Her in Armenian) in Azerbaijan, was the way by which the Iranian invasions have always penetrated Armenia from the side of Julfa and Nakhichevan, the ancient district of Golthen or Goghtn. Farther to the East, at the Araxes’ exit from Armenia, it waters the grassy steppes of the Arran (on its right bank) and Moghan (on its left bank) which have always served as way stations for turco-mongol nomads in their push towards the Armenian fortress. In advancing in this direction, Karabakh, Syunik and Golthn form something of an “Armenian March,” destined to be a front against these thrusts from the steppe. Nevertheless the neighborhood of the Iranian plateau made itself strongly felt with its climate, that of the dry steppes of Persia; with the naked and almost metallic appearance of the mountains; with its character of an oasis of towns surrounded by vineyards, cotton plantations, and rice fields shaded by tall plane trees, contrasting with the emptiness of the surrounding land.
    The Defense of the Armenian Fortress: the Mountains Bordering the South
    The area bordering the south, with its mountainous massif separating Armenia from Mesopotamia, forms Kurdistan today. The chains oriented from the east to the west, which constitute the skeleton, stand 3000 meters above the Assyrian plains in the southeast. These are the ancient geographer’s districts of Moxoene and Karduene, the Mogk and Gorjaik of Armenian nomenclature. The same mountainous system continues to the West, from the region of Bitlis to the south of Harput and Malatya. It is this “Armenian Taurus” that dominates the ancient province of Khoith, Sason, Palu, and the medieval province of Khanzith, Hanzith or Hanzeth (or country of Harput), this last being included in the ancient Sophene. To descend the Armenian massif towards the Mesopotamian plain, the Tigrus, the Euphrates and their tributaries widen across this mountainous ridge of true canyons, “terrible gashes.” Thus the gorges of the eastern tributaries of the Tigrus cross the Khemsdinan chain, in the provinces of Gorjaik, Tmorik, and southern Albag (or Alibaug). Thus the gorges of the Euphrates, with their sharp bends and “bayonetted routes,” enter the ancient Commagene and Sophene, particularly in the province of Hanzith or Hanzeth, already cited, between Harput and Gargar.
    Concerning the appearance of these border mountains of the southerly zone, the geographers compare them to those of our Alpine southerly zone: after the flora of the Alpine meadows come the forests of mountain chains, to which can be added, in well-watered valleys, the wild mulberry, the fig and poplar trees; and finally in the lowest hills, the vine, and even cotton and rice. Nevertheless, in Kurdistan proper, the depth and narrowness of the gorges renders communications practically impossible for a part of the year. The only truly passable valley here is that of the Bitlis River, by which one gains access from Kurdistan to Vannic Armenia, around the provinces of Khoith (southwest of the lake of Van) and Reshtunik (south of the lake).
    This division, this cloistering of the valleys, has dictated the fate of the country, which is fragmented into townships which are still practically autonomous. “They live in little communities entrenched in the heights of the valleys,” writes R. Blanchard. “It’s a total dispersal. All the villages are installed in defensive eagle’s-nest sites. The houses are set up like stairs on a slope, each flat roof serving as a courtyard for the house above it.”
    In the Interior of the Armenian Fortress: the Summits.
    The Armenian plateau extends throughout the interior of the circular double arc of border chains. “Goodbye wooded crests,” writes R. Blanchard, “rough slopes where water flows, labyrinth of gorges from which mist arises. The country opens up, lowers itself, the lines soften and take form. Noble shapes, convexes, extend infinitely. The mountains have disappeared: here are the plateaus. Vegetation withers under the feeble radiance of a steppe sky. The green gives way to yellows and ochres. In descending the hill of Zikar towards Akhaltzikhe*, from Karabakh to the Gok-Chai (or Lake Sevan), from Bitlis to the plain of Moush**, the same contrast appears: it has struck all the explorers of Armenia.”
    * That is to say, in passing from Imereti towards the province of Meskhethi in the greater basin of the Koura, at the Armenio-Georgian fringes.
    ** The plain of Moush, between Khoith, Sasun and Taron.
    Is this to say that there is a central plateau with a uniform surface? Not at all. The plateau, because in the whole there is a plateau , is sowed with mountains even taller than those of the periphery. A section of them constitute a succession of folds which are oriented, like the border chain itself, from east to west. One of these folds begins, from the west side, with the chain, still partly wooded, from Dersim (the medieval provinces of Kemah, Khozan, and Palnatun), the ancient Acilisene. This chain is continued towards the East by the Shaytan-dagh chain (the mountains of the Devil), then the Bingöl chain. It is doubled in the North by “the backbone of Armenia”, which runs from the north of Erzincan to the south of Erzerum and ends at the Aghri-dagh ridge, from the north of the medieval district of Bagrevand up until the district of Chakatk. At Aghri-dagh follows, bending towards the south and southeast, the Tendurek chain, which in the medieval town of Kogovit completes the separation of northern Armenia the country of Ani and Kars from Vannic Armenia. And the Tendurek chain in turn rejoins the dividing line which, from the north to the south and across the vast province of Vaspurakan, separates the Lake Van Basin from the Lake Urmia Basin. Further yet to the south, this ridge goes on to sunder itself to the Zagros Mountains.
    This series of inner chains which cuts through the middle of Armenia from west to east has played the historical role of an interior barrier, largely responsible for Armenian dualism. At the apex of Armenian history, in the 10th century, we will in fact see two opposed Armenias: the Bagratid Armenia in the north around Ani and Kars, and the Ardzrunian Armenia in the South, in the Vannic region, at Vaspurakan; a dualism which will prevent the final union of Armenia at the decisive hour and pave the way for Byzantine annexation.
    After these chains, the mountains become isolated due to volcanism. Some of them are clearly crateriform, such as Sipan, Nimrud and Tendurek. Sipan, with a height of 4176 meters, stands to the north of the Lake Van, between the lake and the city of Manazkert, Melazkert, or Manzikert, in the district of Aliovit. Nimrud is situated to the west of the lake, in the town of Bzuniq, to the west of the town of Khelath or Akhlath. Its crater is 8 kilometers in diameter and it stands 1200 meters above Lake Van, 1600 to 1700 meters above the plain of Moush. As for Tendurek, with a height of 2500 meters, it peaks at the summit of the chain of the same name, to the south of Ararat, between Ararat and the northeast point of Lake Van, in the ancient district of Kogovit, to the southwest of the town of Dariunk, the contemporary Bayazid.
    One can see the extent to which Lake Van is surrounded by volcanism. But northern Armenia is hardly less rich in eruptive phenomena. Between Kars and Yerevan, in the north of the Aragatsotn province, to the south of the Ashotz, to the east of Apahunik province, the massif of Alagoz (Aragadz in Armenian), “A Cantal of 150 kilometers width, 4095 meters height,” stands over a landscape of beautiful prairies with cultivated land climbing up to 2500 beside them. More famous yet is Ararat which, in the province of the same name (Airarat), between Dvin and the Kogovit, raises its main summit at 5205 meters, with its eternal snow beginning at 4180 meters. It is the Masis of the Armenians, the divine mountain of their old paganism, inhabited by genies or children of a dragon (vishapazunk), the mountain which the Bible has the Ark of Noah stop on after the Flood, the Koh-i Nuh, the “mountain of Noah”, the Arghidagh, “the mountain of the Ark” of Muslims.
    The Plateaus
    In spite of these high peaks, the greater part of the Armenian plateau actually consists of the plateaus themselves. Thus we find, at the east of the Dersim chain, between Erzerum to the north and Bingöl-dagh to the south, the “pool table” which is Bingöl province (2), “roof of the waters” from which descend, at the same time, the sources of the Araxes and those of the Euphrates, in the ancient town of Havchich, a dependent of Turuberan province. Another example, more to the northwest, in the ancient district of Mardali, is the “table of Tekman,” with its black plateaus “covered with yellowish fennel and a meager steppic flora giving mediocre pasturage.” To the north of these plateaus, between them and the Kop-dagh chain or the Kandil-dagh massif, stands Erzerum, the Byzantine Theodosiopolis, the Armenian Karin, which is the junction point for the paths connecting the upper Kara Su valley (in other words the upper Euphrates) to the sources of the Araxes. In other words, it is the point of junction between ancient Roman Armenia and Persian Armenia, hence the important role of the ancient city and of the province situated further east, to which it prevents access.
    The Good Armenian Land
    Next to this picturesque Armenia, that of summits and high plateaus , is useful Armenia, which is essentially made up of ancient basins where the Miocene sea, in withdrawing, left strings of lagoons. In the Pliocene period, when the marine regression was completed, this lagoon pattern seasoned the whole of Armenia. In the Quaternary period, the ancient lakes became empty. This is what happened in the plain of the Araxes around Yerevan, an ancient lake which became dry when the flood forced the natural barrier of the mountain to the southwest. “But the vanished lake left a light and fertile land in its former location, a land formed from silt brought by the Araxes, which still covers ancient lava beds to this day.” (3) It was in fact around the same time, in the Quaternary period, that the aforementioned formidable volcanic eruptions finished giving the Armenian land its physiognomy, the lava and silt concurrently filling the ancient basins or dividing them into many sections. It was thus, for example, that the volcano of Nimrud “cut off the depression of Moush from the lake of Van,” while the volcanos of Akmangan, which R. Blanchard compares to our Puys in Auvergne , gave birth to the fishy softwater lake known as the Sevan or Blue Lake (Gök-chai).
    Thus, “the good Armenian land” is made of a mixture of lakeside sediments, marls, clays and limestones , with volcanic soils at the foot of Mount Ararat which (like those of the Vesuvius) are among the most fertile in the world. As Egyptian agriculture is a gift from the Nile, and as Chinese agriculture is a gift from the Loess Plateau, so too is Armenian agriculture a gift from the volcano and the lake. The production of arable land continues today under our very eyes in the vast marsh called sazluk which is found especially to the north of Erzerum, on the upper Kara Su or Western Euphrates. These are the last evidences of the immense prehistoric marshes that deposited, at the bottom of valleys, “this black humus, so rich in organic debris, capable of bringing plentiful harvests every year without fertizilation.”
    Agricultural and Pastoral Wealth of the Northwest Provinces
    Geographers divide the thusly formed cultural zones into two categories, according to latitude: the Northwest Zone, and the South and East Zone.
    In the Northwest are expanses of high plains, very cold, very harsh in climate, with vegetation that has been called, not without exaggeration, “qausi-polar”: the basin of Erzerum (or to the north of Erzerum) and that of Basean are respectively at 1800 and 1600 meters of altitude. It is a matter, then, of high steppes as defined in the Mongolian regions. At Erzerum the winter is seven months, the spring reveals itself to be scorching, and agricultural work cannot commence until April. At Kars the cold can reach 40 degrees. Xenophon had already made observations of this order in his Anabase. During his crossing of western Armenia between the eastern Euphrates (our Murad-chai) and what he calls “The Stage”, that is to say the sources of the Araxes, between the region of Moush and that of Erzerum, he noted that the climate obliged the populations to resort to troglodytism in the winter. (4) The practice still continues today there and all the way up to the northeast, as we can see around Lake Sevan, where the peasants winter their livestock in subterranean shepherds’ barns.
    If we add that the snow can remain for eight months while rain is rare, and that because of this the country is almost completely devoid of trees, but that on the other hand, the spring seasons are torrid because of the latitude, the picture of the analogies between the Armenian and Central Asian climates will be complete, with the botanical consequences that ensue. The geographer R. Blanchard describes these high northwestern Armenian plains as “an area of stipa steppes where grasses dominate, along with thorny Asiatic shrubs, continuing toward the West with the flora of Iran and rising without interruption to the thin Alpine plants of the high plateaus of Bingöl.”
    A country of this nature can, like Mongolia, remain dedicated to the nomadic life. How is it that in spite of its sometimes so inhospitable appearance, the sedentary people (and that is the whole history of the Armenian people) have been fixed and still prospered to this extent? It is because, as we declared above, the arable soil here is admirably fertile. “The decomposition of volcanic elements and their mixing with the soft sediments of the Miocene and Pleocene periods have formed superb soils, true black lands (analogous to the chernozem of Ukraine) that are easy and rewarding to cultivate.” As the torrid heat of the spring melts the thick layers of snow, the abundance of water augments the wealth of the soil. Not only did these “Armenian steppes” reveal themselves to be perfect land for grains, but at the side of the volcanos these grains sometimes rise to 2500 meters. Wheat, rye, and barley are here among them. Certain districts, benefiting from hot and humid springs, have even corn and sometimes rice. As in Scandinavia and Canada, the speed of germination in northern Armenia compensated for the brevity of its beautiful days. There too “one hears the wheat cracking.”
    One shouldn’t be surprised by the intensity of the agricultural life in the ancient provinces of Ekeleatz (the Erzincan basin, the ancient Erez, our Armenian Erzenka), Karin (the Erzerum basin) and Basean (upper course of the Araxes, close to its source, to the east of Erzerum). Xenophon, in the passage above cited, already showed that the harshness of the climate is not an obstacle to rural prosperity: wealth in livestock, barley and wheat, nothing was missing for these hardy troglodytes he described for us. (5) But the travelers who pay homage to such an agricultural wealth insist at the same time on the harsh character of these highlands, these expanses without trees, “these bare plains, closed off by equally bare slopes”, unfolding themselves in landscapes of a poignant severity. This austerity of the landscape and climate, combined with the wealth of a soil predestined for agriculture, has determined in many respects the very character of the Armenian race, a race of peasants whose persistence has maintained, for so many centuries, a European tillage at the frontier of the Asiatic steppe.
    The Superiority of the Southern and Eastern Basins
    The southern and eastern basins are generally less cold. Even if the snows covering the summits in Kurdistan and the Armenian Taurus persist in the spring, there is only benefit from this, since the streams that ensure the watering of the plants thus continue their flow through the dry season. The orchards too lack nothing compared to those of Europe. We are here in the “classic” provinces of Armenian history. The basin to the north of Kharput is the ancient Akilisene and part of ancient Sophene, Hanzeth or Hanzith, the Tsophk of the high middle age. The basin of Jabalashur, to the north of Sivan-Maden, touches ancient Asthianene, the medieval district of Hashteanq or Hashtenq. Further to the north, the basin of Kighi noticeably corresponds to the medieval district of Khorzeanq or Khordzenq, the Khorzianene of the Greeks, between Paghnatun and the province of Turuberan. The important basin of Moush corresponds to the province of Taron whose rulers have played such a large role in Armenio-Byzantine history. Further to the north, the basins of Liz and Goumgoum stretch between the ancient districts of Arshamuniq, Harq, and Kori, in Turuberan.
    To the northeast of Goumgoum is the basin of Khinis, on the opposite eastern side of mount Bingöl, to the south of the ancient districts of Havchich and Alori. On the other hand, to the north, northwest of the Lake Van, extends the rich basin of Manazkert (Manzikert) which shines on ancient Harq and Kori to the west and touches the Tuaradoi-taph to the north, and the Apahuniq to the east. Finally, the northeast regions contain the two largest agricultural zones. First is the basin of Alashkert which corresponds to the famous Bagrevand province until Gabeleanq. Then is the immense basin of the middle Araxes, also called the basin of Yerevan, which includes the entire valley of the river from the confluence of the river in Kars to the area outside Julfa, across the best districts of the ancient province of Airarat.*
    Let’s not forget to mention the agricultural lands on the eastern side of Lake Van, which the districts of Mardastan and Tosp depend upon (this latter town forming a suburb of the city of Van.
    *  From the ancient district of Kotaïq to Vakhchavan et Golthen or Golthn.
    The Middle Araxes Basin
    Particular attention should be paid to the basin of the middle Araxes and its hinterland in the high valleys of Akhurean, Arpa-chai or Ani River, and Kars-chai or Kars River. The Araxes, in descending from 1500 meters to reach the plain of Yerevan, receives the Silav, the Karpi-chai or Abaran-Su which waters the patriarchal city of Echmiadzin (Valarshapat in antiquity), and the Zengi-chai, which is the watercourse of Yerevan and the Lake Sevan region. The snows of Ararat and Alagöz, as well as the summits of the Armenian “Little Caucasus”, contribute to the feeding of this rich water system. Thus are born “thousands of sources and streams that maintain the freshness of the valleys and glens during the great heat of the summer, ensuring the watering of orchards and fields, and only rejoining the Araxes at the time of the great spring rains.”
    In the prehistoric period and doubtless in antiquity as well, this whole region was covered with forests, but the pastoral life, here as elsewhere, deforested the valleys and hills. At least the valleys have lost nothing of their fertility, thanks to the abundance of the waters and an exposure to sunlight which reminds us that in spite of the altitude, we are here at the latitude of southern Italy. “In the valleys,” notes Morgan, “the vegetation is most often ahead of that of the immediate surroundings of Yerevan, because this large plain, being less well-secured from the northern winds, endures very harsh winters. Nevertheless, vine and fruit trees grow in abundance, and in the vineyards of Masis (Ararat) they still harvest excellent wine.”
    The Armenian colonies which have expanded or persisted further to the east, between Julfa and Shusha, on the edge of Qarabagh (“the Black Garden”) and along the lower Araxes, one finds the same prosperity along the sides of the river. In the streams of the Araxes, downstream of Julfa, “wheat grows with surprising vigor, the vine enlaces in its branches the highest trees, reaches the tops of walnut trees with monstrous trunks, and spreads out in giant garlands above thickets which are sometimes ancient. The villages disappear under the greenery, buried in veritable forests of fruit trees, incomparable orchards where peach trees, prune trees, apricot trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees, apple trees, and pear trees blossom.”
    Moreover, we find this fertility already attested in Strabon: “If one penetrates into the interior of Armenia,” the Greek geographer tells us, “one finds many mountains and dry plateaus where the vine itself does not come except with difficulty, but one encounters there many valleys… of an incomparable richness. Such is, for example, this Araxene plain which the Araxes crosses in all its length before flowing into the Caspian. We can even mention Gogarene*, for this plain consistently abounds in grains and fruit trees…” (6) The Armenian chronicler Lazare of Pharpi too celebrates this “magnificent province of Ararat, so fertile and fruitful. Its plains are immense and brimming with game. The surrounding mountains, agreeably situated and rich in pasturelands, are populated by ruminants. From the top of its mountains, waters flow and water the fields, which have no need of fertilization by man. The lively perfume of fragrant flowers offers health to hunters and to shepherds who live under the vault of heaven. The fertility of the fields fulfills the wishes of a nation of laborers.” (7)
    *  The medieval district of Armenian Gugark, at the northeast point of Lake Sevan.
    The Vannic Region
    The lands of southern Armenia have against those of the North the advantage of a less elevated altitude with an equal fertility. The plain of Moush, for example, which commands old Taron (the Taronitide of Greek geographers), is destined by nature to be at the same time a garden and a breadbasket for grains. Let us add, in this Armenian Midi, the heat: at Kharput, up to +34° in the Summer. We also see in this country, the ancient Sophene, the medieval Hanzith, the coming forth of the vine and fruit trees of Europe, together with the silkworm farming that establishes itself there today. Particular attention must be accorded in this respect to Lake Van (Dzov-Vana in Armenian), which is the Thospitis of Strabon and Ptolemy. “Created by a volcanic barrier formed in a recent period by the Nemrut” and still lightly salted, Lake Van exercises a beneficial influence: its vast layer of water, six times as vast as Lake Geneva, plays a regulating role by softening the climate and rendering possible highly varied cultured lands. It is thus that one sees a properly Mediterranean vegetation announce itself: at Khelath (Akhlath), for example, on the northern bank, in the medieval district of Bzuniq, fields of olive trees prosper.
    In fact, the Vannic region has played a considerable role in history. In pre-Armenian history, it was the center of the Kingdom of Urartu. In the high middle ages we see around the lake some of the most prosperous provinces of feudal Armenia: in the north, Turuberan, with the historic districts of Aliovit (to the south of Manazkert) and Bzuniq (around Khelath); to the West, the Altzniq, upon which the district of Khoith depended (between the lake and the land of Moush); to the south, the province of Mokq or Moks, the ancient Moxoene, upon which the coastal district of Reshtunik depended; to the East, the very important province of Vaspurakan, the Asprakania of the Byzantine geographers, upon which depended, from north to south, the districts of Arberani, Mardastan, Alatsovit, and Tosp which was the very canton of Van. Under the Ardzruni dynasty, Vaspurakan will be a powerful kingdom counterbalancing the fortune of the Bagratid kings of Kars and Ani. Let us add that the cities of the Vannic region, Van to the East, Manazkert and Khelath to the North, Bitlis to the South, have played a crucial role in Armenian history, not to mention the sanctuaries that are huddled together on the southwest coast of the lake, such as Narek, Ostan, Sourb-Khatch and the islet Althamar.
    Whatever the cultural importance of the Vannic region, the Ararat region (ancient province of “Airat”) remains preponderant. There are the historic districts of Vanand which was the region of Kars, Shirak which was the region of Ani, Ashotz (around the present Leninakan), Aragadzotn (east of Ani), and of Arsharuniq (south of Kars), not to forget Kotaiq (around present Yerevan) and Airarat proper, upon which depends Dvin, the ancient capital, which was the very heart of Armenia, the seat of its medieval grandeur, just as today it is the sanctuary of its independence.
    1. R. Blanchard, L’Asie Occidentale, t. VIII of Géographie universelle of VIDAL DE LA BLACHE et GALLOIS (1929) p. 109 et sq.
    2. The Bingöl-dagh of the Turks is the Sermantz-léarn of the Armenian geographers, the Mount Sermantzu of the Byzantines.
    3.  F. NANSEN, L’Arménie et le Proche Orient (Geuthner, 1928), p. 135. The Greek tradition wants it to be Jason, the chief of the Argonauts, who opened an exit from the Araxes towards the Caspian (STRABON, 1. XI, ch. XIV § 13).
    4. Anabase, 1. IV, ch. V, § 25.
    5. Anabase, 1. IV, ch. V, § 25-27
    6. STRABON, 1. XI, ch. XIV, § 4.
    7. LAZARE OF PHARPI, ch. VI.

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