Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity)

ancient state of Armenia

The Kingdom of Armenia, (Armenian: Մեծ Հայք, romanized: Mets Hayk; Latin: Armenia Maior) was an Armenian kingdom ruling in the Ancient Near East from 321 BC to 428 AD. It is sometimes called the Armenian Empire.[a][1][2] Its history is divided into reigns by three royal dynasties: Orontid (321 BC–200 BC), Artaxiad (190 BC–12 AD) and Arsacid (52 AD–428 AD).

Kingdom of Armenia
Մեծ Հայք
321 BC–428 AD
Flag of
Standard of the Arshakuni Arsacid dynasty.svg
Left: The reconstructed standard of the Artaxiad dynasty
Right: The standard of the Arsacid dynasty
Armenia, the broadest limits under Tigranes the Great, 69 BC (including vassals)
Armenia, the broadest limits under Tigranes the Great, 69 BC (including vassals)
CapitalArmavir (321–210 BC)
Yervandashat (210–176 BC)
Artashat (176–77 BC; 69–120 AD)
Tigranocerta (77 BC–69 AD)
Dvin (336–428)
Common languagesArmenian (spoken native language)[3]
Iranian languages (Parthian and Pahlavi)
  • Zoroastrianism[5]
    (321 BC–301 AD)
  • Christianity (Armenian Apostolic Church) (301–428)
King, King of Kings 
• 321–260 BC
Orontes III (first)
• 212–200 BC
Orontes IV
• 190–159 BC
Artaxias I
• 95–55 BC
Tigranes II the Great
• 62–88
Tiridates I
• 287–330
Tiridates III
• 422–428
Artaxias IV (last)
Historical eraAntiquity, Middle Ages
• Established
321 BC
• Disestablished
428 AD


Orontid dynastyEdit

Kingdom of Armenia, under the Orontid dynasty, 250 BC.

The Orontid dynasty, also known by their native name Eruandid or Yervanduni, was a hereditary Armenian[6][7][8] dynasty and the rulers of the successor state to the Kingdom of Urartu. Most historians say the Orontids are of Iranian origin.[9][10][11][12][13][14] The dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 321 BC to 200 BC, he also ruled the kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene.[13]

Artaxiad dynastyEdit

Round 200 BC a coup by the Armenian noble family of Artaxias toppled the Orontid (Yervanduni) dynasty.[15] Armenian state was re-established in 190 BC by Artaxias I alongside the Armenian kingdom of Sophene led by Zariadres. Artaxias seized Yervandashat, united the Armenian Highlands at the expense of neighboring tribes and founded the new royal capital Artaxata near the Araxes River.[16] The dynasty was probably a branch of the Orontid (Yervanduni) dynasty of Iranian origin.[10][17] Ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 190 BC until their overthrow by the Romans in AD 12. The most famous member of the dynasty; Tigranes the Great, during his reign extended the borders of the Kingdom of Armenia from the Caspian Sea to Mediterranean.[18] During the reign of Tigranes the Great, the Kingdom of Armenia was called the "Armenian Empire".

The Kingdom of Armenia at its greatest extent under Tigranes the Great.

Like the majority Armenia's inhabitants, Tigranes was a follower of Zoroastrianism.[19][20] He had Greek rhetoricians and philosophers in his court, possibly as a result of the influence of his queen, Cleopatra.[19] Following the example of the Parthians, Tigranes used the title of Philhellene ("friend of the Greeks").[19]

Arsacid dynastyEdit

Kingdom of Armenia under the Arsacid dynasty, 150 AD.

Arsacid dynasty or Arshakuni, ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 12 to 428.[21] The dynasty was a branch of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty.[b] Arsacid kings reigned intermittently throughout the chaotic years following the fall of the Artaxiad dynasty until 62 when Tiridates I secured Arsacid rule in Armenia. However, he did not succeed in establishing his line on the throne, and various Arsacid members of different lineages ruled until the accession of Vologases II, who succeeded in establishing his own line on the Armenian throne.[21] In 301, Armenian Arsacid king Tiridates III proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of Armenia, making the Armenian kingdom the first state to embrace Christianity officially.[23] The Arsacid dynasty was overthrown by the Sasanid Empire in 428, and this was the end of the Kingdom of Armenia.

Language and LiteratureEdit

Little is known about pre-Christian Armenian literature. Many literature pieces known to us were saved and then presented to us by Movses Khorenatsi.[source?] An event of importance in the Arsacid period was the invention, on the threshold of the fifth century, of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots thus the national Armenian literature was born.[21] By the 2nd century BC, according to Strabo, the inhabitants Kingdom of Armenia almost all spoke the Armenian language, implying that modern Armenians descended from that population.[24][25][26]

Kings of ArmeniaEdit

Orontid dynasty

  • Orontes III (321–260 BC)
  • Sames I (260–243 BC)
  • Arsames I (243–228 BC)
  • Xerxes I (228–212 BC)
  • Orontes IV (212–200 BC)

Artaxiad dynasty

  • Artaxias I (190–159 BC)
  • Artavasdes I (159–123 BC)
  • Tigranes I (123–95 BC)
  • Tigranes the Great (Tigranes II, 95–55 BC)
  • Artavasdes II (55–34 BC)
  • Artaxias II (33–20 BC)
  • Tigranes III (20–10 BC)
  • Tigranes IV with Erato (10 BC–2 AD)

Roman and Parthian puppet-kings

  • Ariobarzanes II (2–4)[c]
  • Artavasdes III (4–6)[d]
  • Tigranes V with Erato (6–12)[e]
  • Vonones I (12–16)[f]
  • Roman occupation (16–18)
  • Artaxias III (18–35)[g]
  • Arsaces I (35)[h]
  • Orodes I (35)[i]
  • Mithridates I (35–37)[j]
  • Orodes II (37–42)[k]
  • Mithridates I (second time; 42–51)[l]
  • Rhadamistus I (51–53)[m]
  • Tiridates I (53)[n]
  • Rhadamistus I (53–54)[o]
  • Tiridates I (second time; 52–58)[p]
  • Tigranes VI (59–62)[q]

Arsacid dynasty

  • Tiridates I (62–88)
  • Sanatruces I (88–110)
  • Axidares I (110–113)
  • Parthamasiris I (113–114)
  • Roman occupation[r] (114–117/118)
  • Vologases I (117/118–144)
  • Sohaemus I (144–161)
  • Bakur I (161–164)
  • Sohaemus I (163/164–186?)
  • Vologases II (186–198)
  • Khosrov I (198–217)
  • Tiridates II (217–252)
  • Khosrov II (c. 252)
  • Sassanid occupation
    • Artavasdes IV (252–287)[s]
  • Tiridates III (287–330)[t]
  • Khosrov III (330–339)
  • Tigranes VII (339 – c. 350)
  • Arsaces II (c. 350–368)
  • Sassanid occupation[u] (368–370)
  • Papas I (370–374)
  • Varasdates I (374–378)
  • Arsaces III (378–387) with Vologases III (378–386)
  • Khosrov IV (387–389)
  • Vramshapuh I (389–417)
  • Provisional Government[v] (417–422)
  • Artaxias IV (422–428)


  • Versluys, Miguel John (2017). Visual Style and Constructing Identity in the Hellenistic World: Nemrud Dağ and Commagene under Antiochos I. Cambridge University Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-107-14197-1. Most scholars assume that Ptolemy was the first Commagenean king and that he descended from the Armenian Orontids.
  • Stokes, Jamie (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East. Infobase Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4381-2676-0. Tigran II, often referred to as Tigran the Great (r. 95-55 B.C.E.), is the most famous of the Artaxid rulers. He is renowned for founding the only Armenian Empire.
  • Ring, Trudy; Watson, Noelle; Schellinger, Paul (2014). Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-134-25993-9. His descendent Tigranes the Great ruled over the Armenian empire, which ranged from Mesopotamia to Syria and Cilicia.
  • Maranci, Christina (2018). The Art of Armenia: An Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-19-093588-7. (...) the Armenian dynasty of the Yervandids (Orontids).
  • de Jong, Albert (2015). Armenian and Georgian Zoroastrianism. In Stausberg, Michael; Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw; Tessmann, Anna (eds.). The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. pp. 119–120, 123–12.
  • Binns, John (2002). An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches. Cambridge University Press. pp. 30. ISBN 0-521-66738-0.
  • Garsoïan, Nina (1997). Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.). "The Emergence of Armenia" in The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century. p. 49.
  • Lang, David M (1983). Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 3. The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Cambridge University Press. p. 535. ISBN 0-521-20092-X. Here a scion of the Armenian Orontid house, King Antiochus I (...) Armenian dynasty of the Orontids.
  • Lang, David (1970). Armenia; Cradle of Civilization. Routledge.
  • Canepa, Matthew P. (2020). The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity Through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE–642 CE. University of California Press.
  • Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh (2016). Ancient Iranian Motifs and Zoroastrian Iconography. I.B. Tauris. pp. 179–203. ISBN 9780857728159.
  • Boyce, Mary (1984). Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Psychology Press. p. 84. ISBN 9780415239028.
  • Russell, James R. (1987). Zoroastrianism in Armenia. Harvard University Press. pp. 170–171, 268. ISBN 978-0674968509.
  • Allsen, Thomas T. (2011). The Royal Hunt in Eurasian History. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 37.
  • Garsoïan, Nina (2005). "TIGRAN II". Encyclopæedia Iranica.
  • Wilken, Robert Louis (2012). The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity. Yale University Press. pp. 229. ISBN 978-0-300-11884-1. Under Tigranes the Great (95–55 B.C.), the Armenian empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.
  • Garsoïan, Nina (2004). "ARMENO-IRANIAN RELATIONS in the pre-Islamic period". Encyclopædia. pp. 418–438.
  • Panossian, Razmik (2006). The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars. Columbia University Press. pp. 36. ISBN 978-0231139267. Around 200 BC a coup by the Armenian noble family of Artashes(Artaxias) toppled the Yervanduni dynasty.
  • Toumanoff, Cyril (1986). "Arsacids vii. The Arsacid dynasty of Armenia". Encyclopædia Iranica. pp. 543–546.
  • Facella, Margherita (2021). "Orontids". Encyclopædia Iranica.
  • Mach, Chahin (2001). Kingdom of Armenia. Surrey. Routledge. pp. 185–190.
  • Russell, J.R. (1986). "Armenia and Iran iii. Armenian Religion". Encyclopædia Iranica. pp. 438–444.
  • Gaggero, Gianfranco (2016). "Armenians in Xenophon". Greek Texts and Armenian Traditions: An Interdisciplinary Approach. De Gruyter.
  • Toumanoff, Cyril (1963). Studies in Christian Caucasian history. Washington DC. Georgetown University Press. p. 278.
  • Donabedian, Patrick (1994). The History of Karabagh from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. In Chorbajian, Levon; Mutafian, Claude (eds.). The Caucasian Knot: The History & Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh. Zed Books. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-85649-288-1.
  • Adontz, Nicolas (1970). The Reform of Justinian Armenia. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. p. 310.
  • Olson, James (1994). An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires. Greenwood Press. p. 42.
  • Daniela, Dueck (2017). "Strabo and the history of Armenia". The Routledge Companion to Strabo. Routledge. pp. 97–98. ISBN 9781138904330.
  • Laitin, David D.; Suny, Ronald Grigor (1999). Armenia and Azerbaijan: thinking a way out of Karabakh. (PDF) Middle East Policy. 7: 145.
  • Romeny, R. B. ter Haar (2010). Religious Origins of Nations?: The Christian Communities of the Middle East. Brill. p. 264. ISBN 9789004173750.


  1. Ring et al. 2014, p. 250.
  2. Stokes 2009, p. 54.
  3. Lang 1970, p. 126.
  4. Canepa 2020, p. 101.
  5. Curtis 2016, p. 185; Boyce 1984, p. 84; de Jong 2015, pp. 119–120, 123–125; Russell 1987, pp. 170–171, 268
  6. Lang 1983, p. 535.
  7. Versluys 2017, p. 48.
  8. Maranci 2018, p. 21.
  9. Toumanoff 1963, p. 278.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Garsoïan 2005.
  11. Gaggero 2016.
  12. Allsen 2011, p. 37.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Facella 2021.
  14. Russell 1986, p. 438–444.
  15. Panossian 2006, p. 36.
  16. Garsoïan 1997, p. 49.
  17. Garsoïan 2004, p. 418–438.
  18. Wilken 2012, p. 229.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Romeny 2010, p. 264.
  20. Curtis 2016, p. 185.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Toumanoff 1986, p. 543–546.
  22. Olson 1994, p. 42.
  23. Binns 2002, p. 30.
  24. Donabedian 1994, p. 53.
  25. Daniela 2017, p. 97–98.
  26. Laitin & Suny 1999.


  1. Under the Tigranes II (95–55 BC) the Kingdom of Armenia is called an empire.
  2. Although the Armenian Arsacid dynasty was a branch of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty, it ruled as a evident Armenian dynasty.[22]
  3. Roman protectorate
  4. Roman protectorate
  5. Roman protectorate
  6. Roman protectorate
  7. Roman protectorate
  8. Parthian protectorate
  9. Roman protectorate
  10. Roman protectorate
  11. Parthian protectorate
  12. Roman protectorate
  13. Roman protectorate
  14. Roman protectorate
  15. Roman protectorate
  16. Roman protectorate
  17. Roman protectorate
  18. Armenia became a Roman province.
  19. Sassanid puppet King
  20. Roman protectorate
  21. The Kingdom of Armenia was destroyed for a time.
  22. The Local Independent Government was established.