National Geographic : 1915 Oct
Photo by Stephen Van R. Trowbridge THE LATE PROFESSOR II. BEZJIAN A distinguished Armenian citizen of Aintab and Professor of Physics in Central Turkey College sadly symbolic of the fate of Armenian homes from that time to our own. AROUND ARARAT Emerging from tradition, a distinct Armenian people appears about 1ooo B. C., dwelling on the table-lands near Ararat. Having no natural boundaries, the State was seldom independent, but was subjugated in turn by Babylonia, the Medes and Persians, the Seleucide and the Romans. The ancient Oriental idea of conquest left, however, a good chance of national development. Con quest meant little more than tribute. The Armenians boast of a proud culture dur ing the ancient period and lines of noble kings. The Armenians were closely al lied to the Parthians by religion, culture, and propinquity, and were one of the few ancient peoples who were never Hellen ized. It is in the early Middle Ages-ages that we of the West call "dark," but that to the Near East was a period of great culture-that Armenia attains its highest position, and it is through Christianity that it made its contribution to the world. In the year 310 A. D., 15 years before the establishment of the Greek Church, the Armenian Church was founded by Krikor or Gregory the Illuminator, and Armenia became the bulwark of Chris tianity in the East. Gregory was baptized by Christian relatives in his childhood. His story is an interesting one, telling of an early marriage, the birth of two sons; then of his "vocation" and entrance into a monastery; of his attaching himself to Tiradates, who soon became king; of Tiradates' persecution of Gregory be cause he would not accept the old gods; of years in prison; of his release in re sponse to a vision; his miracles; the con version of Tiradates and the baptism of a thousand Armenians, until in eight years Armenia was fully Christianized and the religion was adopted by the State.