Armenian communities in Lebanon

The Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship in Lebanon. All churches marked are Armenian Apostolic unless stated otherwise.

The Lebanese Armenian community is heavily concentrated in Beirut, and particularly in and around its eastern suburb of Bourj Hammoud. Many of the local Armenians are descendants of 1915 Genocide survivors and refugees. The total Armenian population in Lebanon was estimated to be 156,000 in 2014.

 

 

This map was previously published by bluebirdresearch.com

Armenian communities in Syria

This Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship in Syria prior to the Syrian conflict.

Armenians were especially concentrated in Aleppo (Haleb). Each of the city’s nine Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic churches is shown on the map. There were also significant communities in Damascus, in a cluster of villages in the Kesab (Kasab) area adjacent to the Turkish border, and in a number of desert towns in the NE at which Armenians arrived during and after the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

There was a post-Genocide Armenian refugee camp on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, which operated from 1922, had its own churches (Surp Khach, or Holy Cross, and Surp Krikor Lusavorich) and gradually developed into a normal residential suburb.

Aleppo was also the location of an Armenian Orphanage. The United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland has a vast archive and library, including holdings generated and collected by its predecessor the League of Nations. Among these are 15 registers under references C1601/497, C1602/498 and C1603/499 which pertain to the children admitted to the Armenian Orphanage in Aleppo during the period 1922 to 1930. Each volume contains short biographies and black and white photographs of up to 100 orphans and others admitted to the Orphanage. The registers do not form a complete unbroken series covering all inmates – four original volumes, known to have existed because of the sequential numbering of individuals admitted to the orphanage, have been lost or destroyed at some date. However, this still leaves illustrated biographical sketches of approximately 1,500 Armenians, victims but survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

Each orphan had been deported from the Armenian-inhabited regions of the Ottoman Empire, and presumably most if not all had lost both parents and all other close family members. Many had escaped or been released from captivity in the homes of Turks, Kurds or Arabs, many had been forced to convert, and many of the girls had been treated as domestic servants or unwilling concubines.

Today the descendants of the original refugees in Aleppo are likely to have been displaced by the fighting in Syria and to have fled from a city in ruins to, ironically, the relative safety of neighbouring Turkey.

 

Versions of this blog and map were originally published by bluebirdresearch.com in 2012.

Turkish names of Armenian villages in Kars province

The place name concordance below shows the Armenian settlements of Kars oblast (province) of the period 1900s/1910s, taken from late Imperial Russian gazetteers. It is designed to help Armenian family historians to locate their ancestral villages, and should be read in conjunction with the Google Map showing the same Armenian settlements under their current Turkish names.

The table gives a) the names as transliterated from the Russian Cyrillic in Imperial Russian official publications, b) their Armenian names in standard transliteration and c) their modern Turkish names.

All errors are the blogger’s own. Additions and corrections are welcomed.

 

Russian name Armenian name Modern Turkish name
Kars Kars Kars
Zaim Zayim Harmanlı
Matsra Mazra Mezra
Dahskovo Dashkov Yalinkaya
Norashen    
Bulanikh Bulangh Bulanık
Kani-Key Ghani Gelirli
Karakala Karakala Merkezkarakale (Karakale)
Chermali Chermali Çerme
Berna Berna Koyunyurdu
Khas-Chiftlik Khas-Chiftlik Hasçiftlik
Gyarmali Gyarmali Kaynarlı
Giudali Gyodali Güdeli
Karakhach Garaghach Başkaya
Sogiutli-Abad Abat-Sogyutli Atayurdu
Chigirgyan Chghrdan Çığırgan
Khapanli Ghapanli Hapanlı
Bozgala Bozgala Bozkale
Begli-Akhmed Beghli-Ahmed Benliahmet
Orta-Kilisa Ortakilisa Ortalar
Kizil-Chakhchakh Kzil-Chaghchagh Akyaka (Garmirçağatsk)
Uzunkilisa Uzunkilisa Esenyayla
Aguzum Aghuzum Küçükaküzüm
Pirvali Pirvali Büyükpirveli (Eski Pirveli)
Odzhakh-Kuli Ojakh-Ghuli n/a (in Armenia)
Kiuruk-Dara Ghyurakdara, Gyurakdara Kürekdere
Paldirvan Paldrvan Duraklı
Parget (Bolshoy) Metz Parkit Büyükçatma
Bash-Shuragel Bash-Shoragyal Şetindurak
Tikhnis-Stariy Hin Tegniz Kalkankale
Tikhnis-Noviy Nor Tegniz Kalkankale
Ashaga-Kadiklyar Nerkin Gyadiklar Ayakgedikler
Bayrakhtar Bayraktar Bayraktar
Gamzakyarak Ghamzakyarak Hamzagerek
Gerkhana Gorghana Eşmeyazı
Araz-Ogli Arazi Arazoğlu
Dzhala Jala Esenkent
Adzham-Mavrak Acham Mavrak, Ajam-Mavrag Bekler
Karmirk-Vank Karmir Vank Yağıkesen
Koshevank Khoshavank n/a (in Armenia)
Kuyudzhuk Ghuyujugh Kuyucuk
Tazakent Tazakend Tazekent
Bash-Kadiklyar Bash Gyadiklar Başgedikler
Oguzli   Oğuzlu
Orta-Kadiklyar Orta Gyadiklar Ortagedikler
Agdzhakala Aghjaghala Akçakale
Kyadik-Satilmish Gyadik-Satlmish Gediksatilmiş
Parget (Maliy) Pokr Parkit Küçükçatma
Dolbant Dolbandlu Dölbentli
Baykara Bayghara Baykara
Bayburt Bayburt, Paypert Bayburt
Ortakala Ortaghala Ortakale
Sogiutli-Prut Brut-Sogyutlu Söğötlü
Yeski-Kazi, Eski-Kazi Aksi-Ghazi Eskigazi
Karamamed Gharamahmed n/a (in Armenia)
Bezirgyan Beyirgan Eskigeçit
Ardagan Ardahan Ardahan
Okam   Çayirbaşi
Urut Urut Bellitepe
Kagizman Kaghzvan Kağızman
Karabakh Gharabagh Karabağ
Kers Gers Günindi
Khar Khar Çallı
Yenidzha, Enidzha   Yenice
Karavank Gharavank Taşburun
Changli Chankli Çengilli
poselok Todan   Esenkır
Zirchi Zrchi Yağlıca
Pivik-Armyanskiy Bvik Karaboncuk
Laloy-Mavrak Laloy-Mavra Dolaylı
Pakran Bagaran Kilittaşi
Akryak Agarak Derinöz
Dzhalal Jalal Celal (Celalköy)
Zibni Tzpni Varlı
Digor Tikor Digor
Yelisavetinskoe,

Elisavetinskoe

Elisaveta  
Nakhichevan Nakhichevan Kocaköy
Kosha-Kilisa Ghoshakilisa Şehithalit
Khoperan Goberan Gecikmez
Shadevan Shatevan Belencik
Bashkey with poselok

Cholakhli and Kara-Pungar

Cholaghli and

Gharapunghar

Başköy, Çolaklı, Karapınar
Giulyantapa Gyulantara Beşyol
Sitagan Stahan Eşmeçayır
Akh-Kilisa Aghkilisa  
Armutli Armutlu Armutlu
Churuk Churuk Çardakçatı
Olti Olti Oltu
Dzhudzhurus Jurjuris Subatuk
Zardanes Zardanes Sarisaz
Tamrut Temrut Şendurak
Kubad-Yeriuk Yoruk Derebaşi
Akryak Agarak Sindiran
Pertus Bardus Zömrüt
Olor   Olur

 

 

This blog, concordance and map were first published on the bluebirdresearch website in 2011/12.

 

Armenian communities in Iraq

This Google Map shows the location of modern (twentieth century) Armenian communities in Iraq.

Many of the smaller communities in the northern region of Kurdistan were formed by refugees after the 1915 Genocide (many from the Van district), or have been augmented in recent years by the arrival of internally displaced persons from Baghdad, Basra and Mosul.

This map was created in 2011, since when the situation in Iraq – even in Kurdistan – has deteriorated for Armenians and other minority ethnic and faith groups. There has been an inevitable reduction in numbers, primarily by emigration of refugees to Armenia, Lebanon and the West. Although the Armenian Embassy in Baghdad estimate is 13,000, the current Armenian population of Iraq may now be as low as, or lower than, 10,000.

 

 

Armenians in Cyprus

The Armenian community in Cyprus is of long standing, as witnessed, for example, by the historical Armenian quarter of the capital Nicosia and the ancient Magaravank monastery complex, now marooned in the Turkish-occupied north of the island. The population grew during the nineteenth century and continued to receive refugees with each wave of persecution in the Ottoman Empire and of course during and after the 1915 Armenian Genocide (more recently, too, from Egypt, Lebanon and Iran following political crises in those countries).

Most if not all Armenians fled the Turkish military occupation in 1974 and in particular the Armenian community abandoned Famagusta and sought refuge in the Greek half of the island.

The Google Map shows the location of Armenian communities past and present, places of worship and cemeteries across Cyprus.

 

This blog and map were first published by bluebirdresearch in 2012.

Armenian Karakala, Kars

Among the Californian Armenian community is a disproportionate number of descendants of immigrants from the small village of Karakala, or Kara-Kala, near Kars. On incoming American passenger lists and in naturalisation records, the place of origin of these immigrants will usually be shown as Russian Armenia, because the region around the city of Kars became the Russian Karsskaya oblast from 1878 to 1917. Before that period, the region was part of the Ottoman Empire and therefore a minority of US immigration records, especially for those Armenians born in Karakala before 1878, may state Turkey or Ottoman Empire, rather than Russia, as place of birth.

There is little to be found on the internet – at least, in the English language and of value to genealogists – about Karakala. There is confusion as to its exact whereabouts. The primary reason for this confusion is that the place name is not unique: there are multiple candidates. Furthermore, place names changed under modern Turkey and some Armenian villages were completely razed and have disappeared from the map. However, the true location of Armenian Karakala can be determined with confidence.

Imperial Russia, like other late 19th century empires, took a lively interest in demographics and ethnography (not least because nationalism needed to be monitored as the single biggest challenge to empire). Russian gazetteers of the period show the administrative geography (the hierarchy of local government from regional capital down to village), the population breakdown and usually something of the ethnicity (natsionalnost or nationality in Russian) of the inhabitants. The colossal 1897 Russian Census was a monument to just such a preoccupation with the population of empire.

Gazetteers for Kars oblast record the entire population down to the smallest villages of no more than 50 inhabitants. The Russian gazetteers for the 1900s and 1910s show consistently that there were nine places called Karakala in Kars oblast. However, Armenian Karakala – the source of the Californian immigrant population – is readily identified. Each of the various entries for the settlements named Karakala gives the nationality of its population. In this respect, while cities and towns in eastern Anatolia were usually of mixed population, the villages in the hinterland tended to be occupied by a single people. Only one of the nine places named Karakala had an Armenian population: of the remaining eight, seven were Muslim villages, identified carefully as Kurdish, Turcoman/Turkish and even Karapapak, and one a Yezidi village.

Under Russian rule, Armenian Karakala seems originally to have been classed as an obshestvo (community) in its own right, with the nearby Turkmen selo or village of Hadzhi-Halil subordinate to it, within the okrug (or district) of Magaradzhik (a Greek Orthodox village). However, later Karakala lost its obshestvo status and became simply a selo like Hadzhi-Halil in Magaradzhik obshestvo inMagaradzhik okrug. The other two villages in the immediate grouping were Azat (which was Greek Orthodox) and Kany-Kei (another Armenian settlement).

Across Kars oblast, the majority of Armenian settlements were growing rapidly during the years leading up to WW1, due to natural growth (families were large) and in-migration. Karakala was an exception to this trend. In 1902, the village comprised 464 souls (as they are described in the gazetteers) residing in 43 households; in 1908, 400 and in 1910 408; by 1914, it had 489 souls living in 79 homes. All were Armenian. The explanation for the mid-1900s dip and the otherwise relatively slow growth in population size and reduction in household size in Karakala is the significant emigration from the village to North America.

So where is Karakala? It is situated 17.5km SSE of Kars and is today called Merkezkarakale. The prefix Merkez (“central”) simply signifies its location in Kars Merkezi, or the central district of the Kars province of modern Turkey; this name was not used during either the Ottoman or Imperial Russian eras. 8km to the NNW is Azat; about 5km to the N is Magaradzhik, now called either Mağaracık  or Ataköy in Turkish; 5km to the NW is Kany-Kei, now known as Gelirli; and 2km to the S is Hadzhi-Halil, now spelt Hacıhalil in modern Turkish.

The first Google Map shows Armenian Karakala, marked with a yellow pin, in the context of the other Armenian settlements in Kars.

 

The second Google Map shows Armenian Karakala, marked with a yellow star instead of a pin, along with the non-Armenian villages named Karakala.

 

A third Google Map shows Armenian Karakala in the context of the surrounding villages of different ethnicity or nationality. The Armenian villages are marked with blue pins, and Karakala is the one marked with a blue star instead of a pin at the centre of the map.

 

There is an old photograph of the village of Armenian Karakala online:

Karakala old photo

Armenian Karakala – photo © molokane.org

If one studies Merkezkarakale in satellite view at high magnification on the  Google Map, one thing that is noticeable and common to both photograph and satellite image is the village’s linear structure – essentially it is a single street with plots to the left and right set back at different short distances from the road. Although 100 or more years may have passed, and the village will have been rebuilt and extended, and perhaps shifted its centre of gravity, its basic plan seems remarkably similar today. The axis of the village is NW to SE. The road in the satellite view, extending off to the right half way down the village street (heading roughly N), looks like a more organic recent development. The old photograph seems to have been shot from an elevation and may have been taken on the rising ground SE of the village.

Merkezkarakale

Merkezkarakale today, orientated to match old village photograph 

This is the only village named Karakala with a linear settlement plan in the former Kars oblast.If one looks at each of them in turn at high magnification on the Google Map, it will be seen that all of the others are organic, sometimes seemingly random, clusters of low buildings. Merkezkarakale is the only one with the planned look and feel of a linear village. It has been suggested that Armenian Karakala was built shortly after the Russian administration arrived in 1878; if so, then this would be consonant with the appearance of a “modern” rectilinear and planned layout.

It is not clear whether there are any surviving genealogical records for Karakala; and, if so, where they are held; and whether they cover both the Armenian Apostolic and the village’s burgeoning Armenian Protestant or Evangelical sect known as the “Jumpers” which generated many of the emigrants to California. The 1908 Kars oblast gazetteer explicitly describes the village as Armenian Protestant, so we know that the correct place has been identified.

Among the surnames of the original immigrant Armenian families with roots in Karakala are Katanian, Keosababian, Mooshagian, Nalian, Perumian, Shaharian and Stepanian.

This blog and the accompanying maps first appeared on the bluebirdresearch website in 2010 and 2011.

Armenian Apostolic churches in Constantinople

This Google Map shows the Armenian Apostolic (or Gregorian) churches in İstanbul, Turkey for which there are known surviving historical parish registers of use for Armenian family history research. 

The churches in İstanbul, or Bolis as it is known in Armenian, are under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople.

There are other destroyed and surviving Apostolic churches for which there are no known extant historical parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial. These are not shown on the map. Similarly, Armenian Catholic churches are not mapped.

 

A version of this article and the accompanying map were originally published by bluebirdresearch in 2011.

 

 

 

Armenian communities in Jordan

This simple Google Map shows the location of the Armenian communities and places of worship in Jordan, including the modern Baptism Site church on the River Jordan at Al Maghtas.

The Armenian population in Jordan is today highly concentrated on the Al-Ashrafieh district of the capital, Amman.

 

 

 

The Armenian community in Iran

There has been an Armenian community in what is today Iran and what was formerly Persia for many centuries, and some extremely ancient Armenian Apostolic churches are to be found in the north of the country – for example, the so-called “black church” of Surp Tade Vank south of the town of Maku and the Surp Stepanos Maghartavank monastery in a gorge near Julfa which form part of a UNESCO-recognised world heritage ensemble of exceptional interest.

Armenians of the Ottoman Empire sought refuge in Persia at the time of the 1915 Genocide, while other immigrants arrived after the Russian Revolution, and the Armenian population of Iran may have risen to a million or more at its peak. Today, however, the community is dwindling due to emigration, although not due to political or religious factors, as one might assume. While there is some inevitable discrimination given that modern Iran is by definition an Islamic state, a majority of those local Armenians leaving Iran are doing so for economic reasons and emigrating particularly to USA (rather than to the Republic of Armenia or Western Europe). Some of the traditionally strong Armenian communities, such as those in the New Julfa (or Nor Jugha) quarter on the south side of Isfahan and in the city of Tabriz and the vicinity of Urmia, have seen significant drops in population. Although the actual figures seem to be unknown and the process of emigration is continuing, it is thought that the total Armenian population of Iran may have fallen to as low as 75,000 in the years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the liberal, westward-leaning Shah.

The Armenians in Persia also had strong links with India and especially with the British in India, operating alongside (and often on behalf of) the Honourable East India Company along the overland trade routes to the subcontinent. This is why there are Armenian churches in various cities in India, even though the actual Armenian community is now greatly reduced in number. Armenian cemeteries are also important for those British family historians with East India Company connections, as the burials of the British usually took place in Armenian cemeteries where there was not a Church of England or other Protestant church. In Iran this practice remained prevalent until the end of the 19th century. A very good example of this is at the port of Bushire (Bushehr) in Iran.

The Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship (not all extant today) in Persia / Iran in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these are in the far NW of the country around Lake Urmia, where Armenians have lived among Assyrians, Azeris, Kurds and other peoples for centuries. Some churches have been damaged by earthquakes and war but generally the Iranian state has been sympathetic to the Armenian heritage (compared to the neglect and destruction it has suffered in Azerbaijan and Turkey). Spellings of place names on the map have not been standardised.

 

This blog and map were first published by bluebirdresearch in 2012.

The Hemshin

Official Turkish historiography claims that the Hemshin or Hemşin are Turks who, through an unfortunate proximity, took on elements of Armenian language and culture. The truth, universally accepted elsewhere, is that the Hemshin are ethnic Armenians who either voluntarily or forcibly converted to Islam. For the most part they inhabit mountain valleys inland from Trabzon east to Rize and beyond Çayeli and Pazar to Hopa up by the border with Georgia.

Some of the valleys, such as those of the rivers Karadere and Fırtına, are predominantly Hemshin in character. Their villages are loose clusters of homes, often scattered along a ridge or a winding access road, rather than focused nuclear settlements. Many villages have separate quarters (mahalle) with different names, which have been gathered into a single settlement for administrative purposes. The majority of settlements have been re-named, or have alternative names. In certain parts, villages are associated with traditional highland pastures called yaylas, to which entire communities decamp for the summer grazing season. The yaylas are summertime highland grazing camps rather than permanent year-round settlements.

The Hemshin have also dispersed within Turkey, and there are communities, generally thriving and successful, in big cities such as Ankara and Istanbul (where the Hemshin are famous as pastry cooks). As a result, the Hemshin villages are becoming depopulated, as part of a rural to urban movement pattern common to most developing states in the modern world. This threatens the very existence of the Hemshin as a distinctive people, especially within their context of the homogenising chauvinistic culture of Turkey. However, it is possible that their culture may be preserved through a mixture of urban Hemshin nostalgia and the development of tourism.

Most of the Hemshin are Sunni Muslim and nowadays speak Turkish; however, those in the Hopa district still speak Homshetsma, an Armenian dialect. The same Homshetsma language is spoken by Hemshin in Georgia and Russia where part of the Hemshin (or, rather, their Armenian forebears) migrated to escape conversion to Islam and remain Christian.

The Hemshin are also known variously as Hamshen, Hemşin, Hemşinli, Hemshinli, Homshentsi and Homshetsi.

The Google Map shows current settlements in Turkey and beyond which are known to be Hemshin today. Villages outside Turkey are under-represented on the map. Communities in the big Turkish cities are not shown.

The villages of the Turkish-speaking Hemshin in the western region of habitation are shown with dark blue pins. The villages speaking the Hemshinli language called Homshetsma in the eastern region are shown with the pale blue pins (note that these spill over into Georgia). Purple pins show villages established by displaced Hemshin in western Turkey (see page 2 of the map).

The villages of the Homshetsma-speaking Hemşin in Georgia and Russia who fled the Ottoman Empire and remain Christian are also shown.

 

A version of this article and map was originally posted on the bluebirdresearch site in 2012.