Archaeological Site of Ani

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in the Switzerland to uncover the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch.

Today we’re traveling back into Classical Anatolia (or modern Turkey) as we check out the Archaeological Site of Ani!

Ani (known in Latin as Abnicum) is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey‘s province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia. Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.

This site is located on a secluded plateau of northeast Turkey overlooking a ravine that forms a natural border with Armenia. This medieval city combines residential, religious and military structures, characteristic of a medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by Christian and then Muslim dynasties.

The city flourished in the 10th and 11th Centuries AD when it became the capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratides and profited from control of one branch of the Silk Road. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans.

The Mongol invasion and a devastating earthquake in 1319 marked the beginning of the city’s decline. The site presents a comprehensive overview of the evolution of medieval architecture through examples of almost all the different architectural innovations of the region between the 7th and 13th Centuries AD.

How This Relates to Rome:

The Kingdom of Greater Armenia, or simply Greater Armenia (Armenia Maior), was a monarchy in the Ancient Near East which existed from 321 BC to 428 AD. Its history is divided into successive reigns by 3 royal dynasties: Orontid (321 BC–200 BC), Artaxiad (189 BC–12 AD) and Arsacid (52–428).

Roman-Parthian Wars Campaign Map (AD 58-60).

During the Roman–Parthian Wars, the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia was founded when Tiridates I, a member of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty, was proclaimed King of Armenia in AD 52. Throughout most of its history during this period, Armenia was heavily contested between Rome and Parthia, and the Armenian nobility was divided among pro-Roman, pro-Parthian or neutrals.

Statue of Trajan (2nd Century AD) from Ostia Antica.

From AD 114 to 118, Armenia briefly became a province of the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan. The Kingdom of Armenia often served as a client state or vassal at the frontier of the two large empires and their successors, the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. In 301, Tiridates III proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of Armenia, making the Armenian kingdom the first state to embrace Christianity officially.

During the Byzantine–Sasanian wars, Armenia was ultimately partitioned into Byzantine Armenia in 387 and Persian Armenia in 428.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!