Gevorg Abgarian, a scholar affiliated with the Matenadaran of Yerevan for more than half century, was one of the noted names in Armenian Studies of the past century.
He was born in the village of Horom (today in the province of Shirak) on September 14, 1920. He had his elementary and secondary education in Echmiadzin and Leninakan (currently Gumri). He studied in the Faculty of History of Yerevan State University from 1937-1941, until he was mobilized for World War II. He participated in the war until he was wounded and fell prisoner of the German army in 1942. He miraculously survived and returned home. He was readmitted to the university and graduated in 1946. Then, he pursued graduate studies at the Institute of Literature Manuk Abeghian of the Academy of Sciences.
However, as it happened with many war prisoners returned to the Soviet Union, the Stalinist regime had Abgarian arrested in 1947 and condemned to ten years of imprisonment without a trial. He was liberated after Stalin’s death, on March 19, 1955, before the end of his term and then rehabilitated.
Abgarian had started working at the Matenadaran in the section of study and publication of texts during his student years, in 1940. His graduation thesis in 1946 was about History of the Nation of the Archers, an Armenian text written in the thirteenth century about the Mongol invasion and ascribed to Maghakia Abegha and Vardan Areveltsi. In the same year, he discovered the actual author of the History, Grigor Aknertsi. Thanks to his discovery, the English (Robert P. Blake and Gregory N. Frye, 1949), Turkish, and Georgian translations were published with accurate authorship.
In 1965 Abgarian defended his dissertation of first doctorate (candidate in historical sciences), entitled The History of Sebeos and the Enigma of Anonymous, for which he earned the second doctorate (doctor in historical sciences). The dissertation was published in the same year. In 1966, he discovered and published several chapters of the Armenian translation of the biblical Book of Sirach in one of the manuscripts of the Matenadaran. Those chapters had been originally translated in the fifth century, but had been considered lost in the twelfth century, and for this reason they had been replaced by a new translation.
Abgarian taught history of Armenian ancient literature in translation from 1975-1976 at Yerevan State University. His many scholarly articles were mostly devoted to Armenian medieval literature, philology, Armenian literary relations with other peoples (Greeks, Georgians, Germans, et cetera), and history of European Armenology. He prepared for publication the translations into ancient Armenian and German of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Chronicle, the History of Armenia ascribed to Faustus of Byzance, Sebeos’ History, and various texts of Armenian medieval prose.
He wrote the book Matenadaran, which was published in Russian and English (1962), and in Polish (1965). His work, Prehistory of Armenian Printing, appeared posthumously in 2001.
This prolific scholar passed away on May 14, 1998, in Yerevan.