This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Artak Movsisyan (April 10, 1970)

Artak Movsisyan was a young and prolific historian of the post-Soviet generation in Armenia who made an important contribution to the study of ancient history.

He was born on April 10, 1970, in the city of Abovian. After graduating from the local No. 7 school, he served in the Soviet army from 1988 to 1990. Then he studied at the Faculty of History of Yerevan State University from 1990 to 1994. He was a university student when he published his first monograph, “Aratta: The Oldest State in Armenia” (Yerevan), which became the winner of the “Young Scholars-1993” competition announced by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. He was a researcher at the State History Museum of Armenia from 1991 to 1997.

From 1994 to 1997, Movsisyan continued his education at the post-graduate course of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences. He defended his first doctoral thesis in 1997, “The Hieroglyphic Script of the Kingdom of Van (Biainili, Urartu, Ararat),” which he published in 1998. He became a researcher (1997-2004) and then a senior researcher (2004-2020) at the Institute of Oriental Studies. In 1998 he started teaching at the chair of Armenian History of Yerevan State University. He received the golden medal of the university for his educational and academic achievements in 2015. In the same year he defended and published his second doctoral dissertation, “The Written Culture of Armenia in the Pre-Mashdots Period,” and became head of the chair of Armenian History in 2016.

Artak Movsisyan participated in several national and international conferences. He wrote over a dozen historical studies (monographs), nine documentary films, and more than three dozen scientific articles. He also authored several other monographs on ancient history: “The Empire of the Pious Kings” (1997); “The Sacred Highland: Armenia in the Ancient Spiritual Conceptions of the Near East” (three editions, 2000, 2004, 2006, translated into English and Spanish); “The Armenian Hieroglyphics” (2003); “The Writing Systems of Pre-Mashtots Armenia” (2003); “Armenia in the Third Millennium B.C.” (2005). He was the author of books about famous Armenian kings (2009), Tigran the Great (2010), sanctuaries of Western Armenia (2011), famous Armenian queens (2014), and a concise history of the Armenian people (2014), among others. Along with historian Petros Hovhannisian, he published a two-volume collection of sources on the history of the Armenian people (2007 and 2011). He became the main author of sections devoted to ancient history in collective publications about the history of the Armenian people.

Besides his scholarly work, Movsisyan was also engaged in the production of works aimed at readers in general, as well as of documentary films that showed different aspects of Armenian history and debunked attempts of history falsification, especially by Azerbaijan. In 2016, he was awarded the “Vazgen Sargsyan” medal by the Ministry of Defense of Armenia.

The fateful Artsakh war of 2020 had barely started, when Artak Movsisyan passed away on October 3, 2020, in Yerevan, victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.