Etymology of Yerevan

One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan’s name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand IV (the Last), the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat. However, it is likely that the city’s name is derived from the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni(Էրեբունի), which was founded on the territory of modern-day Yerevan in 782 BC by Argishti I. As elements of the Urartian language blended with that of the Armenian one, the name eventually evolved into Yerevan (Erebuni = Erevani = Erevan = Yerevan). Scholar Margarit Israelyan notes these changes when comparing inscriptions found on two cuneiform tablets at Erebuni:

The transcription of the second cuneiform bu [original emphasis] of the word was very essential in our interpretation as it is the Urartaean b that has been shifted to the Armenian v (b > v). The original writing of the inscription read «er-bu-ni»; therefore the prominent Armenianologist-orientalist Prof. G. A. Ghapantsian justly objected, remarking that the Urartu b changed to v at the beginning of the word (Biani > Van) or between two vowels (ebani > avan, Zabaha > Javakhk)….In other words b was placed between two vowels. The true pronunciation of the fortress-city was apparently Erebuny.

Early Christian Armenian chroniclers attributed the origin of the name, “Yerevan,” to a derivation from an expression exclaimed by Noah, in Armenian. While looking in the direction of Yerevan, after the ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the flood waters had receded, Noah is believed to have exclaimed, “Yerevats!” (“it appeared!”).

In Armenian manuscripts, Yerevan was also mentioned as Erevan, Erivan, Erewan, Ervan, Eruan, Arevan, Iravan, Revan and Ayravan.

However, the predominant former names of the city are Erebuni and Erevan.

The principal symbol of Yerevan is Mount Ararat, which is visible from any area in the capital. The seal of the city is a crowned lion on a pedestal with the inscription “Yerevan.” The lion’s head is turned backwards while it holds a scepter using the right front leg, the attribute of power and royalty. The symbol of eternity is on the breast of the lion with a picture of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border.

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