Scarce and highly detailed map of Ancient Armenia by De La Rue.
Philippe de la Rue's map, titled "Armenia Vetus In Quattuor Partes distincta ad Tempora Iustiniana Imp," published in Paris in 1653, provides adetailed insight into the historical landscape of ancient Armenia. The map delineates Armenia into four primary segments, namely Armenia Maior, Armenia Prima, Armenia Secunda, and Armenia Tertia. More than just a geographical artifact, this map offers a visualization of the history of Armenia, particularly during the rule of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
De la Rue's map categorizes Armenia into distinct regions, providing an overview of territorial divisions that might have existed during Justinian's reign. Armenia Maior, the largest region, represents the core of ancient Armenian civilization, while Armenia Prima, Secunda, and Tertia showcase the administrative and territorial subdivisions reflective of the complex socio-political dynamics of the era.
The time of Justinian I, which spanned from 527 to 565 AD, was marked by significant territorial expansion, consolidation, and ambitious building projects. The region of Armenia, being a buffer between the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanian Persians, occupied a vital strategic position. The divisions showcased in the map, such as Armenia Prima and Secunda, might have been administrative divisions set up by the Byzantine Empire to better control and manage the region.
Throughout Justinian's rule, Armenia became a battleground for influence between the Byzantines and Persians. Both empires recognized the importance of the region as a frontier territory. The delineations in De la Rue's map, thus, also hint at the continuous flux and tug-of-war that might have existed, with territories potentially changing hands or allegiances. Moreover, Justinian's era was known for its attempt to unify the empire under Christianity. Armenia, being one of the earliest regions to embrace Christianity as a state religion back in the early 4th century, played a crucial role in this religious canvas.
The following major cities are noted:
1. Trapezus (Trabzon): Located on the coast of the Black Sea, Trapezus was an ancient Greek colony and later became a significant Byzantine city. It served as a critical port and was known for its fortifications. During the times of Justinian, the city was a hub for the Empire's northern defensive and trade routes.
2. Armauria (Armavir): An ancient city, Armauria has connections to early Urartian civilizations. By Justinian's period, the city had seen numerous changes in control between Armenian nobility and rising empires.
3. Artaxata (Artashat): Founded in the age of the Armenian Kingdom, Artaxata was once a thriving capital. By the Byzantine period, it had seen declines and resurgences but remained a symbol of Armenian resilience.
4. Melitene (Malatya): Positioned near the Euphrates River, Melitene was a crucial Byzantine stronghold. It served both as a defense against Persian incursions and as an administrative center, given its strategic location.
5. Arcae (Akcakale): This city, too, witnessed the ebb and flow of empires. The Byzantine influence, especially under Justinian, was evident in architectural and infrastructural projects.
6. Comana Cilicia (Comana in Cappadocia or Comana Chryse): Not to be confused with its Pontic counterpart, Comana Cilicia was a temple-state and later became part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. During Justinian's reign, such cities became focal points for consolidating Christianity.
7. Arabissus: Located in the Byzantine province of Cappadocia, Arabissus was a town of moderate importance but stood as a representation of the numerous towns that made up the Byzantine Empire's vast territory.
8. Cocusus: A smaller town in ancient Armenia, its significance lies in its representation of the many settlements that felt the tug of war between larger empires.
9. Tigranocerta (Tigranakert): Founded by the Armenian King Tigranes the Great, Tigranocerta was a symbol of Armenian grandeur. By Justinian's time, the city had lost its former glory, but its historical significance as a once-thriving capital remained intact.