Dvin

The forgotten city.

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Great City

Great City

Dvin’s emergence into the history books begins in 335, when after the Arax river shifted leaving the old capital at Artashat defenseless, the Arshakuni king Khosrov II (r. 330-338) moved the capital 20 km N to Dvin. This may well have been due also to the king’s fondness for the hunt; his forebear Khosrov I so avid a hunter he ordered the planting of entire forests in the mountains just to the east, the royal hunting ground becoming the precursor to today’s Khosrov Nature Preserve. Khosrov II enlarged the forests, establishing the Khosrov Forest, which stands to this day as the state-protected Khosrov Reserve.

The city became the seat of power for the Arshakuni dynasty and a major trade, crafts and cultural center for the country until its fall 1000 years later.

What the king called his new city is unknown; the word “Dvin” is a middle Persian word for “Hill”, a name given to the city later in the 5th c. The city prospered under Arshakuni rule, later reaching legendary fame as the wealthiest and most populous city east of Constantinople.

Khosrov’s reign was short and that of his dynasty not much longer, as they succumbed to Roman/Sassanid pressure in the late 4th c, the two super powers dividing the kingdom between them. An ill-fated attempt to rebel cost the kingdom its autonomy and the Arshakunis their last king in 428, when the Sassanids took control of the eastern provinces, making Dvin the capital of their Armenian marzpanate (the origin of the current word “marz” for Armenia’s 10 districts).


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