Latest:

Kharpert: The Golden Plain of the Armenian Plateau

The following excerpt has been adapted from Historic Armenia After 100 Years: Ani, Kars, and the Six Provinces of Western Armenia (Stone Garden Press, $39.95, Pub. Feb. 2015) by Matthew Karanian.

The fortress of Kharpert is perched atop an empty hillside. This hillside had been the Armenian Quarter of Kharpert until 1915. (Photo © 2014 Matthew Karanian,; reprinted with permission.)

The fortress of Kharpert is perched atop an empty hillside. This hillside had been the Armenian Quarter of Kharpert until 1915. (Photo © 2014 Matthew Karanian,; reprinted with permission.)

Kharpert is the Voski Dasht—the Golden Plain—of the Armenian Plateau.

This area, which is the site of historic Armenian settlement of Tsopk, and which is known in today’s Turkey as Harpoot, is also one of the oldest areas of Armenian habitation. Some scholars believe that Kharpert may even be the cradle of the Armenian nation.

Whether the Armenian nation originated here, or farther east in Bitlis, or Van, or elsewhere, however, there is no dispute that Armenian Kharpert holds one of the keys to understanding the origins of the Armenian people.

In centuries past, Kharpert’s fields of grain helped the region to earn its designation as the Golden Plain. By 1915, however, Kharpert had earned a new moniker: “the Slaughterhouse Province.” An American diplomat who lived in Kharpert from 1914-17 bestowed the name upon the region. He selected the name after observing the fate of the deported Armenians who had been herded to Kharpert from their homes in other parts of the Armenian Plateau.

During the century before its demise in 1915, Armenian Kharpert had developed into a significant center for missionaries from the United States, and for American-sponsored schools.

The exposure of Kharpertsi Armenians (Armenians from Kharpert) to these U.S. institutions in the late 1800’s helped to inspire them to adopt Western ways, and to travel to the U.S.—sometimes as immigrants, and sometimes as sojourners or pandukhts, laborers who intended to work in the U.S., save their earnings, and then return to Kharpert to help their families.

Just prior to 1915, the top American diplomat in Kharpert had estimated that roughly 80 percent of the Armenians who immigrated to the United States had come from Kharpert. These travelers formed some of the earliest Armenian communities in the United States, in the factory and mill towns of southern New England. Many settled in places such as Worcester, Mass., which was the site in 1891 of the first Armenian church in the US.

Among Diaspora Armenians living in North America today, the Kharpertsi are believed to be among the most numerous. And for most of the 20th century, say some, the Armenians of Kharpert were the quintessential Armenian Americans.

 ***

For more information, visit www.historicarmeniabook.com. To pre-order Historic Armenia now for $35 postpaid in the United States, send a check to Stone Garden Productions, PO Box 7758, Northridge, CA 91327. To pay by credit card, request an invoice by e-mailing Bedros@StoneGardenProductions.com.

7 Comments on Kharpert: The Golden Plain of the Armenian Plateau

  1. The “American diplomat” was Leslie Davis, who wrote an eyewitness book entitled “The Slaughterhouse Province.” It’s still available in some libraries. Like Henry Morgenthau, he tried to meet with Turkish officials to stop or slow down the genocide. He also protected Armenians (some of whom had become American citizens) in his consulate and helped smuggle them to other countries. If someone wanted to describe the Armenian Genocide from an outsider point of view — rather like Schindler — Davis would make a great focus. His descriptions of Lake Geoljuk (now Lake Hazar) are mind-boggling.

  2. I an a son of a Kharpertsi survivor and my wife, Anna, is a daughter of Sepastian immigrants. I have orderd a copy Historic Armenia and am anxious to receive it very soon. Ithank the authors for the writing and publishing this book. Thanks Regards, Movses

  3. The website for Historic Armenia After 100 Years just went live today (Armenian Christmas Day, January 6, 2015). You can view sample pages and reserve your copy of the book at http://www.HistoricArmeniaBook.com

  4. Dear Sirs, Unfortunately you don’t know my book, published in oct-2006 in French. This job has been done by me. You could discover 10 Provinces of Armenia and Chabinkarahissar, with 190 pictures and 208 pages. Only 14 are available today, there were 1000 in 2006. ISBN: 2-9527216-0-2, price 55 Euros.
    Best regards.

    • There is also Sevan Nisanyan’s 2006 Eastern Turkey A Travellers Handbook and, for much more detail, the various volumes in the “Historic Armenian Cities” series of publications edited by Richard G Hovannisian. A usable guidebook for travellers interested in exploring Turkey’s Armenian past in the detail it deserves has yet to be written.

  5. Yes, I agree with Pat’s comments about US Consul Leslie Davis. Actually, the work of Leslie Davis in Kharpert is covered at length in the book, including his observations at Lake Goljuk, his reports to the US Dept. of State, and the more recent publication of The Slaughterhouse Province. There wasn’t room for all this in the excerpt that the author submitted the Armenian Weekly, but it’s definitely in the book.

    The author concludes that “For his efforts, Davis is one of the heroes of the Armenian people.” He certainly deserves greater recognition than he has had.

  6. avatar Araxy K Byron // April 22, 2017 at 10:19 pm // Reply

    My father’s family, Tamamians, left Kharpert in 1908 and immigrated to the US.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*