JAVAKHQ: Historical Outline (Part I)

Map of Javakhk
Map of Javakhk

By Ashot Melkonian
Translated by T. Sonentz-Papazian

The rights to the English translation and publication of this article—which will appear in this and next week’s issue of the Armenian Weekly—belong to the Hairenik Association.

Part I: From Javakhq’s Historical Past

Gugarq, the 13th of the 15 regions (ashkhars) of historical Armenia’s Metz Haiq (Greater Armenia) Kingdom, covered the northern section of the Armenian Highlands. In the east, it bordered on the province of Utiq; in the west, of Tayq; in the south, of Ayrarat; and in the north it bordered on Iberia (Virq, Georgia). Its administrative center was the city of Tsurtav. Gugarq was one of the four borderline counties of the Armenian Kingdom and, at times, it enjoyed a certain autonomy. According to some Georgian historians, the name Gugarq has a Georgian origin, and it derives from the inhabitants of the region who were called “Gogars” or “Gargars.” But Armenian sources do not mention such an ethnicity. As for the land of the Gargars, it has no correlation with Gugarq.

The nine constituent counties of Gugarq were Dzoropor, Koghbopor, Tzobopor, Tashir, Treghq, Kangarq, Kgharjq, Upper Javakhq, and Artahan. Up to the first partition of Armenia (387 A.D.), the region also included neighboring Shavshet, Inner Javakhq, Mangleatspor, Qwishapor, Boghnopor, Khantsikhen, and Paruar. The total area covered more than 16,500 square kilometers.

Javakhq is mentioned as eighth in rank of the Gugarq counties. It was located in the central part of the region and covered areas of the plateau of the same name (the headland of Akhalqalaq, upland of Javakhq) and the mountainous area surrounding the latter, bordering on Treghq (Trialet) in the north, on Samsar and Javakhq mountains (Kechut, Mtin) in the east, and in the south, on the headland forming the extension of the Ashotsq plateau.

In historiography, different points of view are offered on the terminology of the name “Javakhq.” According to the Georgian writer Leonti Mroveli (author of Annals of Qartli and The Life of Qartli), the plain of Kur, the environs of the river Potskhov (historic Samtskhe province, now Akhaltskha), and other surrounding lands were inherited by Javakhos, son of Mtskhetos, grandson of the ancestor of the Georgians, Qartlos. After Javakhos, the region has been called Javakhq, Javakheti in Georgian. However, rightfully considering this “thesis” mythological and overly simplistic, many later researchers have attempted to find other explanations. Some, having in mind the region’s favorable climate for growing barley, have connected javi, the Georgian word for barley, with the name. Others have tried to find in the area an ethnic race of Javakhis.

In reality, the place-name of Javakhq, as is evident in the inscriptions of Van (Kingdom of Van)—where it is mentioned from the close of the 9th century B.C.—is a transliterated variant of the land called “Zabakha” or “Zabakhian”: Zabakha-Jabakha-Javakha-Javakhq. In the Khokhorian inscriptions of Argishti I (786-764 B.C.), among the conquered lands of Diaukh or Daya (Tayq) and Tariun (Daruynq, Basen), there is mention of Zabakhan. This name is also referred to in several inscriptions left by a number of succeeding Urartian kings. Although, there is no mention of Javakhq prior to the 8th century B.C., by studying the pre-Urartian era, it is possible to presume that it had either been an administrative part of an early Armenian state formation of the 2nd millennia B.C.—in all likelihood of Hayasa or Etiuni—or it may have been a fairly large, separate entity including the entire western section of the province of Gugarq. The second hypothesis is more probable; it is not by coincidence that the above-mentioned Argishti inscription mentions Zabakha as an occupied country. It means that until the beginning of the 8th century B.C., Javakhq had been a self-governing nation at the time and, as a territory inhabited by ethnic Armenians, was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of Van, constituting its largest province on the north-western frontier.

There is almost no direct reference to Javakhq from the post-Urartian, Armenian Ervanduni era. We can only cite two semi-legendary, yet noteworthy, references from Moses of Khoren’s History of the Armenians and Qartlis Tskhovreba. The father of historians notes that Vagharshak I bequeathed “half of the Javakhs sector” to Gushar of the Sharas and assigned a viceroy there to protect the Armenian homeland against the north-Caucasian highlanders. Many scholars studying this venture of the semi-legendary figure Vagharshak place it in the 3rd century B.C. At that time, it seems, Javakhq was within the domains of the Ervandunis and was given to Gushar, thus becoming identified with the latter; as such, it ceased to be a vast province in its own right and was included in the newly formed frontier principality as two split parts: Upper Javakhq and Lower Javakhq. Upper Javakhq is identified with the “half of the Javakhs sector” mentioned by Moses of Khoren, since it was given to the Shirak province of the neighboring Shara. There are no sources mentioning Lower Javakhq. But, if there was the upper segment—which was the southern and northeastern highland—there must have also been a “Lower Javakhq” encompassing the lowlands in the west and northwest.

It is significant that the above account by Moses of Khoren, written in 3rd-century B.C. (approximately) Javakhq, appears in its inaccurate, “Georgian” version in Qartlis Tskhoveba, according to which—as mentioned above—it was given to Javakhos. The fact is that in 270 B.C., adjacent to northern Metz Haiq, the Parnavazian state of the Georgians (Iberia, Virq) had come into existence and, with the assistance of the Seleucids—who were opposed to the Armenian Ervandunis—had occupied and annexed the provinces of Gugarq and Javakhq, along with other neighboring areas. At that time, the center of Javakhq was the fortress of Tzunda, which the Armenians called Qajatun (City of the Brave). The Greek writer Strabo describes the steps taken to recover the territories listed above from the Georgians. He writes that in the 2nd century B.C., King Artaxes of the Armenians (189-160) had regained from the Iberians, among other lands, Gogarene (Gugarq) and rejoined them to his country. The same statement, in different words, i
s encountered also in Georgian sources. According to Leonti Mroveli, in order to conquer Javakhetia, the Qartvelians (Georgians) prompted the Osetians—the Alans, mentioned in Armenian annals—to attack Artaxes. It means that the Armeno-Alan war, described by Moses of Khoren in the well-known fable of “Artaxes and Satenik,” was fought also for Javakhq. Artaxes was not only able to re-conquer the Armenian lands, but he also subjugated the small Georgian Kingdom. In fact, the Georgian throne passed to the viceroy (Bdeshkh) of Gugarq. It is not surprising, therefore, that in reference many future writers make use of the title “Bdeshkh of Gugarians and Georgians.”

Similarly, during the period of the Artaxiads and Arshakunis, references to Javakhq are rare and it is basically through the concept of the entire province of Gugarq that one can visualize the region. The latter, until the downfall of the Arshakunis in 428 A.D., has remained the northern frontier province of Metz Haiq, and has not been separated from it even in the first half of the first century of our era (1-52 A.D.), when the Armenian throne was occupied by foreigners, including Georgians.

From the few references to the region in question, perhaps the most valuable—a revealing observation on its demographic composition—belongs to the pen of a Georgian historian. According to tradition, Nino (Nune, of Armenian sources), one of the Hripsimean sisterhood of Christian missionaries, on her way to Georgia from Armenia, finds herself in Javakhq, where she meets Mskheti shepherds on the shores of Lake Parvana and, speaking to them in Armenian, receives the right directions to get to Mskhet. This testimony elucidates two important issues. First, that Nune, a resident of Armenia until her passage to Virq, was familiar with the native language and, along with other missionaries, brought Christianity from Armenia to the land of the Georgians. Second, that the language spoken in Javakhq was Armenian, since it was populated with Armenians, otherwise there would have been no necessity for shepherds from Mskhet to learn the language of the Armenians.

During the reign of Arshak II (350-368 A.D.), Gugarq revolted and pledged allegiance to the Georgian king. By the order of King Pap, Sparapet (Supreme Commander) Mushegh re-conquered Gugarq and punished the Bdeshkh and the princes who had helped him, re-establishing the River Kur as the boundary between Armenia and Georgia: “…the old boundary, which prevailed before between the land of the Armenians and that of the Georgians, which is the great River Kur itself.”

It is remarkable that, while being part of Gugarq, during the 3rd and 4th centuries, Javakhq managed to maintain its internal autonomy. The princely clan of the Vardzavunis ruled there, and had their special place in Arsacid (Arshakuni) Armenia. In the “Gahnamak” (Register of Noble Clans), they occupied the 23rd place on a list of 70 “nakhararutiuns.” During wartime, they contributed 200 warriors to the eastern of the four command sectors. After the partition of Armenia in the year 387 A.D., the influence of the Arsacids on Gugarq and Javakhq was considerably weakened and, after the fall of the Armenian Kingdom, the two regions were absorbed into the Georgian Satrapy set up under the rule of Persia, at the same time that Artsakh was made part of another Persian dominion, Aghvanq.

Along with all of northern Armenia, Javakhq also remained under Persian rule until the Arab invasions of the 7th century. In History of Taron, written by the contemporary author Hovhan Mamikonian, in his narrative of the Arab conquests, once more we come across the name of Javakhq. The author relates that the Arab general Abd el-Rahib had sacked, in the mid-7th century, the Armenian provinces of Harq, Basen, Javakhq, Vananda and, moving on to Virq, had returned to Arabia with his loot. It is noteworthy, that Javakhq is listed with the Armenian provinces, and Virq is mentioned only at the end. It signifies that in the years 40-50 of the 7th century, during the period of the Arab invasions, this province was part of Armenia, not Virq.

Javakhq remained under Arab domination until the end of the 9th century, when Smbat I of the Bagratids (890-914 A.D.), according to the historian Hovhannes of Draskhanakert, “…up and assailed the province of the Gugars, subduing and conquering them for the fortification of his own domain.”

During the years 70-80 A.D., most of Gugarq formed part of the Kingdom of Lori, or Kiurik (also Gugarq, Dzoraget). Upper Javakhq—particularly Gogshen, its southern section—remained under the rule of the Bagratids for a while, as, towards the end of the 10th century, Inner Javakhq became a part of the increasingly more powerful Georgian Bagratids. By the beginning of the 11th century, the same fate befell the heartland of Upper Javakhq. In a short while, the Georgian kings turned Javakhq and the neighboring Samtskhe into strong, fortified outposts of their southern domains as a protection against separatist forces, the Byzantine Empire and, later on, the Seljuk Turks. At the start of the 11th century, Bagrat III fortified one of the centers of the province and called it New City, Akhalqalaq in Georgian (akhali meaning “new,” qalaqi meaning “city”). In the years 1044-1047, in his war against Liparit Orbelian, Bagrat IV built the Akhalklaq fort on the left bank of the stream called Qarasunaghbiur. A certain number of Georgians were brought here to populate the area.

Georgian hegemony did not last very long. In the year 1064, Armenia and Georgia were devastated by the Seljuks. At that time, the Sultan Alp Aslan “…set up camp in the province called Javalis (Javakhs),” writes Matheos Urhayetsi, “and surrounding with arms the city called Alakh (Akhal-qaghaq city), with a mighty assault captured Alakh city, ruthlessly putting men and women, priests, clerics, and nobles to the sword. He flooded the city with blood and took countless youngsters and girls to Persia as slaves, and treasures of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls beyond measure.” Vardan the historian also narrates on these events: The nephew of Tughril, Alp-Aslan “…returned with a force of a hundred thousand and captured the new city that the Georgians call Akhal-city (qaghaq).” It is obvious from these statements by historians that by the middle of the 11th century, Akhalqalaq, which had replaced Dzunda as regional center, had lost a sizable part of its population to atrocious massacres and mass deportations.

At the beginning of the 12th century, King David the Builder of Georgia (1089-1125) managed to regain Lori and Javakhq from the Seljuk Turks. But, over the entire duration of the 11th century, Javakhq—along with other provinces—continued to change hands. In August 1175, the troops of Sultan-Atabek Eltkuz of Gandzak occupied and sacked Javakhq and Treghq. Georgi III (1156-1184), avoiding a confrontation, showed no opposition to the Seljuk aggression. After destroying Ani and Shirak, Eltkuz “…totally devastates Akhal-qaghaq and Javakhet and then turns towards Dvin…” Only towards the end of the 12th century—according to Queen Tamar’s (1184-1213) historian—after the victorious campaigns of Zachary and Ivane Zacharians, did the territories between Javakhq and Sper fall under Georgian rule.

During this period, infiltrations of Qartvelian ethnic groups into Javakhq continued along with the spread of Georgian Orthodoxy—a process that was evident during the rise of the Bagratids of Georgia (from the 12th to the beginning of the 13th century) not only in Akhalqalaq but also other areas of northern Armenia which, as a result of the growing Armeno-Georgian alliance, had been absorbed into the boundaries of Georgia. Nevertheless, of those provinces, Lori, Samtskhe-Akhaltskha, Daush, areas around Sevan, as well as Javakhq remained essentially Armenian-populated territories. It is not by chance that the Georgian court trusted these provinces to the Armenian Zacharians who, under the aegis of Georgia, created their own fiefdom.

The historian of Queen Tamar writes that Sargis Erkainabazuk Tmogveli (Tmogvetsi) and Shalva Toreli (Toretsi) were viceroys of Javakhq. The first had his seat at Tmogvi, in the Armenian fort of Tmuk or Tmka, located in the valley of Kur, not far from the town of Tzunda; while the second, in all probability, governed from the hamlet of Torea. It is significant that there were two governors in Javakhq. It means that the former administrative division of the province was maintained. The Toreans were also under the jurisdiction of the Tmkaberd Zacharians. Autonomous Akhalqalaq was the most important administrative and economic center of the province.

In the mid-20’s of the 13th century, Javakhq was subjugated by the Central Asian conqueror Jalaleddin, and during the 30’s, it was devastated by the Mongol invasions. But in several provinces, as in Javakhq, the autonomy of the Zacharians prevailed. Based on the new administrative division of 1245, Javakhq was left to the Toreans, under Mongol supervision. In 1266, taking advantage of the Georgian kings’ struggle against the Mongols, the lord of Tmkaberd, Sargis Jaghetsi, in the name of the satrapy of Samtskhe, succeeded to establish a vast principality from Tashir to Erzrum, including Javakhq. Until the beginning of the 14th century, by paying a certain amount of taxes to the Mongols, this basically Armenian-populated principality, constituted in northern and northwestern Armenia, maintained its autonomy until 1535 by resisting pressures from Qartli, Leng-Timur and his successor Timurians and, from the 15th century onwards, Turkmen Koyunlu tribes. Armenian cultural life thrived in Javakhq under the Bagratids, Zacharians, and the succeeding Jaghetsis; the numerous surviving architectural monuments are living proof of that era.

Towards the end of the 15th century, Javakhq became the target of numerous aggressors. In 1484, the troops of Yaghub Khan of Persia devastated the area, massacring and enslaving the population and setting the province on fire. In 1535, in a joint effort, the kings of Imeretia and Qartli defeated the forces of the ruler of Samtskhe and occupied Akhalqalaq and Akhaltskha. However, in the wars against Sefian Iran in 1547, the Ottoman Turks occupied those cities. By the 1555 Persian-Turkish peace treaty of Amasia, Javakhq was ceded to Persia. But the war began again in 1578, the Turks reentered Javakhq, and made it part of the newly constituted vilayet (province) of Chlter, and later, in 1637, a separate sanjak (district).

The Ottomans began a census in the conquered regions for taxation purposes. One of the taxpayers lists, prepared by the Turks at the close of the 16th century, contains valuable information on the demographic picture of Akhalqalaq. Called “Extensive Register of Gurjistan (Georgian) Vilayet,” it contains a listing of all the counties, their villages, and inhabitants. It shows that in most areas of Akhalqalaq, the inhabitants were Christians, with Armenian or Georgian names, and names common to both ethnicities. We come across Armenian names—or names widely used by Armenians—in Kokia, Ruben, Roseb (Hovsep); in Orja, Prince Hanes, his brother Sargis, elder of Hanes, Kirakos, Simon, Ghazar son of Nazar; in Kotelia, Zachar; in Baralet, grandson of Mitich (Mkrtich), his son Sargis; in Turtskh, son of Masur (Mansur) Sargis, Avag; in Khando, Hacob; in Vachia, Qerob; in Qartzep, Bayandur; in Hokam, Manuel son of Sargis; in Qilda, Khachatur; in Upper and Lower Khospia, Mitich, Ter-Beki, Khosik-Husik, Sahak; in Jigrashen, grandson of Zachar; in Greater Majadia, Hacob; in Naqalaqev, Havategh son of Karapet; in Korkh, Rostom, his son Kirakos, Shahaba son of Mkrtich, Hanes son of Sargis, Kirakos son of Astvatzatur; in Gumburdo, David son of Kharaba, Mkrtich son of Amirkhan, Yaral son of Kirakos, Abraham son of Shahkul, Manuk; in Olaverd, Abas; in Khulgumo, Astvatzatur, Artashes; in Heshtia, Ter-Hacob; in Metz Khorenia and Chamdura, Grigor, his brother Mose, Sahak son of Grigor, his brother Sargis, Ter-Hacob, his brother Yaral, Khachatur, Murat son of Jihanshe; in Orja, Vahram, Sargis, Eghiazar; in Zresk, Shahmurat, Rosep, Simon, Samson, Astvatzatur; in Ghaurma, Sargis; in Bavra, Bayandur; in Toria, Araqel, Bayandur, Janibek son of Sargis, Mkrtich; in Abul, Eghiazar, David, Sargis; in the fortress of Akhalqalaq, Murat, his brother Zadik; in Little Murjakhet, Hanes son of Sargis; in Little Manzara, Dolik son of Astvatzatur; in Tzunda, Jojik son of Jhanshe, his brother Manuk; in Sulda, Shermazan, his son Simon; in Erinja, son of Eghiazar, his brother Manas, Hacob; in Khozabun, Manuk son of Astvatzatur; in Aragova, Sargis; in Apnia, Abas; in Bezhono, Simon; in Alastan, Arzuman; in Lomaturtskh, Rostom son of Alibek; in Zak, Eghiazar, Rosep; in Burnashet, Sargis, etc.

It is noteworthy that there were also locations where the populations were overwhelmingly Armenian. Thus, the famous fortress town of Tmuk (Tmotsvi), according to the same source, was mostly Armenian populated. There, we come across the following names: Sargis son of Araqel, Rostom son of Anania, his brother Mkrtich, Vardan son of Etigar, Hovhannes son of Bayandur, Papu son of Shirin, Berik son of Piraziz, his son Mkrtich, Murat, Ter-Hacob, Berik son of Murat, his brother Margar, Hacob, Sargis son of Meliq, etc. Qenarbel Village of the Chldri Region was all Armenian populated: son of Tzaruk, his brother Astvatzatur, son of Margar, Norses (Nerses) son of Ghulijan, Khosik-Husik, son of Rostom, Sargis son of Mukhtar, Mkrtich son of Velijan, son of Mkrtich, his brother Sargis, Murat son of Karapet, Martiros son of Avanes, Hovhannes son of Amiraziz, his brother Karapet, Khachik son of Hambardzum, Tornik son of Tzaruk, Khachatur son of Alexan, Margar, Papu son of Margar, etc.

Many Armenians also lived in the villages of Metz and Poqr Kartzakh of the same province: Nadar son of Shahnazar, Vardan, Grigor son of Suqias, Jhanshe son of Kirakos, son of Mkrtich, his brother Vardzel, Bayandur, Khachik son of Yarali, Son of Sahak, son of Anton, Ter-Hacob son of Jomerd, his son Shahaziz, Yaraziz son of Ter-Hacob, Sargis, Astvatzatur, Diarbek son of Sahak, his brother Astvatzatur, etc. It should be noted that, among the names listed above, the name Ter-Hacob is mentioned many times, while in Khospia, it is the name Ter-Bek—an occurrence that proves the presence of Armenian clergy along with churches and parishioners.

In subsequent eras, during the long and brutal Ottoman domination, the province in question was not immune to forced Islamization. The Islamic faith was adopted particularly by Armenians who had converted to the Chalcedonian creed. By the 17th and 18th centuries, these Islamized elements, along with Turkish newcomers, were known regionally as Meskhetians in Akhaltskha, Adige and, to a lesser degree, in Akhalqalaq. Thus, according to the Georgian author Vakhusht Bagration, in the mid-40’s of the 18th century, the core populations of the well-known hamlets in Akhalqalaq, Baralet, and Kokia were Meskhetian and Armenian. Although in comparison to the Christians the Mohamedans were few, the destructive realities of foreign occupation were leading to the disfigurement of the native ethnicity. In particular, Nadir Shah’s invasion in the mid 1730’s had dire consequences. Around 6,000 Armenian captives of northern Armenia were brought by force to Persia: “…and they enslaved the province of Nariman, Javakhetia, Chltur, and Ghayi Ghula, which were full of our co-nationals,” writes Abraham of Crete, “and they moved man and woman, old and young, and took them to Khorasan—6,000 in all, from what we hear.” Nevertheless, as a statement by Ghucas Injijian indicates, at the close of the 18th century, the province of Akhalqalaq continued to be a region inhabited mainly by Armenians. Just in Akhalqalaq City, there were 600 Armenian and Georgian households. Over the last decades of the 18th century, Georgian kings attempted to liberate the province of Akhalqalaq from the Turks. In 1772, Herakl II of Kskhet and Solomon of Imeritia laid siege to the fortress of Akhalqalaq, without any success. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire’s involvement in Transcaucasia became progressively more active. In April 1807, Field Marshall Gudovich’s troops surrounded Akhalqalaq, but suffering enormous losses, retreated. On Sept. 5, 1810, in the vicinity of Akhalqalaq, the division under the command of General Paulucci overwhelmed the troops of Hussein Ghuli Khan of Erivan sent to assist the Turks, and on Dec. 8, 1811, Kotliarevski’s army group, crossing the snow-covered mountains of Treghq, staged a surprise attack on Javakhq and captured the Akhalqalaq citadel. However, by the terms of the 1812 Bucharest peace treaty, it was returned to Turkey.

On July 24, 1828, General Paskevich occupied Akhalqalaq in one swift assault, and on July 26, the fort of Khertvis (Khertez). On Sept. 2, 1829, based on the Treaty of Adrianopolis, the provinces of Akhalqalaq and Akhaltskha were turned over to Russia. The war had caused serious damage to the Armenian and Georgian villages; many of them were depopulated, with many emigrating. The Russian occupation gave the native population a chance to return and partly rebuild several hamlets, such as Hokam, Baralet, Kokia, Gondura, Abul, Diliska, Majadia, and Aragova. Already, at the end of the war in 1829, the region was inhabited by 1,716 Armenian, 639 Muslim, and 179 Georgian families.

At the end of 1829, with the efforts of Karapet Archbishop Bagratuni, 58,000 Armenians from Erzrum, Basen, and Khnus, and partly from the environs of Derjan, making use of the 13th Article of the Adrianopolis Treaty, settled in the provinces of Akhaltskha and Akhalqalaq. In Akhalqalaq province alone, the Erzrum Armenians, along with the natives, rebuilt or founded around 50 villages. In 1831, a few dozen Armenian families from Akhaltskha set the foundations of a widespread district in the half-ruined southern sector of Akhalqalaq. Thus, the number of native Javakhq Armenians was enhanced with Western Armenians who, actually more numerous than the Eastern Armenian-speaking natives (whom they called Yerli or Yerlagan) imposed their dialect, lifestyle, and traditions in the region. During the 1830’s, a small percentage of Western Armenians who had not found the comfortable living standards promised by the Russian authorities, returned to Western Armenia, while the majority, overcoming numerous difficulties, remained and developed the region. Soon, Akhaltskha and Akhalqalaq turned into overwhelmingly Armenian-populated provinces in Transcaucasia, since the majority of Meskhetians of the area, not wishing to live under Russian rule, emigrated to Turkey. By 1831, the number of Armenians in the Akhalqalaq province exceeded 30,000—of which, as noted above, 1,716 families (nearly 10,000-13,000 people) were native locals, some of them Catholics.

In 1840, the province of Akhalqalaq, constituting the main area of the Turkish sanjak, was incorporated into Georgeoimeritia and, in 1846, into the Tbilisi province. In 1860, it was made into a sub-sector of Akhaltskha and, in 1874, was given the status of a full-fledged province. That same year, Akhalqalaq received provincial status of the third level; in 1890, the rating of a second-level city; and in 1896, the regular autonomy of a metropolis.

Between 1841 and 1843, exiled members of the Russian Dukhobor sect established eight to nine villages in the southern sector of the region (the present region of Ninotzminda). Thus, Javakhq became multi-ethnic. In 1886, the province included 110 villages, grouped in 10 rural districts: Aragova (13), Baralet (23), Varevan (9), Vachian (11), Gorelovka (8), Diliska (9), Kartzakh (10), Satkha (8), Khertvis (11), Heshtia (8). All in all, approximately 63,800 people, of which 46,386 were Armenians (39,597 Apostolic, 7,236 Catholic), 6,674 Russians (6,597 Dukhobors), 3,735 Georgians, 6,824 Muslims, 53 Jews, 14 Yezdis, and 102 Greeks. From the provided data, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the population (72.7 percent) were Armenians. The Muslims constituted 10.7 percent, the Russian Dukhobors 10.4 percent, and the Georgians 5.8 percent. The Armenians outnumbered the others not only in the villages but in the city of Akhalqalaq, as well; in 1893, 4,084 of a population of 4,303 were Armenian. At the close of the 19th century, in the same 110 villages and the city, there was a population of 63,799, of which 50,467 (or 79 percent of the entire population) were Armenian under Russian rule, the Akhalqalaq province marked great socio-economic and cultural progress, turning into a technological center, while the villages played an important role in providing grain to the Transcaucasus. At the start of the 1830’s, the Mesropian Boys’ School opened its doors with the efforts of Archbishop Karapet. In 1856, the Surb Khach (Holy Cross) church was renovated with the donations of benefactor Karapet Yaghubian. In 1870, the Sandkhtian Girls’ School, in the 1880’s, the Russian schools, and in 1889, the municipal gymnasium started their classes.

Towards the close of the 19th century, a liberation group was organized by J. Ter-Grigorian and P. Abelian. Thereupon, political activities were initiated by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). Javakhq produced national figures, such as Hovhannes Qajaznuni, Hamo Ohanjanian, Vahan Terian, Ruben Ter-Minasian, Ruben Darbinian, and many others.

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