Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

Roman Control

By 190 B.C., Prince Artashes, the governor of Greater Armenia, a province of Syria, was able to pull together the nearby lands, including most of what today are the Caucasus republics and form an independent kingdom. He built the city of Artasha, and the country enjoyed peace and prosperity as Artashes and his successors looked to Greece for inspiration, as evidenced by several Greek inscriptions found in the royal residences of that time. By the year 100 B.C., though, the Roman state began to take interest in the area. Tigranes I (d. 56 B.C.) of Greater Armenia struggled against the Roman Empire’s push to rule the area and eventually extended the Armenian borders from the Caspian Sea to Egypt, gaining full control over the territories. He conquered provinces in Syria, Cappadocia (modern-day central Turkey), and Mesopotamia as well as Palestine. He united all the Armenian lands and built four large cities in different parts of his empire, all called Tigranakert.

In 69 B.C., Tigrane’s expansion could no longer stand up to the Roman armies. They launched several offensives and, at the age of 75, Tigranes II was forced to sign a peace treaty that yielded several lands to Rome. Tigranes was able to keep some of the land, including presentday Armenia, and he remained an influential leader and adviser to the Roman conquerors. However, his son, Artavazd, an artistic and arrogant personality who preferred writing Greek plays and poems, squandered his inheritance and Armenia soon became a vassal state of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the land remained a pawn in the battle between the Byzantine Empire (the successor of the Eastern Roman Empire) and Persia for several centuries. At various times, the Byzantine Empire, based in Constantinopole (presentday Istanbul) appointed kings of small areas as conditions of treaties with Persia. Minor squabbles between local leaders also created ever-changing borders within the region. While no single religion dominated the region at this time, in the year 301, Christianity became Armenia’s official religion, making it the world’s first Christian nation. Georgia soon followed, declaring Christianity its state religion in 330. Little changed in daily practice of religion or the daily lives of the people. The area was still a thoroughfare for traders and built its economy on that fact.