By Levon Zekiyan – www.padus-araxes.com
The first Armenian dynasty was that of the Ervanduni, from the name Er-Vand (Eruand), known in Greek historiography in the form Orontes or Aroandes. But it was a short-lived sovereignty, for the Ervanduni were soon subjugated to the rule of Darius I, who shared out their territory between the two satrapies, the XIII and the XVII, of his administrative system. Thus, among the twenty-three populations dominated by Darius were the Armenians, alongside the Medes and the Susians, in Adapadana of Persepolis.
Following, Armenia began a period of Achaemenian supremacy for Armenia that still took place within the framework of a certain internal administrative autonomy. It was led by its own dynasty, the Orontids who, being related to the Persian court, acted as satraps, or provincial governors. The political supremacy of the Achaemenians was accompanied by a strong influence, particularly in the use of the Persian language, which is revealed by the large number of words, often fairly common ones, borrowed from Persian.
Only Macedonian expansion put an end to the Achaemenian domination, after the victory of Arbela in 331. A general tendency towards autonomy ensued, above all in the central-eastern regions, which were to be called Greater Armenia (Armenia Major).
Xenophon had already spoken of “Western Armenia” as a distinct administrative entity, subordinate to “Armenia” (Anabasis III, 5, 17), led not by a satrap, but by a hyparchos, that is, a lieutenant. Further developments, the consequences of various political and cultural factors, were to result in the formation of two distinct territorial entities known respectively, around the middle of the fourth century, as Greater Armenia and Armenia Minor. The former was to include the eastern regions of the Euphrates, while the latter extended roughly over the territory delineated by the present-day cities of Sivas, Erzincan and Malatya, west and north of the upper elbow of the Euphrates.
Although it often possessed its own rulers, this area was to be deeply affected by the political and cultural influence of the Hellenistic world, finding itself in direct contact with the heavily Hellenized regions of the Pontus and Cappadocia. Greater Armenia, on the other hand, which was more protected from this point of view, was to have a more harmonious development, with greater emphasis on Armenian identity.