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Hayk (Armenian: Հայկ, also transliterated as Haik) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History attributed to Moses of Chorene (5th to 7th century).


The name of the patriarch, Հայկ Hayk, is not exactly homophonous with the name for "Armenia", Հայք Hayk’. Հայք Hayk’ is the nominative plural in Classical Armenian of հայ (hay), the Armenian term for "Armenian."[1] The etymology of Hayk' (Հայք) from Hayk (Հայկ) is impossible.[1] The origin of the term Hay ("Armenian") is obscure.[1] Nevertheless, both Hayk and Hayk' are usually connected to hay (հայ) and hayer (հայեր, the nominative plural in Modern Armenian) -- the self-designation of the Armenians.

Hayk would then be an aitiological founding figure, like e.g. Dan for the Danes, Seaxnēat for the Saxons, etc. These tribes may have settled Armenia from the Mitanni kingdom, when Sargon II mentions a king of part of Armenia who bore the Indo-Iranian name Bagadatti ("Theodore").[2]

A connection made in Armenian historiography of the Soviet era, with Hayasa mentioned in Hittite inscriptions, is not tenable on phonological grounds.[3]

The Armenian word haykakan (Armenian: հայկական, meaning "that which pertains to Armenians") finds its stem in this progenitor.

In Moses of Chorene

In Moses' account, Hayk son of Torgoma gives birth to Armaneak while living in Babylon, but after the arrogant Titanid Bel makes himself king over all, Hayk emigrates to the Ararat region with an extended household of at least 300 and settles, founding a village he names Haykashen. On the way he also leaves a detachment in another settlement with his grandson Kadmos. Bel sends one of his sons to entreat him to return, but he is refused. Bel then marches against him with a massive force, but Hayk is warned by Kadmos of his approach. He assembles his own army on the shore of Lake Van and tells them they must defeat and kill Bel, or die trying, rather than become his slaves.

Hayk was a handsome, friendly man, with curly hair, sparkling eyes, and strong arms. He was a man of giant stature, a mighty archer and fearless warrior. Hayk and his people, from the time of their forefathers Noah and Japheth, had migrated south toward the warmer lands near Babylon. In that land there ruled a wicked giant, Bel. Bel tried to impose his tyranny upon Hayk’s people. But proud Hayk refused to submit to Bel. As soon as his son Aramaneak was born, Hayk rose up, and led his people back to the land of his forefathers, the land of Ararat. At the foot of the mountains, he built his home, Haykashen. [4]


Moses gives Hayk's genealogy as: Japhet, Gomer, Tiras, Torgom, and his descendants as Armaneak, Aramais, Amasya, Gegham, Harma, Aram, Ara Geghetsik.[5] Hayk was also the founder of the Haykazuni dynasty. Some other Armenian princely houses - Khorkhoruni, Bznuni, Syuni, Vahevuni, Manavazian, Arran etc. - trace their genealogy back to Hayk. According to Juansher Hayk "..was prince of the seven brothers and stood in service to the giant Nimrod (Nebrovt') who first ruled the entire world as king.[6]"

Defeat of Bel

Hayk then discovers Bel's host in a mountain pass (that Moses locates at the site of Dastakert), with Bel himself in the vanguard.

During Dyutsaznamart (Դյուցազնամարտ, "Battle of Giants"), near Julamerk southeast of Lake Van, dated to August 11, 2492 BC[7], Hayk slays Bel with an impossible shot using a long bow, sending his force into disarray.

He establishes the castle of Haykaberd (Armenian: Հայկաբերդ) at the battle site and the town of Haykashen in the Armenian province of Taron (modern-day Turkey). He names the region of the battle Hayk‘ "Armenia", and the site of the battle Hayoc Dzor[8] (Armenian: Հայոց Ձոր, meaning gorge of the Armenians; 38°20′15″N 43°26′53″E / 38.337624°N 43.448080°E / 38.337624; 43.448080) which is in the Gürpınar district of the Van Province in Turkey.

But the hill where Bel with his warriors fell Hayk called Gerezmank.[9] Hayk embalmed the corpse of Bel and ordered it to be taken to Hark and to be buried in a high place in the view of his wives and sons.

Comparative mythology

The figure slain by Hayk's arrow is variously given as Bel or Nimrod. Hayk is also the name of the Orion constellation in the Armenian translation of the Bible. Just as Hayk fled from Babylon because of Bel, whom he eventually killed, so Zeus had escaped to the mountains of the Caucasus, later to return to Sicily and hurl fatal arrows into the bodies of his titanic foes.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Template:Thomson 1978
  2. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; the ISBE uses the outdated terms "Aryan" for "Indo-European" and "Turanian" for "Urartian".
  3. Eduard L. Danielian, "The Historical Background to the Armenian State Political Doctrine," 279-286 in Nicholas Wade, Armenian Perspectives (Surrey, UK, 1997) 279, citing E. Forrer, "Hajassa-Azzi," Caucasia, 9 (1931), and P. Kretschmer, "Der nationale Name der Armenier Haik," Anzeiger der Acad. der Wiss. in Wien, phil.-his. Klasse (1932), n. 1-7
  4. (Khorenatsi, History\\ I.10-12)
  5. History 1.5 [1]
  6. The Georgian Chronicle
  7. dated by Mikayel Chamchian; Razmik Panossian, The Armenians: From Kings And Priests to Merchants And Commissars, Columbia University Press (2006), ISBN 978-0231139267, p. 106.
  8. History 1.11; a district to the southeast of Lake Van, see Hubschmann, AON, p.343
  9. Gerezmank: the nom. pl, Gerezmans being acc. pl., "tombs"
  • P. Kretschmer. "Der nationale Name der Armenier Haik"
  • Vahan Kurkjian, "History of Armenia," Michigan, 1968[2]

See also

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Hayk. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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