From early antiquity, the Armenian people developed a rich and distinctive culture on the great highland plateau extending from eastern Asia Minor to the Caucasus. On that crossroad, they interacted on many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident. The emergence of an Armenian principality and then of an Armenian kingdom in Cilicia represented an extraordinary development, as the region lay beyond the bounds of the historic Armenian homelands. Situated at the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, Cilicia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenians, Alexander the Great, and the Seleucids of Syria in the pre-Christian era. It came under Armenian rule for the first time during the reign of Tigran the Great in the first century B.C. Centuries later, the waves of westward migrations after the collapse of the Bagratuni kingdom in Greater Armenia culminated in the establishment of the kingdom of Cilician Armenia in the twelfth century.
Armenian Cilicia experienced a brilliant cultural era known as the Silver Age, with major advances in science and medicine, theology and philosophy, astronomy and musicology, art and architecture. Despite its successes, however, the Armenian kingdom, caught in the geopolitical contests among the major powers of the time, finally fell to the invading Mamluk armies in 1375. Nevertheless, Armenian life in Cilicia, as across the historic homeland, continued under Ottoman rule for four centuries, until the calamitous events from the late nineteenth century to the genocidal years from 1915 to 1922 ended the Armenian presence there.
The UCLA conference series, “Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces,” is organized by the Holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History with the purpose of exploring and illuminating the historical, political, cultural, religious, social, and economic legacy of a people rooted for millennia on the Armenian highland.
Armenian Cilicia is the seventh of the conference proceedings to be published. Scholars from various disciplines offer the story of the Armenian presence in Cilicia across the centuries until the early decades of the twentieth century. Other publications in this series include Van/Vaspurakan; Baghesh/Bitlis and Taron/Mush; Tsopk/Kharpert; Sebastia/Sivas and Lesser Armenia; Karin/Erzerum; Tigranakert/Diarbekir and Edessa/Urfa.
Forthcoming volumes will feature the Armenian communities of Constantinople; the Black Sea-Pontus area; Kars and Ani; Smyrna/Izmir; Caesarea/Kesaria; Jerusalem; New Julfa and other parts of Iran; and the Indian Ocean.