Arthur Hagopian
Jerusalem

The Beginnings

A 2,000 year-long presence

  In the heart of a labyrinth of quaint, serpentine streets and alleys, in the Old City of Jerusalem, one of the most dynamic people of the Middle East, the Armenians, make their home.    Claiming descent from the conquering armies of Tigranes (Dickran) II, King of Kings,  Armenians have been living in Jerusalem for over 2,000 years.    Three centuries later, in the year 301 of the Christian Era, they abandoned paganism and adopted Christianity after the miraculous conversion of their king, Tiridates (Dertad), smashing their lifeless idols of gods and goddesses, and becoming the first nation on earth to accept the teachings of Jesus as their state dogma.    This seminal milestone in their history was to unleash a borderless tsunami of pilgrims, wending their way to the Holy City on foot or on the back of camels and donkeys, in long caravans that sometimes boasted 700 beasts of burden, braving unforgiving desert sandstorms or running the gauntlet of roaming bandits, in their relentless quest for spiritual rejuvenation.    Some of the conscripts and later pilgrims, among them my ancestors, stayed and prospered, in the process making Jerusalem what many unabashedly proclaim, the center of the world.    Their descendants gave the city its first printing press and photographic studio.    One of my great-grandparents was a prolific builder. The houses he and his fellow artisans built, with their distinctive meter-wide earthen walls, still stand.     I was born, and grew up, in such a house, in the Armenian Quarter, of the Old City.   This is my story, interwoven within the fabric of the saga of the Armenians of Jerusalem.
© 2017 arthur hagopian