What is the connection between Mushki and Armenians?

Nowadays, few nations can be proud of their ancient roots. Among them are Jews, Chinese, Ethiopians, Basques and Armenians. It is impossible to say with 100% accuracy how old Armenia is, but we have tried to analyze the most popular theories and get an idea of where Armenians come from.

The Russian historian Igor Dyakonov has theorized that the Armenians are to be identified with the Mushki, a people attested by the Assyrians and later in monastic inscriptions, as well as the Luvians and possibly the Greeks.

According to Assyrian inscriptions, the Mushki with their allies Urumu and Kaska (sometimes called Gagans, Kaskians or Apishlu) attempted to invade Assyria from the north. These Muskies were retroactively created “Eastern Muskies”. Probably, after defeating the Mushki, the Assyrian king Tilgrat-Pilesar I resettled many of them in northern Syria.

In the 8th century, a group called Mushki was mentioned in the annals of the Kingdom of Van (Urartan) and Assyria as Tabalum near Cilicia. This group later became known as the Western Muskies.

The 5th century Greek historian Herodotus said:

“Armenians are armed in Phrygian style”.

Herodotus wrote that the Phrygians were originally from Macedonia. Dyakonov, using the writings of Herodotus and the fact that the Assyrians apparently associated the Mushki with the Phrygians. Dyakonov begins to argue that the Mushki were either the same Phrygians or a closely related group that followed them eastward from the Balkans into Armenia. Strangely enough, Dyakonov (and other scholars) also associated the Mushki with the Muski established by the Greeks, although the Greeks distinguished between the Moscians and the Phrygians. The ancient Greeks (e.g., Hecateos of Miletus) placed Moskho in the Pontic region of modern northeastern Turkey, and possibly also in Iran, near Lake Urmia.

Additionally, Dyakonov and others have suggested that the Meskhets/Moshes of Javakhk, Georgia were also Muski, leading some to speculate that the Muski spoke the Kartvelian language.

Unfortunately, they left no record of their language. The only personal name associated with them is King Mita of Mushki (West) of the 8th century BC. The Mita who fought against the Assyrians is believed to be Midas from Phrygia (located in present-day Cappadocia. This Midas is believed to have been the inspiration for the mythological king who turned everything he touched into gold.

However, modern research tells us that most of Diakonoff’s arguments are unfounded. Genetic studies have revealed that most of the Armenian ethnogenesis ended in BC. in the year 1200. This suggests that if the Mushki were from the Balkans, they could not have contributed to the Armenian stock of origin, as their arrival was too late, and there are no signs of Balkan origin among Armenians dating back to this period.

Linguistically, the Phrygian language (of which we have records, unlike the Musk language) is now believed to be closely related to Greek.

Despite these problems, the Armenian-musk connection proposed by Diakonoff is actually quite compelling when we recognize its main flaw.

There is no archaeological evidence that Western (so-called “Phrygian”) ceramic wares reached outside Cappadocia during the Bronze Age. However, there is evidence that ceramics from the east reached as far into the interior of Asia Minor as modern Elazig at this time (ca. 1200 BC). This style of pottery descends from the Middle Bronze Age “Transcaucasian” ceramics, originally found in southern Georgia and northern Armenia, spreading to most of modern Armenia and as far west as Karin, BC. In the middle of the II millennium. Transcaucasian ceramics are associated with the Trialeti-Vanadzor culture, which both archaeological evidence and now genetics strongly suggest to be an Indo-European culture. It is very possible that the Trialeti-Vanadzor culture spoke a proto-Armenian language.

According to historian Aram Kosyan, the distinctiveness of Elazig ceramic items from earlier ceramic styles found in the region suggests a new population from the South Caucasus and the Armenian Highlands, who settled in the Elazig region in AD. In addition, Kosian claims that the large amount of this pottery found at Elazig may indicate a 50 percent population increase. Kosyan believes that it refers to the settlement of the population originating from the South Caucasus.

To be continued…