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Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian

The Armenians of the Holy Land have proved a fertile breeding ground for prolific

artisans and craftsmen, philosophers and musicians, poets and journalists, but social

historians rarely merit a mention. (Tourian and Ormanian were more interested in

church affairs).

               With   the   unfortunate   result   that   the   history   of   this   vibrant   community   has   never been   fully   documented,   except   for   one   or   two   books,   the   relatively   recent   John   Rose     "Armenians of Jerusalem" and an earlier guidebook by the late Assadour Antreassian.                Kevork   Hintlian's   heavily   researched   "History   of   the   Armenians   in   the   Holy   Land" (1989,   2nd   ed., Armenian   Patriarchate   Printing   Press,   Jerusalem)   comes   very   close   to redressing the balance.                Hintlian,   a   former   official   at   the   Armenian   Patriarchate   of   St   James,   has   had   to rely   on   mainly   foreign   sources   in   tracing   the   history   of   this   colorful   colony   whose connection with the Holy Land goes back to the Assyrian and Babylonian eras.                His   exhaustive   research   has   unearthed   such   gems   as   the   fact   that   at   least   two Abbasid Caliphs had Armenian mothers.                One   of   his   resources,   "A   Relation   of   a   Journey   Begun   in   1610,"   by   George   Sandys, is dated 1637.                Hintlian   provides   an   armchair   travelogue   that   takes   us   on   a   whirlwind   tour   of several   ancient   Armenian   churches   scattered   throughout   the   Holy   Land,   rich   in history and artifacts, pausing at each edifice just long enough to whet our curiosity.                His   account   makes   repeated   note   of   the   fact   that   through   the   ages,   the Armenians   of   the   Holy   Land were looked upon as role models.                He   cites   as   an   example   a   description   of   the Armenians   of   his   time   by   Fra   Francesco   Suriano,   a   15th Century   custos,      (Franciscan   custodian   of   the   Holy   Land),   as   "the   most   beautiful   men   and   women   in Jerusalem," qualifying them as "bold and generous."                 The   slim   70-page   booklet   boasts   10   black   and   white   plates   depicting   pages   from   some   of   the   most beautiful Armenian   manuscripts.   It's   a   sad   choice   of   presentation,   robbing   the   pictures   of   their   colorful splendor.      The book being reviewed here is a second edition, and is probably out of print now.      A second or enlarged volume, hopefully with colored plates, has long been overdue.   
Easter circa 1930