By Henrik Bakhchinyan
Translated by Artsvi Bakhchinyan from the Armenian 2018 original published in Azg.
Gandzak (from the Armenian word gandz – treasure; Persian-Turkish pronunciation is Ganja) is located in the Utik province of Greater Armenia. It is both historically and geographically part of the eastern region of Armenia, in particular, the historical Gardmank and Northern or Plains Artsakh provinces.
Naturally, the main information about Gandzak is provided by Armenian sources. According to them, the city was founded in 846 and was surrounded by many Armenian villages and monasteries. The Dasno monastery, built earlier (in 751), where the great scholar, writer, Mkhitar Gosh (1130–1213) wrote his “Judgment Book” codex, was especially famous.
Thanks to Armenian creative builders, skilled merchants and talented educational and cultural figures, Gandzak quickly developed and became the administrative and economic and spiritual center of the region, which Armenian historians (Vardan Areveltsi, Kirakos Gandzaketsi) called “Gandzak Hayots” (Gandzak of the Armenians/Armenian Gandzak) or “Gandzak Arani” (Gandzak of Aran).
From the end of the 9th century to the 12th century, the See of the Armenian Catholicosate of Aghvan (Caucasian Albania) was established in Gandzak. The city was first included in the Bagratuni kingdom, then, like other provinces and cities of Armenia, was subjected to raids and domination by the Arabs, then the Seljuk Turks.