BELMONT, Mass. — On Friday, March 4, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) sponsored a lecture by Dr. Thomas Sinclair, formerly of the University of Cyprus.
Sinclair was a professor of Turkish history in the Department of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies at the university. His most prominent achievement was the 4-volume work, Eastern Turkey: an Architectural and Archaeological Survey.
This monumental work, though not the subject of Friday’s lecture, is of enormous importance to Armenians, and deserves a brief explanation. This magnum opus details practically every historical and archaeological site in Eastern Turkey, including Roman/Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman, Syriac, Georgian and Armenian sites. The region surveyed includes Van, Mush, Kars, Ani, Tayk, Erzurum, Trebizond/Pontus, Yerzinga, Divrig, Sepastia, Tokat, Agn, Arabkir, Kharpert, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Tur Abdin, Urfa, Hromkla, Marash, Aintab, Kilis, Antioch, Iskenderun, and the surrounding areas.
Sinclair’s unbiased approach unsurprisingly reveals the deep Armenian roots of most of the regions he covers. The books, published in 1989-1990, are very dry and scholarly, but are invaluable for scholars and would probably be of great use as a reference work for any Armenian wishing to travel to the land of their ancestors and specifically locate important sites; for instance the tomb of St. Gregory the Illuminator, which is on a mountainside near the city of Erzincan (Yerzinga to Armenians); Sinclair having visited all these sites gives a sort of guide for backpackers down to the details of what footpath to take to get from one site to another. E-book editions seem to be available for more affordable prices.
Armenia: Crossroads of Trade Routes
On Friday, March 4, Sinclair took a related topic as the subject of his lecture, namely the interconnectedness of the cities of Medieval Armenia on East-West trade routes. Specifically, he covered the subject matter of his latest book, Eastern Trade and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages: Pegolotti’s Ayas-Tabriz Itinerary and its Commercial Context. The book analyzes the itinerary (an ancient and medieval type of travel guide which led you on specific route, giving you all the important stops on the way) written in the 14th century about the route from Ayas in Cilician Armenia to Tabriz in Persia, by one Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, a merchant from Florence who worked for the Compagnia dei Bardi, a Florentine bank.