By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 29 December 2021
A few weeks ago, people around the world were informed that Christ and Muhammad were Turks. That bit of revelation were gifted to humanity by historian, linguist, lexicographer, anthropologist, economics maven, geographer, philosopher, theologian, and president of Turkey R. T. Erdogan. Neither the Vatican nor the sheikhs of al-Azhar or Mecca reacted. Most people must have said “another day and another bizarre verbal ejaculation by the fabulist dictator of Turkey”. It’s not the first time Erdogan has made similar lunatic statements. He has claimed Turks discovered the Western Hemisphere and were the first in space. Erdogan’s ridiculously revisionist statements have an august pedigree: in the ‘30s, Mustafa Kemal, the Father of the Turks, claimed all nations descended from Turks and the Turkish language is the mother of all known 6,000 to 7,000 languages. It followed that Turks invented the first alphabet which they taught to the Sumerians (cuneiform) and the Egyptians (hieroglyphs). The nomadic Turks also taught farming to the Sumerians. As they say in American TV-land, “Father Knows Best.”
Pride in one’s nation is natural. Armenians, like other nations, boast about their achievements. But there’s a difference between the Turkish and Armenian claims to greatness: while the Turkish claims trickle from fantasyland, Armenian claims are backed by non-Armenian scholars. For example, the fact that the Armenian Highlands are the cradle of Indo-Europeans is widely acknowledged by non-Armenian scholars. The sole contender to the title is Ukraine. According to Japanese folklore, the Indo-Europeans, whose homeland was Armenia, split thousands of years ago into two groups: one went east and became Persian, Afghani, and northern Indian while the rest headed west and became the ancestors of Europeans. Realizing the mythical nature of the Japanese account, Armenians have ignored the story.
Armenians recognize the saga of Haig, the “Father of Armenians” and the son of Mesopotamian Torkom, as a myth. They know he was not the great-grandson of a Mesopotamian god and didn’t fight Pel/Baal.
The boast that the Garden of Eden was in Armenia is dismissed out of hand by Armenians. Armenians also dismiss claims that they descend from the great-grandson of Noah. Armenians haven’t exploited Noah’s Ark myth, although the Bible says the Ark landed on the Mountains of Ararat. An imaginative Armenian might claim all humanity descends from Armenians since Noah’s family—the only people who survived the Flood–settled in Armenia.
Four centuries before Christ brought Lazarus back from the dead, Plato wrote about the myth of the great warrior Er, son of Armenios, who died in battle. Ten days after the battle, when the corpses of others killed in battle, had decomposed, Er’s body was intact. Scholars believe the Er myth is based on the story of Ara the Handsome, king of Armenia and Queen Samiramis of Assyria. The “myth” in this context means “account”. According to another version of the Ara myth, the Armenian king returned to life. Armenians are silent about this myth too.
Although on page two of the King James Version of the Bible (the early 17th century) an illustration of mankind’s ethnic tree reported Armenians were the origin of humanity, no Armenian makes such a ridiculous claim.
In the mid-19th century, British historian Robert Ellis wrote a book in which “alleged” the first inhabitants of Italy were the Armenians. They were called Etruscan. They dominated Italy before the rise of Rome. No Armenian scholar has given credence to Ellis’ claim.
The 9th-century “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” mentions on its first page that the first people who inhabited the British Isles were the Armenians while Bishop Anno II of Germany wrote during the Middle Ages that the first Bavarians were Armenians. Scholar Elizabeth Redgate has claimed the Armenian origins of the Welsh and the Irish. Armenians have not repeated these alleged connections.
Starting in the 17th century, a dozen Basque and non-Basque scholars (Gaspar Eskolano, Garibay, Baltasar de Echave, Bernardo Estornes Lasa, Jose Maria, Edward Spencer, Joseph Karst, etc.) pointed the similarities between Armenian and the language of the Basque and concluded that the Basque people originated in Armenia. We know of only one Armenian scholar (Vahan Sargsyan of Yerevan) who has published studies on the link.
A minority of Armenians might give credence to some of the above stories but no serious Armenian would espouse these pride-inducing fables as fact. Certainly no Armenian leader would dream of giving weight to these myths. The situation is different in Occupied Armenia and Occupied Greece (now known as Turkiye) where the “Father of the Turks” and his obtuse current reincarnation feel no embarrassment in spouting barefaced nonsense which Lemuel Gulliver would have felt embarrassed to repeat.
Erdogan has millions of fundamentalist, nationalist, and proudly ignorant followers. They are happy to inhale any vapor from Erdogan’s cranium. One would think Erdogan would have confined his embarrassing fabrications to his dim-witted followers rather than share them with the world. But then…Erdogan’s mad genius insinuates itself: of course he would share his idiotic claims with the world…after all, all nations descend from the Turks. We are all Turks now.