UCLA Conference on Historic Armenian Cities Focuses on Kars & Ani

LOS ANGELES–Last weekend was a busy one for the Armenian Educational Foundation and the Modern Armenian History Department of UCLA–as well as Department Chair Richard Hovannisian–as the AEF celebrated its 15th anniversary and paid tribute to Professor Richard Hovannisian for his 40-years of contributions to the Armenian Studies field. Last weekend’s anniversary dinner was followed by the ninth conference dedicated to historical Armenian cities and regions.

The conference organized by Richard Hovannisian took place at UCLA’s Dickson Auditorium on November 10–and continued through Sunday. T

he conference was co-sponsored by International Studies and Overseas Programs–Division of Social Sciences–Letters and Science–Center for European and Russian Studies–and the Department of History.

The conference was dedicated to medieval Armenian cities of Kars and Ani and 21 specialists from various universities of Armenia–Argentina–France–England–Israel and United States were invited to speak. Although one major participant–Thomas A.

Sinclair could not be present–his report was presented at the conference.

Dr. Richard Hovannisian opened the conference by summarizing past conferences–beginning with the conference on Vasburagan and went on covering almost all the historical Armenian regions including Bagheshen–Sebastia–Dikranakert–Urfa–Cilicia–Armenil Polis–and the last conference was held in May and was dedicated to the Armenian communities of Izmir and Black Sea region.

Hovannisian pointed out that Kars and Ani–which were the capital cities of the Bagratuni Kingdom–had a long history.

The region–which was under Russian dominance–and later–from 1878-1921–the region served as a bridge between Turkish Armenia and the Russian Armenia. Russian culture–architecture and music according to Hovannisian–has greatly influenced the region.

The second day of the conference featured began with presentations in Armenian delivered by Ashot Melkonian and Rafayel Matevosyan from the Institute of History of Armenia–Raymond Gevorgian from the Sorbonne University of Paris–and Sargis Balmanukian of Los Angeles.

The other participants of the conference included Professor Richard Hovannisian–Robert H. Hewsen–Tim Greenwood–Robert W. Thomson–Christina Maranci–Theo Marten van Lint–Diane Favro–Claude Mutafian–Christopher J. Walker–Rubina Peroomian–Joyce Keosababian Bivin–David S. Calonne–Robert Krikorian–Vartan Matiossian–Anahid Keshishian and Bert Vaux.

They all spoke about the city of Ani with its famous churches and fortresses–which was located in the Kingdom of Vanand as well as Shirag valley and the Great Castle of Kars–from its foundation to 19th century.

The participants presented summarized historical reports on the culture–architecture–anthropology–archeology–language–religion and literature of the ancient cities of Kars and Ani.

The conference also featured exclusive photos presented by Richard and Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht.

Part I of excerpts from conference presentations is published on Page 3.

"This is a particularly rich program–with a strong visual component," noted conference organizer Richard G. Hovannisian. It includes a restoration of the Church of the Holy Savior in Ani through the medium of virtual reality–done by UCLA’s Diane Favio assisted by Philip Stinson and Justina Bandol. "I also wait in anticipation to hear what Joyce Keosababian Bivin has to say about Karakala and the Armenia’s who adhered to the Russian Molokan sect and many of whose descendants now live in Southern California," Hovannisian added. "We are privileged to benefit from the combined knowledge and expertise of scholars from four continents."

The conference photographic exhibit of the architectural monumen’s of the regions of Kars and Ani was mounted by Richard and Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht of Davis California.

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