The Armenian alphabet is a true masterpiece of its era and knows many secrets. However, there is one in particular that still blows my mind.
As some people know the Armenian alphabet was (re)invented in 405 AD by the Armenian linguist and theologian Mesrop Mashtots with the help of the patriarch Sahak Partev and the Armenian king Vramshapouh. For these achievements Mashtots was made a saint in the Armenian Church.
I say “(re)invented” because the medieval sources are somewhat unclear on how much the Armenian alphabet was actually a completely new invention or an updated modification of a much older (recovered) Armenian alphabet.
The Armenians after all had an ancient alphabet that was long lost by the early middle ages (for a discussion read: Tracing the oldest Armenian script). It was lost, but not forgotten in the middle ages, because the medieval authors describe that Mashtots’s initial mission was to recover and reapply the Armenian alphabet rather than to invent one from scratch.
One of Mashtots’s pupils by the name of Koryun wrote the autobiography of Mashtots known as “Varq Mashtotsi” (Life of Mashtots). He describes the mission as follows:
The King told them of a man named Daniel, a Syrian bishop of noble lineage, who unexpectedly had come into the possession of letters of Armenian alphabet. And when the King told them concerning Daniel’s discovery, they prevailed upon him to do what was needful. He then dispatched a man named Vahrij along with messages to a priest called Habel, who was an intimate of Bishop Daniel.
As for Habel, upon hearing it, he hastened to Daniel, and first became familiar, through Daniel, with the letters, then taking them from him sent to the King in the land of Armenia. The [letters] reached his hands on the fifth year of his reign. Upon receiving the letters from Habel, the King rejoiced with Sahak and Mashtots.
Then the blessed stewards taking the unexpectedly discovered object of their search, requested of the King young children through whom they might experiment with the alphabet. And when many of them had been taught, the King commanded that everywhere the instruction be effected through the same [letters]. Thus the blessed one attained the noble rank of teacher, and taught for two years with the use of the same letters.Koryun (5th c. AD) The Life of Mashtots, translated from Old Armenian (Grabar) by Bedros Norehad (1981).
Unfortunately, the letters, due to their age and condition, appeared to be insufficient to be applied to the entire Armenian language. Thus it had to be updated and modified. Koryun explains this process as follows:
Yet when they became aware of the fact that those letters were insufficient to form all the syllables of the Armenian language, especially since the letters essentially proved to have been buried and then resurrected from other languages, they found themselves once more in the same anxieties and for some time were engaged in search of a solution.Koryun (5th c. AD) The Life of Mashtots, translated from Old Armenian (Grabar) by Bedros Norehad (1981).
The solution only came by divine intervention. Koryun tells us that Mashtots set out to rearrange and re-purpose the recovered letters. He struggled a long time without success, until one day miraculously he received a vision from God who instructed him and aided in this process.
Thus he experienced many tribulations in order to serve his nation. And God the All-Bountiful finally granted him that good fortune; for with his holy hand he became the father of new and wonderful offsprings – letters of the Armenian language, and then and there quickly designed, named, determined, their order and devised the syllabication.Koryun (5th c. AD) The Life of Mashtots, translated from Old Armenian (Grabar) by Bedros Norehad (1981).
According to tradition, the first sentence to be written down in the new Armenian alphabet by Mashtots was:
Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ:— Book of Proverbs, 1:2.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.
Another 5th century historian Ghazar Parpetsi, who wrote History of the Armenians, reiterates Koryun on the recovery mission but only mentions that Mashtots with the help of Sahak simply rearranged (not invented) the Armenian letters.
The king immediately dispatched an ambassador called Vahrich (by his parents) giving him a hrovartak, and sending him to a certain presbyter named Habel who earlier had spoken to the king and who was related to the pious bishop Daniel who had the Armenian letters. The venerable Habel accepted the hrovartak from Vahrich, listened to what he had to say, and then quickly hastened to the wondrous bishop Daniel. Habel learned the system of the letters from Daniel himself, and took [a copy of the letters] from him to the king, to the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, and to the venerable Mashtoc’. They received the letters from Habel, and were happy.
So it was that after fortuitously receiving the discovered letters, the venerable Mashtoc’ set to work adapting [the alphabet] to [the recommendations of] the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, putting the letters in an easily accessible order and correct syllabic pronunciation.Ghazar P’arbec’i’ (5th. c AD) History of the Armenians
Following primal sources, it is clear to me that the shapes of the Armenian letters (unlike their arrangement) were most likely recovered rather than invented, and that’s not a small feat by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s not the mind-blowing secret that I was going to discuss in this article.
The Armenian alphabet is not only an enigma when it comes to its creation, it also holds many astonishing hidden features. So much so that one would almost have to conclude that it was indeed either comprised by divine intervention or Mashtots together with Sahak ware linguistic geniuses far ahead of their time.
The original alphabet had thirty-six letters, with two being added later on in the 12th century to represent foreign sounds (and with one ligature apotheosized to the rank of letter). But for the sake of the argument we are going to stick with the 36 Mashtotsian letters in this post.
Numbers and Dates
The Armenian alphabet was not just a writing system, it was also a numerical system used for math calculations and recording calendar dates.
Not only do all the letters have their own numerical value based on their order in the alphabet, but they also differ in decimals. They are arranged in 4 columns and 9 rows. The first column represents single digits, the second represents tens, the third represent hundreds and the forth represents thousands.
Here is how that would work for dates. Dates were usually marked with the letters ԹՎ, often with an overline, indicating “t’vin” (meaning “in the year”) followed by one to four letters, each of which stands for a number based on its order in the alphabet.
In the Middle Ages, Armenians used a calendar that started in 552 AD (11 July) of the Julian calendar. To translate into standard years, simply add 551 to the number. Thus, should you see an inscription reading ԹՎՈՀԳ, simply check the alphabet table above and see that this equals to 600 + 70 + 3 + 551 = 1224 AD.
In one of my first articles on PeopleOfAr I talked but the Armenian love for geometry. The Armenian alphabet is no exception in that regard. There are many geometrical secrets hidden in the alphabet of which I shall discuss a few.
For example the fist letter of the Armenian alphabet is A «Ա» and stands for “Astvats” which means God, while the last letter in the alphabet is K «Ք» which stands for “Kristos” meaning Christ.
Now, if we arrange the Armenian alphabet into an equilateral triangle, the three letters at the edges read A, K and S describing the trinity, the Father God (Astvats), Son Christ (Kristos) and the Holy Spirit (Surb Hogin) of the Christian faith.
Similarly, if we to arrange the Armenian letters inside a square of an octagram, reading clockwise, the letters at the edges form the old native Armenian name for the country ՀԱՅՔ “Hayk”. The Armenian name of the homeland of the Armenian people.
By now you might think to yourself; “the Armenian alphabet is certainly impressive”. However, we’re not done yet. Remember the mind-blowing secret I promised? Well here it comes.
The numerical order of the Armenian letters appears to correspond with the atomic numbers of chemical elements from the periodic table for the 7 metals known in the antiquity. (sources: here and here)
The metals of antiquity are the seven metals which humans had identified and found use for in prehistoric times: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. These seven are the metals from which the modern world was forged.
Each of the metals was associated with one of the seven then-known celestial bodies, and one of the seven days of the week.
|Metal||Body||Day of week|
The periodic table is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, arranged by atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties, whose structure shows periodic trends.
The atomic number or proton number of a chemical element is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom. For example gold (latin: Aurum), Au in the table, has 79 protons in the nucleus of its atoms.
As discussed earlier, ever letter in the Armenian alphabet has a number attached to it. See the chart bellow:
Now, here is the interesting part. Let’s take the word “Gold” Voski in old Armenian. It is comprised of 4 letters “ՈՍԿԻ”. In alphabetical order Ո is the 24th letter, Ս is 29th, Կ is 15th and finally, Ի is 11th. If we add these numbers together 24+29+15+11=79 we get the number 79. Which is exactly the atomic number for the chemical element Au (Gold) in the periodic table.
And if you thought this was just a coincidence, think again! It applies to all of the 7 metals known in the antiquity. See the chart bellow:
The astonishing part here is that the periodic table wasn’t actually known in the antiquity. It was only invented in the 19th century. That’s almost 1500 years after the (re)invention of the Armenian alphabet. So, even though the 7 elements ware known at the time Mashtots completed his work, there is no way he could have known the periodic table or the atomic structure of chemical elements. So did he actually receive a divine vision, or is there another less spiritual explanation? I for one don’t know the answer.
Regardless of how this came about, there is no doubt that the Armenian alphabet is a piece of historic art, arranged by a true visionary polymath way ahead of his time.
But he didn’t stop with the Armenian alphabet. Mashtots actually created several other alphabets including that of the Georgians and the Caucasian Albanians (Aghvank, a Christian country now occupied by Azerbaijan).
I appreciate the blogs, but please cite your sources (graphics that are not your own, information you’re posting as fact). Also, where did you find the Armenian word for Copper as being “med” or Iron being “alcat”?
You’re absolutely right. I’ll add the source here and clarify the differences. Not everything seems to fit perfectly when it comes to the names of chemicals so it needs clarification.
Okay I’ve added sources and a discussion on the names of elements under an expandable button DISCLAIMER just bellow the calculation graphic. It’s a gray bar, click it and it will expand to reveal the disclaimer with sources and a discussion. It is closed in the default state because otherwise that section would be even larger than the entire article. So, for those who want to dive deeper into the issue, now they can, and those who want to read the article casually the don’t need to be bothered by an entire discussion the size of the article itself. Hope… Read more »
I love reading these articles on Armenian history, research, etc… Keep up the good work! I was wondering if you have any insight on the research and excavation happening in Anatolia now, for a pre-Armenian, or maybe, Armenian civilization here: https://biaa.ac.uk/research/item/name/catalhoyuk-excavations-1993-2011 I am Armenian through my grandparents, who lived in Van, Turkey upto 1915. The above research is being supervised by my 1st cousin, Ian Hodder, since 1993 to the present day, and I think that this might be of interest to you. It says that Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic proto-city settlement in southern Anatolia, which… Read more »
I would like to bring to your attention that the geographical name you used for that particular region –Anatolia–is still western Armenia for us as Armenians no matter how it’s called now days.
Interesting and great article like always…
This mind blowing secret is amazing and mysterious like all the major elements in the Armenian history that makes me believe that Noah was really the only person who overcame the floods and rescued many secrets along with the animals in his Arch from the older ‘civilisations’..and was the real founder of the Armenian race much earlier than his GrandSon Hayg.
amazing thank you
Armenians did not invent any alphabets even for themselves, let alone others. They stole the above letters from the old Ethiopean alphabet. It’s obvious that their propoganda machine is working everywhere to brainwash ignorant people.
And where is the Ethopian alphabet that you claim The Armenian alphabet is stolen from?. The Armenian Highlands have a civilization of 12,000 years. With the creativity of its people based on all the archaelogical discoveries and the history references from ancient non-armenian writers, they have not stolen anything from anyone. The only people who use the word propaganda are Azeris and Turks who are fully engaged in the stupidest practice of claiming artifacts of Armenian origin as Azeri or Turkik.
Ethiopian 🙂 And which alphabet did you steal? The Latin or the Russian?
I highly enjoyed the article, and know nothing of Armenian history so don’t wish to criticise. However, there is no such thing as the “Russian” alphabet. It is the “Cyrillic” alphabet, created by the saints Cyril and Methodi, then given to the south Slavs. Primarily the Bulgarians, who then spread the language to the Slavic-tongued people. Technically, Russian is much closer to old Bulgarian (a.k.a. Old Church Slavonic) than the modern Bulgarian language. Unfortunately, this is due in the most part to the 500 years of slavery under the Ottomans. The Russians were much better at preserving their iteration of… Read more »
Not quite, there actually is a Russian alphabet that’s how it’s called. However Russians use a Cyrillic script, which is a modified Greek script basically. One could even argue that Latin is also a Greek derived alphabet and Greek in turn a Phoenician borrowing. The point I was making however is that the person who is scolding Armenians obviously has a billion times worse situation with their own alphabet. Turks use slightly modified Latin and Azeris used Russian (Cyrillic script) and switched a few years ago to Latin if I’m not mistaken. Basically what I am saying to that person… Read more »
Funny the turks, including the Caspian coast turks falsly known as “Azeris”, having STOLLEN that name for themselves from Northwestern Iranian region of Azerbaijan to the SOUTH of the Arax River, did not/could not even steal, let alone create or invent any alphabet. They used the Arabic script until 1920s then the Soviets adapted thr Cyrillic script for them, and then after 1990 collapse of the USSR the Constantinople turks adapted their Latin based alphabet for thr Caspian turks. BTW the Turkish Latin based alphabet was created by turkish Armenian linguists on instruction from Ataturk and his “modern” Turkey government… Read more »
Mr. anonymous, first, you are the IGNORANT one, as you do not know any thing about the history.
Second, looks you are not brave enough to put your name on your writing, so you are not only ignorant but also coward.
Agop Dilâçar (Armenian: Յակոբ Մարթաեան Hagop Martayan, Istanbul, May 22, 1895 – Istanbul, September 12, 1979) was a Turkish-Armenian linguist who specialized in Turkic languages and the first Secretary General and head specialist of the Turkish Language Association. He was proficient in 22 languages, and in addition to Armenian and Turkish, he knew English, Greek, Spanish, Azerbaijani, Latin, German, Russian and Bulgarian.
This man invented the modern day Turkish language.
Rather complicated to follow, because I am new to the Armenian alphabet, but great article. Thank you
I’m just blown away and thanks a lot!!!!!!! Now I have to get all the information which might take me years! I absolutely love this history
Wonderful article, thank you for this!
This is a very pleasant read, but I humbly request that you copyedit your work before publishing it. For example, “irregardless” isn’t a standard English word, though “irrespective” and “regardless” are standard.
Thanks! Maybe you can help me. I’m not a native English speaker nor do I care much about spelling as you’ve noticed. 🙂 But if you find errors please do notify me.
That sounds great! I’d be happy to help in the next article. How do you prefer to be notified?
Who is the author of this very informative and interesting article?
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I highly recomend you watch Chiron Last on youtube. He inspired me to decode language. The Jews have something similar called Gematria. Also The Kristos is the X, the Xach. X in Roman numeral is 10, say10(asa tas) Satan/Satana. This is Baphomet (goat god / devil / pan) “Pans Laborenth” the 1 and 0 binary code of duality that makes up this Matrix. Je and Sus in latin means Earth and Swine. Jesus = Earth Swine. The cross, xach, X shows us this. It shows the broad way, ach dzax, left right, right wrong duality, mek u zero. It also… Read more »
My understanding is that each letter of the Armenian alphabet is written with 3 strike movements, hence the Trinity again.
Hi, great article! I was just reading an article titled “The Classics: discussion
Greek myth and Alchemy” on Goodreads.com. it’s about Isaac Newton using a Greek myth for an alchemy recipe. In it, it states: “In alchemy, Venus, Mars and Vulcan mean copper, iron and fire.” I remembered your article with the chart that has metals with corresponding planets and days, so I came here to check if they match. And to my surprise they do! Venus-copper, and Mars-iron! Thank you for this website. It is a great resource!
Just came across to this very interesting reading, I started with interesting facts about Christmas then it drifted to understanding the calendars and then it shifted to Armenian alphabet. How amazing. Thank you for your work and passion demonstrated here. I appreciate that some of the facts could be questionable but not due to accuracy rather to not enough evidence. But then, it seems to me the entire Armenian history and contributions are largely suppressed for some reasons. So finding this little niche of info is refreshing, thank you