How did Artsakh begin?

Artsakh is a picturesque place with a mild climate. There are mountain forests, impregnable cliffs and valleys reminiscent of Northern Mesopotamia.

Artsakh is located in the northeast of the Armenian highlands, occupying also the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus. The geographical boundaries of historical Artsakh extend to the east along the Kura River, to the south — along the Araks River, to the west the territory is enveloped by the mountains of Greater Syunik.

The First Millennia

In historical sources Artsakh is first mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Urartian kingdom of the 8th century B. C. as Urtekhe-Urtekhini. The traditional Armenian name Artsakh comes from here. The territory is mentioned in the works of ancient authors as Orhistena.

In ancient times already, Artsakh was one of the important centers of statehood. Thus, the rock inscription of Argishti I, king of the Urartian Kingdom, found in the Armenian province of Kotayk, mentions the city of Zar. The inscription dates back to the 8th century. Geographically, Zar coincides with the settlement of Tsar in Artsakh, the dwelling place of local princes.
Urartu is an ancient state located on the territory of the Armenian highlands. Here is an image of Urartian cuneiform writing.

In the first century B. C. King Tigran the Great of Great Armenia built the city of Tigranakert. This fact confirms the important status of Artsakh in the system of Armenian statehood in the ancient period as well.

In 387, after the division of historical Armenia into Western and Eastern Armenia, Byzantium and Iran Artsakh remained part of Armenia for some time. In 428 the Armenian kingdom was abolished, And Artsakh's territory was included by Persians into the neighboring Albanian kingdom and existed as such until 469 when the Albanian kingdom was abolished as well.

Further Artsakh was part of the Persian Marzpanate (province), named Aran. Armenians managed to achieve a virtually independent position under the princely family of Aranshahiks at the end of V century.

Starting from this period, this region was also known as Alvan, Khachen, Minor Syunik or Khams.

Armenian self-government — complete or partial — continued until the beginning of the 19th century.
Mesrop Mashtots is the founder of Armenian literature and writing

The cultural significance of Artsakh is emphasized by the fact that the monastery of Amaras is located here, where the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots founded the first writing school in Armenia.

In topographic, geological and natural aspects Artsakh represented a unified geographic whole, contributing to the development of the full life of this region. Thus, despite the fact that Artsakh was structurally divided into a number of small mountainous provinces, it nevertheless constituted certain integrity from the economic, ethnographic and linguistic points of view.
Conclusion: Artsakh has had an important regional significance since the earliest times of world history.

Where did the toponym "Karabakh" come from?

The name "Karabakh" first appears in historical sources in the XIV century Georgian chronicle "Kartlis tskhovreba" (literally "Life of Georgians") and in the geographical work Nuskhat al-kulub ("The Pleasure of Hearts", 1340) of the Persian historian Hamdallah Qazvini.

Its etymology is based on Iranian geographical nomenclature: in contrast to the plain part, called Bag-i Safid (White Garden), the mountainous part of the region was called Bag-i Siah (Black Garden), which in the Turkic language interpretation turned into Karabakh - from the Turkic "kara" - black, and Persian "bakh" — garden.