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Mount Ararat, the highest peak of the Armenian highlands, is currently located in the territory of Turkey. The height is 5165 m. The relative height of the mountain is 4300 m. It consists of two peaks: Masis (5165 m) and Sis (3925 m). It is located 16 km east of the Armenian-Turkish border. It falls between Bayazet and Igdir, between the Araks and Aratzani rivers. The straight line distance between Masis and Sis is 10 km. On the north-eastern slope is the depression called “Vih Maseats” ( from Armenian: abyss of Masis), which stretches for about 10 km from the foot to the top, and its maximum depth near the top reaches 1000 meters. The peak is covered with eternal snow. Mount Ararat is placed on a common base with a contour of about 130 km, occupies an area of 1200 km².
According to some measurements, the height of Ararat is actually 5137 m. In a number of topographical maps, this height is used. Ararat is one of the active seismic regions of the Armenian highlands.
According to the testimony of the historian Pavstos Buzand, in the 4th century, Bishop Hakob Mtsbinetsi tried with a group of people to climb the north-eastern slope of the mountain to the top of Masis in the hope of seeing Noah’s Ark. God, seeing their futile efforts and listening to Jacob, sent him a piece of the wood of the holy ark through an angel and explained the inaccessibility of the top of Ararat to mortals. This piece of wood brought by Hakob Mtsbinets is now kept in Etchmiadzin Cathedral as a sacred relic.
French travelers Jean Chardin (1673) and Piton de Tournefort (1701) brought relatively more accurate information about Mount Ararat to Europe. But these also spoke of the inaccessibility of the mountain.
On September 8, 1829, Professor Friedrich Parrot of Dorpat University arrived in Etchmiadzin with his expedition team. Parrott was a renowned scientist, physicist, doctor and explorer. The purpose of his visit was to climb Ararat and explore the seemingly inaccessible mountain in many ways. They were translated by scribe Kh. Abovyan, who, at the suggestion of Parrot and with the consent of the Catholicos, takes upon himself the responsibility of accompanying the expedition. On September 10, they moved to Ararat. Their main location was St. Jacob monastery in Akori village.
The first attempt to climb Mount Ararat was on September 12. Approaching the mountain from the eastern side, they reached the height of 4365 m, but the insufficient supply of food and the danger of descending at night forced them to turn back. It was the first unsuccessful attempt to climb. The next attempt was on September 18. This time they were coming up from the west. The group stops at the height of 4591 m. They come across a 1.5-meter glacier and a rock. The weather was bad and it was pointless to continue. Thus, the second ascent attempt also fails.
On September 26, the expedition made the third ascent attempt. On September 27, at 3:15, the expedition finally reaches the top of the mountain. Kh. Abovyan stands the 1.5 m high cross on his shoulders in the snow. Not finding anything to take with him, Kh. Abovyan takes a piece of ice and wraps it in a handkerchief.
According to the fourth part of the eighth chapter of the book of Genesis of the Old Testament, after the Flood, Noah’s ark sat on “Mount Ararat” becoming “the cradle of the new humanity, the scattering of nations and peoples”. Translated from Grabar (old Armenian), it is said like this:
_ And the ark rested on the twenty-seventh day of the seventh month on Mount Ararat.
Many historians and biblical scholars agree that “Ararat” is the Hebrew name for Urartu, the geographical predecessor of Armenia. However, in the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, “Ararat” is translated as “Ararat Mountains”.
However, Mount Ararat itself is believed to be the traditional resting place of Noah’s Ark, and many Christians support this view, as it may have been the first peak visible from the waters. That is why it is called the biblical mountain.
The sacred mountain is called both Ararat and Masis by Armenians. And where did these names come from and what is their etymology?
As we know, Mount Ararat is considered an extinct volcano. The time of the formation of volcanoes can be determined by judging the appearance and size of the volcano. The large size of the volcano indicates that it is old. In other words, we can say that Masis is much older than Sis. It should be noted that according to geologists, Masis is 3.5 million years old, and Sis was formed 150,000 years ago. There are many points of view regarding the origin of names. The oldest of them belongs to the historian Movses Khorenatsi. He writes in his work “History of Armenians” that the place name Masis came from the name of Amasiya, the son of Hayk’s grandson. “Ma” in the name Masis means “to love” in the Armenian language, that is, mother. From this it can be seen that Masis means Mother Sis. Regarding this name, we can say that there are many place names in the Armenian Highlands that have the root of this name. For example, the name Sisakan or Syunik, the capital of Sis, the name of the city of Sisian, etc. Armenologist Hamlet Martirosyan explained the word sis with the meaning of stake. In other words, sis means a mountain with a sharp and pointed peak.
And now let’s move on to the etymology of the name Ararat. Let’s try to understand what AR AR AT means. If we divide the word into syllables, we get the repetition of the same AR syllable, or double AR, a syllable that is at the base of the main ancient Armenian words. It turns out that this AR is not a simple syllable, but the name of the Armenian Ar-Ar-Ich God name Ar, and almost all the provinces of the Ararat Kingdom and the names of the kings begin with that AR. The old tradition says that the gods lived on Mount Ararat under the leadership of Father Ara.
Climbing Mount Ararat has its own advice for everyone. Each one keeps a wish in his heart, overcomes all difficulties and reaches the top of his dream. One is brought here by the call of blood, another by the insatiable desire to see the land of his ancestors, and another by the idea of proposing marriage to his lover right at the top. This is exactly what happened in the case of Hano and Zuza. At the very top, Hano proposed to the girl he loved and Ararat became the eternal and silent witness of their happy love story.
You can watch the video below:
ArmLand club made its first ascent of Mount Ararat in 2017. Since that year, the club has been accompanying groups to the glorious Ararat. Year by year, the number of people for whom Mount Ararat has become a dream peak is increasing!