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“Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia” By Prof. Richard Hovanissian








“Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia”

By Mariette Minassian-Okhanes

On Friday, September 26, 2014, a lecture night was held by the Organization of Istanbul Armenians Cultural Committee, at OIA Hrant Dink Hall, with a guest lecturer Prof. Hovanissian, Founder of the Society for Armenian Studies and a member of the Board of Directors of nine scholarly and civic organizations, as well as First Holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, Associate Director of the  G.E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies for two decades, consultant to the California State Board of Education, authoring the chapter on the Armenian Genocide in the State’s Social Studies Model Curriculum on Human Rights and Genocide, recipient of medals and encyclicals from Holy See of Etchmiadzin and Great House of Cilicia, Guggenheim Fellow and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia since 1990. He has received many honors for his scholarship, civic activities, and achievements during more than fifty years of teaching, research, writing, and lecturing worldwide about Armenian history, culture, and current issues. Also, he is adjunct Professor at USC to work with the Shoah Foundation on Armenian Genocide Film History.

After the welcoming and thank you remarks by Chairman of the Cultural Committee Dr. Ohannes Kulak Avedikyan the keynote speaker Prof. Hovanissian was invited to the podium who gave explanations about the symposiums that he attended regarding various cities, such as Daron, Pitlis, Sivaz, Diyarbakir, Harpoot, Karin, Eastern and the Black Sea, along where are currently living settled Armenian speaking Hamshen Armenians. He spoke about his last published book which was the topic of the lecture, “The Kayseri, Cappadocia”, which was the heart of Asia Minor, where lived the Ancient Armenians. He focused on Kayseri’s history, explaining that it goes back to the days when Dikran the Great invaded Kayseri and the War took place and many cities were liberated. Following the war Hamshen Armenians changed its name from Kayseri to Cappadocia.

During 10-11-12th centuries, their numbers multiplied when Pakradounyats as well as all the other kingdoms were destroyed, then thousands of Armenians migrated to the West, especially to Sepastia (sivas), Amasya, Kayseri and Malatya, where Pakradounyats last king, Kagik II. found refuge at the Kayseri region. Armenians were intensified and remained even when the Ottoman Empire took Constantinople in 1453, and spread in Asia Minor. Armenians stayed allegedly as subjected people. Many Armenians went to more secure places, while others came to seaside neighborhoods and remained there. Throughout the years, Kayseri Armenians lost their language but over dozens of villages retained their Armenian language.

Following his lecture, Dr. Hovanissian presented historic photos from the many Armenian inhabited villages that were in the region of Kayseri; Evkere, Talas, Tomarza, Chomakhlu and Evereg among others. Through the photos the audience learned Armenian customs of the beautiful Armenian churches and the many educational institutions that once existed. Cappadocia was a longtime cultural and political contact zone between east and west and it passed hands between empires several times in its history, with fleeting moments of independence in between.

Indeed, it was a very valuable lecture, followed by reception of Kayseri’s delicious dishes.

At the conclusion of the evening’s program, Prof. Hovanissian personally signed books for requesting members and memorable photographs were taken with OIA’s esteemed guest.

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