We are our only saviors and we have to realize that. Vahan Setyan
“Armenian Free Voice News” represents interview with Vahan Setyan who is an armenologist, a scientist, a doctor of psychological sciences and the author of Language as a Fingerprint.
Mr. Setyan, for 2000 years, the Armenian people have lived in darkness as the thread of their history has been erased. Faith has vanished. For how can Armenians get out of this darkness? Is it possible to bring back what's been lost?
Living in the darkness for the past 2000 years is a great understatement. The prelude of it came to our door way before 2000 years ago, but we shall leave that part for future examination and deal with the finale, which is, 2000 years ago. We must bear in mind that when something which once existed is lost, with the aid of some keen wisdom and a resolute endeavor, it could be retrieved. For Armenians to awaken of this psychological coma, they must commence to make a conscious effort to understand their destroyed history by the realization of the sheer amount that has been lost in contrast with what has actually still remained. By doing so, they are able to see that the situation is much worse than previously assumed, and what has remained is not even 1% of what they had throughout many thousands of years. I am not even speaking about a spiritual awakening. I am simply referring to a rational awareness to be able to start discerning between the truths and the falsehoods about our history and begin discarding the nonsense that have been fed to countless generations. The world does not even know where Armenia is. How do we expect them to understand or even acknowledge that the Armenians had history that is more ancient than, both, Egypt and Sumer. But once the personal realization is complete then one is obligated to communicate and educate others, especially the younger generation. More efforts have taken place to misinform and indoctrinate children of false and untrue history, and we have just gotten used to repeating nonsense as a traditional pastime. This must be put to an end, and instead, we need to increase our efforts of creating a sense of urgency to unearth and re-evaluate our genuine history.
Parallel to this, over two centuries, the falsification of Armenian history has more rapid course. Thousands of books have been published where the history of the Armenian nation has been thoroughly garbled. What is the purpose of falsifying Armenian history, perhaps the roots are too deep?
Armenian history, to a great extent, has been falsified and continues to be done so, for not only the past 200 years, but from the day Armenians transitioned from Mithraism to Christianity. Even that change should be in quotation marks because Armenians were forced to convert, similarly to others around the world. However, in Armenia’s case, the devastation was virtually total, destroying everything they had. In Europe during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, many scholars attempted to resurrect Armenian history and determine its influence on many languages and nations around the world throughout time. Nevertheless, the nearer the approach was to the end of the 19th century, we are able to see a greater shift from Armenians being considered ancient people to Armenians regarded as newcomers to their lands. By those who had no significant contributions to the world, or even worse, what they had was acquired in an unoriginal manner by being handed down by other nations of ancient civilizations. Obviously, from my point of view, at least, this is a deliberate eradication of what is left of ancient Armenians. The agenda is clear. What is the extent of the agenda? I am not sure, but there is a clear effort to erase the ancient past of Armenians. Considering that after the Armenian Genocide of 1915, many books were written to cover the ancient aspects of the Armenians and to hide their place in history. Armenians have fallen behind in defending themselves against such a threat. Hence, we are behind 120 years in our defense strategies. That is the reason why we see more falsifications and falsified documents about Armenians than literature that supports the ancient past of the Armenians. That, coupled with the psychological effects it had on countless generations: inferiority complexes, negligence, ignorance and spite. They have dampened our sense of awareness as to who we truly are and how great our ancient past was.
Speaking about the falsification of Armenian history, we cannot note that a big school of false Armenologists are working today in the United States. Who are they? Are their steps harmful for Armenia today?
The falsifiers of Armenian history in the United States are doing similar damage as falsifiers in other nations, including within certain academic centers in Armenia itself, (if we can call them that.) I am sure there are teachers in Armenia who, for example, stress that Urartians and Armenians are not the same people, and/or that they spoke a different language, or even question whether Armenians lived in their current lands before the 6th century BCE. We also have Armenians who have fled Armenia, have gotten their “education” in other European countries, thus, attempt to falsify Armenian history. I am sure Armenia has received many guests from abroad that are well-known falsifiers but continue to come to Armenia and ‘educate’ the children and young adults about their “history”. Therefore, falsifications of Armenian history is not only done primarily within the United States by Armenians, but internationally. I can say that the biggest threat to genuine Armenian history is by anti-Armenian Armenians, the ones who out of spite, want to do damage. If we have Armenians who falsify history, then of course, non-Armenians will do likewise, and perhaps, even more so.
Accordingly, are there any methods or mechanisms by use of which it will be possible to block the activities of noncredible Armenologists? Maybe their sponsors are very powerful? Is there any information? Who is behind this fraud?
The authoritative bodies that would serve as guidance systems to the Armenian history literature has to be international. We need the help of not only educated historians and linguists who have received their diplomas in the field of history and/or language, but also by those who have had education in other fields, those who know how to do research, how to collect information, how to write scholarly and how to present it to the public. Our numbers are very low, so we must work together more frequently.
What do want to prove false Armenologists? What are their main anti-claims?
When one does not value his or her own genuine history, others will jump to the opportunity to inherit it. The reason why Turks, Azeris, Georgians and many other ethnic groups who want to inherit Armenian history as their own, do, is because Armenians have let go of their history. Christianity has done extensive damage to our sense of obligation and connected-ness to our ancient past. It has cut the thread that kept Armenians connected to their ancestral knowledge and prehistoric history. Consequently, foreigners observe that Armenians carelessly neglect their own history. For example, we tend to criticize Georgia of not only stealing our churches, but to also erase Armenian architectural memory from them. When was the last time you heard Christian Armenian clergymen were attempting to find and rebuild our ancient Mithraic temples? But you will certainly see a few million dollars being spent on building new churches every year to keep people further in the dark. Why isn't the government funding archaeological digs and preservation of history? Here is a better question. If Armenia is the cradle of civilization and we have more than 12,000 years of history, why aren’t’ we building the biggest museum where we can represent ancient history and world civilization artifacts? We have the biggest right amongst all. Aren’t we the oldest ethno-linguistic group that has survived from the Last Ice Age? But no, we are not going to do that. Did you know that Turkey is building the biggest museum in the world and what are they going to present in it has nothing to do with them? They are not going to advertise artifacts as Armenian, even though they should. Armenian history is falsified and incorporated into others due to lack of interest, spite, inferiority complexes and misinformation about us Armenians.
Do you think historians in Armenia may affect the activity of "Armenologists" who are in the U.S.? Is there any way to prevent their campaigns?
We need to place quotation marks on the term "Armenologists", whether we are in Armenia or the United States. What makes us think that Armenologists in Armenia are better than Armenologists in the United States? Aren’t we primarily looking for truthful history that is scientifically based, to support historical claims about Armenians? As much as some Armenologists and historians are falsifying Armenian history outside of Armenia, so are many of our Armenologists in Armenia. We need more interdisciplinary collaborations between all sorts of experts and researchers in Armenia and the Diaspora. We need to establish an international team to deal with the falsification efforts around the world, to monitor, publish and open debate forums to counteract the falsification efforts the main expansion of which can be achieved through media. We should discard the erroneous notion that one needs to be a professor or have a degree in history to defend Armenian history. We have many historians with high academic degrees, but they are not worth anything. I am sure you know a few.
Science is developing day by day, but a lot of historical facts still remain victim of past frauds, such as Urartu. How can we change in written world history that the Urartu Kingdom is the same kingdom of Van, and that the Urartians are the same as Armenians? How can we change the current accepted view?
First of all, if we want to make an international difference and impact on literature and media, we need to first have a strong academic presence in world academia. We need to re-establish a strong presence for other scholars to take us seriously. We need to understand that not only do we have falsification; we also have misinformation and incorrect research conclusions that have changed the shape of ancient history. We have irrational conclusions that have paved the way for far more incorrect assumptions for future researchers. The fundamental assumptions about us are incorrect in world academia. What are those false assumptions? For one, most of our people think that we did not have literature before Mesrop Mashtots. To further agitate this problem, the church is pressing to keep this false assumption because once we argue that Mesrop, or any other historians after him, did not do what they have claimed to have done; it raises questions on the factual veracity of their claims. We follow what the Mediaeval historians have said more and seem to have completely discarded what science has had to say about us. Many of our people do not know what is Aratta Kingdom or Mitanni Kingdom. Can you imagine the repercussion of this? Our history has been hidden, destroyed and falsified to a point where we do not know about our own kingdoms. And considering that most of us do not know, others can easily falsify such information and falsely inherit our history without Armenians considering such practices to be unethical. In other words, besides from Armenia being the first Christian nation (which is very unlikely to be historically true), Tigran the Great and Mesrop Mashtots, we have no idea about any other fact about our own history. Let’s face it, most of the Armenian world does not know about Portasar, Armenian-Sumerian connections, Armenian-Basque connections, Armenian language being the oldest Aryan language, etc. Therefore, to have a significant impact on fixing our history in textbooks and media, we Armenians, by majority, have to first know about our own history.
Mr. Setyan, deviating from the topic. What would you say? What kind of problem do Armenians have today? Why has Armenia become so vulnerable for outsiders and falsifiers?
The world is discovering, with greater frequency, that Armenians not only had a strong and significant ancient past, but also made significant contributions around the world through language and civilization. People do not like to feel inferior to others, so as they learn more about the Armenians, they realize that theirs is secondary to the advances Armenians had throughout time, which breeds antagonism and skepticism. At the same time, the psychological issues that the Genocide left upon generations, our falsified history, false Christian claims about Armenia’s history and the world in general, ignorance, negligence and spite, have all contributed to the divisiveness and antagonism toward one another, which the foreigners love to see. We need to contribute exceedingly more on research, scholarship, scientific endeavors and institutional settings to have a bigger foundation in the world rather than waste financial and human energy on religious delusions, churches and other credulous superstition, and activities that have no relevant place in a rational society. Count the number of scientific and research institutions we have and compare it to the number of churches. Is that a sign of progress? Is that a sign of intellectual advancement? When we killed our ancient Gods, we destroyed our spiritual essence and place in history, and with it, distorted our memory and obligation to our ancestors. Fortunately, more and more of our people are realizing the extent of damage upon our history and our past. And it is through collaboration and partnerships that we cannot only defend our history from being falsified further but to rewrite our own history with factual information, create a stronger unity to protect our present and future generations. We are our only saviors and we have to realize that. And although, world scholars can partner with us more on archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological research, we all know that what they will find is our legacy and I assure you, they hate that fact. You know why? Because we are still alive from prehistory, unlike the Sumerians and the Egyptians.
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