Throughout its centuries-old historythe Armenian people was subjected to numerous trials, faced with great empires, created its own national states and destroyed others. However, the time has come, and the Armenian people themselves lost their statehood and were scattered. At that moment, subethnic groups began to appear, including Hamshen Armenians, several centuries long and today there is a surge of interest in it both in Turkey and abroad.
Origin of the Hamshen Armenians
Hamshentsi, according to some historians,represent a rather heterogeneous group of peoples, united more by geographical principle than by ethnicity. However, most researchers hold the opinion that this subethnic group will be more correctly called Hamshen Armenians.
The region of Hamshen is part of the historical MalayaArmenia. Today this region is in the north-east of Turkey. in the immediate vicinity of the Georgian border. On the territory of Hamshen there are such large cities as Rize and Trabzon, known for their developed agriculture.
Presumably, the first Hamshen Armeniansthere were twelve thousand families who had been resettled from lands annexed by the Arabs in the Vlll century, to the territory of the Byzantine Empire, with which Armenia at that time had common borders. It was in this region that the basic processes of formation of a new community took place.
Rize - homeland of the Hamshen Armenians
In the vicinity of the small Turkish town of Rize,which is located on the Black Sea coast, in close proximity to Georgia, the ethnogenesis of the Hemshils took place, as Armenians living in this region are sometimes called.
It is well known that the ancestors of the Hamsheniansappeared in the Pontic region in the ninth century of the new era, but some engaged historians insist that the first Armenian settlers appeared in those parts two thousand years before Christ. This information should be subjected to additional verification, as there is not a direct connection between the ancient state of Hayas and the modern Armenian people.
Already at the early stages of the formation of a newsubethnos, the differences between the Hamshen Armenians and their relatives living in the Armenian Highlands and Transcaucasia began to manifest themselves. Their cut off from the bulk of Armenians affected them.
The Armenian population of Byzantium
Before the conquest of Byzantium by the Ottomans, the Hamshen Armenianspreserved the Christian faith and the corresponding folklore. Official relations were established between the Black Sea communities of Armenians and the Byzantine nobility, and the leaders of the Armenian settlements received Byzantine titles.
However, after the capture of the entire peninsula of Asia Minor and the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus by the Turks, local Christians were forced to reconsider their religious views.
Many Georgian Christians and Hamshils switched toIslam. Such transitions were often a mere formality, which helped to avoid paying taxes to the imperial treasury. At the same time, many Armenians continued to speak their native language, which already in the fifteenth century was quite different from the main dialects of the Armenian language.
Settlement in the Ottoman Empire
The Hamshen Armenians, who converted to Islam, do notwere persecuted by the authorities and could maintain their language and culture. However, their brethren, who decided to preserve the faith of their ancestors, were forced to leave their fathers dwelling place and head west. Thus, Trabzon and Giresun, as well as Samsun and other coastal towns of the west of the Black Sea coast, became the main settlement for the Khemshils.
But the resettlement of Armenians was not limited to a narrowa strip of the Black Sea coast. Many families moved to Istanbul and the Aegean coast, to Izmir and Bursa, and some even left the empire and became subjects of the Russian Empire, where they found shelter and protection, as well as the opportunity to profess Christianity in complete safety.
Resettlement in neighboring countries
Answering the question about where theHamshen Armenians, it is worth starting with the fact that they are an integral part of the entire Armenian people, which is extremely widespread around the world. And although the Hemshils are a rather peculiar sub-ethnic group with peculiarities of language and historical development, the majority of Armenians living in the Armenian Republic and in the Diaspora recognize their compatriots in them.
Hamshen Armenians in Turkey are badly affectedtogether with other groups of the Armenian population from the genocide that occurred in the country at the beginning of the twentieth century, but they suffered insignificantly from the Armenian pogroms in the nineteenth century.
Armenian genocide forced thousands of Armeniansto leave the territory of the empire and settle in neighboring countries, such as the Russian Empire, which actively accepted refugees and allowed them to arrange a new life on the Black Sea coast.
Ethnic groups of Hamshenians
Significant geographical distance of variousgroups of Hamshen Armenians created the necessary prerequisites for the allocation of additional groups within the Hemshil ethnic group. While Western and Eastern Hamshenians are overwhelmingly Muslim, their relatives from the northern ethnic group are descendants of a population that has not been Islamized.
In addition, a separate mention deservesa group of Hamshenians living on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. In 1878, as a result of the peace agreement between Russia and Turkey, the Batumi District, together with twelve Hemshil villages, fell under the rule of the Russian Empire.
Hamshentsi were not persecuted in the territoryRussia until the middle of the twentieth century, when, as a result of the Second World War, they were recognized by the USSR government as an unreliable population, and along with the Greeks and Kurds moved to Central Asia, where they began to return only at the end of the twentieth century.
However, despite the complexity of the historyHamshen Armenians, despite persecutions, pogroms and genocide, researchers number in the territory of modern Turkey up to two million people who call themselves either hamshenes or descendants of Islamized Armenians.
Ethnic conflicts after the collapse of the USSR
In some regions the collapse of the Soviet Unionwas extremely painful and caused clashes on ethnic grounds between representatives of different peoples. As a result of ethnic tension, many Hamshenians were forced to leave places of compact residence in Central Asia, which were massively expelled in the forties of the twentieth century.
In addition, many conflicts wereThe Caucasus. One of the most bloody was the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict, in which the Hamshen Armenians were involuntarily drawn, photo of which in national costumes can be seen in the article.
Although in the USSR the Hamshenians were subjected to discriminationas well as the Meskhetian Turks, in post-Soviet Russia they became massively dispersed throughout the territory of the Krasnodar Territory. Since many Hamshen Armenians in Abkhazia also suffered from civil war, they migrated to the territory of Russia together with other refugees from the republic.
The modernity of the ethnos
At the end of the twentieth century, the interest of the world scientific community began to increase in the sub-ethnic group of Hamshenians, which sociologists and ethnographers actively began to study.
In addition, the Hamshenians themselves began to understandits history and building its own identity. Newspapers and magazines devoted to the life of the Hamshen communities on the territory of the Krasnodar Territory began to appear on the territory of Russia. Also, cultural clubs and ensembles began to be created, the basis for which was the ethnographic material of the Hamshen people.
The history of the Hamshen subethnos became the subject of study of many conferences held in Armenia with the assistance of the Academy of Sciences.</ p>