The first language spoken by the ancestors of the Armenian people was Urartian, written with cuneiform characters. Many stone inscriptions have survived, but the creation of an alphabet for the Armenian language in early 5th century led to a real revolution: this very 5th century is known as “the golden age of Armenian literature”. Thousands of manuscripts were copied during the following centuries. They are precious not only for the text, calligraphy and illuminations, but also for the important information given by the scribes in their colophons. Later on, printing was quickly adopted, with the first book published in 1512. This “passion of writing” may be partially explained by the course of history: constantly threatened by annihilation, the Armenians felt they should leave a witness of their existence.
Dr Claude Armen Mutafian, son of survivors of the Armenian Genocide was born in Paris. He taught mathematics in French universities for 40 years. Simultaneously he studied Armenian history of the mediaeval period, particularly the relations of Armenians with Crusaders and Mongols. He curated major exhibitions in Paris, the Vatican and Marseilles, published prolifically, and, at the age of 60 received his PhD in history.
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