History of the Lake Sevan Basin

Origin of the Lake

Lake Sevan is attributed by geologists to have a tectonic origin. Volcanic activity of the Geghama mountain ridge generated pool formation when igneous lava closed the flow of the River Hrazdan. Later on the water of melted ice and the river water masses accumulated in the formed pool and erected a lake.

The Lake Basin was inhabited since ancient times. The “cyclopean” castles from the Bronze Age (Lchashen, Hayravank), preserved remnants and inscriptions from the Urartian period (Velikukhi, Rusa II), many medieval constructions (Sevanavank, Hayravank Monastery, etc.), settlements, cross-stones are the heritage and evidence of activities on this territory.

History of the name

Sevan-1For a long time the name “Sevan” was considered to be derived from the name of the monastery constructed with black tuff on the island (Sev Vanq: “sev”– black, “vanq”– the church – The Black Church). Even though this interpretation was maintained for centuries by the folk etymology of the Lake, obviously it could not be true, as the name “Sevan” is much older than the monastery. Finally, the history of the name of the Lake was disclosed based on cuneiform inscription of Odzaberd left after the King Rusa II (730–714 BC) of Urartu. This invention became the “certificate of birth” of Lake Sevan, where the name of the Lake was mentioned to be “Suinia” or “Tsuinia”. This discovered the base of the Lake’s name, which leads us to earlier ages, to the times when people settled on those territories often called them with simple and plain names of geographical objects, such as “water, river, lake, mountain, desert”.

In the past the Lake basin was called “Tsovazard province”, which was based on the nature of its picturesque and scenic landscapes. Exploring the Lake basin area will inhale the unique soul full of evidence on why Lake Sevan and its surrounding province was named “Tsovazard” (the word “Tsovazard” derives from the combination of two Armenian words –“Tsov” – the sea, and “zard” – a pearl, a treasure).

Another theory of origin of the name of the Lake and surrounding area in ancient times was the “Geghama Sea”. All these natural beauties and incredible landscapes located on the land of dreamsmake Lake Sevan a natural treasure not only for the Armenian land, but also one of the nature’s most picturesque sites in the world.