Gegham M. Badalyan
As the majority of Armenian regions, the canton of Shirak, despite being one of the most extensive and populous cantons of the Greater Armenian province of Ayrarat, is presented quite superficially and without much detail in medieval Armenian historiography. A different pattern arises from the examination of the epigraphs of religious and cultural centers of the canton, which reveal more than 120 settlements and other locales (farmsteads, estates, fields and pastures, gardens, and even town districts), significantly complementing the data regarding Shirak and allowing one to form an idea about the toponyms of the region. This distinguishes Shirak as one of those “fortunate” Armenian cantons on whose locales a remarkable and a relatively comprehensive data is preserved. The first serious examination attempt of the toponyms recorded in the epigraphs of the region was undertaken by Gh. Alishan in his renowned work “Shirak” (Venice, 1881), preceded by a few similar observations by Nerses Sargisyan, another Mekhitarist monk. Assuredly, the prominent Armenologist could not deliberate on the majority of survived toponyms due to lack of necessary data. The current article is a humble attempt to fill this lacuna. Re-examining both the epigraphic documents and the historical accounts, the modern designations and, by extension, the geographic locations of a whole series of settlements and other locales are emended. The research revealed that the Armenian toponyms have predominantly been either translated (interpreted) and/or distorted by the incoming Turkic populace. Based on this concept and other considerations, we have examined more than twenty toponyms (mostly from Western Shirak where their Armenian character was better preserved), providing necessary comments and conclusions.