Part II: Solar Eclipse, Sea Storm

Arsen E. Harutyunyan

Some evidence on solar eclipse and sea storm, in particular about shipwrecks, drownings and other similar cases are preserved in Armenian epigraphy. The literary figures and researchers have often referred to the phenomenon of solar and lunar eclipses in cosmological and book-keeping literature. It was also reflected in mythology and folklore. The epigraphic mentions about this phenomenon are preserved in the epigraphs of the pedestal of wall placed khachkar (cross-stone) of Kosh (erected in 1195), on the back side of khachkar located not far from Arakelots (Apostles) Monastery (in 1267), as well as on the memorial of “Tsak Khach” (Hole Cross) of Ashtarak (in 1268).

As for the cases of shipwreck and drown caused by the sea storm, besides in the literary sources, particularly the evidence kept in the colophons of manuscripts, remarkable episodes have been preserved in epigraphs, too. Among them is noteworthy the epitaph dated back to 1141, which is preserved in the cemetery of Vardenik village of Gegharkunik province of Armenia. According to the epitaph, Avtandil, the son of Avan, entered a boat with grass-woven slippers and drowned due to the storm of the sea (in this case: lake Sevan). Another epigraphic evidence is known from Jerusalem. An inscribed stone dated 1724 is placed on the northern wall of St. Gregory the Illuminator church built on the eastern part of the Holy Sepulchre temple. According to the content of the inscription, the ship of pilgrims en route from Constantinople to Jerusalem had sank, as a result of which more than three hundred pilgrims (more than two hundred Armenians, more than a hundred Greeks, several Turkish sailors) were drowned. This terrible case is evidenced in the colophon of a contemporary manuscript, too (M 616/B), whose scribe Deacon Martiros Karbetsi miraculously survived from the same disaster.