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Artsruni ( ; also transliterated as Ardzruni) was an ancient Armenianmarker noble family that claimed descent from Sennacherib, King of Assyria (705 BC–681 BC). Although it mirrors the Bagratuni claim of Davidic descent and the Mamikonian claim of descent from the royal Han Dynasty, it is usually interpreted as a piece of genealogical mythology. The origin of this claim is attributed to Moses of Chorene according to whom Sennacherib's sons fled to Armenia after murdering him and founded the clans of the Artsruni and Gnuni. Chorene in turn was in all likelihood inspired by Biblical tradition: Genealogist and historian Cyril Toumanoff favors an Orontid origin of the Artsruni family. Professor James Russell proposed the idea that the Artsrunis derived their name from the Urartian word artsibini (eagle) which survived in Armenian as artsiv (արծիվ). The eagle was a totemic animal for the Artsrunis and in a legend the progenitor of the Artsrunis is said to have been abandoned as a child but rescued by an eagle.

The first attested member of the family is thought to be Mithrobarzanes in 69 B.C, the viceroy of Tigranes the Great in Sophene. During the reign of the Arshakuni, the family ruled the princely estates of Greater and Lesser Albak in Vaspurakanmarker, southeast of Lake Vanmarker, gradually annexing the surrounding territory.

In the middle of the 4th century the family was deposed. Chavash survived, and recovered power. In 369 the state was led by Merujan Artsruni who guided Persian troops to Armenia and defeated the General (sparapet) Mamikonian. The latter recovered power soon after, however, and Merujan was killed.

Around 772 the Artsruni presided over the families of Amatuni, Rshtuni, Teruni of Dariunq (before a possession of the Bagratuni) and ruled the regions of Maku, Artaz, Great Zab Valley and Van river. In 908 they forged the principality of Vaspurakanmarker.

In the beginning of the 11th century the Artsruni settled westwards in Cappadocia, retreating from eastern invaders. In 1021 Senekerim Artsruni was given Amasia (?), Sebastemarker and Evdokiamarker as fiefdom from the Byzantine emperor.

Trivia

Umberto Eco introduced the character of Ardsruni, a nobleman and alchemist in Cilicia, in his fantastic novel Baudolino.

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