PLACES IN THE ANCIENT WORLD: Dvin (Capital of Medieval Armenia)
DVIN (aka Duin), located 40 km south of modern Yerevan, was the capital of early medieval Armenia for four centuries. Founded in the 4th century CE, the city prospered and became the administrative head of the Armenian church. Remaining the capital under the rule of the Arab Umayyad Caliphate from the mid-7th century CE, Dvin would ultimately be replaced, first by Partav in 789 CE and then Ani in 961 CE as Armenia’s first city.
Dvin was founded by the Armenian king Khosrov III Kotak (r. c. 330 – 338 CE) who converted what was already a small settlement and royal hunting park into a new city. Situated by the Azat (aka Garni) River on a natural promontory, the site was also easily defended with fortification walls built as an additional deterrent. The son of Khosrov, King Tiran, moved the royal residence to Dvin, and by the 5th century CE, it was a thriving city. Its growth was greatly helped by the decision of Armenia’s overlords at the time, the Sasanian Empire, to make Dvin the new administrative capital of their part of the country (the other being controlled by the Roman Empire). Dvin was not without its competitors, though, especially in terms of trade; a notable rival being the former capital and more ancient city of Artashat (Artaxata), located just a few kilometres to the west.