Armenian tradition has preserved several legends concerning the origin of the Armenian nation. The most important of these tells of Hayk, the eponymous hero of the Armenians who called them- selves Hay and their country Hayk’ or Hayastan. The historian of the 5th century, Movses Khorenatsi, also relates at some length the valiant deeds of Aram whose fame extended far beyond the limits of his country. Consequently, the neighboring nations called the people Armens or Armenians. Archeology has extended the prehistory of Armenia to the Acheulian age (500,000 years ago), when hunting and gathering peoples crossed the lands in pursuit of migrating herds. The first period of prosperity was enjoyed by inhabitants of the Armenian upland in the third millennium B.C. These people were among the first to forge bronze, invent the wheel, and cultivate grapes. The first written records to mention the inhabitants of Armenia come from hieroglyphs of the Hittite Kingdom, inscribed from 1388 to 1347 B.C., in Asia Minor. The earliest inscription to be found directly upon Armenian lands, carved in 1114 B.C. by the Assyrians, describes a coalition of kings of the central Armenian region referring to them as “the people of Nairi.”
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