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Tatev 4: Tatev University. Hovhan Vorotnetsi and Grigor Tatevatsi.

Tatev University

The monastery had two important phases in its development as a major center of learning: first as a school (vardapetaran) and then as a university. The school was founded at the beginning of the 10th century, the same time Poghos-Petros was consecrated. Mentioned in the chronicles in the 14th century as a “university”(1390, although it might have been founded earlier), Tatev is one of the oldest in the world, students of which studied humanities, sciences, music, art, calligraphy and miniature painting, among other subjects. The university was of great importance, inspiring creation of similar education centers at almost all the monasteries in Siunik, such as Gndevank, Tsakhats kar and Bgheno-Noravank.

Stepanos Orbelian wrote that Tatev housed 500 monks, philosophers "deep as the sea," able musicians, painters, calligraphers, and all the other accoutrements of a center of culture and learning. Many erudite educators of the time taught here and the monastery produced expert teachers, teachers and calligraphers. A great number of valuable manuscripts were created here, distributed throughout the entire Armenian world.

Following the closure of Gladzor University (1291-1384) during the Mongol internecine wars, Tatev became the last working university in eastern Armenia. Its golden age is traced to 1390-1435 when the university maintained its position as the last major education institution in the entire country. Destroyed during 14th-15th centuries by the forces of Timur Lenk (Tamerlane), the university was closed in 1435 when the monastery was burnt down. In 1780 a new school was built along the northeastern wall.

Hovhan Vorotnetsi and Grigor Tatevatsi

Tatev's golden age is traced to the tenure of two of Armenia's most erudite and talented teachers, academicians, scientists, historiographers and artists: Hovhan Vorotnetsi (1315-1388) and Grigor Tatevatsi (1346-1409).

Vorotnetsi was a student of Gladzor University, which was moved to Hermon monastery in 1338 and then to Vorotan province, near Tatev. In 1384, as arranged by the Orbelians, the university settled in Tatev and soon became very famous, attracting students from throughout historic Armenia and Kilikia (Cilicia). Using his experience at Gladzor, Vorotnetsi improved the curriculum at Tatev, and regulated student admissions and teacher qualifications.

His most brilliant student was Grigor Tatevatsi, who took up his teacher's position when Vorotnetsi died, raising the university's level to a new height. His were the most productive years of the institution, contributing to the kingdom's culture and political strength. Tatevatsi was given the title “Yeramets Vardapet” which literally means “thrice a great teacher”.

Tatevatsi is buried in the tomb monument (15) that bears his name, adjoining Poghos-Petros and in front of the entry to St. Grigor. The monastery's matenadaran (library) and manuscriptorium (10) is across the courtyard from the belfry.

Original text edited and approved by the Mother