Death of the eminent armenologist Nina Garsoïan

NEW YORK — Prominent Armenologist and Byzantinist Nina G. Garsoian died August 14. She broke a number of glass ceilings in academia, both as a woman and as a scholar of Armenian studies.

She was born in Paris in 1923, and ten years later, as a child, moved with her parents to New York. She originally intended to be a concert pianist, but after earning her bachelor’s degree in classical archeology in 1943 from Bryn Mawr College, she earned a master’s degree in archeology and then her doctorate in Armenian, Byzantine, and Medieval History (1958) at Columbia University. She began teaching at Smith College.

Garsoïan arrived at Columbia University in 1962 and became the first female professor to be tenured in its history department. She was invited to Princeton University in 1977 to become the first female dean of its graduate school, but remained there only until 1979, when she returned to Colombia as the inaugural holder of the Gevork M. Avedissian Chair of Armenian History and Civilization. She continued to teach there until her retirement in 1993.

She was one of the leading scholars in Armenian and Byzantine studies and was part of the generation of scholars who brought Armenology into American academia at the highest level. In this capacity, she became the first president of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) in 1975.

His translations of various works such as Armenia’s Trade and Cities in Relation to Ancient World Trade by H. A. Manandian (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1956), Armenia at the time of Justinian by Nicholas Adontz (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1970), United Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia by Aram Ter-Ghevondyan (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1976) and The epic stories attributed to Pʻawstos Buzand (Harvard University Press, 1989) has provided useful annotations, notes and bibliography in addition to commentaries.

Some of his other academic works in English include Paulician heresy (Mouton & Co., 1967), Armenia between Byzantium and the Sassanids (Variorum Editions, 1985), Church and culture in early medieval Armenia (Ashgate, 1999) and Interregnum: Introduction to a study of the formation of Armenian identity (circa 600-750) (Peeters, 2012), but there are many others. She published her memoirs, titled From Vita Sua, in 2011 (Mazda publishers). In her early works in particular, she was known for shedding light on Iranian influence in Armenian history.

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