Map of the Armenian Genocide


Consider the above map of the Armenian Genocide. Right now when I use the word ‘map’, I mean to refer not to the particular map appearing as Figure 1, but the map-type of which Figure 1 is just an instance. This map is a powerful image, as demonstrated by the great number of reconstructions that exist. The map exists in several languages:



The map itself has a history. The earliest version of the map was created by the Armenian National Delegation and appeared at the Versailles Peace Conference of 1920. Mgr. Jean Naslian, a survivor of the genocide and Catholic bishop of Trebizond, modified the map and republished it in 1951. Most appearances of the map unfortunately do not include information about their ancestry, but there are a few instances of cartographic genealogy. Figure 1 originates from a version appearing in the Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia, but was modified with information from Gérard Dédéyan’s Histoire des Arméniens (1982) and the work of Naslian (Hewsen, 232). Figure 4 is a “clone” of Figure 1.

All the maps of the Armenian Genocide I have encountered are uniform in two respects. First, circles are used to represent locations where Armenians were killed, the magnitude of the circle proportional to the number of deaths. The circles are almost always red, the color of blood. Second, directed curves are used to represent deportation routes. It is this uniformity that enables us to speak of one map-type with many instances. Beyond this uniformity, the maps differ from each other in interesting ways. According to the legends accompanying the maps, red circles can denote either “massacre sites,” “deportation control centers,” or combined “centers of massacre and deportation.” In at least one instance, the label is clearly wrong.