This is the place that my great grandmother, Agnes Terzian, was born. Her family fled Harput when she was a young girl because of the Armenian genocide. She was placed in a German orphanage for a year until her father sent for her to come to the United States. No one in my family has gone back there until now. In March, I went to the town with my best friend Max. These are the pictures from one of the most amazing days of my life.
The cab ride up to the town Harput. It was originally called
‘Kharput’ before 1915, but after the formation of the Turkish
Republic, the province Harput was renamed Elâzığ, and the
small town Kharput was renamed ‘Harput.’ I was quite nervous
at this time, while driving up from Elâzığ to the mountains.
The center of Harput. The town was completely deserted.
Taking in my first view of the town of my great grandmother.
A castle in the distance, built by one of the first Armenian
I felt very distressed upon first entering here. It was eerily quiet.
So quiet it was almost as if you could hear the tragedy that had
What this place is, is up to debate. Max thinks that is is a
funeral cairn. I think it may have possibly been a church.
Whatever it is, it is absolutely beautiful.
Max: “Do you think she brought us here?”
Max called this picture “Angel in the Snow”
Up and out of the funeral cairn/church
Harput in the winter; crumbling ruins everywhere.
My eyes are taking in the same sights she took in 100 years
Max thinks that these are collapsed funeral cairns. They could
possibly be additions to the church, if it is one.
Harput, March 24th, 2009.
My own footprints in this town.
We explored the castle, and this is the back view of all of the
I thought it was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.
The top of the castle, with a Turkish flag. Quite ironic.
The view of the town Harput from the top of the castle.
This is my town.
I feel that my heritage really comes out in these pictures. I look
a lot like my father’s side of the family in these pictures.
I feel that when I see these pictures, I look much older- like I am
getting a glimpse of who I will be.
Ruins everywhere in these towns.
The mountains in Harput.
On the way back down from the mountains, all of a sudden
the wind stopped howling, the snow stopped, and the sun
Suddenly, it looked like spring.
This is where I found her.
I picked up rocks for everyone in my family. This is the one that
I picked up for my father.
Here she is. This is my Auntie Alison. This is my family. Say
When I was six years old, my Aunt died in a car crash. It was
very hard on my family. Right when she died, there was a ladybug
infestation at our house. Our family now believes whenever we
see a ladybug, it is Auntie Alison coming to visit us.
And in the middle of the winter, in the snow and the cold and
in the middle of Harput in a castle, between two rocky crags,
was a ladybug.
It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I couldn’t
stop crying. It was a sign that I was in the right place at the
right time, and that my family was there with me in this town.
I look very much like my Dad in this picture.
I am told I look exactly like Auntie Alison in this picture.
We left her in a patch of grass in a spring alcove.
My best friend Max and I in Harput, Turkey.
The Christian church. I originally thought that this was an
Armenian church, but it is actually an Assyrian church.
The view of the mountains from the church.
Around the town Harput.
Crumbling houses that are least 100 years old.
I was shocked when I saw these, and glad at the same time. I
felt such a connection here, because I was able to see the remnants
of Armenian culture here, I was able to imagine what it had once
I wondered if she had lived in one of these houses, or one like
I wonder if this face was once familiar in this town.
A Muslim statue in an Armenian town- the Turks deny the
genocide to the point of denying existence of any Armenian
provinces in Anatolia. This is a prime example. It looks like
this statue is fairly new and was put up in place of an old one.
But buildings like this still remain.
Very desolate and sad.
Ruins in Harput.
This is what the rest of the town looks like. Very few people
live here. The houses are newer, but it’s still a very harsh place
to live in. I wondered if any Armenians still lived here, but I never
found out. Doubtful they would admit they were Armenian even if
The end of the town.
Such a beautiful place.
This is the rock that I picked up for myself. I tried to pick up
rocks for my family that looked like they hadn’t been moved for at
least 100 years. This is the only rock I picked up that I knew was new,
because it was part of a bunch of rocks in similar color that had been
laid down for gravel.
I picked up a new one because I wanted it to represent change,
new beginnings, and hope for the future.
Soldiers in Harput…
Lake Hazar Gölü. Originally this was called Lake Geoljuk. US
Consulate Leslie Davis, who was stationed in Harput in 1915,
saw thousands of Armenian bodies dumped in ravines around
the ditches of this lake. Max and I went to see the lake together.
The sun was setting, and it was absolutely beautiful.
Ten rocks I picked up for families from Harput.
It was a very strange experience being here. It was very cold,
and I couldn’t stop shaking.
The sun set on Lake Goeljuk, Harput.
Tortured trees/tortured bodies.
A beautiful ending to one of the most beautiful and significant
days I will ever experience in my life.
If anyone asks,
This is what it felt like to an Armenian that day.
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